Spain has recently caught worldwide recognition for its powerful and varied films, earning accolades from major film festivals worldwide. We’ve put together a list of some of the most influential films from Spain. If you’re looking to enjoy a foreign movie night this weekend, check out the trailers below and add the films to your Netflix DVD queue.
El Espíritu de la Colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive) | 1973
After eight-year-old Ana watches the film Frankenstein, she is convinced there’s a monster lurking in the abandoned houses of her village. Set in the Castilian countryside around 1940, The Spirit of the Beehive was called “one of the most beautiful and arresting films ever made in Spain, or anywhere in the past 25 years,” by British film critic Derek Malcolm.
After watching her mother succumb to cancer, nine-year-old Ana blames the death on her womanizing father and tries to poison him. Directed by Carlos Saura, Cría Cuervos is a haunting tale—part psychological drama and part political parable.
Todo Sobre mi Madre (All About My Mother) | 1999
This Oscar-winning masterpiece tells the story of a grieving mother looking for her transvestite ex-husband to inform him about their teenage son’s death. Considered by many to be director Pedro Almodóvar’s greatest film, Entertainment Weekly called it a “spectacular synthesis of everything that has always interested [Almodóvar]: proud women, lovely boys, beautiful drag queens, grand movie stars, gorgeous frocks, and wild wallpaper.”
Benigno and Marco become friends while looking after their comatose girlfriends in a private clinic as their stories unfold in flashbacks. According to Rolling Stone, director Pedro Almodóvar’s second Oscar win is a fantastic success: “The actors are outstanding, illuminating four different views of loneliness.”
El Bola (Pellet) | 2000
El Bola, an antisocial boy from an abusive home in Madrid, finds a new lease on life through a friend and his family. This gritty, emotional film won actor Juan José Ballesta a Goya (Spanish Oscar) for Best Newcomer in 2000. His stellar performance led Spaniards to continue calling him El Bola to this day.
Set in 1944 in post-Civil War Spain, a shy girl fascinated by fairy tales imagines a fantasy world to escape the violence of her real life with her new stepfather, a sadistic army captain. Winner of three Oscars (plus three more nominations), eight Goyas (and six more nominations), and three BAFTAs, Chicago Sun-Times calls Pan’s Labyrinth “one of the greatest of all fantasy films.”