The much-celebrated, must-see animated documentary Waltz with Bashir--an Israeli film by Ari Folman about one man's journey to reconstruct his memory of war--is expected to land the honour of Best Foreign-Language Film at tonight's Oscar bash, the 81st Academy Awards.
On its way to the Oscars, Waltz with Bashir has picked up the U.S. Writer's Guild award for Best Documentary, Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes, and Best Picture by the U.S. Society of Film Critics (a tough bunch to impress). It also won 6 Israeli Ophir awards (the Israeli Academy Awards).
Despite its surface topic--the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and Israel's oversight of the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla--the film was received well and thoughtfully in Israel.
The Tuque Souq enthusiastically gives it 2 thumbs up (though I'm still of two minds about the stylistic decision made at the end of the film, which I won't spoil), and highly recommends pairing the film with the legendary narrative journey into a memory of the Lebanon War, Mahmoud Darwish's Memory for Forgetfulness--a classic and unforgettable book!
Waltz with Bashir is Israeli cinema's eighth nomination for Best Foreign-Language Film; the previous seven all came up short, including Joseph Cedar's Beaufort last year (a film also about the Lebanon War).
Only 1 Arab or Middle Eastern film has ever won even half of this award: the Academy considers Z, the 1969 winner for Best Foreign-Language Film, a French/Algerian film. Algeria has had 3 other nominations. Iran (Children of Heaven; 1998) and Palestine (Paradise Now; 2005) have had 1 each.
[Oscar Update 1: Waltz with Bashir did not win at tonight's Oscars. Um, I hope I didn't jinx it.]
[Oscar Update 2: Yes, Philip Seymour Hoffman was wearing a tuque tonight. More on this development as it develops.]