It’s been a strong year for Latinos in Hollywood, with a large number of films featuring Latino luminaries throughout the year, including seasoned actors like John Leguizamo (Ice Age: Continental Drift) and notable newcomers like Diego Boneta (Rock of Ages). But even though we have a vast and diverse list of films to choose from, only a select few can make our year-end roundup. Here’s a look at the 11 best films starring Latinos in 2012!
1. Best Film With Latinos: Savages
Oliver Stone’s crime thriller Savages may center on two best friends who grow marijuana in Southern California while having a polyamorous relationship with Blake Lively. But truth be told, it’s Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and Demián Bichir that really steal the show. Each delivers an award-worthy performance: Hayek as a high-powered drug leader wanting a stake in the friends’ business, del Toro as her creeptastic enforcer and Bichir as the cartel’s ill-fated lawyer.
2. Best Film With Latinos: Skyfall
It’s being called one of the best James Bond films in 50-year franchise history; and it’s the most successful, earning $952 million worldwide and climbing. But don’t give all the credit to 007, Daniel Craig. It’s Javier Bardem’s performance as the wicked Raoul Silva – a former MI6-agent-turned-cyberterrorist with a personal vendetta against his former employer – that’s earning the greatest praise from moviegoers and critics alike. After his impressive performance, it looks like the Academy Award winner may have another date with Oscar in early 2013.
3. Best Film With Latinos: Searching for Sugar Man
Searching for Sugar Man
This compelling documentary about Mexican-American singer Rodriguez, called the “greatest ‘70s rock icon who never was,” won the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival; and it’s picked up award after award along the way. It’s easy to see why; the documentary is nothing short of inspiring, as the filmmakers track down the now-70-year-old musician living life in Detroit as a humble construction worker and show him firsthand the incredible fame he unknowingly achieved in South Africa.
4. Best Film With Latinos: Blancanieves
Let’s face it; it’s not really easy to retell the story of Snow White story in new and exciting ways. But that’s exactly what Pablo Berger has done with Blancanieves. The Spanish filmmaker’s reinvention of the famed fable as a black-and-white silent film – with Snow White as a female bullfighter in 1920s Seville – is probably the most original makeover to date. Starring fresh-faced Spanish actress Macarena García, the film is Spain’s official Academy Award entry in the Best Foreign Language Film race for good reason: it proves a picture is worth a thousand words. iOle!
5. Best Film With Latinos: No
Forget Mad Men’s Don Draper; the world’s most powerful ad man is René Saavedra, Gael García Bernal character in Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín award-winning film No. Chile’s Academy Award entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category, the film tells the inspiring based-on-facts story of an in-demand ad executive who comes up with a marketing campaign to defeat Augusto Pinochet in Chile's 1988 referendum.
6. Best Film With Latinos: Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbooks may be garnering praise for stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, but it’s the film’s supporting cast, including the always amazing John Ortiz as Cooper’s good friend and the man who brings the couple together, who elevate the romantic-dramedy to five-star status.
7. Best Film With Latinos: Prometheus
Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller Prometheus, the prequel to the Alien movies, proved to be one of the year’s biggest hit, earning more than $400 worldwide. The film’s success has much to do with Noomi Rapace’s compelling performance as archeologist Elizabeth Shaw, which included a riveting alien “birth” scene. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote that the half-Spanish actress' performance "continues here the tradition of awesome feminine strength begun by Sigourney Weaver in Alien." It’s no wonder Scott’s already hard at work on a sequel!
8. Best Film With Latinos: Zero Dark Thirty
Zero Dark Thirty
Zero Dark Thirty is hailed as "the story of history's greatest manhunt for the world's most dangerous man;" and the action thriller about the American efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden has become the frontrunner to win the Academy Award for Best Picture this awards season. "Telling a nearly three-hour story with an ending everyone knows, [Kathryn] Bigelow and [Mark] Boal have managed to craft one of the most intense and intellectually challenging films of the year,” says critic Katey Rich says of the film, which includes a strong performance by Édgar Ramírez as a CIA SAD ground branch operator.
9. Best Film With Latinos: Magic Mike
Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike may not have received the best reviews, but the male stripper dramedy did become a box office smash while setting millions of hearts aflutter with its all-hot cast of exotic male dancers, including Channing Tatum and CSI: Miami alum Adam Rodriguez (in what he admits is the best shape of his life). Throw in some sizzling dance sequences by noted choreographer Teresa Espinoza and you’ve got some serious movie magic! Who says you can’t have your beefcake and eat it too? Como se dice “sequel”?!?
10. Best Film With Latinos: Fun Size
If you’re a fan on ‘80s teen movies like Sixteen Candles, then you’ll understand why we’ve selected Fun Size, which features the Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice in her first lead role, as one of our favorite films of the year. This Halloween-themed teen comedy about Justice’s character’s search for her lost brother during the madness of trick-or-treating isn’t packed with laughs and witty banter. And, when you least expect it, it pulls right at your heartstrings, leaving you reaching for a tissue.
11. Best Film With Latinos: Safety Not Guaranteed
Safety Not Guaranteed
Safety Not Guaranteed is out of this world. The critically acclaimed dramedy, which follows three cynical magazine employees on an assignment to interview a man who placed a classified ad in search of a time travel companion, features a strong performance by Aubrey Plaza, who won an ALMA Award for Favorite Movie Actress Comedy/Musical for her work.