Learn Languages with This Year’s Oscar Nominees!
Did you know that, among the 10 hopeful contenders for this year's Oscar for Best Picture, four are non-American productions? In the last few years, the Academy seems to have opened up to international productions, and we couldn't be happier to have so many foreign Oscar nominees in the main categories. Whether due to the increasing diversity of its members or simply the result of stronger demand for representation, language learners now have more opportunities than ever to explore different cultures and languages through cinema. This year, if you're looking for international films to help you learn languages, you don't have to go to the Best International Feature sections. Here are 4 diverse Best Picture Oscar nominees that you can watch to increase your exposure to foreign languages.
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1. All Quiet on the Western Front (German, French)Set during the height of World War I, All Quiet on the Western Front follows a group of German soldiers as they struggle to survive in the trenches. [caption id="attachment_6071" align="alignleft" width="201"] All Quiet on the Western Front, via Pinterest.[/caption] Paul Bäumer and his friends Albert and Müller, who voluntarily enlisted in the army while on a thoughtless wave of patriotic fervour, soon find themselves in a world of death and violence for which they are unprepared. As his friends start to drop to the ground like puppets, Paul's preconceptions about the heroic nature of the war and the ethics behind the conflict start to crumble. But, amid the countdown to an armistice, the boy must keep on fighting until the end. Why you should watch All Quiet on the Western Front All Quiet on the Western Front is an ode to the lost generation of young men who never made it back home, and a tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for a cause they didn't even understand. The third adaptation of the acclaimed novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque but, surprisingly, it's the first German-language version. For language learners, this is a wonderful opportunity to experience World War I from the perspective of German people while listening to the German language for over two hours.
2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Mandarin, Cantonese, English)[caption id="attachment_6072" align="alignright" width="212"] EEAO, via Pinterest.[/caption] If you enjoy absurd humour, over-the-top action sequences, and multiverse-travelling heroines, Everything Everywhere All at Once is just the movie for you. This mind-bending Chinese-American comedy-drama follows the story of a Chinese-American woman (played by Oscar-tipped Michelle Yeoh) who discovers that she must form a bond with alternate versions of herself across the multiverse to stop an all-powerful entity from annihilating reality as we know it. From then on, the film swirls into genre anarchy to combine elements of absurdist comedy, sci-fi, martial arts flick, and surreal animation.
Why you should watch Everything Everywhere All at OnceWith 11 Academy Award nominations, this is the most acclaimed of the foreign Oscar nominees in our list and, without a doubt, one of the most original films of the last 5 years. And it's not just us who think this way. Ben Travis, from Empire, called the film "a pure firework display of technical bravado, wild creativity, and emotional storytelling" and claimed, in a 5-star review, that the movie is everything we love about cinema. For language learners, EEAO presents a rare opportunity to hear the two main Chinese languages, Mandarin and Cantonese, in the same movie and spoken by some of China's brightest stars.
3. Triangle of Sadness (Swedish, Greek, French, German, Akan, English)[caption id="attachment_6073" align="alignleft" width="212"] Triangle of Sadness, via Pinterest.[/caption] As explained at the beginning of the film by a modelling instructor, "the 'triangle of sadness' is a real term for the triangle-shaped area that forms between the top of the nose bridge and the eyebrows. The area, according to beauty gurus, tends to develop wrinkles and generates negative facial expressions that can make you look tired or sad. Triangle of Sadness, the film, is not precisely about beauty or the world of modelling, but about the banality, emptiness, and ethical contradictions of wealthy, privileged people. A celebrity model couple, Carl and Yaya, are having the time of their lives on a luxurious cruise, but what initially appeared as a perfectly 'Instagram-able' experience, ends disastrously when a grenade explodes inside the ship, leaving the wealthy survivors stranded on a desert island with few to zero resources for survival.
Why you should watch Triangle of SadnessAs with the rest of the Oscar nominees on our list, one of the best things about this excellent satire is that everyone on the cruise speaks the language they should according to their nationality. If you're a language lover, you'll love to learn that, although most of the film is in English, it also offers authentic dialogues in Swedish, Greek, French, German, and even lesser-known languages such as Tagalog and Akan.
4. The Banshees of Inisherin (English as spoken in Ireland)[caption id="attachment_6074" align="alignright" width="236"] The Banshees of Inisherin, via Pinterest.[/caption] Set on an island off the west coast of Ireland, this film festival circuit favourite follows two lifelong friends, Padraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), who find themselves at a dead end when Colm unexpectedly (and unexplainably) decides to end their friendship. Sad, confused, and always supported by his sister Siobhan and a troubled but kind-hearted neighbour named Dominic, Padraic goes out of his way to mend the relationship, refusing to take no for an answer. However, his repeated efforts only strengthen his former friend's resolve and when Colm issues him an ultimatum —saying that he will harm himself by cutting one finger off his hand every time Padraic attempts to get in touch with him— events start to escalate at an alarming speed.
Why you should watch The Banshees of InishirenThe Banshees of Inishiren is a stunning ode to both brotherhood and a study on the harms of isolation and the inability to communicate one's feelings. Perhaps the most emotional title among this year's Oscar nominees for Best Picture, the film expertly combines humour and pathos to create a spellbinding men-gone-wrong fable. If you're looking for a film in English but you're tired of always hearing the same BBC-like accents so typical of British period films, this is a great opportunity to hear working-class Irish English while enjoying one of this year's best scripts. Plus, the entire cast are Oscar nominees for the wonderful performances they give in the film!
Learn Languages with Listen & LearnWhile wildly different from one another, these four Oscar nominees have something in common: they offer authentic dialogues in different languages, regional accents, and interesting cultural cues that can help you learn while getting ready for the 2023 Oscar race. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride! Would you like to go beyond foreign Oscar-nominated films and learn one of the languages mentioned in our blog?
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