Photo: Everett Collection
You've probably heard of "Amour" and "A Royal Affair." And you've almost most definitely heard of "Rust and Bone" and "The Intouchables." But the one Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Film that probably had you doing an Internet search shortly after the nominations were announced is "Kon-Tiki."
"Kon-Tiki" is a historical drama that focuses on Thor Heyerdahl and the 1947 expedition designed to prove his theory that pre-modern people from South America could have settled in Polynesia. Using pre-Columbian techniques, Heyerdahl builds a raft, which he names "Kon-Tiki" (an old name for the Inca sun god), and sails across the Pacific from Peru to Polynesia with a crew of five men.
Unlike its fellow nominees, "Kon-Tiki" has yet to score a theatrical release in the U.S. and to date has only been officially screened in North America at the Toronto International Film Festival. It's an inspiring, rugged adventure film -- quite a contrast from the intimate character dramas that make up the other nominees. While it's the least-known of the five films, it also makes for quite the dark horse candidate -- if for no other reason, it has a shot at winning because it's so different from the others.
"Kon-Tiki" is also the official Norwegian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards, which means it has a shot at taking home one of the other coveted golden statues this season -- unlike its fellow Golden Globes nominee, "Rust and Bone." While Golden Globe nominee Marion Cotillard definitely has a shot at an Oscar nom for her intense and heartbreaking performance as a mauled killer whale trainer, the film itself does not, as France's entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar is "The Intouchables," which explores the relationship between a quadriplegic aristocrat and his caretaker and has already become a box office hit in its native country.
Michael Haneke's "Amour," which focuses on an elderly couple struggling with a life-changing event, has already become something of a critics' favorite with the Los Angeles Film Critics Association recently naming it Best Picture of 2012. And "A Royal Affair," an 18th-century drama chronicling the romance between the Queen of Denmark and her court physician (played by "Casino Royale" villain Mads Mikkelsen), won the Silver Bear for Best Actor and Best Screenplay at this year's Berlin International Film Festival.
Which of these will win the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film? "The Intouchables" probably has the populist vote, but "Kon-Tiki" might prove to be a more formidable contender than anticipated due to it telling another tale of the triumph of the spirit -- and one with much more impressive set pieces (you can't beat the ocean when it comes to production value).