‘A Fantastic Woman,’ Starring Chile’s First Openly Trans Actress, Is One Step Closer to an Oscar

Lead Photo: 'Una mujer fantastica' still courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
'Una mujer fantastica' still courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the shortlist for its Foreign Language Film category. Narrowing down a record-breaking list of 93 eligible projects from all around the world, a special AMPAS committee has put forth 9 titles that will now be vying for the coveted award in the spring. Alongside expected contenders from Russia and Sweden, is Chile’s very own Sebastián Lelio, whose Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) is now one step closer to nabbing Chile’s second-ever nomination in this category. Many of us had hoped Pablo Larraín, who cracked the lineup back in 2012 with No, would accomplish that feat last year with Neruda – but the Gael García Bernal biopic didn’t even crack the shortlist.

Lelio’s film is one of two LGBT-focused narratives in the running, and follows Marina (Daniela Vega), a transgender opera singer and waitress whose older boyfriend suddenly dies. As she begins to piece her life back together, Marina finds herself forced to deal with her lover’s ex-wife and son, both of whom openly disparage her, revealing their rampant transphobia. With long adoring shots of its protagonist (in night clubs, on dimly-lit city streets, on stage, in musical fantasy sequences), A Fantastic Woman is very much in the vein of Lelio’s own Gloria, a character study that bristles with a empathy and intimacy.

But before we can begin campaigning in earnest for what would truly be a groundbreaking nomination, A Fantastic Woman has to wow the Foreign Language Film committee, which will watch all nine films in the running and cut that list down to just five. Find the full list of the other countries in the running and check out the glittering trailer for Lelio’s Golden Globe-nominated flick below.

Chile, A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio

Germany, In the Fade, Fatih Akin

Hungary, On Body and Soul, Ildikó Enyedi

Israel, Foxtrot, Samuel Maoz

Lebanon, The Insult, Ziad Doueiri

Russia, Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev

Senegal, Félicité, Alain Gomis

South Africa, The Wound, John Trengove

Sweden, The Square, Ruben Ostlund

Oscar nominations are announced Tuesday, January 23, 2018