Happy returns for 'Volver'

Cruz among pic's five Goya nods

Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" walked away with five top honors at the 21st Goya Awards ceremony Sunday, leaving rivals "Alatriste," "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Salvador" to divvy up the remainder of the prizes.

Despite the fact that "Volver" snagged several key awards, including film, director, actress, original score and supporting actress, Spain's most international director was not on hand to receive his award, instead opting to stay home. Almodovar had a falling out with the Spanish film academy in 2005 over the treatment of his film "Bad Education" and hasn't attended a gala ceremony since.

Even so, "Volver" star Penelope Cruz was the undisputed queen of the night.

Enveloped in the good vibes of being on home turf, Cruz — is nominated for an Oscar for the same role — won her second Goya award. The Spanish actress held court from a center seat in the auditorium and was greeted by winners on their way to pick up their own awards as well by the master of ceremonies, Jose Corbacho.

Upon receiving her Goya award for best actress for the role of a single mother in "Volver," an emotional Cruz thanked Almodovar.

"With him and with (the role of) Raimunda, I've lived the best moments of my life," said a teary-eyed Cruz, who admitted she would go straight to see the director upon leaving the ceremony.

With a lipstick kiss mark on her cheek, Cruz was the impromptu presenter of the following award, best feature animation, and congratulated Filmax's Julio Fernandez for taking home the prize for the boxoffice success "Perez, el ratoncito de tus suenos."

Later in the evening, she reappeared to accept Almodovar's directorial award for "Volver," his 16th feature.

Guillermo del Toro, whose "Labyrinth" had been nominated for 13 awards, took home seven statues and managed to snag the original screenplay nod as well as the new actress nod for Ivana Baquero. "Labyrinth" will represent Mexico for the foreign-language Oscar but is a co-production with Spain's Estudios Picasso Fabrica de Ficcion and Esperanto Filmoj.

Agustin Diaz-Yanes' "Alatriste" had been nominated in 15 categories but didn't fare so well, managing three wins — even missing the actor award for Viggo Mortensen.

The actor honor went to veteran Spanish thespian Juan Diego for "Vete de Mi."

"Alatriste" artistic director Benjamin Fernandez, costume designer Francesca Sartori and production designer Cristina Zumarraga took the film's awards.

Meanwhile, the political drama "Salvador," which had been nominated for 11 categories, would have left empty-handed if not for the adapted script win by Lluis Ascarazo.

An unexpected success stemmed from Daniel Sanchez Arevalo's directorial debut, "DarkBlueAlmostBlack," which earned him the best new director award as well as securing the supporting actor and new actor awards for Antonio de la Torre and Quim Gutierrez, respectively.

The Spanish film academy, which hands out the prestigious awards, made a conscientious effort to glamorize the event and shorten it, deciding to delay the televised broadcast by 30 minutes to cut down the speeches. The gala, which also has been hijacked by political interests in the past years and had seen its ratings plummet, was noticeably apolitical.

Rather than trumpet anti-Americanism as previous academy presidents have done at the gala, newcomer Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde chose simply to underscore the importance of cinema.

A complete list of winners can be found at www.hollywood reporter.com.
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