'Beautiful Thing' dominates Donatello noms

Noms in 18 categories, including best film, director

ROME -- "La Prima Cosa Bella" (The First Beautiful Thing), a noir comedy from Paolo Virzi set in the 1970s, surprisingly emerged as the most nominated film for Italy's best-known film honor, the David di Donatello awards on Thursday.

The relatively low profile film was nominated in a year-best 18 categories including the top categories of best film and best director, outpacing more heralded projects including Marco Bellocchio's Mussolini biopic "Vincere" (which premiered in Cannes last year), Giuseppe Tornatore's Sicilian epic "Baaria" (Italy's candidate for the foreign language Oscar), and "Mine Viganti" (Loose Cannons) a comedy set in southern Italy from Ferzan Ozpetek (the film debuted in Berlin). Winners will be announced May 7.

Bellocchio, Tornatore, and Ozpetek's films still did well among nominees, garnering 15, 14, and 12 nominations, respectively. All three were nominated in the best film and best director categories, where they will face off against Virzi and "La Prima Cosa Bella" and "L'Uomo che Verra" (The Man Who Shall Come), a World War II-era film set in an Italian village that won the audience award at the 2009 Rome International Film Festival.

Margherita Buy was nominated for the best actress award for her work in "Lo Spazio Blanco" (The White Space), along with Giovanna Mezzogiorno for "Vincere," Micaela Ramazzotti from "La Prima Cosa Bella," and Greta Zuccheri Montanari from "L'Uomo che Verra." A wider variety of films were represented in the best actor category, with "Vincere" protagonist Filppo Timi and Valerio Mastandrea from "La Prima Cosa Bella" joining Antonio Albanese and Kim Rossi Stuart (both from "Questione di Cuore" -- Questions of the heart) and Libero de Rienzo ("Fortapasc").

The nominees for the best non-Italian Film were "A Serious Man" from Joel and Ethan Coen, "Avatar" from James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," "Invitctus" from Clint Eastwood, and Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air."