Indications that Amour will win this year’s Oscar trophy as the best foreign language film are now so overwhelming that Austria might as well celebrate far ahead of the Oscar Awards” February 24 ceremonies.
Austria—which won its first best foreign language film Oscar in 2007 with The Counterfeiters, a film by Stefan Ruzowitzky—is now bunched with 11 other countries which won one Oscar each for this category. Austria is sure to join four other countries which all have a pair of such trophies.
And what are the indications being talked about?
In the Oscar nominations, Amour was even included in the best picture category with eight other films, namely, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserable, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty.
Not only that but Amour was also nominated in three other categories: Michael Haneke for best director and best original screenplay and the 85-year-old French actress Emmanuele Riva for best actress.
The prestigious British Academy of Film and Television Arts just released its complete list of nominations for the awarding ceremonies scheduled on February 10 at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London.
Amour, again, was nominated with four others in the Film Not in the English Language category. The other nominees are The Intouchables (France), Headhunters (Norway), The Hunt (Denmark) and Rust and Bone (France and Belgium).
And to top it all, Amour was adjudged the best foreign language film in the Golden Globe Awards which was held last January 13. If this is a precursor of things to come, Austria is now 99 percent sure of an Oscar triumph.
The Oscar and the Golden Globe chose the same films as their best foreign language film awardees in 2010 (Denmark’s In a Better World by Suzanne Bier) and 2011 (Iran’s A Separation by Asghar Farhadi).
In the last Golden Globe, Amour bested The Intouchables (France), A Royal Affair (Debmark), Kon Tiki (Norway) and Rust and Bone (France and Belgium).
Amour seems to be a favorite of film critics’ societies as well. Just last January 4, the National Society of Film Critics voted Amour as best picture and also chose Emmanuele Riva as best actress and Haneke as best director.
As early as December last year, the film has been reaping awards—mostly as best foreign language film—from the various societies of film critics in the United States and Canada.
The film critics’ societies or associations that honored Amour with the best foreign language film award included those in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Denver, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Kansas City, Oklahoma and Toronto in Canada.
Austria started nominating films to the Oscar since 1961 but achieved its first ever nomination in 1986 with ’38—Vienna Before the Fall by Wolfgang Gluck. But then followed a 21-year drought which ended with a second nomination in 2007 with the film The Counterfeiters which won that year. The following year, an Austrian film was again included in the final five nominees. This was Revanche by Gotz Spielmann.
Amour is actually the fourth film directed by Michael Haneke which was entered by Austria to the Oscar. Haneke-directed Austrian submission included The Seventh Continent in 1989, Benny’s Video in 1992 and The Piano Teacher in 2001.
But what is so special about this multi-awarded film?
Amour is the story of an elderly couple, Anne and Georges, who are retired music teachers with a daughter who lives abroad. Anne suffers a stroke which paralyses one side of her body.
Anne undergoes surgery on a blocked carotid artery but things go wrong leaving her confined to a wheelchair. One day, Georges tells her a story of his childhood. After his story ended, he grabs a pillow and smothers Anne. Georges goes out and returns home with bundles of flowers in his hands. He picks out a dress from Anne’s wardrobe and writes a long letter.
But suddenly, Georges hears Anne in the kitchen, she is washing dishes. Speechless, he gazes at Anne, as she cleans up and prepares to leave the house. Anne calls for Georges to bring a coat, and he complies, following her out the door. The film concludes with their daughter, Eva seated in the living room, after she had wandered slowly around the now empty home.
After 14 years, Jean-Louis Trintignant came back on screen for Haneke. Haneke had sent Trintignant the script, which had been written specifically for him. Trintignant said that he chooses which films he works in on the basis of the director, and said of Haneke that “he has the most complete mastery of the cinematic discipline, from technical aspects like sound and photography to the way he handles actors”.
We gathered this information from wikipedia regarding the critical reception to Amour. Sight and Sound film magazine named Amour the third best film of 2012.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote: “This is film-making at the highest pitch of intelligence and insight”. Subsequently, Bradshaw named the film the third best of 2012.
Jamie Graham of Total Film gave Amour 5 stars out of 5, stating “far from being a cold, scientific study from a filmmaker frequently accused of placing a pane of glass between his work and his viewers, this sensitive film emerges heartfelt and humane.”
Dave Calhoun of Time Out London also gave the film 5 out of 5 stars, stating “Amour is devastatingly original and unflinching in the way it examines the effect of love on death, and vice versa”.
Calling Amour the best film of 2012, critic A.O. Scott of The New York Times said that “months after its debut at Cannes this film already feels permanent.”
Writing in The Times, critic Manohla Dargis hailed the film as “a masterpiece about life, death and everything in between.” The newspaper flagged the film as a critics’ pick.
The Wall Street Journal’s film critic Joe Morgenrstern wrote of Amour: “Mr. Haneke’s film, exquisitely photographed by Darius Khondji, has won all sorts of prizes all over the world, and no wonder; the performances alone set it off as a welcoming masterpiece.”
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