Oscar 2024: favorite international documentaries and feature films

When the film academy announced the shortlists for 10 categories for the 2024 Oscars, the usual rumors and complaints could be heard in the city. Ignoring “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” hair and makeup, despite the film’s world-record 22,500 prosthetics, seems like a choice, just the latest sign that people have overcome Marvel fatigue and have entered a new stage: total and absolute indifference.

The other thing you may have heard went something like this:

Peaches, Peaches, Peaches, Peaches, Peaches
Peaches, Peaches, Peaches, Peaches, Peaches

Were you shedding a tear for Bowser and Jack Black or breathing a sigh of relief that this one-note (almost one-word) piano ballad from “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” wasn’t on the original track list? I started the day somewhere in between. But since I can’t get the song’s chorus out of my head anymore and will be hearing it for the rest of the time I spend writing this column, I’ll be happy to get rid of it sooner rather than later.

What did the shortlists tell us about how some of the Oscar races might play out this year? Let’s take a look at the international feature film and documentary categories and see what… Peaches, Peaches, Peaches, Peaches, Peaches — sorry… this is becoming a problem — we could learn.


I’ve written quite a bit about Jonathan Glazer’s work. “The Zone of Interest” predicting that Glazer will earn an Oscar nomination from the director’s branch and that the film itself will likely be a best picture nominee. Glazer’s chilling drama, set in the shadow of Auschwitz and focusing on the family life of Auschwitz commander Rudolf Höss, will also be nominated for international film. His list of mentions for sound designer Johnnie Burn and composer Mica Levi mirrors the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s awards. gave the film last month, heralding the film’s richly detailed soundscape, which provides an often nightmarish contrast to the idyllic scenes we’re seeing on screen.

by Spanish filmmaker JA Bayona “Snow Society” It also appeared on multiple short lists: International Feature Film, Hair & Makeup, Original Music, and Visual Effects. The film focuses on the 1972 Uruguayan rugby team forced to resort to cannibalism to survive after their plane crashes in the Andes on the way to a match in Chile. It’s a familiar story, told in countless books and movies, drawn from dark humor and the basis of an Emmy-nominated television show. Bayona manages to recover the story, making “The Snow Society” the most meticulously faithful story to date. Its Netflix platform guarantees that, like last year’s Oscar hit “All Quiet on the Western Front,” it will be widely viewed.

There’s a lot to recommend from the dozen remaining shortlisted international feature films, and voters could go either way to narrow the list down to five nominees. The beautiful romance of Tran Anh Hung “The taste of things” It has everything you would want from a French film: gourmet food, lively conversations, passion, love and Juliette Binoche. “Fallen leaves” is a dry, deadpan romantic comedy from Finnish maestro Aki Kaurismäki. It’s a hopeful film set in a hardened world and we need more films like it. Additionally, it lasts 81 minutes. We also need more movies like that.

“The Mexican director Lila Avilés”Totem” appeared on a ton of top 10 lists for its bittersweet portrait of a young woman navigating the stress of a party thrown to celebrate the life of her dying father. It is unforgettable and, being the only Latin American film preselected, different from the other films mentioned.


This hasn’t been a busy year for documentaries, and a trio of excellent titles – “Pigeon Tunnel,” “Little Richard: I Am Everything” and “Kokomo City” – didn’t make the cut. Two obvious standouts who did it, “Four Daughters” and “20 days in Mariupol” It also appeared on the international feature film shortlist. “Four Daughters” by Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania combines real interviews with staged reenactments to depict a mother trying to understand what drove two of her daughters to flee and join ISIS in Libya. “20 Days in Mariupol,” Ukrainian filmmaker Mstyslav Chernov’s doc about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and remains a must-see a year later.

“Still: A Michael J. Fox Film” It began the season as the documentary voters knew best. Fox received an honorary Oscar at the 2022 Governors Awards, earning the warmest ovation of the night. “Michael J. Fox never asked for the role of Parkinson’s patient, advocate for the disease,” Woody Harrelson said that night. “But make no mistake, it is his greatest performance. Vulnerable? Yes. Victim? Never. An inspiration? Always.” Davis Guggenheim’s film followed that line in its poignant, unsparing portrait of an icon who transcends his affliction. It also demonstrated, through incisive new interviews, how Fox’s self-deprecating wit remains as sharp as ever.

But the audience for the Fox documentary may now have been surpassed by “American Symphony” Matthew Heineman’s look at musician Jon Batiste trying to make a professional dream come true while his wife, writer Suleika Jaouad, battles leukemia that has been in remission for a decade. What began as a chronicle of Batista’s attempt to write a symphony that captured America in all its contradictions and complexity also became a document of love, faith, and perseverance.

Netflix acquired “American Symphony” shortly after its fall premiere at the Telluride Film Festival and screened it frequently throughout the fall before landing on the platform in November. Music voters also gave him a boost, shortlisting the love ballad Batiste wrote for his wife, “It Never Went Away,” as their original song. It won’t be the best “Barbie” in that category, but its mention indicates that “American Symphony” could very well win the documentary Oscar at the Academy Awards in March.

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