50 Years of Oscar-Winning Foreign Language Films

List of Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards

82nd Annual Academy Awards

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The award for Best Foreign Language Film by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is given to films that are produced outside of the United States and have a mostly non-English dialogue track. The award is given to the director, who accepts it as an award for the submitting country as a whole. Only one film is submitted per country.

The films do not have to be released in the United States, but it has to be released in the country that submits the nomination and exhibited for at least seven days in a commercial movie theater. It cannot be released on the Internet or television before the theatrical release.

Beginning in 2006, the films no longer have to be in one of the official languages of the submitting country. The Foreign Language Film Award Committee selects five official nominations. Voting is restricted to Academy members who attend exhibitions of all five nominated films.

Academy Award Winners for Best Foreign Film 1990–2016

2016: "The Salesman" Directed by Asghar Farhadi, Iran. This drama is about a married couple who act in the play, "Death of a Salesman," and the aftermath of an assault on the wife. It also won Best Screenplay and Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival.

2015: "Son of Saul" Directed by László Nemes, Hungary. A day in the life of an inmate in Auschwitz who is one of the Sonderkommandos whose duties were to dispose of the bodies of the victims of the gas chamber. The movie also won the Grand Prix at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

2014: "Ida" Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland. A young woman in 1962 is about to take vows as a nun when she learns her parents, who died in WWII when she was an infant, were Jewish. She sets off to about her family history. It was the first Polish film to win the award.

2013: "The Great Beauty" Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, Italy. An aging novelist leaves his 65th birthday party and strolls the streets reflecting on his life and characters. The film also won Golden Globe and BAFTA awards.

2012: "Amour" Directed by Michael Haneke, Austria. This film won numerous awards, including the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. However, be warned that it is basically 127 minutes of home health care. The acting is excellent, but it can be grueling for the viewer to watch.

2011: "A Separation" Directed by Asghar Farhadi, Iran. Family strife between husband and wife, complicated by the need to care for the husband's father who has Alzheimer's disease. It also won the Golden Globe.

2010: "In a Better World" Directed by Susanne Bier, Denmark. A doctor who works in a Sudanese refugee camp also deals with family drama at home in a small town in Denmark. It also won the Golden Globe.

2009: "The Secret in Their Eyes" Directed by Juan Jose Campanella, Argentina. The investigation and aftermath of a rape case.

2008: "Departures" Directed by Yojiro Takita, Japan The film follows Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki), a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and who is suddenly left without a job.

2007: "The Counterfeiters" Directed by Stefan Ruzowitsky, Austria. Based on a real-life counterfeiting plant was set up with prisoners in the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen.

2006: "The Lives of Others" Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Germany. The film takes a hard look at East Germany, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, where a mind-boggling one in fifty citizens spied on the rest.

2005: "Tsotsi" Directed by Gavin Hood, South Africa. Six days in the violent life of a young Johannesburg gang leader.

2004: "The Sea Inside" Directed by Alejandro Amenábar, Spain. The real-life story of Spaniard Ramon Sampedro, who fought a 30-year campaign in favor of euthanasia and his own right to die.

2003: "The Barbarian Invasions" Directed by Denys Arcand, Canada. During his final days, a dying man is reunited with old friends, former lovers, his ex-wife, and his estranged son.

2002: "Nowhere in Africa" Directed by Caroline Link, Germany. A German Jewish refugee family moves to and adjusts to farm life in 1930's Kenya.

2001: "No Man's Land" Directed by Danis Tanovic, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Two soldiers from opposing sides in the conflict become trapped in no man's land during the Bosnia/Herzegovina conflict in 1993.

2000: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" Directed by Ang Lee, Taiwan. This is a Wuxia picture, a Chinese genre involving magic warriors, flying monks, and noble swordsmen. It stars Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-Fat, and Zhang Ziyi and is entertaining for audiences around the world. It became the highest-grossing foreign-language film in U.S. history.

1999: "All About My Mother" Directed by Pedro Almodovar, Spain. Young Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his father, carefully concealed by the mother Manuela in Almodovar's masterful melodrama.

1998: "Life is Beautiful" Directed by Roberto Benigni, Italy. A Jewish man has a wonderful romance with the help of his humor but must use that same quality to protect his son in a Nazi death camp. It also won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and the Best Actor Academy Award for Benigni, who also starred in the movie. His antics during the ceremony were joyful and memorable.

1997: "Character" Directed by Mike van Diem, The Netherlands. Jacob Katadreuffe lives mute with his mother, has no contact with his father who only works against him and wants to become a lawyer, at all costs.

1996: "Kolya" Directed by Jan Sverák, Czech Republic. The perfect grouch meets his match in a five-year-old boy named Kolya in this heart-warming drama.

1995: "Antonia's Line" Directed by Marleen Gorris, The Netherlands. A Dutch matron establishes and, for several generations, oversees a close-knit, matriarchal community where feminism and liberalism thrive.

1994: "Burnt By The Sun" Directed by Nikita Mikhalkov, Russia. A moving and poignant story set against the corrupt politics of the Stalinist era.

1993: "Belle Epoque" Directed by Fernando Trueba, Spain. In 1931, a young soldier (Fernando) deserts from the army and falls into a country farm, where he is welcomed by the owner (Manolo) due to his political ideas.

1992: "Indochine" Directed by Régis Wargnier, France. Set in 1930 in French Indochina against a backdrop of political tension between the French and Vietnamese. Catherine Deneuve and Vincent Perez star.

1991: "Mediterraneo" Directed by Gabriele Salvatores, Italy. On a magical Greek island, a soldier discovers that it is better to make love instead of war.

1990: "Journey of Hope" Directed by Xavier Koller, Switzerland. The story of a Turkish poor family who tries to emigrate illegally to Switzerland.

Best Foreign Language Films 1947–1989

  • 1989: "Cinema Paradiso" Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, Italy
  • 1988: "Pelle the Conqueror" Directed by Bille August, Denmark
  • 1987: "Babette's Feast" Directed by Gabriel Axel, Denmark
  • 1986: "The Assault" Directed by Fons Rademakers, The Netherlands
  • 1985: "The Official Story" Directed by Luis Puenzo, Argentina
  • 1984: "Dangerous Moves" Directed by Richard Dembo, Switzerland
  • 1983: "Fanny & Alexander" Directed by Ingmar Bergman, Sweden
  • 1982: "Volver a Empezar (To Begin Again)" Directed by José Luis Garci, Spain
  • 1981: "Mephisto" Directed by István Szabó, Hungary
  • 1980: "Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears" Directed by Vladimir Menshov, USSR
  • 1979: "The Tin Drum" Directed by Volker Schlöndorff, Federal Republic of Germany
  • 1978: "Get Out Your Handkerchiefs" Directed by Bertrand Blier, France
  • 1977: "Madame Rosa" Directed by Moshé Mizrahi, France
  • 1976: "Black and White in Color" Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, Ivory Coast
  • 1975: "Dersu Uzala" Directed by Akira Kurosawa, USSR
  • 1974: "Amarcord" Directed by Federico Fellini, Italy
  • 1973: "Day for Night" Directed by Francois Truffaut, France
  • 1972: "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" Directed by Luis Buñuel, France
  • 1971: "The Garden of the Finzi Continis" Directed by Vittorio De Sica, Italy
  • 1970: "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion" Directed by Lee Kresel and Elio Petri, Italy
  • 1969: "Z" Directed by Costa-Gavras, Algeria
  • 1968: "War and Peace" Directed by Sergei Bondarchuk, USSR. This movie has a running length of more than seven hours and it took four years to film. It was released in four installments.
  • 1967: "Closely Watched Trains" Directed by Jirí Menzel, Czechoslovakia
  • 1966: "A Man and a Woman" Directed by Claude Lelouch, France
  • 1965: "The Shop on Main Street" Directed by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos, Czechoslovakia
  • 1964: "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" Directed by Vittorio De Sica, Italy
  • 1963: "8 1/2" Directed by Federico Fellini, Italy. This avant-garde film was highly influential, and even makes the Vatican's list of the best films made before 1995.
  • 1962: "Sundays and Cybele" Directed by Serge Bourguignon, France
  • 1961: "Through a Glass Darkly" Directed by Ingmar Bergman, Sweden
  • 1960: "The Virgin Spring" Directed by Ingmar Bergman, Sweden
  • 1959: "Black Orpheus" Directed by Marcel Camus, Brazil
  • 1958: "My Uncle" Directed by Jacques Tati, France
  • 1957: "The Nights of Cabiria" Directed by Federico Fellini, Italy
  • 1956: "La Strada" Directed by Federico Fellini, Italy. This was the first year that the award was given competitively. Prior to 1956, it was given as a non-competitive honorary award.
  • 1955: "Samurai, The Legend of Musashi" Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki, Japan
  • 1954: "Gate of Hell" Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa, Japan
  • 1953: No award was given this year.
  • 1952: "Forbidden Games" Directed by René Clément, France
  • 1951: "Rashomon" Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Japan. The plot device of telling the same story through different viewpoints has been influential on films and television.
  • 1950: "The Walls of Malapaga" Directed by René Clément, France/Italy
  • 1949: "The Bicycle Thief" Directed by Vittorio De Sica, Italy. This is regarded as one of the best films of all time by several polls.
  • 1948: "Monsieur Vincent" Directed by Maurice Cloche, France
  • 1947: "Shoe Shine" Directed by Vittorio De Sica, Italy