Oscars: Italy's Foreign Language Shortlist Includes Sorrentino, Golino Films

MIELE Film Still - H 2013

MIELE Film Still - H 2013

Seven candidates vie to become Italy's first foreign language film nominee since 2005.

ROME – Italy on Monday started the process of picking its candidate to complete for the Oscar for best foreign language film, led by Cannes Palme d’Or-nominated La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty) from Paolo Sorrentino, and Miel, the feature film directorial debut from actress Valeria Golino.

A total of seven films, all released since Oct. 1, 2012, were shortlisted and will now be evaluated by a specially appointed commission of industry figures, who will pick one from the group Sept. 25. The Academy of Motion Picture Sciences will select five films from among dozens of national nominees and other films -- including Italy's -- on Jan. 16, 2014, and the winner will be announced during the Academy Awards ceremony March 2, 2014.

With 13 winning films, Italy has won more foreign language Oscars than any other country, and it trails behind only France with 27 nominations for the prize. But Italy has not won the award since Roberto Benigni’s La vita e’ bella (Life Is Beautiful) won the prize 15 years ago, and the country’s last nomination came in 2005 with La bestia nel cuore (Don’t Tell), directed by Cristiana Comencini.

STORY: Oscars: France Nominates 'Renoir' in Foreign Language Category

La grande bellezza has earned strong reviews on the festival circuit, appearing in half a dozen fests so far, including Karlovy Vary in June, Toronto earlier this month and its world premiere at Cannes. It is set to go into limited release in the U.S. on Nov. 15.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Deborah Young called the film “an amusing update on Italian society at the end of a cycle” that recalled the “magical atmosphere” of Federico Fellini’s Roma and La Dolce Vita.

Miele, meanwhile, had its own success in Cannes, winning the jury prize in the Un Certain Regard section. The drama, about a young woman devoted to helping people, was directed by Golino, who as an actress is best known for her role opposite Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in Barry Levinson’s 1988 classic Rain Man.

Other films shortlisted Monday include Razzabastarda from acclaimed actor and director Alessandro Gassman; Midway tra la vita e la morte, a thriller from John Real; Antonio Piazza e Fabio Grassadonia’s romantic crime drama Salvo; Viaggio sola, a drama from Maria Sole Tognazzi; and Roberto Andro’s political drama Viva la liberta.

Twitter: @EricJLyman