Roman Polanski, Pedro Almodovar and Marco Bellocchio Lead European Film Award Noms

Venice Film Festival
'An Officer and a Spy'

Polanski's 'An Officer and a Spy,' Almodovar’s 'Pain and Glory' and Bellocchio’s 'The Traitor' picked up four nominations each, including for best European film.

The potential for scandal and online outrage is baked into the 2019 European Film Awards following its nominations, announced Saturday, which see Roman Polanski as one of this year's frontrunners.

Polanski's An Officer and a Spy, which was well-received at its Venice premiere, picked up noms in the categories of best film, director and actor (for lead Jean Dujardin), as well as a best screenplay nod for Polanski and Robert Harris.

Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar’s late-career masterpiece, also nabbed four mentions, including a best actor nom for star Antonio Banderas, who would seem to be a shoo-in.

Marco Bellocchio’s mafia drama The Traitor also made it a three-way tie in the top categories with noms for best film, director, actor and screenwriting.

The multiple nominations for Polanski — whose The Ghost Writer swept the European Film Awards in 2010 — are certain to raise eyebrows and hackles, particularly in the U.S., where the Polish director remains persona non-grata. Saturday’s nominations come just a day after a French woman came forward accusing Polanski of raping her at his Swiss chalet in 1975. The filmmaker denies the charges.

The European film industry, however, has never turned away from Polanski and his new film, a thriller about the notorious Dreyfus Affair, won the Grand Jury Prize in Venice. An Officer and a Spy will likely have a tough time besting Pain and Glory, though, given the latter has been a critical and commercial hit in Europe since its debut in Cannes earlier this year.

Saturday's noms were good news for Sony Pictures Classics, which is the distributor for both Pain and Glory and The Traitor in the U.S. The pics are also the submissions for consideration in the international feature film Oscar category from Spain and Italy, respectively. Other Oscar hopefuls Les Misérables (from France) and System Crasher (Germany) also picked up best film nominations.

Meanwhile, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, which because of European Academy rules was not eligible for nomination last year, was nominated in the best film, director and actress categories (for Oscar-winner Olivia Coleman) as well as for best European comedy.

Céline Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire received three mentions — for the director and both leads Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel — while Ladj Ly's Les Misérables was also nominated in the best screenplay category as well for the European Discovery — Prix FIPRESCI for best first feature.

The 32nd European Film Award winners will be announced Dec. 7 in Berlin.