Dear Nicola Borrelli, Nicola Piovani, Daniele Luchetti, Tilde Corsi, Olivia Musini, Andrea Occhipinti, Stefano Rulli, Natalia Aspesi and Gianni Canova, so you’re on the committee to select the film that will represent Italy at the Oscars.
I don’t want to tell you how to do your jobs, but let’s play to win, as we say in America (doesn’t make a lot of sense, I know. Theoretically everyone wants to win). Is it a level playing field? I’m not sure; but I have a feeling that the expectations for Italy are a little askew (storto?), because people make unfair comparisons between the “Golden Era” of Italian cinema and today.
So what is the United States Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looking for when it awards the Best Foreign Film? A few years back I translated an article from MyMovies.com that said it all, one that I called: The Oscar: Who Needs It? Some of the sarcasm is mine, but other than a few editorial added expletives, these were their thoughts:
1) How do we make the right choice? Who the hell knows what those nut cases are looking for on any given year anyway and we’ll never know if another film might have done better.
2) We want to choose a film that is exportable but how can we know that? Gomorrah did very well abroad but didn’t even make it to the short list for the Oscars. If someone can tell us what the hell they are looking for, please come forward.
3 ) The rules are always changing anyway and a formula for choosing that worked one year might not work the next. And don’t forget, Italian cinema doesn’t have the support of Miramax anymore that in the 90s produced 3 Oscars for La vita è bella.
4 ) There are more than 60 candidates for one prize – the odds are against us.
5 ) Who really cares anyway about the debatable opinion of a group that is going to make a pretty random choice anyway. Better to worry about ourselves and how well our movies do abroad than worry about this silly Oscar.
And so, selection committee, the bottom line is this; the odds are, indeed, against you with so many countries competing for the same prize. In fact, it seems a little crazy when you think about it, deciding the BEST from all of these diverse countries and cultures. But you have a strong list from which to choose and there might not even be just one right choice.
And yes, the rules do seem to be changing from year to year, so don’t think too much about them. Beating the US academy at its own game is a losing proposition, but you can avoid mistakes that past committees have made. Baarìa and La Prima Cosa Bella were never going to win. NEVER. GOING. TO. WIN. They’re too sentimental, too personal, and not edgy enough. Pick something that packs a big punch. A big, universally appreciated punch.
I’m using a lot of American sports idioms; message me if you need clarification.
I’ll never understand why Gomorrah wasn’t even nominated, so even if you do everything right sometimes you just can’t win. But if I were you, I would think more like Gomorrah and less like Baarìa. In your case, more towards Sangue Del Mio Sangue or Vergine Giurata and back away from something like Nessuno Si Salva Da Solo and L’Attesa.
And in the end, who really does cares anyway about the debatable opinion of a group that is going to make a pretty random choice? It is better to worry about yourselves and how well your movies do abroad than worry about this silly Oscar. You have a great list to choose from; in bocca al lupo, we’re on the edge of our seats waiting to see what you decide.