Spain has officially submitted Pedro Almodóvar‘s latest film Julieta as their submission for the foreign-language film category for the 89th Academy Awards. The decision, decided by the Spanish Film Academy, was settled following last month’s three film shortlist that included Iciar Bollain’s The Olive Tree and Paula Ortiz’s The Bride. While Almodóvar is an internationally respected filmmaker and this decision was not wholly unexpected, it also wasn’t a complete given considering Spain has in the past dismissed selected works of his in the past, including a film considered by many to among his very best.
Julieta, which played at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and has thus far earned warm (if muted) reviews, opened in Spain in this April and will open stateside in December courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. Based on a series of short stories by Alice Munro, the film centers around a woman (Emma Suárez) who discovers that her long lost daughter has turned up in Madrid; this forces Julieta to reflect and ponder the defining moments of her life; Ariana Ugarte plays the title character as a youth.
Almodóvar films have been selected by Spain for the Oscar on five previous occasions – Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, High Heels, The Flower of My Secret, All About My Mother and Volver. Both Woman and All About My Mother earned nominations in the foreign-language film category, with Mother taking home the prize; Volver (his last entry) was not nominated though its star Penélope Cruz earned a Best Actress mention. Rather strangely, Talk to Her – considered by many to among the Spanish filmmaker’s strongest – was not submitted by Spain. Almodóvar did earn two Oscar nominations for that film however for direction and screenplay, winning the latter.
The last time Spain won the foreign-language Oscar was for Alejandro Amenabar’s The Sea Inside (2004), which starred Javier Bardem. Julieta will open in the U.S. on December 21st.