Last night the Broadcast “Critic’s” Association showed how pointless the Critic’s Choice Awards are by naming “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” best foreign film. Of course, the fact there were only three nominees might have been the biggest red flag in that regard, but picking “Tattoo” over the acclaimed “I Am Love” and at the least daring “Biutiful” was almost comical. You had to feel for “Love” director Luca Guadagnino and producer/star Tilda Swinton who sat in the audience only to watch “Tattoo” win. Thankfully, their chances of recognition are much better Sunday night when “Love” competes for best foreign language film during the 68th Annual Golden Globes.
Before this hectic weekend started, however, Magnolia Pictures held a classy celebratory event for “Love” at the Tower Bar in West Hollywood on Thursday night which this pundit was lucky enough to get an invite. Hosted by Quentin Tarantino, the room was filled with industry fans of the film including Willem Dafoe, Marisa Tomei, Marilyn Manson, Amy Poehler (yes, that Amy Poehler), Amber Tamblyn, pretty much the entire Italian consulate to Los Angeles and numerous critics and journalists who have supported the underdog film during awards season (count me in that group). The picture is one of the biggest hits in Magnolia’s history and its $5 million U.S. gross was higher than any other market. There was hope the critical acclaim for Swinton could translate into a best actress nomination, but the Brit is not one to jump on the awards circuit. If she does land a surprise nod (and trust us, it would be a big surprise), it’s only because of the growing number of “Love” fans who caught the picture on screener or on demand.
As always, the statuesque and always stunning best supporting actress Oscar winner for “Michael Clayton” was the center of the party and incredibly gracious. She told me how another journalist scolded her earlier in the day for not knowing she was actually an Academy member and that she was going to try and make sure she voted by Friday’s deadline (it turns out previous ballots weren’t making it to her overseas address). She was melancholy over “Love’s” award season reception, but was more passionate over Italy’s decision to not submit it as their foreign language film entry (the more mediocre “La Prima Cosa Bella (The First Beautiful Thing)” was chosen instead).
Following up later that evening with Venice Film Festival director Marco Müller (“I Am Love” debuted at the 2009 edition of the fest), he explained in great detail about how political the decision was not to submit “Love” and its disappointing reception in its native country had more to do with the weaker production company behind it than anything else. And the more he explained, the more depressing it became.
I’d spoken to Guadagnino the week before about “Love” and he seemed more than satisfied with where the picture had taken him in his career. The gestation of a now 15-year friendship with Swinton, “Love” took over seven years to get made.
“It was something we went through for many years to the idea of thinking about it to the moment we started to look for the money,” Guadagnino said. “It’s complicated to do movies in Italy. It’s complicated to do movies in general. We never give up. That’s for sure.”
Guadagino wasn’t surprised though by how well “Love” did in the U.S.
“Well first of all cinema is a big thing in America and you have great variety of filmmaking there. And you believe in independent cinema for sure,” the director said. “Second of all, I think ‘I Am Love’ makes a bold statement on the use of language and what felt as very eccentric and somehow preposterous in Italy was embraced in America. Also, it’s about the power of the performances and I think also it’s about this idea of a place — Italy — and a tradition, a visual tradition that people are hungry for still.”
He wasn’t sure what would happen at the Globes, but noted, “We want to celebrate, because it’s already a win. We of course, hope to go further.”
Let’s hope so.
If you haven’t checked out “I Am Love” take the time to enjoy one of the best pictures of 2010. It’s available on DVD, Blu-ray and for purchanse or rental on iTunes.