How ‘Roma’ Led the Way to Oscar’s International Category Name Change

Only PriceWaterhouseCoopers knows the final tally, but from the sidelines, it sure looked like last year was the closest the Academy has ever come to awarding best picture to a foreign-language film. Instead, an old-school studio movie, Peter Farrelly’s feel-good “Green Book,” took the top award, while Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white Mexican art film “Roma” won three of its 10 nominations: director, cinematography and foreign-language film.

Collecting his “foreign-language” Oscar last year, Cuarón quipped from the podium, “I grew up watching foreign-language films and learning so much from them and being inspired — films like ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘Jaws,’ ‘Rashomon,’ ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Breathless.’”

That joke triggered an important change to the category this year, which will henceforth be known as the Academy Award for international feature film.

“That’s a phrase that maybe came from the 1950s, but no one ever really did anything about it,” says executive committee co-chair Larry Karaszewski,

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