By Caryn James | James on Screens May 31, 2011 at 1:30AM
No one actually expected Javier Bardem (or anyone other than Colin Firth) to win the Oscar for Best Actor, but Bardem’s nomination for Biutiful was an unlikely, supremely deserved triumph anyway. In what may be his best performance to date (that’s saying a lot) he is extraordinarily subtle and moving in a exquisitely poignant foreign-language film.
Bardem plays Uxbal, who lives in an impoverished neighborhood of Barcelona, and can speak to the recently dead. Facing a lethal illness, he knows he will join them soon, leaving behind two small children and a mentally unbalanced ex-wife. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (in photo with Bardem) brings his usual graceful multi-strand storytelling and social awareness to the film, but it is Barden who adds its irresistible emotion.
The DVD unfortunately has no commentary, although there is a short feature in which Inarritu flip-cams himself, the cast and crew, revealing that some of the non-professional actors had stories almost as sad as Uxbal’s. Honestly you can skip the feature, but don’t miss this artful, exquisite film.