Though she rose to fame thanks largely to her looks, Italian superstar Sophia Loren more than proved her acting chops with a series of international hits and an Oscar win for Best Actress. But how many of her titles remain classics? In honor of her birthday, let’s take a look back at 15 of her greatest films, ranked worst to best.
Born in 1934 in Rome, Loren began appearing in films both in her native Italy and in Hollywood, popping up in several titles that played more to her incredible beauty than her acting chops. That all changed with “Two Women” (1961), a stirring drama from Italian neorealist Vittoria De Sica that cast her as a mother protecting her daughter from the horrors of World War II. The role brought her international acclaim and Oscar, BAFTA and Cannes Film Festival victories as Best Actress, making her the first performer in a foreign language film to win at the Academy. She earned additional Oscar and Golden Globe bids for De Sica’s “Marriage Italian Style” (1964), which cast her opposite frequent leading man Marcello Mastroianni.
Though her cinematic output grew sparser after she started a family with producer and husband Carlo Ponti, Loren did pop up in films from time to time, earning a Golden Globe bid for her supporting performance in Robert Altman‘s “Ready to Wear” (“Pret-a-Porter”) in 1994 and a SAG Ensemble nomination for Rob Marshall‘s “Nine” (2009). She won a Grammy in 2004 for the spoken word children’s album for “Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf,” plus an Honorary Oscar in 1991. She earned an additional Golden Globe bid for her leading performance in “It Started in Naples” (1960).
Tour our photo gallery of Loren’s greatest films, including some of the titles listed above, as well as “El Cid” (1961), “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” (1963), “A Special Day” (1977) and more.
– Original text and gallery published in September 2019.