Penélope Cruz’s 20 best films – ranked! | Movies

20. Don’t Move (2004)

A weird, unwholesome, sexually specific melodrama whose depiction of rape would now be thought-about problematic, to say the least. Penélope Cruz is made as much as look genuine and unglamorous as Italia, a susceptible working-class lady assaulted by a distinguished surgeon (performed by the movie’s director, Sergio Castellitto) who then conceives an obsession together with her. Not a fantastic half for Cruz, however the film does not less than strategy her with one thing aside from the standard celebratory/lifeforce reverence.

19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)

The function of the comely Greek lady Pelagia on this syrupy wartime romance is the type of Euro love curiosity function that Hollywood would supply Cruz with out occupied with it. Here she is torn between her hunky fisherman boyfriend, performed by Christian Bale, and naturally, the outrageously accented Italian officer Captain Corelli, performed by Nicolas Cage, billeted on her island and twanging away at that terrible mandolin of his. Cruz’s proud/passionate persona is caricatured right here.

As Pelagia in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
As Pelagia in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Photograph: Universal Pictures/Allstar

18. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Cruz had labored with director Rob Marshall on the toe-curling musical Nine, however this was one thing extra palatable: a uncommon probability for her to play mainstream Hollywood comedy. She did it effectively, hanging some meet-cute sparks with one of many largest franchise stars of the period. Johnny Depp returned because the roguish pirate Jack Sparrow and Cruz enjoyably performs fiery pirate Angelica, an outdated rival or possibly outdated flame of Jack’s. Yet there’s a disconnect: Cruz can’t assist however be heat and romantic, whereas Depp’s Sparrow is a fastidious, oddly asexual flip.

17. Soy Uno Entre Cien Mil (or, I’m One In A Hundred Thousand) (2016)

This is a 45-minute documentary directed by and starring Cruz, concerning the work of the Uno Entre Cien Mil basis, a Spanish NGO that raises cash to fund analysis tasks into childhood leukemia. Cruz presents the movie and interviews physicians, careworkers, mother and father and naturally the youngsters themselves – which she does with heartfelt sincerity and compassion. It’s fascinating to see a nonfiction movie that addresses Cruz’s now firmly established motherly picture.

With Jorge Sanz in Belle Époque.
With Jorge Sanz in Belle Époque. Photograph: Sony Pictures/Allstar

16. Belle Époque (1992)

The Spanish director Fernando Trueba gained the very best overseas language Oscar for this film, a variation on Don Siegel’s US civil warfare drama The Beguiled, giving Cruz an essential early function. This takes place simply earlier than the Spanish civil warfare: a military deserter fetches up at a villa owned by an unrepentant outdated anarchist who is simply too comfortable to supply hospitality, and the fugitive finds himself extremely enamoured of the proprietor’s daughters, particularly the harmless Luz, performed by Cruz. A candy, mild, uncomplicatedly sensual film that established the keynote to Cruz’s personal sexuality on display.

15. I’m So Excited (2013)

Cruz’s display profession will at all times be formed by her magnificent work with the nice grasp Pedro Almodóvar and their first joint look on this listing is Almodóvar’s modestly supposed comedian romp set aboard a airplane, during which his longtime main woman contributes a high-spirited cameo in the beginning. She is, of all issues, a baggage-handler driving one of many baggage carts throughout the asphalt when she is distracted by her husband, a ground-crew man performed by Antonio Banderas – which ends up in a fateful revelation. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it efficiency and but her look flavours your entire film.

With Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky.
With Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky. Photograph: Paramount/Allstar

14. Vanilla Sky (2001)

Cruz co-starring with Tom Cruise ought to theoretically have been a conflation of pure bodily gorgeousness to blow the roof off any cinema on the planet. And in actual fact, after filming Vanilla Sky, the couple (Penélocruise? Tomcruz?) had a three-year relationship that reportedly foundered on Cruz’s incapability to simply accept Cruise’s Scientological strictures. This was a Hollywood remake of the far superior Spanish thriller thriller Open Your Eyes (see under), during which a rich man will get beauty surgical procedure to restore his face, which has been ruined in a automotive crash, and falls in love with a stupendous lady (Cruz). In this remake, Cruz reprises her function, however reverse a extra self-consciously starry male lead; this arguably unbalances their relationship, and the movie’s complete emotional ecosystem.

13. The Queen of Spain (2016)

It has change into a cliche to check Cruz to Sophia Loren, however it’s unavoidable on this fulfilling, foolish meta-movie comedy from Trueba. Cruz is on regal type as Macarena, a beautiful movie diva from the 50s who’s returning to her Spanish homeland after a triumphant Hollywood profession to play Queen Isabella of Castille in a preposterous US-Spanish co-production. The manufacturing runs to farcical issues, not less than partly as a result of an anti-Franco director, serving a jail time period as a political prisoner, is doing day-release handbook labour on the set. The total forged and crew change into concerned in a scheme for him to flee.

As Isabel in Live Flesh.
As Isabel in Live Flesh. Photograph: Mgm/Allstar

12. Live Flesh (1997)

Another quick look from Cruz on this early film of scrumptious brashness from Almodóvar, loosely tailored from the novel by Ruth Rendell. Her sensational charisma and display presence, as a intercourse employee who offers delivery to the film’s hero within the opening sequence, present the motivating energy for the drama. It can also be in all probability the case that, because the years went on, Almodóvar needed to change his personal type to accommodate the richness and breadth of Cruz’s performing potential – and her presence in his life is what ruled his improvement as a film-maker.

11. Elegy (2008)

Cruz’s fiercely composed efficiency on this movie from Isabel Coixet reclaims her character from the considerably vapid desire-object that Philip Roth appears to have had in thoughts in his unique novel, The Dying Animal. She performs Consuela, the literature pupil in a category taught by the goatish sensualist and Roth alter ego David Kepesh, performed with beady-eyed focus by Ben Kingsley. They start an affair, and Cruz’s private flowering is signalled by her ditching her relatively lovable nerdy fringe in favour of one thing extra glamorous. As a performer, she goes toe-to-toe with Kingsley, who might need upstaged one other co-star.

10. Everybody Knows (2018)

Here is an atypical film from the Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi, coolly obtained by some critics on the time. He offers Cruz a really robust function, in a daring and complicated thriller drama-thriller, as Laura, who comes for a household wedding ceremony to the Spanish village of her childhood together with her two youngsters, leaving her husband behind of their adopted house of Argentina. Her daughter tells Laura that she has discovered there’s a native man right here (performed by Javier Bardem) who was as soon as in love with Laura. It is an unhealed wound of the previous that’s to change into horribly important when Laura’s daughter disappears. Farhadi offers Cruz one thing completely different to do – she will not be the metafictional earth mom and romantic myth-icon that so many make of her, however somebody extra rooted within the grim and unadorned actual world of secrets and techniques and disgrace.

As Silvia in Jamón Jamón.
As Silvia in Jamón Jamón. Photograph: Cinetext Bildarchiv/Lola Films/Allstar

9. Jamón Jamón (1992)

Here is Cruz’s film debut – on the age of 18, she performed the attractive, younger Silvia, who lives in a surreally conceived Spanish small city the place the primary employers are a ham manufacturing plant and an underwear manufacturing facility. She has been having an affair with the spoilt younger inheritor to the tighty-whitey empire; the person’s formidable mom tries to interrupt them up by hiring a good-looking man to seduce Silvia, and that is Raúl, a wannabe bullfighter who has not too long ago been doing a little male-lingerie modelling, and has in actual fact an emotional reference to Silvia’s mom. He is performed by Bardem, whose look in Cruz’s CV right here is critical on condition that they have been to get married nearly 20 years later. Like Belle Époque the identical yr, Jamón Jamon’s extravagant sexiness and absurdity set the keynote for Cruz’s personal sensuality and desirability, which have been colored by a type of romantic innocence and allure.

8. Ma Ma (2015)

Basque film-maker Julio Medem directed this brashly emotional melodrama, clearly constructed round Cruz’s established persona, and for some critics, it was too schematic. But it’s such a stunning efficiency from her that the movie deserves consideration. She performs Magda, a trainer and single mum who will get breast most cancers after which types a relationship with Arturo, performed by Luis Tosar, a romantic improvement resulting in a fancy emotional triangle involving Magda’s physician. Granted, there’s something contrived and even a bit preposterous about all of it, however Cruz sells it with conviction; she is vivid in the way in which that solely she could be, and the movie shimmers and throbs with emotion.

7. Abre Los Ojos (or, Open Your Eyes) (1997)

A flawed however very intriguing movie about phantasm and actuality with hints of Buñuel and Franju, and rising cult standing. It comes from director and co-writer Alejandro Amenábar, starring the Spanish actor Eduardo Noriega and Cruz – later remade as Vanilla Sky, with Noriego’s function going to Tom Cruise. Noriega performs César, a wealthy younger man who will get beauty surgical procedure after being horribly disfigured in a automotive crash after which experiences ultra-real hallucinations indistinguishable from actuality involving an affair with the fascinating younger lady, Silvia (Cruz), whose dalliance with him led to the crash. In some methods, this film was instrumental in Cruz getting forged as a heightened model of the manic pixie dream lady: the attractive, unattainable, faintly dreamlike muse-like determine for entranced males.

6. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Cruz gained her greatest supporting actress Oscar for this Barcelona-set movie from Woody Allen – a average comedy from Allen’s luxury-tourist Euro interval that additionally included his Italian romp To Rome With Love (2012), during which Cruz performed a stereotypically conceived Italian name lady. This is a extra fascinating and engaged function for her and, regardless of the movie’s drawbacks, Cruz completely blows the remainder of the forged out of the water with a showstopper of a comic book efficiency. She performs Maria Elena, the passionate, troubled ex-wife of the moody Picasso-ish artist Juan Antonio, performed by Bardem – and enjoying collectively on this film kindled their skilled friendship into love; they married two years later. Maria Elena remains to be a presence in Juan Antonio’s life, looming over his try and seduce two visiting Americans, the Vicky and Cristina of the title, performed by Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson.

As Maria Elena in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
As Maria Elena in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Photograph: The Weinstein Company/Allstar

5. Broken Embraces (2009)

Here is without doubt one of the wonderful film mirages or dizzyingly mesmeric meta-melodramas that come so naturally to Almodóvar. Cruz performs a stunningly charismatic film star and producer’s mistress referred to as Lena (inevitably, that is quick for Magdalena, one other trace of the sacredness wrapped within the profane that Almodóvar has ecstatically found in Cruz’s display persona). There is a superb scene during which Lena tries on varied costumes and types, experimenting with a platinum-blonde Marilyn look. “Don’t smile!” gasps the enchanted director. “The wig is false enough!”

4. All About My Mother (1999)

For some, that is the high-water mark not merely of Cruz’s profession however Almodóvar’s additionally – and it continues to have a sensational impact, irradiating its followers with bliss. Brilliant although that is, I believe later Cruz/Almodóvar footage outmoded it. When a teenage boy is tragically run over and killed on the street, his mom decides to journey to Barcelona and make contact with the boy’s father: a trans intercourse employee who has additionally had a relationship with – and certainly impregnated – Sister Rosa, a younger nun performed by Cruz. It is an amazingly potent, complicated sample of emotional relationships and sexual identities, and though Cruz will not be the star (that is Cecilia Roth), her presence is integral. Almodóvar present in Cruz that harmless and nearly childlike high quality that anchors the film’s melodrama.

As Hermana Rosa in All About My Mother.
As Hermana Rosa in All About My Mother. Photograph: El Deseo/Allstar

3. Pain and Glory (2019)

Once once more, Cruz’s presence marks the supercharged place the place life and artwork meet in an Almodóvar movie: a movie about pleasure that’s itself a pleasure. Antonio Banderas performs Salvador, a movie director who’s within the grip of midlife disaster, well being worries and a profession lull. An opportunity assembly (that key Almodóvar narrative part) unlocks one thing in him and he experiences ecstatic reminiscences of his mom, splendidly performed by Cruz, a efficiency that fuses sensuality, motherhood and innocence – and likewise that sure kind of magnificence that’s idealised and poignantly unattainable by being up to now.

2. Parallel Mothers (2021)

Cruz and Almodóvar took it to the following degree with this late-breaking masterpiece concerning the passionate braveness of single moms. Cruz performs Janis, a classy photographer who will get pregnant after a quick affair; she finds herself sharing a room within the maternity unit with Ana (Milena Smit), a troubled teen who can also be going it alone. Janis turns into a buddy and even in some methods turns into a mum to her too. The ensuing baby-swap drama is deepened and complex by a plot line involving Spain’s fascist previous. Cruz brings to this function a maturity, ardour and emotional intelligence bordering on genius.

1. Volver (2006)

Volver is the fierce melodrama about girls’s bravery that almost all totally unleashes Cruz’s wonderful depth, magnificence and charisma. She performs Raimunda, a hardworking spouse and mom (after all) whose world shatters after a horrible act of violence. The film has one thing of Sirk and likewise Hitchcock, and there may be an incredible overhead shot of Raimunda washing a bloodstained knife within the kitchen sink. The shot discloses the glistening crown of her raven hair and an enamel miniature of the crucified Christ nestling in her cleavage – a picture wittily deconstructing the patriarchal world of church and state during which Raimunda finds herself, whereas additionally celebrating her unselfconscious resourcefulness and toughness. Cruz has an excellent tune on this movie: a lament for previous lives and loves that she delivers for the gang in a restaurant. She is one in every of cinema’s nice heroines.

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