The taste of things, a foodie-era romance from French-Vietnamese filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng, will be France’s official nominee for the 2024 Oscars in the best international feature film category. The film, starring Juliette Binoche and Benoit Magimel, premiered in Cannes under the title The Pot-au-Feu, where it won the Best Director award. IFC Films and Sapan Studios have U.S. rights and will release the film in the United States.
Set in 1885, the film follows the romance in the kitchen and bedroom between top chef Dodin Bouffant (Magimel) and his personal chef and lover Eugénie (Binoche). They have been together for decades and he desperately wants to marry her, but she has steadfastly refused, fearing that this would mean losing her independence. The taste of things was a critical and audience favorite at Cannes, with The Hollywood Reporter called it one of “the tastiest arthouse food porn films to come out in a while.”
The decision of the French Oscar selection committee surprised many, who had expected Justine Triet’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a fall be a hit. The film, starring German actor Sandra Hüller as a writer who may have murdered her husband, is still expected to get a full awards show from Neon, which will bow the film in the US on October 13.
The taste of things could be seen as a more mainstream choice by the selection committee, eager to secure an Oscar win after what has been an exceptionally long drought for France. In the last ten years there have been only two French films: that of Deniz Gamze Ergüven Mustang in 2015 and Ladj Ly’s Les Miserables in 2019 – have received Oscar nominations. Neither won. France has not won an Oscar for best international film since Régis Wargnier Indochine in 1993. For a country that considers itself the birthplace of cinema, that’s a problem.
Picking a crowd pleaser like The taste of things could be an attempt to appeal to more mainstream academy voters who failed to go for the last two, more arthouse, French Oscar selections: Alice Diop’s Saint-Omer and that of Julia Ducournau Titanneither of which were nominated.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the films on the 2024 Oscar shortlist on December 21. The five nominees will be announced on January 23. The 95th Oscars will be held on March 10 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.