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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has unveiled its list of nine foreign films that have moved closer to a Best Foreign Language Oscar nomination, providing awards watchers with the first surprise of the season. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s acclaimed The Past was not included on the list.
The nine films were picked out of a record field of 76 entries. Many countries had submitted films for consideration for the first time, including Saudi Arabia, which entered Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wadjda, although that film didn’t make the cut.
As TheWrap notes, The Past was considered a frontrunner for the award, but will now not even secure a nomination. The film, which stars Marion Cotillard, was Farhadi’s first film since A Separation, which won the award for 2011. The Past did garner a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Film, though.
So, one of the favorites will now be The Hunt, by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg and starring Mads Mikkelsen. Paolo Sorrentino’s acclaimed The Great Beauty also made the cut and represents Italy. Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster represents Hong Kong and did reach the shortlist.
The other six films competing are:
Belgium, The Broken Circle Breakdown, Felix van Groeningen, director
Bosnia and Herzegovina, An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker, Danis Tanovic, director
Cambodia, The Missing Picture, Rithy Panh, director
Germany, Two Lives, Georg Maas, director
Hungary, The Notebook, Janos Szasz, director
Palestine, Omar, Hany Abu-Assad, director
The Academy previously announced that 289 films are eligible for Best Picture. The nominations are announced on Jan. 16 and the awards are handed out on March 2.