LOS ANGELES - Oscars organizers shortlisted nine movies including Palestinian, Danish and Hong Kong films Friday for best foreign language prize, offering surprises and some unexpected snubs.
Films left out included Saudi Arabia's first-ever candidate and Pakistan's first entry in five decades, while an Oscar-winning Iranian director also failed to make the cut.
Films by Belgian, Bosnian, Cambodian, German, Hungarian and Italian directors are on the shortlist, which did not include any women filmmakers.
"The Hunt" by Dane Thomas Vinterberg, "The Grandmaster" from Hong Kong's Wong Kar-wai and "The Great Beauty" by Italian Paolo Sorrentino could be among the frontrunners.
But Iranian entry "The Past" - by director Asghar Farhadi, who won the best foreign film Oscar in 2012 for "A Separation" - was not on Friday's list, despite forecasts that it would be among the leading nominees.
The films were whittled down from a long list of 76 movies announced in October by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises Hollywood's biggest annual awards fest.
They will be reduced to five nominees next month, before nods in all Oscar categories are announced on January 16. The 86th Academy Awards will be held on March 2.
The nine shortlisted foreign language films are:
- "The Broken Circle Breakdown," Belgium, director Felix van Groeningen.
- "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker," Bosnia and Herzegovina, director Danis Tanovic.
- "The Missing Picture," Cambodia, director Rithy Panh.
- "The Hunt," Denmark, director Thomas Vinterberg.
- "Two Lives," Germany, director Georg Maas.
- "The Grandmaster," Hong Kong, director Wong Kar-wai.
- "The Notebook," Hungary, director Janos Szasz.
- "The Great Beauty," Italy, director Paolo Sorrentino.
- "Omar," Palestine, director Hany Abu-Assad.