Italy's "The Great Beauty" won the Oscar for foreign Language film Sunday night.
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, "The Great Beauty" follows a writer, Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), who finds himself at an emotional crossroads as he looks back over what became of his once-promising life and career after his 65th birthday. The Oscar is the 11th to go to a film from Italy, the last being the 1998 movie "Life Is Beautiful." Three additional special Oscars went to films from Italy before the establishment of foreign language film as a regular category in 1956.
This year saw a significant change in the category's voting process. For the first time, all academy members were allowed to vote in the category, as in the best picture and acting categories. Previously, to vote in the foreign language category, members had to see all five nominees in the category in a theater.
Previous winners such as "Amour" or "A Separation" were clear front-runners, but this year the category felt more open and uncertain. Although "The Great Beauty" had gained considerable momentum through awards season, picking up prizes from the Golden Globes, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and critics groups, "The Hunt" was seen as competitive. When "The Hunt" premiered nearly two years ago at the 2012 Cannes Film festival, actor Mads Mikkelsen won the lead actor prize and has since seen his profile rise with his role on the U.S. television series "Hannibal."
The other nominees in the category were Belgium's bluegrass-tinged melodrama "The Broken Circle Breakdown," the Palestinian procedural thriller "Omar" and Cambodia's first-person documentary, "The Missing Picture." This was the seventh nomination for Belgium, second for a Palestinian film and first for Cambodia in the category.
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