Berlin is a no-go this year, and because I wasn’t able to make it to Venice, Toronto, and Vladivostok in 2007, or travel to the Festival du Film Polonais Cat.Studios, 12, Mongol, and Katyn are unfortunate blindspots here. Mongol has secured a U.S. distributor since jumping into the Oscar pool, but the other two, one by a blustery Russian who’s won this award before, the other by a cinema titan with an honorary award from AMPAS under his belt, are still without. A win for either film would change that, but this one is likely a duel between the remaining two films. Both mediocre, Beaufort and The Counterfeiters fill the category’s quota for stories with Jewish-themed plots. Better, less monotonously constructed films, including previous winners in this category, have more interestingly grappled with the ideological standstill at the center of Beaufort. Counterfeiters is a smidgen better, and though it isn’t quite as high-minded as the insanely overpraised The Lives of Others, there’s actually some meat to this story about prisoners of war and the choices they must make to stay alive. Oh, did I mention it takes place inside a concentration camp?
Will Win: The Counterfeiters