Italians and Oscar Award
“And the Oscar goes to … Roberto!” With these words, a very excited and very happy Sophia Loren announces the Oscar Award to Roberto Benigni for Best Foreign-language Film with La vita è bella. A scene that we all know, that made history, and that sees the director climb into the chairs of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles and jump towards the stage amidst laughter of joy and loud applause from those present. «Thanks Sophia! I’ll leave the Oscar here, but I want you! This is a moment of joy and I would like to kiss you all” says Benigni. “It’s always a question of love. I am here because so many people loved my film: love is like a divinity and, sometimes, if you have faith, like any divinity it can appear. That’s why I want to dedicate this award to my wife (Nicoletta Braschi)». It is the night of March 21, 1999. Before Benigni, at the end of the century, other Italian directors gave us such satisfaction: Bernardo Bertolucci (L’Ultimo Imperatore, 1988), Giuseppe Tornatore (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, 1990), Gabriele Salvatores (Mediterraneo, 1992). Over the past twenty years, Italian cinema has continued to win awards and accolades around the world, but the Oscars are the Oscars and winning them is a real milestone that marks a new beginning every time: 16 Italian Oscars in 20 years! It was 2001 when Dino De Laurentiis received the Honorary Award. In 2004 the Best Editing goes to Pietro Scalia for Black Hawk Down by Ridley Scott; while in 2005 it was the turn of the Best Scenography to Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo for The Aviator by Martin Scorsese. The same recognition also goes to them in 2008 with Sweeney Todd by Tim Burton and in 2012 with Hugo Cabret by Martin Scorsese. In 2006 the award goes to the Best Soundtrack by Dario Marianelli for Atonement by Joe Wright, and again on the theme of sounds and melodies in 2007 the Honorary Award is received by Ennio Morricone, who will then win the Best Soundtrack several years later, in 2016, for The Hateful Eight by Quentin Tarantino. Also in 2007 another Italian won the Oscar, Milena Canonero wins the statuette for Best Costumes for Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola and replicates in 2015 with the Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson. In 2010 Mauro Fiore won the Oscar for Best Photography for Avatar by James Cameron and Michael Giacchino for the soundtrack of Up directed by Pete Docter. In 2014 Paolo Sorrentino raises the statuette for La Grande Bellezza as Best Foreign-language Film and in 2017 Giorgio Gregorini and Alessandro Bertolazzi won the award for Best Makeup in the controversial cinecomic Suicide Squad by David Ayer. In 2020 it is the turn of the extraordinary Lina Wertmüller with the Honorary Award. And here we are in 2021 and at the 93rd edition of the Oscars which, although it is characterized by nominated films that have been distributed mainly on the platform, takes place in presence. Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins, producers of this edition, have announced well in advance the most awaited night of the year by the world film industry, scheduled for April 25, 2021. The intent of the organizers is to try to establish a bit of normality in a time of chaos. In this extraordinary edition, Italy hoped so much to be nominated in the category concerning the Best Foreign-language Film, but this was not the case for the film designated to represent the country, Notturno by Gianfranco Rosi. On the other hand, three nominations have been obtained for which all that remains is to hope. And they are: Best Song for Io Sì (soundtrack of La vita davanti a sè by Edoardo Ponti) by Laura Pausini, which has already won the Golden Globe; Best Costumes and Best MakeUp and Hairstyling for Pinocchio by Matteo Garrone which sees candidates respectively Massimo Cantini Parrini and Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli and Francesco Pegoretti. The great potential of these three nominations is quite obvious to anyone working in the industry. The song Io Sì is the perfect setting for a story of inclusion and acceptance, a very hot topic in the US both in terms of entertainment and on a political level; while the aesthetics of Collodi’s fable proposed by Garrone goes far beyond imagination, providing the viewer with the dimension of true enchantment, of true magic. In these three nominations there is all the great quality of Italian cinema that continues to be appreciated overseas even when, fortunately, it moves away from clichés such as “spaghetti, mafia and mandolin”.