Oscars: 6 Long Shots to Look Out for in the International Feature Race

5:34 PM 1/6/2021

by Patrick Brzeski and Scott Roxborough

These films are on the path to the Academy Awards, but they must charm voters to stake their claim on the shortlist.

International Films in Focus
Courtesy of Vega Film; JOHNMARQUEZ/Topic; TIFF(2); Beatriz Torres/Film Movement; TIFF
  • 'My Little Sister' (Switzerland)

    Francophone Swiss actresses and occasional directors Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond chose two giants of the German art house scene to star as fraternal twins from a theater family with plenty of drama. Nina Hoss and Lars Eidinger, along with iconic Swiss actress Marthe Keller as their mom, give acting master classes in this melodrama about the family ties that bind.

  • 'Hope' (Norway)

    Norwegian writer-director Maria Sodahl drew directly on her own life — and relationship with fellow filmmaker Hans Petter Moland — for this intimate tale of a couple navigating a crisis in their relationship. Andrea Braein Hovig and Stellan Skarsgard play the pair, Anja and Thomas, over an eventful holiday period in which Anja is diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor.

  • 'Once Upon a Time in Venezuela' (Venezuela)

    Corrupt politics and corrosive environmental destruction soak through every frame of director Anabel Rodríguez Ríos' feature-length documentary about the decline of a Venezuelan fishing village off the shores of Lake Maracaibo, offering a firsthand account of a country abandoned by its leaders that examines the deeper roots of Venezuela's despair.

  • 'Jallikattu' (India)

    The plot of this film from Malayalam cinema maverick Lijo Jose Pellissery couldn't be simpler: A bull escapes from a slaughterhouse in a remote Indian village and all of the menfolk try to track it down. The animal lays waste to much of the village, but not before Pellissery has mercilessly skewered the male ego, small-town social conventions and the crazed savagery lurking in the hearts of humans.

  • 'Song Without a Name' (Peru)

    A poor Quechua woman is tricked by the promise of free health care into giving birth at a fake health clinic. When her newborn is stolen, she sets off on a desperate search to find her, joining forces with an investigative journalist who agrees to take up the story. Melina León's film was shot in evocative black and white, framed against the stunning backdrop of the Peruvian mountains.

  • 'Wet Season' (Singapore)

    Anthony Chen's drama tackles a tricky subject — the romantic (and sexual) relationship between a socially isolated high school teacher and her awkward student — with frank but poignant feeling. For this vivid character portrait and sharp critique of the trenchant sexism of upper-crust Singaporean society, its star, Yeo Yann Yann, won best actress at Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival.

    This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.