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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Five Oscar-winning foreign films to watch 

The 90th annual Academy Awards is just around the corner, here are some of the Best Foreign Language film winners worth watching beforehand

A scene from 1989's Cinema Paradiso. Courtesy Cristaldifilm / Films Ariane / Kobal
A scene from 1989's Cinema Paradiso. Courtesy Cristaldifilm / Films Ariane / Kobal

Re-watch these five films that have won the Best Foreign Language film Academy Award ahead of Monday's Oscars ceremony:

War and Peace, Sergei Bondarchuk, USSR (1968)

Bondarchuk’s epic was one of the biggest productions ever seen in Soviet cinema – and the Soviet Union was far from averse to big productions. The adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel had a big budget roughly US$75 million (Dh300 million) in today’s money. The movie, a production of Soviet icon Mosfilm Studios, took six years to make, and almost as long to watch – the seven-hour epic was released in four instalments in 1966 and 1967.

Cinema Paradiso, Giuseppe Tornatore, Italy (1989)

Italy is the most prolific Foreign Language Film winner to date, with 14 wins and 31 total nominations to its name. Tornatore’s film tells the story of fictional big-name movie director Salvatore Di Vita – his life, loves and lifelong friendship, forged in childhood, with Alfredo, the projectionist in his rural hometown cinema, the Paradiso of the title. The movie was a global smash, admittedly in a cut down version from its 155-minute, relatively unsuccessful, Italian release, and also picked up 1989’s Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, and both BAFTA and Golden Globe Best Foreign Language awards.

All About My Mother, Spain (1999)

Almadovar is no stranger to the Oscars. He was first nominated for Foreign Language Film for 1988’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and also went on to win Best Original Screenplay for 2002’s Talk to Her. All About My Mother is a melodrama that follows young Esteban, who wants to become a writer and to discover the identity of his father, something his mother has kept a carefully hidden.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee, Taiwan (2000)

Ang Lee is perhaps the most successful director to have emerged from a Foreign Language Film win to date. The Taiwanese director has three Oscars to his name, while his films have picked up 12 wins from 38 nominations. Lee had already been nominated in the Foreign Language category twice when this martial arts extravaganza finally picked up the prize at the turn of the century, and he went on to direct smash hits from the sublime (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain) to the ridiculous (Hulk).

A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, Iran (2012)

At face value a drama dealing with the family trauma caused by a parental break up, Farhadi’s film simultaneously manages to offer an in-depth critique of contemporary Iranian society and its attitudes towards gender, class, honour and religion. Farhadi was even temporarily banned from making the film part way through production after he expressed support for a number of banned, exiled or imprisoned Iranian film makers. As well as winning its Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, A Separation was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, the first non-English language film to achieve this since Guillermo Arriaga’s Babel in 2006.

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