LOS ANGELES — – The latest foreign language Oscar nominations answered 11 years of anticipation for Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar and gave Nepal its first bid in the category.
"There is something very mysterious about the awards — a lot of times it has nothing to do with quality," said Almodovar, speaking by phone from his office in Madrid, Spain.
Almodovar's All About My Mother is the first of his many acclaimed films to receive a nomination since Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown in 1988.
I was waiting for 11 years to win another nomination," said the director, whose films are famous for outlandish characters and complex story lines.
His latest film is vying for an Oscar with films from four other countries: Caravan from Nepal; East-West from France; Solomon and Gaenor a Welsh-language film from the United Kingdom; and Sweden's Under the Sun.
All About My Mother, a woman's painful journey into her past after the death of her son, weaves the stories of strong female characters — an Almodovar trademark. There's an aging lesbian actress, a transvestite homemaker and a nun with HIV.
The film won Almodovar the award for best director at the Cannes Film Festival, and has been well-received in Britain and the United States. It won the foreign Golden Globe in January.
Director Regis Wargnier, whose 1992 film Indochine received an Oscar nomination, said he was walking in a Paris garden when he found out his latest film, East-West, was nominated.
"I think it's a great chance to get this twice," said Wargnier, 51.
East-West is a 1940s romantic drama about a Russian emigre who returns to the Soviet Union with his son and French wife after the war, only to encounter an unexpected reality under Stalin.
Solomon and Gaenor marks the first time director Paul Morrison has been nominated. The film is about a young Jewish man in Wales who is separated from his lover by anti-Semitic riots in 1911.
"It was a dream to make it and this is even more of a dream to have this nomination," said Morrison, 55, who learned of his Oscar bid as he ate minestrone soup in a London cafe.
Caravan, directed by Eric Valli, is a tale of conflict between an old village chieftain and a young man set amid a yak caravan's journey through the Himalayas.
Under the Sun is Sweden's 12th nomination. Directed by Colin Nutley, it is the story of a lonely farmer whose want ad for a housekeeper brings a city woman into his life.