It's been 15 years since an Italian movie, Roberto Benigni's “Life Is Beautiful,” won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film. So, this year, the Italians have decided to go bold and brassy and have submitted “The Great Beauty,” Paolo Sorrentino's deliberately lurid portrayal of alienation and excess in today's Rome. The Great Beauty won the Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film in the 2014 Academy Awards. It also won the Golden Globe as Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The same film won several accolades at the 2013 European Film Awards, including "best director" for Sorrentino.
Sorrentino was born in Naples. His first film as screenwriter, Polvere di Napoli, was released in 1998. He also began directing short movies, including L'amore Non Ha Confini in 1998 and La Lotte Lunga in 2001. His feature-length debut was One Man Up (L'uomo in più), for which he was awarded the Nastro D'Argento prize.
He achieved international recognition in 2004 for his thriller, The Consequences of Love (Le conseguenze dell'amore). The film, which explores the mindset of a lonely businessman being used as a pawn by the Mafia, won many awards and was nominated for the Palme D'Or at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Sorrentino's next feature, The Family Friend (L'amico di famiglia), was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May and the London Film Festival in October 2006. It tells the story of a malicious septuagenarian loan-shark who develops a fixation with the beautiful daughter of one of his customers. Sorrentino made his acting debut with a cameo appearance in Nanni Moretti's film The Caiman (Il caimano), which was also shown at the 2006 London Film Festival.
Sorrentino's following film, Il Divo, is a dramatized biopic of Giulio Andreotti, the controversial Italian politician. The feature, which won the Prix du Jury at Cannes Film Festival, sees Sorrentino reunited with The Consequences of Love star, Toni Servillo, who plays the part of Andreotti. In 2009, Sorrentino wrote the screenplay for a film version of Niccolò Ammaniti's Ti prendo e ti porto via (Steal You Away).
'This Must Be the Place' marked the English-language feature debut of the Italian filmmaker. The plot centres around a middle-aged wealthy rock star, played by two time academy award winner Sean Penn, who becomes bored in his retirement and takes on the quest of finding the guard of the German camp where his father was imprisoned, who now lives in hiding in the U.S. The film was co-written by Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello and premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.