Italian movies have never been better, and the top ten of 2013 list has never been so debatable because of all the possibilities! Others will undoubtedly disagree, but this is my list and I’m stickin’ to it.
There is little uncertainty about the year’s best film: Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘La Grande Bellezza’ has the best chance an Italian film has had in years for an Oscar and as I said in MY REVIEW, if it isn’t given a nomination I really don’t know what the Academy is looking for. Starring Toni Servillo and Carlo Verdone, Sorrentino did a much better job than Woody Allen did ( in To Rome With Love ) of showing us around modern Rome.
In Giuseppe Tornatore’s ‘La Migliore Offerta’, when Virgil (Geoffrey Rush) is contacted by an heiress with some art that she’s interested in selling, he’s at first annoyed that she’ll only talk to him on the phone, then intrigued, and finally infatuated with the mystery surrounding her. This English language thriller is my favorite of Tornatore’s. READ MY REVIEW HERE
‘Miele’, Valeria Golina’s directorial debut, premiered at Cannes and is showing up at film festivals, winning awards, all over the US. Jasmine Trinca plays an assisted suicide advocate.
Viaggio Sola, is directed by Maria Sole Tognazzi (Ugo’s daughter, Ricky’s half-sister) and is about a hotel “Mystery Guest”, played by Margherita Buy, pretending to be a normal hotel guest but really there to critique the hotel for 5 star ratings. “Are you some kind of spy?” a man who she was having a drink with asked her when he couldn’t get a straight answer about her job. “I’m kind of a spy,” she admits.
Having already impressed the world with ‘Io Sono Li’, director Andrea Segre brought another immigration story to Venice last year and it was my favorite at the festival. In La Prima Neve, something tragic has happened to a refugee, Dani, played by Jean-Chrisophe Folly, and when he goes to work for a woman ( played by Anita Caprioli ) and her family at their remote Alpine home he finds that something bad has happened to them, too. READ MY REVIEW
Everybody else’s favorite at last year’s Venice Film Festival was a documentary, the winner of the Golden Lion, Sacro GRA, about the highway that circles Rome and the people that live there. Director Gianfranco Rosi and his film’s subjects, many of whom were there for the premier, seemed genuinely appreciative of the extended cheers, shouts of “bravo!”, and standing ovation that followed the screening. READ MY REVIEW.
Did I put Luigi Lo Cascio’s ‘La Città Ideale’ on last year’s list? Yeah, well it’s going on this year’s too. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2012 but hit the theaters in 2013, so it really belongs with this group. Lo Cascio’s impressive directorial debut is the Kafkaesque story of a guy who gets caught up in a legal system that he is gravely unprepared for. READ MY REVIEW.
A newer one also starring Luigi Lo Cascio has been getting rave reviews this year: Salvo, from directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza won the Critics Week Grand Prize and the Visionary Award at the Cannes Film Festival. The Washington Post said “…the lone hit man longing for connection. But Grassadonia and Piazza nonetheless make even that tired cliché improbably compelling in a technically flawless movie that is formally elegant.”
Only Italians are going to completely appreciate a movie like Roberto Andò’s political comedy Viva la Libertà, starring Toni Servillo, but this absurd and Pirandello-esque plot works surprisingly well. The wackiness of today’s Italian government kind of requires a preposterous skewering, and Viva la Libertà does the job. READ MY REVIEW.
And to round out the list, a comedy, Amiche Da Morire, the kind that I just can’t get enough of from Italy. And I mean literally can’t get enough of, because Italy doesn’t make enough of them. And why not? Young,good-looking, likable, comic actresses + smart, witty script + beautiful Italian scenery = a screwball comedy that is thouroughly enjoyable. Director Giorgia Farina needs do more of the same. Starring the adorable Claudia Gerini, Cristiana Capotondi , and Sabrina Impacciatore, it’s my favorite comedy of the year. READ MY REVIEW.