It’s been a big morning for foreign language films — and their filmmakers. Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma today became the 11th foreign language movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (though not all previous titles were nominated in the Foreign Language race). It also tied with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for the most nominations for a film not in English. Roma scored 10 overall, including in the Best Foreign Language Film category which is rife with titles that spread out across several key races. There’s been crossover before, but today’s is a remarkable result as the Academy leans into becoming a more global enterprise. There’s a reason that all season we’ve been calling this one of the strongest FL years in recent memory.
Along with Roma, the Best Foreign Language Film field includes Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War from Poland, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Never Look Away from Germany, Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum from Lebanon and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters from Japan.
After winning for 2013’s Gravity Cuaron is also up for Best Director again with Roma (Netflix). So is Pawlikowski, for his 1950s-set romance drama Cold War (Amazon). This is Pawlikowski’s first time in the directing category, but his second in Foreign Language where he won the Oscar with 2014’s Ida.
Roma and Cold War each also scored a Best Cinematography nomination today. Cuaron shot his own movie when frequent collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki wasn’t available, and today scooped his first mention in the category. Cold War’s Lukasz Zal was previously nominated for Ida so is marking a return to the Cinematography race.
And, Caleb Deschanel, an ASC favorite who has been nominated for an Academy Award five previous times, but never won, is up for Never Look Away. That post-war drama sees von Donnersmarck return to the Foreign Language category after winning for 2006’s The Lives Of Others.
Labaki’s Capernaum is a social drama that was the Cannes Jury Prize winner in 2018. Like Never Look Away, it’s handled by Sony Pictures Classics. This is a one-two punch for Lebanon as the second time the country has ever received a nomination after last year’s The Insult. Also from Cannes is Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters by Hirokazu Kore-eda in the veteran’s first ever nomination. Magnolia has the family drama in North America.
As for Roma, it was thrust into the spotlight when it debuted at the Venice Film Festival and took home the Golden Lion (also debuting in Venice were fellow Best Picture nominees The Favourite and A Star Is Born). It has since become one of the most talked about and lauded foreign language films since Crouching Tiger. More recently, it’s the first crossover directing nomination since 2012’s Amour which was also up for Picture, FL and Actress.
The black-and-white reflection on Cuaron’s childhood growing up and the women who surrounded him poignantly also spread the love to the acting categories with nominations for newcomer Yalitza Aparicio in Best Actress and Marina de Tavira in Supporting.
In other recognition for the work of global artists, the Academy handed out a directing nomination to Greek helmer Yorgos Lanthimos whose The Favourite (Fox Searchlight), tied Roma in overall nods. Further major mentions went to Japan’s Mirai in Best Animated Feature, German-Syrian Documentary Feature Of Fathers And Sons and Sweden’s Border in Makeup & Hairstyling.
The previous films not in English that have won the most Oscars include Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny And Alexander, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger and Pan’s Labyrinth — by Cuaron’s pal Guillermo del Toro and produced by Cuaron’s Esperanto Filmoj.