Looking back on the past decade of the Academy Awards, there is one regional cinema that clearly stands out for its unprecedented success. With Mexican filmmakers claiming an incredible five Best Director trophies and a slew of other nominations for Best Foreign Language Film (now known as Best International Feature Film), Latin American cinema is definitely on a hot streak. Indeed, this year’s Latin American Oscar submissions have a high standard to live up to, following back-to-back wins for Chile (Sebastián Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman”) and Mexico (Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma”). As the possibility of a historic three-peat looms, here’s a look at this year’s Oscar contenders from Latin America.
A record 94 countries entered in this year’s Oscar race for Best International Feature and the contending films will welcome any help to stand out from the crowd. Among the Latin American entries, that extra boost could come from the presence of popular actors within their ensembles. One such example is Brazil’s “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão” which sees former Oscar nominee Fernanda Montenegro playing the titular character in her elder years. Having won the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes and distribution support from Amazon Studios, this 1950s-set drama from Karim Aïnouz is one to watch.
Pundits should also keep an eye on Alejandro Landes’ “Monos” from Colombia, which has gathered a legion of fans along the festival circuit since its award-winning Sundance premiere. This visually striking drama has been likened to “Lord of the Flies” and “Apocalypse Now” and features Julianne Nicholson as a hostage caught in the middle of guerilla warfare in the Andes mountains. Meanwhile, cinephiles will likely recognize the stars of Cuba’s “A Translator” and Argentina’s “Heroic Losers.” The former sees Rodrigo Santoro playing a translator for Chernobyl victims being treated in Cuba, while the latter features the esteemed father-son pair of Ricardo Darin and Chino Darin. Virtually considered acting royalty in Argentina, they have played roles in many of the South American nation’s Oscar submissions, including Juan José Campanella’s “Son of the Bride” and “The Secret in their Eyes,” as well as Damián Szifrón’s “Wild Tales.”
Other Latin American submissions may not boast familiar faces in front of the camera, but a few of their directors have been in contention before. Chile’s Andrés Wood is certainly no stranger to the Oscar race, making this third appearance with “Spider,” which recently screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. Likewise, the Dominican Republic’s José María Cabral will also be hoping third time’s the charm with his latest effort “The Projectionist.” Similarly making a return to the Oscar race are Rodrigo Bellott and Federico Veiroj. Bellot’s LGBT-themed drama “I Miss You” will represent Bolivia, while Uruguay has submitted Veiroj’s historical comedy “The Moneychanger.”
Elsewhere in the Americas, other countries are taking chances on debut directors. They include Costa Rica with Antonella Sudasassi’s “The Awakening of the Ants,” Mexico with Lila Avilés‘ “The Chambermaid” and Peru with Alvaro Delgado Aparicio’s “Retablo.” And finally, Ecuador, Honduras, Panama and Venezuela will also be in the mix with “The Longest Night“, “Blood, Passion and Coffee“, “Everybody Changes” and “Being Impossible,” respectively.
Contender to watch: “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmão”