Toni Servillo in the movie "The Great Beauty," directed by Paolo… (Gianni Fiorito / Acme PR )
The Motion Picture Academy on Friday released the shortlist of nine foreign-language films that will pass to the next round of the race, and it contained the category's characteristic mix of favorites and surprises.
While some of the films making the cut were on many forecasters' lists--they include Hong Kong's "The Grandmaster" directed by Wong Kar Wai, Denmark's "The Hunt" directed by Thomas Vinterberg and Italy's "The Great Beauty" directed by Paolo Sorrentino--the list omitted Iran's "The Past," from filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who previously won the category with "A Separation."
It also skipped the Saudi Arabian film "Wadjda," Chile's "Gloria" and Israel's "Bethlehem," all of which had been favorites to make the grade.
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Among the lesser-profile films taking their place are Bosnia and Herzegovina's "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker" and Cambodia's "The Missing Picture."
Distributor Sony Pictures Classics, which often dominates the category, also does not have a film in the final nine.
Oscar's foreign language category is often marked by some controversy through many steps of the process. One of the year's most talked-about foreign-language films, France's "Blue Is The Warmest Color," was ineligible to compete this year.
The shortlist, whittled down from a sizable 76 submissions, is compiled by the voting of a committee of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, whose top six choices are augmented by three additional selections from an executive committee. New committees in Los Angeles and New York will next view the nine films to decide on the final five nominees, which will be announced Jan. 16.
The full list:
Belgium, "The Broken Circle Breakdown"
Bosnia and Herzegovina, "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker"
Cambodia, "The Missing Picture"
Denmark, "The Hunt"
Germany," "Two Lives"
Hong Kong, "The Grandmaster"
Hungary, "The Notebook"
Italy, "The Great Beauty"
'The Great Beauty' follows a misanthrope in modern Rome
Wong Kar Wai woos fung fu crowd with 'The Grandmaster'
Thomas Vinterberg returns to a dark subject in 'The Hunt'
Follow Mark Olsen on Twitter: @IndieFocus
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