Hong Kong's pick is Exiled, from the much-buzzed-about action director Johnnie To (whose Triad Election played in a few U.S. cities earlier this year). It's an underworld crime caper full of shooting and double-crosses and associated mayhem. Not typical Oscar fare, maybe -- but then again, The Departed won Best Picture this year. Scott Weinberg reviewed Exiled mostly favorably at the Philadelphia Film Festival in April.
Two Hong Kong films have earned nominations in this category before -- Raise the Red Lantern and Farewell My Concubine -- but the country has no wins so far.
Estonia chose The Class, a disturbing drama about high school students who takes revenge against bullies. Directed by Ilmar Raag, the film has played at film festivals in Cannes, Karlovy Vary, and Copenhagen. This is only the fifth time Estonia has submitted a film for Oscar consideration; before 1991, the country was part of the Soviet Union.
Macedonia's candidate is Milcho Manchevski's Shadows, a drama about a doctor whose life changes after he survives what should have been a fatal car accident. Macedonia -- which you'll find wedged between Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Greece -- broke off from Yugoslavia in 1991. This is the country's sixth Oscar submission since then.
Major players such as Spain, Mexico, Brazil, and China haven't announced their submissions yet, so watch for that news in the next few days.