Latin America's Frontrunner in Foreign Oscar Race is 'No,' With Gael Garcia Bernal
Telluride 2012: Gael Garcia Bernal Reminds Chileans to Just Say 'No' in Cannes Carryover
Without question, the Latin American film with the best shot at the 2013 Foreign Language Oscar is Pablo Larrain’s No from Chile, starring Gael Garcia Bernal as the brilliant young Chilean adman who helped topple the dictator Pinochet in 1988. Though Larrain’s last Oscar bid for Chile, 2008’s Tony Manero, failed to make the final five, he may have a better chance this time. No won the Art Cinema Award at its Cannes world premiere, and The Hollywood Reporter reviewer David Rooney wrote, “the nitty-gritty of the campaign’s evolution provides an engrossing narrative.” At the Telluride Film Festival, attended by the ebullient Bernal, No’s outdoor screening was interrupted by a torrential downpour – yet almost nobody left. A good sign.
On the Oct. 7 Feinberg Forecast by THR awards analyst Scott Feinberg, No is second on the list of “possibilities” for the Foreign Oscar (though far down the list from his picks of likelier winners, labeled “frontrunners” and “major threats”). Seven out of nine film pundits on the Gold Derby prediction poll put No in their top five picks for the Foreign Oscar.
But the director, a maverick like his hero, chose to shoot the film on murky, low-def U-matic film from the period, an artistic decision that may increase its gritty realism but will certainly cost it commercially, and possibly with Oscar voters.
Mexico, which has scored eight Foreign Oscar nominations since 1960, hopes to win at last with Michel Franco’s After Lucia, which won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. The hot-button topic of high school bullying could attract Oscar voters, but the austere, unrelenting, Lars von Trier-like relentlessness of the film could hurt its chances, warned THR reviewer Rooney, who called it “an endurance test in abject cruelty.”
Columbia is evidently going more mainstream with its submission,El cartel de los sapos (The Cartel of Snitches), based on the life story of drug lord Andres “Florecita” Lopez. Director Carlos Moreno got Grand Jury Award nominations for 2011’s All Your Dead Ones and 2008’s Dog Eat Dog at Sundance, and the latter won for cinematography. Colombian Academy president Laura Garcia said that El cartel de los sapos "represents a film trend in tone with the world’s biggest film industries: a solid story, clear filmmaking, impeccable directing and acting that go beyond the standards. …The film is a homemade product with a worldly scent. That’s why it will represent us at the Academy Awards."