My money was on Pan's Labyrinth, which I absolutely loved, but lo and behold, The Lives of Others won ... I was not expecting that. I decided to compose a short list of German Oscar nominees and winners (as well as Swiss and Austrian films in the competition).
Not long ago I saw The Lives of Others for the second time, and even more recently I recommended it to my students. On Friday a couple mentioned out of the blue that they planned on seeing it; some said they might go to the theater and another said she had added it to her Netflix queue.
I was in the middle of listening to Laibach this evening when I thought to myself, “Self, the Oscars are on tonight. I wonder who's been winning.” So I turned on the TV, as it turns out, right before the best foreign film award was given. Perfect timing, blind luck. Whatever. Plus, I got to see the Snakes on a Plane puppet theater.
And now, a list of German winners ... it is short, and two of the three are recent. Nirgendwo in Afrika is a fine film, but it's no classic.
Die Blechtrommel has the two following additional things going for it: 1) it was banned in Oklahoma (or at least Oklahoma City) for a while as child pornography, which was a ridiculous charge, the type of thing you'd only find in the U-S-of-A, and 2) it's based on a novel by Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass.
In addition to these three winners we have a series of nominees from the unified Germany, the former West Germany (BRD), and even one from East Germany (DDR).
German nominees that didn't win:
I haven't yet watched Sophie Scholl, though I have a copy of it with me. I enjoyed Der Untergang, primarily for the performances and for the frightening monster that is Frau Goebbels. Most the others are familiar to me, but the movies from the 1950s are complete mysteries to me.
Austria only has one nominated film; Switzerland has several, including the 1990 and 1984 winners. Some are French, some are German ... go figure.
Austrian and Swiss films:
In addition this evening the Queen and Idi Amin won, as did Martin Scorsese ... finally. I was half expecting Al Gore to declare that he was running for president.
He has developed quite the double chin.
—February 25 2007