I’m sure I’ve never seen such an impressive list of films that are being considered for Italy’s submission to the Oscars, and there’s not one of them that wouldn’t do a great job representing Italy, but some would do better than others.
Fuocoammare is the heartbreaking documentary about the European migrant crisis and the hot button topic that Gianfranco Rosi tackles this time around; he’s already won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for this his truly extraordinary efforts. Points for the topical theme and points for Rosi’s moving storytelling, but submitting a documentary to the Oscars is just too risky.
I have to say that I enjoyed Massimiliano Bruno’s Gli Ultimi Saranno Gli Ultimi (The Last Will Be Last) very much and I’ll never understand why Paola Cortellesi’s films get so little attention in the United States. In this “dark comedy”(so dark I that I’m not sure I’d call it a comedy) Luciana (Cortellesi),is a factory worker who gets pregnant, loses her job, and then her mind.
Here, what I like doesn’t matter; in fact, I’m not sure that Italians liked it as much as I did. It didn’t do very well at the box office, won no major awards, and is probably a little “too Italian” for American audiences. Good as this movie is, it wouldn’t be a good choice.
I’m not going to try to pretend I know much about Pericle il Nero from director Stefano Mordini; I haven’t seen it and have read virtually nothing about it. I want to see it. I will see it. But if I haven’t seen it, I haven’t heard much about it, and almost no one in Italy went to see it, I’m going to give this one a thumbs down.
Lo Chiamavano Jeeg Robot (They Call Me Jeeg Robot) is Gabriele Mainetti’s very successful superhero movie, and has already dominated a lot of the Italian awards. The special effects are very cool and the acting is awesome (particularly Luca Marinelli as the villain), but it’s a super hero movie. A super hero movie might win a regular Oscar, but when it comes to the Oscar for best foreign film, the Academy tends to want to demonstrate its presumed intellectualism and choose something a little more serious.
And that’s why, though Paolo Genovese’s Perfetti Sconosciuti (Perfect Strangers) seems like the frontrunner, I wouldn’t choose it. It’s smart, funny, and the dialogue is amazing; it won best screenplay at the Tribeca Film Festival. But it’s a comedy, and I wouldn’t go with a comedy.
My advice, should you, members of the committee care what I think, would be to select Stefano Sollima’s Suburra, or Edoardo De Angelis’ Indivisibili (Indivisible), and here’s why:
Both of these films have a realism that the Academy loves. They are raw, authentic, and show an Italy that the world can identify with.
In Suburra politicians are making deals and pushing through laws that line their pockets, organized crime, drugs, and church officials are in it for themselves and not for God. Suburra isn’t a documentary and it isn’t meant to be educational or provide a factual account of news stories of contemporary Rome, but it does feel a little too authentic for comfort. Sollima took the “Mafia Capitale, a real-life scandal involving the Roman government and made it into a seriously cool movie with dark, violent and fascinating characters.
Indivisibili (Indivisible) takes us to impoverished southern Italy for the story of eighteen-year-old conjoined twins Dasy and Viola (twins Angela and Marianna Fontana), supporting their family ever since Papà figured out they could sing. This story is rich with universal themes, stunning acting, and a journey into a part of Italy that the tourists never make it to.
Oh, and YOU’RE WELCOME!