“Nothing new in the West”
Will the film break the German Oscar records?
There are nine nominations for “Nothing New in the West”. The Oscar evening in mid-March could become even more historic.
Unexpectedly, but certainly not undeservedly, the German Netflix war drama “Nothing New in the West” by Edward Berger (53) 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 (1884-1950) – a Swiss-born but German citizen – was chosen as the first best leading actor. Also special: Jannings was honored with the award for his performance in two silent films.
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 (1910-2014), who was born in Düsseldorf, won the golden boy in the category “Best Leading Actress”. We were at least half happy for Christoph Waltz (66) in 2009 (“Inglourious Basterds”) and 2012 (“Django Unchained”). The Viennese has a father from Munich. In the acting categories, however, “Nothing New in the West” will not be able to score another notch – here the anti-war film and especially the main actor Felix Kammerer (27) went empty-handed.
The German film industry also made a notable contribution to Michael Haneke’s (80) drama “Love” (“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.
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 also able to celebrate several times: In 1980, Volker Schlöndorff’s (83) novel adaptation of the Grass classic “The Tin Drum” won the foreign Oscar. 13 years later, Caroline Link (58) caught the prize with “Nowhere in Africa”. For the last time, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (49) held him in his hands for Germany 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. Incidentally, in 2022 to Hans Zimmer (65), who accompanied the sci-fi epic “Dune” with music. He received his first Oscar in 1995 for “The Lion King” in the same category. Maybe Volker Bertelmann (57) can join this year?
Everything is possible – in both directions
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.