This year’s Best Foreign Movie Oscar seems destined for Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman given the complicated foreign policy surrounding the Iranian director and excellent storytelling of the movie. While we make a huge hullabaloo about the state of Indian films at Oscars every year, we miss the fact that there are many countries that send their movies for consideration as well. These movies are important not just from a filmmaking point of view but also to know and learn about foreign cultures and stories. Keeping this in mind, we’ve #Querated seven movies submitted by other countries that haven’t made the Oscar shortlist this year.
The only serious competition to The Salesman was Elle, which features a career-best performance by Isabelle Huppert who stars as protagonist Michele Leblanc. The flm deals with the story of her rape on multiple occasions inside her house by the same assailant and how the incident affects her world and those around her. Despite its bold storyline and direction, by Paul Verhoeven of Basic Instinct fame, Elle is not an erotic thriller by any means and instead focusses on the psychological and mental aftermath of rape instead of the physical act itself to become a tastefully made film that will leave you with more questions than answers by the time the end credits start rolling.
Last year we were blown away by Yorgos Lanthimos’ weirdly delicious movie The Lobster. Lanthimos returns as producer with Chevalier this year wherein a group of men decide to let off their testosterone aboard the Aegean Sea by organising a spontaneous contest. Director Athina Rachel Tsangari subverts gender stereotypes skilfully even as the story moves from one task to another that the men take up with gusto.
Tunku Mona Riza’s debut feature Redha is the study of Malaysia’s attitude towards autism and the devastating effects it has on one family whose son suffers from the condition. This drives the couple apart in different ways, with the father insisting that the boy is just a late bloomer while his mother accepts counsel after getting him diagnosed. The movie’s strength lies in how it makes the audience aware of their own reaction to patients suffering from mental illness.
Barakah Meets Barakah, Saudi Arabia
Here’s a fun fact. Barakah Meets Barakah is only the second movie sent by Saudi Arabia to the Oscars to compete in the ‘Best Foreign Film’ category. Written and directed by Mahmoud Sabbagh, the film is a tender love story between a middle-class boy and a wealthy girl mixed with self-deprecating humour. That a love story from the world’s most conservative country made it all the way to the Oscars is reason enough to catch this tender movie.
Pedro Almodovar’s name as director should be reason enough to catch Julieta, his 20th film. Based on short stories from Alice Munro’s book Runaway, the movie competed for the Golden Palm at Cannes last year and features a star turn by Emma Suarez. Julieta is the story of a woman ridden with guilt and remorse after her husband passes away and her daughter abandons her. With a lilting score by Alberto Iglesias and told via flashbacks spread over three decades, this is a movie that draws you into its fold with rare intimacy.
Tiny Singapore packs a punch in director Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice that was screened in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival to thunderous applause. The movie highlights the death penalty from the point of view of an executioner who meets young prison officers with meaningful backstories. It is a sombre attempt at looking at the families of not only the executed but also the executioner and how life and death affects them.
Pablo Larrain’s Neruda is a treat for the eyes. Pablo Neruda runs through the countryside in 1948 to avoid getting arrested by Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael Garcia Bernal), a smart-aleck police officer yearning for recognition. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year and went on to gain critical acclaim across the world. Bernals’ acting and his character’s bumbling efforts to catch Neruda (Luis Gnecco) makes this a film to watch as soon as possible.
Like this article? Also read: Trapped Trailer: Rajkummar Rao’s Tale of Urban Terror
Cover Image Courtesy: YouTube screengrab