The nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards® were announced yesterday, including five movies in the newly titled International Feature Film category, known as Foreign Language Film prior to 2020. The first Academy Awards® was held in 1929 to honor movies released in 1927-28. At that time, there was no separate category for foreign language movies, and it wasn’t until 1947 that the Academy began presenting Special and Honorary Awards to the best foreign language movies released in the United States. However, these awards were not presented on a regular basis nor were they competitive as movies were not nominated. There was only the one winning movie.
Then, in 1956, the 29th Academy Awards added a competitive Academy Award of Merit named Best Foreign Language Film to honor non-English speaking movies, and the award has been given annually ever since.
The 2020 nominees for Best International Feature Film are: Corpus Christi (Poland), Honeyland (North Macedonia), Les Misérables (France), Pain and Glory (Spain), and Parasite (South Korea).
(left to right) Brigadier Stéphane Ruiz, dit Pento (Damien Bonnard), Chris (Alexis Manenti), and Gwada (Djibril Zonga) in Les Misérables (2019)
Les Misérables, France’s submission for Best International Feature Film, opens at select Regal locations this week. The movie follows Stéphane, a recent transplant to the impoverished suburb of Montfermeil, who joins the local anti-crime squad where he works alongside two unscrupulous colleagues. When an arrest turns unexpectedly violent, the three officers must reckon with the aftermath and keep the neighborhood from spiraling out of control.
Inspired by the 2005 Parisian riots, Les Misérables is the debut feature from director Ladj Ly. The crime drama is a continuation of Ly’s 2017 short of the same name and stars the same lead actors. Damien Bonnard, who appeared in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Oscar® winner Dunkirk in 2017, plays Brigadier Stéphane Ruiz, dit Pento alongside his anti-crime squad partners Alexis Manenti as Chris and Djibril Zonga as Gwada. Ly co-wrote the screenplay along with Giordano Gederlini and co-star Alexis Manenti. Les Misérables premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 2019, where it won the Jury Prize, before screening at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
(left to right) Gwada (Djibril Zonga), Chris (Alexis Manenti), and Brigadier Stéphane Ruiz, dit Pento (Damien Bonnard) in Les Misérables (2019)
French movies have received Oscar® nominations for Best Foreign Language/International Film a whopping 39 times in the award’s 71-year history (including Honorary Awards), ranking first all time ahead of Italy’s 32 nominations. However, Italy has their neighboring nation beat with 14 wins ahead of France’s second-place 12.
Below are the past winners from France:
1948—Monsieur Vincent (Monsieur Vincent)
1950—The Walls of Malapaga (Au-delà des grilles)
1952—Forbidden Games (Jeux interdits)
1958—My Uncle (Mon Oncle)
1959—Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro)
1962—Sundays and Cybele (Les dimanches de ville d’Avray)
1966—A Man and a Woman (Un homme et une femme)
1972—The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie)
1973—Day for Night (La Nuit américaine)
1977—Madame Rosa (La Vie devant soi)
1978—Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Préparez vos mouchoirs)
Les Misérables looks to join these titles and record France’s 13th win, first in 28 years, at the 92nd Academy Awards® on February 9, 2020.
You may want to add Les Misérables to your list of Oscar® must-sees as it opens at select Regal locations this week. If you don’t see it playing at your local theatre, continue to check back as it will expand to more locations soon.