Oscar glory eludes Mexico, Iñárritu
It happens, of course, but why so long and so often for some? Iñárritu has now received three nominations for Best Foreign Language Film or Best Picture; first in 2001 for 'Amores Perros,' 'Babel in 2007 and this year for 'Biutiful.' All of this while the director has, by all accounts, been the one to contribute most toward raising his country's profile to Oscar echelons.
Mexico has been one of the Hispanic countries at the forefront of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' list, really coming into its own on an international level within the last 10 years. Mexican film hadn't been recognized nearly as much on an international scale, and the 80s into the 90s were a relatively unnoticed time for Mexican moviemaking.
In 2001, with the nomination of 'Amores Perros,' Iñárritu brought Mexico's national cinematic appeal out of a kind of lethargy. In 2003, Carlos Carrera made headway with a nomination for 'El Crimen del Padre Amaro,' and in 2007, Guillermo Del Toro's film 'Pan's Labyrinth' was not only a contender but won three Oscars.
To round out Mexico's Oscar nominations, we travel back to the 1960s and films such as 'Macario' (1961), 'Animas Trujano' (1962) and 'Tlayucan' (1963). In the '70s and '80s, director Miguel Littin competed twice for Best Film in a Foreign Language for 'Actas de Marusia' (1975) and 'Alsino y el Condor' (1982).
All have been worthy, and more than one critic or other has been left to wonder why Mexico has yet to earn the coveted 'golden guy.' Did 'Biutiful' not have the directorial chops to stand alongside the Danish 'In a Better World'? And did Iñárritu not prove himself yet again a worthy director alongside Susanne Bier?
Who could forget the seven nominations Iñárritu's 'Babel' earned in 2007? How is it possible that of those seven, none was a Best Picture or Best Director win? It looks as though "El Negro," as his friends call him, has a love-hate relationship, not unlike Scorsese, with Oscar. Just when you think he's going to pull off a win, the universe closes in -- on someone else. Is it bad luck? Is he just not a favorite? Few question his talent or his delivery.
Iñárritu didn't take the Oscar, again, for 'Biutiful,' but he did earn great satisfaction in dreaming up one of his best films yet. It was tailored for Best Actor nominee Javier Bardem, who brought the terminally ill Uxbal, a father working to see past a tainted reality and the fate of cancer, to wrenching highs and lows from beginning to end. Bardem was so moved that he needed a self-imposed exile from the film and the character after production. We hope Iñárritu won't do the same. His work is not only timeless, it's necessary.
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