This year's nominees:
Written and directed by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, Ajami is a multi-plotline film that takes place in one neighborhood and explores the tensions that exist within it. The characters are a mix of Christian and Muslim and many are played by non-actors, underscorring the documentary look and feel of the film.
Directed by Juan Jose Campanella and written by Campanella and Eduardo Sacheri. From what I've heard of the plot, the film is a mystery/police procedural story centering on an unsolved murder that is several decades cold. The film won 12 awards from the AMPAS Argentina and was nominated for 9 Goya Awards (Spain's Oscar equivalent).
Written and directed by Claudia Llosa. The film explores the conflict between the Sendero Luminoso group and the state's military, and the military's strategy of mass rapes as a means of winning the war. The film has won several awards from festivals around the world.
Directed by Jacques Audiard and written by Audiard along with Thomas Bidegain, Abdel Raouf Dafri, Nicolas Paufaillit. The story centers on a young man who enters the prison system and essentially learns how to become a better and more powerful criminal. The film has received numerous awards including the BAFTA, the Grand Jury Prize from Cannes and the National Board of Review Award and was nominated for the Golden Globe.
Written and directed by Michael Haneke, the film takes place just prior to World War I focuses on the generation that would grow up to become Nazis. The film won the Palm D'Or at Cannes as well as Best Film at the European Film Awards, the Golden Globe, and various critics awards both for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography. As far as buzz goes, it's probably second only to A Prophet and it is the only nominee to have a nomination outside of the Foreign Language Film category (for cinematography).