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This year four European movies (Belgian, German, Irish and Polish) and an Argentinian entry have been nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar at the American Academy Awards. Let’s go back in Oscar’s history to see which countries have been the most successful.
Italy has collected the most foreign film honours at the Oscars. Even though only one Italian film has won the Oscar in this century, during the Cinema Italiano’s golden era they were always the big favorites and in total the southern-European country picked up 14 awards from 32 nominations in total.
France are second on Italy’s heels with more nominations (41) but only victorious 12 times. There hasn’t been a night of glory for the French cinema industry for three decades as the last film to be recognised was Indochine in 1993.
Japan is some way behind in third place with 5 awards, the two most recent given in 2009 and 2022. The first three were awarded in the early years of Oscar history.
And the Oscar goes to…
The Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, as it is now, has been given since 1956, but originally in 1947 it was an honorary award.
It was chosen by the Board of Governors of the Academy without other nominated films in competition. During its run the board gave four awards to Italy, France and Japan both won three each, with a Franco-Italian co production awarded in 1950.
There are two European countries up next, both celebrating their film being awarded four times: Spain and Denmark. In total, 20 Spanish films have been nominated compared to 14 Danish.
Sweden is special as the same director, Ingmar Bergman won the award three times. To put that in some perspective; he’s had 10 in competition while the whole nation’s film industry has received 16 Oscar nominations in this category.
Russia films have gathered four Oscars for Best Foreign Film, 3 are from Soviet times
Non-English language film winners in Best Picture
Only two non-English language foreign films have triumphed in the Best Picture category, ‘The Artist’ in 2012, a French mainly silent film, which means that the South Korean movie ‘Parasite’ made history when it won the award in 2020, as the first non-English language winner.
This year the German anti-war film ‘All quiet on the Western front’ can repeat history and not only from a language point of view. In 1930 the first movie based on Erich Maria Remarque novel with the same title was awarded the Oscar for Best Picture.