Oscar Watch: Foreign-language contenders

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The Class
France
Director: Laurent Cantet
Pros: A Palme d'Or win and an Indie Spirit nom give this charming French entry instant cachet, and the film's warm, sympathetic tone will go a long way with voters.
Cons: Gritty subject matter and a cast of non-professionals could be a turn-off to traditionalists who long for the days of Anouk Aimee and Jean-Louis Trintignant.
The Class
The Baader Meinhof Complex
Germany
Director: Uli Edel
Pros: Misinformed Academy members might mistake this look at Germany's infamous Red Army Faction for a Holocaust drama, which -- if history is any indication -- immediately improves its chances for a win.
Cons: The title is ridiculously hard to pronounce and connotes an obscure psychological condition. Plus, that would be the fourth win this decade for a German-language film.
  The Baader Meinhof Complex
Departures
Japan
Director: Yojiro Takita
Pros: This polished, good-natured look at an out-of-work cellist who takes a job as an "encoffineer" offers the kind of gentle meditation about life and death that Academy voters often find irresistible.
Cons: Like the Oscar winner "The Sea Inside" (2004), "Departures" finds humanity and resilience in the face of despair. But with its feel-good, eager-to-please tone, there is little to distinguish it from a conventional Hollywood studio picture.
Departures
Revanche
Austria
Director: Gotz Spielmann
Pros: A multiple award winner in Berlin last year, this handsome, character-driven crime drama is clearly the dark horse. Then again, that's what they said about last year's winner, "The Counterfeiters," also from Austria.
Cons: See above. Will the Academy really reward an Austrian thriller for the second straight year? Doubtful.
Revanche
Waltz With Bashir
Israel
Director: Ari Folman
Pros: Timely, visually stunning and ultimately heartbreaking, this provocative animated doc about the horrors of war has been building momentum since its Golden Globe triumph in Cannes last May.
Cons: With so much acclaim for so long (the film has won several international awards, for everything from score to art direction), "Waltz's" novelty may be old news by the time voters choose.
  Waltz With Bashir
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