It's not hard to suspect that the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are Jewish artists and producers, as foreign films linked to the Holocaust are honored with a nomination. It will be an Oscar statuette for some filmmakers on the big night. The members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) don't have to go through a set of rigid rules that the Academy voters impose on the submitting entries (for Best Foreign Language Film). As a matter of fact, many foreign films were honored with the BAFTA Award for Best Film. (Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" was such a case.) And they would have an eclectic taste.
BAFTA, like the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), like to have some fun during the awards night. It doesn't mean that the Academy voters are outdated or too serious about the voting process. (Some would believe that politics could influence the result, but it rather seemed like an open secret.) The nominees for the 70th BAFTA Award will be known on January 6, and Asghar Farhadi's "The Salesman" has a good chance of making it to the final five. It's interesting to note that most of the past winners in this category didn't end up with the Oscars. It can be anyone's guess, so let's try to figure it out. Here is a shortlist:
To Live (1994) by Zhang Yimou. The Chinese government doesn't want to be an embarrassment in front of foreign leaders, and authorities won't have second thoughts of banning it (for release). Zhang Yimou would insist that he broke from the stereotypes surrounding Chinese Cinema, showing how a wealthy landowner (and his succeeding generations of his family) survived the tumultuous events in China during the 20th century. The most famous of the Fifth Generation filmmakers tried to be impartial in his adaptation of Yu Hua's novel, but some viewers detected a little criticism. (Taiwan was mentioned during that episode set during the Great Leap Forward.) It might be a grand version of "The Good Earth" to some moviegoers, but Zhang Yimou showed hardworking citizens who survived the odds. It wasn't hard not to crack up.
The Apartment (1996) by Gilles Mimouni. It would be a mystery why this French film wasn't released theatrically in the US. This marked the first collaboration between Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, who became an off-screen couple after production. Many French filmmakers love to explore the depth (or extremity) of a relationship, but Mimouni's script was a case of what might have been. His characters might be unhappy about their personal lives, even unsatisfied about the course of their living. Perhaps the French people are the only ones who can comprehend such things, which is the reason why "Wicker Park" didn't click with critics and audience. ("Wicker Park" is the Hollywood remake of "The Apartment").
The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) by Jacques Audiard. Harvey Keitel starred in "Fingers" (1978), about a loan shark collector who is also a talented pianist. Eventually, the young man must make a choice, and it won't be an easy one. No one in Hollywood would expect Jacques Audiard to remake this not-so-known film, which would be one of the reasons why this Gallic version might be better than its American counterpart. There was so much to know about this interesting character, and Romain Duris exceeded expectations.