By Jack Rico
With the 84th Academy Awards fast approaching, the preeminent film award show will showcase a plentiful roster of Hispanic film talents in a wide array of categories. But what are their chances to win and do they really have a shot at taking home Hollywood’s most prestigious film prize?
Let’s take a look at the Hispanic nominees and analyze their chances of winning.
Demián Bichir for Best Actor
Mexican actor Demián Bichir is not the favorite to win the Best Actor category this year. The winning choice lies with French actor Jean Dujardin, partly due, to his charming performance in “The Artist” and because he has won in almost every award show this year. George Clooney is also high on the list due to his close ties in Hollywood, his star power, and his dramatic acting in this year’s Best Picture nominee – “The Descendants.” But every year, the Oscar committee likes to rile things up and disagree with the masses and pundits (i.e. Roman Polanski’s win in 2002, Martin Scorsese in 2006, and most recently, Sandra Bullock in 2010). This year we could see that again with Bichir. He provided a visceral performance in “A Better Life” that captivated the attention of the Hollywood elite. If you saw all the other nominees’ movies, there is no clear cut winner. Each one has an argument against them conquering gold. The only thing Bichir has going against him is the distribution of the film. Many people have not seen “A Better Life” and it might hurt his chances come Sunday. Nevertheless, how great of a story would this be if Bichir wins over Clooney, Pitt, Oldman and Dujardin? The post buzz would be at an all-time high, ratings would peak and they would have created a new Latino mainstream star. The press would be talking about this for weeks.
Bérénice Bejo for Best Actress
In a year where Meryl Streep, Viola Davis and Glenn Close are in competition, the odd lady out is Argentinian-French actress, Bérénice Bejo, co-star of “The Artist”. Compared to her colleagues’ deep and emotional performances, Bejo’s star doesn’t shine as bright. Regrettably, she doesn’t delve into the type of acting Oscar members look for. Her chances are slim and her performance never reached the heights to overwhelm Oscar voters.
Alberto Iglesias for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias is an accomplished musician and has been nominated for the Oscar twice before in the same category. He is seen as a rising star and his composition in the film, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” is unique and hypnotic, not to mention the movie itself is revered in England. He has a great shot of winning. His greatest challenges will be to prevail against John Williams, who is not only nominated twice, but he is recognized as the greatest musical composer of film of all time (he composed “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones”, “Superman” and “Jurassic Park”, to name a few). Also he must overcome Ludovic Bource in “The Artist.” Unequivocally, the most important aspect of a silent film is its music. Bource’s melodic and catchy strings have to be considered as the favorite over Iglesias.
Chico and Rita (Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal) for Best Animated Feature Film
In a category dominated by computer generated animation, the hand-drawn Spanish film “Chico and Rita” stands strong to beat the favorite – “Rango”. The jazz-filled soundtrack and score, provided mostly by master Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés, is remarkable. The story also evokes a bygone Latino era that touches the heart with its romance. Not be ignored is the Academy’s fight to preserve hand drawn animation and a win for “Chico and Rita” might just be the statement they need to make.
Emmanuel Lubezki, Best Achievement in Cinematography
Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is the lock to triumph in this category for his work in “Tree of Life,” perhaps one of the most talked about films amongst moviegoers in 2011. His win at the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) awards last week, more than guaranteed his Oscar gold. Lubezki, close friends with Cuarón, Del Toro and Iñárritu, created a work of art, a sight to behold with his cinematography in this film. It was perhaps the movie’s calling card apart from its convoluted plot. Also, let’s not forget, “Tree of Life” is a Best Picture nominee. You’ll see Lubezki’s work again in Alfonso Cuaron’s sci-fi feature “Gravity” in November.
Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
There are only two nominees in this category and Brazilian musicians Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown’s song “Real in Rio” is one of them. What are their chances of winning? 50/50 and that’s mathematically a fact. Their competition is Bret McKenzie for The Muppets’ “Man or Muppet” song which is strong in lyrical comedy and weak in vocals and musical production. “Real in Rio” on the other hand is a grand traditional production rooted in Brazilian musicality that makes one just want to dance. In my opinion, there is no reason why Mendes and Brown shouldn’t take home their first Oscar award Sunday.
It is going to be an exciting night as we celebrate the best of the best in movies, in particular, hopeful wins for our Hispanic compatriots. At the end of the day, it is all about talent. Talent will always trump race, color, language and sex.