Warwich Thornson's chances of winning an Oscar just got better, as his film Samson & Delilah has made the shortlist of films eligible to be be nominated for a best foreign film Academy Award.
An original list of 65 eligible films has been culled down to nine by the , and Thornton's outback love story will compete for one of five nomination slots.
Thornton nabbed the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film festival for his directing work, but he faces stiff competition from fellow Cannes favourites The White Ribbon and A Prophet, as well as the Golden Bear winner, The Milk of Sorrow (from Peru).
Rounding out the shortlist are: The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina), The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner (Bulgaria), Ajami (Israel), Kelin (Kazakhstan) and Winter in Wartime (the Netherlands).
Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon is currently the hot favourite, having scored the Golden Globe for best foriegn film earlier this week, but the Golden Globes are unreliable for gauging the Oscar's best foreign film.
Several hundred Los Angeles-based members of the Academy of Arts and Sciences screened the 65 eligible films between mid-October and January 16. The group's top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy's Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.
The shortlist will now be culled to the five nominees by "specially invited committees" in New York and Los Angeles. They will the weekend of January 29 - 31 viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.
The Academy Awards nominations will be announced on February 3 (Sydney time), and the ceremony will be announced on March 8.