The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips wrote on his Talking Pictures blog recently (originally posted February 5, and rerun today) about the film's exclusion. Phillips writes that the film was third on his own Top Ten list for the year, saying, "It is a rare film indeed that shows you so much in the way of dire circumstances, yet does not exploit or cheapen the human factor." Phillips talked to Mungiu about the film for this post, and the director has some rather astute things to say about some specific decisions he made with regard to the filmmaking.
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days was not on my own Top Ten list this year, and I've had numerous
Nonetheless, my personal annoyance with the main character aside, it really is quite a brilliant piece of filmmaking, and I was shocked that it didn't end up on the list of Oscar nominees. If you look at the five films that the great minds at the Academy decided deserved to be among the nominees this year -- Beaufort, The Counterfeiters, Mongol, Katyn, and 12 -- it's just shocking that 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days was excluded. Almost without exception, the critics and film journalists I know were dismayed that the film didn't make the cut.
This is not to say that the five films on the list aren't good -- of them, I've only seen The Counterfeiters -- and I see quite a lot of foreign films each year -- but that doesn't mean the others aren't perfectly good films. The other nominees sound like decent enough films, but the omission of 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days sticks out like a sore thumb. The film won at Cannes, it was on countless critics' top ten lists, raved about far and wide, and a lot of my colleagues were convinced even at Telluride that it was a lock for Best Foreign. For it not to even receive a nomination was just bizarre.
I suppose you can argue that the subject matter was just too heavy for the Oscar blue-hairs; abortion doesn't seem to go over too well with them -- Lake of Fire, the really excellent abortion doc, also failed to make the final cut in its category. But of all the foreign films on the circuit this year, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days was by far the most talked about, the most buzzed about, the one most people expected to win. Without it in the running, this category just feels largely irrelevant this year.