Director Alfonso Cuaron’s drama “Roma” earned 10 nominations for the 91st Academy Awards, which will take place on Feb. 24, 2019.
The Spanish-language film, based on Cuaron’s memory of his upbringing in Mexico City, was nominated for best picture, best foreign language film, and Cuaron earned nominations for best directing and best screenplay.
“Roma” tells the story of a young woman, Cleo, played by newcomer Yalitza Aparicio, and her life as a a housekeeper to a middle-class family in Mexico City in the 1970s.
The film documents the familial relationships between Cleo and the ones she cares for, with Aparicio’s character modeled after Cuaron’s own nanny growing up.
The artful film has already taken over the awards circuit this season. At the 2019 Golden Globe Awards, Cuaron won best director of a motion picture and the film won best foreign language motion picture.
Cuaron scored the best director win, yet again, at the Critics’ Choice Awards. The film also won for best foreign language film, along with best picture and best cinematography.
If you haven’t seen the film yet, here’s what you need to know ahead of the 91st Academy Awards:
Yalitza Aparicio, who was just nominated for best actress in a leading role, gives a compelling and honest performance in her role as the family’s nanny, Cleo. She is now the second Mexican best actress Oscar nominee.
“From the very first casting call to this morning, my Roma journey has been extraordinary,” she said in a statement to ABC News. “As a daughter of a domestic worker and an indigenous woman myself, I am proud this movie will help those of us who feel invisible be seen.”
“I am eternally grateful to the Academy for recognizing Roma,” she added.
The 25-year-old told Variety that she related to the character, “because of her background and how she managed to keep going despite adversity.”
However, Aparicio wasn’t on the path to becoming an actress before taking on this big role.
She’s actually a schoolteacher and only auditioned for the part after going to the audition with her sister, who is a singer and wanted to try for the role herself.
“My sister thinks that I’m shy and don’t speak that much. So she wanted me to go through the experience,” Aparicio told Deadline. “And also because she was very curious, as there has never been a casting before in our hometown. I didn’t want to do it, but I did.”
Cuaron told the Guardian that one of the reasons he picked Aparicio for a role that was so dear to his heart was because, “there was this amazing sense of familiarity; this mix of intelligence and warmth.”
“We cast for almost a year, and I couldn’t find the right person,” he told the outlet.
“Sometimes, I’d meet women who looked like Libo, but they wouldn’t feel like her. Or sometimes I’d meet people who felt like Libo, but they didn’t look like her. I was so lucky when I met Yalitza Aparicio. It was such an immediate impression.”
With acclaimed director Cuaron behind the film, the powerful visual elements and stirring creative direction within should come as no surprise to viewers.
The Mexican film director’s impressive resume includes several famous projects.
He is the director behind 2013 hit “Gravity,” which won 7 Oscars, 2001 Mexican drama “Y Tu Mamá También,” 2004 film “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” 2006 drama “Children of Men” and 1998 film “Great Expectations.”
The foreign language film also represents a stride towards Indigenous representation in film. Aparicio told the New York Times what her nomination would mean in terms of inclusivity.
“I’d be breaking the stereotype that because we’re Indigenous we can’t do certain things because of our skin color,” she told the outlet.
“Receiving that nomination would be a break from so many ideas,” she added. “It would open doors to other people — to everyone — and deepen our conviction that we can do these things now.”
In a video for Aparicio’s December spread of Vogue Mexico, the actress spoke about what the cover shoot meant to her.
“Certain stereotypes are being broken: that only people with a certain profile can be actresses or be on the cover of magazines,” she said in the video. “Other faces of México are now being recognized. It is something that makes me so happy and proud of my roots.”
However, Aparicio faced discrimination and racist comments relating to her Indigenous heritage after being made Vogue Mexico’s cover star.
“When Yalitza was on the cover of Vogue, you have no idea of the amount of racist comments about it. So, 1971 or 2018? The problems are even more acute today,” Cuaron told The Guardian.
Aparicio isn’t the only one to shine in the film. Mexican actress Marina De Tavira, who plays the mother of the family in “Roma,” also earned a nomination.
“I really never expected this!” she told ABC News on her nomination.
“It’s really personal and at the same it’s become universal,” she added on why she believes the film has been so successful. “I think we all can relate to it. It comes from the heart,” she added.
The barrier-breaking film is sure to have an exciting night!
The Oscars will air live Sunday, February 24, 8e|5p on ABC.