All and all the various award outlets, the David di Donatello, the Nastri d’Argento, the Italian Golden Globes (etc.) have done a better job at being realistic about what people really like than ever in the past. It used to be I’d think, “Who is voting for these things? Are they all 90-years-old?”
It’s obviously important to recognize and reward all this bright new talent, and that’s been kind of my thing for the last few years, so here’s the I Love Italian Movies Best 2015/16 To Date.
Remember, I am looking at this with an American eye, and I don’t dispute what Italians think about Italian movies, but from an outsider’s perspective:
The BEST FILM of this past movie-going season has been Suburra. Why wasn’t it nominated for best picture, even though it got plenty of other nominations and awards? I have no idea. Suburra is COOL with all caps. The acting is exceptional, the visuals are stunning, and the writing is spot on. Starring Alessandro Borghi, Greta Scarano, Pierfrancesco Favino, Claudio Amendola and Elio Germano, it’s an exciting and fresh story of organized crime and Italy’s seedier side, and it’s available here in the USA on Netflix. Suburra is the most exportable of the year, even more so than the English language films.
The best comedy is Perfetti Sconosciuti (Perfect Strangers) and it’s got the best screenplay as well. This adorable comedy has a “couldn’t be more perfect” cast consisting of Edoardo Leo, Valerio Mastandrea, Alba Rohrwacher, Anna Foglietta, Giuseppe Battiston, Kasia Smutniak, and Marco Giallini is about a group of friends who play a regrettable game with their cell phones at a dinner party. The dialogue is the best I have seen in a long time. This one will be coming your way and I’ll let you know.
The best director is Paolo Genovese, the guy who brought us Perfetti Sconosciuti. He did a fabulous job and he gets what sells.
The best new director is Alberto Caviglia, whose Pecore in Erba (Burning Love) brought down the house at last year’s Venice Film Festival and impressed me with its non-stop rollicking FUN. The theme is a little controversial; it’s a comedy about a little boy who loves being anti-semitic, and I think that made some people uncomfortable (people on message boards in the US were freaking out before ever having seen it) or it would have been much bigger.
The best actor is Luca Marinelli, hands down, for his great performances in both Mi Chiamavano Jeeg Robot and Non Essere Cattivo. There is no limit to this guy’s range, and I have the feeling he’s just getting started.
The best actress is Greta Scarano and I want to be her USA fan club president. She has what it takes to be universally famous and she’s no “flavor of the week”. I first noticed her in the deeply underrated Senza Nessuna Pietà, and then she completely won me over with part in Suburra. She could make it big in Hollywood, but just watch what she does in Italy. It will be big.
The best cinematographer is Vladan Radovic, and frankly, he must have more energy than ordinary men, because in just the past few years he’s brought a huge portion of the magic to films big hits like Paolo Virzì’s La Pazza Gioia, Francesco Munzi’s Anime Nere, and Laura Bispuri’s Vergine Giurata; and he’s outright saved a couple weaker ones like La Felicità è un Sistema Complesso. This DOP is an artist, but with a commercial eye that I just LOVE.
I’d be stupid not to give a couple of super-honorable mentions to Mi Chiamavano Jeeg Robot and Quo Vado? Jeeg Robot is a thrilling action film and a huge breakthrough for Italian cinema; plus it’s loads of fun. Checco Zalone’s Quo Vado had made more money than any Italian film in the history of Italian cinema, and it is hilarious.