Oscar winner ‘The Great Beauty’ loses out at Italy’s Academy Awards

“The Great Beauty,” Paolo Sorrentino's splashy valentine to Roman high society, was the most lauded foreign-language film of the last awards season — it ruled the European Film Awards, and scooped Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Oscars. (At all but the last of these, it beat out its Cannes conqueror, “Blue is the Warmest Color.”) So you'd think it'd be a shoo-in at Italy's own Academy Awards, right? Wrong.

At yesterday's David di Donatello Awards, handed out annually by the Academy of Italian Cinema, Sorrentino's film was the night's biggest winner in terms of numbers — taking nine awards, including Best Director and Best Actor for Toni Servillo. But its other wins were limited to below-the-line categories — trust the Italians to have separate awards for Best Makeup and Best Hairstyling — as Paolo Virzi's “Human Capital” took Best Picture.

Virzi's film, a blend of murder mystery and social satire touching on the contemporary economic crisis, took seven awards in total, including the remaining three acting categories: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi won Best Actress, while Valeria Golino was named Best Supporting Actress. (Coincidentally enough, the two Valerias both directed films that premiered at Cannes last year: Golino's film, the euthanasia drama “Honey,” was up for seven di Donatello awards, including Best Debut Director, but lost the lot.)

“Human Capital's” triumph wasn't as surprising  as it might seem to non-Italians, given that the film was a domestic box-office smash upon its release in January. It's still awaiting US distribution, but has played at the Tribeca Film Festival — where Bruni Tedeschi again won Best Actress.

That makes the film a formidable contender to be named Italy's official submission for the foreign-language Oscar race. Its chief rival in that department would appear to be Alice Rohrwacher's “The Wonders,” the surprise Grand Prix winner at Cannes last month. Cannes glory isn't always a deciding factor for the Italian selectors (as Matteo Garrone's “Reality” discovered two years ago), while Virzi's “The First Beautiful Thing” was their 2010 entry — which could give him an edge.

In other David di Donatello award news, “Philomena” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” were named Best Foreign Film from inside and outside the EU, respectively — the latter beating a field that included “12 Years a Slave,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “American Hustle.” Sophia Loren, meanwhile, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. (I imagine she must have a few of those by now.)

The full list of winners:

Best Picture: “Human Capital,” Paolo Virzi
Best Director: Paolo Sorrentino, “The Great Beauty”
Best Producer: Francesca Cima and Nicola Giuliano, “The Great Beauty”
Best Actress: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, “Human Capital”
Best Actor: Toni Servillo, “The Great Beauty”
Best Supporting Actress: Valeria Golino, “Human Capital”
Best Supporting Actor: Fabrizio Gifuni, “Human Capital”
Best Screenplay: Paolo Virzi and Francesco Bruni, “Human Capital” 
Best Foreign Film (EU): “Philomena,” Stephen Frears 
Best Foreign Film (Outside EU): “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Wes Anderson 
Best Documentary: “Tahrir Liberation Square,” Stefano Savona 
Best Debut Director: Pierfrancesco Diliberto, “The Mafia Kills Only in Summer” 
Best Cinematography: Luca Bigazzi, “The Great Beauty”
Best Editing: Cecilia Zanuso, “Human Capital”
Best Production Design: Stefania Cella, “The Great Beauty” 
Best Costume Design: Daniela Ciancio, “The Great Beauty” 
Best Music: Pivio and Aldo De Scalzi for “Song” e Napule”
Best Original Song: “A Verità” from “Song” e Napule”
Best Makeup: Maurizio Silvi, “The Great Beauty”
Best Hairstyling: Aldo Signoretti, “The Great Beauty”
Best Sound: Roberto Mozzarelli, “Human Capital”
Best Visual Effects: Rodolfo Migliari and Luca Della Grotta, “The Great Beauty”
Best Short: “Stop The Pounding Heart,” Roberto Minervini
Youth Award: “The Mafia Kills Only in Summer,” Pierfrancesco Diliberto
Lifetime Achievement Award: Sophia Loren