Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award

Winners and Nominees: 1931 – Today

Page 1: 1990 – Today

This is a comprehensive list of nominees and winners of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, plus selected non-English language films and filmmakers that received Oscars™ or nominations.

The Best Foreign Language Film category was introduced in 1956, but Special Awards were given to the best foreign film in previous years, beginning in 1947. The first winner of the award was Shoe-Shine, from Italy.

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2010    Biutiful (Mexico)

            Dogtooth (Greece)

            In a Better World (Denmark)

            Incendies (Canada)

            Outside the Law [Hors-la-loi] (Algeria)


        Nominee, Best Live-Action Short, Na Wewe (Burundi)

          Nominee, Best Animated Short, The Illusionist (France)

In a Better World: Two boys undertake revenge on bullies.

“In a Better World is beautiful to watch. Bier and Jensen's take on masculinity and the limits of bravery are profound and the performances from her cast, especially her two young leads, are heartfelt and complex."

Steve Ramos , Box Office Magazine

Biutiful: A Barcelona criminal faces difficult choices in his personal and professional lives.

Javier Bardem...bring(s) admirable passion to a gritty story that amounts to a lower-depths, urban version of the Passion.”

A. O. Scott, New York Times


2009    Ajami (Israel)

            The Milk of Sorrow (Le Teta Asustada) (Peru)

            A Prophet (Un Prophete) (France)

            The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secrete du Sus Ojos) (Argentina)

           The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band) (Germany)



The Secret in Their Eyes: A federal agent searches for the murderer of a young woman.

“Powerfully understated, (actor) Ricardo Darin explores every psychological shade of a moral man who, having been beaten down by the system, now seeks the fulfillment life has denied him.”

Jonathan Holland , Variety

The White Ribbon: Strange, malevolent occurances plague a German village, on the eve of World War I.


2008    The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)

            The Class [Entre Les Murs] (France)

            Departures [Okuribito] (Japan)

            Revanche (Austria)

            Waltz With Bashir (Israel)


          Nominee, Best Documentary Feature, The Betrayal [Nerakhoon] (U.S. but in Lao)

          Winner, Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, Music, Slumdog Millionaire (UK, but partly in Hindi)

          Winner, Best Animated Short, Le Maison en Petite Cubes (Japan)

Departures : An unemployed cellist takes a job preparing the dead for cremation.

“TV scribe Kundo Koyama's first bigscreen script peppers the proceedings with rich character detail and near-screwball interludes that shouldn't fit but somehow do, owing to Motoki's appeal."

Eddie Cockrell , Variety

The Class : A high school teacher teaches a multicultural group of students despite a dysfunctional educational system. artful, intelligent movie about modern French identity and the attempt to transform those bodies into citizens....”

Manohla Dargis, New York Times


2007    Beaufort (Israel)

            The Counterfeiters [Die Fälscher] (Austria)

            Katyn (Poland)

            Mongol (Kazakhstan)

            12 (Russia)


            Nominee, Best Director, Cinematographer, Editing, and Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France)

          Nominee, Best Animated Picture, Persepolis (France/Iran)

Counterfeiters: A Jewish criminal is recruited from within a Nazi concentration camp to forge British and American currency. Based on a true story.

“Mr. Markovics'...performance is a tour de force of concentration and understatement...

A.O. Scott, New York Times

Mongol: The epic story of the young Genghis Khan.

“This is one massive, impressive piece of work – an epic in every sense.”

Todd Brown, Twitch


2006    After The Wedding (Denmark)

            Days of Glory [Indigènes] (Algeria)

            The Lives of Others (Germany)

            Pan's Labyrinth (Mexico)

            Water (Canada)


The Lives of Others: An East German Stasi officer spies on a couple, and becomes involved in their lives.

“...a powerful but quiet film, constructed of hidden thoughts and secret desires.

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Pan's Labyrinth : A young girl escapes into a world of fairies and monsters in fascist Spain.

“...a swift and accessible entertainment, blunt in its power and exquisite in its effects."

A. O. Scott, New York Times


2005    Don’t Tell (Italy)

            Joyeux Noël (France)

            Sophie Scholl—The Final Days (Germany)

            Tsotsi (South Africa)


          Nominee, Best Animated Picture, Howl’s Moving Castle (Japan)


  Tsotsi: A South African killer (“Tsotsi” is South African slang for “thug”) from the shantytown of Soweto is transformed after he steals a car and discovers a baby boy in the back seat. Based on a novel by Athol Fugard.

“...a film of great emotional power... What a simple yet profound story this is. It does not sentimentalize poverty or make Tsotsi more colorful or sympathetic than he should be.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


2004    As It Is in Heaven (Sweden)

            The Chorus (France)

            Downfall (Germany)

            The Sea Inside (Spain)

            Yesterday (South Africa)


The Sea Inside: A quadraplegic Spaniard demands the right to die.

“What could have been a preachy biopic becomes poetry in the hands of the gifted director and writer and editor and composer Alejandro Amenabar.... (The Sea Inside) is a tour de force for (actor) Javier Bardem....”

Pete Travers, Rolling Stone

Downfall: The final days in Hitler's bunker, seen through the eyes of Hitler's secretary.


2003    The Barbarian Invasions (Canada)

            Evil (Sweden)

            The Twilight Samurai (Japan)

            Twin Sisters (Netherlands)

            Zelary (Czech Republic)


          Nominee, Fernando Meirelles, Best Director, City of God (Brazil)

          Nominee, Best Editing, City of God (Brazil)


The Barbarian Invasions: A Quebec professor dying of cancer is visited by friends and family, some of whom harbor hard feelings towards him.

(The Barbarian Invasions is) a movie with brains, indignation, irony and idealism -- a film about people who think seriously, and express themselves with passion.”


The Twilight Samurai: A poor, low-ranking samurai selflessly cares for his two daughters and senile mother. Then, duty calls.

(The Twilight Samurai) harkens back to the work of old masters like Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu.”

-Vincent Musetto, New York Post 


2002    El Crimen del Padre Amaro (Mexico)

            Hero (China)

            The Man Without a Past (Finland)

            Nowhere in Africa (Germany)

            Zus & Zo (Netherlands)


          Winner, Spirited Away (Japan), Best Animated Feature Film

          Nominee, Y Tu Mamá También (Mexico), Best Original Screenplay



Nowhere in Africa: A German-Jewish family escapes Nazi persecution by moving to a farm in Kenya.

“It is so rare to find a film where you become quickly, simply absorbed in the story. You want to know what happens next. Caroline Link's Nowhere in Africa is a film like that.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


Spirited Away: Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl, finds herself in a magical, spirit-filled bathhouse. She is befriended by a boy whose loyalties are unclear, but who says he can help save her and her parents.

“The great Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki has made his masterpiece. Spirited Away... is the most deeply and mysteriously satisfying animated feature to come along in ages.”

Peter Rainer, New York Magazine


2001    Amélie (France)

            Elling (Norway)

            Lagaan (India)

            No Man’s Land (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

            Son of the Bride (Argentina)



No Man's Land: A Bosnian soldier and a Serb soldier are trapped between their lines in no-man's land.

No Man's Land uncoils like an elaborate moral riddle whose dimensions widen as the story opens up to bring in forces beyond the trench.”

Stephen Holden, New York Times

Amelié: A lonesome young woman is determined to bring happiness to others.


2000    Amores Perros (Mexico)

            Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Taiwan)

            Divided We Fall (Czech Republic)

            Everybody Famous (Belgium)

            The Taste of Others (France)



Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: A warrior vows to avenge his murdered master and seeks a very special sword, while his beautiful partner longs with loyalty and unrequited love.

“Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the most exhilarating martial arts movie I have ever seen.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


1999    All About My Mother (Spain)

            Caravan (Nepal)

            East-West (France)

            Solomon and Gaenor (United Kingdom)

            Under the Sun (Sweden)



All About My Mother: A single mother experiences a tragedy and goes to find her son's father, a transvestite who does not know he has a child.

“All About My Mother is (Pedro Almodovar's) best film by far.”

Janet Maslin, New York Times


1998    Central Station (Brazil)

            Children of Heaven (Iran)

            The Grandfather (Spain)

            Life is Beautiful (Italy)

            Tango (Argentina)



Life is Beautiful: A Jewish man uses humor and fantasy to protect his child in a Nazi concentration camp.

Life Is Beautiful is not about Nazis and Fascists, but about the human spirit. It is about rescuing whatever is good and hopeful from the wreckage of dreams.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


1997    Beyond Silence (Germany)

            Character (Netherlands)

            Four Days in September (Brazil)

            Secrets of the Heart (Spain)

            The Thief (Russia)



Character: The life of a neglectful father is recounted in a series of flashbacks after his murder.

“(Character) is a triumph of visual style."

G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Examiner

Beyond Silence: A musically gifted girl nurtures her talent while trying to care for her deaf parents.


1996    A Chef in Love (Georgia)

            Kolya (Czech Republic)

            The Other Side of Sunday (Norway)

            Prisoner of the Mountains (Russia)

            Ridicule (France)



Prisoner of the Mountains: Two Russian soldiers are ambushed and taken prisoner by Muslim guerrillas in the Caucasus Mountains.

Prisoner of the Mountains, is directed by Mr. Bodrov with both an oddly tranquil spirit and the awareness of a tightening noose. The juxtaposition of these incongruous moods gives the film its quiet power.”

Janet Maslin, New York Times

Kolya: Louka, a middle-aged down-on-his-luck musician finds himself responsible for a 5-year-old boy.


1995    All Things Fair (Sweden)

            Antonia’s Line (Netherlands)

            Dust of Life (Algeria)

            O Quatrilho (Brazil)

            The Star Maker (Italy)


          Nominee, Best Picture, Il Postino (France/Italy/Belgium)

          Nominee, Massimo Troisi, Best Actor, for Il Postino (France/Italy/Belgium)

          Nominee, Michael Radford, Best Director, for Il Postino (France/Italy/Belgium)



Antonia's Line: A Dutch matriarch looks back on her life and the many strong women in her family.

Antonia's Line...unfolds as magical feminism. Written and directed with quirky charm by Marleen Gorris...the film rejects and even mocks ideas of organized religion, (but) has a solid faith in nature and destiny, as well as in the fundamental goodness of its women.”

Janet Maslin, New York Times

Il Postino (The Postman): An Italian postman learns about poetry and love from exiled poet Pablo Neruda.

“The guiding spirit behind Il Postino seems to have been Troisi, an Italian director and actor who co-wrote the screenplay and postponed heart surgery in order to act in the title role. He died the day after the movie was finished.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


1994    Before the Rain (Macedonia)

            Burnt By the Sun (Russia)

            Eat Drink Man Woman (Taiwan)

            Farinelli: Il Castrato (Belgium)

            Strawberry and Chocolate (Cuba)


          Nominee, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Best Director, for Red (Poland/France/Switzerland)

          Honorary Award to Michelangelo Antonioni (Italy)



Burnt By the Sun: A hero of the Bolshevik revolution falls victim to Stalin and a changing political climate.

“(Director) Mikhalkov...knows just how to combine lyrical touches and ironic distance in recording the lives of the privileged yet doomed."

Scott Rosenberg, San Francisco Examiner

Red (Rouge): a young woman encounters a retired judge who is observing his neighbors with great interest.

“Somber, beautiful and playfully enigmatic, Red is a movie artist at the height of his powers.”

Hal Hinson, Washington Post



1993    Belle Epoque (Spain)

            Farewell My Concubine (Hong Kong)

            Hedd Wyn (United Kingdom/Wales)

            The Scent of Green Papaya (Vietnam)

            The Wedding Banquet (Taiwan)



Belle Epoque: A deserter from the Spanish army takes refuge in the home of four beautiful sisters.

Belle Epoque, a hot-blooded human comedy from Spain, is indebted equally to Jean Renoir's more bucolic films and to all those old jokes about the farmer's daughter.”

Janet Maslin, New York Times

The Wedding Banquet: a gay Taiwanese-American man enters a marriage of convenience to please his tradition-bound parents. Directed by Ang Lee.


1992    Close to Eden (Russia)

            Daens (Belgium)

            Indochine (France)

            Schtonk (Germany)

            A Place in the World (Uruguay — this film was declared ineligible after nominations were announced because it was produced entirely in Argentina)


           Nominee, Cathererine Deneuve, Best Actress, for Indochine (France/Vietnam)

           Honorary Award to Federico Fellini (Italy)


  Indochine: A French woman and her adopted Indochinese daughter witness political upheaval in 1930s Indochina (now known as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos).

“Miss Deneuve lends (Indochine) a lot of her own instinctive intelligence. Behind the movie-star facade, a real actress is at work. It's not her regal beauty but the force of her personality that carries the viewer through a choppy screenplay not always easy to follow.”

Vincent Canby, New York Times


1991    Children of Nature (Iceland)

            The Elementary School (Czechoslovakia)

            Mediterraneo (Italy)

            The Ox (Sweden)

            Raise the Red Lantern (Hong Kong)


           Nominee, Agnieszka Holland, Best Screenplay Based on Material Formerly Produced or Published for Europa, Europa (Germany/France/Poland)


            Honorary Award to Satyajit Ray

  Mediterraneo: In 1941, eight Italian sailors are stranded on an idyllic Greek island, where they sit out the war.

“Mediterraneo (is) a pleasingly soothing piece of escapist entertainment, the film is like a mini-vacation; two hours or so in a rapturous azure paradise, without a care.”

Hal Hinson, Washington Post

Raise the Red Lantern: A college-educated woman in 1920s China becomes the fourth wife of a feudal Chinese patriarch.

Raise the Red Lantern (is) a beautifully crafted and richly detailed feat of consciousness-raising and a serious drama with the verve of a good soap opera.”

Janet Maslin, New York Times


1990    Cyrano de Bergerac (France)

            Journey of Hope (Switzerland)

            Ju Dou (China)

            The Nasty Girl (Germany)

            Open Doors (Italy)


           Nominee, Gerard Depardieu, for Cyrano de Bergerac (France)

            Honorary Award to Sophia Loren (Italy)


Journey of Hope: An impoverished family from rural Turkey endures hardship in its journey to Switzerland in search of a better life.

“Predictably fatalistic, Journey of Hope is nonetheless moving in its depiction of these Kurdish refugees' struggle against the odds.”

Steve Davis, Austin Chronicle

Cyrano de Bergerac: a long-nosed hero romances a beautiful woman on his friend's behalf.




This site is not affliliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. My sources included: Joseph Osborn's 75 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards, Roger Ebert's The Great Movies and The Great Movies II, Pauline Kael's 5001 Nights At The Movies, The Movie Review Query Engine (, and the Internet Movie Database ( .


                © 2009 Dan Sato