The exposure to international cinema, especially due to the involvement of streaming services like Netflix, has allowed the audience to take in the culture and lifestyle of various regions from the comfort of their home. While there is a ‘to each their own’ criteria when it comes to watching movies, there are certain regions and languages that have succeeded in breaking the barriers more swiftly as compared to others.
Spanish films and TV shows have seen an exponential rise in popularity, which can also be because it is one of the most widely spoken languages. If you, too, have been swept away by the wave of Spanish cinema, then the following is the list of best Spanish movies of 2019 that you must watch:
10. The Blonde One (Tie)
‘The Blonde One’ is a tale of romance and tension between two people whose opposite emotional affinities not only attract them to each other but also acts as the major cause for the repulsion between them. When Juan’s roommate moves out, he offers his colleague, Gabriel, to come live with him. While Juan is a playboy and a party animal sort of person, Gabriel lives a quieter life. Despite their differences, Gabriel finds an acceptance in Juan’s world and soon begins to sense an attraction towards his roommate. When his feelings are reciprocated, a fiery affair begins, but how long before it dies out?
10. The Gasoline Thieves (Tie)
Lalo doesn’t come from a well-off family. In fact, life is difficult as is while his single mom tries to fend for them. But none of that matters when Lalo falls in love with Ana. He wants to woo her and impress her; however, she already has a boyfriend. And to make matters worse, he is rich. He showers her with gifts, and in his naivete, Lalo starts to believe that if he, too, does that, she will fall for him. But he doesn’t have any money, which is why he should turn towards alternative sources of income. He finds it in the illegal gasoline smuggling. His purpose is to get enough money to buy an iPhone for Ana, but it soon moves beyond that when he becomes indulged with the cartels.
9. Heroic Losers
Argentina’s official entry for the 92nd Academy Awards, it follows the story of a group of people who are scammed in the guise of the broken economy of the country but decide to retaliate by getting their money back from the scammers. Set in 2001, it begins with the members of a community pooling their monetary resources to fund an agricultural cooperative to revive the economy of their town. But as soon as the transfer is completed, they discover that they have been robbed, and on top of that, a new economic scheme has been launched in the country.
8. Fire Will Come
As sure as its title, ‘Fire Will Come’ is a foreboding of not just the events in the film, but also of what will come for humans if they continue to be as reckless and careless as they are now. The film explores the complicated relationship between man and nature, wherein one is sure to destroy the other when the tussle finally ends. The protagonist of the story is a man named Amador who returns to his hometown in Galicia after serving a two-year sentence for arson. His affinity for burning things follows him everywhere and the town is wary of his arrival, though there isn’t anything they can do about it. What Amador plans to do with his freedom is the question that everyone wants a straight answer to.
Who do you think fits the bill of an ideal life? What even constitutes an ideal life? Having a successful career, being happily married to a loving wife, being the father of beautiful children, being considered an upstanding member of your religious community? Pablo had it all, and yet, he didn’t find it enough. Despite being the poster boy for perfection, there is something that doesn’t feel right to him. But everything clicks when he falls in love with another man. After mustering courage, he finally comes out to his family, expecting them to be understanding, even if a bit angry. What he doesn’t expect is for them to get hell-bent on “curing” him. Who should Pablo fight now: his true self or his family?
6. This Is Not Berlin
‘This Is Not Berlin’ is a film by Hari Sama, who is known for making films on the characters that display the various sections of Mexico’s society. One piece at a time, he uses his films to study human nature in its different ages and forms and indulges the audience in the discussion about things that are relevant but often repressed.
This film follows the story of one such journey. In 1986 Mexico City, Carlos is a teenager who is trying to find his place in the world. His family doesn’t make him feel belonged. A father he knows nothing about and a mother who is slowly rotting away due to her depression, Carlos only has his younger brother who makes his family feel a bit saner. But that is not enough to keep him with them. He finds a place of belonging with his best friend and his sister, both of whom lead a life that seems exciting to Carlos. It is through them that he wants to add some excitement to his own. It soon arrives when he is taken to a bar where the world outside its door is a different reality. And inside it, everything is possible. It is here that Carlos finds an expression of self, of art and sex, and opening the doorway to knowledge requires the influence of drugs.
5. Midnight Family
‘Midnight Family’ is a documentary feature by Luke Lorentzen which focuses on the work of emergency ambulances in the county. It explores the healthcare system of the country and tries to estimate a margin by which the government is missing to provide it to its citizens.
The story is experienced through the private ambulance of the Ochoa family whose job is to be the first responders to any kind of emergency. They are not providing this service just out of compassion. They’ll be paid for it, even though in an amount that might not seem much, but they need it to survive. We become a part of their odd-hour job and the race that ensues once the message is received by them. Competing with other private ambulances, they try to meet their ends while saving people’s lives. This account is often nerve-racking and thought-provoking. The film was released in some recent film festivals and received favourable reactions from critics, who attested that the film was something they couldn’t let go of so easily after watching it.
4. The Platform
‘The Platform’, called ‘El Hoyo’ in Spanish, is a sci-fi prison drama that works as a political and cultural satire. The protagonist of this story is a man named Goreng. He is the inhabitant of the 33rd level in a prison system where cells are stacked vertically. Every cell has two prisoners and no one knows how many cells there really are. The only thing that matters is food. The distribution starts with the highest cell, and the prisoners get to take their food. The problem is that there is only so much to eat, and the lower the cell you are in, the worse your chances of having a full stomach.
3. Devil Between the Legs
Shot entirely in black-and-white, ‘Devil Between the Legs’ delivers a mellowed and timeworn sense to the audience, which is quite aptly a reflection of the people whose story it tells. The protagonists are Beatriz and The Old Man who have been together for so long that it seems like there is nothing else left in their marriage but anger. He thinks she is having an affair and she counters it with the presence of a young lady in their home who takes care of him. They shelter their rage against each other for so long that when it finally reaches the breaking point, the results of it surprise the both of them.
2. I’m No Longer Here
There’s a reason teenage is such a common choice for filmmakers to represent their characters. It is the time when a person is most influenced by their surroundings and eventually becomes what he or she has imbibed from it. So, if you want the audience to have the best perspective of the world you want to paint for them, choose a teenager as your protagonist. Director Fernando Frias understands this quite well, and in his latest film, he explores the world through the eyes of a child whose life is disrupted by displacements.
Ulises Samperio is 17 years old when he gets into a situation that lands him in a very precarious position with a local cartel. The solution now is for him to immigrate to the US. Leaving behind his friends and his dancing crew, Ulises spends the next phase of his life trying to fit in a place that is nothing like his home. Time helps him and eventually, he does settle down. But then, he has to face deportation and goes back to square one. The problem now is that so much time has passed that Ulises no longer recognizes the place, just as the place doesn’t recognize him.
Read More: Best LGBT Movies of 2019
1. Pain and Glory
Any creative process is a grueling one. It requires people to tap into the good and bad in their lives, and churn out their own emotions to bring them to life into their art. In this film, we meet a film director, by the name of Salvador Mallo, who looks back to his life and contemplates on the events that shaped his career. Starring Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, ‘Pain and Glory’ is Spain’s official entry for the 92nd Academy Awards. Banderas has already won the Best Actor award for his role at the Cannes Film Festival, along with a number of other award ceremonies.
Read More: Best Documentary Movies of 2019