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Your guide to the best foreign films



A busy, career-driven woman gets a surprise visit from her estranged father and is forced to spend time with him. Things take a hilarious turn when he creates an alter ego and poses as her CEO’s life coach.

Germany’s Toni Erdmann could become the first comedy since 2003’s The Barbarian Invasions to win best foreign language film at the Academy Awards on Feb. 26. But don’t discount these other four contenders:

The Salesman (Iran)

A couple’s relationship starts to unravel during their local production of Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman in the latest drama from Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, whose 2011 movie A Separation previously won the best foreign language Oscar. In light of Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Farhadi announced last month that he won’t be attending the ceremony.

With “all this notoriety because of the Muslim ban, (it) has an opportunity to win,” says Gregory Ellwood, editor-at-large of film site The Playlist. “I don’t know if it’d be a bad thing if the Academy made a statement by voting for The Salesman.”

Land of Mine (Denmark)

A Danish- and German-language historical drama about German POWs sent to Denmark after World War II to defuse land mines, many of whom lost their limbs and lives in the process. “It is very moving,” Ellwood says. “It’s a heart-wrenching story that many people don’t know about, even in Europe.”

A Man Called Ove (Sweden)

The Swedish dramatic comedy — adapted from Fredrik Backman’s best-selling novel about a cantankerous widower (Rolf Lassgärd) who befriends a neighboring Iranian family — is the highest-grossing foreign film of 2016 with $3.4 million. “I don’t think it’s going to win,” says Ellwood, although the film seems to be resonating with older voters. “It’s a crowd-pleaser and the (aging) makeup transformation is very well done,” earning the movie a best makeup Oscar nod.

Tanna (Australia)

Set against the backdrop of an active volcano, this South Pacific Romeo and Juliet story of star-crossed lovers flew in under the radar after winning an audience award at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. “It’s notable for the history of the Academy and how many great Australian filmmakers there are, it’s the first Australian film to get nominated,” Ellwood says. “That speaks to the quality. (This movie has) been a dark horse for a long time.”


Young German POWs at the end of World War II are forced to put their lives on the line to defuse land mines buried along the Danish coast.

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