In a surprise move destined to boost Italian films at the box office, Italy's national critics union (SNCCI) has announced its full list of nominees for the country's second biggest awards - the Nastri D'Argento - two months earlier than in previous years.

The Nastri D'Argento (literally, Silver Ribbons) awards ceremony will, as usual, take place during the Taormina Film Festival, and will be handed out this year on June 19.

But the SNCCI said it had decided to anticipate the announcement of nominations from May to the end of February so as "to give directors and producers an extra possibility to re-release nominated titles in cinemas."

Given that Italy's box office season still only really extends until early May, "titles that were only released on a few screens or did badly will have an extra chance," SNCCI said. The critics union added that debut features in particular have suffered at the box office and are likely to receive a welcome commercial boost from their "early" nominations.

In a wide-reaching list of nominees, Marco Bellocchio's Buongiorno, Notte, Paolo Virzi's sleeper hit Caterina Goes To The City and Marco Tullio Giordana's The Best Of Youth earned an impressive eight nominations each.

Hot on their heels with seven nods in the main categories is Ermanno Olmi's Singing Behind The Sails, while Daniele Cipri and Franco Maresco's comedy The Return Of Cagliostro and, unexpectedly, singer-songwriter Franco Battiato's debut Perduto Amor, each earned five nominations.

Also in the running with three nominations is Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers. While the picture is considered a foreign production, the Italian director's erotic saga received nods for Italian nationals in three categories: best director, best cinematography and best editor.

Other films with multiple nods include three debut features: Battiato's Perduto Amor, Salvatore Mereu's Three-Step Dance (both also nominated in the best screenplay category) and Luca D'Ascanio's Bell'Amico, which all earned three nominations.

Meanwhile, The Best of Youth's entire cast has been nominated for a collective award in the best actor and best actress categories, including Adriana Asti and Maya Sansa who were also both nominated for their roles in other films.

Nastri D'Argento Nominations:

Best director:
Marco Bellocchio, Buongiorno, Notte
Bernardo Bertolucci, The Dreamers
Daniele Ciprì and Franco Maresco, The Return Of Cagliostro
Marco Tullio Giordana, The Best Of Youth
Ermanno Olmi, Singing Behind The Screens
Paolo Virzì, Caterina Goes to the City

Best New Director
Franco Battiato, Perduto Amor
Luca D'Ascanio, Bell'Amico
Eleonora Giorgi, Uomini E Donne, Amori E Bugie
Alessandro Haber, Scacco Pazzo
Salvatore Mereu , Three-Step Dance
Piero Sanna, La Destinazione

Gianluca Arcopinto and Andrea Occhipinti, Three-Step Dance
Angelo Barbagallo, The Best Of Youth
Roberto Cicutto -Luigi Musini, Singing Behind The Screens
Domenico Procacci: Segreti Di Stato, Ora O Mai Più,
Liberi and B.B. E: Il Cormorano
Marco Risi and Maurizio Tedesco: Bell'amico

Franco Battiato and Manlio Sgalambro, Perduto Amor
Marco Bellocchio, Buongiorno, Notte
Salvatore Mereu, Three-Step Dance
Sandro Petraglia e Stefano Rulli, The Best Of Youth
Paolo Virzì and Francesco Bruni, Caterina Goes To Town

Best Actress
Cast of Best of Youth (Adriana Asti, Sonia Bergamasco, Maya Sansa, Jasmine Trinca)
Adriana Asti and Franca Valeri, Tosca E Le Altre Due
Valeria Golino, Prendimi E Portami Via
Violante Placido Ora O Mai Più
Maya Sansa, Buongiorno, Notte

Best Actor
Cast of Best Of Youth (Alessio Boni, Fabrizio Gifuni, Luigi Lo Cascio, Aldo Tidona)
Sergio Castellitto, Caterina Goes To Town
Ennio Fantastichini, Alla Fine Della Notte
Roberto Herlitzka, Buongiorno, Notte
Sergio Rubini, Mio Cognato

Best supporting actress
Anna Maria Barbera, Il Paradiso All'Improvviso
Margherita Buy, Caterina Goes To Town
Donatella Finocchiaro, Perduto Amor
Sabrina Impacciatore, Al Cuore Si Comanda
Stefania Rocca, La Vita Come Viene

Best supporting actor
Claudio Amendola, Caterina Goes To Town
Luigi Maria Burruano, Liberi
Arnoldo Foa, Gente di Roma
Michele Placido,Il posto dell'anima
Bud Spencer, Singing Behind The Screens

Salvatore Bonafede, The Return of Cagliostro
Paolo Fresu, L'Isola
Ivan Iusco, Mio Cognato
Andrea and Ennio Morricone, Al Cuore Si Comanda
Carlo Virzi, Caterina Goes To Town

Arnaldo Catinari, Caterina Goes To Town, My Name Is Tanino
Fabio Cianchetti ,The Dreamers
Daniele Ciprì, The Return Of Cagliostro
Pasquale Mari, Buongiorno, Notte
Fabio Olmi, Singing Behind The Screens

Best sound
Gaetano Carito, Buongiorno, Notte
Fulgenzio Ceccon, The Best Of Youth
Marco Fiumara, Ora O Mai Più
Tullio Morganti, Mio Cognato
Bruno Pupparo, Il Posto Dell'Anima - Liberi

Set Design
Marco Dentici, Buongiorno, Notte
Osvaldo Desideri, Gli Indesiderabili
Francesco Frigeri, Perduto Amor
Renato Lori, Scacco Pazzo
Luigi Marchione, Singing Behind The Screens

Francesca Calvelli, Buongiorno, Notte
Fabio Nunziata, The Return Of Cagliostro
Roberto Missiroli, The Best Of Youth
Jacopo Quadri, The Dreamers
Cecilia Zanuso, Caterina Goes To Town

Best Foreign Director
Denis Arcand, The Barbarian Invasions
Wolfgang Becker, Good Bye, Lenin!
Sofia Coppola, Lost In Translation
Fernando Meirelles, City Of God
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill - Vol. I
Lars Von Trier, Dogville