Lost in Oscar translation

Cannes winners fail to make cut

Nine films will advance to the next round of voting in the foreign-language film category for the 80th Annual Academy Awards — but leaving many stunned is the omission of Romania's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days."

The film won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival and has been named best foreign-language film by several critics groups.

The shortlisted films are: Austria's "The Counterfeiters," directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky; Brazil's "The Year My Parents Went on Vacation" (Cao Hamburger); Canada's "Days of Darkness" (Denys Arcand); Israel's "Beaufort" (Joseph Cedar); Italy's "The Unknown," (Giuseppe Tornatore); Kazakhstan's "Mongol," (Sergei Bodrov); Poland's "Katyn" (Andrzej Wajda); Russia's "12" (Nikita Mikhalkov); and Serbia's "The Trap" (Srdan Golubovic).

In addition to director Cristian Mungiu's "4 Months" win at Cannes, the film earned European Film Awards for best film and best director and was named best foreign-language film by the Los Angeles Film Critics and Chicago Film Critics associations, as well as the National Society of Film Critics.

"I'm utterly shocked," Lael Loewenstein, president of the L.A. Film Critics Assn., said of the omission. "I speak for my entire group (when I say) we thought that was one of the finest films of the year. We obviously had a great deal of admiration for it. … I'm flabbergasted. It would have to go down as one of the biggest omissions in the history of the Academy Awards nominations and voting."

"4 Months" — along with such other titles as France's "Persepolis" and Spain's "The Orphanage" — were among the high-profile titles submitted by their respective countries that failed to make the cut.

"Persepolis," which won the Jury Prize at Cannes, is shortlisted for the Academy's animated feature category. Because they have both played Academy-qualifying runs in Los Angeles, "Persepolis" and "4 Months" are eligible to compete in other categories like writing and acting.

The omission of the pair from the Academy's foreign-language shortlist also means that none of the films nominated in the same category for the Golden Globes remain in the Oscar competition.

U.S. distributors IFC ("4 Months") and Sony Pictures Classics ("Persepolis") did not respond to requests for comment.

Foreign language-film nominations are determined in two phases. The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based members, screened the 63 eligible films, and their ballots determined the shortlist. A Phase II committee, made up of 10 randomly selected members from the first group, joined by invited 10-member contingents in New York and Los Angeles, will view the shortlisted films and select the five nominees for the category. Phase II screenings take place Friday through Sunday.

Nominations for the 80th Annual Academy Awards will be announced Tuesday.