We correctly predicted 4/5 films. We thought that Decision to Leave (South Korea) would've been nominated over EO. This means that four European films have been nominated, alongside one South American film. Never count out a donkey.
All Quiet on the Western Front, Close, Argentina, 1985 and EO were all frontrunners from the beginning of the season. All four films were nominated at the NBR awards, while the German, Argentinian, and Belgium film were nominated at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. EO won NY and LA.
The inclusion of The Quiet Girl means that the "surprise" nominee continues for another year. Last year Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom was nominated. The year before that The Man Who Sold His Skin was nominated. We always thought that The Quiet Girl was a frontrunner, and once The Academy had a chance to watch it, they would fall in love with it. And they have indeed.
Let's take a look at the Oscar nominated films.
ARGENTINA, 1985 (ARGENTINA)
Based on real events, the story follows the events surrounding the 1985 Trial of the Juntas, which prosecuted the ringleaders of Argentina's last civil-military dictatorship. It centers on the titanic work of a group of non-lawyers aged 20 to 27, led by prosecutors Julio Cesar Strassera and Luis Moreno Ocampo, against those responsible for the most bloody dictatorship in the history of Argentina. The narration reflects on the true meaning in the concepts of memory, truth and justice under the slogan "Nunca mas" ("Never again").
The last time Argentina was nominated at the Oscars was back in 2014 with Wild Tales. Argentina also won the Oscar in 1985 for The Official Story and in 2009 for The Secret in their Eyes.
With Argentina, 1985, director Santiago Mitre does an excellent reenactment of what it took to bring Videla and other leaders of Argentina's military to justice after committing various atrocities against regular people. This movie represents explicitly how every single country needs to deal with dictatorship and how to deal with a corrupt army. The need to apply an exemplary conviction rate to all people that are guilty is absolutely necessary to restore peace. Check out the trailer below:
The film is about thirteen year olds Léo and Rémi, who spend the long summer holidays in innocent intimacy. But when school begins, their close friendship is thrown into disarray as their relationship is noticed and commented on by their contemporaries. In reaction to their sometimes insulting or intrusive comments, Léo attempts to distance himself from Rémi.
Belgium has been nominated seven times prior to Close. The last time they were nominated was back in 2013 with the excellent The Broken Circle Breakdown. Bullhead was nominated two years before that in 2011. Playground was shortlisted last year too.
With Close, director Lukas Dhont has created an emotional roller coaster of feelings. His two leads, Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele, are the stars of the show and it wouldn’t succeed without them. Every frame is shot with perfection. Every dialogue has a purpose. The music and the scenery, it all works. Dhont has created a portrait of grief. His film is a realistic, concise and often overwhelming glimpse into how our actions effect everyone around us. Check out the trailer below:
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (GERMANY)
Set in the closing days of World War I, All Quiet on the Western Front follows the life of an idealistic young German soldier named Paul Bäumer. After enlisting in the German Army with his friends, Bäumer finds himself exposed to the realities of war, shattering his early hopes of becoming a hero as he does his best to survive.
Germany is always a contender every year for International Feature. They have won the Oscar three times with The Tin Drum in 1979, Nowhere in Africa in 2002 and The Lives of Others in 2006. All Quiet on the Western Front is the 17th time they've been nominated. Most recently, they were nominated in 2016 for Toni Erdmann and in 2018 with Never Look Away. They were shortlisted last year with I'm Your Man.
Not a lot of films are made from the German perspective, and even less are made that make you feel completely sympathetic to the young German men. But these men aren’t monsters. There is no right or wrong side. They’re soldiers following orders from deranged leaders. The film perfectly captures the agony of survival, the fear of death and the humanizing of soldiers who do not fully comprehend what they’re doing. They all just want to go back home. Felix Kammerer and the rest of the cast are magnificent. They’re friends. They’re soldiers. They’re fighting for their lives. Director Edward Berger has created a stunning technical achievement starting from its cinematography to its production design and that haunting score.
Check out the trailer below:
THE QUIET GIRL (IRELAND)
Set in 1981, the film follows a withdrawn nine-year-old girl who experiences a loving home for the first time when she spends the summer on a farm with distant relatives.
The Quiet Girl is the first time Ireland is nominated for International Feature. Viva was shortlisted back in 2015.
Led by a powerful performance by Catherine Clinch, in her debut role, the film is impeccable, stripped back film making, in a quiet gut-wrenching story. It's powerful when it lands. And there's a gentle serenity to it all. All a child wants is to belong to a loving and caring family. To feel safe. To feel protected. The quiet girl may not say much, but her last word spoken in the film is the most powerful one of all. The Quiet Girl is the reason why we watch movies. We fall in love with them. And months later we still get teary eyed thinking about them. Director Colm Bairead has a created a masterpiece. It’s a slow buildup to a perfect emotional ending that makes it one of the best films of the year.
Check out the trailer below:
Inspired by Robert Bresson's 1966 film, EO follows the life of a donkey born in a Polish circus.
Poland has been on a hot streak lately. It won the Oscar in 2014 for Ida. And most recently it has been nominated in 2018 for Cold War and 2019 for Corpus Christi. Including EO, they've been nominated a total of twelve times.
Acclaimed director Jerzy Skolimowski gives an accurate portrayal of humans while emphasizing the innocence of animals, all with just 20 lines of dialogue. Looking into EO’s eyes you just know what he’s telling us. He doesn’t need to speak to be able to talk to us. His expression says it all. We can judge the heart of a person by his treatment of animals. And this film is a beautiful way to show the world’s cruelty through the eyes of a donkey. And we as a society have definitely failed EO.
Check out the trailer below:
SO WHO WILL WIN?
It seems like the past few years there has been a film that has been fully embraced by The Academy. In 2018, Roma was nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Picture and it was the clear winner for International Feature. The following year, Parasite was nominated for six awards and it won Best Picture, so it easily won International Feature as well. In 2020, Another Round was nominated for Best Director and so it won the Oscar for International Feature. And last year, Drive My Car was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, and so it won the award as well.
This year, All Quiet on the Western Front is nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture. As a result, it feels like it's the frontrunner to win International Feature. With the shortlisted top 15 films, only Academy members who have watched each and every film can vote. With the final five films, all Academy members can vote, even if they haven't watched all five films.
So, which films are the most accessible right now? The two films are All Quiet on the Western Front, now available on Netflix, and Argentina, 1985, now available on Amazon. For us, these two films are in the lead. But there hasn't been a consensus this year with the awards. Close won NBR. EO won NY and LA. Argentina, 1985 won the Golden Globe. RRR (not eligible) won the Critics Choice Awards. BAFTA hasn't been announced yet.
So, as of right now, we give the edge to All Quiet on the Western Front, where it'll likely win BAFTA and then the Oscar.