I believe the first time I saw this movie my mother and I had taped it off of Encore when they were celebrating recent Oscar winners. It had already won all its awards and we had already cheered for Begnini on the strength of his personality alone. We wanted to rent it from the local video store, but all they had was a dubbed version, full frame (aka cropped) VHS (we didn’t have a DVD player at this point). We were overjoyed when we found it widescreen and subtitled, and taped it because it was playing while I was in school. That taped version would later be taped over (I forgot to pull out the chip!), but that is a family controversy for another day. I still remember how much I loved that film and how excited I was for it to win even when I hadn’t seen it yet. When we did see it, we were excited all over again. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning three: Best Dramatic Score (won, they still had a Comedy score category at this point, which was won by Shakespeare in Love), Best Foreign Language Film (won), Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor Roberto Benigni (won), Best Director and Best Picture. It was also only the 6th foreign language film to be up for Oscar’s top prize; only eight films have done this in all of Oscar’s history: Grand Illusion (1938); Z (1969); The Emigrants (1972); Cries and Whispers (1973); Il Postino (1995); Life Is Beautiful (1998); Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and most recently Amour (2012). Letters from Iwo Jima, which was nominated for Best Picture in 2006, was entirely in Japanese, but it was an American production (and directed by Clint Eastwood). The other films up for Best Picture for 1998 were Elizabeth, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line and winner Shakespeare in Love.