The Italian films Il Divo and Gomorra hogged the spotlight at Saturday's announcement of the European Film Award nominations, with five nods apiece, including best picture. "But wait," you might be saying if you're not European. "Why do the European Film Awards matter to me? I'm not European!"

They matter because you love foreign films, that's why. OK, and also because the EFAs often presage the Academy Awards. Recent EFA best picture winners have included such Oscar-scented titles as The Lives of Others, Talk to Her, Amelie, and Dancer in the Dark. Gomorra -- which is apparently about skinny underwear models who shoot guns at the beach -- has been submitted as Italy's Oscar hopeful and now seems like a surefire nominee, thanks to its EFA attention. The other EFA best picture nominees are The Class (France's Oscar submission), Waltz with Bashir (Israel's submission), Happy-Go-Lucky (whose star, Sally Hawkins, has generated Oscar buzz), and The Orphanage (which was eligible for Oscar consideration last year).

In the director category, the EFA nominees are Laurent Cantet (The Class), Andreas Dresen (Cloud 9), Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir), Matteo Garrone (Gomorra), Steve McQueen (Hunger), and Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo). Also of note: Toni Servillo is named in the best actor category for two performances -- Il Divo and Gomorra. You'd think those were the only two films Italy made this year.

Most of the EFA-nominated films either have U.S. distribution lined up or are already playing here. Success at the awards, to be handed out in Copenhagen on Dec. 8, will increase their visibility in American theaters and may also help their chances at the Oscars. The complete list of nominations is here.