Spanish Movies You Absolutely Must See

Watch Selected Independent and Cult Films

Watch hundreds of rare independent and arthouse films, cult films and hand-picked documentaries from around the world with a single subscription, on any device. No limits, no ads.

Table of Contents

Spanish movies have a rich and fascinating history that extends over a century. From early black-and-white films to modern award-winning productions, Spanish cinema has gone through different periods, each with its own characteristics and masters. In this article, we will travel through the salient periods of Spanish cinema, exploring the genres, directors, and films that have marked its evolution.

The Early Years (1896-1920):

The first film screenings in Spain date back to 1896. In this pioneering period, Spanish cinema was mainly influenced by French and Italian cinema. Early Spanish movies were often documentaries or short comic films.

Subscribe

The Golden Age (1920-1939):

surrealism-spanish-movies

The period between 1920 and 1939 is considered the golden age of Spanish cinema. During this period, Spanish cinema established itself as a true industry, with the birth of several production companies and the emergence of talented directors such as Luis Buñuel, Juan Antonio Bardem, and José Luis Sáenz de Heredia. Films like “Un chien andalou” (1929) by Buñuel and “Las Hurdes” (1933) by Sáenz de Heredia are considered masterpieces of world cinema.

The Post-War Period (1939-1975):

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) marked a deep divide in the history of Spanish cinema. During the Franco regime, cinema was subjected to censorship and propaganda. However, some directors managed to make films of great value, such as “Muerte de un ciclista” (1955) by Bardem and “Viridiana” (1961) by Buñuel.

The Transition (1975-1982):

spanish-movies-almodovar
Pedro Almodovar

With the death of Franco in 1975, Spain began a period of democratic transition. This period of freedom led to a new flourishing of Spanish cinema, with directors such as Pedro Almodóvar, Fernando Trueba, and Víctor Erice who established themselves on the international scene. Films like “Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls on the Heap” (1980) by Almodóvar and “El espíritu de la colmena” (1973) by Erice have become classics of Spanish cinema.

From the Modern Era to the Present Day (1982-today):

From the 1980s to the present day, Spanish cinema has continued to prosper, with the production of successful films in different genres. Directors such as Alejandro Amenábar, Isabel Coixet, and J.A. Bayona have won over audiences and critics alike. Films like “Tesis” (1996) by Amenábar, “La mala educación” (2004) by Almodóvar and “Mar adentro” (2004) by Amenábar have won numerous awards and recognitions.

Spanish cinema is a fascinating journey through the ages, a reflection of Spanish history and culture. With its variety of genres, talented directors, and award-winning films, Spanish cinema has won a prominent place in the world cinema landscape.

cult-movie

The Best Spanish Movies Ever

In this selection, you will find some of the best Spanish films of all time, chosen based on their historical, artistic, and cultural value. The list is not exhaustive, but it represents an ideal starting point for exploring the richness and variety of Spanish cinema.

Un chien andalou (1929)

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Genre: Surrealist, Experimental

Director: Luis Buñuel

Country of origin: France

Cast:

  • Simone Mareuil
  • Pierre Batcheff
  • Salvador Dalí
  • Luis Buñuel

Plot:

Un Chien Andalou is a surrealist film without a linear narrative plot. The sequence of dreamlike and often disturbing scenes is juxtaposed without logical explanations. Some memorable scenes include the opening shot of an eye being sliced by a razor blade, an ant crawling out of a man’s hand, and a couple of lovers tormented by obstacles and frustrations.

Public and critical reception:

The film had a mixed reception upon its release. The audience was shocked and perplexed by the surrealist imagery, while some critics appreciated its innovative and provocative nature. Un Chien Andalou is considered an avant-garde film and a key work of surrealist cinema. Its influence can still be seen in many modern films.

Trivia:

  • The film was made in just 10 days with a very limited budget.
  • The screenplay was written by Buñuel and Dalí in one week, based on their dreams and nightmares.
  • The film was initially banned in Spain for its blasphemous and sexually explicit content.

Land Without Bread (1933)

Land Without Bread (1933)

Genre: Documentary

Director: Luis Buñuel

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Inhabitants of Las Hurdes

Plot:

Land Without Bread is a documentary that depicts the lives of extreme poverty and backwardness of the inhabitants of Las Hurdes, a remote region of Spain. The film shows scenes of daily life, such as the search for food, work in the fields, and rudimentary medical care. Buñuel does not spare crude and realistic images of the misery and suffering of the population.

Reception:

Land Without Bread was a controversial film at the time of its release. In Spain, it was accused of being anti-patriotic and damaging the country’s image. However, the film also received praise for its realistic and uncompromising portrayal of poverty.

Trivia:

  • The film was made on a very limited budget and Buñuel used a minimal crew.
  • Buñuel had to shoot some scenes in secret to avoid censorship by the Spanish government.
  • Land Without Bread was Buñuel’s first film to achieve international success.

La torre de los siete jorobados (1944)

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy

Director: Edgar Neville

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Antonio Casal
  • Isabel de Pomés
  • Guillermo Marín
  • Félix de Pomés
  • Julia Lajos
  • Julia Pachelo
  • Manolita Morán
  • Antonio Riquelme

Plot:

In late 19th century Madrid, young Basilio Beltrán is visited by the ghost of Dr. Mantua. He warns him about a secret sect of seven hunchbacks who live in an underground city beneath Madrid. Basilio, along with Dr. Mantua’s niece, Inés, begins to investigate and finds himself embroiled in a series of mysterious and dangerous events.

Reception:

La torre de los siete jorobados was a box office success in Spain and received positive reviews from critics. The film was praised for its atmospheric setting, its gripping plot, and its memorable characters.

Trivia:

  • The film is based on the novel of the same name by Emilio Carrere.
  • La torre de los siete jorobados is considered a cult film and has had a significant influence on subsequent Spanish cinema.
  • The film was restored and digitized in 2014.

Furrows (1951)

Furrows (1951)

Genre: Drama, Neo-realism

Director: José Antonio Nieves Conde

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Luis Peña
  • María Asquerino
  • Francisco Arenzana
  • Marisa de Leza
  • Félix Dafauce
  • Francisco Bernal

Plot:

Furrows, also known as “Surcos” in its original Spanish title, tells the story of a working-class family who leaves the harsh realities of rural Spain and migrates to Madrid in search of a better life. Upon arrival, their hopes are quickly dashed as they encounter the harsh realities of poverty, discrimination, and exploitation in the city. The film follows their struggles for survival and their fight against the oppressive social forces at work in Francoist Spain’s Madrid during the 1940s.

Reception:

Furrows is considered a pivotal film in the development of Spanish Neorealism. It portrays a bleak yet realistic picture of postwar Spain, challenging the regime’s narrative of national unity and prosperity. This critical portrayal led to controversy. While praised by some for its social commentary and raw portrayal of everyday life, the film was deemed “deeply dangerous” by the Catholic Church and initially censored by the government. However, it was ultimately released after its controversial ending was removed.

Legacy:

Despite the censorship, Furrows left a lasting impact on Spanish cinema. It paved the way for other films that addressed the social and political realities of the Francoist era. The film’s portrayal of working-class struggles and its critique of power structures continues to resonate with audiences today, making it a valuable historical and cinematic document.

Welcome, Mr. Marshall! (1953)

Genre: Comedy

Director: Luis García Berlanga

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Pepe Isbert – Don Pablo, the mayor of Villar del Río
  • Lolita Sevilla – Carmen Vargas, a copla singer
  • Manolo Morán – Manolo, a flamenco impresario and Carmen Vargas’s representative

Plot:

Welcome, Mr. Marshall! is a hilarious satire that tells the story of Villar del Río, a small, poor, and backward Spanish village. The villagers learn that an American delegation led by a certain “Mister Marshall” is visiting Spain to provide economic aid under the Marshall Plan. Assuming that the Americans will prefer a prosperous and modern image of Spain, the people of Villar del Río decide to radically transform their village: they mask the poverty with painted facades, organize festivals and folkloric shows, and even change the name of the main square to “Truman Square.”

Reception:

Welcome, Mr. Marshall! is considered a masterpiece of Spanish comedy and an emblematic film of Berlanga’s cinema. The film combines irony and social criticism, highlighting the hypocrisies and pettiness of Spanish society at the time, eager to receive foreign aid and willing to do anything to hide its misery.

Subscribe

Muerte de un ciclista (1955)

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Director: Juan Antonio Bardem

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Alberto Closas – Juan
  • Lucia Bosé – María José
  • Fernando Fernán Gómez – Rafael
  • María Luisa Ponte – Isabel
  • Carlos Casaravilla – Don Pablo

Plot:

While driving home from an extramarital affair, Juan, a middle-class professor, and María José, a married wealthy woman, accidentally hit and kill a cyclist. Panicked and afraid of being caught, they decide to hide the body and cover up the accident.

Reception:

The film was praised by critics for its realism, its social commentary, and the strong performances of the actors. It was the first Spanish film to be nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and won the FIPRESCI prize of the international critics. Despite its international success, Death of a Cyclist was banned in Spain for several years due to its political and social content.

Calle Mayor (1956)

Genre: Drama, Melodrama

Director: Juan Antonio Bardem

Country of origin: Spain, France

Cast:

  • Betsy Blair – Isabel
  • José Suárez – Juan
  • Yves Massard – Federico
  • Dora Doll – Conchita

Plot:

Calle Mayor, also known as “Main Street” in English, tells the story of Isabel, a young woman living in a small, conservative town in Spain. She is considered the town’s “spinster” and subject to constant gossip and judgment from the community. Juan, a handsome outsider, arrives in town and becomes immediately attracted to Isabel. He decides to play a cruel prank on her, pretending to be interested in marrying her just to see the town’s reaction.

Reception:

Calle Mayor received mixed reviews upon its release. Some critics appreciated its nuanced exploration of social norms and gender roles in conservative Spain. Others criticized its melodramatic elements and the perceived cruelty of Juan’s initial prank. Despite the mixed reception, the film won the FIPRESCI Award at the Venice Film Festival and is considered a significant work from the early career of director Juan Antonio Bardem, who later became a prominent figure in Spanish cinema.

Here are some additional details and trivia about the film:

  • The film is based on the play “La señorita de Trévelez” by Carlos Arniches.
  • The role of Federico, played by Yves Massard, was a homage to Jorge Semprún, a significant figure in the Spanish Communist Party, whose pseudonym at the time was “Federico Sánchez.”
  • Calle Mayor was Betsy Blair’s first film performance outside the United States.

Nazarín (1959)

Genre: Drama, Satirical

Director: Luis Buñuel

Country of origin: Mexico

Cast:

  • Francisco Rabal – Padre Nazario / Nazarín
  • Rita Macedo – Andara
  • Jesús Fernández – Ujo
  • Marga López – Beatriz
  • Rosenda Monteros – Prieta

Plot:

Nazarín is a satirical drama film that follows the story of Padre Nazario, a kind-hearted and idealistic priest. Disillusioned with the hypocrisy and materialism he witnesses within the church, Nazario decides to abandon his robes and embrace a life of poverty and hardship. He wanders through the Mexican desert, offering help and compassion to those in need, regardless of their social status or moral transgressions.

Reception:

Nazarín received critical acclaim for its bold social commentary, surreal imagery, and nuanced performances. While not one of Buñuel’s most commercially successful films, it holds a high reputation and is considered a significant work in his filmography.

Here are some additional details and trivia about the film:

  • The film is based on the novel “Nazario” by Benito Pérez Galdós, a prominent Spanish realist writer.
  • Buñuel’s collaboration with screenwriter Julio Alejandro resulted in a script that challenged religious hypocrisy and social injustices, which led to censorship attempts in Mexico.
  • The film won the International Prize at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival.
  • Nazarín continues to be studied and discussed for its exploration of themes like faith, morality, and societal expectations.

Viridiana (1961)

Genre: Comedy-drama

Director: Luis Buñuel

Country of origin: Spain, Mexico

Cast:

  • Silvia Pinal – Viridiana
  • Francisco Rabal – Don Jaime
  • Fernando Rey – Don José (Lawyer)
  • Margarita Lozano – Ramona (Maid)
  • Victoria Zinny – Lucía (Mistress)

Plot:

Viridiana is the story of a young novice about to take her final vows. The Mother Superior of the convent sends her to visit her uncle Don Jaime, a wealthy widower, to receive his blessing before entering the cloister permanently. Upon arriving at Don Jaime’s house, Viridiana is greeted with affection and finds a luxurious and decadent environment. However, her uncle feels a morbid attraction towards her and tries to rape her. Faced with the girl’s refusal, he pretends to commit suicide.

Reception:

Viridiana is a controversial and provocative film that caused scandal and controversy upon its release. Religious critics accused it of blasphemy and anti-clericalism, while others praised it for its audacity and its fierce social criticism. Despite the controversy, Viridiana is now recognized as a masterpiece of surrealist and auteur cinema. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival, ex aequo with another film.

Trivia:

  • Viridiana is loosely based on the novel “Halma” by Benito Pérez Galdós.
  • The film was banned in Spain by the Franco regime for 16 years due to its content considered “blasphemous” and “immoral”.
  • Viridiana had a significant influence on later cinema, particularly for its use of symbolism and dreams to explore social and psychological themes.

Plácido (1961)

Genre: Black comedy

Director: Luis García Berlanga

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • José Luis López Vázquez – Plácido
  • Cassen – Don Elodio
  • Elvira Quintillá – Doña Asuncion
  • Manuel Alexandre – Don Ibrahim

Plot:

Plácido is a black comedy set in a small, provincial town in Spain under the Franco regime. Wealthy residents of the town have organized a Christmas campaign to “adopt” a poor family for one evening. Plácido, a struggling truck driver, is chosen to be the “adopted” family for the evening.

Reception:

Plácido was a critical and commercial success in Spain. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and entered into the Cannes Film Festival in 1962. While the film’s depiction of Spanish society under Franco did not receive approval from the authorities, it gained international recognition for its humor, social commentary, and portrayal of the human condition.

Trivia:

  • Plácido marked the film debut of renowned Spanish producer Alfredo Matas.
  • The film’s original title was “Tarde de Reyes” (Epiphany Afternoon), but it was changed to “Plácido” to avoid religious censorship.
  • The character of Plácido is considered an iconic figure in Spanish cinema, representing the struggles and frustrations of the working class during the Franco regime.

The Exterminating Angel (1962)

Genre: Drama, Surreal

Director: Luis Buñuel

Country of origin: Mexico

Cast:

  • Silvia Pinal – The Young Woman
  • Enrique Rambal – The Journalist
  • Claudio Brook – The Doctor
  • José Baviera – The Secretary
  • Augusto Benedico – The Butler

Plot:

A group of bourgeois socialites gather for an elegant dinner party in a luxurious Mexico City apartment. At the end of the evening, the guests find themselves unable to leave the room for a mysterious and invisible reason. Trapped without an exit, their bourgeois rituals and hypocrisies begin to emerge. Tensions rise as days pass and food and water supplies dwindle.

Reception:

The Exterminating Angel was a controversial film upon its release, but it received critical acclaim for its masterful direction, intelligent screenplay, and profound philosophical implications. Considered a masterpiece of surrealist cinema, the film was included in the British Film Institute’s list of the 100 best films of the 20th century.

Trivia:

  • The film was inspired by a real event: a dinner party that Buñuel attended and from which the guests were unable to leave due to a fire nearby.
  • The title of the film refers to a work by Juan de Valdés, a 16th-century Spanish mystical poet.
  • The Exterminating Angel was Buñuel’s last film shot in Mexico before his return to Europe.

WATCH THE MOVIE

The Executioner (1963)

Genre: Black comedy, Western

Director: Luis García Berlanga

Country of origin: Spain, Italy

Cast:

  • Nino Manfredi – José Luis (the undertaker)
  • Emma Penella – Carmen (the executioner’s daughter)
  • José Isbert – Amadeo (the executioner)
  • José Luis López Vázquez – Antonio (the assistant executioner)
  • Ángel Álvarez – Álvarez (the prison director)

Plot:

The story revolves around José Luis, a kind-hearted undertaker, who falls in love with Carmen, the daughter of an aging executioner named Amadeo. Amadeo is on the verge of retirement and struggles to find a successor for his role, which is viewed as undesirable and carries a social stigma in Spain.

Reception:

The Executioner received critical acclaim for its dark humor, poignant social commentary, and nuanced performances. It won several awards at film festivals, including the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice Film Festival. While released during the Franco regime in Spain, the film’s subtle critique of authority and its satirical portrayal of social norms resonated with audiences despite potential censorship concerns.

The Strange Journey (1964)

Genre: Black comedy, Mystery

Director: Fernando Fernán Gómez

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Carlos Larrañaga – Fernando
  • Lina Canalejas – Luisa
  • Jesús Franco – Rafael
  • Rafaela Aparicio – Doña Asuncion
  • Tota Alba – Doña Carmen

Plot:

The Strange Journey is a black comedy that tells the story of Fernando, a man who finds himself on a mysterious and surreal journey after meeting an enigmatic woman named Luisa. The film begins with Fernando in a difficult situation. He has lost his job, his relationship is in crisis, and he is struggling to make ends meet. In a bar, he meets Luisa, a fascinating and mysterious woman who offers him an opportunity: a journey to solve all his problems.

Reception:

The Strange Journey was a controversial film upon its release. Its ambiguous nature and cryptic message puzzled critics and audiences. However, the film has been revalued over the years and is now considered a classic of Spanish cinema.

Trivia:

  • The film was inspired by a story by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • The original title of the film was “El crimen de Mazarrón”, but it was changed to avoid censorship.
  • The film was shot in black and white.

Simon of the Desert (1965)

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Director: Luis Buñuel

Country of origin: Mexico

Cast:

  • Claudio Brook – Simón
  • Silvia Pinal – The Devil
  • Hortensia Santovana – Simón’s Mother
  • Enrique Álvarez Félix – Tempter
  • Jesús Fernández – Tempter

Plot:

Simón, a deeply religious man, lives on a pillar in the desert to atone for his sins and get closer to God. Over the course of several years, he faces diabolical temptations, memories of his past, and loneliness, struggling to maintain his faith.

Reception:

Simon of the Desert was a controversial film upon its release, but it has over time acquired critical acclaim and recognition as a masterpiece of surrealist cinema. The film has been praised for its social satire, Buñuel’s direction, and Brook’s performance. It is considered one of the most important films in Mexican cinema and a key work to understanding Buñuel’s style.

WATCH THE MOVIE

Belle de jour (1967)

Year: 1967

Genre: Erotic/Romance

Director: Luis Buñuel

Starring:

  • Catherine Deneuve as Séverine Serizy / Belle de Jour
  • Jean Sorel as Pierre Serizy
  • Michel Piccoli as Henri Husson

Plot:

Belle de jour tells the story of Séverine Serizy, a beautiful young housewife who becomes a prostitute during the day while maintaining a seemingly normal life with her husband at night.

Reception:

Belle de jour was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The film remains controversial in some circles, but it is widely considered a classic of French cinema.

Tristana (1970)

Directed by: Luis Buñuel

Country: Spain

Genre: Drama

Cast:

  • Catherine Deneuve – Tristana
  • Fernando Rey – Don Lope
  • Franco Nero – Horacio (the painter)

Plot:

Tristana becomes an orphan when her mother, who serves as a servant for the wealthy Don Lope, passes away. Left alone, the young woman is entrusted to Don Lope’s care. Despite his initial kindness, Don Lope, a widower with conflicting social and political views, develops a morbid attraction towards Tristana and attempts to control her life.

Reception:

Tristana, an adaptation of Benito Pérez Galdós’ novel of the same name, was initially met with controversy due to its frank portrayal of sexuality and social critique. However, it has since been recognized as a significant film in Spanish cinema, praised for its performances, powerful themes, and Buñuel’s masterful storytelling.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

Director: Luis Buñuel

Country: France, Italy

Genre: Satirical comedy, Surrealism

Cast:

  • Fernando Rey – Don Rafael Acosta
  • Stéphane Audran – Simone Thévenot
  • Paul Frankeur – François Thévenot
  • Delphine Seyrig – Florence
  • Jean-Pierre Cassel – Henri Sénéchal

Plot:

The film follows the adventures of a group of bourgeois people who are continually thwarted in their attempts to have dinner together. A series of bizarre and surreal events, such as the intrusion of guerrillas or the presence of a corpse in the living room, constantly interrupt their plans.

Reception:

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie was a critical and commercial success, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1973. It is considered a masterpiece of surrealist cinema and one of Buñuel’s most significant works.

The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

Genre: Drama

Director: Víctor Erice

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Ana Torrent – Ana
  • Isabel Tellería – Isabel
  • Fernando Fernán Gómez – Fernando
  • Teresa Gimpera – Teresa
  • Ketty de la Cámara – Milagros

Plot:

In rural Spain in 1940, two sisters, Ana and Isabel, move with their family to a small village. One day, they attend a screening of the film Frankenstein (1931). Ana, the younger sister, is disturbed by the film and begins to believe that the monster is real. She meets a mysterious man who lives in the forest and identifies him with the monster of Frankenstein. In an emotional climax, Ana confronts her fears and finds the strength to face reality.

Reception:

The Spirit of the Beehive was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the Sutherland Prize at the British Film Institute. The film was praised for its sensitive direction, evocative atmosphere, and intense performances. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and one of the best films of 1973.

cult-movie

Furtivos (Poachers) (1975)

Genre: Spanish Neo-realist drama

Director: José Luis Borau

Country: Spain

Cast:

  • Lola Gaos – Martina
  • Ovidi Montllor – Ángel
  • Alicia Sánchez – Milagros
  • Ismael Merlo – Curator
  • José Luis Borau – Governor

Plot:

Set in the rural landscapes of Spain, Furtivos tells the story of Ángel, a poacher, and Martina, a young orphan. Their lives become intertwined when Ángel takes Martina under his wing, providing her with shelter and guidance. As they navigate the harsh realities of poverty and the harshness of the natural world, a complex relationship develops between them, marked by both love and conflict. The film explores themes of social injustice, human connection, and the struggle for survival.

Reception:

Furtivos was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won the Golden Shell award at the San Sebastián International Film Festival and was selected as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, though it wasn’t nominated. The film is praised for its realistic portrayal of rural life, its powerful performances, and its exploration of complex social issues. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and a significant example of the Neo-realist movement.

Cría cuervos (1976)

Genre: Psychological drama

Director: Carlos Saura

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Ana Torrent – Ana
  • Geraldine Chaplin – Ana’s Mother/Ana as an adult
  • Conchi Pérez – Irene
  • Maite Sánchez – Maite
  • Mónica Randall – Aunt Paulina
  • Florinda Chico – Rosa
  • Josefina Díaz – Grandmother
  • Héctor Alterio – Anselmo

Plot:

Cría cuervos is a psychological film that tells the story of Ana, an eight-year-old girl living in a bourgeois family during the late years of the Franco regime in Spain. The film is narrated by Ana as an adult, as she recalls her childhood and the influence her mother’s death had on her. Ana is a sensitive and introverted child who feels alienated from her family and peers. She develops a strong bond with her deceased mother, who appears to her as a ghost. The film explores themes of mourning, loss, childhood, and repression in an authoritarian society.

Reception:

Cría cuervos was a critical success upon its release. It won the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film was praised for its masterful direction, complex screenplay, and intense performances, particularly that of Ana Torrent. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and one of the best films of 1976.

That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)

English title: That Obscure Object of Desire

Genre: Comedy-drama

Director: Luis Buñuel

Country of origin: France, Spain

Cast:

  • Fernando Rey – Mathieu
  • Carole Bouquet – Conchita
  • Ángela Molina – Conchita
  • Julien Bertheau – The waiter
  • Pierre Vernier – The diplomat
  • Milena Vukotic – The maid
  • Ellen Bahl – The nurse

Plot:

The film tells the story of Mathieu, a middle-aged French widower, who becomes obsessed with a young Spanish woman named Conchita. Conchita is a beautiful and enigmatic woman who tantalizes Mathieu with her sexual promises, but never allows him to satisfy his desire. The film follows Mathieu as he chases Conchita across Spain and France, becoming increasingly frustrated and obsessed.

Reception:

That Obscure Object of Desire was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film was praised for its Buñuel’s masterful direction, its witty screenplay, and its performances, particularly those of Rey and Bouquet. It is considered a classic of Buñuel’s filmography and one of the best films of 1977.

To Begin Again (1982)

Genre: Drama

Director: José Luis Garci

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Antonio Ferrandis – Antonio Miguel Albajara
  • Encarna Paso – Elena
  • José Bódalo – Roxiu
  • Agustín González – Gervasio Losada
  • Pablo Hoyos – Ernesto
  • Marta Fernández Muro – Carolina

Plot:

After winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981, famous writer Antonio Miguel Albajara returns to his hometown of Gijón. In his hometown, Antonio meets Elena, a woman who helps him rediscover his roots and his love for life. The film explores themes of nostalgia, redemption, and the power of love.

Reception:

Volver a empezar was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Goya Award for Best Film. The film was praised for its sensitive direction, moving screenplay, and strong performances, particularly that of Antonio Ferrandis. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and one of the best films of 1982.

Trivia:

  • The film was inspired by the life of Spanish poet José Hierro.
  • The title of the film means “To Begin Again”.

The Hive (1982)

Genre: Drama

Director: Mario Camus

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • José Sacristán – Martín Marco López
  • Victoria Abril – Julita
  • Francisco Algora – Ramón Maello
  • Rafael Alonso – Julián Suárez
  • Ana Belén – Victorita
  • José Bódalo – Don Roque
  • Mary Carrillo – Doña Asunción
  • Camilo José Cela – Matías

Plot:

The Hive is a drama film set in Madrid in 1942, during the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. The film follows the lives of a group of people who are struggling to survive in the harsh postwar conditions. The film’s title refers to the beehive, which is a symbol of community and cooperation.

Reception:

The Hive was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Goya Award for Best Film. The film was praised for its realistic portrayal of postwar Spain and its strong performances. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and one of the best films of 1982.

Trivia:

  • The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
  • The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2019.

The Holy Innocents (1984)

Genre: Drama

Director: Mario Camus

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Alfredo Landa – Paco, the head of the family
  • Terele Pávez – Régula, Paco’s wife
  • Francisco Rabal – Anibal, the landowner
  • Belén Ballesteros – Nieves, Paco and Régula’s daughter
  • Juan Diego – Quirino, Paco and Régula’s son
  • Manuel Zarzo – Rubio, Anibal’s son

Plot:

Los santos inocentes tells the story of a poor family of sharecroppers named Paco, Régula, and their two children, Nieves and Quirino, living in rural Extremadura, Spain, during the early 1960s under the Franco dictatorship. They work for a wealthy landowner, Anibal, and his son, Rubio, who treat them with cruelty and disdain. The film depicts the harsh realities of poverty, social injustice, and the power dynamics between the wealthy landowners and the impoverished laborers.

Reception:

Los santos inocentes was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won the Special Mention of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984 and the Best Actor Award (shared) for Alfredo Landa and Francisco Rabal. The film was praised for its raw portrayal of social inequality, its powerful performances, and its poignant exploration of human resilience in the face of oppression. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and a powerful social commentary.

What Have I Done to Deserve This!! (1984)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Carmen Maura – Gloria
  • Verónica Forqué – Cristal
  • Chus Lampreave – Herminia
  • Kiti Mánver – Marisa
  • Ángel de Andrés López – Antonio
  • Gonzalo Suárez – Lucas
  • Pedro Almodóvar – Play-back ‘La bien pagá’

Plot:

What Have I Done to Deserve This!! is a comedy-drama film that tells the story of Gloria, a long-suffering housewife who lives in a cramped apartment in Madrid with her husband, Antonio, her mother-in-law, Herminia, her two teenage sons, and her pet lizard. Gloria is overworked and underappreciated, and she finds herself increasingly frustrated with her life. When her husband leaves her for another woman, Gloria is forced to take control of her life and find a way to support herself and her children.

Reception:

What Have I Done to Deserve This!! was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It was nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and won the award for Best Actress for Carmen Maura. The film was praised for its humor, its strong female characters, and its depiction of the challenges of everyday life. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and one of the best films of 1984.

La vaquilla (1985)

Genre: Comedy, War

Director: Luis García Berlanga

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Alfredo Landa – Andrés
  • José Sacristán – José Luis
  • Guillermo Montesinos – Miguel
  • Santiago Ramos – Luciano
  • Carles Velat – Rafael
  • Luis García Berlanga – Lieutenant
  • Agustín González – Don Amalio
  • Fernando Sala – Lieutenant
  • María Luisa Ponte – Pilar

Plot:

La vaquilla is a comedy film set during the Spanish Civil War. The film tells the story of a group of Republican soldiers who, during their retreat, come across a village celebrating a bullfight. The soldiers decide to join the party and steal the cow that will be used for the bullfight. The film is a satirical comedy that criticizes war and its absurdity.

Reception:

La vaquilla was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won the Goya Award for Best Film and the award for Best Original Screenplay. The film was praised for its black humor, masterful direction, and impeccable performances. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and one of the best films of 1985.

Trivia:

  • The film was Luis García Berlanga’s last major success.
  • The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2019.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Carmen Maura – Pepa
  • Antonio Banderas – Carlos
  • Julieta Serrano – Lucía
  • Rossy de Palma – Marisa
  • María Barranco – Candela
  • Kiti Mánver – Paulina Morales
  • Fernando Guillén – Iván
  • Guillermo Montesinos – Taxi Driver

Plot:

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is a comedy-drama film that tells the story of Pepa, a voice actress who is abandoned by her lover, Iván. Pepa is left to deal with the aftermath of their relationship, including a series of eccentric characters who come into her life. The film is a wild and funny look at love, loss, and the strength of women.

Reception:

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film was praised for its humor, its strong female characters, and its stylish direction. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and one of the best films of 1988.

Trivia:

  • The film’s title is a reference to a song by the Spanish singer Imperio Argentina.
  • The film was banned in Spain for several months due to its controversial content.

Lovers (1991)

Genre: Film noir, Thriller

Director: Vicente Aranda

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Victoria Abril – Luisa
  • Jorge Sanz – Paco
  • Maribel Verdú – Soledad

Plot:

Amantes is a Spanish film noir set in Madrid during the mid-1950s under the Franco dictatorship. The film tells the story of Paco, a young man who has just completed his military service and arrives in Madrid seeking work and a new life. He rents a room in a boarding house run by Luisa, a beautiful and mysterious widow. Paco soon becomes attracted to Luisa, but he is unaware that she is involved in a dangerous criminal scheme.

Reception:

Amantes was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won the Goya Award for Best Film and Best Director, and it was nominated for several other awards. The film was praised for its suspenseful storyline, its stylish visuals, and its strong performances. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and one of the best films of 1991.

Trivia:

  • Amantes was the first of Aranda’s films to get an American release.
  • The film was a box office success in the United States, grossing over $1.5 million.
  • The film’s ending is ambiguous and has been interpreted in different ways by viewers.

The Day of the Beast (1995)

Genre: Horror comedy

Director: Álex de la Iglesia

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Álex Angulo – Father Ángel Berriatúa
  • Santiago Segura – José María
  • Armando de Razza – Professor Cavan
  • Terele Pávez – Rosario
  • Nathalie Seseña – Mina
  • Jaime Blanch – Nissan Patrol 1 Assassin

Plot:

The Day of the Beast is a Spanish horror comedy film that tells the story of Father Ángel Berriatúa, a priest who is obsessed with the Apocalypse. Ángel is convinced that the Antichrist will be born in Madrid on December 25, 1995, and he teams up with José María, a heavy metal vacuum cleaner salesman, to find the woman who will give birth to the child. Together, the two embark on a wild and dangerous adventure through the streets of Madrid, encountering a series of bizarre and disturbing characters.

Reception:

The Day of the Beast was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won the Goya Award for Best Director and Best New Actor (Santiago Segura), and was nominated for several other awards. The film was praised for its dark humor, its original direction, and its innovative special effects. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and one of the best films of 1995.

Trivia:

  • The film was inspired by a book by José Luis Garci entitled “El libro de las profecías”.
  • Director Álex de la Iglesia made a cameo appearance in the film as one of the customers in the record store.
  • The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2020.

Thesis (1996)

Genre: Thriller, Horror

Director: Alejandro Amenábar

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Ana Torrent – Ángela Márquez
  • Fele Martínez – Chema
  • Eduardo Noriega – Bosco Herranz
  • Xabier Elorriaga – Jorge Castro
  • Miguel Picazo – Figueroa
  • Nieves Herranz – Sena Márquez
  • Teresa Castanedo – TV Presenter

Plot:

Ángela Márquez, a film student nearing graduation, is writing a thesis on audiovisual violence. Her professor, Professor Castro, offers to help her find research material by providing access to the university’s restricted videotheque. However, the next day, Professor Castro is found dead in a projection room, having seemingly committed suicide.

Reception:

Tesis was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won seven Goya Awards, including Best Film, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director, establishing Amenábar as a rising star in Spanish cinema. The film was praised for its suspenseful plot, its exploration of media violence, and its strong performances. It is considered a classic of Spanish thrillers and has gained a cult following over the years.

Earth (1996)

Genre: Romance, Thriller

Director: Julio Medem

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Carmelo Gómez – Ángel Bengoetxeo
  • Emma Suárez – Ángela
  • Karra Elejalde – Patricio
  • Silke – Mari
  • Nancho Novo – Julio
  • Txema Blasco – Tomás
  • Ane Sánchez – Hija de Ángela
  • Juan José Suárez – Manuel

Plot:

Tierra tells the story of Ángel, a mysterious exterminator who arrives in a small, rural town in Spain. The town’s wine industry is being plagued by grubs in the soil, and Ángel is hired to solve the problem. Ángel’s unconventional methods and unusual personality clash with the town’s conservative residents. However, he soon develops relationships with two women: Ángela, a beautiful and lonely vineyard owner, and Mari, a free-spirited woman who works at the local bar.

Reception:

Tierra was met with mixed reviews upon its release. Some critics praised the film’s unique visuals and its exploration of complex themes, while others found it confusing and pretentious. Nonetheless, the film has gained a cult following over the years and is considered an important work in Spanish cinema.

Trivia:

  • The film’s title, “Tierra,” can be translated to “Earth” in English. It can represent the physical land, the connection to nature, and the hidden secrets buried beneath the surface.
  • The grubs that plague the town’s vineyards serve as a metaphor for the underlying problems and hidden desires within the characters and the community.

The Lucky Star (1997)

Genre: Drama

Director: Ricardo Franco

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Antonio Resines – Rafael
  • Maribel Verdú – Marina
  • Jordi Mollà – Nico
  • Elvira Mínguez – Lola
  • Ramón Barea – Chinarro
  • Clara Sanchís – Isabel
  • Andrea Ramírez – Mariquilla
  • Francisco Marsó – Cliente Carnicería

Plot:

La buena estrella tells the story of Rafael, a lonely butcher who lives a life of isolation due to an accident that left him impotent. His world changes unexpectedly when he encounters Marina, a young woman being beaten by her abusive boyfriend Nico. Rafael intervenes and takes Marina home, offering her refuge and support.

Reception:

La buena estrella was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won five Goya Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Resines), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Original Score. The film was praised for its realistic portrayal of complex characters, its exploration of loneliness and human connection, and its moving and bittersweet story. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema.

Open Your Eyes (1997)

Genre: Thriller, Psychological, Romance

Director: Alejandro Amenábar

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Eduardo Noriega – César
  • Penélope Cruz – Sofía
  • Chete Lera – Pelayo
  • Najwa Nimri – Nuria
  • Fele Martínez – Antonio
  • Gerardo Malla – César’s father
  • Ana Torrent – César’s mother

Plot:

César, a young, charming, and confident man, lives a life of excess and adventure. One night, his car crashes into another car, driven by Nuria, a woman obsessed with him. César is severely injured and disfigured in the accident. While recovering in the hospital, César begins to experience a distorted reality, where memories, dreams, and nightmares blend together. He meets Sofía, a kind and mysterious woman who helps him cope with his new condition and rebuild his life.

Reception:

Open Your Eyes was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It won seven Goya Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best New Actor (Noriega). The film was praised for its suspenseful plot, its exploration of perception and reality, and its intense performances. It is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and inspired the Hollywood remake Vanilla Sky.

Trivia:

  • The film was also a box office success in Italy, where it grossed over 10 billion lire.
  • The film inspired the Hollywood remake Vanilla Sky, directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz.
  • The film was included in the list of the 100 best Spanish films of the 20th century by the newspaper El País.

The Grandfather (1998)

Genre: Drama, Historical

Director: José Luis Garci

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Fernando Fernán Gómez – Don Rodrigo de Arista Potestad, Conde de Albrit, Señor de Jerusa y de Polán
  • Rafael Alonso – Don Álvaro Yañez de Ulloa y Potestad
  • Cayetana Guillén Cuervo – Nelly
  • Agustín González – Don Gonzalo de Ulloa y Potestad
  • Cristina Cruz Mínguez – Dolly
  • Alicia Rozas – Doña Dolores “Dolores la Chica”
  • Fernando Guillén – Don Evaristo

Plot:

El abuelo (The Grandfather) is set in early 20th-century Asturias, Spain. It tells the story of Don Rodrigo de Arista, a proud and traditional aristocrat who returns home from America after years of living abroad. He is old, nearly blind, and financially ruined.

Reception:

El abuelo was a critical and commercial success. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and won several Goya Awards, including Best Actor for Fernando Fernán Gómez’s performance. The film was praised for its captivating story, its exploration of family dynamics and social class, and its powerful performances.

All About My Mother (1999)

Genre: Comedy-drama

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Cecilia Roth – Manuela
  • Marisa Paredes – Huma Rojo
  • Candela Peña – Nina/Rosa
  • Antonia San Juan – Agrado
  • Cayetana Guillén Cuervo – Sister Rosa
  • Toni Cantó – Lola
  • Eloy Arenas – Esteban
  • Penélope Cruz (cameo)

Plot:

Manuela, a single mother in Madrid, is devastated by the accidental death of her 17-year-old son, Esteban. Esteban, an aspiring writer, is struck by a car while chasing after Huma Rojo, a famous actress, to get her autograph. Fueled by grief and a desire to fulfill Esteban’s dream, Manuela decides to travel from Madrid to Barcelona to find his father, a man Esteban never knew. Her journey leads her to a web of unexpected encounters and revelations.

Reception:

All About My Mother was a critical and commercial success, receiving numerous awards internationally. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film. The film was praised for its emotional depth, its quirky characters, and its innovative storytelling. It is considered a modern classic of Spanish cinema.

Subscribe

Butterfly’s Tongue (1999)

Genre: Drama

Director: José Luis Cuerda

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Fernando Fernán Gómez – Don Gregorio
  • Manuel Lozano – Moncho
  • Gonzalo Martín Uriarte – Ramón
  • Uxía Blanco – Rosa
  • Alexis de los Santos – Andrés
  • Elena Fernández – Carmiña
  • Guillermo Toledo – O’Lis
  • Tamar Novas – Roque

Plot:

Butterfly’s Tongue is set in a village in Galicia, Spain, in 1936. The film tells the story of Moncho, an eight-year-old boy who starts going to school. Moncho is terrified by the stories he has heard about teachers who beat their students, but his new teacher, Don Gregorio, is different. Don Gregorio is a kind and patient man who teaches his students about the love of nature and the importance of learning.

Reception:

Butterfly’s Tongue was a critical and commercial success. It won numerous awards, including the Goya Award for Best Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film was praised for its acting, direction, and screenplay.

The Ball (2000)

Genre: Drama, Coming-of-age

Director: Achero Mañas

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Juan José Ballesta – Pablo “El Bola” (The Ball)
  • Javier Bardem – Agustín, Pablo’s father
  • Mónica López – Mari, Pablo’s mother
  • Manuel Morón – Alfonso, Pablo’s grandfather
  • Pablo Galán – Javi, Pablo’s friend
  • Ana Wagener – Laura
  • Ana Torrent – Julia (uncredited)

Plot:

El Bola tells the story of Pablo, a young boy nicknamed “El Bola” (The Ball) due to his constant dribbling of a soccer ball. Pablo lives in a dysfunctional family with a distant mother and an abusive father, Agustín. Agustín is an alcoholic and gambler, creating a tense and hostile environment at home.

Reception:

El Bola was a critical and commercial success, winning numerous awards in Spain and internationally. It was praised for its realistic portrayal of childhood under difficult circumstances, its powerful performances, and its sensitive exploration of complex themes. The film is considered a classic of Spanish cinema and continues to resonate with audiences.

The Others (2001)

Genre: Gothic, Supernatural, Psychological thriller

Director: Alejandro Amenábar

Country of origin: Spain, USA, France, Italy

Cast:

  • Nicole Kidman – Grace Stewart
  • Fionnula Flanagan – Bertha Mills
  • Christopher Eccleston – Charles Stewart (Grace’s deceased husband)
  • Alakina Mann – Anne Stewart, Grace’s daughter
  • James Bentley – Nicholas Stewart, Grace’s son
  • Eric Sykes – Mr. Tuttle

Plot:

The Others is set on the Isle of Jersey in 1945, shortly after the end of World War II. Grace Stewart lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children, Anne and Nicholas, who suffer from a rare disease that makes them unable to be exposed to sunlight.

Reception:

The Others was a critical and commercial success. It received positive reviews for its suspenseful atmosphere, its twist ending, and the performance of Nicole Kidman, who won the Saturn Award for Best Actress. The film was also nominated for six other Saturn Awards, including Best Horror Film and Best Director.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

Genre: Gothic horror, Fantasy, Drama

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Marisa Paredes – Carmen, the orphanage caretaker
  • Fernando Tielve – Carlos, the new orphan
  • Eduardo Noriega – Jacinto, the groundskeeper
  • Federico Luppi – Dr. Casares, the orphanage doctor
  • Íñigo Garcés – Santi, the ghost of a deceased orphan
  • Fernando Guillén – Don Federico, the wealthy benefactor

Plot:

The Devil’s Backbone is set in a remote orphanage in Spain during the final days of the Spanish Civil War. The war casts a long shadow on the orphanage, which is struggling to survive with limited resources. Carlos, a young boy whose father has been killed in the war, arrives at the orphanage. He soon discovers that the place is haunted by the ghost of Santi, a former orphan who died mysteriously. Santi is searching for the gold he hid before his death, believing it will help his fellow orphans.

Reception:

The Devil’s Backbone was a critical and commercial success. It received praise for its unique blend of genres, its suspenseful atmosphere, and the performances of the cast, particularly Marisa Paredes and Eduardo Noriega. The film won numerous awards internationally, including the Goya Award for Best New Actor for Fernando Tielve.

Talk to Her (2002)

Genre: Drama, Psychological

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Javier Cámara – Benigno Martín, a nurse
  • Darío Grandinetti – Marco Zuluaga, a journalist and writer of tourist guides
  • Leonor Watling – Alicia Roncero, a patient in a coma
  • Rosario Flores – Lydia González, a bullfighter
  • Mariola Fuentes – Rosa
  • Geraldine Chaplin – Katerina Bilova, Alicia’s mother
  • Chus Lampreave – Doorkeeper
  • Ana Torrent – Marco’s mother
  • Hector Alterio – Dr. Vallejo

Plot:

Talk to Her tells two parallel stories that intertwine. Benigno Martín is a nurse who falls in love with Alicia Roncero, a ballerina who falls into a coma after a car accident. Marco Zuluaga is a writer who falls in love with Lydia González, a bullfighter who is seriously injured during a bullfight.

Reception:

Talk to Her was a critical and commercial success. It received numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and the Goya Award for Best Film. The film was praised for its sensitive direction, intelligent screenplay, and moving performances.

Mondays in the Sun (2002)

Genre: Drama

Director: Fernando León de Aranoa

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Javier Bardem – Santa
  • Luis Tosar – José
  • José Ángel Egido – Lino
  • Joaquim Climent – Rico
  • Nieve de Medina – Ana
  • Enrique Villén – Reina
  • Celso Bugallo – Amador
  • Aida Folch – Natalia

Plot:

Mondays in the Sun is set in Vigo, Spain, and tells the story of a group of shipyard workers who have been laid off after the closure of their factory. The men, who are all in their 40s and 50s, struggle to find new jobs and are forced to deal with the financial and emotional consequences of unemployment.

Reception:

Mondays in the Sun was a critical and commercial success. It was praised for its realistic portrayal of the effects of unemployment, its strong performances, and its powerful message of hope. The film won numerous awards, including the Goya Award for Best Film and the Silver Shell for Best Director at the San Sebastián Film Festival.

My Life Without Me (2003)

Genre: Drama, Romance

Director: Isabel Coixet

Country of origin: Canada, Spain

Cast:

  • Sarah Polley – Ann, a young woman diagnosed with terminal cancer
  • Scott Speedman – Don, Ann’s husband
  • Mark Ruffalo – Lee, Ann’s neighbor and potential love interest
  • Leonor Watling – Sadie, Ann’s friend
  • Deborah Kara Unger – Cheryl, Don’s co-worker and his eventual affair partner
  • Jessica Paré – Marie, a young mother

Plot:

My Life Without Me tells the story of Ann, a young woman in her early twenties who lives a seemingly ordinary life with her husband, Don, and their two young daughters. However, her life takes a drastic turn when she is diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer and given only two months to live.

Reception:

My Life Without Me received critical acclaim, with praise for its sensitive and realistic portrayal of a woman facing terminal illness. Sarah Polley’s performance was particularly lauded, earning her nominations for a Golden Globe Award and an Independent Spirit Award. The film also garnered recognition for its poignant story and its exploration of complex emotions.

7:35 in the Morning (2003)

Genre: Short, Comedy, Musical

Director: Nacho Vigalondo

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Nacho Vigalondo – Nacho
  • Marta Belenguer – Marta
  • Antonio Tato – Customer 1
  • Alejandro Tejería – Customer 2
  • Borja Cobeaga – Customer 3
  • Javier Reguilón – Customer 4
  • Alejandro Garrido – Customer 5

Plot:

A man enters a bar at 7:35 in the morning. He sits at the counter and orders a coffee. The bartender serves him silently, as if the man is not there. The man starts to look around and notices that all the other customers in the bar are motionless and silent. He gets up and approaches a woman, but she does not even look at him. The man starts to feel uneasy and tries to leave the bar, but the door is locked. Suddenly, the music starts playing and all the customers in the bar come to life. The man joins them and starts dancing. The music stops and everyone becomes motionless again. The man leaves the bar, confused and shaken.

Reception:

7:35 in the Morning was a successful short film. It won numerous awards, including the Goya Award for Best Short Film. The film was praised for its originality, humor, and suspense.

Take My Eyes (2003)

Genre: Drama, Psychological

Director: Icíar Bollaín

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Laia Marull – Pilar
  • Luis Tosar – Antonio
  • Rosa Maria Sardà – Ana
  • Candela Peña – Sole
  • Chus Lampreave – Pilar’s Mother
  • Javier Cámara – Rafa
  • Kiti Mánver – Antonio’s Mother
  • María Galiana – Nurse

Plot:

Take My Eyes tells the story of Pilar, a woman who is physically and emotionally abused by her husband Antonio. After years of suffering, Pilar finally decides to leave Antonio and start a new life with her son Juan.

Reception:

Take My Eyes was a critical and commercial success. It received numerous awards, including the Goya Award for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Laia Marull), and Best Supporting Actress (Rosa Maria Sardà). The film was praised for its realistic and sensitive portrayal of domestic violence, its intense performances, and its message of hope.

Bad Education (2004)

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Gael García Bernal – Ángel/Zahara
  • Fele Martínez – Enrique Goded
  • Daniel Giménez Cacho – Father Manolo
  • Lluís Homar – Manuel Berenguer
  • Francisco Boira – Ignacio Rodríguez
  • Javier Cámara – Paca/Paquito
  • Alberto Ferreiro – Enrique Serrano

Plot:

Bad Education is a 2004 Spanish drama film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. The film is set in 1960s Spain and tells the story of two childhood friends, Ignacio and Enrique, who are sexually abused by their school’s priest, Father Manolo. Years later, the two men meet again and their reunion sets in motion a series of events that will force them to confront their past.

Reception:

Bad Education was a critical and commercial success. It was praised for its complex and nuanced portrayal of abuse, its strong performances, and Almodóvar’s direction. The film was nominated for several awards, including the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

cult-movie

The Sea Inside (2004)

Genre: Drama

Director: Alejandro Amenábar

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Javier Bardem – Ramón Sampedro
  • Belén Rueda – Julia
  • Lola Dueñas – Rosa
  • Mabel Rivera – Magdalena
  • Clara Segura – Alicia
  • Joan Dalmau – Javi
  • Tamar Novas – Joano
  • Josep Maria Pou – Enrique
  • Celso Bugallo – Lorenzo

Plot:

The Sea Inside is a 2004 Spanish drama film directed by Alejandro Amenábar. It tells the true story of Ramón Sampedro, a Spanish quadriplegic who fought for the right to end his own life. The film follows Ramón as he struggles with his disability and his desire to die. He meets Julia, a lawyer who helps him in his legal battle for euthanasia, and Rosa, a woman who introduces him to new ways of experiencing life despite his disability.

Reception:

The Sea Inside was a critical and commercial success. It was praised for its sensitive portrayal of a controversial topic and its strong performances, particularly that of Javier Bardem, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role. The film also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Secret Life of Words (2005)

Genre: Drama

Director: Isabel Coixet

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Sarah Polley – Hanna, a young deaf woman who works in a factory
  • Tim Robbins – Josef, a burn victim hiding on an oil rig
  • Javier Cámara – Simon, a nurse who takes care of Josef
  • Eddie Marsan – Victor, a doctor who tries to help Hanna
  • Steven Mackintosh – Dr. Sullitzer

Plot:

Hanna, a young deaf woman, works in a factory and lives a lonely life. One day, she is hired to take care of Josef, a burn victim hiding on an oil rig in the North Sea. Despite their communication difficulties, an unusual and deep friendship develops between them.

Reception:

The Secret Life of Words was a successful film, both critically and commercially. It won numerous awards, including the Goya Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Best Actress Award at the Montreal Film Festival for Sarah Polley. The film was praised for its direction, screenplay, performances, and its ability to explore themes of loneliness, suffering, and communication.

Princesas (2005)

Genre: Drama

Director: Fernando León de Aranoa

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Candela Peña – Caye, a prostitute
  • Micaela Nevárez – Zulema, a recently arrived prostitute
  • Mariana Cordero – Pilar
  • Llum Barrera – Gloria
  • Violeta Pérez – Caren
  • Mónica Van Campen – Ángela
  • Flora Álvarez – Rosa
  • María Ballesteros – Blanca

Plot:

Caye, a seasoned prostitute in Madrid, discovers Zulema, a newcomer, badly injured. Despite knowing that Zulema was attacked by one of Caye’s regular clients, she takes her to the hospital and begins to care for her. As they recover, an unlikely friendship develops, and they dream of creating a better life for themselves.

Reception:

Princesas received critical acclaim, particularly for its strong female performances and its unflinching portrayal of the lives of sex workers. Candela Peña won the Goya Award for Best Actress and Micaela Nevárez won the Goya Award for Best New Actress. The film was also nominated for the Goya Award for Best Picture.

Volver ((2006)

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Penélope Cruz – Raimunda, a woman who has moved to Madrid with her family
  • Carmen Maura – Irene, Raimunda’s mother, who seemingly died in a fire years earlier
  • Lola Dueñas – Sole, Raimunda’s sister
  • Blanca Portillo – Agustina, a neighbor of the sisters
  • Yohana Cobo – Paula, Raimunda’s teenage daughter
  • Chus Lampreave – Aunt Paula, Raimunda’s elderly aunt

Plot:

Raimunda and Sole are two sisters who live in Madrid. Their mother, Irene, died in a fire years earlier. One day, Irene’s spirit appears to Sole, asking to be buried in her home village. Raimunda and Sole then return to their hometown to fulfill their mother’s request. Once there, they discover that the secret behind Irene’s death is much more complicated than they thought.

Reception:

Volver was a highly successful film, both critically and commercially. It won numerous awards, including the Goya Award for Best Film and the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, which was shared by all the lead actresses. The film was praised for its direction, screenplay, performances, and its ability to blend dramatic and comedic elements in a balanced way.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Genre: Fantasy, Drama

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Country of origin: Spain, Mexico, United States

Cast:

  • Ivana Baquero – Ofelia, a young girl
  • Sergi López – Vidal, Ofelia’s cruel stepfather
  • Maribel Verdú – Carmen, Ofelia’s sickly mother
  • Doug Jones – The Faun, a magical creature
  • Ariadna Gil – Mercedes, a maid who helps Ofelia
  • Alex Angulo – Dr. Ferreiro, a doctor who helps Ofelia

Plot:

Spain, 1944. Ofelia, the young daughter of a Republican tailor killed by Franco’s forces, moves with her pregnant mother to rural Spain to join her new stepfather, the cruel Captain Vidal, an army officer involved in the repression of the rebels.

In the forest near the mill where she lives with her mother and stepfather, Ofelia meets a mysterious faun who reveals to her that she is a lost princess of a fantastical kingdom. To return to her kingdom, Ofelia must complete three dangerous tasks.

Reception:

Pan’s Labyrinth was a highly successful film, both critically and commercially. It won numerous awards, including three Academy Awards (Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Makeup) and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language. The film was praised for its direction, screenplay, performances, visual beauty, and its ability to blend fantasy and reality in an original and evocative way.

Night of the Sunflowers (2006)

Genre: Thriller

Director: Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Carmelo Gómez – Esteban, a speleologist
  • Judith Diakhate – Awa, an African woman
  • Mariano Alameda – Pedro, another speleologist
  • Manuel Morón – Elías, Esteban’s father
  • Petra Martínez – Carmen, Esteban’s mother
  • Celso Bugallo – Lucas, the mayor of the village

Plot:

Esteban and Pedro, two speleologists, travel to a small mountain village to explore a newly discovered cave. There, they meet Awa, an African woman who lives in isolation. Soon, the two speleologists find themselves involved in a series of mysterious and disturbing events, culminating in a night of terror.

Reception:

The Night of the Sunflowers was a successful film, both critically and commercially. It won numerous awards, including the Goya Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Best Director Award at the Málaga Film Festival. The film was praised for its direction, screenplay, performances, and its dark and suspenseful atmosphere.

The Orphanage (2007)

Genre: Horror

Director: J.A. Bayona

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Belén Rueda – Laura, the director of the orphanage
  • Fernando Cayo – Carlos, Laura’s husband
  • Roger Príncep – Simón, Laura’s adopted son
  • Mabel Rivera – Benigna, Simón’s nanny
  • Montserrat Carulla – Pilar, Laura’s mother
  • Geraldine Chaplin – Sofía, the director of the orphanage as a child

Plot:

Laura, a woman who spent her childhood in an orphanage, decides to reopen the orphanage as a residence for disabled children. But when her son Simón, who has a very active imagination, starts talking about invisible friends, Laura begins to suspect that there is something supernatural in the orphanage.

Reception:

The Orphanage was a highly successful film, both critically and commercially. It won numerous awards, including seven Goya Awards (Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing). The film was praised for its direction, screenplay, performances, dark and suspenseful atmosphere, and special effects.

[Rec] (2007)

Genre: Horror, Found-footage

Director: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Manuela Velasco – Ángela Vidal, a television reporter
  • Manolo Caro – Pablo, a cameraman
  • Ferran Terraza – Sergio, a soundman
  • Jorge Yamam – Álex, a fireman
  • Miriam Cuesta – Jennifer, a police officer

Plot:

Ángela Vidal, a television reporter, and her cameraman Pablo are following a team of firefighters on a routine call to an apartment building. When they arrive, they find an elderly woman locked in her apartment, exhibiting strange and violent behavior. As the situation escalates, the building is quarantined, and the firefighters and residents become trapped inside with a growing threat.

Reception:

[REC] was a critical and commercial success, praised for its originality, suspense, and use of the found-footage filmmaking technique. It spawned a successful franchise with several sequels and remakes. The film is often credited with revitalizing the zombie genre and influencing the use of found-footage horror in contemporary cinema.

Camino (2008)

Genre: Drama

Director: Javier Fesser

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Nerea Camacho – Camino Fernández Usaola
  • Carme Elías – Gloria Usaola, Camino’s mother
  • Mariano Venancio – José, Camino’s father
  • Manuela Vellés – Nuria, Camino’s best friend
  • Ana Gracia – Inés Fernández Usaola, Camino’s aunt
  • Lola Casamayor – Tía Marita, Camino’s aunt

Plot:

Inspired by a true story, Camino tells the story of Camino Fernández Usaola, an eleven-year-old girl who lives in Valencia. Camino is a cheerful and lively girl, deeply religious and devoted to the Virgin Mary. At the age of eleven, she is diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. While facing her illness, Camino also discovers love for the first time, with her schoolmate Guillermo.

The film follows Camino’s journey as she confronts illness and death with courage and faith, without losing her zest for life and her love for family and friends.

Reception:

Camino was a controversial and emotionally powerful film. It received positive reviews for its moving portrayal of a true story and its ability to explore sensitive topics such as faith, illness, and death in an honest and touching way. However, it was also criticized by some for its depiction of religion and its potential influence on young viewers.

The film won numerous awards in Spain, including six Goya Awards, including Best Film and Best Actress for Nerea Camacho.

Cell 211 (2009)

Genre: Thriller, Drama

Director: Daniel Monzón

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Alberto Ammann – Juan Oliver, a young prison officer
  • Luis Tosar – Malamadre, the leader of the riot
  • Marta Etura – Elena, Juan’s wife
  • Antonio Resines – Ulloa, the prison director
  • Carlos Bardem – Releches, the head of the prison guards
  • Manuel Morón – El Casposo, an inmate
  • Félix Cubero – Acevedo, a prison officer

Plot:

Juan Oliver, a young and inexperienced prison officer, is on his first day at a maximum security prison. During a tour of the facility, a group of inmates, led by the dangerous Malamadre, take control of the prison. In order to survive, Juan pretends to be a prisoner and infiltrates the rioters.

Reception:

Cell 211 was a critical and commercial success. It won numerous awards, including eight Goya Awards (Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Sound, and Best Cinematography). The film was praised for its direction, screenplay, acting performances, tension and suspense, and realistic portrayal of the prison world.

Broken Embraces (2009)

Genre: Thriller, Romance

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Penélope Cruz – Lena, a young actress
  • Luis Homar – Mateo Blanco / Harry Caine, a blind writer and former film director
  • Blanca Portillo – Judit García, Harry Caine’s assistant and mother of Diego
  • Carmen Maura – Ernesto Martel, a wealthy businessman and Lena’s sugar daddy
  • Rubén Ochandiano – Ernesto Jr., Martel’s son and Lena’s co-star
  • Tamar Novas – Diego, Judit’s son and Harry Caine’s secretary

Plot:

The film uses a fragmented, non-linear narrative, interweaving two stories:

  • Present: Harry Caine, a blind writer, recounts his past as Mateo Blanco, a renowned film director, to his assistant Judit’s son Diego. Mateo falls in love with Lena, a young actress he casts in his new film. However, their passionate affair is threatened by Lena’s possessive and jealous sugar daddy, Ernesto Martel.
  • Past: A tragic car accident leaves Mateo blinded and changes his life forever. He adopts the pseudonym Harry Caine and becomes a successful writer, haunted by the memories of his lost love Lena and the consequences of the accident.

Reception:

Broken Embraces was met with critical acclaim, praised for its visual style, complex narrative, and strong performances. It received numerous awards, including the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Goya Award for Best Original Score. The film is considered a showcase of Almodóvar’s signature style, known for its melodrama, vibrant colors, and exploration of themes like desire, loss, and memory.

Buried (2010)

Genre: Thriller, Survival

Director: Rodrigo Cortés

Country of origin: Spain (English-language)

Cast:

  • Ryan Reynolds – Paul Conroy, a U.S. truck driver working in Iraq

Plot:

Paul wakes up buried alive inside a coffin with only a lighter and a cell phone. He has no memory of how he got there or who put him there. With limited resources and dwindling oxygen, Paul must use his ingenuity and the unreliable connections of his phone to contact the outside world and piece together the clues to his situation before it’s too late.

Reception:

Buried received generally positive reviews, with praise for its claustrophobic atmosphere, suspenseful storytelling, and Ryan Reynolds’s performance. However, some critics found the film’s single-location setting and limited cast to be restrictive. The film won several awards, including the Barcelona International Film Festival Award for Best Film and the Goya Award for Best New Director.

Blancanieves (2012)

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Director: Pablo Berger

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Maribel Verdú – Encarna, Carmen’s stepmother
  • Macarena García – Carmen, the protagonist
  • Daniel Giménez Cacho – Antonio Villalta, Carmen’s father
  • Angela Molina – Carmen’s grandmother
  • Pere Ponce – Rafael

Plot:

Set in 1920s Andalusia, Blancanieves is a modern take on the classic Snow White fairy tale. Carmen, a young woman, is mistreated by her stepmother Encarna, a cruel and vain woman. After her father’s death, Carmen is thrown out of her home and finds refuge with a troupe of dwarf bullfighters. In this new family, Carmen finds love and happiness, but Encarna has not given up on destroying her.

Reception:

Blancanieves was a critical and commercial success. It won numerous awards, including the Goya Award for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. The film was praised for its visual beauty, its evocative atmosphere, and its strong performances. Variety called it “a magical and moving film,” while The Hollywood Reporter described it as “a masterpiece of silent cinema.”

La Isla Mínima (2014)

Genre: Thriller, Crime

Director: Alberto Rodríguez Librero

Country of origin: Spain

Cast:

  • Raúl Arévalo – Pedro Suárez
  • Javier Gutiérrez – Juan Robles
  • Antonio de la Torre – Rodrigo
  • Nerea Barros – Rocío
  • Jesús Castro – Joaquín Varela “Quini”
  • Mercedes León – Señora Casa Coto
  • Adelfa Calvo – Fernanda
  • Manolo Solo – Journalist

Plot:

In 1980s Spain, two detectives from Madrid, Pedro Suárez and Juan Robles, are sent to a small village in the Guadalquivir marshes to investigate the mysterious disappearance of two teenage girls. Immersed in an oppressive rural environment marked by the recent aftermath of Francoism, the two policemen will find themselves facing a series of obstacles and cover-ups, as tensions rise and the number of victims increases. Their search for the truth will lead them to confront the dark sides of the local community and their own inner demons.

Reception:

La Isla Mínima was a critical and commercial success, both in Spain and internationally. The film received numerous awards, including the Goya Award for Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film was praised for its dark and evocative atmosphere, masterful direction, intense performances and complex and suspenseful screenplay. La Isla Mínima is considered one of the best Spanish films of recent years and a fundamental work to understand the recent history of the country.

Verano 1993 (2017)

Genre: Drama, Coming-of-age

Director: Carla Simón

Country of origin: Spain (Catalan language)

Cast:

  • Laia Artigas – Frida
  • Bruna Cusí – Anna
  • David Verdaguer – Esteve
  • Paula Robles – Mariona

Plot:

Six-year-old Frida is sent to live with her relatives in the Catalan countryside after the death of her mother. Struggling to adapt to her new life and cope with her grief, Frida navigates the complexities of family dynamics and coming of age amidst the beauty and challenges of rural life.

Reception:

Verano 1993 received critical acclaim, praised for its sensitive portrayal of childhood loss and resilience, its naturalistic performances, and its evocative depiction of rural life. The film won several awards, including the Goya Award for Best New Director and the Gaudí Award for Best Catalan Language Film.

Occidente (2019)

Genre: Drama

Director: Jorge Acebo Canedo

Country of origin: Spain

Plot:

H, a fugitive director in exile, returns to the industrial city he fled from years before. The city is an unknown place, trapped in an indefinite time. Gloria, the factory worker he loved and left behind, struggles to survive the monotony of everyday life. H, unable to conform to society, convinces her to flee with him beyond civilization, to a place that no one remembers.

Reflection:

The film questions whether progress and the industrial revolution have truly led to a greater degree of civilization. The idea of being a civil and evolved society is dangerous because it prevents us from seeing our shortcomings and improving ourselves. Politicians, focused only on GDP and economic growth, lead us towards a “presumed” civilization that hides a deep incivility. If we do not recognize this disease, it will be impossible to cure it.

WATCH THE FILM

Official Competition (2021)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Directors: Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat

Country of origin: Spain, Argentina

Cast:

  • Penélope Cruz – Lola Cuevas
  • Antonio Banderas – Félix Rivero
  • Oscar Martínez – Iván Torres
  • Irene Escolar – Diana Suárez
  • Manolo Solo – Matías
  • José Luis Gómez – Humberto Suárez
  • Nagore Aranburu – Julia

Plot:

A billionaire decides to make a film that will leave its mark and to do so he hires an internationally renowned director, Lola Cuevas, and two famous actors with diametrically opposed personalities: Hollywood star Félix Rivero and theater actor Iván Torres. During the filming, the rivalry between the two protagonists and the extravagant demands of the director will give rise to hilarious and surreal situations, while the tension on the set grows and the line between fiction and reality becomes increasingly thin.

Reception:

Official Competition received a positive reception from critics, who praised the direction, screenplay, and performances of the actors. The film has won several awards, including the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice Film Festival and the Platino Award for Best Ibero-American Comedy.

Indiecinema

Indiecinema

Hundreds of Movies and Documentaries Selected Without Limits

New movies every week. Watch on any device, without any ads. Cancel at any time.