Score and art direction talent won prizes

ROME — While Italian movies missed out at the Oscars, Italy’s film community is cheering its two statuettes in categories the country has long excelled in: art direction and original score.

For husband-and-wife team Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo, who scooped a nod for the superbly lugubrious look of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” it was the second time around, since they had already won an Oscar for “The Aviator.”

But it was a first for Pisa-born tunesmith Dario Marianelli, prized for the “Atonement” score that famously mixes piano notes and typewriter taps.

Marianelli can now claim to be in a similar league as Italy’s musical maestro Ennio Morricone, who received an honorary Academy Award in 2007.

The original score Oscar had eluded Italy since 1997, when it went to composer Nicola Piovani for Roberto Benigni’s “Life Is Beautiful.”

“The growth of our film industry is due to international recognition of this kind, besides our local audience increase and fresh new talents,” enthused Italo culture czar Francesco Rutelli.

“I want to thank them for their passion and dedication.”

“Once again Italians prove their talent for movies by winning Oscars,” said Paolo Ferrari, prexy of Italy’s motion picture association, Anica.

“But,” he added, “I hope next time they win with an Italian film.”

Meanwhile, “Sweeney Todd” opened at number two in Italy, defying conventional wisdom that musicals don’t click locally. “The Demon Barber” scored the Italo frame highest per-screen average — $7,300 — debuting with a boffo $2.4 million take via Warner Bros.

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