Nominations for the Goya Awards are back: the moment when Spanish cinema (that is, academics with the right to vote) celebrates itself. 2021 has been the year of the reunion with the halls, but not yet with the viewers. If the dissonance is a profound paradigm shift or a temporary bump, time will tell, but quality does not seem to be the problem: academics have a choice in one of the best vintages in memory.
One of the causes is that we are not talking about a year: many of the released films belong to 2020 and some were even interrupted during their filming at the beginning of the pandemic. Accumulation ensures nominations look, the reverse is that it obscures everything that does not appear in the finalists photo: With vintages like this, the formula of five films (which tend to multinomination) does not work to reflect diversity.
The Monday 29, at 11.00 am (live on RTVE.es) The Film Academy will reveal the candidates for a gala that travels to Valencia on February 12. We review the highest ranked films among the best of the year.
Parallel mothers, from Pedro Almodovar, is, without question, the most recognized Spanish film of the year. She opened the Venice Film Festival, from which Penelope Cruz was awarded and the specialized US media placed her in the top 10 in some Oscar categories (screenplay and, especially, best actress and soundtrack). Almodóvar’s history with the Academy is full of glory (three directing awards) and some pain (relived this year when Parallel mothers was not selected for the Oscars) but the presence of the filmmaker and his actresses (Penélope Cruz, Milena Smit and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) in the nominations is certain.
The good boss, from Fernando Leon de Aranoa, was chosen by the academics to compete for the Oscar, which places her at the moment in the role of favorite, breaking the barrier of comedies in film recognition. It also promises to sweep the nominations – male in this case – for interpretation: Javier Bardem, Manolo Solo or Celso Bugallo.
Maixabel, from Iciar Bollain, is the third fixed in the awards of the year after sneaking into the Forqué and the Feroz. Despite not being part of the shortlist for the Oscars, Bollain is a tradition of the awards (five times nominated) and his solid drama about the victims and the dissidence of ETA is of exciting interpretations: Blanca Portillo, Luis Tosar or Urko Olazabal .
Mediterranean, from Marcel Barrena, was, by surprise, the third film shortlisted for the Oscars. What Adú Last year, he combined social cinema with commercial cinema to show the humanitarian tragedy of immigration in Lesbos through the true story of activist Óscar Camps (Eduard Fernández).
Love instead, from Rodrigo Cortes, is the last guest at the party and that may be her Achilles heel. Shot in English with European actors, the director of Buried signs a classic drama about love and art set in the Warsaw ghetto, but the big question is whether enough academics have gotten to see her in time.
Liberty, from Clara Roquet, the only Spanish film screened at Cannes, follows in the wake of Girls O Summer 1993: first person cinema of the feminine singular that constitutes the most important current of Spanish cinema of the last decade. But it also shows a genuine originality to address issues such as family oppression or immigration.
The rara reviews
Who prevents it, from Jonah Trueba, is the freest and purest exercise of Spanish cinema in 2021, but, in addition to the accumulation of rivals, its classification as a documentary harms it, from which it is difficult to jump to other categories. Hybrid work of fiction and document about adolescence, its entire cast was awarded in San Sebastián.
Six ordinary days from Neus Ballús, also uses reality, in this case of plumbers, to reflect on integration and masculinity and compose a particular feel-good movie of the everyday. Non-professional actors Mohamed Mellali and Valero Escolar were awarded at Locarno and, contrary to what happens with Trueba’s film, they are eligible for Goya awards.
Holy spirit, from Chema Garcia Ibarra, is the hidden diamond of the year. Revealed at the Locarno Festival, where it received a mention, everything fits inside: from the murky to the comic and from the fantastic to the hyper-customary. It remains to be seen if it can come up with more than just a better novel direction.
Three, from Juanjo Gimenez, overcomes its powerful cinematic premise (a woman who perceives sound a few seconds late) to achieve an atomospheric trip. Participant in a parallel section of Venice, in addition to editing and sound, part with options for its protagonist, Marta Nieto.
The belly of the sea, from Agustí Villaronga, is a poetic recreation of the tragedy of the French Navy Alliance frigate in the 19th century (via Alessandro Baricco’s story) that recovers much of the first and most experimental Villaronga. The director’s tape of Black bread it reflects well the confusion of the times: practically unnoticed in its premiere, it could be ignored in the Goya despite sweeping the Malaga Festival as it is not remembered. (Biznaga, direction, actor, photography and script).
The daughter, from Manuel Martin Cuenca, It is one of the most precise and forceful directing jobs of the year and yet the film appears misplaced for the nominations. Javier Gutiérrez, as best actor, and Irene Virgüez, as best new actress, are his best assets.
A The grandmother, from Paco Plaza, you can apply much of what was written for Lto daughter: His directing work is, quite simply, virtuous. That it is a horror movie would not have to penalize if it is taken Veronica (nominated for best film in 2018) as a reference, but yes, perhaps, that it is pure genre. Almudena Amor is a favorite for a revelation actress and on the soundtrack (Fatima Al Qadiri) the nomination should be mandatory.
The laws of the border, from Daniel MonzonIt was one of the big bets of the year, but it has suffered more than any other at the box office. His enjoyable proposal to recall the quinqui cinema with the gaze of American cinema of the 80s has not been understood either and, except for the probable candidacy of Chechu Salgado as a revelation actor, the rest of the nominations will come from his successful recreation of Girona in 1978.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.