Ricardo Darín has starred in the last three Argentine films to have been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Indeed, if all you’d seen of Argentine cinema was Wild Tales (2014), The Secret in their Eyes (2009), and Son of the Bride (2001), you’d be forgiven for thinking the Bonaerense was the only critically acclaimed actor around. You wouldn’t be too wrong, though.
Beginning as a galancito in the ’80s and eventually making a name for himself as a comedy actor (most famously in the ’90s TV series Mi Cuñado), Darín has spent the better part of the past two decades becoming a dramatic leading man able to carry both heartwarming tales of friendship as easily as a true crime dramas. You could call him the George Clooney of Argentina were he not deserving of his own place in the movie star pantheon. (Though you have to admit, the two silver foxes that started in TV and now lead adult dramas that win awards have more than a few things in common).
Winner of 5 Silver Condor awards from the Argentine Film Critics Association, Darín is one of the most rewarded actors of his generation. And while some may wish he’d crossover to Hollywood, he’s perfectly happy making films in Spanish, thank you very much.
“It is not a matter of being anti-Hollywood per se,” he said in a recent interview. “The screenplay needs to touch me somehow and I am not moved by surnames.” He refused an offer to star opposite Denzel Washington in Man on Fire, for example, and as his filmography shows us, Darín doesn’t need Hollywood. He’s perfectly happy producing interesting fare for the Latin American market, showing those in the U.S. that there’s a surplus of talent down south. He admits, though, that should Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese call him up, he’d pick up right away.
Below find 10 performances that showcase the actor’s versatility and which have helped cement him as one of the most successful Argentine actors of this century.
El mismo amor, la misma lluvia (1999)
Juan José Campanella’s romantic comedy follows Darín as a would-be writer frustrated with his day job cooking up short stories for a living who falls head over heels for a waitress at a cafe. The film follows the ups and downs (more like on and offs) that make up their relationship over the years and Darín is as dashing as you’d expect.
Nueve reinas (2000)
An instant classic of Argentine cinema, Fabián Bielinsky’s film has Darín playing a con man who partners up with another con man he meets (played by Gastón Pauls) to pull of a big con: they have to help a friend sell a set of counterfeit stamps (the “Nine Queens”) but as these deceiving men keep upping the ante, you begin to realize there may be more to this con than meets the eye.
El hijo de la novia (2001)
The first film to earn Juan José Campanella a trip to the Oscars, El hijo de la novia has Darín playing yet another middle aged guy dealing with the demands of work (a busy restaurant he’s inherited from his father), family (his mother suffers from Alzheimer’s), and home (his girlfriend is getting increasingly impatient with him). But he’ll have to put it all aside to help his father in his latest project: renewing his vows at a Catholic Church, something he and his now ailing wife never did.
El aura (2005)
Signaling the darker parts for which he’d become famous, Darín here plays Esteban Espinosa, a cynical taxidermist who suffers from epilepsy and who daydreams with committing the perfect crime. After accidentally killing what turns out to be a real criminal, Esteban finds himself at the center of a big heist all the while struggling to keep his epilepsy in check.
La señal (2007)
This period noir piece set in the 1950s was written by famed Argentine filmmaker Eduardo Mignogna. He was set to direct Darín as a private eye who gets embroiled in a gang feud. When Mignogna passed away, the actor took over directorial duties and shot La señal, his sole outing as a director yet.
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El secreto de sus ojos (2009)
Juan José Campanella’s Oscar winning film is anchored by Darín’s performance as Benjamín Espósito, a retired police investigator who finds himself revisiting a cold case he’d been assigned decades before and that he’s now turning into a novel. The moral ambiguity and the dubious line between fact and fiction all depend on Darín’s portrayal of Espósito, which earned the actor his fifth Silver Condor award to date.
Darín is at his best when exploring the deeper, darker aspects of Argentinian culture. That’s definitely the case in this Pablo Trapero film which has him playing a “carancho,” an ambulance chaser who makes money off of the victims of vehicular accidents. But when he falls for a young doctor who often treats this cases, might he be able to leave that sordid life behind? Darín and Trapero keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to the end.
Tesis sobre un homicidio (2013)
As Roberto Bermúdez, a respected lawyer turned professor of criminal law intent on solving the murder of a young woman he believes was murdered by one of his students, Darín gets to play a sleuth investigator, a boozy broken man, and an increasingly paranoid man. All in a cat and mouse crime thriller!
Relatos salvajes (2014)
There are many reasons to love Damián Szifron’s darkly comic omnibus film. One of them is Darín’s turn as Simón Fischer, a demolitions expert whose life goes south when his car is towed. What would’ve been a simple bureaucratic nightmare becomes a hilarious downward spiral that leads to Simón earning the nickname that gives this short its title: Bombita.
Darín’s latest film, which already earned him a Goya award (one of the 5 the film won at the 2016 ceremony), follows Julián. When he receives an unexpected visit from his best friend, Tomás (played by Javier Cámara), they begin a journey together to help Julián cope with his impending death. In case you’re wondering, Truman is the name of Julián’s adorable dog.