Italy is the country that has won more foreign language films than any other in the world, 13 wins so far. The peninsula is second, after France, when it comes to nominations – 27 total, against 36 – I guess we have a better chances of winning. Unfortunately most of this Oscar gold was won when Vittorio De Sica and Federico Fellini were making movies. Today, Giuseppe Tornatore is our biggest chance of winning the coveted statue, and he did so back in 1989 with Nuovo Cinema Paradiso. Since Tornatore’s newest film, The Best Offer, doesn’t qualify as a foreign language film this year Paolo Sorrentino will represent our country with The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza).
The Great Beauty was chosen over Viva la libertà (Roberto Andò), Miele (Valeria Golino), Razza bastarda (Alessando Gassmann), Salvo (Antonio Piazza & Fabio Grassadonia), Viaggio sola (Maria Sole Tognazzi) and Midway tra la vita e la morte (John Real). Having not seen those I can’t say if that was the best move, but considering how much I enjoyed The Great Beauty I am pretty satisfied with this outcome. As I’ve mentioned in my review, Sorrentino’s film is very reminiscent of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Toni Servillo’s performance alone is Oscar-worthy. Since La Dolce Vita was never even nominated for an Oscar and the Academy has a tendency to make up for things like this, at the very least it was a smart “political” move. Also as mentioned Fellini’s films are the ones that won Italy the most awards (La strada, Nights of Cabiria, 8½ and Amarcord).
Italy hasn’t been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film since 2005, when Christina Comencini’s Don’t Tell (La bestia nel cuore) was considered. As for actual wins it’s been since 1998 when Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful (La vita è bella) managed to win. Like Sorrentino himself said, when asked about how he felt about the news: “It’s going to be very difficult, I know, but we’ll do anything it takes to make it to the Oscar ceremony”. As a fellow Italian, a fan of his film and someone who loves to watch the Oscars I wish him all the luck in the world and hope that the Weinstein Company doesn’t have a film they’re promoting. La Grande Bellezza will hit American theaters November 2013 and critics are already calling it “a metaphor for Italian decline”. In other words: It’s awesome, go see it!