In addition to the heavyweight in the category, Austria's "Amour" (which has been talked up for a best picture nom), speculation about other potential shortlistees has enveloped such films as French hit "The Intouchables," Belgian entry "Our Children," Gael Garcia Bernal starrer "No" from Chile, Australia's "Lore," Canada's "War Witch," China's "Caught in the Web," the Czech Republic's "In the Shadow," Denmark's "A Royal Affair," Germany's "Barbara," Israel's "Fill the Void," Norway's "Kon-Tiki," Switzerland's "Sister" and the Netherlands' "Kauwboy," a European Film Awards honoree for European discovery.
As Anthony Kaufman notes in this feature, directors including Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Lasse Hallstrom and Kim Ki-duk are in the mix, while John Anderson points out that dysfunctional families have been a major theme in this year's submissions.
Kaufman also notes that voting patterns have changed in recent years, thanks to the institution of an exec committee that chooses a third of the films on the shortlist. (The other six films will be the ones that average the highest score on a 10-point scale among participating voters.)
Still, the more things change ... well, let's let Kaufman explain.
"Foreign-lingo film Oscar watchers are quick to note that none of these surface characteristics ultimately matters as much to Acad voters as something deeper: an accessible and emotionally satisfying film," Kaufman writes. "That's why the movie to beat this year may be 'The Intouchables,' a feel-good film likened to 'Driving Miss Daisy' that resolves racial and class conflicts in less than two hours."