A Special Day (1977) B+
Marcello Mastroianni was not only one of the world’s most distinguished actors, but also one of the few thespians to be extremely popular outside of his native Italy.
Born in 1924, Mastroianni made his screen debut in 1949, at the age of twenty five, after studying acting and acquiring stage experience with Luchino Visconti’ s theatrical troupe. In the 1950s, he achieved stature in Italy, but he attained international stardom in 1960, as a result of his starring role in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita.” A year later, he appeared in another Fellini masterpiece, “8 1/2,” which was even more commercially successful than “La Dolce Vita.”
The Academy failed to nominate Mastroianni for either of these performances, though some of these movies were nominated–and even won–other awards.
Divorce—Italian Style (1962)
Mastroianni earned his first Best Actor nomination in 1962, at age thirty eight, for the Italian comedy, “Divorce–Italian Style,” in which he excelled as the bored Sicilian baron who plans to get rid of his nagging wife.
Mastroianni would probably not have received the nomination were it not for the publicity and awards that “Divorce–Italian Style” received from the Cannes International Film Festival and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe.
A Special Day
In 1977, Mastroianni was nominated for the second time for “A Special Day,” which was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar.
Ettore Scola’s tale is set on May 6, 1938, when Hitler and Mussolini joined forces in an alliance, and Romans took out to the street to celebrate.
Two outcasts stay in, meet, and even make love (sort of): A tired housewife (played by Sophia Loren) and a suicidal gay man (Mastroianni).
Scola, who co-wrote the contrived scenario with Ruggero Maccari and Maurizio Costanzo, directs with extreme sensitivity to the fragile material, drawing strong performances from its stars, both of whom are cast against type, with their famous sex appeal underplayed and their appearances deglamorized.
In 1987, Mastroianni garnered a third Best Actor nomination for Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov’s “Dark Eyes,” in which he was perfectly cast as an aging womanizer recalling his affair with a young Russian woman.
Mastroianni’s Oscar Nominations:
1962: Divorce–Italian Style
1977: A Special Day
1987: Dark Eyes
In 1962, the Best Actor winner was Gregory Peck for “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
In 1977, Richard Dreyfuss (yes, you got it right) won at his first nomination for “The Goodbye Girl.”
In 1987, Michael Douglas was the Oscar recipient, nominally for “Wall Street,” but, no doubts his smash hit that year, “Fatal Attraction” must have played a factor, too.
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