The political Oscar year. There will be no shortage of politics in this year’s Academy Awards Oscars. When the nominations are announced on Thursday, January 22 the pundits expect two of the five nominees for best film to have a political theme — Frost/Nixon and Milk. And in the best foreign film category four of the nine still in the running to make the final entry list tell political stories.

In keeping with the Crikey tradition of trying to help people sort out election winners, we have developed a Crikey Oscar Election Indicator for the Best Film category. The early favourite at the prediction markets we survey is the Golden Globe winner Slum Dog Millionaire but we wonder if American parochialism will allow an English-Indian collaboration to take out the major gong.

Anyone interested in studying the form without getting in to too much detailed reading might find the interactive predictor published on the USA Today website an amusing way of doing so. I certainly did.

When the final nominations are made we will expand the Crikey Oscar Indicator to include other categories and we expect to find in the foreign film category, The Baader Meinhof Complex. Made in Germany and reputedly the most expensive film ever made in that country, this is an attempt to do justice to the dark chapter of recent history when, in the words of The Independent’s reviewer, a radical offshoot of the country’s anti-American, anti-establishment left started to employ tactics that were just as fanatical and violent as those of their perceived Nazi enemies.

Then there is Waltz with Bashir from Israel which picked up a Golden Globe award — an animated film based on massacres in Lebanon back in 1982. The current invasion of Gaza will no doubt put the issues it raises well and truly in the minds of the judges.

Tear This Heart Out, a Mexican entry, might be a love story but the lover is a man with presidential ambitions. Everlasting Moments set in 1907, has been described as a magnificent period drama about a female photographer living in Sweden that is both an intimate family portrait and a rich canvas of working-class life at a time when socialist and anarchist beliefs flourished in the shadow of strikes and demonstrations. Strict Protestant traditions dominated, suppressing any ideas of women’s rights or common sense.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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