Which Latin American movies and filmmakers are up for an Oscar?

Guillermo del Toro has received a nomination for Best Motion Picture, Disney’s new animation ‘Encanto’ is nominated for its score and song, while the short film ‘Beast,’ which looks at the dictatorship in Chile, is also in the running for an Academy Award

(l-r) Guillermo del Toro on the set of ‘Nightmare Alley,’ a still from the Disney movie ‘Encanto’ and an image from the animated short film ‘Bestia.”

Guillermo del Toro is once again close to winning the most-sought-after prize in the cinema industry. The Mexican director was first nominated for an Academy Award thanks to Pan’s Labyrinth, in the Best Writing, Original Screenplay category. Later, 11 years on, he returned to the Oscars with nods in the most highly valued categories: Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Achievement in Directing, for The Shape of Water. He won both prizes, in what marked the highlight of his career so far. At the 2022 Academy Awards, which will be held on March 27, Del Toro will return with a nomination for Best Motion Picture of the Year. Nightmare Alley is one of the 10 chosen movies for the category.

As with his previous films, Del Toro has once again opted to explore a parallel world, where mystery and fantasy reign. Based on a 1946 novel by American author William Lindsay Gresham, the film tells the story of a carny from a traveling carnival, who can apparently manipulate people’s minds. Actor Bradley Cooper plays the character, whose destiny becomes entangled when he meets a mysterious psychiatrist, played by Cate Blanchett. The move will be competing against the other favorites of the year, including The Power of the Dog, which yesterday received 12 nominations.

As expected at Tuesday’s announcements, the music from the Disney film Encanto got the recognition that it has already received from its fans. The movie was nominated for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score), and its Spanish-language single Dos Oruguitas was nominated for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song). The music from Encanto has been a phenomenon, having made it to the Billboard list in just 10 weeks (the chart measures both sales and streaming listens). It’s one of the most-listened-to records right now, and its song We Don’t Talk About Bruno has been at the top of the same chart for two weeks, beating out stiff competition such as Adele’s new track, Easy on Me.

Disney had only seen similar success in the past with a single thanks to 1992′s Aladdin, when A Whole New World topped the chart for a week. While dozens of musicians and singers feature on the Encanto soundtrack, it was composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the American actor, playwright and film director of Puerto Rican origin who created the Broadway musical Hamilton. What’s more, Encanto is one of the five nominations for Best Animated Feature Film, and will be competing, among others, against Raya and the Last Dragon, which was co-directed by Mexican-American filmmaker Carlos López Estrada.

A still from ‘Encanto.’
A still from ‘Encanto.’DISNEY

Disappointingly, no Latin American movies have been selected for the Best International Figure category. Among those pre-selected were Prayers for the Stolen, from Mexican director Tatiana Huezo, and Plaza Catedral, from Panamanian filmmaker Abner Benaim, but neither of those titles made the final cut. The final nominations were Flee, from Denmark, The Hand of God, from Italy, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom from Bhutan, and The Worst Person in the World, from Norway. Drive My Car, a movie from Japan, made it into the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay nominations.

That said, Chile once again secured a nomination. Last year, Chilean director Maite Alberdi was nominated for Best Documentary Feature for her movie The Mole Agent. This year, Hugo Covarrubias from Chile has been nominated in the Best Animated Short category for a 15-minute stop-motion animation called Beast. It’s a short film about Ingrid Olderock, who was a secret police agent during the Chilean military dictatorship. Of German descent and a follower of Nazi ideals, she tortured citizens during that period, training her dog for those purposes. Beast has no dialogue and all that we see is the protagonist go from her house to the detention center where the torture took place. Despite being a stop-motion film, it manages to successfully capture the irrational and cruel thoughts that pass through Olderock’s head.

Meanwhile, Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s Spencer picked up a Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role nomination for its star Kristen Stewart, who plays Diana, Princess of Wales. In the Best Supporting Actress category, Ariana DeBose, who is of Puerto Rican origin, picked up a nomination for her role in Steven Spielberg’s musical West Side Story. Along with Lin Manuel Miranda for his work in Encanto and Tick, Tick…Boom!, they are the two main representatives of the Puerto Rican diaspora at the 2022 Oscars.

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