French, Austrians up for foreign Oscar, Asians out
French blockbuster "Les Intouchables" and Austrian Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner "Love" are frontrunners on a nine-strong shortlist published Friday for best foreign language Oscar.
The list of films still in the running -- whittled down from 71 movies in a long-list published in October -- also included films from Canada, Chile, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Romania and Switzerland.
Hong Kong movie master Johnnie To and China's Chen Kaige -- whose "Farewell my Concubine" won the top Cannes film festival prize in 1993 -- did not make the shortlist cut of foreign movies vying for an Academy statuette.
The five finalists will be announced on January 10, along with nominations in all other categories for the 85th Academy Awards, the climax of Hollywood's annual prize-giving season, to be held on February 24.
"Les Intouchables" ("The Intouchables") by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, about an aristocrat quadriplegic who hires a caretaker from the projects, has become the film with the second biggest take at the French box office and the biggest French film ever overseas.
Austrian filmmaker Haneke's tale of love and aging won the Cannes Film Festival's top prize in May, after the director took it home for the first time with 2009's "The White Ribbon."
The full foreign language Oscar shortlist, in alphabetical order, is:
Austria's "Amour" by director Michael Haneke.
Canada's "War Witch" by Kim Nguyen.
Chile's "No" by Pablo Larrain.
Denmark's "A Royal Affair" by Nikolaj Arcel.
France's "The Intouchables" by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano.
Iceland's "The Deep" by Baltasar Kormákur.
Norway's "Kon-Tiki" by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg.
Romania's "Beyond the Hills" by Cristian Mungiu.
Switzerland's "Sister" by Ursula Meier.
The shortlist will be winnowed down to the five nominees by Academy committees who will meet in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend of January 4-6, watching three films each day and then casting their ballots.
Last year's foreign language Oscar went to Iran's "A Separation," which presents a social expose of the Islamic republic behind the veneer of a taut family drama, while exploring themes of love, lies and honour.
© 2012 AFP