As the French might say, the victory of "Amour" for foreign language film at the Oscars on Sunday was practically a fait accompli.
Pourquoi, you ask? Well, Michael Haneke's beautiful, elegiac film about a sudden crisis threatening an octogenarian couple's long love affair already had captured the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival, as well as this year's Golden Globe in the foreign language category. The French-language movie -- it was the official entry from Austria, not France -- also had been nominated for the best picture Oscar, an extremely rare feat for a film not in English.
Further bolstering the film's chances, the Austro-German Haneke had come oh-so-close to winning an Oscar before, for his 2009 drama "The White Ribbon," and was nominated this year for director and original screenplay. And the central acting troika of "Amour" consisted of three of Europe's most accomplished performers: Emmanuelle Riva (also a lead actress nominee), Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert.
In winning the statuette, "Amour" bested two other foreign-film contenders that leaned toward serious-minded drama and challenging, unsettling themes. Pablo Larrain's fact-based "No," from Chile, starred Gael Garcia Bernal as a hotshot advertising executive who leads a 1988 plebiscite ad campaign that helped oust dictator Augusto Pinochet from power. The Canadian drama "War Witch," directed by Kim Nguyen, relates the travails of a 14-year-old girl soldier at war in sub-Saharan Africa.