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2020 Best International Feature Film

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The Conversation: Parasite Leads 2020 Best International Feature Film Hopefuls

The Conversation: Parasite Leads 2020 Best International Feature Film Hopefuls

With Locarno, Venice, TIFF, and San Sebastian still to come, a number of potential foreign film submissions may have yet to be unveiled, potentially. Venice, in particular, may end up being the premiere platform for some future Oscar nominees, which is where Roma and Never Look Away premiered last year. However, the other three Foreign Language nominees (which will now be called Best International Feature for the 2020 edition), Capernaum, Cold War and Shoplifters were all Cannes showings (not to mention titles which took home high-profile prizes out of their competitions). The year prior, it was a mix of the prize-winning titles out of Cannes, Berlin and Venice (and again, with all five titles having taken major festival prizes). And so, as Algeria leads us into Academy Award speculation just as 2019 shifts past its mid-way mark with their submission, Papicha, chances are, several of the items which will eventually be Oscar nominated have premiered out of Berlin and Cannes.

Berlin 2019 was a bit of a weak year—and as much as certain titles deserve campaigns (and might even end up being their country’s submissions), it seems unlikely standouts such as Ondog or Angela Schanelec’s I Was at Home, But…, which snagged her Best Director, will receive Oscar attention. However, the Golden Bear winner, Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms could be a contender—unfortunately, it has to compete with a number of well-received French language items, including Berlin competitor By the Grace of God from Francois Ozon (a topical but hopelessly old-fashioned melodrama based on real events which might appeal to the voting body), and some even flashier Cannes fare, such as Les Miserables from Ladj Ly and Portrait of a Lady on Fire from Celine Sciamma (note Ozon, Ly, and Sciamma all were awarded major prizes).

If France has some tough choices to make, other countries seem to have an easier sure thing. At the top of the list is Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winner Parasite. Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory, which took home Best Actor for Antonio Banderas seems a shoe-in for the country. Senegal has a fighting chance with Mati Diop’s Atlantics. Brazil should be a major conversation piece later this year—while the country screwed Kleber Mendonca Filho over by denying Aquarius its chance at Oscar contention in 2016, his latest, Bacurau, co-directed by Juliano Dornelles, took home the Jury Prize, has another chance at selection. However, it might be more likely Brazil will nominate Karim Ainouz’s melodrama, The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, which won top prize out of Un Certain Regard, instead. Lastly, some other countries might have their hopes resting on other various Cannes premiered titles, such as Belgium with the Dardenne Bros.’ divisive The Young Ahmed, China with Diao Yinan’s Wild Goose Lake, and Italy with Marco Bellocchio’s excellent The Traitor. Canada will likely go with Xavier Dolan’s Matthias et Maxime, but the fall festival season will likely solidify its status or identify the new frontrunner. From Sundance, shoe-in selection in Lucía Garibaldi’s The Sharks repping Uruguay. Here is our ongoing chart of all the countries that might be repped for the 2020 Oscars.

 Afghanistan: The Orphanage (front runner)

 Algeria: PapichaMounia Meddour (confirmed)







 Belgium: The Young Ahmed (front runner)


 Bosnia and Herzegovina

 Brazil: The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao (front runner)



 Canada: Matthias et Maxime (front runner)


 China: Wild Goose Lake (front runner)


Costa Rica: Land of Ashes (front runner)



 Czech Republic


 Dominican Republic





 France: Synonyms (front runner)




Guatemala: Nuestras Madres (Our Mothers) (front runner)

 Hong Kong


 Iceland: A White, White Day (front runner)  






 Italy: The Traitor (front runner) 










 North Macedonia



: Mongolia: Öndög (front runner)

 Morocco: Adam (front runner)








 Peru: Song Without a Name (front runner)




 Romania: The Whistlers (front runner)


 Senegal: Atlantics (front runner)





 South Africa

 South Korea: Parasite (front runner)

 Spain: Pain and Glory (front runner)





 Tunisia: Tlamess (front runner)



 United Kingdom

 Uruguay: The Sharks (front runner)




Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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