Friday, March 02, 2007

Best Foreign Language Movie Goes English

Actors Ulrich Muehe and Ulrich Tukur in a scene from the Oscar®-winning foreign movie THE LIVES OF OTHERS. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

When it came time for me to choose a Best Foreign Language Film, I was stumped. The winner in the too-close-to-call race was THE LIVES OF OTHERS from Germany.

As I posted 23 February, it was easy to conclude that the two front runners were THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director, Germany), and PAN'S LABYRINTH (Guillermo del Toro, director, Mexico), order of rank undeterminable. I, like many writing about the Oscars®, found myself unable to make a decision in this category. I bemoaned I had seen neither movie. Had I seen both of them, I would have gone out on a limb and picked THE LIVES OF OTHERS. I did warn PAN'S fans that I was doubtful it would win.

Possible reasonsing for LIVES win? The Academy mandates that all Academy members casting final votes in this category must prove that they have seen all five nominees. Up until this time it was only important for members of the two evaluating committees who made the preliminary cuts to see the movies.

Let's face it, the younger members of the Academy are busy. In the main, they do not have time to view all the films in the Foreign Language category. Many are simply not interested.

That skews the votes towards the older members of the Academy. Now, knowing that, I should have gone out the limb and predicted THE LIVES OF OTHERS as the winner. I was about 90% certain that this was the way the votes would come down but, in the Oscar race, 90% is not good enough. Well, next year is another year, and since Martin Scorsese did win the Best Director Oscar, I will, God willing, be watching and evaluating this category again next year.

MEANWHILE, Daily Variety reported yesterday (Thursday), that THE LIVES OF OTHERS will be remade as an English-language movie, if the current round of plans and deal-making is successful. The team is composed of former Miramax Films chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and Oscar-winning filmmakers Sydney Pollack (OUT OF AFRICA, 1985) and Anthony Minghella (THE ENGLISH PATIENT, 1996), partners in Mirage Productions. The Weinstein brothers will develop the project through their Weinstein Co., partnering with Mirage.

According to Pollack, the partners teamed to secure the rights to do the project from the writer/director von Donnersmarck. The development team feels that this movie about wiretaps, spying, and loss of personal privacy is relevant in the lives of Americans today, and the movie deserves wider distribution than it will receive in the original German language. The remake in English will facilitate this.

LIVES is von Donnersmarck's debut movie. Oh, my. Might we possibly see this movie nominated again in the best feature motion picture category for 2008? It is possible. Keep watching the movies!

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