Los Angeles, January 16 - Italian director Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) was among the films nominated for the best foreign film Academy Award on Thursday, just three days after winning the best foreign film award at the Golden Globes.
Italians are now hoping the movie will give the country its first Oscar since Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful 15 years ago. "I'm in a daze," Sorrentino told ANSA in Los Angeles. "I still don't realize what's going on. But I'm happy about it.
"I was hoping for it and counting on it, but you can't ever take anything for granted in this town. "This is all thanks to everyone (who worked on the film)".
The Great Beauty is about the squalid world of Roman high society as seen through the eyes of a culture critic played by acclaimed Italian actor Toni Servillo, a veteran of five Sorrentino movies.
It is one of the most decorated films in Italy so far this season, having taken home five awards from Italy's Nastri d'Argento (Silver Ribbon) honors and the best cinematography prize at the Globi d'Oro, Italy's Golden Globes, as well as this week's Golden Globe - the first won by an Italian film since Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso in 1989.
The Hollywood Reporter called the film "an amusing update on Italian society at the end of a cycle" that recalled the "magical atmosphere" of cinematic icon Federico's Fellini's 'Roma' and 'La Dolce Vita'.
The 43-year-old Sorrentino has emerged as one of Italy's most respected directors over the last dozen years, with five of his seven feature films screening in competition in Cannes.
He has also personally won four David di Donatello honors, Italy's version of the Oscars, and four Nastri d'Argento prizes.
However, this is the first time one of his films has been selected as Italy's official Oscar candidate.
The Great Beauty will be competing against The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), The Suspect (Denmark), The Missing Picture (Cambodia) and Omar (Palestine).
Italy has won the Academy Award for best foreign film 12 times to date, starting in 1947 with Vittorio De Sica's Shoeshine (Sciuscià). De Sica went on to clinch the award a further three times, for Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di Biciclette), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Ieri, Oggi e Domani) and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini) respectively in 1950, 1965 and 1971. Fellini also took the award four times, for The Road (La Strada) in 1957, Nights of Cabiria (Le notti di Cabiria) in 1958, Eight and a Half (Otto e mezzo) in 1963 and Amarcord in 1974.
Other Italian directors to have won the award are Elio Petri with his Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto) in 1970; Giuseppe Tornatore and Nuovo Cinema Paradiso in 1990; Gabriele Salvatores and Mediterraneo in 1992; and Benigni for his Life is Beautiful in 1999, for which he also won the best actor award. The 2014 Oscars take place on March 2.