The 10 Best Latino Movie Performances of 2011!

2011 didn’t offer much in terms of showy Hollywood performances for Latinos, but if you knew where to look, there were some very solid performances in a wide range of genres, with some actors even managing to snag award nominations. From blockbuster comedies to low-budget indies to foreign films to animated movies, here are our most buzzed-about, favorite performances of the year!

13 Fall Movies Starring Latinos!

1. Buzz Performances: Berenice Bejo

Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Charming is the word that comes to mind when you think of the Argenitinean-French actress’ performance in the equally winning black and white homage to silent films. As Peppy, the just-off-the-turnip-truck babe-in-Hollywood who turns into a movie star, Bejo channels all the spunky sweetness of a classic screwball comedy actress—without ever uttering a word. No wonder she’s received best supporting actress nominations from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice awards.

2. Buzz Performances: Demian Bichir

Demian Bichir, A Better Life

Bichir’s SAG award nomination has been one of the season’s most satisfying surprises. And yet, how could Hollywood NOT recognize the Mexican actor for his affecting performance as an undocumented immigrant dad struggling to build a life for his son in gang-infested East LA? Here’s hoping he gets some Oscar love as well.

3. Buzz Performances: Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas, The Skin I Live In

The movie’s plot is absurd, even by Almodovar’s standards: A plastic surgeon mourning his dead wife and daughter kidnaps his daughter’s would-be rapist, tortures him, performs a forced sex-change operation on him and then reshapes his body and face to resemble his dead wife’s—all while holding him prisoner for years. Yet Banderas turns in a calibrated, richly layered performance that is the best thing about the movie—that at 50 he is a definite DILF is a bonus.


4. Buzz Performances: Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

She did this whole thing—jumping, rolling, parrying with a sword—while pregnant. Forget that Oscar: Knowing this is what made us gain a whole new level of respect for the Spanish actress. Her Angelica was sexy and daring and handy with a sword, pretty much the definition of summer popcorn fun.


5. Buzz Performances: Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana, Colombiana

“They killed my parents…in front of me!” With those words, Saldana’s character goes on a deliciously prolonged revenge binge. OK, so Saldana probably couldn’t drop kick a 260-pound dude with her bare hands in real life. How cares? What the movie lacked in believability it makes up for in showcasing Saldana once and for all as a chick who won’t be doing cloying romantic comedies anytime soon.

6. Buzz Performances: Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek, Puss in Boots

Antonio Banderas’ comic timing may be why his Puss in Boots got his own movie, but Hayek’s voice performance as his equal in sass and feline badassness, Kitty Softpaws, is what made us love it. More, please!


7. Buzz Performances: Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen, The Way

Tenderness and sentimentality is often derided in film, but Sheen’s honest portrayal of a father who goes on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from France to Spain in honor of his dead son has just a touch of both, enough to make this a quietly effective film about spiritual and emotional healing.

8. Buzz Performances: Harmony Santana

Harmony Santana, Gun Hill Road

Think playing yourself on screen is easy? Think again. Transgender actress brought all the pain, confusion and exhilaration of finding yourself—and staying true to yourself despite humiliation from others—to bear on a raw performance that scored an Independent Spirit Award. As the teenage girl trapped in a boy’s body, who struggles to establish a relationship with a father (Esai Morales) just returned from prison, Santana is captivating.


9. Buzz Performances: Judy Reyes

Judy Reyes, Gun Hill Road

The film may have been more about the relationship between father and transgender daughter, but as the mother who raised a son as a single mom while her husband was in prison, Reyes was the glue that held this movie together with emotion and strength that cut to the core.

10. Buzz Performances: Sofia Vergara

Sofia Vergara, The Smurfs

As the uber-ambitious bosslady Odile, Vergara brings the famously sexy and ironically unself-conscious brand of humor to a family film. Is there any comedy she can’t make better with her presence?

11. Buzz Performances: Related Links