The Italian Almanac

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Ennio Morricone

Italian life

Italy picked up two Oscars with legendary film composer Ennio Morricone receiving his first ever statuette in the form of a lifetime achievement award and Milena Canonero winning her third Oscar for costume design.

The 78-year-old maestro, whose signature soundtracks for Sergio Leone's 1960s spaghetti Westerns brought him instant fame, was presented the award by Clint Eastwood, who was placed on the path to stardom by the same Leone movies. An overcome Morricone dedicated the prized statuette to his wife Maria, saying "this Oscar is for you Maria. Thank you for everything. She loves me enormously and I love her". The composer, who has been nominated for an Oscar five times in his long career but without ever winning, was given a standing ovation.

Morricone went on to pay tribute to "all the artists who have deserved this prize but have never received it". "This Oscar is not a point of arrival for me but a starting point for improving my work for the cinema and my personal style in applied music," he said, speaking in Italian with Eastwood translating. "A composer never retires - he dies with the pen in his hand," he added. The maestro has scored more than 500 movies and TV films in a career spanning 45 years.

Meanwhile, Canonero clinched her third Oscar for her costumes in Sophia Coppola's lavish period film Marie Antoniette. Canonero won her first Oscar in 1976 for her costumes in Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon and her second in 1982 for her work on Hugh Hudson's Chariots of Fire, which also bagged the Oscar for best film.