And the Oscar Goes To...15 Latino Oscar Contenders!

It’s shaping up to be a really competitive awards season with films like Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln and Life of Pi already garnering serious Oscar buzz in the acting categories, as well as those behind-the-scenes.

And since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences opened voting for Academy Award nominations to its members last week, we’ve decided to shine a spotlight on this award season’s 15 Latino Oscar hopefuls. Without further ado, here are the Latinos who have a shot at getting a golden guy next year!

1. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem, Skyfall

Javier Bardem is proving to be the ultimate baddie. He’s already won an Academy Award for playing the menacing assassin in No Country for Old Men. Now he’s earning rave reviews and award recognition, including a recent SAG Award nod, for his riveting role as the sinister Raoul Silva in the latest Bond movie Skyfall. And, it looks like another Best Supporting Actor nomination is within his grasp. 

2. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Paco Delgado

Paco Delgado, Les Misérables

He’s earned Goya (Spain) & Ariel (Mexico) award recognition for his awe-inspiring attire in films like The Skin I Live In, The Last Circus and Biutiful, but Paco Delgado is all but guaranteed his first Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design for his impressive work on Les Misérables. If for no other reason, the Spanish costume designer deserves a nod for making Anne Hathaway look downright drab!

3. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Gina Rodriguez

Gina Rodriguez, Filly Brown

Gina Rodriguez wowed audiences at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with her performance in the indie film Filly Brown, which tells the story of a Los Angeles teenager’s rise to fame and consciousness as she copes with the incarceration of her mother through her poetry and music. The Puerto Rican actress even picked up an Imagen Award for Best Actress in a feature film for becoming the Latina Lauryn Hill in the movie. And, now it’s time for the Academy to take notice!

4. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Gael Garcia Bernal

Gael Garcia Bernal, No

Starring as René Saavedra, the brilliant ad man who helped topple the Pinochet regime in Chile, Gael Garcia Bernal shines brighter than the sun in director Pablo Larrain's fact-based drama. The Mexican actor’s solid performance as the man who comes up with a NO campaign to defeat the military dictator has already earned him Best Actor honors at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Could an Academy Award nomination be next? In this case, we say !

5. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Jenni Rivera

Jenni Rivera, Filly Brown

The late Jenni Rivera could be this award season’s Heath Ledger, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar posthumously for his role in The Dark Knight. La Diva de la Banda’s made her film debut in this year’s Sundance Film Festival darling Filly Brown, portraying the incarcerated and drug-addicted mother of an aspiring L.A. rapper. Her co-star, Edward James Olmos, calls her performance Oscar-worthy. "Jenni was just an amazing force. From the very beginning I've said that she could garner an Academy Award for her work in Filly Brown,” said Olmos. “She had a tough life, but she also had an extraordinary gift. She touched millions of people and she'll be missed."

6. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz, To Rome with Love

In reteaming with noted filmmaker Woody Allen – the man who directed her in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and helped her earn an Academy Award for Best Supporting ActressPenelope Cruz could be going for the gold (statue) once again. In To Rome with Love, she plays a likeable “lady for hire.” And if you’ll recall, Julia Roberts earned an Oscar nom for playing a somewhat similar character in Pretty Woman. So it looks like Cruz has the perfect mix to be in the mix in this year’s Best Supporting Actress race. 

7. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Claudio Miranda

Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi

Life of Pi was widely regarded as an “unfilmmable” novel since it follows a boy’s journey across the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a tiger. But director Ang Lee hired Chilean cinematographer Claudio Miranda to help bring the elaborate script to life. “I believe I was hired because Ang liked Tron and [The Curious Case of] Benjamin Button,” says Miranda. “It’s a combination of those two films that he wanted to instill Life of Pi with: the 3D of Tron and digital not-looking-so-electronic on Benjamin Button.” The end result: a visually stunning film that should earn Miranda an Oscar nod.

8. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Juan A. Bayona

Juan A. Bayona, The Impossible

Sure, The Impossible is garnering Oscar buzz for the film’s star, Naomi Watts. But Juan A. Bayona deserves a Best Director nod for his captivating behind-the-lens work on the disaster drama, which tells the true story of a family's experience during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The Spanish filmmaker’s stunning reenactment of the tsunami's powerful assault would be enough to earn a nomination, but then he follows it up by tugging on our heartstrings as a mother endeavors reunite with her family. Bayona makes it impossible not to be moved!

9. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Noomi Rapace

Noomi Rapace, Prometheus

It’s hard to match that chest-busting scene in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi film Alien. Yeah, that one! But in Scott’s prequel to the cult classic, Prometheus, Noomi Rapace does that and more. The half-Spanish actress’ character must rip a baby alien out of her belly with help of a high-tech, robotic surgery machine. It’s a climactic scene that Rapace will never forget. “I was in complete psychological meltdown when we were doing those scenes,” said Rapace. “I felt feverish and I was dreaming these really crazy, dark twisted dreams. It affected me a lot. I was really not well.” To that we say, “Give the girl a Best Actress nod!”

10. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Adam Rodriguez

Adam Rodriguez, Magic Mike

If Matthew McConaughey can get Best Supporting Actor buzz for his role in this summer’s steamy male stripper film Magic Mike, why can’t Adam Rodriguez? The half-Puerto Rican/half-Cuban American hottie doesn’t just look hella fine after getting in the best shape of his life in just six weeks. But he’s got much better moves than McConaughey and knows how to make it rain. So even though it’s a long shot, we can (and we will) dream!

11. Latino Oscar Hopeful: 'Blancanieves,' Pablo Berger

Blancanieves, Pablo Berger

It may be considered the Snow White of Spain, but Pablo Berger’s oh-so-striking film Blancanieves could end up being the Cinderella story at next year’s Academy Awards. The black-and-white silent Spanish drama, an homage to 1920s European silent films, is based on the Grimm Brothers fairy tale, but is set in a romantic vision of 1920s Andalusia, Spain. And, unless the the Evil Queen casts some wicked spell, it should earn a Best Foreign Language Film nomination.

12. Latino Oscar Hopeful: 'No,' Pablo Larrain

No, Pablo Larrain

In this politically charged year, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain’s No should not be overlooked. The film, Chile’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Film race, tells the story of a brash young Chilean advertising executive – played by Gael Garcia Bernal – who spearheads a campaign that helps topple Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet’s regime. Based on a true story, the film has won rave reviews at film festivals throughout the world, and it picked up the Art Cinema Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

13. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek, Savages

It’s been 10 years since Salma Hayek earned an Academy Award nomination for her brilliant portrayal of Frida Kahlo in biopic about the famed Mexican Painter. And the Mexican actress could receive another Best Actress nod for her role as the imperious drug cartel leader Elena in Oliver Stone’s Savages, a role that allowed her to be a terrifying dictator and caring madre. “For your children, you are willing and capable of doing anything," she says. "You can justify it. I don’t know about some other mothers, but Mexican mothers will do anything for their children."

14. Latino Oscar Hopeful: 'After Lucia,' Michel Franco

After Lucia, Michel Franco

Spain and Chile aren’t the only Latin American countries with a shot at Oscar glory. Michel Franco’s After Lucia is Mexico’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Film race, and the film is a worthy competitor. After Lucia is a shockingly frank study of bullying in Mexican schools through the experience of Alejandra, a teenager trying to deal with the death of her mother. “It was always going to become more than a family story,” says Franco. “If I'd set out to make a film about bullying and violence, it wouldn’t have become what it is now… It gives the audience perspective.”

15. Latino Oscar Hopeful: Macarena García

Macarena García, Blancanieves

It may seem like a case of déjà vu: a fresh-faced Latina starring in a black-and-white silent film. But Macarena García’s performance as Snow White, of sorts, in Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves may have her following in the footsteps of Bérénice Bejo, who earned a Best Supporting Actress nod last season for her scene-stealing role in The Artist. But this time around, the Spanish actress could earn a Best Actress nomination. She’s already picked up a "Silver Shell" Award in that category at the 2012 San Sebastián International Film Festival.