Three for OneAfter watching Amelie (Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain), I've completed the troika of films that contended for the 2002 Oscars, which for us Indians was the most memorable Oscar ceremony in recent times. I was lucky enough to watch No Man's Land in a theatre (watched Lagaan in one too) and my viewing of the three films were in tune with my pre-Oscar predictions, for I correctly forecasted the Bosnian film's win. The simple reason then was that the Academy voters, on past form, were more likely to vote for a cynical, darkly tragicomic film set among contemporary issues rather than a long Indian film set two centuries ago involving an unfamiliar sport (though its theme of David v Goliath could be an Oscar favourite) and a French film about romance and happiness.
Personally, I would rank the films in that very order too. So even if we discount such subconscious biases on part of the Academy, they have got it right on merit too. All three films were quite outstanding, but No Man's Land's story, execution and cinematic merits outdid the rest in most departments.
In some sense, the three storylines were quite representative of the image and ethos of the countries they come from. No Man's Land echoes brilliantly the collective tragedy of centuries of parochial hatred coupled with modern (and criminal) incompetence that the Balkans has been smothered under. Where else would you set a story like Amelie where fact and fantasy do a pretty dance together but in France? As for Lagaan, where else would you set an epic, an epic where a few take on the strength of the mighty and improbably win? The best thing one could say about all these three landmarks is that they were good enough to make us believe in their otherwise incredible stories.