Oscarthon: Best Foreign Film

Another category in which I'm reduced to educated-ly guessing. Someday I'm gonna be a real film-critic type with access to foreign films and shorts in a timely manner.

Let's see what we're dealing with.

1. Ajami

An ensemble crime drama set in the Ajami neighborhood of Tel Aviv. I can't really get the thrust of the plot from the trailer, but it's drawn comparisons to City Of God, which are never a bad thing.

2. The Milk of Sorrow (La Teta Asustada)

A portrait of the fallout in Peru from the violence related to the Shining Path uprising, in particular the mass-rapes used by the army as a military strategy. The title refers to the folk belief that women so abused would pass the trauma and fear to their children through breast milk.

3. A Prophet (Un Proph├Ęte)

A French Arab moves up into the mafia after being sentenced to six years in mafia-run prison. This is my favorite trailer of the five, if that counts for anything.

4. The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)

An Argentine Justice Agent looks back to try and solve a 25 year old murder case, in a film that looks very sweeping and traditionally Oscarish.

5. The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band)

A village in pre-WWI Germany is beset by a rash of unexplained crimes. And even though this is the favorite for the Oscar (based on its Golden Globe win and nomination for cinematography), I will never see it, because Michael Haneke's films rub me the wrong way.

Spoiler Alert: you will never get answers to any mystery raised in The White Ribbon. None. You'll just get long, suffocating shots that make you claustrophobic, people awkwardly staring at each other, and heavy-handed metaphors about purity. I can say all this without needing to watch more than the trailer.

ETA: I'm abruptly switching my pick to Un Prophete on the basis of the Cesar awards and this category never going as planned. You think it'll be Waltz With Bashir? Nope: Departures. Pan's Labyrinth looks like a sure thing? Nope: The Lives Of Others. And so on.

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