The category has long been a launching pad for little-known gems to reach a wider audience, and there have been several times when buzzy films were nominated in both the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture categories. That elite list includes Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful in 1997, Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000 and Michael Haneke's Amour in 2012.
Read on to learn more about the foreign-language movies that will be vying for Oscar gold on Sunday:
Son of Saul
Widely considered the frontrunner, this Hungarian drama took home the Grand Prix Prize at Cannes. It follows the story of Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig), a prisoner at Auschwitz in 1944 tasked with burning the dead. He takes a boy he finds as his son, then seeks a Jewish rabbi to help with the burial. In theaters now.
Saul's biggest competition appears to be Mustang, a French film that tells the tale of five young Turkish sisters who are attempting to explore their freedom while living under strict rule as family members attempt to arrange their marriages. In theaters now.
This Arabic-language film out of Jordan follows the story of two brothers on their own in a traditional Bedouin community in the Ottoman Empire in 1916. When older brother Hussein is asked to help a British Army officer find a water well, plucky younger brother Theeb surreptitiously tags along as the group finds themselves battling treacherous terrain in the land of Lawrence of Arabia. Available on iTunes and Amazon.
This Danish offering follows the story of Claus Pederson, an Army commander in Afghanistan who is attempting to lead his troops while they are under siege, while his wife tries to keep things together back home for their three young children. In theaters now.
Embrace of the Serpent
This black-and-white Colombian film focuses on an Amazonian shaman who is the last of his people, and his relationship with two scientists who are on a 40-year search for a purportedly sacred healing plant. In theaters now.
Watch our Live from the Oscars Red Carpet show on PEOPLE.com starting at 5:30 ET/2:30 PT on Feb. 28 – and the 88th Academy Awards at 7 ET/4 PT on ABC. Click here for a handy ballot of this year’s Oscar nominees!