LOS ANGELES: French blockbuster “Les Intouchables” and Austrian Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner “Love” are hot tips for best foreign language Oscar, from a long-list of candidates published Monday.
Hong Kong movie master Johnnie To and China's Chen Kaige - whose “Farewell my Concubine” won the top Cannes film festival prize in 1993 - are also among films from 71 countries which could be vying for an Academy statuette.
Iran, whose “A Separation” won foreign language Oscar for Asghar Farhadi this year, has no entry after Iranian authorities last month withdrew their candidate due anger at the anti-Islam online film.
“Les Intouchables” (“The Intouchables”) by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano has become the second biggest domestic box office and the biggest French film ever at the box office overseas.
It tells the moving and poignant story of a wealthy quadriplegic Frenchman who hires a young black man an urban ghetto to look after him following a horrific road crash.
Austrian filmmaker Haneke won the Cannes Film Festival's top prize in May, three years after taking it home for the first time with 2009's “The White Ribbon.” “Love” tells the wrenching tale of a man and his dying wife, chronicling the intimate details of Anne's physical and mental decline, as Georges fulfills a pledge to care for her at home until the end.
The two movies were picked out by the Hollywood Reporter as early frontrunners for the foreign language Oscar statuette.
Others on the long-list - which will be cut down to a list of five foreign language films by the time the Oscar nominations are announced on January 10 - include Kaige's “Caught in the Web,” and To's “Life Without Principle.” Asia-Pacific hopefuls include South Korean Kim Ki-duk's “Pieta” - which won the Golden Lion in Venice last month - as well as Afghanistan's “The Patience Stone,” Australia Cate Shortland's “Lore” and India's “Barfi!” by Anurag Basu.
From the Middle East there is lots of buzz surrounding Israeli filmmaker Rama Burshtein's “Fill the Void” (“Lemale Et Ha'Chalal”), screened in Venice, while Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir's “When I Saw You” has been picked.
Iran announced last month that it was yanking its entry in the Oscars race, “A Cube of Sugar,” due to the “intolerable insult” of the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims,” which triggered protests across the Muslim world.
The 2013 Academy Awards show will be held in Hollywood's Dolby Theater on Sunday, February 24.