Italy out of foreign Oscar race


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has whittled down the 65 foreign- language film submissions to a shortlist of nine that will compete for Oscar noms.

But while such prominent titles as Palme d'Or winner "The Class" from France and Golden Globe winner "Waltz With Bashir" from Israel made the list, a number of other acclaimed films, prominent among them Italy's Mafia tale "Gomorrah," were left out in the cold.

A number of observers were surprised by the "Gomorrah" omission. The IFC Films release had earned a fair bit of buzz as well as favorable critical attention since its Festival de Cannes debut last year, and director Matteo Garrone had made the rounds in Los Angeles to campaign for the film.

Along with Laurent Cantet's "Class" and Ari Folman's "Bashir," the titles that will contend for the five Oscar noms are Austria's "Revanche," directed by Gotz Spielmann; Canada's "The Necessities of Life" (Benoit Pilon); Germany's "The Baader Meinhof Complex" (Uli Edel); Japan's "Departures" (Yojiro Takita); Mexico's "Tear This Heart Out" (Roberto Sneider); Sweden's "Everlasting Moments" (Jan Troell); and Turkey's "3 Monkeys" (Nuri Bilge Ceylan).

It marks the second consecutive year that an acclaimed picture was left off the list. Last year, the Romanian abortion drama "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" missed the cut.

That film, also from IFC, was deemed too difficult by some, and though "Gomorrah" also was a tough choice in some ways — its chances may have been dinged by the fact it's actually in two languages, conventional Italian and Neapolitan — a new voting procedure was put in place to avoid a repeat of last year.

Specially selected committees in New York and Los Angeles will spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday viewing three films each day. The five nominees will be announced Jan. 22. (partialdiff)