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Italy is the most awarded country at the Oscars

Italy is the most awarded country at the Oscar. Well…kind of. If we consider the non English speaking countries, then yes, Italy is the most awarded country. The history of Italy at the Oscars starts with the awards for best movie in a foreign language which at the very beginning was a sort of “special award” since that specific category did not exist yet. It was invented with the sole puropose to acknowledge the work of the Italian maestro of cinema Vittorio de Sica for the movie “Sciuscià (Shoeshine)” in 1947.

Academy Award winners for Best International Feature Film

Vittorio de Sica won again in 1949 with the movie “Ladri di Biciclette (The bicycle thieves)” and then the Italo-French production “The Walls of Malapaga” in 1950 was awarded with the special prize which at that time was not yet an official category.

In 1956 the board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided that it was time to create a category to acknowledge the work of international movie professionals. It was then created a competitive Academy Award of Merit, known as the Best Foreign Language Film Award and has been given annually since then.

That same year Federico Fellini won with the movie “La Strada”. It was the first of four awards assigned to the Italian director who will bring home the statuette in 1957 for “The nights of Cabiria“; in 1963 for “8 1/2” and in 1974 with the masterpiece “Amarcord“.s

In 1959 another co-production this time with France and Brasil for the movie “Black Orpheus” earned Italy another Oscar followed in 1964 by Vittorio de Sica’s “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

At the 44th edition of the Oscars the award for Best International Feature Film went to “The Garden to the Finzi Continis” which earned to Vittorio de Sica his fourth Oscar. While the previuous year it was up to Elio Petri to step on the stage of the Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles as the winner for the movie “Investigation of a citizen above suspicion

The poster of the movie Amarcord by Federico Fellini

The 80s were not particularly meaningful for Italian cinema at the Oscars and we need to flash forward to 1989 when the movie “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” by Giuseppe Tornatore triumphed and just a couple of years later in 1991 another young movie director Gabriele Salvatores won with the movie “Mediterraneo“.

And it was in 1998 that one of the most memorable Italian Oscar happened. The movie “Life is Beautiful” by Roberto Benigni won as best movie in a foreign language and also earned Roberto the Oscar as best leading actor. The composer Nicola Piovani was awarded the Oscar for the Best Original Dramatic Score for his work on this masterpiece.

The last time that Italy won at the Oscar in the category Best International Feature Film was the year 2013 when Paolo Sorrentino won with the movie “The Great Beauty“.

Roberto Benigni at the Oscars in 1998

The full list of Italian Oscars

1947 – Shoe-shine by Vittorio De Sica

1949 – The bicycle thieves by Vittorio de Sica

1950 – The Walls of Malapaga by René Clement (Co-production France & Italy)

1956 – La Strada by Federico Fellini

1957 – Nights of Cabiria by Federico Fellini

1959 – Black Orpheus by Marcel Camus (Co-production France, Brasil & Italy)

1963 – 8 e 1/2 by Federico Fellini

1964 – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by Vittorio de Sica

1970 – Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion by Elio Petri

1971 – The Garden of the Finzi Continis by Vittorio de Sica

1974 -Amarcord by Federico Fellini

1989 – Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore

1991 – Mediterraneo by Gabriele Salvatores

1998 – Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni

2013 – The Great Beauty by Paolo Sorrentino

Italy is the most awarded country at the Oscars

The “Best foreign language film” category is not the only one in which Italian cinema triumphed. Sophia Loren and Anna Magnani are the Italian actresses who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role while Roberto Benigni won as best male performer.

The technical categories also gave Italy great satisfaction. Milena Canonero won four times (1976, 1982, 2007 and 2015) for her work as costume designer; Vittorio Storaro won three times in the best cinematography category (1980, 1982 and 1988); Giorgio Moroder won in 1979 in the category “Best Original Score” and in 1984 and 1987 in the category “Best song”

The duo composed by Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo have been awarded three different times for their work as set designers while Carlo Rambaldi, the creator of ET, won in the special effect category in 1976 (King Kong), 1979 (Alien) and 1983 (ET).

The director Bernardo Bertolucci is the only Italian director to have conquered the Oscar as best Director while Lina Wertmuller is the first female director to have ever been nominated in the same category. She will later be awarded the Honorary oscar (2020)

Italian recipients of the Academy Honorary Award

Together with Lina Wertmuller, the prolific Italian director who created masterpieces such as Pasqualino Settebellezze, other Italian artists have received the honorary Oscar.

1991, Sophia Loren (Actress)

1993, Federico Fellini (Director)

1995, Michelangelo Antonioni (Director)

2007, Ennio Morricone (Composer)

2014, Piero Tosi (Costume Designer)

2020, Lina Wertmuller (Director)

Added to these names and awards are numerous cinema professionals who have contributed to making Italy great in the history of the Oscars. Among these are Pietro Scalia (Best editing in 1992 and 2002), Danilo Donati (Best costume design in 1969 and 1977), Luciana Arrighi (Best set design in 1993) and Gabriella Pescucci (Best costume design in 1994)

Check at this link the full list of Italian winners and nominees!

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