×

Italy Cheers Foreign Oscar Victory For Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘Beauty’

ROME – Italy is ecstatic about Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” scooping the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, which marks its eleventh foreign Oscar and consolidates the country’s status as the world’s winner of the most foreign film statuettes.

       France has won nine Oscars in the foreign language category. Italy and France have both additionally won three special/honorary Oscars.

“It’s ‘Great Beauty’ in Hollywood. Paolo Sorrentino Wins The Oscar,” trumpeted the website for leading Italian daily “Corriere della Sera.”

Italy’s Culture Czar Dario Franceschini tweeted his joy calling the Oscar win a “self confidence booster” for the country, while Roberto Cicutto, head of Italy’s film entity and promotional org. Istituto Luce Cinecittà, enthused that “this must be a point of no return,” for the international visibility of Italian movies.

       The foreign Oscar for Sorrentino’s tribute to Rome’s decadence and magnificence amid Italy’s current political and economic paralysis, follows a 15-year dry spell for Italian cinema at the Oscars. The last Italian film to win an Academy Award was Roberto Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful,” which scooped three Oscars in 1999, including best foreign film.

“Beauty” is Sorrentino’s sixth feature. The 43-year-old Neapolitan helmer’s career started in 2001 with “One Man Up,” a dual plot line drama in which thesp Toni Servillo plays an ageing crooner. Servillo, who has since become the helmer’s male muse, has also starred in Sorrentino’s “The Consequences of Love,” and “Il Divo,” besides “Beauty,” of course. In “Beauty” Servillo plays a novelist/journalist with writers’ block on a Dantesque descent amid the Eternal City’s grotesque glitterati and the country’s malaise and cultural impasse.

All Sorrentino’s pics have been produced by Francesca Cima and Nicola Giuliano’s Rome shingle Indigo Film. “Beauty” was co-produced by Indigo with France’s Babe Films, Pathe Prod., and France 2 Cinema, and co-financed by Medusa.

       Ironically, “Beauty” has split critics in Italy where some prominent dailies, such as “Corriere della Sera” and “La Stampa,” gave it the thumbs down, after it’s Cannes bow in May 2013. La Stampa’s Alessandra Levantesi Kezich wrote that Sorrentino’s pic was made of “grotesque fragments of a puzzle that does not come together in a unified whole.” Many Italians consider it a Berlusconi-era update of Fededrico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” and some have been irked by Sorrentino’s references in the pic to Fellinesque tropes which they held sacred. 

‘“La Dolce Vita” was a masterpiece, mine [my work] is a movie,” Sorrentino said at the Cannes presser, and has repeated this line in many interviews since then.

In his Oscar acceptance speech Sorrentino thanked Fellini,  the Talking Heads, Martin Scorsese, and former Argentine player Diego Armando Maradona as his sources of inspiration. Sorrentino also thanked the cities of Rome and Naples, and his family.

“Beauty,” which swept the foreign film categories at the Golden Globes and at Britain’s BAFTA’s – and was also the big winner at the European Film Awards – went on release in Italian movie theatres on May 21, 2013, the day after its Cannes bow. It has pulled a strong roughly $10 million since then at the home box office via Medusa, the movie unit of Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset TV empire.

Last week Italian exhibitors protested over Mediaset’s decision to air “The Great Beauty” in primetime on its flagship Canale 5 TV station on March 4, anticipating an Oscar victory.

Italo exhibbers have been fuming about Mediaset’s decision to air “Beauty” for millions of Italians on free TV shortly after the Oscars because they were eager to capitalize on its positive Oscar prospects. Mediaset, which is the country’s top commercial network, is also breaking with the Italian practice of a roughly two-year window between a title’s theatrical release and its free-TV bow. However in Italy this window is a gentleman’s agreement and is not cast in stone. Mediaset has not commented this distribution dispute.

Sorrentino’s next pic will be Michael Caine-starrer “In The Future,” details of which are being kept under wraps.

“In The Future,” which Indigo will produce, will mark Sorrentino’s second English-language pic after his 2011 “This Must The Place,” which toplined Sean Penn as an aged rock star-turned-Nazi hunter.

Sorrentino’s win isn’t the only Oscar victory Italians are cheering. Venice film festival topper Alberto Barbera is also very pleased about the seven Oscars scooped by Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity,” the fest’s opener last year.

“This is the first time in 40 years that the opening film in Venice has won so many Oscars,” boasted Barbera in a statement. “A triumph that confirms the Venice Film Festival as one of the most prestigious opportunities for internationally launching and promoting the most important films of the season. We are proud of this result and grateful to Warner Bros. for believing in the Festival,” he added.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • on day 3 of the London

    Barbara Broccoli, Richard Curtis Team With Passion Pictures, HTYT Films on Paralympics Documentary

    Oscar-Winning British production company Passion Pictures is teaming up with James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli and filmmaker Richard Curtis on a new feature documentary about the Paralympic Games. The project, currently titled “Harder Than You Think” brings together Passion’s John Battsek with producer Greg Nugent of HTYT Films, with Broccoli and Curtis both serving as [...]

  • Tribeca Film Insitute's PitchNY Program Now

    Tribeca Film Institute's Fourth Annual PitchNY Program Kicks Off (EXCLUSIVE)

    College students and recent alumni in New York can apply to Tribeca Film Institute’s 4th annual PitchNY program, an effort to help young, diverse directors, producers and writers fine-tune their pitching skills, as well as to connect them with entertainment industry professionals who will serve as mentors. On Thursday, Tribeca Film Institute announced that applications [...]

  • La-camarista

    ‘The Chambermaid’ Cleans Up in the U.S.

    SANTIAGO, Chile — Call it the “Roma” effect but Mexican newcomer Lila Aviles’ engaging portrait of a hotel servant, “The Chambermaid” (“La Camarista”) has found outstanding reception in the U.S. and in multiple territories, giving hope to other arthouse films from Latin America and elsewhere that seek distribution in “fortress America.” “‘Roma’ was a beautiful, brawny and [...]

  • Beograd 20.03.2012 Milutin Petrovic, reditelj, scenarista,

    Lost Script by ABC Studios Editor Turned Into Movie and Series 'Bad Blood'

    An ambitious new Serbian feature film and 10-part television series set in the Ottoman Empire of the 19th century has emerged from a long lost script by a former editor at ABC Studios in New York City. Belgrade-based This and That Productions is producing “Bad Blood,” based on the works of renowned Serbian writer Borisav [...]

  • Gael Garcia Bernal on the Power,

    Gael Garcia Bernal on the Power, Responsibility of Cinema to ‘Provoke’

    Gael García Bernal said acting for the likes of Oscar winners Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón helped groom him for the director’s chair and praised cinema as “the only medium” that allows artists to “explore the gray areas” in unparalleled ways. “The world is so full of certainties now, and cinema is the one that [...]

  • Gareth Jones

    Samuel Goldwyn Films Takes North American Rights to Berlin Competition Title 'Mr Jones'

    Samuel Goldwyn Films has taken North American rights on Agnieska Holland’s “Mr. Jones,” it announced Thursday. The period thriller debuted in competition at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Set on the eve of the Second World War, “Mr. Jones” stars James Norton as the eponymous character, an ambitious young journalist who travels to Moscow [...]

  • Live Action Mulan

    China Uses Disney's 'Mulan' to Attack Hong Kong Protests

    Although Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to stop what they say is a Chinese state-backed misinformation campaign about the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, similar content from suspicious accounts continues to proliferate widely, some of it co-opting Disney‘s new “Mulan“ to try to discredit the demonstrators. At the same time, China‘s government-controlled media are [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content