Films from 49 countries have been submitted for consideration for the foreign language Oscar, with Iran, Afghanistan and China among the entries.
House of Flying Daggers was shown at the Cannes film festival
China's choice is House of Flying Daggers, directed by Zhang Yimou, the man behind the critical hit Hero.
Iran's entry is Turtles Can Fly, a film about the Iraq war that won the top prize at the San Sebastian Festival.
Five films will get an Academy Award nomination, with the winner announced at the Oscars ceremony on 27 February.
The number of entries has dropped from the record 56 submitted last year.
The foreign language Oscar was eventually won by the French-Canadian film The Barbarian Invasions.
Malaysia has put forward its first film for an Academy Award, with A Legendary Love, directed by Saw Teong Hin.
The Sea Inside, starring Javier Bardem, is Spain's entry
The tragic romance is also the most expensive movie ever to emerge from the south-east Asian country.
The Japanese entry, Nobody Knows, has already received international recognition, with its young star Yagira Yuuya named best actor at the Cannes Film Festival.
The 14-year-old plays a boy forced to look after his young brothers and sisters after they are abandoned by their mother.
House of Flying Daggers was also in the official selection at Cannes.
Zhang Yimou was previously nominated for a foreign language Oscar in 2002 for Hero, which proved a surprise box office success in the US last year.
Hungary's entry, the comedy thriller Kontroll, has also been well received at international film festivals, winning a prize at the recent Chicago Film Festival.
Celebrated director Alejandro Amenabar has been entered by Spain for Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside), a true-life film about a man fighting for euthanasia rights.
Javier Bardem won a best actor award for his performance in it at the Venice Film Festival.
Amenabar has also successfully directed English language films, including thriller The Others starring Nicole Kidman.