Ice Mother Chosen as Official Czech Submission to 2018 Oscars
Ice Mother (Bába z ledu), a pointed comedy-drama from director Bohdan Sláma starring Zuzana Krónerová and Pavel Nový. has been selected as the official Czech submission to the 90th annual Academy Awards, which will take place on March 4, 2018.
It’s a solid film in all respects (check out my review filed in March here) but an unusual choice to appeal to Academy shortlist-makers, and has little hope of scoring a nomination.
In the category of Best Foreign-Language Film, each country is asked to nominate a single movie to submit for potential nomination. Those films are typically chosen by special committees, and the results are often hotly-contested; last year, for example, Chan-Wook Park’s excellent and widely-appreciated The Handmaiden was not eligible for an Oscar because South Korea submitted the little-seen The Age of Shadows instead.
This year, the clear Czech choice for Oscar submission should have been Jan Svěrák’s Barefoot (Po strništi bos), a pseudo-prequel to the Oscar-winning Kolya - and every bit as good, if not better (see my recent review here).
The Czech Republic has not won an Oscar since Kolya in 1996, and it has not earned a nomination since 2003’s Želary. Barefoot had all the ingredients to buck that trend, but it was passed over by the Czech submissions committee.
No knock on Ice Mother, which won a foreign-language screenplay award at this year’s Tribeca film fest, but it’s selection is the latest in a line of intimate, small-scale films that hold little appeal to Academy voters; recent Czech submissions have included films like Lost in Munich, Fair Play, Domácí péče (Home Care), and Jiří Menzel's Donšajni (The Don Juans).
In a banner year for Czech movies, the excellent The Garden Store: Family Friend was also passed over, though reportedly the second film in Jan Hřebejk’s trilogy, Deserter (which hits cinemas later this month), was among the 13 feature films considered for submission.
According to iDnes.cz, the computer-animated Lichožrouti (The Oddsockeaters) and the Slovak-language drama Špína (Dirty) were also considered by the secretive committee.
Masaryk, another excellent 2017 Czech production, may have been deemed ineligible for the nomination because of its amount of English-language dialogue. In 2007, the Academy famously disqualified the Israeli movie The Band’s Visit because it contained too much English dialogue.