Cinema Paradiso (1988)
It's a world of wonder that Guiseppe Tornatore transports us back to in Cinema Paradiso – a time and place where trips to the local cinema were the only form of escapism from the scarcities of post-WWII life in the village of Giancaldo, Sicily. This is where little Toto (Salvatore Di Vita) falls in love with the movies and everything they represent. Soon, the cinema's projectionist Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) recognizes this and welcomes Toto in to cultivate his passion for the big screen. Tornatore's direction, as well as the acting, is so stylized and melodramatic that it borders on the counterproductive, but the film has an irresistible enthusiasm and warmth which sucks you in. It's a celebration of movies in general, and more specifically the glory days of the cinema. Cinema Paradiso is at its best when it revolves around young Toto, who is the heart and soul of the film. His spontaneity evokes reminiscing of those wonder years of childhood and the time period in question, for those who were lucky enough to experience it. And the bittersweet ending may be self-indulgent, but it's also poetic. Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 62nd Academy Awards.