Best Foreign Film: 1965

Actual Nominations: The Shop On Main Street. Kwaidan. Marriage Italian Style, Dear John, Blood On The Land.

The Shop On Main Street deservedly won the award this year, a brutally honest depiction of occupation and tragedy. De Sica’s fiery drama Marriage Italian-Style would have been a more obvious choice as winner, but missed out in a difficult group. Japan’s official entry Kwaidan is a timeless tale of horror featuring a collection of classic creepy tales, directed with flair and featuring a variety of bizarre expressionist images and chilling scenes. Dear John apparently gets a nomination because of some nudity while Greece’s Blood On The Land tells a story of hardships in turn of the century Greece amongst the poor.

My Nominations: Kwaidan.

My Nominations: Kwaidan. Marriage Italian Style. Alphaville. Pierrot Le Fou. Red Beard. For A Few Dollars More. The Ipcress File. Sword Of The Beast.

Two films make it over to my selections, joining a few more recognisable films. Alphaville remains striking, a unique (even now) sci-fi detective thriller, while Pierrot Le Fou, another Godard selection, is an experimental version of Bonnie And Clyde meets Badlands meets Easy Rider. Kurosawa’s underrated Red Beard is his finest humanist tale since Ikiru. Staying in Japan, and Hideo Gosha crafts one of the finest rebel Samurai movies of the era, packed with violence and a subversive take on loyality using flashbacks and various injustices to blur the line between good and evil. For A Few Dollars More may be the weakest of the Dollars trilogy but still packs a memorably violent punch and proving more twists on what good old US Westerns were known for, while The Ipcress File gives a suitably British, downbeat alternative to the more explosive Bond series.

My Winner: Kwaidan

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Let us know in the comments what your favourite foreign film of 1965 is!

Best Foreign Film: 1964

Actual Nominations: Yesterday, Today, And Tomorrow, Raven’s End, Umbrella’s Of Cherbourg, Sallah Shabati, Woman In The Dunes.

This was an odd year for Foreign Films in that many more famous names were left off the list in favour of the lessor known or up and coming Directors of the world. Official Winner, De Sica’s Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is an interesting trio of comedy tales but it is the duo of stars- Loren and Mastroianni who really shine in vastly differing roles over the course of the film. Raven’s End is Bo Wilderberg’s often powerful coming-of-age Drama which gets credit for being both bleak and hopeful depending on whether you sympathize with some of the selfish charatcer involved or not. The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg is a successful and ambitious French musical known mainly for the strong compositions by Michel Legrand which would later become hits. Strangely these songs were not nominated for this year’s Oscars, but next year’s, in a bizarre Spac World-esque twist. Sallah Shabati is an engaging Israeli satire about immigration and introduced Topol to the world, while The Woman In The Dunes is a startling feast for both eyes and brain. A benchmark in Asian Avant-Garde, it is still compulsive viewing today.

My Winner: The Woman In The Dunes

My Nominations: The Woman In The Dunes. Band Of Outsiders. Before The Revolution. A Fistful Of Dollars. Marriage, Italian Style. Onibaba. Red Desert. Kwaidan.

My nominations are largely different in this category this time around with Italy and France giving some of their greatest exports.  Band Of Outsiders is possibly Godard’s most accessible film yet retains many innovative moments while Marriage, Italian Style (which receives official nominations for the next two years) sees this year’s official winning director making one of his best comedies. Onibaba becomes one of the most influential Asian horror films of all time, surpassed possibly only by Kwaidan (until the emergence of J Horror in the 90s), while A Fistful Of Dollars is an obvious classic. Bertolucci’s little known Before The Revolution is technically superb and gives insight into a bleak and confusing series of relationships, while Antonioni’s equally little known Red Desert offers grim, beautiful visuals and small story swamped by change and implied incidents.

My Winner: A Fistful Of Dollars.

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Best Foreign Film: 1963

Actual Nominations:  8 1/2. Knife In The Water. Twin Sisters Of Kyoto. Los Tarantos.The Red Lanterns.

For me it’s a toss up between 8 and a Half and Polanski’s Knife In The Water. Polanski’s debut is powerful and filled with juicy tension but 8.5 is one of the best. Making up the rest of the nominations – The Red Lanterns by Vasilis Georgiadis, an adaptation of the Greek Play is another movie dealing with taboo subjects in a manner ahead of its time, featuring the lives and romances of a group of prostitutes. Los Tarantos by Francisco Rovira Beleta is another play adaptation, and another dealing with often destructive relationships. A dated musical loosely based on Romeo And Juliet, it nevertheless has some catchy tunes and a fair amount of violence. Finally, Noburo Nakamura’s Twin Sisters Of Kyoto, this time based on a book, is a less shocking, more touching film about twins separated at birth who finally find each other.

My Winner: 8 1/2.

My Nominations: 8 1/2. Knife In The Water. Bushido-Samurai Saga. Contempt. The Silence. High And Low.

My additions to the category this year are from Japan, Sweden, and France. Godard’s Contempt was a breakout film for Bardot, but it is the treatment of an artist under pressure by those who would threaten his art which is the forceful point here and the great casting of Fritz Lang as himself is a bonus. Bushido is a sterling action effort in a strong year for Japan (2 films by Kon Ichikawa narrowly miss a spot), High And Low is an impressive character study, and The Silence is one of my favourite Bergman films. He also made Winter Light this year, a polar opposite to The Silence. Silence is full of classic Bergman moments and is a creepy look at sexuality.

My Winner: 8 1/2

What are your thoughts on this year’s nominations? Which would be your picks? Let us know in the comments!

1962 – Best Foreign Film

Actual Nominations: Sundays and Cybele (France) Electra (Greece) The Four Days of Naples (Italy) Keeper of Promises (The Given Word) (Brazil) Tlayucan (Mexico)

Unfortunately I haven’t seen any of these so I can’t say if Sundays and Cybele was a deserving winner.

My Nominations: Dr No. The Exterminating Angel. Jules Et Jim. Sanjuro.

My vote goes to Sanjuro – not the best Samurai movie by Kurosawa, but still an awe-inspiring film.

Prove you’re better than me by picking your favourite!

Best Foreign Film: 1961

Actual Nominations: Through A Glass Darkly. Harry And The Butler. Immortal Love. Placido. The Important Man.

Bergman’s allegory is packed with subtext but just isn’t as entertaining or thought provoking as some of his other work- it isn’t one of my favourites but shows a mastery that nothing else could compete with this year. Scandanavia had a good year with Bert Christensen’s Harry And The Butler gaining a nomination, while Spain provided the darker laughs with Placido. Japan was not to be undone with Toshiro Mifune appearing as an Amerindian (obviously) who in a terrific performance strives to be boss of his town in An Important Man. Keisuke Kinoshite’s Immortal Love proved there was more to Japan than Kurosawa and Ozu.

My Winner: Through A Glass Darkly

Through A Glass Darkly

My Nominations: Yojimbo. Through A Glass Darkly. The End Of Summer. La Notte. Viridiana. The Human Condition. The Long Absence. La Dolce Vita.

Well my winner really has to Yojimbo– Kurosawa, Mifune, Samurai, Dogs eating arms, what more do you want? This classic shows a samurai playing two rival towns off against each other for his own gain/entertainment. It’s not an epic like many of his other films but rather shows the devious side of man’s nature on a small scale. Also noteworthy is Antonioni’s La Notte, a classic about nothing, where a middle aged couple experience loss and flirt with other people over the course of a day. Bunuel’s sexually charged Viridiana was snubbed by The Oscars due to it’s controversial nature but remains one of his most accessible works. The End Of Summer is a fitting near final film by Ozu, a family drama dealing with many variations on life and death, while The Long Absence covers better than most that good old ‘my husband/wife/friend went missing years ago but now they are back with amnesia’ story. Special mention to The Human Condition by Masaki Kobayashi which is more typically known as a trilogy but taken as a whole is one of Asia’s greatest ever films.

My Winner: Yojimbo

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Best Foreign Film – 1960

The Virgin Spring

Official Nominations: Kapo. La Verite. The Virgin Spring. Macario. The 9th Circle.

I’m afeard that for this category I can only mention the movies I have seen. Time in the Spac Hole is… different; on one path I built I world where 26 hours a day I could spend watching movies, reading books, listening to music, and playing games but the gateway to that place has been severed and so my watching and reviewing time is now limited. Out of the official nominations The Virgin Spring is the only one these eyes have seen, and it is a deserved winner.

My Winner: The Virgin Spring

My Nominations: However, mine eyes have seen many which were not nominated:

Peeping Tom: A classic British thriller, this ranks alongside The Wicker Man and 28 Days Later as one of the most evil British exports.

The Bad Sleep Well: This lesser known Kurosawa film abandons many of his trademarks and instead is a condensed look at family, revenge, and corporate corruption. Mifune ditches the Samural guard, but is no less fearsome as the young man plotting the downfall of the men responsible for his father’s death. This is Japanese noir at it’s finest, and while American counterparts always have some biting humour and a fiendish vixen, Kurosawa’s is a raw, bitter sword slash against massive corporations whose collapse will inevitably bring down everyone involved, and whose continuing existence relies upon that very fear.

Breathless: See Best Picture Nominations

Jigoku: In a stellar year for Japanese cinema, Jigoku is surely the oddest release. While Asian horrors of the time focused on typical Noh inspired visions of spirits and the afterlife, Jigoku is much more visceral and violent in its depictions of death and what comes after. Nakagawa was a master of J-Horror long before it became known as such, the groundbreaking and terrifying visions of hell above and below are startling, innovative, and inspiring for film makers. This alone would not make a great film, but the sometimes incomprehensible plot sees parallels in later works by the likes of Lynch in which sights and sounds and what is felt rather than spoken of become the primary in the story. This is bleak, brilliant, and just as true today as it was in 1960.

Late Autumn: This quiet film from Yasujiro Ozu has more bubbling under than at first seems apparent; The male dominated world of Japan in an age when women were struggling for power in the West is depicted as cold and loveless, especially when dealing with issues of love, relationships, and marriage. In the end it is the women who make the choices and the men who cause trouble even when they may have had the best intentions.

Night And Fog In Japan: Oshima’s political film deals with the bridge between fiery youth and leaving that age behind but more importantly is his commentary on the student uprising in the 1950s and the struggles with Stalin, Communism, and political defeat in the aftermath of World War II.

The Young One: Bunuel’s forgotten film was another controversial piece, dealing with rape and racism. The US was not ready for such themes and such clear depictions- Europe (and South America) was years ahead.

The Virgin Spring: See Above

The Virgin Spring

My Winner: The Virgin Spring. One of the more accessible of Bergman’s film yet one which still covers his favoured themes of religion, faith, solitude, family, redemption, sex. Von Sydow commands the screen as the father to a murdered daughter who seeks and finds revenge, while assorted family mambers and friends have their own struggles to work through. For all the darkness in the plot this one is light at times and ends with a glimmer of hope.