Tue 4 Dec 2007
Cristian Mungiu’s Romanian entry 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days has been the most talked about foreign movie of the year, since winning the Palm D’Or at Cannes and then winning The European Film Awards prizes for Best Feature and Best Director on Saturday. Many Oscar prognosticators see it as a sure-fire Foreign Language Oscar nominee.
But I think not. I predict it will not be one of the five nominated Foreign Language films. Not because of the abortion theme, but because the style of the movie-making is all but indigestible to American viewers. In the same way that the Dardenne brothers or Bruno Dumont have never been nominated. 4 Months is stark, naturalistic, mirthless, devoid of music, it looks like a documentary or an improvised piece and it’s easy to miss the stand out filmic achievements Mungiu has brilliantly pulled off (starting with the movie’s ironic self-referential title).
The only place this movie could have gotten the attention of Academy voters is the Live Action Short category, which in recent years is the only Oscar category to acknowledge bold, stark European nouveau-realism, such as Andrea Arnold’s Wasp (Arnold’s feature debut, Red Road, was later ignored) or Martin Martin McDonagh’s Six Shooter.
This makes me believe at present the France’s Persepolis is the front runner to win the Foreign Language Oscar. Women love this movie. Beating out nominees The Counterfeiters (Austria), An Unknown Woman (Italy), Days of Darkness (Canada) and Ben X (Belgium).
One of these could also make the list, or at least the short-list of nine finalists: Caramel (Lebanon), Beaufort (Israel) - wouldn’t it be great if the all-male Beaufort, set in Lebanon, will go against the mostly female Lebanese Caramel? - and The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (Brazil). And it’s not far-fetched to believe that the same elderly Academy members that may detest 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days will be fond of the sunny, amusing but old fashioned nipple-fest of I Served the King of England (Czech Republic)