Cinefile: Will 'Beaufort' be left standing?

People are wondering whether this will be the first year since 1984 that Israel gets an Oscar nomination.

beaufort film 88 224 (photo credit: )
beaufort film 88 224
(photo credit: )
On a visit to New York, I went to the movies and was pleased to see a poster for Joseph Cedar's Beaufort prominently displayed in the theater lobby (I was also pleased to see a quote from my Jerusalem Post review - "The first great Israeli war film" - at the top of the poster). The movie is being distributed by Kino International and will be showing in the US starting in January. Speaking of Beaufort, the movie is now Israel's official entry for a Best Foreign Language Film nomination (since The Band's Visit, which won the Ophir Award for Best Picture, was disqualified for having too much English dialogue). The Oscar nominations will be announced on January 22, and people are wondering whether this will be the first year since 1984 that Israel gets a nomination, particularly since so many Israeli films won international prizes this year. But none of the many Oscar blogs are predicting a nomination for Israel. The two films that seem to be shoo-ins, according to the Net pundits, are the coming-of-age-in-Iran animated drama Persepolis, which, odd though it may sound, is France's entry (it's in French, and many of its cast and crew are French citizens) and Cristian Mungiu's harrowing drama about abortion in Ceausescu's Romania, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Another film often mentioned is The Counterfeiters, an Austrian film about Jewish concentration-camp inmates who counterfeited British currency for the Nazis. That leaves Beaufort to fight it out with films from 60 other countries for the remaining spots. Anything is possible, though, and the truest saying about the movie industry is still screenwriter William Goldman's famous quote: "Nobody knows anything." One quirky Oscar reality this year is that Persepolis may well get two nominations, one for Foreign Language film and another for Animated Feature. CLIVE OWEN hasn't won an Oscar yet, but he will one of these days, and if you're a fan, you can see three of his recent movies at the Jerusalem Cinematheque tonight. First up, at 10 p.m., there's Shoot 'Em Up, an action movie in which he stars as an unlikely good Samaritan who faces off against a hitman played by a cast-against-type Paul Giamatti (the hero in Sideways). Remember, not long ago, Owen was rumored to have been the choice of movie executives to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, but he allegedly turned them down and Daniel Craig got the gig. Although Craig received critical acclaim and audience approval for his performance, I still think the brooding Owen would have been better. If Owen is making mindless action flicks like Shoot 'Em Up, it's hard to understand why he turned down Bond. The second film is Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men, a futuristic thriller about a world where no children have been born for 18 years, and which co-stars Michael Caine and Julianne Moore. Finally, there's the Spike Lee film, Inside Man, in which Owen stars as a brainy bank robber who matches wits with police detective Denzel Washington. This isn't a bad list, but if it were up to me, I'd show Croupier, the 1998 film in which Owen stars as an aspiring novelist who puts aside his book to work in a casino; Closer, the 2004 Mike Nichols movie in which Owen stars as an angry, sarcastic doctor, with a cast that includes Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Natalie Portman; and the recently released Elizabeth: The Golden Age, in which Owen plays Sir Walter Raleigh. On Saturday morning at 11 a.m., the Jerusalem Cinematheque features a tribute to Billie Holliday. The program includes a lecture by Shlomo Israeli on "Women's Voices in Jazz," to be followed with a performance by the Boris Gammer Septet and finally by a screening of the 1972 film on Holliday's life, Lady Sings the Blues. It's an ironic choice, though, because this film, although it stars Diana Ross in a performance of great emotional intensity, features mainly pop arrangements of the kind that Ross has always performed, and not the great jazz ballads made famous by Holliday. People tend to either love or hate the films of Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore), but fans can rejoice that his latest film, The Darjeeling Limited, is finally opening in Israel. You can catch a premiere screening at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. The film stars Anderson's usual group of buddies, including Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman as three brothers who try to repair their troubled relationship while traveling through India by train.