9 Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar Race

1. Amour

We've all seen countless films about old age and dying, from disease-of-the-week TV movies to comedies about old grumps and bucket listers. But Michael Haneke's film cuts to the essence of facing the end of life more honestly, brutally and realistically than any other. It's very potent medicine of which one dose may be enough but it will remain in the system a very long time.

FILM REVIEW: Amour

Nine features, including Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner Amour and the huge commercial hit The Intouchables, have made the shortlist from which five nominees for the best foreign-language film Oscar will be chosen.

Listed alphabetically by country, they are:

Austria, Amour, Michael Haneke, director (see THR's review)

Canada, War Witch, Kim Nguyen, director (review)

Chile, No, Pablo Larraín, director (review)

Denmark, A Royal AffairNikolaj Arcel, director (review)

France, The Intouchables, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, directors (review)

Iceland, The Deep, Baltasar Kormákur, director (review)

Norway, Kon-Tiki, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, directors (review)

Romania, Beyond the Hills, Cristian Mungiu, director (review)

Switzerland, Sister, Ursula Meier, director (review)

Seventy-one countries submitted films for consideration this year. The shortlist was determined by a committee of several hundred Academy members which chose six titles. The Academy's Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee then chose three more titles to create the shortlist of nine films.

Specially-invited committees in New York and Los Angeles will now view the nine films, from which the five nominees will be selected.

Several of the films, like Amour and The Intouchables, will also be eligible to compete in other categories, since they have also received theatrical releases in the U.S. via Sony Pictures Classics and The Weinstein Company, respectively.

Academy Awards nominations will be announced Jan. 10, and the Oscar ceremonies will take place Feb. 24.