Under the Circuit: Gael Garcia Bernal


Most Known For: “Amores Perros,” ”Y Tu Mama Tambien,” “Babel”

Snubbed For: “Amores Perros,” “The Motorcycle Diaries”

The release of “Rosewater” this Friday has many excited as it marks the feature-directing debut of “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart. However, this causes many to overlook the potential performance from Gael Garcia Bernal. The Mexican actor has been working in film and TV since he was a child, but he has remained just under the surface of stardom unlike other international stars like Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Marion Cotillard. Unlike those stars, Bernal is still searching for his first Oscar nomination (let alone a wine)

amoresperrosBernal made his feature film debut along with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu in the Oscar-nominated film “Amores Perros.” Bernal played one of the three key characters whose storylines overlap and was nearly as big a takeaway as Inarritu. Bernal would bring home some significant hardware for his work too, including Best Actor at the Ariel Awards, the Mexican version of the Academy Awards, and the Chicago International Film Festival.

He’d follow that up with another fantastic performance in Alfonso Cuaron’s “Y Tu Mama Tambien” a year later. The coming-of-age story saw Bernal shine alongside co-stars Diego Luna and Maribel Verdu. The trio had great chemistry, and the Chicago Film Critics nominated Bernal and Luna as the most promising performers of the year.

Bernal would have another flirtation with Oscar in 2004 with “The Motorcycle Diaries.” As a young Che Guevara, Bernal was a key part in the film’s success, along with Jose Rivera’s Oscar-nominated screenplay and the music, which would also earn the Best Original Song Oscar. Bernal would wind up earning a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor, but that would be his only major recognition.motorcycle_diaries_gael_garcia_bernal-other

Bernal has almost exclusively been a figure on the indie circuit, as his two biggest films to date are likely “Babel” and the Will Ferrell comedy “Casa de mi Padre,” and neither could exactly be called major hits. Perhaps this is why he has failed to really make a run for awards despite giving a handful of noteworthy performances. This, however, is where “Rosewater” could come into play.

“Rosewater” is one of the rare times that Bernal will be doing a performance in English, so there isn’t going to be that language barrier. Also, there is heightened awareness for this indie because of Stewart’s involvement. Advanced word on Bernal’s performance as journalist Maziar Bahari has been strong, so even though it seems unlikely that he can crack an overcrowded Best Actor field, his profile is likely to rise after the film’s run.

So, barring a major surprise, Bernal will likely add another potential snub to his list, but there is a strong chance that his stock will rise either way at the end of this year. Can he join the pantheon of international stars that include Bardem, Cruz and Cotillard? An Oscar nomination is probably needed to do so, but we know he at least has the talent.

“Rosewater” opens in limited theaters Friday, Nov. 14.