A lot has been said about the fact that in 2012—more than any other year before it—the number of submissions for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar defied expectations. A total of 71 films were submitted by countries ranging from Albania to Venezuela. Countries like Kenya entered their movies into the competition for the first time. But before nominations were even announced the race had come down to two movies: Amour and The Intouchables.
One is the Palme d’Or winning-crowning jewel in the career of one of the most respected auteurs in the world, the other is France’s biggest moneymaker of all time. One is a harsh look at old age, often cruel, never dishonest; the other, is a buddy movie that appropriates Hollywood values like white guilt filtered by a lovable “magical Negro” and “based on a true story” conventions. One was directed by the man who first broke into the scene by making a movie about a soulless boy who murders a girl, the other is a feel good hit backed by The Weinstein Company.