London - Amour, a searing portrait of old age
from Austria's Michael Haneke, was lauded by Hollywood's movie elite on Thursday, receiving five Academy Award nominations including best foreign film
and - unexpectedly - best picture.
The film stars octogenarian French acting greats
Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant as a loving Parisian couple whose
world is devastated by the wife's serious illness.
Unflinching and in French, it was a surprise best-picture
nominee, and also received nominations for Haneke's direction, for original
screenplay and for the performance of 85-year-old Riva.
Austria also scored an acting nomination, with Christoph
Waltz up for best supporting actor for Quentin Tarantino's Django
Waltz won the supporting actor prize for his turn as a
loquacious Nazi in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.
The other foreign-language nominees are 18th-century
court saga A Royal Affair by Denmark's Nikolaj Arcel; child soldier
drama War Witch by Canada's Kim Nguyen; seafaring adventure Kon-Tiki by Norway's Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg; and No by Chile's Pablo Larrain.
No tells the story of a Chilean ad agency
that helped to oust dictator Augusto Pinochet through a clever marketing
campaign around a 1988 referendum.
The film, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, was a surprise hit
of the Cannes Film Festival and has since gathered accolades around the world.
Larrain said it struck a chord because it told an unusual
"Dictators are not usually ousted through democratic
elections and this is a profoundly human story, which is resolved through
things that have to do more with beauty than with horror," he said.
A Royal Affair is a tale of love and intrigue
centred on a triangle involving an ailing Danish king, his queen and the
monarch's forward-thinking physician, played by former Bond villain Mads
Kon-Tiki recreates explorer Thor Heyerdal's
audacious 1947 journey across the Pacific Ocean on a balsa-wood raft.
The 101-day trip was designed to prove that South
Americans could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbus times.
Costly Norwegian film
The $16m budget makes it one of the most expensive
Norwegian movies ever made.
Directed by Montreal-born Nguyen, War Witch -
known as Rebelle in French - follows a 12-year-old girl abducted by
a rebel army.
It was filmed in Congo with a partly non-professional
cast but set amid an unspecified conflict.
Its teenage star, Rachel Mwanza - who formerly lived on
the streets of Kinshasa - won acting prizes at the Berlin and Tribeca film
Nguyen said the Oscar nomination was "a great
privilege and an honour."
"I will always remember when Rachel Mwanza, after
being the first African woman to ever win the Silver Bear for Best Actress [in
Berlin], returned home to the Congolese streets of Kinshasa and was greeted by
passionate chants and overwhelming pride," he said.
"So, in the case of War Witch, these recognitions
do make a difference. They bring back pride to a nation that greatly needs it.
Winners of the 85th Oscars will be announced 24 February
during a ceremony at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre.
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