The Oscars are obviously a big deal, but it’s easy to forget that with a few rare exceptions, they are monuments to American cinema. Sure, over the years a Fellini or a Haneke have managed to sneak a foreign-language production into one of the Awards’ major categories, but they are rare exceptions. Few people in the States even realize that most countries with a remotely healthy film industry have their own academies and with their own awards ceremonies. And this past weekend, while Kanye was once again loving the hell out of himself at the Grammy’s, Spain was holding their own prestigious Goya Awards for Spanish cinema.
This year’s big winner, Alberto Rodríguez’s atmospheric crime-thriller La Isla Mínima (Marshland) came as no surprise, having been nominated in a head-spinning 17 categories and picking up awards in all but seven, including Best Film and Best Director. The moody feature follows two ideologically-opposed cops sent to the marshy bayous of southern Spain to investigate the disappearance of two young girls. With its narrative ambiguity and dense, swampy atmosphere, the film has garnered comparisons to True Detective while receiving near-universal acclaim from critics.
On the other end of the spectrum, the night’s big disappointment had to be Daniel Monzón’s narco-thriller, El Niño, which came up short of its 16 nominations with a mere four wins in categories including Best Original Song and Sound Design. Based on the true stories of several infamous Straight of Gibraltar drug-runners, El Niño is an agile genre piece about the vicissitudes of hashish smuggling between Spain and Morocco, and a reminder of the criminal commonalities shared amongst borderlands the world over.
Emilio Martínez-Lazaro’s lighthearted romp Ocho Apellidos Vascos (Spanish Affair) cleaned up the acting categories along with La Isla Mínima and Magical Girl, taking home wins for Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress as well as the Actor Revelation Award. There were also no surprises in the category for Best Ibero-American film, which featured 2014 favorites like Cuba’s Conducta and Venezuela’s La distancia más larga, both of which lost out to Argentina’s Oscar-nominated Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales) by Damián Szifrón.
And what Spanish award’s ceremony would be complete without Antonio Banderas shouting out Pedro Almodóvar? Watch Bandera’s acceptance speech for an Honorary Goya (below) to hear him thank the first the director who discovered him (Almodóvar) and tell a funny story about meeting Taylor Swift.
Now if only Alejandro Sanz had bum-rushed the stage to shout down Nerea Barros, “Ya te dejo terminar!”, but I guess not everyone’s as crazy as Kanye West.