Nominations: Best Foreign Language Film, Best MakeupWins/Snubs: The Sea Inside won best Foreign film, over The Chorus (which is also awesome), Yesterday, As it is in Heaven, and Downfall. I haven't seen the latter 3, but it's a very deserving film, so I don't have a problem. If this movie had been made today, it's likely Javier Bardem would have gotten a Best Actor nomination, though perhaps he was #6, after winner Jamie Foxx, Leo DiCaprio (The Aviator), Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland, stay tuned for more on that film), Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) and Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda). Actually, listing them makes me realize, he likely was #6. Since I don't like Million Dollar Baby, I'd put him up over Clint, but that's more personal choice than objective observation.
Ramon Sampedro (Bardem) dove off a cliff into water in his 20s, hit his head on the bottom and broke his neck. There's some allusion to the idea that perhaps he was okay with killing himself then (they don't say he was trying to kill himself by jumping off the cliff, but that perhaps he was well aware of the risks and did it knowingly). For most of the movie, it's 25 years later. He's a quadriplegic, and is taken care of all day, every day, but his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. They've all changed their lives to accommodate his care. Now he wants to fight for his right to die and a group, led by Gene (Clara Segura) is helping him legally. A lawyer, Julia (Belen Rueda) has been hired, who also wants to help him write his book of poems and letters. Julia also has a degenerative disease that will eventually leave her in a wheelchair. There are many hurdles to overcome - the court thinks it is a crime to assist someone to die. During an interview on TV, a local woman, Rosa (Lola Duenas) sees Ramon and comes to see him to convince him to live. She's had a rough life, and he's kind and talks to her, and eventually she falls in love with him. However, Ramon has many rules for himself that help make it easy to hold fast to the idea of dying, and one is not loving.
This movie is sad, and makes you feel helpless, but above all makes you wonder about what you would do - both if you were the one trapped in the bed and if you were the people surrounding him being asked to kill him. Would you help him or justify your love by caring for him instead, despite his wishes? It's a hard movie to watch, but still a really terrific story told particularly well with Bardem's sweet smile and knowing attitude. He must be right about his decision, and hold fast to it. There's a scene where he's arguing with a disabled priest that is priceless. It likely won't convince you of one correct side, but it will make you think about what you believe.