The ‘Pinocchio’ film nominated for 2021 Oscars probably isn’t the one you remember

Roberto Benigni holds an Oscar on each side of his head
Roberto Benigni, shown at the 1991 Academy Awards, seems to have a thing for the “Pinocchio” story.
(Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

Laurence Olivier had Shakespeare. Roberto Benigni has — Pinocchio?

The 1999 best actor winner for “Life Is Beautiful” saw not his first but his third Pinocchio-themed movie nominated Monday for two Oscars, in the costume design and makeup-hairstyling categories.

The newest “Pinocchio,” which features the Italian actor as Geppetto, flew far under the radar when it was released in the U.S. on Christmas Day. The actor’s first movie portrayal of the wooden boy wonder happened in 2002, in a written-and-directed-by effort also called, cleverly, “Pinocchio.”

And Benigni voiced the Head of Italy in the 2011 animated feature “Pistachio — the Little Boy That Woodn’t,” a retelling of (wait for it) “Pinocchio.”


Roberto Benigni stars in director Matteo Garrone’s dark adaptation of “Pinocchio,” the classic tale of an artisan who creates a son out of wood.

Dec. 24, 2020

The Benigni-as-Geppetto “Pinocchio” project that was nominated Monday was previously nominated for a 2021 Art Directors Guild award for excellence in production design for a fantasy film and a 2021 BAFTA Award for hair and makeup. The winners of those awards will be announced April 10 and 11, respectively.

But we cannot tell a lie: Benigni himself has gotten some recognition for his marionette adventures. The actor’s 2002 “Pinocchio” was nominated for six Razzies in 2003.

While it left the awards for worst picture, worst director, worst screenplay, worst remake or sequel and worst couple on the table, that “Pinocchio” — clearly not the one nominated Monday — did earn Benigni the honor of worst actor (along with Breckin Meyer) in a year that included nominations for Adam Sandler in “Mr. Deeds,” Eddie Murphy in “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” and Steven Seagal in a Steven Seagal movie.