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October 14, 2008

Oscar bait 'Gomorra' baits the mob


Writing about the Mafia -- not Nicholas Pileggi glammed-up style but hard-core Old World stuff -- can be seriously hazardous to one's health. Just ask Roberto Saviano, the 29-year-old best-selling author of "Gomorra," which spawned a feature film that's Italy's official Oscar submission for February's Academy Awards.

Saviano, who's been in hiding for two years since his expose sold 1.2 million copies, now has a new threat hanging over his head -- that Naples-based organized crime groups want him (and his 24/7 bodyguards) dead by Christmas. Read the Reuters report here.

"Gomorra," the Matteo Garrone-directed semi-fictional drama with five storylines weaving into the modern-day Camorra crime families, won the Grand Prize at Cannes. Read a Q&A with Garrone here. The movie's also snagged near-universal huzzahs from critics, including the New York Times' A.O. Scott, who called it "the best movie I've seen at this year's festival, as well as a furious and brilliant engagement with the times in which we live." Salon called it "a multileveled social melodrama and an Antonioni-style nihilistic contemplation."

Apparently, it's the anti-"Sopranos."

Makes us even more anxious for the screening that's coming early next week, and for the safety of the muckraking Saviano as the movie edges toward release. Check back for our post-screening impressions.



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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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