ROME – The Italian film industry is predictably elated about Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” scooping the Golden Globe for best foreign film, which comes twenty-five years after Italy won its last Golden Globe, for Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso,” in 1989, which that year went on to score the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
“I got the news very early this morning in a message from Paolo, and I rejoiced with him and, I think, with the entire Italian film community,” enthused “Beauty” protag Toni Servillo to Italo news agency Adnkronos.
“Now, whatever happens, we should not forget that the Golden Globes are an important prize. Let’s not have the usual Italian attitude and think that if we don’t win the Oscar, this doesn’t mean anything. Let’s simply savor the great joy for this very important prize. We are all very happy,” Servillo added.
Italian Culture Czar Massimo Bray hailed the “Beauty” win as proof that “Italian cinema is still a protagonist [in the global cinema arena]” and said it reinforces the need to invest in the country’s film industry which is battered by the country’s economic crisis.
Italy last won an Academy Award in 1999 when Roberto Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful” swept up three statuettes, including the foreign language Oscar, besides prizes for best actor and best music.
“The Great Beauty,” which Variety critic Jay Weissberg called “Sorrentino’s modern take on the themes of Fellini’s ‘La dolce vita’,” was recently the big winner at the European Film Awards in Berlin, where it took nods for best film, director, actor, for Toni Servillo, and editor.
“Beauty,” which is Sorrentino’s sixth pic, bowed in the 2013 competish at Cannes, where it went empty-handed despite plenty of praise from international film critics.
Somewhat surprisingly, critical response in Italy to “Beauty” has been more mixed, though its detractors are certainly a minority. But audience response has instead been unequivocally strong with the pic scoring an impressive nearly $10 million since its may 2013 release via Medusa, and also generating more talk over the summer than any local film in recent memory.
“Italy is a crazy country, but it is beautiful,” said a laconic Sorrentino as he received the statuette Sunday evening.