Ever wondered why so many foreign films miss out on Oscar nods – the rules have now changed

Foreign Films that Miss the Oscars by Jason King

The Oscars, something we have grown up believing is the all mighty and powerful awards of film, until we get a little older and a little more cynical and we commence watching more and more art house, or foreign, films and realising there is so much more to the world than shit being blown up and direct studio controlled films. There is a true art form in storytelling shown on film and not the film by bean-counters and test audience approved check box methods.


The Intouchables - the best foreign film not to be nominated for an Oscar
The Intouchables – the best foreign film not to be nominated for an Oscar


Just this year alone films like BARBARA (Germany) and the most incredible, and should have won, THE INTOUCHABLES were submitted for consideration but never nominated. AMOUR won this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar. This happens year on year and my jaw hits the ground at the amazing films not nominated for foreign film awards when the best pictures category gets more nominations added every year to accommodate them all. Why? Because the rules of voting for a foreign film are quite different from the rest. For Foreign Language and Documentary Shorts members have to attend special screenings for those two categories. Now, with changes being implemented for next year, all members will have an opportunity to participate in the final vote in Foreign Language and Doc Shorts and will be sent DVDs in order to facilitate that. Nomination processes will not change though.


The Academy Award's Oscar
The Academy Award’s Oscar


Foreign Language films do not have their own branch or peer group in the Academy and the contest has usually been conducted on a volunteer basis with members signing up to view the entries and then giving them point totals leading eventually to the final five nominees (the larger volunteer committee selects six finalists while a smaller executive committee selects an additional three – the final five are selected from that). Then only members who could prove they had seen all five nominees in a theatre could actually vote. That now has changed and will likely favour more popular contenders, especially with the DVD aspect. AMOUR was the most recent winner.  The change was made in order to expand members’ participation in all aspects of the Academy’s activities including the Oscar voting.

This is great news and means smaller, foreign, films from all around the world will get a shoe in and various countries will be nominated on what people think and not what major studios decide should be the foreign films to be viewed.

Special thanks to Pete Hammond from Deadline.com for some of this information.

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