Is ‘Gomorrah’ this year’s ‘City of God’?

Posted by · 6:02 pm · November 12th, 2008

Since May, based on nothing but a gut feeling following the film’s Cannes reception, I’ve been predicting that Matteo Garrone’s astonishing “Gomorrah” would score nominations for Best Director, Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing — in addition to a Best Foreign Language Film nod. (Garrone has recently slipped from my Best Director predictions, but he’s still on my radar.)

It may seem a far-fetched proposition, but clearly I’m not alone in thinking it’s possible. The news this morning that distributor IFC Films has shifted the film’s L.A. release to December, in order to qualify for main-category Oscar consideration, is a clear vote of confidence. One wonders if they have “City of God” at the back of their minds — a similarly violent, kinetic foreign-language study of urban social decay that stunned pundits in 2004 when it scooped four Oscar nominations, including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

It’s a slightly different situation, of course — “City of God”‘s amazing haul was surely partly motivated by the Academy’s embarrassment over its exclusion the previous year from the foreign-language race. “Gomorrah,” however, is eligible for the gold in that category this year, so the Academy may feel that would be sufficient recognition for it.

Still, we all know how the directors’ branch of Academy likes to throw arthouse curveballs now and then (in addition to Fernando Meirelles, think Mike Leigh and Pedro Almodovar), while I think a Best Adapted Screenplay nod looks increasingly likely given this year’s sparse slate of contenders in that category. (The Hollywood Reporter agrees that the film’s writing may represent its best shot.)

A screenplay nod would also directly acknowledge the courageous achievement of Roberto Saviano, the journalist who wrote the bestselling expose of the Camorra on which “Gomorrah” is based, co-wrote the film’s screenplay — and for his pains, is consigned to living under constant guard following numerous death threats, and faces the possibility of exile from his home country.

An Oscar nomination would probably be scant compensation for Saviano’s efforts, but from the Academy’s perspective, it would make for a great story.

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7 responses so far

  • 1 11-12-2008 at 10:15 pm

    Nick Plowman said...

    It is a really good film and it deserves to get as much Academy love as it can muster methinks. Its writing is great, and it’s a lock for a Best Foreign Film nomination, so it will be interesting to see how AMPAS rewards it.

  • 2 11-13-2008 at 3:15 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “It’s a lock for a Best Foreign Film nomination.”

    Never, ever say that. This category has a history of monumental screw-ups.

  • 3 11-13-2008 at 9:22 am

    John said...

    Well I’ve seen the film and I don’t consider it a strong contender. Is a good film for sure, but not better than City of god and will have problems even in the foreing category cause is not a film for all tastes and there are a lot of characters than made the film confussing at some points.

  • 4 11-13-2008 at 9:36 am

    Chris said...

    If the world was a just place – and as we all know it isn’t – Gomorra would score nominations for Ad. Screenplay, Editing, Director and, as I haven’t seen anything better this year Best Picture. Gianfelice Imparato could even be a contender for Supp. Actor, considering the weak line-up this year.

    But I have no faith in it.