In my opinion, Let the Right One In is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. I am not a huge foreign language film buff, so I can’t say definitively that it is the best foreign language film this year. Or that it should have been nominated, even, but I can say one thing. It should have at least been considered, and it wasn’t.
You see, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is, for lack of a better term, whacked. The list of requirements to be even considered in the nomination process for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is long. Movies can be rejected because they came on TV before going into theaters, a rule I understand in the US but which seems elitist to apply to all other countries. Also, a movie can be rejected because the submitting country has “exercised insufficient artistic control” over a movie, as happened with Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution. The list goes on and on. You can find it here.
Okay, I get it. There are crazy rules for every category. I’ll get over myself and concede. If you think you have a great movie and want a shot at an Oscar, read the rules and play by them. But there is one huge and gaping flaw with the nomination process.
Each country can nominate only one film for the Oscar.
And they can decide which film to nominate in any way they see fit. That means movies can be disqualified on a country-by-county basis if they are not patriotic enough, if they are honest about the social situation within the country, or even if they are in an unapproved genre.
The latter seems to be the case with Let the Right One In. Sweden decided they didn’t want the one movie representing them to be about a 12-year-old vampire girl killing people. Or they thought it couldn’t win. So not only will Right One not win, it never even had a real chance to be nominated.
This system is flawed. We live in the year 2009, and with DVDs and the internet and the global film community immediately reviewing, critiquing, and recommending films on a daily basis, do we really need to limit our pool of Foreign Language films to the handful recommended to the Academy by countries with their own reasons, standards, and agendas?
This category needs to be opened up, or it needs to be eliminated all together. Because “Best Foreign Language Film” means nothing when the best movies don’t make it to the nominating round. And besides, how arrogant can we be? Foreign films are great, and they aren’t just arthouse social cinema films, either. There are films with great special effects and editing and direction. There are A-List Hollywood directors making foreign language films, and there are foreign directors being imported to make studio pictures.
The line is gone. The standards are silly, and the award is losing all its meaning.
I can’t say Waltz With Bashir doesn’t deserve the Oscar it will probably win. From what I’ve heard, it absolutely does. But wouldn’t that award mean more if the Academy opened the competition? I think so.
If you want the Oscars to be respected, then don’t water them down. Your awards, Academy, have bold names like “Best Picture of the Year.” Make sure the movies really reflect the kudos.
Be sure to come back to us for the Oscar telecast. We’ll be doing live updates of the winners as well as a real-time discussion with each other and with you. It all starts at 7:30 Eastern time.