With ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ and ‘Zone of Interest,’ Sandra Hüller Could Land Acting Nods in Two Non-English Language Films

Awards Circuit Column: The German actress was little known to U.S. audiences. Two searing roles later, a major new star has arrived

The Zone of Interest

Is this the year of Sandra Hüller?

The German actress is currently starring in not one, but two high-profile projects that might have the goods to carry her through awards season.

Hüller’s versatility is on display in Neon’s Palme d’Or-winning courtroom thriller “Anatomy of a Fall,” where she plays a woman accused of murdering her husband, and A24’s Holocaust drama “The Zone of Interest,” where she plays a woman whose husband was one of history’s most notorious murderers. In the former, Hüller speaks English, with a smattering of French; in the latter, she appears as Hedwig Höss, the wife of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, registering her evil in her native German. The roles couldn’t be more distinctive, and the rare double act is already earning Hüller comparisons to international screen sirens like Ingrid Bergman, Isabelle Huppert and Liv Ullmann.

Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Oscars predictions in all categories.

The Oscars, it seems, could belong to Hüller, who has a good shot at landing two nominations. For “Anatomy,” she will vie for lead actress consideration. With “Zone,” she’s seeking the endorsement of the Actors Branch in supporting. If recognized for both films, Hüller would join a group of 12 actors, including Cate Blanchett, Jamie Foxx and Scarlett Johansson, who have received dual acting nods in the same year. She would also become the first actor recognized for two non-English-language films in the same ceremony.

Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

That’s not to suggest that Oscar voters ignore performers in international films. Thus far in Academy history, 52 actors have been nominated for non-English roles, and six have won statuettes: Sophia Loren (“Two Women”), Robert DeNiro (“The Godfather Part II”), Roberto Benigni (“Life Is Beautiful”), Benicio Del Toro (“Traffic”), Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”) and Youn Yuh-jung (“Minari”). Hüller’s two buzzy titles are also vying for best picture slots. If both make the cut, that also would be historic as two non-English-language movies have never been nominated in the same year.

Some moviegoers may not be familiar with her talents, but Hüller, 45, has been a respected actress on the global stage, appearing in American, Austrian, British, French and German films. A staple of European art-house cinema, she is perhaps best known for her role in 2016’s “Toni Erdmann,” a comedy where she plays the careerist daughter of a prankster father.

The coming weeks will reveal if Hüller’s candidacy is building steam. The New York Film Critics Circle will announce its choices at the end of November, with other critics groups following suit shortly after. If Hüller’s work for both films is roundly recognized, that will put her in a strong position to be very happy when Oscar nominations are unveiled in January. If she is nominated, it’s worth noting that the Academy membership has become more international in recent years, which could tilt the race to Hüller. That appears to be what happened when Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”) triumphed over the favored Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) in 2020.

Whether or not Hüller goes home a winner on Oscar night, her two indelible performances as two morally complicated characters are making viewers sit up and take notice. A golden talent is in our midst.

Read the latest prediction updates below, and check out the first glimpse at what the SAG Awards could bring as well. Early projected winners are marked with red asterisks (***).

Current Oscars Tracking
(Nov. 16, 2023)

Best Picture
“American Fiction” (MGM)
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“The Holdovers” (Focus Features)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Maestro” (Netflix)
“May December” (Netflix)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
“Origin” (Neon)
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)
“The Zone of Interest” (A24)

Greta Gerwig — “Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
Jonathan Glazer — “The Zone of Interest” (A24)
Cord Jefferson — “American Fiction” (MGM)
Christopher Nolan — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
Martin Scorsese — “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper — “Maestro” (Netflix) ***
Leonardo DiCaprio — “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
Colman Domingo — “Rustin” (Netflix)
Cillian Murphy — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
Jeffrey Wright — “American Fiction” (MGM)

Best Actress
Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor — “Origin” (Neon)
Lily Gladstone — “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
Sandra Hüller — “Anatomy of a Fall” (Neon)
Carey Mulligan — “Maestro” (Netflix)
Emma Stone — “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures) ***

Supporting Actor
Robert DeNiro — “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
Robert Downey Jr. — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
Ryan Gosling — “Barbie” (Warner Bros.) ***
Holt McCallany — “The Iron Claw” (A24)
Charles Melton — “May December” (Netflix)

Supporting Actress
Emily Blunt — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
America Ferrera — “Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
Sandra Hüller — “The Zone of Interest” (A24)
Julianne Moore — “May December” (Netflix)
Da’Vine Joy Randolph — “The Holdovers” (Focus Features) ***

Original Screenplay
“The Holdovers” (Focus Features) ***
“Maestro” (Netflix)
“May December” (Netflix)
“Origin” (Neon)
“Past Lives” (A24)

Adapted Screenplay
“American Fiction” (MGM)
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.) ***
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)
“The Zone of Interest” (A24)

Animated Feature
“The Boy and the Heron” (GKids)
“Elemental” (Pixar)
“Nimona” (Netflix)
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony Pictures) ***
“Wish” (Walt Disney Pictures)

Production Design
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
“Napoleon” (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures)
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures) ***

“Ferrari” (Neon)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
“Saltburn” (Amazon MGM Studios)
“The Zone of Interest” (A24)

Costume Design
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” (Lionsgate)
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures) ***

Film Editing
“Air” (Amazon MGM Studios)
“American Fiction” (MGM)
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“Ferrari” (Neon)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***

Makeup and Hairstyling
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (Marvel Studios)
“The Iron Claw” (A24)
“Maestro” (Netflix) ***
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

“Ferrari” (Neon)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Maestro” (Netflix)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
“The Zone of Interest” (A24)

Visual Effects
“The Creator” (20th Century Studios)
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (Marvel Studios)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony Pictures)
“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” (Paramount Pictures)

Original Score
“American Fiction” (MGM)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
“Origin” (Neon)
“Society of the Snow” (Netflix)

Original Song
“What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie” (Warner Bros.) ***
“The Fire Inside” from “Flamin’ Hot” (Hulu/Searchlight Pictures)
“I Am” from “Origin” (Neon)
“Better Place” from “Trolls Band Together” (DreamWorks Animation)
“This Wish” from “Wish” (Walt Disney Pictures)

Documentary Feature
“20 Days in Mariupol” (PBS)
“American Symphony” (Netflix) ***
“Little Richard: I Am Everything” (Magnolia Pictures)
“The Mission” (National Geographic)
“They Shot the Piano Player” (Sony Pictures Classics)

International Feature
“Perfect Days” from Japan (Neon)
“The Taste of Things” from France (IFC Films)
“The Teachers’ Lounge” from Germany (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Society of the Snow” from Spain (Netflix)
“The Zone of Interest” from U.K. (A24) ***

Animated Short
“Ashkaska” (Distributor TBA)
“Backflip” (The New York Times Op-Docs)
“Once Upon a Studio” (Walt Disney Pictures) ***
“Peter and the Wolf” (HBO)
“Way Better” (Distributor TBA)

Documentary Short
“The ABCs of Book Banning” (MTV Documentary Films/Paramount+)
“Between Earth and Sky” (POV Shorts)
“Camp Courage” (Netflix)
“Deciding Vote” (The New Yorker)
“The Last Repair Shop” (Searchlight Pictures) ***

Live Action Short
“The After” (Netflix)
“The Old Young Crow” (Distributor TBA)
“The Shepherd” (Walt Disney Pictures)
“A Strange Way of Life” (Sony Pictures Classics) ***
“Troy” (The New Yorker)

Top 3 Nomination Leaders Tracking (Film)

  1. “Oppenheimer” — 13
  2. “Barbie” and “Killers of the Flower Moon” — 10
  3. “The Zone of Interest” — 7

Top 3 Nomination Leaders Tracking (Studios)

  1. Netflix — 17
  2. Universal Pictures — 13
  3. Paramount Pictures — 12

Oscars Predictions Categories