It wouldn't be awards season without some controversy in the Foreign Language Film race and this year is no different.  A favorite of this pundit, Luca Guadagnino's "I Am Love" would have seemed to be an easy choice for Italy's official submission.  The picture received rave reviews in the U.S. and abroad and grossed almost $4.9 million domestically -- more than any territory.  The picture is also generating Oscar buzz for star and producer Tilda Swinton in the best actress category and could make noise in best cinematography, costumes and art direction.  The problem is, the movie wasn't well received in the most important country when it comes to this category, Italy.

It turns out Italians and residents of Milan didn't take kindly to the film's depiction of a rich family's struggle with a changing world and the power of love to rip such seemingly happy people asunder.  Instead, the country submitted "La Prima Cosa Bella (The First Beautiful Thing)," a local hit that few cinefiles outside of Europe even have on their radar.  Magnolia Pictures tried to lobby the Italians to go for "Love," but their disdain for the picture was too much to overcome. Still, there is hope for Swinton in the actress race and the tech categories.  Plus, the HFPA can still nominate it for Best Foreign Language Film on their own.  In this pundit's opinion, any additional awards exposure that can help more people see this modern masterpiece is a win no matter how frustrated those on team "Love" may be at the moment.

Some of the intriguing contenders in this year that are confirmed include Canada's "Incendies," Mexico's "Biutiful," France's "Of Gods and Men," Greece's "Dogtooth," and Thailand's "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives."

In other news…

- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had their official "Social Network" screening for members on Saturday night and - surprise - two different reports have it going splendidly.  The Hollywood Reporter was impressed that the picture played to the mostly older crowd and Pete Hammond found that the reaction was similar to "The Town" and…um…"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps."  That means applause, but not "beloved."  Still, barring some act of god (ie, scandal) it's in the 10.

- The 20th Anniversary Gotham Independent Film Awards are a little less than two months away and the org has announced that Robert Duvall, Hilary Swank, Darren Aronofsky and Focus Features head James Schamus will receive career tributes during the show.  The talent on hand are campaigning for "Get Low," "Conviction" and "Black Swan." The rest of the night will be the competitive Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance, Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You and the new Festival Genius Audience Awards.  The party starts Mon. Nov. 29 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York.
 

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