Five Formidable Foreign Films Vie for the Oscar

February 19, 2015 3:16 PM

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Five Formidable Foreign Films Vie for the Oscar

While most Oscar observers have been flipping coins to choose between “Boyhood” or “Birdman,” a race among some of the year’s most critically praised, politically charged movies has been taking shape on the international front. The nominees for best foreign language film are so strong that “Ida,” a Polish film about the emotional legacy of the Holocaust, and “Leviathan,” a Russian film with a scathing portrait of life under Vladimir Putin, landed on many critics’ top-10 lists for 2014. The recently opened “Timbuktu,” a timely drama from Mauritania about jihadists’ takeover of the title city, in Mali, has gotten rapturous reviews.

The contest is unpredictable, thanks to some recent voting changes. It also reflects the rocky landscape for international movies. The Academy considered a record number of 83 foreign films this year, and all five of the nominees have distributors in the U.S. Yet even with new streaming outlets avai...

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