Oscars: Fun Facts About Some of 2014's Top Foreign-Language Contenders

Cannes Leviathan Film Still - H 2014

Cannes Leviathan Film Still - H 2014

With little more than a month remaining until the Academy whittles down the list of 83 foreign-language films that were submitted for Oscar consideration this year to a shortlist of nine from which the five nominees will eventually be chosen, I thought it might be an interesting time to provide some fun facts about several of the top contenders from this year's impressive field.

Cantinflas (Mexico)
This biopic recounts the life and times of the titular comedic actor who is best known for his work in the best picture Oscar winner Around the World in 80 Days (1956).

Difret (Ethiopia)
Angelina Jolie is an executive producer of this film, which took home audience prizes at Sundance and Berlin.

Force Majeure (Sweden)
The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced that it will host a retrospective of director Ruben Ostlund's films in January.

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Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Israel)
This third installment of a trilogy based partially on the sibling-directors' mother could result in changes to 400-year-old divorce law in Israel.

Ida (Poland)
Maggie Gyllenhaal hosted a New York screening of Pawel Pawlikowski's black-and-white film — which stars and was shot by complete novices — on Nov. 17.

Kurmanjan Datka Queen of the Mountains (Kyrgyzstan)
Women's rights champion Sharon Stone hosted a Hollywood screening of this film about a heroic female on Nov. 4.

Leviathan (Russia)
This reworking of the Book of Job won Cannes' best screenplay prize but wasn't expected to be submitted by Russia, of which it paints a not-always-flattering picture.

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The Liberator (Venezuela)
Edgar Ramirez, the star of Carlos, plays 18th century Latin-American leader Simon Bolivar in this drama that was scored by LA Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

Mommy (Canada)
This fifth film from 25-year-old director Xavier Dolan is the second submitted by his motherland in the last five years; the other, I Killed My Mother, also dealt with mommies.

Saint Laurent (France)
Many expected the French to submit 2013 Palme d'Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color, which was eligible this year, but this biopic of the 20th century fashion maven — one of two released in 2014 — prevailed.

Tangerines (Estonia)
Aiming to become its country's first-ever nominee, it has already won 19 different film fest awards.

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Timbuktu (Mauritania)
This is the first film ever submitted by the West African nation and only the tenth ever submitted from sub-Saharan Africa.

Two Days, One Night (Belgium)
This is the first time that the legendary brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne have ever cast an international star — Oscar winner Marion Cotillard — in one of their minimalist pics.

White God (Hungary)
An unusual horror-thriller that is something like Hitchcock's The Birds — only with dogs — could become its country's first nominee since the fall of Communism more than a quarter-century ago.

Wild Tales (Argentina)
Comprised of six different hilarious shorts, this Pedro Almodovar-produced gem could also contend for a best original screenplay nom.

Winter Sleep (Turkey)
The three-hour-long winner of this year's Palme d'Or at Cannes is aiming to become Turkey's first-ever nominee.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg