Gauls push ‘Amelie’ for Oscar glory

Pic grosses $61.5 million worldwide so far

PARIS — France is submitting Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical hit “Amelie” as its candidate for best foreign-language film at the next Oscars.

Miramax, which will release the film Stateside on Nov. 2, is planning to push “Amelie” for a nomination in the best film category.

“I’m very proud,” Jeunet told Daily Variety, after the French selection committee announced its widely expected choice Wednesday. “Now we’ll have to hope those who pick the Oscar nominees agree.”

The director quipped: “I’ve seen the Kodak Theater. I’d like pigs at the entrance instead of elephants, but I’m not sure they’ll change them for me.”

The feel-good “Amelie,” starring Audrey Tautou as a young waitress determined to improve the lives of those around her in a nostalgia-steeped Paris, has been a favorite with critics and audiences at home and abroad.

With another 20 territories left to go, including the U.S., the pic has already grossed $61.5 million worldwide, including nearly $40 million in its native France, where it is expected to be the year’s top-grossing film.

It also has scooped an armful of prizes at the Toronto, Edinburgh and Karlovy Vary film fests.

Ironically, the committee that selected France’s Oscar contender included Thierry Fremaux, whose first year as artistic director of the Cannes Intl. Film Festival was marked by controversy over “Amelie’s” absence from the fest lineup.

Reflecting French cinema’s boom, the Oscar selection committee, which traditionally considers any Gallic movie that notches up more than 200,000 admissions, had a short list of some 30 films this year. The figure is usually closer to 10.

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