Foreign film watch: Spain snubs Almodóvar again

Posted by · 6:14 pm · September 15th, 2009

Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar on the set of Broken EmbracesKeeping up our watch on the Best Foreign Language Film race, one of the category’s regular players, Spain, has come one step closer to making its official submission — having revealed the final three films in contention for the spot.

Some will be surprised that Pedro Almodóvar’s “Broken Embraces” — the year’s most globally-discussed Spanish production by a long shot — isn’t on the list. They shouldn’t be. Contrary to what some may expect, Almodóvar and the Spanish Academy selectors have an on-and-off relationship.

Five of the auteur’s films have previously been submitted for the award — though only two (“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” and “All About My Mother”) were ultimately nominated. The latter, of course, won the 1999 race. But Almodóvar has been prominently sidelined before — as in 2002, when the selectors unwisely decided against submitting “Talk to Her,” the film that eventually won the director a screenplay Oscar in spite of the snub. (D’oh!)

The Spanish selection committee tends to groove only to the director’s warmer, gentler works, so a coolly designed genre work like ” Broken Embraces” — not among the director’s best, in any case — was always going to face an uphill climb in the category. Foreign-language nod aside, some may still rate its chances in the Best Actress or Best Original Screenplay races, but both are on the chilly side for Oscar voters. Rodrigo Prieto’s crisp cinematography may yet represent its best shot at Academy recognition, but we’re still talking outside-shot status here.

Anyway, the three shortlisted Spanish titles are: “Gordos” from Daniel Sanchez-Arevalo, “The Dancer and the Thief” from Fernando Trueba (a previous winner in the category for 1993’s “Belle Epoque”) and Isabel Coixet’s “Map of the Sounds of Tokyo,” looking to regain its fortunes after a critical drubbing in Cannes.We’ll fill you in more when a decision is made.

Finally, a few more official submissions to add to the list: “Involuntary” from Sweden, “Doomed Love” from Portugal, “Autumn of the Magician” from Armenia and “Waterhole” from Lithuania. As always, any local knowledge you can provide on these titles –and the race in general — is much valued and appreciated.

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23 responses so far

  • 1 9-15-2009 at 7:43 pm

    red_wine said...

    Broken Embraces as it is got better reviews abroad than at home. But if Spain really wants to get a nomination, Almodóvar should be their go to guy. Isabel Coixet’s film seems to have an interesting premise. Maybe they’ll go for that since it was a Cannes Selection title.

  • 2 9-15-2009 at 9:14 pm

    red_wine said...

    And on foreign language films, Lone Scherfig, the Danish film-maker of An Education has proclaimed that The White Ribbon is probably the best film she has ever seen. Hyperbole, but I’m still soo looking forward to it.

  • 3 9-15-2009 at 10:33 pm

    Marvin said...

    Mother effers, but indeed I am not surprised. Almodóvar being my favorite director working today, it does piss me off a little.

  • 4 9-16-2009 at 12:37 am

    Alex said...

    Sorry if I’m repeating the info, but did you mention Romania’s submission: “Police, adjective” by Corneliu Porumboiu (the dude who also did the Indie Spirit nominee 12.08 east of bucharest).
    I’m a Romanian, living in Greece right now. but I’ve seen the news about the film. It won some stuff at Cannes this year. To me it looks quite the boring drama, but who knows. 4 months 3 weeks and 2 days and the death of mr lazarescu looked better. who knows.

    here’s it’s imdb link:

  • 5 9-16-2009 at 12:38 am

    jackal said...

    in spain nobody like Almodovar. but i have to say that he will be in oscar in another chart.
    broken embraces is the best film of the year in spain.

  • 6 9-16-2009 at 12:43 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Red Wine: But the reviews out of Cannes for the Coixet film were dire. Not that Cannes reactions can’t sometimes be slightly skewed. Trailer looked dismal, though … and totally not the Academy’s bag.

  • 7 9-16-2009 at 12:49 am

    Glenn said...

    Well the Academy did snub “Volver” so I doubt “Broken Embraces” could have made it.

  • 8 9-16-2009 at 12:49 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Alex: We have mentioned it already, but thank you. Reactions out of Cannes for “Police, Adjective” were pretty spectacular … a couple of critics said it was the film of the festival.

    Glenn: My thoughts exactly.

  • 9 9-16-2009 at 3:15 am

    Ann said...

    De Ofrivilliga/Involuntary : the Swedish entry, just a little quick info from Wiki. Haven´t seen it, but according to swedish media today, it´s thought to be a little too jheavy to have a shot. It´s supposed to be great, though, a friend who´s seen it told me.

  • 10 9-16-2009 at 4:09 am

    crazycris said...

    There are MANY other excellent Spanish directors out there… as much as I enjoy some of Almodovar’s movies, I’m happy when someone else gets chosen because it’s a chance to let the rest of the world know that Almodovar isn’t the only ace up our sleeve!

  • 11 9-16-2009 at 5:36 am

    Adriano said...

    Spaniards don’t like Almodovar?? That’s not true, Volver was loved by everyone here, for example.
    The Spanish Cinema Academy has taken a good decision in my opinion. SPAIN is not wanting a sure nomination, this is just a cinema party, the Oscars is also a good chance for other spanish directors able to try with other good movies. Everybody knows about Almodovar’s talent, he can’t be always on the foreign nomination list to be recognised. As he can get other important nominations, I think he shouldn’t be nominated in the foreign list anymore, even if I am an Almodovar fan.
    I agree with crazycris

  • 12 9-16-2009 at 9:19 am

    ZiZo Abul Hawa said...

    In Spain they hate their own international stars, no matter in what, Movies (People really HATE Penelope, Bardem, Almodovar…), Sports (They REALLY hate Alonso, Gasol, Nadal), or anything that becomes international. They suck.

    Now, its stupid that they pre-selected Map of the Sounds of Tokyo because its mostly in English…

  • 13 9-16-2009 at 12:47 pm

    Adriano said...

    This last comment is:
    a) wrong
    b) unrespectful.

    Gasol and Nadal are the most spoiled boys in Spain, so beloved they are. Anyway, we can’t generalize.

    About Map of the sounds of Tokyo: many movies shot in english get nominations in the Goya Awards, just because they were made with spanish financing.

  • 14 9-16-2009 at 1:04 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Yes, but that would make it ineligible for the foreign-language Oscar, which is the point Zizo was making.

  • 15 9-16-2009 at 1:06 pm

    ZiZo Abul Hawa said...


    I’m sorry if you thought it was unrespectful, because I didn’t mean it to be, but it’s definitely not wrong, and the prove is that you only quoted Gasol and Nadal (which they are equally beloved and hated), but you are right, we can’t generalize, but you can also think about Enrique Iglesias for another spanish superstar (though he doesn’t have half the talent of others mentioned above) or how Spain ignores almost every year, spanish cinema and you can read the ministry of culture’s letters all year around about how bad is Spanish cinema doing in Box Office in Spain.

    Now, about Map of the Sounds of Tokyo, it is eligible for the Goya Awards (Just as The Secret life of Words won the Goya for Best Picture), but it’s not Oscar Eligible, just like what happened with Israel in 2007 when they sent The Band’s Visit and it was disqualified because it had 40% of English dialogues… And they send Beafourt instead…

  • 16 9-16-2009 at 1:42 pm

    Adriano said...

    Yes, actually I agree with that about “Map of the…”, I was thinking about it now, this oscar is talking about “foreign language”. The comparison I made was wrong, see Almodovar winning Best Screenplay for Talk To Her.
    Zizo, I just didn’t like this “they suck”, but now I know you were not meaning it. :)
    Yes, spanish movies are not succesful in Box Office, almost every spanish movie tries to be an intelectual challenge, and people just want to have fun, with the action or glam of foreign movies. And cinema tickets are expensive… here they cost 6 to 7 € (more than 8’5 $). That’s important too.

  • 17 9-16-2009 at 1:50 pm

    ZiZo Abul Hawa said...

    Well, I’m spanish, I shoudl’ve said, we suck xD I’ve been living in Israel for 12 years now… I almost forget.

    Well, Israel has a lower income and tickets also cost around 6.5€, but Israeli movies still do well at B.O….

  • 18 9-26-2009 at 4:16 am

    nanoush said...

    it’s not so good to always send the same person to win Oscars… Spain has now a better chance to put another spanish productions in the USA market and then get a good money in box office if they get the Oscar nomination. Almodóvar’s box office success is guaranteed.

  • 19 8-30-2013 at 8:05 pm

    Spaniard said...

    We dont like spanish movies because We aré not identified with them. American films in contrast has are more loved.
    Pedro Almodovar its a very personalistic director that always aré related with The homosexuality or with women. So maybe you think that pedro shows The reality of spain and its false. Spain is very different. Aré spaniards gays?? No, absolutely not. The number gays aré a minority group but there is a lobby that support to have gay media.
    Spanish series in contrast aré more loved. There aré some with adventure, actions, comedy etc…
    The real problem is that spanish stars wanted to be politicians in free time and that disgusting us. They aré communists by They live with a big salary. Sometimes The politicians thanks to them giving money from The government for The political campaign.
    We want a good films not their personal views of their lives.