The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced today that 87 countries have qualified for this year’s Foreign Language Film competition. With some of the

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strongest entries in recent years this is shaping up as one of the richest fields of contenders in memory.  Of course one of the Netflix titles,  Mexico’s Roma from director Alfonso Cuaron has been widely acclaimed at numerous festivals and already won top prize at Venice which makes it the front runner here. It is also expected to be in contention for a Best Picture nomination as well as other categories and that could enhance its chances. However could an upset be in the offing?  I would say there are a number of equally fine movies in the mix here including Japan’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner, Shoplifters; Denmark’s riveting The Guilty; Germany’s epic Never Look Away from previous Oscar winner Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck; Israel’s magnificent The Cakemaker; Italy’s Dogman which deservedly won the Best Actor prize in Cannes for its star, Marcello Fonte; Lebanon’s gut-wrenching and emotional Cannes Jury Prize winner  Capernaum from Nadine Labaki, one of the few women on the list; and Poland’s Cold War which won the Cannes Director award for Pawel Pawlikowski who is a past winner of this award for Ida. Another past winner , Laszlo Nemes , who won for for his 2015 debut feature Son Of Saul , is back with Sunset from Hungary. There are also another couple of standouts from the Cannes Un Certain Regard section on the list that caught my eye including Sweden’s wild Border, and Belgium’s Girl , the latter another Netflix possibility.  Of course there are any number of other movies on this list just waiting to be discovered by the Academy’s Foreign Language committee which this year has made it easier on members by allowing them to attend and vote for movies, not based on a specific color -coded group as in the past, but whenever it is convenient for them to make a screening.  New Foreign Language committee heads, Larry Karazewski and Dianne Weyermann , who replace longtime head Mark Johnson, made the tweaks in hopes of gaining greater participation.

Here is the official list of entrants:

Afghanistan, “Rona Azim’s Mother,” Jamshid Mahmoudi, director;

Algeria, “Until the End of Time,” Yasmine Chouikh, director;

Argentina, “El Ángel,” Luis Ortega, director;

Armenia, “Spitak,” Alexander Kott, director;

Australia, “Jirga,” Benjamin Gilmour, director;

Austria, “The Waldheim Waltz,” Ruth Beckermann, director;

Bangladesh, “No Bed of Roses,” Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, director;

Belarus, “Crystal Swan,” Darya Zhuk, director;

Belgium, “Girl,” Lukas Dhont, director;

Bolivia, “The Goalkeeper,” Rodrigo “Gory” Patiño, director;

Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Never Leave Me,” Aida Begić, director;

Brazil, “The Great Mystical Circus,” Carlos Diegues, director;

Bulgaria, “Omnipresent,” Ilian Djevelekov, director;

Cambodia, “Graves without a Name,” Rithy Panh, director;

Canada, “Family First,” Sophie Dupuis, director;

Chile, “…And Suddenly the Dawn,” Silvio Caiozzi, director;

China, “Hidden Man,” Jiang Wen, director;

Colombia, “Birds of Passage,” Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra, directors;

Costa Rica, “Medea,” Alexandra Latishev, director;

Croatia, “The Eighth Commissioner,” Ivan Salaj, director;

Czech Republic, “Winter Flies,” Olmo Omerzu, director;

Denmark, “The Guilty,” Gustav Möller, director;

Dominican Republic, “Cocote,” Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias, director;

Ecuador, “A Son of Man,” Jamaicanoproblem, director;

Egypt, “Yomeddine,” A.B. Shawky, director;

Estonia, “Take It or Leave It,” Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo, director;

Finland, “Euthanizer,” Teemu Nikki, director;

France, “Memoir of War,” Emmanuel Finkiel, director;

Georgia, “Namme,” Zaza Khalvashi, director;

Germany, “Never Look Away,” Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director;

Greece, “Polyxeni,” Dora Masklavanou, director;

Hong Kong, “Operation Red Sea,” Dante Lam, director;

Hungary, “Sunset,” László Nemes, director;

Iceland, “Woman at War,” Benedikt Erlingsson, director;

India, “Village Rockstars,” Rima Das, director;

Indonesia, “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts,” Mouly Surya, director;

Iran, “No Date, No Signature,” Vahid Jalilvand, director;

Iraq, “The Journey,” Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji, director;

Israel, “The Cakemaker,” Ofir Raul Graizer, director;

Italy, “Dogman,” Matteo Garrone, director;

Japan, “Shoplifters,” Hirokazu Kore-eda, director;

Kazakhstan, “Ayka,” Sergey Dvortsevoy, director;

Kenya, “Supa Modo,” Likarion Wainaina, director;

Kosovo, “The Marriage,” Blerta Zeqiri, director;

Latvia, “To Be Continued,” Ivars Seleckis, director;

Lebanon, “Capernaum,” Nadine Labaki, director;

Lithuania, “Wonderful Losers: A Different World,” Arunas Matelis, director;

Luxembourg, “Gutland,” Govinda Van Maele, director;

Macedonia, “Secret Ingredient,” Gjorce Stavreski, director;

Malawi, “The Road to Sunrise,” Shemu Joyah, director;

Mexico, “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón, director;

Montenegro, “Iskra,” Gojko Berkuljan, director;

Morocco, “Burnout,” Nour-Eddine Lakhmari, director;

Nepal, “Panchayat,” Shivam Adhikari, director;

Netherlands, “The Resistance Banker,” Joram Lürsen, director;

New Zealand, “Yellow Is Forbidden,” Pietra Brettkelly, director;

Niger, “The Wedding Ring,” Rahmatou Keïta, director;

Norway, “What Will People Say,” Iram Haq, director;

Pakistan, “Cake,” Asim Abbasi, director;

Palestine, “Ghost Hunting,” Raed Andoni, director;

Panama, “Ruben Blades Is Not My Name,” Abner Benaim, director;

Paraguay, “The Heiresses,” Marcelo Martinessi, director;

Peru, “Eternity,” Oscar Catacora, director;

Philippines, “Signal Rock,” Chito S. Roño, director;

Poland, “Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski, director;

Portugal, “Pilgrimage,” João Botelho, director;

Romania, “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians,” Radu Jude, director;

Russia, “Sobibor,” Konstantin Khabensky, director;

Serbia, “Offenders,” Dejan Zecevic, director;

Singapore, “Buffalo Boys,” Mike Wiluan, director;

Slovakia, “The Interpreter,” Martin Šulík, director;

Slovenia, “Ivan,” Janez Burger, director;

South Africa, “Sew the Winter to My Skin,” Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, director;

South Korea, “Burning,” Lee Chang-dong, director;

Spain, “Champions,” Javier Fesser, director;

Sweden, “Border,” Ali Abbasi, director;

Switzerland, “Eldorado,” Markus Imhoof, director;

Taiwan, “The Great Buddha+,” Hsin-Yao Huang, director;

Thailand, “Malila The Farewell Flower,” Anucha Boonyawatana, director;

Tunisia, “Beauty and the Dogs,” Kaouther Ben Hania, director;

Turkey, “The Wild Pear Tree,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director;

Ukraine, “Donbass,” Sergei Loznitsa, director;

United Kingdom, “I Am Not a Witch,” Rungano Nyoni, director;

Uruguay, “Twelve-Year Night,” Álvaro Brechner, director;

Venezuela, “The Family,” Gustavo Rondón Córdova, director;

Vietnam, “The Tailor,” Buu Loc Tran, Kay Nguyen, directors;

Yemen, “10 Days before the Wedding,” Amr Gamal, director.

Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.

The 91st Oscars® will be held on Sunday, February 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.  The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.