More movies made outside the U.S. are available to American viewers than ever before. Popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus give unprecedented access to the work of filmmakers from around the globe and have raised the visibility of the Oscars’ category for Best Foreign Language Film.

For the 87th annual Oscars, to be presented in February 2015, a record 83 countries submitted films for consideration. Submissions such as Poland’s “Ida” and Sweden’s “Force Majeure” have already had successful runs in America, both in theaters and through on-demand services.

Each country may submit one film, chosen by a selection committee made up of artists and craftspeople from that country’s film industry. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ Foreign Language Film Award Committee winnowed the 2014 submissions to nine films, announced on December 19. After screenings of those nine entries, the committee will vote by secret ballot for five finalists for the Oscar.

Edgar Ramirez as South American revolutionary Simón Bolívar in “The Liberator.” (Cohen Media Group)

The nine shortlisted films this year represent a wide variety of style and subject matter. Venezuela’s “The Liberator” is a sweeping historical epic about Simón Bolívar’s fight for freedom in 18th-century South America. “Timbuktu” from Mauritania looks at the effect of Islamic militants on a small African village.

One of the most talked-about contenders is “Leviathan,” Russia’s entry, which tells the story of a man who must fight a corrupt local government trying to steal his land.

The Shortlist for Best Foreign Film 2014

  • Argentina, “Wild Tales,” Damián Szifrón, director.
  • Estonia, “Tangerines,” Zaza Urushadze, director.
  • Georgia, “Corn Island,” George Ovashvili, director.
  • Mauritania, “Timbuktu,” Abderrahmane Sissako, director.
  • Netherlands, “Accused,” Paula van der Oest, director.
  • Poland, “Ida,” Paweł Pawlikowski, director.
  • Russia, “Leviathan,” Andrey Zvyagintsev, director.
  • Sweden, “Force Majeure,” Ruben Östlund, director.
  • Venezuela, “The Liberator,” Alberto Arvelo, director.