Ang Lee's sexually explicit drama Lust, Caution is among the five titles up for the Bafta's 2008 foreign film award.
Ang Lee's film is a heady romantic thriller set during World War II
Lavish Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose and German-made Oscar winner The Lives of Others are also up for the best film not in the English language prize.
Book adaptation The Kite Runner and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, based on the life of paralysed French writer Jean-Dominique Bauby, are also cited.
The announcement comes before the main nominations are revealed on 16 January.
The nominated films have been announced earlier than usual to give Bafta members more time to view the five films in contention.
The shortlist was decided by a newly-formed Chapter made up of Academy voting members with specific foreign film expertise.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has yet to be released in the UK
Last year's foreign film Bafta went to Spanish language fantasy Pan's Labyrinth, directed by Mexico's Guillermo del Toro.
Lust, Caution - Ang Lee's follow-up to the Bafta-winning Brokeback Mountain - has just been released in the UK.
The Kite Runner is currently playing in UK cinemas, while both La Vie en Rose and The Lives of Others are available on DVD.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is not out in the UK until 8 February, two days before the Bafta ceremony, which will be held at London's Royal Opera House.