Films from Denmark, France, Iran, Italy and Japan are nominated for the Golden Globes foreign-language film award. "The Hunt," "Blue Is the Warmest Color," "The Past," "The Great Beauty" and "The Wind Rises" will compete for the prize, to be announced on Jan. 12.
With guidelines that allow for more than one film from a given country to be eligible, the Globes' foreign language category can be very different from the Academy Awards. Last year, two films from France, "The Intouchables" and "Rust and Bone," were nominated. Nevertheless, the last three winners in the category at the Globes have gone on to win the Oscar too.
Of this year's Globe nominees, Denmark's "The Hunt," Iran's "The Past" and Italy's "The Great Beauty" are all official submissions for the Academy Awards from their respective countries, and each got a big boost Thursday morning. Asghar Farhadi, writer-director of "The Past," won both the Globe and the Oscar for his 2011 film "A Separation."
"The Past," though considered an Iranian film, was shot in Paris and is in French, with a cast that includes "The Artist" star Bérénice Bejo, who won the best actress prize for the role at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
"It was only the location of my film that had changed, but my filmmaking was like before," Farhadi said from New York via a translator. "I thought of the audience the same way as I thought of them in my previous films. I always think I am the first audience of my films, and if I don't believe something in my films, I won't do it."
"Blue Is the Warmest Color," a three-hour, NC-17 story of young love, has been one of the most talked about films of the year. In an unusual move, when the film won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the award was given not only to director Abdellatif Kechiche but also to actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. Since then, controversy has followed the film, not only for its explicit depictions of lesbian sex, but also because a war of words erupted between the director and his stars.
It was at separate press conferences earlier this year for the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. that Kechiche verbally attacked Seydoux, followed by the actress erupting in tears.
Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, distributor of "Blue," acknowledged that he felt "vindicated" by the Globes nomination after the film's release date in France made it ineligible to be this year's official French submission to the Oscars.
"I said early, early on that the Globes could be better than the Oscars in terms of the foreign-language category," Sehring said. "And, selfishly, by the inclusion of 'Blue,' it is a better foreign-language selection. But we're really thrilled it's gotten this reception."
"The Wind Rises," which director Hayao Miyazaki has repeatedly declared will be his last film, will compete at the Oscars in the animation category rather than foreign language. The film has begun to come under fire for its depiction of the story of aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi; it's been called "anti-Japanese" by some and "morally complacent" by others. In a review, Times critic Kenneth Turan called it "a complex story that resists easy summation."
Italy's "The Great Beauty," directed by Paolo Sorrentino, is a phantasmagorical journey through modern-day Rome as seen through the eyes of a disillusioned author, played by Toni Servillo. The film recently won big at the European Film Awards, picking up four prizes including best film, best actor and best European director.
It was at last year's European Film Awards that "The Hunt" won the screenplay prize for director Thomas Vinterberg and his co-writer, Tobias Lindholm. When "The Hunt" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, it picked up a best actor prize for Mads Mikkelsen, who has in the interim seen his profile rise in the United States thanks to his role as the title character on the TV program "Hannibal."
Speaking by phone from Copenhagen Thursday, Vinterberg said he was pleased by the reponse that "The Hunt," the story of a man wrongly accused of sexually abusing a young girl, has been getting outside Denmark.
"I'm just incredibly proud that this film we did, this very Danish, local story, has turned out to be universal," Vinterberg said. "It's interesting for me to start out with a project with some provocative subjects and to see that it's been quite a big commercial success here and to see people profoundly moved by it there; that's a great satisfaction."
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