Monday, February 23, 2009

Spanish Film Stars

Last night Penelope Cruz was the first Spanish actress to win an Oscar, although she was nominated in 2007 for best actress in Pedro Almodóvar’s film, Volver. Almodóvar, an Oscar winning director, is also from Spain. Cruz won best supporting actress for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Her co-star in this film, Javier Bardem, was the first actor from Spain to win an Oscar (last year).

The 81st Academy Awards reflect a recent move in Hollywood toward recognizing international films and collobarating with filmmakers globally. This is because many of the best movies in the world now come from outside Hollywood. It is also a matter of survival. Prior to its more global focus, Oscar honors were becoming increasingly irrelevant, seen as Hollywood talking to itself while the world’s best filmmakers and performers focused on other awards, leaving the Academy Awards behind.

Spanish Comments at the Oscars

In keeping with its new international theme, one of Penelope’s Oscar presenters and this year’s best actress both hail from Europe. Awards went to German, French, Japanese and Indian film projects. The show’s host was Australian. We heard many languages and accents at the 81st Oscars. Penelope Cruz gave part of her acceptance speech in Spanish after saying, "this is a moment of unity for the world because art, in any form, will always be our universal language".

She added "Todos los que desde España ahora estén compartiendo este momento conmigo y sientan que esto también es de ellos, se los dedico. Y a todos los actores de mi país. Muchisimas gracias.” Penelope's remarks translate to “All the people of Spain now share this moment with me and feel that this is theirs also, so I dedicate it to them. To all of the actors of my country, thanks a lot.”

Cruz stated earlier, “I cannot talk about great female characters without thanking my friend Pedro Almodóvar for having made me part of so many of his adventures. Almodóvar praised Cruz afterwards, by noting her history of "jumping head first and without a parachute, and taking on very risky roles. I cried with joy when I heard her name after the classic line, and the Oscar goes to…”

New Latin American Films

This year Cruz stars in the Almodóvar film Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces), opening next month. It is a tale of dangerous love.

Penelope also has a role in Manolete, a biography of bullfighter Manuel Laureano Rodríguez Sánchez. She plays the famous bullfighter’s lover. Manolete is also set to open next month.

Che is in theatres now – an epic film about the Argentine doctor, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who helped Castro launch his Cuban revolution. “Che” is played by Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro, who won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in Traffic (speaking Spanish). His new film is 4.5 hours long and can be seen as two films, The Argentine and The Guerilla. For a primer, watch The Motorcycle Diaries.

There are hundreds of Spanish language films to enjoy, and they can help people learn Spanish. One of the best is Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside), a film about what makes life worth living, starring Javier Bardem. For dozens of excellent movie options from Latin America, visit Vistawide's Spanish Language Film Index.


  1. Very informative, thank you Steve. I am looking forward to learning the Language with you and taking a road trip ( hopefully soon ) and seing you today.!!!!! Yipeeeeee

  2. very good news, your blog is informative and good.Penelope Cruz was the first Spanish actress to win an Oscar, i saw at your blog.