'Cloud Atlas' Leads German Film Academy Nominations

Cloud Atlas Hanks Berry - H 2012
Warner Bros. Pictures

Cloud Atlas Hanks Berry - H 2012

The fantasy epic from directors Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski received nine Lola nominations, including for Best Film.

The fantasy epic Cloud Atlas might have divided audiences, but the German Film Academy is united in its support of the $100 million production from directors Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski siblings. It has nominated the movie in nine categories, including best film, for the 2013 German Film Awards, also called the Lolas.

Cloud Atlas, which features an all-star cast including Tom Hanks, Halle BarryHugh Grant and Hugo Weaving, is the big-budget outlier among the nominees, otherwise made up of low-budget art house productions.

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The David to Cloud Atlas' Goliath is Oh Boy, the black-and-white film debut of first-time director Jan-Ole Gerster, which received eight Lola nominations, including best film, best director and best actor for Tom Schilling. An ironic, funny and at times tragic look at a young man who drops out of university to wander the streets of Berlin, Oh Boy was the sleeper hit of 2012 in Germany, earning more than $2 million at the box office.

Oh Boy and Cloud Atlas isn't David vs. Goliath, it's David and Goliath,” argued German Film Academy member Alfred Holighaus, comparing Gerster's no-budget debut to the Tykwer/Wachowskis epic. “Of course, the two films are trying to do very different things, but I think it's perfectly justified for both 'David' and 'Goliath' to be among the nominees. And we know from the Bible that David can beat Goliath.”

Other art house standouts competing for best film include Margarethe von Trotta's Hannah Arendt; literary adaptation The Wall from director Julian Roman Polsler; the semi-autobiographic Quellen des Lebens (Sources of Life) from Oskar Roehler (Atomized); and Lore, the World War II drama from director Cate Shortland that was Australia's entry for this year's foreign language Oscar.

Von Trotta, Gerster and the Cloud Atlas trio of Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski will battle in the best director category.

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That the American Wachowskis received a Lola nomination is a rarity and could prove controversial.

The German Film Awards are expressly intended to celebrate German cinema, and the nominations and prizes come with substantial cash bursaries, paid for by the German culture ministry. Cloud Atlas qualified as a German film because its lead producer was Berlin-based X Filme and Tykwer is German.

Last year, Roland Emmerich's Shakespeare thriller Anonymous, which was co-produced and shot in Germany, won six Lolas, mainly in technical categories, setting off a firestorm of criticism from many in the local industry who objected to the government-backed prize money going to a Hollywood-style, English-language film. Lore, because it was shot in German, qualified despite director Shortland's Australian citizenship.

Schilling of Oh Boy is the favorite among the best actor nominees, which also include Sabin Tambrea for the period drama Ludwig II and Edin Hasanovic for the prison drama Shifting the Blame. The best actress race is more interesting, featuring as it does three generations of standout performers: Barbara Sukowa for Hannah Arendt, Martina Gedeck for The Wall and young Austrian Birgit Minichmayr for Matthias Glasner's Mercy.

One notable snub was the drama Home for the Weekend from acclaimed German director Hans-Christian Schmid. It received just one Lola nomination, in the supporting actor category for Ernst Stotzner.

The winners will be announced April 26 in Berlin.

Additional reporting from Karsten Kastelan.