“We were both watching television, hugging each other, and reminding ourselves that it is a privilege to work on projects like these.” This is how Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz received the news that they had been nominated for the Oscar for best leading actor and actress for their roles in ‘Being the Ricardos’ and ‘Madres paralleles’, respectively. The most international couple of Spanish actors has made history by becoming the fourth, the first non-Anglo-Saxon, to receive nominations in this category. The joy in the case of ‘Parallel Mothers’ has been doubly so, as Pedro Almodóvar’s latest feature film is also up for the statuette for best soundtrack for the work of San Sebastian composer Alberto Iglesias. The list of nominees that actors Leslie Jordan and Tracee Ellis Ross revealed left one last surprise: the candidacy of Alberto Mielgo from Madrid for best animated short film for ‘The Windshield Wiper’.
The film chosen by the Spanish Film Academy to represent our country at the 94th edition of the Hollywood Oscars, in the category of best international film, had a worse fate. ‘The Good Patron’, by Fernando León de Aranoa, also starring Javier Bardem, was left out and will not make it to the ceremony that will take place on March 27. That is why the feelings of Bardem, who offered an improvised press conference in the afternoon, were bittersweet. “I am very happy for some things and very sad for others,” he noted. «I’m sorry that ‘The good boss’ is not there. I had high hopes that it could reach that final quintet because viewers reacted to the film in the United States and England the same as in Spain, but it is an honor to be among the best fifteen,” he added.
The performer, who plays the Cuban actor and musician Desi Arnaz in ‘Being the Ricardos’, produced by Prime Video and now available on the platform, has been especially happy about his wife’s nomination. “The fact that both nominations happen at the same time seems magical to me and that his is for a role in Spanish, for the second time, seems extraordinary and historic to me,” he elaborated.
Overwhelmed, Bardem has dared to describe what the sensations are when hearing your name in a nomination: «When the moment comes you can’t help but make your heart pound. In my case, since my last name starts with ‘b’, I know that they will say it soon so I don’t suffer much. I looked stupid when they said it, but I didn’t react until I heard his name. “We hugged each other very tightly and we are amazed, amazed, and moved.”
He will compete for the statuette for best leading actor with Benedict Cumberbatch for ‘The Power of a Dog’, Andrew Garfield for ‘Tick, Tick, Boom’, Will Smith for ‘The Williams Method’ and Denzel Washington for ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’. He does not believe, however, that he will win the Oscar, but “being nominated is already a gift.”
Cruz, who already won the Volpi Cup in Venice for best actress for the role of Janis, the photographer who has just become pregnant in ‘Parallel Mothers’, will face off with Jessica Chastain for ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’, Olivia Colman for ‘The Dark Daughter’, Nicole Kidman for ‘Being the Ricardos’ and Kristen Stewart for ‘Spencer’.
Both Cruz and Bardem have their fourth Oscar nomination. In the case of the Madrid actor, he won the statuette for best supporting actor in 2008 for ‘No Country for Old Men’, by the Cohen brothers, while Cruz won the Oscar for best supporting actress in 2009 for ‘Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona’, by Woody Allen.
In any case, the awards already have a clear favorite: ‘The Power of the Dog’, by Jane Campion. This film produced by the all-powerful Netflix, an essay about psychological abuse, is the one with the most nominations, with a total of twelve nominations, followed by ‘Dune’, the film directed by Denis Villeneuve, which has brought together ten. ‘West Side Story’, by Steven Spielberg, and ‘Belfast’, by Kenneth Branagh, follow with seven each. The four will compete with ‘CODA’, ‘Don’t look up’, ‘Drive my Car’, ‘The Williams Method’, ‘Licorice Pizza’ and ‘The Alley of Lost Souls’ in the bulky category of best film.
«We are actors and we interpret the lives of people we are not»
Javier Bardem (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1962) has achieved his fourth Oscar nomination for playing the Cuban actor and musician Desi Arnaz in ‘Being the Ricardos’, the latest film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. Produced by Amazon and now available on its Prime Video platform, the film delves into the crisis experienced by Lucille Ball and Desi, protagonists of ‘I Love Lucy’, the most popular sitcom at the time.
But Bardem’s election has not been without controversy. Some voices complained that the production had not opted for actors of Cuban origin. “Of course I support the representation of any minority,” Bardem explained this afternoon. Not in vain, the actor had been behind the character for six years, but in the first castings they chose to test actors with Cuban blood. “It didn’t happen and they came back to me, and in the end I had a month and a half to prepare it,” he said. “So I tried to give everything to honor that figure.”
«That said, we are actors and that is what we do: interpret the lives of people we are not. And that goes beyond nationalities and sexual orientations. That has to do with the art of interpretation and that is something that cannot be pointed out as if it were a negative action. Art cannot be judged other than by the beauty of the act of creating and when we begin to set limits, creation remains in a very poor place. If the director decides that this actor or actress is the one he wants, we must say it out loud, because if not, we must ask everyone for their license and if they want to play Hamlet, then if you are not from Denmark, nothing,” he commented. “This nomination will help recognize that the actor does not have to be from the place of the character he represents.”