Lamberto Maggiorani did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Antonio Ricci in Bicycle Thieves.
Although Lamberto Maggiorani is plays the man Antonio who is looking for bicycle the true star of the film is director Vittorio De Sica. It is a film that creates almost a breathable atmosphere through the images and sounds that De Sica brings to the screen. Among those images is Lambert Maggiorani's performance and to a certain degree he is simply one of those images. What seems to be the most important facet of Maggiorani throughout the film is his face which tends to be photographed like a portrait to accentuate every emotion he has. De Sica uses him as part of the tapestry that is this film.
Antonio is a simple character. He is a simple man who just wants his good job to feed his family and then just wants his bicycle back simply to keep that job. There is not a great complexity here, but nor should there be. He is suppose to be just an average man. Maggiorani's performance never challenges this notion which he plays as to the point as possible. There is not any hidden shadows in him he just is a man who wants to do best for his wife and son. Maggiorani portrays this in a very earnest fashion. There is not any doubt that is what the man wants through that honest expression Maggiorani has.
Maggiorani actually tends to keep basically the same expression with the part depending what he is doing whether it is the happy passion found at the beginning or that desperate need shown when he is looking for it later. It is a consistent expression that fits the nature of the film as that face is part of the whole portrait that De Sica paints. At times he is the focus but other times the background seems almost as important as he is.. This is not anything against Maggiorani as keeping the expressions the same works as well as are fitting of the simple man that Antonio is suppose to be.
There is perhaps a little more to Antonio in terms of his relationship with his son Bruno. There is not all that much though as it mostly is a relationship of trading quiet glances. It does absolutely work though with Maggiorani definitely showing that he cares about his son and very much loves him. Maggiorani though at the same time when Antonio gets a little fed up with his son he makes the believable to as just a simple reaction from Antionio's increasing desperation. Even when he yells at his son though Maggiorani keeps it simple but effective as just the guy emotional reaction from Antonio.
This is not an especially complex performance as a great deal of time he does maintain the same expression. This performance is one that works very well though within the film scenes and events. By staying just the simple man with his simple but emotional reactions he does allow the film to achieve the power it has. Maggiorani's portrayal is part of the film as a whole, it is not a performance that exactly stands out all on its own. It is a performance though that very much works within the framework of the film. Maggiorani never goes off his own but he succeeds in going along to be part of the beauty contained in this film.