Don't Miss These Six Foreign Language Oscar Hopefuls Landing in Theaters

Roma. Burning. Shoplifters. The competition for Best Foreign Language Film might be the season's most exciting Oscar race.

by | October 26, 2018 | Comments


(Photo by Carlos Somonte / © Netflix )

This week, The Walking Dead alum Steven Yeun hits theaters as charming, mysterious, and wealthy playboy Ben in Lee Chang-dong’s Korean-language thriller noir, Burning. It’s a case of moviemaking wish fulfillment: Several years ago, on the press tour for Okja, Yeun commented that Lee was a “hero” with whom he desperately wanted to work; three months later, upon hearing those comments, Lee called Yeun to offer him the role of Ben. Currently sitting at 92% on the Tomatometer, Burning, which is South Korea’s official entry in the Foreign Language Oscar race, looks like it might earn the country its first nomination in the category. But it will face tough competition for the win.

Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma has dominated awards chatter so far this ear, and rightly so: Certified Fresh at 99% on the Tomatometer, Roma is the Oscar-winning auteur’s highest-rated film to date. And while most prognosticators are certain Cuarón’s black-and-white period opus will bring the director more Oscar gold, it’s somehow no done deal. This year, Oscar voters are facing an embarrassment of foreign-language riches, among them Roma, Burning, and a slew of others. Which is great news for moviegoers keen to walk off the beaten path. Here are six foreign-language films in theaters or on their way that you will definitely want to see in preparation for awards season.

Border (Gräns) (2018) 97%


When Ali Abbasi’s Border premiered at Cannes, it quickly became known as the “troll sex” movie with the lifelike makeup; when the movie took home the top prize in that festival’s Un Certain Regard section, though, it was clear this was a film not to be dismissed. A twisted contemporary fairytale in which the trolls look to find their happily ever after, Border offers a forceful and hilarious critique of self-image and happiness. The movie may be a little too offbeat to challenge Roma, Cold War, or Burning for top prize on the night – or, perhaps, to even be nominated – but it does also have a decent shot for Best Makeup.

In limited release October 26

Burning (Beoning) (2018) 95%

South Korea

Based on the Japanese short story, “Barn Burning,” by Haruki Murakami, Burning centers on Jong-soo, a young man who is besotted with a woman he grew up with but doesn’t initially remember from his childhood. Shortly after they become romantically involved, she’s quickly wooed away by Ben (played by Steven Yeun), an affluent and mysterious businessman whose hobbies are anything but orthodox. A slow burn for sure, Burning frames the Korean countryside in muted light, forming an eerily beautiful background to a series of increasingly disturbing events. Director Lee Chang-dong plants cryptic seeds throughout the film’s 160-minute runtime, but critics are saying the fruit they bear is worth the wait.

In limited release October 26

Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku) (2018) 99%


One of Japan’s most acclaimed directors, Hirokazu Koreeda, will potentially represent his country for the first time at next year’s Oscars with Shoplifters. The film, which took home the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is a critical favorite – it’s currently Certified Fresh at 98% – and tells the story of a close-knit adoptive family that resorts to shoplifting as a way to make ends meet. This poignant slice of life tale about people living between the cracks of society is a testament to the belief that the family you choose can be more precious than the one you’re born with. It’s a theme likely to resonate with voters and audiences.

In limited release November 23

Capernaum (Capharnaüm) (2018) 90%


Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum debuted to a 15-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival this year before taking home the top Jury Prize. The story of Zain, a young boy from the Beirut slums who sues his parents for giving birth to him, is one of several foreign-language films this year to marry a compelling narrative with socioeconomic commentary. The third time might also prove to be the charm for Labaki, who has twice before represented Lebanon in the Foreign Language Oscar race. Already predicted to be a front runner, Labaki will likely be the only female director to represent her nation in the category on Oscar night.

In limited release December 14

Roma (2018) 95%


The last film to earn Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Foreign Language Film was Michael Haneke’s 2012 end-of-life French love story, Amour. This year, Alfonso Cuarón looks to repeat that feat with Roma. Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical retelling of his adolescence in 1970s Mexico is voyeuristic and intimate, painting a moving portrait of the relationship between a maid and the family for which she works. Shot in black and white, with Cuarón pulling double duty as cinematographer, this may be Netflix’s best chance yet to win Oscar gold with a narrative feature. And just as Haneke’s leading lady, Emmanuelle Riva, earned a Best Actress nomination, Roma’s lead, Yalitza Aparicio, is looking like a good chance to be in the Best Actress conversation. It’s the one to beat in the Foreign Language category – and potentially in many others – but anything can happen come Oscar night.

In limited release and on Netflix December 14

Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) 92%


Poland won the category in 2015 for Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida. This year, Pawlikowski returns with another black-and-white epic, Cold War, which traces a decades-long love affair between and pianist and his singer muse. Our star-crossed couple falls in and out of love as the events of the Cold War years in Poland disrupt and form a backdrop to their passionate melodrama. The haunting dissolution of their affections is perfectly intermixed with triumphant moments of reunification that will undoubtedly dig into personal wounds for some audiences. Could it be the battle of the black-and-white epics? And the battle of the two previous Oscar winners?

In limited release December 21

Tag Cloud

Red Carpet Set visit blockbuster versus Rock 007 TCA Awards police drama Women's History Month Ovation Rom-Com Exclusive Video Quiz breaking bad Comics on TV kong Arrowverse Universal Cartoon Network Britbox game show 71st Emmy Awards discovery DirecTV MTV hollywood IFC Trivia video emmy awards nbcuniversal USA Network Amazon parents deadpool Superheroe japanese E3 BBC One OneApp Mystery movie MCU TCA 2017 Apple TV Plus black comedies Cannes foreign Mary poppins fresh TV transformers social media serial killer Video Games toy story Amazon Prime Video FX on Hulu remakes canceled heist movie james bond Watching Series Esquire christmas movies Calendar spanish language independent See It Skip It miniseries aliens disaster Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt worst FXX spain science fiction PBS best based on movie high school stop motion Teen 72 Emmy Awards Chilling Adventures of Sabrina CW Seed Valentine's Day cartoon binge History Chernobyl concert Ghostbusters YouTube Premium superhero E! cars archives Pride Month halloween tv series stoner 24 frames ghosts docuseries Nominations pirates of the caribbean Best and Worst Animation natural history Film Festival SDCC TIFF PaleyFest Musicals Nickelodeon GLAAD HBO Go french Lifetime Shondaland Tomatazos crime drama facebook ABC new star wars movies 2019 critics zero dark thirty 21st Century Fox Hallmark Christmas movies anime Netflix comic razzies dark boxoffice Television Critics Association Pet Sematary Pirates finale popular theme song VICE First Look Year in Review VH1 Warner Bros. latino obituary Drama venice Song of Ice and Fire indiana jones SXSW toronto hispanic CBS All Access Freeform Hallmark comics YA adaptation Black Mirror 2016 biography TV One spider-man Musical king kong book A24 mockumentary robots 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Paramount Plus Discovery Channel The Academy cops National Geographic docudrama Syfy Broadway asian-american renewed TV shows Creative Arts Emmys romance Superheroes jurassic park football Sundance TV prank Disney women dramedy 2020 Crackle award winner dogs Marvel ratings Countdown Logo DC Comics singing competition die hard scary movies NBC Vudu 4/20 green book psycho Disney Plus Sci-Fi FOX superman child's play Holiday Dark Horse Comics Binge Guide Shudder godzilla what to watch Marvel Studios Certified Fresh Adult Swim X-Men Reality Competition streaming 2018 diversity Comedy Sony Pictures Stephen King travel movies Television Academy anthology psychological thriller Emmy Nominations satire New York Comic Con President AMC kaiju Music LGBT Super Bowl crime Epix slashers OWN Black History Month Comedy Central justice league Grammys Alien sequel quibi dragons franchise Columbia Pictures Star Trek Hear Us Out cancelled TV series Spring TV NYCC saw supernatural Polls and Games Apple TV+ GIFs Trophy Talk TruTV RT History hist universal monsters PlayStation 2015 Pop Schedule cooking golden globes historical drama Apple ABC Family TLC news australia Classic Film casting tv talk The Walt Disney Company revenge trailers cinemax Endgame Ellie Kemper reviews Turner worst movies Disney+ Disney Plus Awards Reality space Mudbound BET laika 93rd Oscars Amazon Prime canceled TV shows Mary Tyler Moore ViacomCBS Disney streaming service directors Toys politics Holidays cults CBS BBC Thanksgiving doctor who Avengers HBO animated rotten movies we love classics Fox News fast and furious Turner Classic Movies DC Universe Awards Tour Photos rom-coms Tubi Netflix Christmas movies San Diego Comic-Con Legendary nfl true crime monster movies richard e. Grant Spike BET Awards batman Opinion BAFTA Lionsgate Paramount Network Bravo Acorn TV LGBTQ reboot Mary Poppins Returns all-time festivals stand-up comedy Elton John sequels strong female leads The CW spy thriller RT21 Martial Arts Showtime children's TV documentary TV renewals Writers Guild of America teaser YouTube Red Horror WarnerMedia Pixar Emmys 20th Century Fox BBC America cancelled The Walking Dead Winners Disney Channel joker Pop TV MSNBC Fantasy medical drama Biopics Crunchyroll Masterpiece films TCA TV Land halloween Captain marvel screen actors guild USA Mindy Kaling war El Rey SundanceTV Summer mutant cancelled TV shows Comic Book Podcast YouTube The Arrangement a nightmare on elm street crime thriller 45 witnail ESPN Character Guide TCA Winter 2020 Brie Larson Peacock period drama zombies Lucasfilm telelvision italian Food Network political drama Sundance rotten GoT twilight TNT TBS spanish Nat Geo WGN Oscars spinoff Tarantino 2017 Western ITV Action video on demand sag awards golden globe awards Kids & Family Extras 99% Funimation festival Tumblr Family Rocky FX Infographic HBO Max First Reviews DC streaming service nature Interview name the review CMT technology APB IFC Films Film The Purge blaxploitation sports Hulu south america indie CNN Christmas Trailer Amazon Studios Marvel Television documentaries cats unscripted composers sitcom TCM werewolf talk show adventure Marathons romantic comedy Sneak Peek screenings zombie VOD boxing Anna Paquin Box Office chucky book adaptation crossover ABC Signature Spectrum Originals rt archives jamie lee curtis comiccon Academy Awards Election game of thrones blockbusters Country ID Sundance Now Star Wars The Witch Travel Channel harry potter A&E elevated horror Paramount criterion thriller television Walt Disney Pictures Premiere Dates cancelled television hidden camera Fall TV dceu Winter TV American Society of Cinematographers kids Rocketman scorecard comic books Starz Baby Yoda Lifetime Christmas movies mission: impossible vampires dc Fox Searchlight 2021 free movies DGA Heroines Cosplay