(Adds details and quotes)
LOS ANGELES, March 2 Visually stunning Italian
drama "The Great Beauty" won the Oscar for best foreign language
film on Sunday, capping its successful awards season run in the
United States and Europe.
Director Paolo Sorrentino's film about an aging writer's
reflections on life and his search for meaning among Rome's idle
rich also won top foreign film honors at the Golden Globes and
It was the first Oscar for Sorrentino and the 11th win for
an Italian film since foreign language film became a competitive
category in 1956, the most of any country. Italian films earned
three additional Academy Awards before that time.
In his acceptance speech, Naples-born Sorrentino gave a nod
to Italian director Federico Fellini, former Argentine soccer
player Diego Maradona - who once played for Naples soccer club -
his wife and the central focus of his film, Rome.
"Thank you to my inspiration, Federico Fellini ... Martin
Scorsese, Diego Armando Maradona," he said, "and thank you to
Roma, Napoli ... and this is for my parents."
"The Great Beauty" (La Grande Bellezza) - which follows
65-year-old writer Jep Gambardella, played by Toni Servillo,
through all-night parties and high-class affairs - has reminded
critics of Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" in its portrayal of the
Italian capital's hedonistic haut monde.
Jep's existential conundrum unleashes a series of
reflections about his provincial youth, unrequited love and a
soulless Catholic Church unable to satisfy his search for a
meaning in life.
Sorrentino said ahead of the Oscars that in the film he
wanted to contrast the visual beauty of Rome with the "people
who don't realize that this beauty is all around them."
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jill