The Spanish Film Academy’s decision to submit Fernando León de Aranoa’s latest work, El Buen Patrón, for the 94th Oscars in the Best International Film category came as a complete surprise. Javier Bardem’s more than excellent performance played a part in it.
Accompanied by notary Federico Garayalde Niño and the president of the Spanish Film Academy, Mariano Barroso, actors Irene Escolar and Ricardo Gómez read out the decision, which unexpectedly left out not only Almodóvar’s film but also the one that had previously been shortlisted as a surprise: Mediterráneo, by Marcel Barrena.
The decision was at odds with the prediction that the two-time winner and six-time nominee Pedro Almodóvar would be chosen. Especially considering the attention his last work, Madres Paralelas, already received at the Venice Film Festival. Here the film won the Volpi Cup for the leading lady, an imperial Penélope Cruz. And also received all the honours at the opening of the Venice Film Festival. The international critics were full of praise.
However, the role of Bardem and the prestige of this most international Spanish actor may be more than enough for El Buen Patrón to dream of the red carpet at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on 27 March.
El Buen Patrón, which premieres on 15 October, is a comedy about the ups and downs of a businessman. He is capable of the most outrageous things and yet remains sympathetic. At the height of Aranoa’s directorial career, the film moves masterfully between the most obvious tragedy, the most ripping social criticism and simple, hilarious humour. Bardem delivers a miraculous performance and manages to show an animalistic ferocity with silk gloves.
Now the only question is, will Spain witness the embarrassing spectacle that happened with the film Habla Con Ella? While the Spanish Academia put Almodóvar’s film aside, the American Academy chose it as the best screenplay of the year.
Read more: Three Spanish films shortlisted for the Oscars 2022