There were some exceptions but for the most part, the nominations for this year’s David di Donatello Awards were deserved. I don’t understand how Margherita Buy’s cameo in Habemus Papam merited a nomination, wonderful as she is, and I’ll never understand the fuss over Micaela Ramazzotti – she married well, that’s her talent. (She’s La Sig.ra Paolo Virzì). Neither of them won anyway.
The best picture and best director categories were so full of fun that I didn’t know which way to turn my attention. Marco Tullio Giordana, Nanni Moretti, Paolo Sorrentino, The Taviani brothers…that couldn’t have been an easy choice for the voters. I thought that they’d give it to Giordana – Romanzo di una Strage just seemed like the kind of movie that would have been chosen in past years. It always seemed to me that the movies that got the most awards were the movies that were the least exportable.
This year, David spread his wings a bit and got a little more adventurous. Honoring the Taviani Brothers and their Cesare Deve Morire (Caesar Must Die), was the right thing to do. The docudrama that used real prisoners in a real prison who stage a production of Julius Caesar within the prison walls won the top honor at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival, and though I haven’t seen it yet (not out on DVD), the trailer makes me cry. These men, these criminals, who are given the opportunity to use their frustrations to create something beautiful is a movie that I can not wait to see.
Best actress and best actor went to foreigners, a bold move for David. Best actress 2012 is Zhao Tao, a Chinese actress who until her performance in Io Sono Li has only appeared in Chinese movies.
Best actor, 87-year-old Michel Piccoli, a French actor, certainly deserved his award for his role in Habemus Papam, but honoring him could as well serve as a lifetime achievement award, Piccoli having appeared in hundreds of movies over his career that dates back to the ’40s.
A criticism of Italian films has always been that they are too personal and “too Italian”, and therefore not easy to export. But the movies have become more exportable and the David di Donatellos haven reflected this shift. It takes nothing away from Italy to give a top award to a Chinese actress; Italy is making exciting movies and taking chances again.
I’m glad they gave the screenwriting award to Sorrentino; the dialogue, written in English by Italian Sorrentino, is nothing short amazing. Many American screenwriters could not have gotten it so dead on.
All of the awarded films are worth seeing and I’ll alert everyone as I see them available in the United States.