Historical and Trend Analysis of the Winners of the Academy Awards' (Oscars) Best Foreign Language Film
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Many countries have been joining the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film competition at the yearly Academy Awards in Hollywood. They compete in this category because the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film is the most prestigious film award among countries producing non-English-language films. Even a country that has won major awards at such prestigious film festivals as Berlin, Cannes, Venice, and Sundance is not guaranteed a win at this category. The Academy has stipulated the entry criteria for being considered for an award, but has stopped short of defining what the cultural and aesthetic qualities of a winning film might be. The aim of the research is to analyse the history and trend of the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film in order to determine the kind of film that has the best chance of winning the award. The research considered three areas: history of the award category, experience of the countries that won, and analysis of the narrative and style of the award-winning films by critics and reviewers. The data gathered came from interviews with film experts, and printed and online materials. These were seen through the lens of Hubner’s valuing films, Karpik’s valuing the unique, and Hutto’s and Plantinga’s folk psychology. These were analysed using trend analysis and thematic analysis. The research also determined whether the winners best resemble classical Hollywood films or American independent films. In addition, the study explored how the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film winners were valued over a period of time, from the award’s inception to what it is today. From this analysis, a template and plan of action has been developed that filmmakers can use if they want to compete in the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film category. The template is a decision tree that guides the filmmakers on practical steps to be taken, if the objective is to be selected to represent their country in the competition for an Oscar. The template is not prescriptive and will not ensure receipt of an award, though it will enhance the chance of being selected. More importantly, it is argued that following the template will help develop national filmmaking to an international standard.