Italian Films that Won an Academy Award

HIstorically, Italy has given a lot to the art of filmmaking, and Americans have always been fascinated by the Cinema Italiano (Italian cinema), finding it inspiring and unique. Of course, the Academy has also been very sensitive to the films produced in Italy and, indeed, as today, Italy is the foreign country that has won more Oscars for best foreign film than any other, with a total of ten Academy Awards for Best Foreign Films and three honorary awards.

Let's take a look at these films, their directors and the years in which they won:

1947 Shoeshine (Sciuscia) and 1949 The Bicycles' Thieves (Ladri di Biciclette) both directed by Vittorio De Sica, and 1950 The Walls of Malapaga (Le Mura di Malapaga), by Rene' Clement, all won honorary awards.

As for the others, it went as follows:

In 1956, Italy won with La Strada, in 1957 with Nights of Cabiria (Le Notti di Cabiria) and in 1963 with the legendary 8 1/2, all directed by the iconic Federico Fellini.

In 1964, Vittorio De Sica won again with Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Ieri, Oggi e Domani).

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto), directed by Elio Petri won in 1970, and the following year, 1971, De Sica did it again with The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini). In 1974 Federico Fellini broke the record of four Oscars with Amarcord--as a matter of fact, he still holds it. Many consider De Sica's honorary awards as regular Oscars, which would also give him four awards.

After that, fifteen years went by until Italy received another trophy, this time in 1989 for Giuseppe Tornatore's now classic Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso), a movie that touched the world. 

Gabriele Salvatore's Mediterraneo took home the award in 1998.

Last, but definitely not least, on the list is Life Is Beautiful (La vita e' bella), which starred and was directed by Roberto Benigni. The heartfelt movie set during the Second World War also saw Benigni take home the Oscar for Best Actor. The Italian's acceptance speech--during which he walked on the theater seats and kissed Sophia Loren--is still considered to this day as one of the liveliest in the Academy's history.  It is just one more example of how Italian passion and talent  have captivated Hollywood.


Edited by Francesca Bezzone, 02/24/2014

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Thursday, July 28TH, 2011 by Guest

Read “Days of Wine and Roses: Cinema Paradiso Revisited” on for more about Italian film classics.