Penelope Cruz…Oscar winner?!?!

Oscar buzz grows for Penelope Cruz in “Volver”
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Penelope Cruz calls it the hardest role she’s ever played, and if early reviews and award buzz hold up, her portrayal of an abused girl’s mom in “Volver” could win Cruz the first-ever Oscar for a Spanish actress.
The movie debuts in major U.S. cities on November 3, and it reunites Cruz with award-winning director Pedro Almodovar, who cast the then relatively unknown Spanish beauty in his 1997 movie “Live Flesh” and later in “All About My Mother.”
In English, “Volver” translates into coming back, and Almodovar returns to exploring the lives of Spanish women — which characterized his early films — and to his quirky sense of humor after more dramatic fare like 2004’s “Bad Education.”
Despite the funny moments in “Volver,” viewing sexual abuse with anything but a serious mind is hard, and getting the right mix of comedy and tragedy challenged 32-year-old Cruz.
“It’s the most difficult and complex character somebody has put in my hands,” she told Reuters. “I know women who have gone through things that could have destroyed them, but they kept fighting. … My character is not a victim.”
Of course, numerous movies have yet to be seen before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gives out its coveted awards in February, and Cruz faces stiff competition from the likes of Helen Mirren in “The Queen” and Kate Winslet for “Little Children,” among others.
But Cruz has several factors in her favor including global star power and an increasingly strong resume that varies from box office winners like “Gothika” to art-minded “Vanilla Sky” and critically lauded Italian film “Non ti muovere,” or “Don’t Move,” in which she played a poor, small town waitress.
In “Volver,” Cruz portrays Raimunda, the wife of a husband whose roving eyes land on Raimunda’s teenage daughter. When Raimunda discovers this, she gets revenge in a way that, ironically, puts her into business running a local cafe.
At the same time, Raimunda’s sister, Sole, has begun seeing the ghost of their dead mother, and Sole’s visions lead to the unraveling of a mystery that has strained family relations.
Cruz said the script was the best she ever read, and that type of comment is high praise for Almodovar, who won the screenwriting Oscar for 2002’s “Talk to Her.”
“He has cast me in movies, he has given me characters that had nothing to do with other parts I played and nothing to do with who I am in real life,” she said. “He has a great imagination to see what actors can do before they’ve done it.”
Because of her striking good looks, Cruz often played the sexy love interest of leading men in her early Hollywood roles. But in films like “Don’t Move” and “Volver,” she expanded her range to portray independent-minded women, and her contemporary beauty became as much a liability as an asset.
For “Volver,” Almodovar required Cruz to wear a “false ass” so she would appear like 1950s Italian film heroines, such as Sophia Loren, with a round, curvy figure.
Critics have responded with mostly good reviews. “She is the kind of actress who depends on a strong screenplay and a good director, but I think the potential is there,” said Emanuel Levy, a veteran reviewer at
Asked about all the Oscar talk, Cruz said she was flattered and excited but preferred not to think about it.
“I like being honest about those things and of course it would make me happy. I have no interest in pretending to be cool about it and say, ‘I don’t care,’ because that is fake.”