Updated On: November 06, 2023 by   Esraa Mahmoud   Esraa Mahmoud  

The new millennial of the 2000s brought a lot of innovation and success to many aspects of life, but sadly that wasn’t the case for the Italian films from the 2000s. The Italian films from the 2000s weren’t exactly as successful as those from previous years. There has been a widespread belief that the Italian films from the 2000s were not good compared to the rest of the world’s production of movies of that time.

However, while it may not have the masterpieces of the Italian cinema’s golden years of the past, the Italian films from the 2000s still included some noteworthy gems to add to the list of the best Italian films in history. Coming up next, we take a look at the best Italian films from the 2000s.

One Hundred Steps (I Cento Passi) by Marco Tullio Giordana (2000)

What better way to start our list of the best Italian films from the 2000s than with this fine piece of work by Marco Tullio Giordana? In One Hundred Steps, Marco brilliantly narrated the life of Peppino Impastato, the Italian activist who decided to fight back against the Mafia in Sicily.

Fun fact, the One Hundred Steps were the number of steps between Peppino Impastato’s house in his hometown Cinisi, Palermo, and the Mafia boss, Tano Badalamenti’s house.

The film was a huge success receiving tons of nominations, like being nominated for the Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film and scoring many awards, like at the David di Donatello Awards, where it won five awards, including Best Actor and Best Screenplay, among others. This masterpiece from the best Italian films from the 2000s won four awards at the Venice Film Festival, including the Best Film Award.

Malèna by Giuseppe Tornatore (2000)

The veteran Giuseppe Tornatore always knows how to make international headlines with his marvellous work. The brain behind the hit film Cinema Paradiso struck again with one of the best Italian films from the 2000s: his controversial film Malèna.

The film that witnessed the Italian talent Monica Bellucci’s “breakout performance” follows the story of impossible love between a 14-year-old boy and a woman who is much older than him, AKA the fascinating Malèna. The story begins on the day war is declared, 10 June, and ends with the arrival of the Americans in 1943.

Like many of Tornatore’s films, Malèna was an international hit making it to the nomination list of many of Hollywood’s top awards shows as it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and Best Original Score. It was nominated for the Golden Globes’ Best Foreign Language Film and the Best Original Score awards, and it was also nominated for the BAFTAs’ Best Film Not in the English Language award. The film also scored the Grand Prix at the Cabourg Film Festival in 2001.

Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips) by Silvio Soldini (2000)

Perhaps the most surprising title of the best Italian films from the 2000s is Silvio Soldini’s Bread and Tulips (2000). The Milanese director’s comedy breathed new life into a genre that was going through its darkest period in Italian cinema history.

Soldini staged a story with fabulous tones and atmosphere; drew realistic and believable characters cast in an out-of-time setting. The director’s fourth film was an unexpected success with critics and audiences, and it was hailed by many as the film that marked “the rebirth of Italian cinema.”

Bread and Tulips garnered positive acclaim around the world, and in America, it even stayed in theatres for a long time! The film was in the official selection of prestigious film festivals like the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. It also won several awards, like nine David di Donatello Awards and five Nastro d’Argento (Silver Ribbon) awards, to name a few.

The Son’s Room (La Stanza del Figlio) by Nanni Moretti (2001)

The old-guard Nanni Moretti made sure to contribute to the list of Italian films from the 2000s with the masterpiece of La Stanza del Figlio. The film follows a family from Ancona, the father is a psychoanalyst, and the mother is a publisher, and they have two teenage children, a boy and a girl. The family leads an everyday life with the usual ups and downs of a quiet family in a provincial Italian town. But one day, their son dies, and the story goes on to follow the heart-breaking grief and existential disorientation of those forced to live through such a situation.

Setting aside his “classic” cinema for a moment, in La Stanza Del Figlio, Nanni Moretti turned to a more intimate and delicate tale where he dissected the theme of loss with extreme empathy without ever falling into melodrama. The very effective screenplay freed the plot from any tearful rhetoric, dealing in a raw and not at all obvious way with a much-abused theme.

The film received rave reviews and won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or award in 2001. It was the first film from Italy to win this award, which is considered the highest award at Cannes, in more than 20 years.

The Ignorant Fairies (Le Fate Ignoranti) by Ferzan Ozpetek (2001)

What makes The Ignorant Fairies one of the best Italian films from the 2000s is how the Turkish-Italian filmmaker Ferzan Ozpetek dealt with the discourse of homosexuality, going through the loss of a loved one, loneliness, family, and acceptance of different realities.

The film follows the story of a female doctor specialising in treating AIDS who loses her husband in a car accident. One day, she finds out that her dead husband has been cheating on her for seven years.

Looking for evidence of betrayal, she discovers it was a secret affair with a man. She comes into contact with this man and ventures into a world completely unknown to her. On this journey, she matures in a way she never imagined, breaking free from patterns she did not even suspect she had and finding her own new equilibrium.

Le Fate Ignoranti is a bittersweet comedy that dared quite a lot of rarely-talked-about topics. It also gave a glimpse of a modern, multi-ethnic Rome, reflecting on cultural differences and traditional family values that were in the face of historical and social transformations.

The film was nominated for several awards, including the Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. It received numerous awards, like three at the Nastro d’Argento Prises for Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Producer.

My Mother’s Smile (L’ora di religione) by Marco Bellocchio (2002)

In My Mother’s Smile, an atheist painter from a noble fallen family learns that his mother, killed by one of his brothers with significant mental problems, is about to be canonised (it means to be officially considered a saint) by the special commission of the Catholic Church because of unclear miraculous healing. The whole family, except him, has known about this canonisation process for years. The story is told from his perspective, and we follow how he deals with such news.

The award-winning My Mother’s Smile features critical themes like religion, lies, broken families, miracles, doubts, saints and much more, earning it its spot in the list of best Italian films from the 2000s. The film received around 22 nominations at different festivals worldwide and won many awards, including the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention Prise at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Best of Youth (La Meglio Gioventù) by Marco Tullio Giordana (2003)

The Best of Youth is a family saga of a bourgeoisie family from Rome describing thirty-seven years of Italian history (from the 1960s to the 2000s). In particular, it deals with youth, the turmoil of the 1970s, the frantic moments of protests and the terrible choices of armed groups up to the years of maturity of the children of that family.

The film was a tremendous international success and one of the most memorable Italian films from the 2000s. It was inspired by a collection of poems by Pier Paolo Pasolini with the same title. The film premiered at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival and went home with the Prise Un Certain Regard among around 33 different awards worldwide.

An interesting fact about this hit film is that it was initially meant to be a miniseries, but it ended up being released as two films of three hours.

The Consequences Of Love (Le Conseguenze dell’Amore) by Paolo Sorrentino (2004)

Paolo Sorrentino’s brilliant talent may have peaked with the much-talked-about & world-famous The Great Beauty (2013). However, the Neapolitan’s directorial talent was already evident in many of his Italian films from the 2000s, like in his second feature, The Consequences Of Love.

With The Great Beauty’s actor star Toni Servillo at the forefront, the film follows Titta De Girolamo, a 50-year-old man living in a hotel in Switzerland. He lives between his room, cigarettes and the tree bar. His life goes by slowly, punctuated by small movements, the days pass one after the other in an excruciating routine until he falls in love with the girl in the bar, and that’s when the terrible secret of his life is revealed.

Featuring some seriously stylish cinematography, The Consequences Of Love was Toni Servillo’s first film to receive such widespread acclaim. The film was in the race for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and it won several awards at different other awards shows, including five at the David di Donatello Awards, four at the Golden Ciak Awards, and many more.

Criminal Novel (Romanzo Criminale) by Michele Placido (2005)

Based on Giancarlo Da Cataldo’s novel of the same name, Romanzo Criminale is not just one of the best Italian films from the 200s; it is a rather faithful story of the “Banda della Magliana”, the most powerful criminal organisation Rome has ever had and which dramatically operated for twenty-five years (between the 1970s and 1980s)!

The film recounts the gang’s operations that set out to conquer Rome and had ties—some of them very close— with pretty much everyone in power! They had connections with the various mafias, politicians, secret services, members of Freemasonry, right-wing extremists and even with the Vatican—the tomb of one of their leaders was moved after 28 years, from the Vatican-owned Sant’Apollinare Basilica, where he had asked to be buried!

Romanzo Criminale brought together an array of Italy’s leading young film and TV actors in this gem of a film by Michele Placido. The film was nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, among others, and went home with many awards, including two at the Cabourg Romantic Film Festival, eight at the David di Donatello Awards, and many more.

My Brother is an Only Child (Mio Fratello E’ Figlio Unico) by Daniele Luchetti (2007)

The talented actor Elio Germano may have amazed audiences with his performance in Leopardi (Il Giovane Favoloso) (2014), but that is only one in a series of masterful performances.

Years before becoming one of Italy’s best actors, Elio Germano had his breakthrough in this brilliant coming-of-age story of two brothers in the 1960s-1970s in Italy. In the film, his duet with actor Riccardo Scamarcio renders the dynamism, suffering, ideologies and struggles of the 1960s.

Directed by the always-great Daniele Lucchetti, the film is based on a novel by Antonio Pennacchi, and the name of the film comes from Rino Gaetano’s song from 1976. My Brother is an Only Child received many nominations and awards, including five David di Donatello Awards.

Gomorrah (Gomorra) by Matteo Garrone (2008)

No one does the crime films like the Italians; after all, they have many stories of those to tell! So, it is no wonder that one of the most popular crime Italian films from the 2000s worldwide is Gomorrah by Matteo Garrone. 

The film is inspired by Roberto Saviano’s book of the same name, a book that was itself a huge international success. The film follows the story of the criminal syndicate known as the Casalesi clan, which was part of the Italian mafia organisation Camorra.

With the Faida di Scampia (Scampia feud) that happened between the Camorra gangs as the backdrop, the film follows five very raw and direct stories, not entirely real but absolutely realistic. In this film, Garrone succeeded in bringing to the big screen the explosive and lightless violence of a land tormented by the Camorra.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it won critical acclaim and many awards, including the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival in 2008 and seven David di Donatello Awards, and five awards at the European Film Awards, among others. It was also nominated for the Best Film Not in the English Language Award at the BAFTAs.

Il Divo (The Celebrity/The Divine) by Paolo Sorrentino (2008)

With many of his films making the list of best Italian films from the 2000s, Paolo Sorrentino has proven that he can make any ordinary story a glorious work of art. So, you can imagine what he can make of an intriguing story like that of the Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti—simply divo (divine)!

Il Divo is a biographical drama following the life of the long-time politician Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, an influential figure in Italian history. The film shows how the protagonist is a closed safe of secrets but also a man with weaknesses, migraines, loneliness, and guilt.

The film was the recipient of the Cannes Film Festival in 2008’s Jury Prise, among many other awards. It was also nominated for the Oscars for Best Makeup at the 82nd Academy Awards.

I Am Love (Io sono l’amore) by Luca Guadagnino (2009)

I Am Love is one of the most well-known Italian films from the 2000s. It is a traditional and bourgeois melodrama with a strong and powerful sense in its icy representation and contextualisation. The film follows the upper-middle-class family Casa Recchi, which is rumoured to be based on the famous Italian family, Castellini Baldissera.

The film begins with the company handover from grandfather to son Tancredi and grandson Edoardo. We are in the cold and hypocritical context of an industrial upper middle class, where the passion between Tancredi and his Russian wife, Emma, is completely gone. However, things change when Antonio, a young cook and friend of their son Edoardo, comes into the scene!

The film premiered at the renowned Venice Film Festival and went on to win numerous awards and was nominated for many other awards like the Oscars for Best Achievement in Costume Design Award and the BAFTAs for Best Film not in the English Language, and many others.

Despite not being the best eras in Italian cinema history, Italian films from the 2000s still survived the test of time. There is a plethora of great Italian films from the 2000s to enjoy, and this just shows how strong and rich the Italian cinema industry is!

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