Well, Bong Joon Ho’s 2020 Oscar winner had opened the doors for many adventurous movies in the international feature category, long the home of thoughtful message movies and staid historical dramas. From my point of view If a movie like Parasite that tends to shift its tone among thriller, horror, and straight-out hoax can win the international feature Oscar, then there is a good chance that other overseas films are even more adventurous with the genre have a shot this awards season.
This year, there are a few brave candidates who want to try out their luck this year, from the comedy slash witchcraft of Poland’s Never Gonna Snow Again which features Stranger Things actor Alec Utgoff as a Ukrainian masseur in a gated community. The Beginning shows the claustrophobic horror which set among religiously victimized Jehovah’s Spectators in the former Soviet state of Georgia. The camera shoots amazed me as all of this was shot entirely in long, still scenes with nearly no camera movement which is in my point of view a very skill full task.
when we talk about the abnormal Greek entry Apples, we can say that it is a unique tale about a pandemic that showed the one that causes amnesia and not death from COVID-19. Later comes the nonstop madness of India’s Jallikattu, a horror-action film about a miscreant buffalo that lays trash to a village.
From the sound of it, we can say that the judgment to divide the victor is gonna be a tough job.
The first movie, Never Gonna Snow
Again begins in the magical realist mode. The story shows Zhenia emerging from a dark forest like some mysterious creature who will surely amaze you. In the story, he makes his way to an ominous Soviet-style facility, where he boldly requests residence papers from the resigning officer. In some moments it’s been seen that he puts the officer to sleep and stamps his papers on his way forward. But when he arrives at the gates of a housing complex outside Warsaw shows a landscape of preorganized suburban hell. From here the film switches to satire. He is shown carrying a massage table wearing a low-cut undershirt that makes him look like a circus strongman entering the homes of a self-absorbed privileged man. The detailed work done on the cast and story is quite commendable. Later in we are introduced to Maria is a tiered housewife with an absent husband, naughty kids, and has an unhealthy attraction to this young, mysterious man at her door; a neighbor begs Zhenia to massage her beloved bulldogs.
By shifting between genres, Malgorzata Szumowska and co-director Michal Englert maintain a delicious vagueness to the movie. This vagueness to the movie is something that I would love to watch as well as to see it win. The videography in this movie is quite outstanding.
I can say this with a guaranty that you will receive plenty of humour packed moments in Christos Nikou’s “Apples”. This Greek contender shares a fairy-tale quality with Never Gonna Snow Again. The setting, though, is not modern-day, but timeless. The story unfolds with the hero, Aris, wakes up in an analogue world with no internet, no mobile phones, not even a CD player and realizes that his identity and purpose. There’s a lot of that going around, and it seems the world has been struck with an epidemic of forgetting. Aris is placed into a program to help him rebuild memories, and its subjects are given instructions to re-create life experiences such as riding a bike, crashing a car, having a one-night stand and these all were documents with Polaroid cameras.
Following head are a gentle satire on technology on the “apples” in our pockets that are stealing us of our memory and individual identity. Nikou says, “We use elements of analogue technology that have almost been forgotten, like Polaroids, hand-written letters, tape recorders”. He also adds “I believe the extensive use of technology has made our brains lazier because there is no need to save something in your mind anymore. We don’t remember the experiences that we had even a few days or a year ago.” These words said by the director himself is seen in the movie and is a worth to watch.
The very serious themed movie “Beginning” is also something that I would look out for in this contingency.
I believe that directorial debut from Georgian filmmaker Déa Kulumbegashvili can be arguably said the most formally daring and practical film in this year’s Oscar race. With gorgeous cinematography by Arseni Khachaturan frames her actors mostly in medium-long shots and has been created in steady camera movement without any edits this movie is set to make your jaw drop. The story’s approach isolates the characters who are members of a community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an oppressed minority in overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian Georgia. From their environment, and the main character, Yana, a Jehovah’s Witness questions her identity and her faith, apart from her family. It’s rarely a delightful experience. A graphic rape scene is made all the more horrifying by the divine serenity and detachment of Kulumbegashvili’s style.
The writer-director says, “When I was thinking about how to shoot it, I wanted the camera to be at a distance where an accidental passerby could be”. He also adds “Any closer and you’d start to ask, ‘Why is the audience so passive?’ If I did that, I’d have to cut the scene in a more conventional way and emphasize specific aspects. But I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to emphasize anything above anything else.” The epic stills and the flow of this movie might just make it a strong contender for this award.
Not that is am Indian so it’s a biased comment but, surely, Jallikattu is the wildest and, in the context of the international feature category, the weirdest film in the running this year is in India. Alternatively characterized as an “orgiastic rampage,” “kinetic and exhilarating” and “utterly bonkers” by various impressed critics, Lijo Jose Pellissery’s film has a tricky and modest, B-movie setup. This shows buffalo set for the slaughterhouse breaks free and rampages through a village. But on this flimsy frame, the director constructs a damning assault on toxic masculinity; as the village men consisting butchers, outlaws, cops, wife-beaters and corrupt landowners, set out to catch and kill the animal, they thwart the effort with their petty grudges, incompetence and senseless violence that makes it clear that man is the most savage creature in the world. It’s not indirect, but it is outstanding. Pellissery’s skill as a director with how he combines it with his cinematographer Girish Gangadharan’s opulent, Hieronymus Bosch, like imagery and the equally strange, invasive score from composer Prashant Pillai which makes the film a wild card to watch in the race.
Scary isn’t it well that’s what the other films should feel about this when it enters the ring with the others. I feel that this movie has a separate place to win this competition.
Each of these films in this quarter enters the Oscar race with strong significant support and impressive festival requirements. “Apples” and “Never Gonna Snow Again” premiered in Venice. “Beginning” won all the awards at San Sebastian. “Jallikattu” was an audience hit at the Toronto, London and Busan fests.
In the wake of Parasite’s historic triumph and in an awards season where none of the normal rules applies, a dark horse — or rampaging buffalo — just might have a chance to win.
Let us know which of these films do you think will win.