ITALY AND THE OS­CARS: A LONG LOVE STORY

Dur­ing the Academy’s 90-year his­tory, Italy has grabbed the cov­eted statue many times, tri­umph­ing in var­i­ous cat­e­gories and con­firm­ing it­self as a gen­uine force in world cin­e­matog­ra­phy.

All About Italy (USA) - - All About Italy - Elis­a­betta Pasca

Italy just loves ‘Un­cle Os­car’, so much so that in al­most 90 years of the award’s his­tory, the most cov­eted prize in the world cin­e­matic in­dus­try has of­ten gone to the pro­fes­sion­als in­volved in the pro­duc­tion of Ital­ian movies, giv­ing rise to emo­tional and mem­o­rable oc­ca­sions which re­main for­ever stamped on the col­lec­tive con­scious­ness, such as Roberto Benigni’s iconic walk down the aisle af­ter the an­nounce­ment of an award for Best For­eign Film by a very ex­cited Sophia Loren. If her joy­ous scream “Roberto!” still echoes in the mem­o­ries of those present on that won­der­ful oc­ca­sion, neither should we for­get the tears of joy of En­nio Mor­ri­cone, win­ner of the Best Sound­track award for the film

“The Hate­ful Eight” by Quentin Tarantino, or the in­cred­i­ble sweet­ness of Fed­erico Fellini who, ac­cept­ing a Life­time Award, while still on stage asked his wife, Gi­uli­etta Masina, not to cry in front of peo­ple. Emo­tions rather like in a beau­ti­ful film, ex­pressed through­out 90 years of cin­e­matic his­tory, a his­tory of us all: be­tween Italy and the Os­cars without a doubt, we’re talk­ing about a long love story on ac­count of the raft of suc­cesses, of which the 13 stat­uettes for Best For­eign Film form only a part.

THE RECORD FOR BEST FOR­EIGN FILM

In ac­tual fact, Italy does in­deed hold the record in this pres­ti­gious cat­e­gory fol­lowed by France with 12 awards and then Spain, which has won only four. The undis­puted god­fa­ther of Ne­o­re­al­ism, Vit­to­rio De Sica, has taken four Hol­ly­wood stat­uettes with “Scius­cià”, “Ladri di bi­ci­clette” (Hon­orary Awards in 1948 and 1950) and with “Ieri, oggi e do­mani” and “Il Giardino dei Finzi-con­tini” (Os­cars for best For­eign Film 1948 and 1950). Fed­erico Fellini took 4 Os­cars with his dou­ble-bill telling the his­tory of cinema: “La Strada” (1957), “Le notti di Cabiria” (1958), “8 ½” (1964) and “Amar­cord” (1975). Com­plet­ing the win­ners list, un­for­get­table films such as “Indagine su un cit­tadino al di so­pra di ogni sospetto” by Elio Petri (1971), the ro­man­tic homage to cin­e­matic fic­tion of­fered by the nos­tal­gic “Nuovo Cinema Par­adiso”, per­fectly put to­gether by Giuseppe Tor­na­tore (1990), “Mediter­ra­neo” by Gabriele Sal­vadores (1992), the film which tells the story of Greece and Italy, im­bued with sun, sky and the beau­ti­fully daz­zling Mediter­ranean; the po­etic “La vita è bella” by Roberto Benigni (1999), en­gag­ing, sweet and sad at the same time, and that great por­trait of mod­ern Ital­ian so­ci­ety, with its weak­nesses and deca­dence, sketched un­sen­ti­men­tally in “La Grande Bellezza” by Paolo Sor­rentino (2014).

Ac­tors, direc­tors, scenog­ra­phers, tech­ni­cians, mu­si­cians, cos­tu­miers, ed­i­tors and art-direc­tors; Italy is al­ways at the head of the line out­side Hol­ly­wood’s Dolby The­atre.

BEST AC­TRESSES AND BEST AC­TORS: FROM MAGNANI VIA LOREN UP TO THE PHE­NOM­E­NON OF BENIGNI

Both Ital­ian ac­tresses and ac­tors have left their mark on Hol­ly­wood: the first Ital­ian ac­tress to win an Os­car was Anna Magnani with “La rosa tat­u­ata” in 1955. Some years later in 1962 the honor passed to Sophia Loren for “La Cio­ciara”, but neither Magnani nor Loren were present at the awards cer­e­mony. For the next award in this cat­e­gory we must wait un­til 1997: Roberto Benigni, apart from win­ning a best for­eign film award, was also the first non English-speak­ing actor in the his­tory of the Academy Awards to win the most im­por­tant award in his cat­e­gory. In cinema, Ital­ians are par­tic­u­larly ca­pa­ble not only on-screen, but also be­hind the cam­era, win­ning many awards down the years in tech­ni­cal cat­e­gories and have brought home 33 stat­uettes.

ITAL­IANS: A POP­U­LA­TION OF ED­I­TORS, SET DE­SIGN­ERS AND TECH­NI­CIANS

Let’s re­mem­ber, among all oth­ers, the dis­tinc­tive edit­ing by Pi­etro Scalia on “Black Hawk Down”, the iconic cos­tumes of the Rome of “La Dolce Vita”, cre­ated by Piero Gher­ardi, also the mag­nif­i­cent cre­ations by Danilo Donati for “Romeo e Gi­uli­etta” by Zef­firelli (1968) and “Casanova” by Fellini (1976) or those of Milena Canonero, win­ner of two Os­cars in the last few years; in 2006 for the sump­tu­ous cos­tumes of “Marie An­toinette” by Sophia Cop­pola and in 2013 for “Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel” by Wes An­der­son. We’re still left in awe by the in­cred­i­ble sets on “Hugo Cabret” de­signed by the mas­ter, Dante Fer­retti which, thanks to his en­dur­ing as­so­ci­a­tion with Francesca Lo Schi­avo have won an ab­so­lute bucket-full of nom­i­na­tions, three Os­cars for “Best Art Di­rec­tion”: “The Avi­a­tor” by Martin Scors­ese (2004), “Sweeney Todd” by Tim Bur­ton (2007), and the pre­vi­ously men­tioned “Hugo Cabret” (2011). And by the way, what about the dusty photography of “Apoca­lypse Now”, cre­ated by Vit­to­rio Storaro? We’re talk­ing about one of the big­gest names in world cinema, and, thanks to his artis­tic mar­riage to Bernardo Ber­tolucci: Storaro has won three Os­cars as best di­rec­tor of photography,

apart from ”Apoca­lypse Now” by Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola, he tri­umphed with “Reds” by War­ren Beatty (1981) and “The Last Em­peror” by Ber­tolucci (1987). No re­ally pas­sion­ate cinephile, though, should for­get the myth­i­cal “fab­ri­ca­tor of dreams”, that ma­gi­cian of spe­cial ef­fects, Carlo Rim­baldi, who brought to life both the sweet lit­tle ex­trater­res­trial “E.T.” as told by Steven Spiel­berg and the cruel and rav­en­ous alien mon­sters in “Alien” by Ri­d­ley Scott. So from the vis­ual we move to the mu­si­cal, in which the name En­nio Mor­ri­cone res­onates like a ce­les­tial melody: his is the most beau­ti­ful and fas­ci­nat­ing mu­sic in the his­tory of cinema and he was awarded an Os­car for life­time achieve­ments in 2007, be­fore his re­cent sec­ond award for the sound­track he com­posed for Quentin Tarantino.

ITALY, AL­WAYS CEN­TRE-STAGE AT THE HOL­LY­WOOD DOLBY THE­ATRE

Ac­tors, direc­tors, scenog­ra­phers, tech­ni­cians, mu­si­cians, cos­tu­miers, ed­i­tors and art-direc­tors; Italy is al­ways at the head of the line out­side Hol­ly­wood’s Dolby The­atre and so we are able to hap­pily carry on nam­ing other celebri­ties and sat­is­fied cus­tomers such as Gior­gio Moroder, twice nom­i­nated for his songs link­ing angst rid­den mu­sic to a cult pop-movie via “What a Feel­ing” (“Flash­dance”, 1983) and “Take my Breath Away” (“Top Gun”, 1986) or the jack­pot for Bernardo Ber­tu­locci who, af­ter be­ing nom­i­nated for “Last Tango in Paris”, didn’t win the Os­car and in fact earned a con­dem­na­tion for out­rag­ing mod­esty in Italy in the sev­en­ties, but with “The Last Em­peror”, his Chi­nese saga from 1987, he cleaned up, win­ning best di­rec­tor, best film, best non-original screen­play and six oth­ers. Among so many tri­umphs, we mustn’t for­get the sex sym­bols, of­ten nom­i­nated but never win­ning: three nom­i­na­tions for star­ring roles went to Mar­cello Mas­troianni (“Divorzio all’ital­iana”, “Una gior­nata par­ti­co­lare”, “Oci ciornie”) and one for Gian­carlo Gian­nini (“Pasqualino Set­te­bellezze”), one for a non-star­ring part to Vit­to­rio De Sica (“Ad­dio alle armi”). Anyway, Un­cle Os­car won’t mind if we say that Ital­ian cinema is do­ing well, helped by a guardian an­gel and man­ages to re­main ad­dic­tive with or without of­fi­cial recog­ni­tion.

From the top: Sophia Loren and Vit­to­rio De Sica; Jerry Lewis, Dino De Lau­ren­tiis and Fed­erico Fellini; Anna Magnani and Yul Bryn­ner

Mar­cello Mas­troianni, Fed­erico Fellini and Sophia Loren; Roberto Benigni; Gior­gio Moroder; Carlo Ram­baldi

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