Silver Screen Streak List #13: Best Foreign Language Film Nominees

The Best of the Screen of Babel

Silver Screen Streak List #13:
Best Foreign Language Film Nominees

Written by dorrk
07 November 2020

Now that the madness of the Octoblur 2020 horror movie marathon is done with, I can get back to my epic Silver Screen Streak movie challenge, which, after 8 months, is halfway through its first round. What have I done?

For my 13th list in this challenge, fellow Flickcharter Ben Lott has chosen a pretty promising source list, Flickchart's global ranking of Nominees for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. This is, mostly, a list of movies that I like. This list comprises 311 movies. I've seen 80, and my personal Flickchart rankings of those 80 average out to 68.25%, which is well above average. If you take only Flickchart's Top 100 Best Foreign Film Nominees, I've seen 61, and my rankings average at an even better 72.22%. This list was a smart pick... but it's also full of landmines. Among my beloved (1963), Woman in the Dunes (1964) and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) lurk evils such as Amélie (2001), The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) and (feeling nauseous merely typing this) Life Is Beautiful (1997).

My Priors

Biases and expectations about the movies in this list

The First Two

I’ll watch the first two movies from each list, giving each participant the chance to avoid an instant exit and maybe even earn some free passes.

The first two movies on this list are:

Incendies (2010); Dir.: Denis Villeneuve

Incendies (2010)

Dir.: Denis Villeneuve

I find Denis Villeneuve interesting, even if I'm generally less impressed with his movies than his vocal ardent fans. I've seen all of his features of the 2010s except for this one. I like, but don't love, Prisoners (2013), Arrival (2016), Sicario (2015), and Enemy (2013). My favorite from him so far is Blade Runner 2049 (2017), which surprised me, as I'm not a fan of the original. So far, only Enemy sits below 50% on my Flickchart, and barely.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988); Dir.: Pedro Almodóvar

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Dir.: Pedro Almodóvar

Pedro Almodóvar has a very particular style, a kind of romantic tackiness, and it's not one that I find very appealing. However, I have liked some of his films, like Talk to Her (2002), so it's not always a deal-breaker. This is the big one that put him on the map, and I'm a bit surprised that I've never seen it. I'm bracing myself for the realization that I did watch it 30 years ago and suppressed it for some reason. This one could be an early problem on this list.


If those first two movies fare well enough on my Flickchart, I'll continue through the following, as long as they stay above 50% on my Flickchart.

Closely Watched Trains (1966); Dir.: Jirí Menzel

Closely Watched Trains (1966)

Dir.: Jirí Menzel

I have a vague familiarity with this title, which makes me wonder if I watched all or part of this in film school during the 1990s. I have warm feelings so far for the Czech New Wave film movement, so I'm looking forward to this.

Stolen Kisses (1968); Dir.: François Truffaut

Stolen Kisses (1968)

Dir.: François Truffaut

This is the third movie in Truffaut's "Antoine Doinel" series, which started with his French New Wave coming-of-age classic The 400 Blows (1959). I re-watched that very recently and plan to catch-up on his follow-up short Antoine and Colette (1962) before watching Stolen Kisses. I've seen four Truffaut movies, all of which rank at 80% or higher on my Flickchart.

The Twilight Samurai (2002); Dir.: Yôji Yamada

The Twilight Samurai (2002)

Dir.: Yôji Yamada

I don't know anything about Yamada or this film. Beyond my general respect for Japanese cinema, this is a wildcard.

The Sea Inside (2004); Dir.: Alejandro Amenábar

The Sea Inside (2004)

Dir.: Alejandro Amenábar

I remember hearing about The Sea Inside during 2005's Oscar season but was avoiding prestige-paint-drying-dramas around that time. I don't have any strong opinions about Amenábar. I like The Others (2001) but have a strong aversion to Vanilla Sky (2001), which is Cameron Crowe's Hollywood remake of Amenábar's Open Your Eyes (1997). I suspect he may be a little too touchy-feely for me, but we'll see.

Cyrano De Bergerac (1990); Dir.: Jean-Paul Rappeneau

Cyrano De Bergerac (1990)

Dir.: Jean-Paul Rappeneau

Remember when Gérard Depardieu was briefly a Hollywood movie star? This literary heritage costume drama was one of his last big French productions before he took America by storm with hits like Green Card (1990), 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), and My Father, the Hero (1994). The 1990s were weird.

Central Station (1998); Dir.: Walter Salles

Central Station (1998)

Dir.: Walter Salles

I wasn't aware that I had seen any Walter Salles movies before looking him up just now. I have, in fact, watched both The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) and his horribly miscast Jack Kerouac adaptation On the Road (2012). I hate them both.

The Last Metro (1980); Dir.: François Truffaut

The Last Metro (1980)

Dir.: François Truffaut

So it turns out that this 1980s French World War II drama is not the 1980s French movie Metro (1985), which was advertised with a poster of Christopher Lambert holding what looks like a lightsaber. Thank goodness.

Departures (2008); Dir.: Yôjirô Takita

Departures (2008)

Dir.: Yôjirô Takita

Japanese cinema has an interesting history of directors with fine artistic credentials moving in and out of the (often weird) softcore porn exploitation genre knowns as "Pinku eiga." Here I am looking at this normie-targeted poster of a dreamy cellist sitting in front of a mountain, like a movie trying to outperform Shine (1996) among boomer wine club saps, and I what do I find in Takita's background? Over 20 movies with titles like Serial Rape (1983), Molester's Train: Keiko's Tush (1983), and Groper Train: Search for the Black Pearl (1984).

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