It’s The Great Beauty’s era; it is the time of the resurrection and the time of a few good attempts here and there that resulted in some of the best films in Italian cinema history. After the constant trial and error of the 1990s and the 2000s, Italian cinema made it to the 2010s with a serious intention of making Italian cinema great again.
While the operation is still ongoing, the list of the best Italian films from the 2010s includes some extraordinary masterpieces that are truly worth the while. The Italian films from the 2010s have left a mark and created new trends and styles. These are films that have managed to combine quality and popularity and are loved by the public.
The Italian films from the 2010s have mainly moved within comedy—the Italian cinema’s best-loved genre—but there have also been the first steps towards other genres through unprecedented cinematic moves. In this article, we examine the best Italian films from the 2010s and why they are so great!
Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti) by Ferzan Ozpetek (2010)
Loose Cannons is the perfect start to our list of the best Italian films from the 2010s. The film is one of director Ozpetek’s most famous films. The Italian comedy follows the story of a young gay man who is finally ready to come out to his family. However, his older brother steps into the scene ruining his plans!
In Loose Cannons, the director condenses all his typical stylistic features, homosexuality, family dinners, and music effect, but in the form of a pure comedy for the first time. The movie premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, and it was applauded by critics. Loose Cannons went on to win many awards, like two David di Donatello Awards and six Nastro d’Argento Awards.
We Have a Pope (Habemus Papam) by Nanni Moretti (2011)
Regardless of the decade, Nanni Moretti always manages to leave his mark. So, it is no wonder to see his film, Habemus Papam, among the best Italian films from the 2010s. The film is a slice of history that uncannily anticipated what would happen two years later: the pope’s renunciation of the papacy.
The film follows the story of a cardinal who is not interested in becoming a pope but ends up being elected as the new pope anyway. In the movie, Nanni took the audience into the Vatican, which until then was an inaccessible place. Interestingly, the film’s name is the phrase used to announce the selection of a new pope after the elections. Habemus Papam was both critically-acclaimed and controversial. The film won two David di Donatello Awards and three Golden Ciak Awards, among many others.
Reality by Matteo Garrone (2012)
Matteo Garrone’s seventh piece of work opens with a fairy-tale setting, catapulting the audience into a pompous, eccentric, abundant Naples. Within this dark-coloured setting is Luciano (Aniello Arena), a fishmonger whose charisma, bordering on the tacky and outlandish, entertains friends and relatives. Luciano gazes spellbound at the Italian version (Grande Fratello) of the reality Dutch game show “Big Brother” and decides to join it!
What makes Matteo Garrone’s Reality one of the best Italian films from the 2010s is its depth. This is not a film about television or, more specifically, about that particular show. With background tones, but not too blurred, of social denunciation, Garrone uses Luciano’s story to delve into the meanders of the defeat of the average man who can no longer recognise reality from illusion.
The film features fairy-tale music, goliardic characters, and cartoon-like solid colours, then tones down the whole thing to make the protagonists naturalistic. The film could actually be considered a reflection of a country that, instead of moving forward, drifts backwards.
Reality received a nomination for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, and it went home with the Grand Prix. The film also won three David di Donatello Awards out of eleven nominations, among others awards and nominations.
Caesar Must Die (Cesare Deve Morire) by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (2012)
With a catchy name like that, Caesar Must Die was bound to be on the list of the best Italian films from the 2010s. Shot within the walls of the Rebibbia prison, Caesar Must Die is the enactment of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by prison inmates.
The film beams with raw cinema with dazzling photography, a tragicness rendered by black and white, which then disappears with the actual performance. The film was the recipient of the Golden Berlin Bear from the Berlin Film Festival, in addition to five David di Donatello Awards and many other awards.
The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) by Paolo Sorrentino (2013)
The work of art—because this is not just a mere film— that brought the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles to its feet in 2014, giving the golden statuette to Paolo Sorrentino, accompanied by Toni Servillo. This is one of the most important Italian films of the 2010s, if not the most of them all, with which Sorrentino brought Italy an Oscar after years.
La Grande Bellezza tells of the story of a writer named Jep Gambardella, or rather the story of all Italians. After writing his first and only novel, ‘The Human Apparatus’, Jep searches in Rome for The Great Beauty. But Jep finds himself overwhelmed by a capital city on the wave of consumerism, by pseudo-intellectuals who have nothing to say, and by artists who do not even know what they are talking about. There is no great beauty, but rather a humanity grappling with parties and dances in the best terraces of Rome and little trains that are beautiful because they lead nowhere.
It is a Rome without equal in terms of charm, but destroyed by a society that has nothing left to cling to but vacuity and nothingness. Sorrentino peerlessly made a romantic, sharp, critical and ironic portrait of a rarefied reality in which appearance and redundancy came first.
The Italian masterpiece par excellence has made quite the international buzz, winning the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Oscars, the Golden Globes Award, and the BAFTAs for the same category. This is in addition to the many other awards and nominations the film received worldwide.
Human Capital (Il Capitale Umano) by Paolo Virzì (2013)
Director Paolo Virzì has proved his exceptional talent as one of the best Italian directors of the decade thanks to hit titles that have been a huge success with both critics and audiences, like La Prima Cosa Bella (The First Beautiful Thing) (2010) and La Pazza Gioia (Like Crazy) (2016).
However, he took it to the next level with the film Human Capital, where he used his usual bitter comedy disguised as a thriller presenting one of his best Italian films from the 2010s.
Based on the novel of the same name by Stephen Amidon, Human Capital is a film divided into chapters that begins to unravel from a road accident at Christmas time, in which an SUV runs over a cyclist. From this moment on, the entire existence of the family of Giovanni Bernaschi (Fabrizio Gifuni) and Dino Ossola (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) takes an unexpected turn.
Human Capital is a work that, in some ways, breaks away from Virzì’s other films and delves into the darkness of society and the human being, seeking a balance between drama and comedy with noir traits. The film was quite a success in the awards shows, winning seven David di Donatello Awards, five BIFEST – Bari International Film Festival awards, and many more.
Leopardi (Il Giovane Favoloso) by Mario Martone (2014)
Leopardi is not only one of the best Italian films from the 2010s but also a slice of arthouse cinema that fortified actor Elio Germano as one of the best actors of his generation.
The film follows the life story of the late Italian philosopher and poet Giacomo Leopardi. Leopardi cleverly demonstrates the great appeal of the figure of Leopardi to young people. It is a film that brings back to the cinema the fashion for the biopics of people who have contributed to the history of the country.
Thanks to his show-stopping performance, Elio won numerous awards, including the Pasinetti Award for Best Actor at Venice International Film Festival, David di Donatello Awards, and many others. The film also received several nominations and awards.
Suburra by Stefano Sollima (2015)
The crime genre has always been a point of strength for the Italian cinema, so it is no wonder that a film from that genre makes it to our list of the best Italian films from the 2010s. Suburra is a neo-noir crime film with all the elements of a hit crime film!
The film is based on a novel of the same name, and it is inspired by true events related to the Mafia Capitale (an organised crime association). The film follows the story of a gang who wants to create a Las Vegas on Rome’s waterfront!
The neo-noir Italian crime thriller received good reviews from critics and won numerous awards, including three Nastro d’Argento awards.
Happy as Lazzaro (Lazzaro Felice) by Alice Rohrwacher (2018)
The year 2018 witnessed the release of several hit Italian films from the 2010s, one of which is Happy as Lazzaro. The film follows a peasant family who is severely exploited by Marquise Alfonsina De Luna (Nicoletta Braschi), a tobacco baroness.
In a context of deception and poverty of intellect, Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo) stands out from the crowd by his doings, always helpful and never impertinent. On the other side is Tancredi (Luca Chikovani), the spoilt, deeply bored son of the marquise, who persuades Lazzaro to help him organise his own fake kidnapping. Things don’t go as planned as the story unfolds, and their lives get turned upside down!
The film is laden with metaphors and symbolism about a humanity that does not exist, set against an ideal one, an archaic good and a biting evil. Happy as Lazzaro is Alice Rohrwacher’s third film, and it received rave reviews, winning many awards, including Best Screenplay Awards at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
Loro by Paolo Sorrentino (2018)
The Great Beauty duo, filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino and actor Toni Servillo teamed up again to make another one of the best Italian films from the 2010s: Loro! Cleverly divided into two chapters, Loro deals with the story of stories: that of Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi was the Italian Prime Miniter in four governments and is also famous for being a media tycoon.
This is not Paolo Sorrentino’s first attempt with such delicate stories; he had already conquered this playground with the story of the previous Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in Il Divo, an endeavour that was a smash-hit!
Returning to Loro, the film took a further leap compared to Il Divo, like Berlusconi’s affairs, which had taken up a great deal of space on the Italian people’s televisions. The story, as in all of the director’s works, is that of an existence falling apart, of the ambitions of a man surrounded by subjects who barely know him, presented in a moving yet merciless manner.
Presenting a flawless performance as always, actor Toni Servillo confirmed his extraordinary talent with this role. The film received two David di Donatello Awards and Nastro d’Argento Awards, among others.
Dogman by Matteo Garrone (2018)
Dogman by Matteo Garrone is one of the best Italian films from the 2010s, and it was Italy’s entry to the 2019 Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category too. The film has won a staggering nine David di Donatello awards, plus a conspicuous number of other prises.
Inspired by the Canaro crime of the 1980s, Dogman is the story of Marcello (a spectacular Marcello Fonte), who owns a dog grooming shop in the suburbs of Rome. In order to make ends meet, Marcello rounds up his income by dealing cocaine and maintains relations with Simone (Edoardo Pesce), a local thug whose outbursts of anger terrorise the entire neighbourhood.
Dogman, keeping the vicissitudes of Pietro De Negri in the background, actually tells the story of Marcello, a story on the borderline between humanity and ferocity.
Among the grey colours of a gloomy city, the barren land, and the long shots, Garrone smashes the screen with a story of desolation and marginalisation. For his brilliant acting in the film, Marcello Fonte received the Best Actor Award at Cannes Film Festival.
It is safe to say that the best Italian films from the 2010s effortlessly proved that it was an era defined by the great work of many new names coming into the Italian cinema industry and working to make an impact. Many of them succeeded in this, giving us some brilliant Italian films from the 2010s, Paolo Sorrentino and actor Toni Servillo, for example, and many others. As we look ahead to what the future has in store for the Italian cinema, we are almost sure that plenty more fine works of art are coming, maybe even better than the best Italian films from the 2010s.