Who to Root For at the Oscars: The Latin American Nominees

Latin America shines at tonight’s the Academy Awards. A total of nine nominations are held by Latin American talent from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. Furthermore, many of the nominees have made cinematic history—Alejandro González Iñárritu’s (pictured left) potential to become a two-in-a-row winner, Colombia’s first-ever nomination and the first-ever nominated Latin American animated film.

The Revenant leads the Oscar race this year with a whopping 12 nominations. The Revenant was nominated for Best Picture, Directing, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.

This is not Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu’s first brush with Oscar gold— all of his feature-length films have made it to the Academy Awards in varying categories over the years. He was first nominated in 2001 for Best Foreign Language Film for his debut feature Amores perros. The film explored Mexican society in Mexico City told via three intertwining stories.

Iñárritu continued with the theme of intertwining stories with 21 Grams (2003) which nabbed actors Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro acting nominations and Babel (2006) which received nominations in both the Best Picture and Directing categories. In 2010 Biutiful received a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and for Best Actor. Javier Bardem’s nomination for Best Actor was the first-ever performance entirely in the Spanish-language to be nominated in the category.

Last year Iñárritu’s Birdman (2014) took home the gold statute in the most prestigious categories including, Best Picture, Directing, Original Screenplay and Cinematography. If The Revenant takes home the Oscar this year it will mark Iñárritu’s second Academy Award win in a row— the third time it’s ever happened in Oscar history. The last two filmmakers to achieve this were John Ford in 1939/1940 and Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1949/1950. Also, a second consecutive Oscar win for Iñárritu for Best Director will mean the third consecutive time that a Mexican wins the Academy Award in that category.

Longtime collaborator Mexican DP Emmanuel Lubezki (pictured above right) receives his eighth nomination with The Revenant. If he takes home the gold on Oscar Sunday it will mark his third in-a-row win— he previously won for Birdman and Gravity (2013). This would make him the first in Oscar history to receive the Award for Cinematography in three consecutive years.

Martín Hernández could receive his second win in-a-row for Best Sound Editing, he also won the previous year for Birdman.

Ciro Guerra’s El abrazo de la serpiente / Embrace of the Serpent marks Colombia’s first Academy Award nomination in the Foreign Language category. Embrace of the Serpent centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him. The film was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers (Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes) who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant.

Embrace of the Serpent marks Guerra’s third film. His first two films, La sombra del caminante / Wandering Shadows (2004) and Los viajes del viento / The Wind Journeys (2009) were also selected as Colombia’s submissions for the Academy Awards for their respective years, but were not nominated.

Brazilian animated film O Menino e o Mundo / Boy and the World, written and directed by Alê Abreu, is the first ever Latin American film to be nominated in the category. Cuca, suffering from the absence of his father, leaves his village and discovers a fantastic world dominated by animal-machines and strange beings.

Animated short film by Chilean filmmaker Gabriel Osorio (pictured right with Pato Escala), Historia de un oso / Bear Story, is the story of a bear that wants to escape from the circus and reunite with its family. This marks the young filmmaker’s first film and first nomination.

Also in the world of animation, the California-born Jonas Rivera is nominated for Inside Out alongside Pete Docter in the Best Animated Feature category.

US-Mexican production Cartel Land by Matthew Heineman received a nomination for Best Documentary Feature. The film focuses on the vigilante groups fighting Mexican drug cartels.

We’ll find out which filmmakers will make Oscar history in a few hours. Stay tuned!