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

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