71 countries enter Oscar foreign language race, but not Iran

A record 71 countries have submitted films for consideration in the foreign language category for the 85th annual Academy Awards.

Missing, however, is this year’s winner. Despite capturing the Oscar in February for the family drama “A Separation,” Iran opted to boycott the event as a response to the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” that has sparked violence in much of the Middle East.

As expected, Michael Haneke’s “Amour,” from Austria, and Nikolaj Arcel’s “A Royal Affair,” from Denmark, are entered in the competition for the gold statuette that will be awarded in February, but some other high-profile films such as the Marion Cotillard-starrer “Rust and Bone” and Saudi Arabia’s “Wadjda” will not be judged by the foreign language committee at all.


PHOTOS: Hollywood backlot moments

In the case of Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone,” which is generating high praise for both Cotillard’s and Matthias Schoenaerts’ performances, it was passed over by France in favor of the country’s second-highest-grossing film of all time, “The Intouchables,” starring Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy, which has earned $355 million internationally.

Oscar prognosticators predict that Cotillard’s performance still will be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“The Intouchables,” which the Weinstein Co. released in May, has grossed only $9.6 million in the United States but has generated strong reviews with both critics and audiences. The film centers on the relationship between a handicapped millionaire and his ex-con caretaker.

“Wadjda,” the first Saudi film made by a woman, generated positive response when it debuted at the Telluride Film Festival in August but missed the deadline for this year’s submission. Saudia Arabia did not submit a film this year. The movie, about a rebellious young preteen, was purchased by Sony Pictures Classics for a 2013 U.S. release and now is hoping to be eligible for Oscar consideration at the 2014 Academy Awards.

Other titles with name recognition in the Oscar race include Baltazar Kormakur’s “The Deep,” which the director’s home country of Iceland submitted. Kormakur recently dipped his toe into U.S. filmmaking with the successful January release of the Mark Wahlberg film “Contraband.”

“The Deep” centers on a fisherman trying to survive in the freezing ocean after his boat capsizes off the coast of Iceland.

“Kon-Tiki,” Norway’s submission from directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg about Thor Heyerdal’s 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947, is another contender. Both “The Deep” and “Kon-Tiki” debuted at this fall’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Pablo Larrain’s “No” is Chile’s official submission. The film, which won the director’s fortnight at Cannes, stars Gael Garcia Bernal as an ad executive who launches a campaign to defeat Augusto Pinochet in Chile’s 1988 referendum. Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in the U.S. in February.


Iran boycotts Oscar race in protest of anti-Islam film

Telluride Film Festival: Haifaa Monsour’s tough path to ‘Wadjda’

‘Rust and Bone’: Marion Cotillard solidifies front-runner status

For Iceland’s Baltasar Kormakur, a desire to get deep