Nine nominations: Does “Nothing New in the West” exceed Oscar expectations?

Updated on 01/25/2023 at 7:22 p.m

  • The German production “Nothing New in the West” received nine Oscar nominations.
  • The anti-war drama also took part in the “Best Film” category.
  • Will the film exceed German expectations at the awards ceremony in March?

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Unexpectedly, but certainly not undeservedly, Edward Berger’s German Netflix war drama “Nothing New in the West” has been nominated for nine Oscars. That alone already represents a record. Never before has a German (co-)production had more chances of a golden boy, “Das Boot” had six pieces in 1983. Above all, the nomination in the supreme discipline “Best Film” came as a complete surprise. A look at the long history of the Academy Awards shows: Germany was there from the very beginning, but overall it was rarely the center of attention.

The first Oscar ceremony took place in 1929 – it lasted a crisp 15 minutes back then. A man named Emil Jannings was chosen as the first best leading actor – although he was born in Switzerland, he is a German citizen. Also special: Jannings was honored with the award for his performance in two silent films.

Can Germany finally score again?

It’s almost as long since the last time a German acting star was allowed to hold the Oscar in his hands: in 1937 and immediately in the following year, Luise Rainer, who was born in Düsseldorf, won the golden boy in the category “Best Leading Actress”. In 2009 (“Inglourious Basterds”) and 2012 (“Django Unchained”) we were at least half allowed to Christoph Waltz looking forward. The Viennese has a father from Munich. In the acting categories, however, “Nothing New in the West” will not be able to score any further – here the anti-war film and in particular leading actor Felix Kammerer went empty-handed.

The German film industry also made a notable contribution to Michael Haneke’s drama “Amour”. The co-production from Austria, France and Germany was nominated in the “Best Film” category in 2012, but had to admit defeat to “Argo”. Should “Nothing New in the West” snag this award, it would be only the second non-English language film to have ever achieved this feat, following South Korea’s entry “Parasite” from 2019.

In the footsteps of Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Thanks to the anti-war film, Germany is also in the running for the “Best Foreign Language Film” category. This has been the case 20 times since the Academy Awards existed, and the local film industry was able to celebrate several times: In 1980, Volker Schlöndorff’s film adaptation of the Grass classic “The Tin Drum” won the foreign Oscar. 13 years later, Caroline Link caught the prize with “Nowhere in Africa”. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck held it in his hands for Germany for the last time thanks to his Stasi drama “The Lives of Others”. That was in 2007, more than 15 years ago. The last German nomination also went back to Henckel von Donnersmarck – in 2019 this respectable success was achieved with “Werk ohne Autor”.

When it comes to “Best Film Music”, German composers have been doing well since the 1950s. Born in Berlin, André Previn (1929-2019) was able to win four Oscars alone, and the award went to a German eight times. In 2022, by the way, to Hans Zimmer, who provided the musical accompaniment to the sci-fi epic “Dune”. He received his first Oscar in 1995 for “The Lion King” in the same category. Perhaps Volker Bertelmann can join this year?

Germans win for American films

In addition to the categories already mentioned, “Nothing New in the West” has also been nominated for “Best Camera”, “Best Adapted Screenplay”, “Best Visual Effects”, “Best Sound”, “Best Production Design” and “Best Make-up/Hairstyle”. . The “technical Oscars” have not been a hobby of a German contender so far. Many compatriots and women have already held up prizes in these categories, but mostly for purely US productions. Here Berger’s film could do great pioneering work in the night from March 12th to 13th.

But don’t forget: If you fly high, you can fall even lower. In view of the record number of nominations, there is also the threat of a “negative record”: “Das Boot” was not able to convert a single one of its six nominations into a prize in 1983. With nine chances for a golden boy, to remain without an award would undoubtedly feel like a bitter disappointment for the “Nothing New in the West” makers. However, one can put it positively: no other German film would be able to imitate it so quickly.
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