The Taste of Things, a foodie period romance from French-Vietnamese filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng will be France’s official contender for the 2024 Oscars in the best international feature 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 prize. IFC Films and Sapan Studios have U.S. rights and will release the film stateside.
Set in 1885, the film follows the in-the-kitchen and in-the-bedroom romance between top chef Dodin Bouffant (Magimel) and his personal cook and lover Eugénie (Binoche). They have been together for decades and he is desperate to marry her but she has steadfastly refused, afraid doing so will mean losing her independence. The Taste of Things was a critical and audience favorite in Cannes, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it one of “the most appetizing, art house food porn flicks to come along in a while.”
The decision by France’s Oscar selection committee surprised many, who had expected Justine Triet’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall to be a shoo-in. The film, starring German actor Sandra Hüller as a writer who may have killed her husband, is still expected to get a full awards-season push by Neon, who will bow it in the U.S. on October 13.
The Taste of Things could be seen as a more mainstream pick by the selection committee, which is eager to secure an Oscar win after what, for France, has been an exceptionally long drought. In the last 10 years only two French movies — Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang in 2015 and Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables in 2019 — have received Oscar nominations. Neither won. France has not won an Oscar for best international film since Régis Wargnier’s Indochine in 1993. For a country that considers itself the birthplace of cinema, that’s a problem.
Picking a crowdpleaser like The Taste of Things could be a bid 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 Julia Ducournau’s Titane, neither of which were nominated.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the films on the 2024 Oscar shortlist on Dec. 21. The five nominees will be announced Jan. 23. The 95th Oscars will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 10.