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Well, in the heated war of words between the director and stars of "Blue is the Warmest Color," the European Film Awards have (albeit probably not intentionally) taken a side. In this afternoon's nominations announcement, Abdellatif Kechiche came away with two nods for Best Film and Best Director, but Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux were both left out of the Best Actress category -- a shock for a film that's so performance-driven. (Still, it's something of a surprise to see the film nominated at all, given that it wasn't on the initial longlist of eligible titles announced in September.)
The Palme d'Or winner was, in fact, outshone by several other other titles in the nominations list. Somewhat unexpectedly, Belgium's Oscar entry "The Broken Circle Breakdown" came out on top with five nominations -- the only film to score in all the major categories. A profoundly moving tale of a musical couple rocked by their young daughter's terminal illness, it should now (in absence of the "Blue" girls) be regarded as the frontrunner for Best Actress for Veerle Baetens' devastating performance, though it could surprise further. I'm increasingly thinking it's a force to be reckoned with in the Oscar race too.
Scoring four nominations -- a drawing level for the lead, when you count its previously announced editing award -- is Italy's Oscar entry, "The Great Beauty." Paolo Sorrentino's Fellini-referencing ode to Roman decadence and decay seems to be the favorite for the top honors, though this year there's no obvious, "Amour"-style sweeper. In a good year for Italy, Giuseppe Tornatore's romantic mystery "The Best Offer" also landed a Best Film nod, while the category is rounded out by Spain's flamenco-ized Snow White riff "Blancanieves" (last year's Oscar submission) and Germany's sharp hipster comedy "Oh Boy!" (somewhat contentiously, though probably strategically, not entered in the Oscar race).
François Ozon's delightful black comedy "In the House" was probably just edged out of the top race, given that it scored a lone director bid, as well as nominations for Best Actor and Best Screenplay.
The Best Actress category brings a bit of Hollywood luster to the awards -- also edging out the "Blue" stars are British-born Naomi Watts (for "The Impossible," fortunately, not "Diana") and Keira Knightley for "Anna Karenina." The EFA voters were evidently quite fond of last year's divisive Tolstoy adaptation, given that they also nominated Jude Law for Best Actor and Tom Stoppard for Best Screenplay, while it has already has a win for Best Production Design in the bag.
"Anna Karenina" is also the only British film to feature in the nominations, with such critical favorites as "Berberian Sound Studio" and "The Selfish Giant" among the eligible films left on the sidelines. They're in pretty good company, at least: "Borgman," "A Hijacking," "Stranger by the Lake," "What Richard Did" and last year's Oscar nominee "Kon-Tiki" all failed to score a single nomination between them.
The European Film Awards will be presented in Berlin on December 7; I will, once more, be in attendance. Check out the full list of nominees on the next page.
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