We talk about name appeal being a factor in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race, but no country this year can boast it to quite the same extent as China: not only is their submission, just announced today, directed by three-time Oscar nominee Zhang Yimou, but it stars reigning Best Supporting Actor champ Christian Bale. If nothing else, the lure of the familiar should be worth a few votes.
The film in question is "The Flowers of War," Zhang's much-anticipated epic set during the Japanese invasion of Nanking in 1937, in which Bale stars as an American priest trapped in a cathedral with a group of schoolchildren and courtesans. As the most expensive production in Chinese film history, the film has a lot riding on it; no one's seen the finished product yet, but 20 minutes of footage were previewed at the Toronto Film Festival to a strong reception. (The film opens in China in December, which would normally rule it ineligible for consideration, but will have a week-long qualifying run beginning tomorrow.)