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Golden Globes: Sorrentino's 'The Great Beauty' Win Raises Italy's Oscar Hopes

The Great Beauty poster
The poster from "The Great Beauty"

The acclaimed drama became Italy's first Golden Globes winner since "Nuovo Cinema Paradiso," awarded 25 years ago.

ROME -- Expectations in Italy are on the rise for the future of Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza), winner of the Golden Globe for best foreign film on Sunday night in Los Angeles.

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Upon accepting the award, a surprised Sorrentino said, "Thank you, Italy! It's a truly strange country, but a beautiful one." That phrase was near the top of the front page on most Italian newspapers and news sites Monday, along with speculation that the Golden Globes honor could mean good things for the film come Oscar time. It has already been shortlisted for the best foreign language film Oscar.

It has been 25 years since an Italian film won a Golden Globe (Giuseppe Tornatore's 1989 film Cinema Paradiso) -- even Roberto Benigni's three-time Oscar winner Life Is Beautiful (La vita e' bella) was shut out.

Toni Servillo, who plays the main role in The Great Beauty, praised Sorrentino in the Italian press, calling the award "the consecration of Paolo's great talents."

Similar tributes came from other corners. Minister of culture Massimo Bray said the film proved that "Italian cinema is still a protagonist" in world cinema, while Roberto Cicutto, the head of Cinecitta Luce, declared it "a great start to the year for Italian cinema."

Almost every newspaper story in some way handicapped the film's chances at the Oscars, an honor no Italian film has taken home since Life Is Beautiful. No Italian film has even been a finalist since Cristina Comencini's Don't Tell (La bestia nel cuore) in 2005. (Tsotsi from South Africa's Gavin Hood won the award that year.)

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The Golden Globe award is just the latest honor for Sorrentino's examination of the decadent high life in modern-day Rome. The film, which screened in competition at Cannes in May, won the best film honor at the European Film Awards; the best cinematography honor at Italy's Golden Globes; five Silver Ribbons (Nastri d'Argento), Italy's oldest film prize; and the Capri Visionary Movie Award at the just-completed Capri, Hollywood Film Festival.

Twitter: @EricJLyman