10 Latino Movies Snubbed by Oscar

From the West Side Story’s dominance at the 34th Annual Academy Awards with 10 Oscars (the most wins for a musical) to Pedro Almodóvar’s trophy for penning the screenplay for Talk to Her (Habla con ella), several Latino films have managed to get a little Oscar love.  But for every All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre) and Amores Perros, there are several critically acclaimed Hispanic films that go unrecognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Here’s a look at the 10 biggest Oscar snubs in recent memory:

1. Snubbed Movies: Miss Bala

Miss Bala [2011]
From talented Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo and inspired by a true story, this sobering tale of a beauty queen who becomes an unwilling participant in Mexico’s violent gang and drug war received widespread critical acclaim right after its release at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Nominated for a Satellite Award for Best Foreign Language Film last year, Miss Bala seemed to have serious momentum when it was named Mexico’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category for this year’s 84th Annual Academy Awards. But when all the finalists were announced, Miss Bala was left all dressed up with no chance at the crown and we were left wondering why the film was totally Miss Understood.

2. Snubbed Movies: The Skin I Live In

The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito) [2011]
It’s a simple fact: Pedro Almodóvar is a genius. The noted Spanish filmmaker even has an Academy Award to prove it! So expectations were high when his latest film The Skin I Live—his first collaboration in 21 years with Antonio Banderas—was released at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The film centers on a brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, who creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any type of damage. His test subject: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession. And, the critics were transfixed! The film picked up a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and won the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language. But when the film didn’t make the cut in any of Academy Award categories, we were left crawling out of our skin!

3. Snubbed Movies: Volver

Volver [2006]
Following its screening at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver received a standing ovation and later landed its star Penelope Cruz the festival’s Best Actress trophy. The film, which revolves around an eccentric family of women in Spain, centers on a mother who comes back from the dead to fix the situations she couldn't resolve during her life. The Spanish-language film landed on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2006. But in the end, the film barely mustered a single Oscar nod, a Best Actress nod for Cruz. Something that left us volviéndonos locos!  

4. Snubbed Movies: The Maid

The Maid (La Nana) [2009]
The Maid
, a Chilean comedy-drama written and directed by Sebastián Silva, was an instant hit at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The film, which centers on a maid trying to hold on to her position after having served a family for 23 years, even picked up the Grand Jury Prize in the  World Cinema Dramatic category. And, the film’s star Catalina Saavedra received critical acclaim and some serious Oscar buzz for her award-winning performance as the lead character. But despite picking up a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, The Maid wouldn’t get its Cinderella moment at the Academy Awards. Where’s that Oscars Fairy Godmother when you need her?

5. Snubbed Movies: El Mariachi

El Mariachi [1992]
It’s hard to believe a Spanish-language film, about a traveling mariachi who must hide from a gang bent on killing him when he’s mistaken for a murderous criminal, shot for about $7,000 could go on to win receive such critical praise. But that’s exactly what happened when writer/director Robert Rodriguez released El Mariachi in 1992. The film, which was originally intended for the Spanish-language low-budget home-video market, took home the Audience Award at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, as well as landed Rodriguez a Best First Feature Award at the Independent Spirit Awards. But the action film got no Oscar love! But it did get a great consolation prize. Last year, El Mariachi was selected for preservation in the Library of CongressNational Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

6. Snubbed Movies: Like Water For Chocolate

Like Water For Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate) [1992]

Based on the popular novel by first-time novelist Laura Esquivel, Like Water For Chocolate is  a film set in Mexico during the era of the Mexican Revolution. It’s a romantic tale of forbidden love that centers on a young woman who discovers her cooking has magical effects. Not only did Like Water For Chocolate became the highest grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the United States at the time, it picked up Best Foreign Film nods from the gente responsible for the Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards. But when it came time for the Academy Awards, the film was left crying in the cocina

7. Snubbed Movies: The Orphanage

The Orphanage (El orfanato) [2007]

In the mystery thriller The Orphanage—the debut feature from filmmaker J.A. Bayona—a woman brings her family back to her childhood home, where she decides to open an orphanage for disabled children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend. The Spanish-language film starring Belén Rueda opened to rave reviews at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. And, it received critical acclaim from audiences in its native Spain, winning seven Goya Awards. Following The Orphanage’s North American release, English speaking critics praised the film, describing it as well directed and acted with a much-appreciated lack of "cheap scares." The film even picked up a Critics Choice Awards nod for Best Foreign Language Film. In the end though, the film didn’t scare up a single Oscar nod!

8. Snubbed Movies: Real Women Have Curves

Real Women Have Curves [2002]
Before America Ferrera rose to fame on Ugly Betty, she embraced her curvas in Real Women Have Curves. It’s a coming-of-age film about a Mexican-American teenager living in an East Los Angeles barrio. While attending Beverly Hills High School, where she’s an accomplished student, she works in sweatshop-like conditions at her sister’s dress factory alongside her disapproving mother. Directed by Patricia Cardosa, the film debuted at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, where it nabbed the Audience Award. The screenplay won the coveted Humanitas Prize and the National Board of Review bestowed a special recognition on Real Women Have Curves for excellence in filmmaking. So even though the independent film didn’t garner a single Oscar nod, it at least brought the previously-unknown Ferrera to the public's attention.

9. Snubbed Movies: Under the Same Moon

Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna) [2007]
This Mexican-American drama centers on a young Mexican boy's journey across the U.S./Mexico border in his quest to be reunited with his mother. Under the Same Moon stars newcomer Adrian Alonso as a Mexican boy  living with his grandmother while his mom (Kate del Castillo) works illegally as a maid in the U.S., hoping someday to send for her child. But when his grandmother dies unexpectedly, the boy decides to sneak across the border and seek out his mother. The heartwarming debut feature film from director Patricia Riggen premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation. And, it even picked up the ALMA Award for Outstanding Spanish Language Motion Picture. But the film failed to snag any Oscar nominations.

10. Snubbed Movies: La Bamba

La Bamba (1987)
Long before Ray and Walk the Line shined a spotlight on the trials and tribulations of some of the nation’s iconic artists, La Bamba helped Americans learn the true story of Ritchie Valens, a young rock & roll singer who tragically died in a plane crash at the age of 17. The film follows Ritchie’s rise to stardom. "This is a good small movie, sweet and sentimental, about a kid who never really got a chance to show his stuff,” said Roger Ebert of the film that made Lou Diamond Phillips and Esai Morales stars. “The best things in it are the most unexpected things: the portraits of everyday life, of a loving mother, of a brother who loves and resents him, of a kid growing up and tasting fame and leaving everyone standing around at his funeral shocked that his life ended just as it seemed to be beginning. The film received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Drama and; the La Bamba soundtrack even reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. But despite its popularity, the film failed to nab an Oscar nod. 

11. Snubbed Movies: Related Links