As we've reported on various countries' candidates for the Best Foreign Language Film category at next year's Oscars, we've observed that many of them are longshots at best. Countries like the Philippines and Singapore have never even secured a nomination in the category, let alone a win. That's not to say it won't happen this year; just that it's not as likely.

But now two countries with solid Oscar track records have announced their entries: Israel is putting up The Band's Visit, while the Czech Republic offers I Served the King of England. Israel has submitted a film every year since 1977 and fairly regularly before that, earning six nominations but no wins so far. The Czech Republic had six nominations including two wins back when it was Czechoslovakia; since the split in 1993, Czech Republic has had three nominations, with a win in 1996.

Israel's The Band's Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret) automatically became its Oscar entry when it took the top prize at the Israeli Film Academy Awards on Thursday. The comedy, about an Egyptian police band that gets lost in Israel, won the audience award at the Sarajevo Film Festival and the Jury Coup Du Coeur in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. It also played at Toronto, where Cinematical's lovely and talented James Rocchi reviewed it favorably. Sony Pictures Classics is set to release it in the U.S.; Variety says the amount they paid was a record for an Israeli film.

I Served the King of England (Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále) is based on an epic novel and spans years before and after World War II. It was directed by Jiri Menzel, whose film Closely Watched Trains won the Oscar back in 1968.