10 Best Movies of Penelope Cruz: Penelope Cruz is a renowned Spanish actress. She is best known for undertaking a wide range of roles in movies across all genres. She has won numerous awards, including an Academy Award and a British Academy Film Award. She has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, four Golden Globe Awards, along with five Screen Actors Guild Awards. She is the first Spanish actress to have received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in addition to having won an Academy Award.

This Award-winning Spanish actress is best known for her roles in “Vanilla Sky” (2001), “Volver” (2006), “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008), and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” (2011). Her real name is Penelope Cruz Sanchez, and she was raised in the Madrid community of Alcobendas. Cruz as a bubbly and outgoing youngster, enjoyed acting out advertisements for her family and had aspirations of becoming an actor.

But when she started learning classical ballet at a very young age, her acting desires took a slight diversion. Cruz spent nine years studying dance, but by the time she was in her mid-teens, her passion for movies had grown to the stage where she decided to give up acting in favor of ballet. However, Cruz had an “it factor” that casting and talent agents immediately recognized, though she never received any professional acting instruction.

When she was 15, Cruz stood out from 300 girls during an audition to win a spot with a Spanish talent agency. From there, she began appearing in Spanish TV shows and music videos, thus slowly learning the chops she needed to be in front of a camera. In 1992, Cruz landed her first big break with a supporting role in the romance-drama “Jamon, Jamon” (1992). Also appearing in the film was a young actor and Cruz’s future husband, Javier Bardem. “Jamon, Jamon” was a big hit in Spain, thus making Cruz a star in her native country.

In 2007 she earned her first Academy Award nomination for her role in director Pedro Almodóvar’s comedy-drama Volver (2006). Two years later, she went on to earn her first Oscar for her supporting role in Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Cruz earned another Oscar nomination for her supporting role in 2009’s Nine, making it her third nomination in four years. If the 2000s were a breakout decade for Penelope Cruz, the 2010s would prove to be just as good.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, which was about the assassination of the iconic 90s fashion designer Gianni Versace, was critically acclaimed while earning Cruz an Emmy nomination. After her acclaimed television performance, Cruz returned to film acting in 2019 with a part in Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory (2019). The film, which was Cruz’s sixth collaboration with the director, was also nominated for two Golden Globe Awards.

Listed below are the ten most critically acclaimed films in which she has participated by taking on versatile roles:

10. On the Fringe – 2022 (Tomatometer: 80%)

On the Fringe - 10 Best Penelope Cruz Movies

The movie, which has an 80% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, centers on the life of Rafa, a lawyer-activist dedicated to assisting those who are facing eviction from their homes. Rafa prioritizes his commitment to lost causes over his family, which is made up of his wife Helena and stepson Ral. Over the course of 24 dramatic hours, Rafa’s story intertwines with those of Teodora, an elderly woman who has lost her home after offering a financial guarantee to her son, and Azucena, a retail cashier who lives with Manuel and is about to lose her home.

ScreenDaily deemed the film to be “pacey, propulsive stuff” in which the helmer “combines a social conscience with a thriller’s sense of mounting pressure,” while Fotogramas rated the film 4 out of 5 stars, highlighting the honesty of the proposal as the best thing about the film, otherwise praising the “impressive acting works” that Botto obtained from Tosar and Cruz, which result into something “dazzling and touching”

9. Live Flesh – 1997 (Tomatometer: 85%)

With an 85% rating on RottenTomatoes, the film is about Elena, who is uninterested in Victor and tells him to leave the apartment before her dealer gets there. Their ensuing argument and struggle draw the attention of policemen Sancho (José Sancho) and David (Javier Bardem). As Elena flees, her gun goes off, paralyzing David.

Six years later, Victor gets out of jail and begins having an affair with Sancho’s wife as David and Elena’s marriage falls apart. Critics at Rotten Tomatoes say, “Live Flesh surveys the fallout from an act of violence with a mature melodrama that sees Pedro Almodóvar working in surprisingly restrained form.”

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8. Broken Embraces – 2009 (Tomatometer: 82%)

Broken Embraces - 10 Best Penelope Cruz Movies, According to rotten tomatoes
Penelope Cruz in Broken Embraces (2009)

This is a 2009 Spanish film written, produced, and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Led by an ensemble cast consisting of many Almodóvar regulars, it stars Lluís Homar as a blind Madrilenian screenwriter who recalls his tragic love for Lena, played by Penélope Cruz, the deceased lead actress in his last directional feature Girls and Suitcases, who was also the mistress of a powerful, obsessive businessman (José Luis Gómez).

Stylistically, the film has been described as a hybrid of film noir and melodrama. Thematically, Broken Embraces addresses themes like voyeurism, repression, prostitution, death, vengeance, fixation, illness, and drugs. Critics at Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and wrote that “Broken Embraces is a voluptuary of a film, drunk on primary colors, caressing Penélope Cruz, using the devices of a Hitchcock to distract us with surfaces while the sinister uncoils beneath.

7. Open Your Eyes – 1997 (Tomatometer: 87%)

Open Your Eyes - 10 Best Penelope Cruz Movies

Earning a fine 87% rating on RottenTomatoes, Open Your Eyes is about a Handsome 25-year-old Cesar (Eduardo Noriega) who had it all – a successful career, expensive cars, a swank bachelor’s pad, and an endless string of beautiful and willing women. He is then thrown into a strange psychological mystery after a car accident scars his face and lands him in prison.

The film’s intersecting planes of dream and reality have prompted some critics to suggest comparisons to Calderón de la Barca’s 1635 play Life Is a Dream. An American remake entitled Vanilla Sky, directed by Cameron Crowe was released in 2001, with Penélope Cruz reprising her role.

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6. Volver – 2006 (Tomatometer: 91%)

Volver- 10 Best Penelope Cruz Movies

Starring Penelope Cruz and others, the plot revolves around an eccentric family of women from a wind-swept region south of Madrid; Cruz stars as Raimunda, a working-class woman forced to go to great lengths to protect her 14-year-old daughter Paula. To top off the family crisis, her mother, Irene, returns from the dead to tie up loose ends.

Volver premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d’Or. It received critical acclaim and ultimately won two awards at the festival for Best Actress (shared by the six main actresses) and Best Screenplay.

5. Belle Epoque – 1992 (Tomatometer: 95%)

Belle Epoque - 10 Best Penelope Cruz Movies

This film starring Penelope Cruz is a 1992 comedy-drama film directed by Fernando Trueba. Consisting of a fable-like story, primarily displaying a warm tone, it is set in an idyllic countryside location during the transition to the Second Spanish Republic. The film received the Goya Award for Best Film along with eight other Goya Awards and was named Best Foreign Language Film at the 66th Academy Awards.

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4. Parallel Mothers – 2021 (Tomatometer Rating: 96%)

This film is about two mothers who give birth in an unexpected way on the same day. Cruz acts as Janis Martínez Moreno, a photographer who goes through a tumultuous journey to find her real child. Rotten Tomatoes mentions in its review, “A brilliant forum for Penélope Cruz’s talent, Parallel Mothers reaffirms the familiar pleasures of Almodóvar’s filmmaking while proving he’s still capable of growth.

3. Pain and Glory – 2019 (Tomatometer Rating: 96%)

penelope cruz on Pain and Glory (2019)
Penelope Cruz on Pain and Glory (2019)

This film is a 2019 Spanish drama film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar about a film director who reflects on the choices he’s made in life as the past and present come crashing down around him. The RottenTomatoes critics consensus reads: “Pain and Glory find writer-director Pedro Almodóvar drawing on his own life to rewarding effect — and honoring his craft as only a master filmmaker can.” On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 88 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating “universal acclaim.”

The movie has been said to be a homage to the works of Paul Auster. At one point, while Salvador is in a heroin-induced stupor, Alberto logs on to his computer. As the camera pans across the desktop screen, an icon entitled “Paul Auster” can be seen. The narrative structure and arc of the film, with its many coincidences, are like a visual depiction of an Auster novel.

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2. Official Competition – 2021 (Tomatometer: 96%)

Penélope Cruz plays Lola Cuevas, a highly eccentric Director. The film revolves around a wealthy businessman who hires a famous filmmaker to help him make a smash-hit film. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 96% of 151 reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The website’s critics’ consensus reads, “Its premise may resonate most with hardcore film fans, but Official Competition’s tight focus and sharp humor have a universal appeal.

At the 2021 Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival, it won the award for Outstanding International Feature. At the 2021 Vancouver International Film Festival, it won the Audience Award for most popular film in the Galas and Special Presentations program.

1. All About My Mother – 1999 (Tomatometer: 98%)

Penelope Cruz in All About My Mother - 1999
Penelope Cruz in All About My Mother – 1999

The film centers on Manuela, an Argentine nurse who supervises donor organ transplants at Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid. She is also a single mother to Esteban, a teenager who aspires to become a writer. Penelope Cruz plays Rosa, a young nun who works in a shelter for sex workers who have experienced violence and is pregnant with someone’s child but is also HIV positive.

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 98% based on 91 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 8.10/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Almodovar weaves together a magnificent tapestry of femininity with an affectionate wink to classics of theater and cinema in this poignant story of love, loss, and compassion.” On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 87 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating “universal acclaim.”

Source: Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, IMDb

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