How long will France still have to wait before winning again the Oscar for Best International Film in Hollywood? If this were ever the case in March 2022, it would still have had to wait nearly thirty years – twenty-nine to be exact – before finding a successor to Indochina by Régis Wargnier, the last French winner in 1993. In the meantime, there have certainly been a dozen French nominations in this category, which was previously called Best Foreign Film, since Ridiculous from Patrice Leconte to Wretched by Ladj Ly. But overall, we would not necessarily be wrong in asserting that the Academy of American Cinema is lacking in appreciation of French cinema. Of them Filippo Meneghetti, the unsuccessful candidate from last year, can attest to this.
All this preamble to say that we find ourselves for a few days in the enchanted parenthesis, the one where everything seems possible. Indeed, the selection committee, appointed by the CNC and composed of nine people, including the director Julie Delpy (My Zoe), director Florian Zeller (The Father), producer Alain Goldman (I accuse) and former President of WarnerMedia France Iris Knobloch, published the day before yesterday the list of three films still eligible to represent France at the 94th Academy Awards. The latter is scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 27, 2022. Next Tuesday, October 12, the committee will meet again to meet with the producer, the international seller and the American distributor of each of these three films. . Then, she will vote for the final candidate.
North Bac by Cédric Jimenez, in theaters since August 18
The last French film nominated for the Oscar for Best International Film already dealt with the inhospitable reception of the police in a suburban city. Why not try to repeat the feat then? In terms of artistic prestige, however, Cédric Jimenez’s fourth feature film can hardly compete with Wretched version 2019. And the actors of the film are anything but sure values or at least recognizable with the American public. With the possible exception of Adèle Exarchopoulos, who had taken a few timid steps in English-speaking cinema through The Last Face by Sean Penn and Nureyev by Ralph Fiennes, since his coronation in Cannes in The Life of Adele in 2013.
No, the main argument in favor of this hard-core cop movie would be its impressive French box office results. Currently in his eighth week on the bill, he must now surpass the impressive post-pandemic time bar of two million spectators. Logically, the selection committee is betting on the popularity and relative accessibility of the film for an international audience, in order to attract the voters of the Academy of American cinema.
The event by Audrey Diwan, released on November 24
It wasn’t quite a grand slam. Nevertheless, French cinema did strong this year in terms of supreme prizes from the most prestigious festivals on the European continent. The latest was the Golden Lion awarded by the jury chaired by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho to the historical drama The event by Audrey Diwan. The subject of the film could also play in its favor, thanks to the American news which lives to the rhythm of the bans and successive authorizations of abortion in the state of Texas. Unless this calculation produces the opposite result. This is still unlikely, given the highly inclusive policy applied by officials of the Academy of American Cinema in recent years.
We do not yet know much about the second film by screenwriter and director Audrey Diwan, which will be released in France two and a half years after its debut. but you are crazy with Pio Marmaï and Céline Sallette. And even if her feminine drama does not find the approval of the jury, she may be able to console herself with her position as co-writer of… North Bac. Former companion of Cédric Jimenez, Audrey Diwan has indeed collaborated in the writing of all his films, from In the sight of all in 2012.
From a stupid statistical point of view, French films directed by women sometimes manage to reach the stage of nomination for the Oscar for Best International Film. They have been four so far: Thunderbolt by Diane Kurys, Three men and a bassinet by Coline Serreau, The taste of Others by Agnès Jaoui and Mustang scored by Deniz Gamze Ergüven.
Titanium by Julia Ducournau, in theaters since July 14
The alphabetical order makes us keep the more reckless choice for the end. Despite her controversial Palme d’Or from the jury chaired by American director Spike Lee or precisely because of her, Titanium remains a work as unclassifiable as the director’s first film, Serious. However, the latter had achieved at best a success of esteem during its American release, hardly noticed by a few secondary associations of critics who had named it as Best Foreign Film. The special nature of Titanium risks to make it know a similar fate, also because the first returns on its entries since its American release at the beginning of this month are not exceptional. In French theaters, his career was hardly honorable for this kind of film.
The fact remains that the link between the films nominated for this Oscar and the web-based works is not as tenuous as one might think. Since the turn of the century alone, no less than six films have had this double honor: Between the walls by Laurent Cantet, The White Ribbon and Love by Michael Haneke, The Square by Ruben Östlund, A family matter by Hirokazu Kore-eda and Parasite by Bong Joon-ho.
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Oscars 2022: the 3 French semi-finalists of International Film – film review