Oscar season features very few Latinos in major roles

It’s the end of the year, which means most Hollywood studios are itching to let audiences and critics see their best stuff in hopes of getting some buzz as Oscar season starts heating up. Sure, there’s still room for probable mainstream blockbusters like “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” but with the easily digestible fare comes visual spectacles like “Gravity” and historical epics like “12 Years a Slave.”

Unfortunately, what Oscar season this year doesn’t include is an inclusion of award-worthy roles for Latinos in the industry. And unless there’s another welcomed surprise like Mexican actor Demián Bichir getting nominated for Best Actor in 2011 for “A Better Life” or French-Argentine actress Bérénice Bejo getting nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “The Artist” that same year, it looks like Latinos just might be left out in the cold this winter.

Here’s a look at the very few Latino actors and actresses who may be able to break through and get a nod for their work this year (none of which are even close to being a sure thing).


Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
The best chance any Latino(a) in any acting category has to get nominated this year comes by way of the music-heavy drama “Inside Llewyn Davis” directed by Oscar winners Joel and Ethan Coen (“No Country for Old Men”). The film stars Guatemalan/Cuban actor Oscar Isaac who plays the title character, a young folk singer trying to make a name for himself in Greenwich Village in 1961. Just being the lead actor in a Coen brothers’ film is impressive enough, but if Isaac can somehow fight his way into the top five (he’s going up against huge names like Tom Hanks and Matthew McConaughey, among others), it would be quite an accomplishment for the 33-year-old actor.

Bérénice Bejo in “The Past”


Bérénice Bejo, “The Past”
A lead actress getting a nomination for her work in a foreign film doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen (Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour” last year; Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” in 2007; Penelope Cruz in “Volver” in 2006). Still, the statistics really aren’t in Bejo’s favor. That doesn’t mean she can’t make a surprise push into the top five for her role in this Iranian drama by Academy Award-winning director Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation”).

Paulina Garcia, “Gloria”
It’s a long shot, but weirder things have happened, plus Garcia and the Chilean film itself are getting great reviews. However, this category is so competitive that there might not be enough room in the top five to honor a newcomer to the mix. And again, read about Bejo above. I said a lead actress getting a nomination for her work in a foreign film doesn’t happen very often, so two of them getting a nod in the same year is virtually impossible. But I’m only saying this because it’s only happened twice in the Oscars’ 85-year history. The last time was in 1976 when Marie-Christine Barrault was nominated for the French film “Cousin cousine” alongside Liv Ullmann for the Swedish film “Face to Face.”


Zoe Saldaña, “Out of the Furnace”
The Dominican/Puerto Rican actress is going to need some major precursor awards help to get into the big race, but anything is possible, especially since this category is never very predictable.

Melonie Diaz, “Fruitvale Station”
She’s been left out of most conversations, but Diaz is a gem in this movie and balances Michael P. Jordan’s performance very well. But when it comes to a supporting actress in “Fruitvale Station,” most are giving Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) more love (and even she’s a long shot).

Cameron Diaz, “The Counselor”
While she’s technically still listed by some Oscar pundits as being in the running, she really isn’t. Not only was “The Counselor” surprisingly unbearable to watch, Diaz was literally the weakest link the star-studded cast. Guess that sexually-explicit scene in the Ridley Scott film didn’t do much for her. It just goes to show that grinding pantiless on the windshield of a car won’t necessarily earn you the kind of attention you need to turn the right heads.

Director/screenwriter/editor Alfonso Cuarón on the set of “Gravity.”



FRONTRUNNER: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”


POSSIBLE: Alfonso Cuarón and Jonas Cuarón, “Gravity”
LONG SHOT: Sebastian Lelio and Gonzalo Maza, “Gloria”


LONG SHOT: Guillermo del Toro, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
LONG SHOT: Roberto Orci, “Star Trek: Into Darkness”


FRONTRUNNER: Emmanuel Lubezki, “Gravity”
POSSIBLE: Rodrigo Prieto, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
LONG SHOT: Emmanuel Lubezki, “To the Wonder”


FRONTRUNNER: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”

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