Poland's "Ida," Russia's "Leviathan," Sweden's "Force Majeure" and Estonia's "Tangerines" were among the films selected for the shortlist for the Oscar foreign-language film category on Friday.
The other films on the shortlist were Argentina's "Wild Tales," Georgia's "Corn Island," Mauritania's "Timbuktu," the Netherlands' "Accused" and Venezuela's "The Liberator." The titles were whittled down from a record 83 submissions accepted for consideration.
Of the films in the running that were left out, the biggest surprise was Belgium's "Two Days, One Night," with international star Marion Cotillard and directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Among the most acclaimed filmmakers in the world, the Dardennes have never been nominated for an Academy Award.
Canada's "Mommy," directed by 25-year-old Xavier Dolan, was also a surprise omission. Israel's "Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem Gett," nominated for a Golden Globe, was also absent, as was Turkey's "Winter Sleep," winner of the top prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, which was also considered to be a strong contender in the category, though its more than three-hour running time may have factored against it.
As over the last few years, six of the films on the shortlist were voted in by academy members who volunteered to watch all the eligible films, with an additional three films added by an executive committee. The nine shortlisted films will be viewed by additional committees in Los Angeles, New York and London to determine the eventual five nominees.
Of those on the shortlist, "Ida" has been a clear front-runner so far, picking up numerous critics prizes and recently winning five top categories at the European Film Awards.
"Leviathan," "Force Majeure" and "Wild Tales" have all been popular on the festival circuit and with critics. Venezuela's "The Liberator" features the first film score composed by Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic and a Venezuela native.