The 2015 Oscar nominations for foreign language film are in, and this year's picks are small films that tackle big subjects, from the plight of Jews after World War II to the Georgian civil war of the 1990s.
Poland's "Ida," directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, had been favored to pick up a nomination. The film is about a Catholic nun in the 1960s who discovers she's Jewish and takes the painful journey to retrace her family's lineage. Russia's "Leviathan," about a family man's struggle with government corruption, also was nominated. The film, by director Andrey Zvyagintsev, won the Golden Globe for foreign language film on Sunday, making it the first Russian movie to win a Globe since 1969's "War and Peace."
Representing Argentina is director Damián Szifrón's social commentary on the culture of vengeance in "Wild Tales." "Tangerines" from Estonia (Zaza Urushadze is the director) was also nominated, as well as Abderrahmane Sissako's "Timbuktu" from Mauritania. The latter deals with the very topical issue of Islamic extremism.
"As I learn of this nomination, I am overwhelmed by an indescribable feeling, it is an honor for me and a great sign for Mauritania and Africa," Sissako said in a statement. "It is the acknowledgment of work accomplished through the passion and commitment of women and men of different countries, united to defend our universal values of love, peace, and justice."
Said "Tangerines" director Urushadze, "It makes me extremely happy that the overall message of humanity in the film is being so well received. Maybe it even means that everything is not lost yet, and that we can find a way to lasting peace and understanding. I hope 'Tangerines' will now find a U.S. distributor so an even wider audience can see the film. As for Estonia and Georgia, two micro countries, we all are celebrating!"
The nominees for the 87th Academy Awards were announced Thursday morning from the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles.
Several hundred Los Angeles-based academy members screened submissions for the foreign language film category late last year. The group chose six films, and three more selections were voted on by the Academy's Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee.
Special committees in New York, Los Angeles and London then spent the past weekend viewing three films a day before casting their ballots, making a shortlist of five nominees.
The Oscars will be held on Feb. 22 at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre and televised on ABC.