Oscars: Mexico Selects 'Roma' for Foreign-Language Category

After winning the Golden Lion at Venice, the acclaimed black-and-white autobiographical drama has been garnering early Oscar buzz.

What seemed like a foregone conclusion was made official on Friday when Mexico selected Alfonso Cuaron's Spanish-language memoir film Roma as its foreign-language film Oscar submission.  

Based on the rave reviews coming out of the Venice and Telluride fests, the Netflix-distributed pic is seen as one of the frontrunners to secure a nomination in the category. 

Cuaron made history in 2014 when he became the first Mexican-born filmmaker to win a directing Oscar for his space thriller Gravity. Later, his fellow countrymen and longtime friends Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant) and Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) also triumphed at the Academy Awards with best picture and directing Oscars.

Despite the individual achievements of the Three Amigos, as Cuaron, del Toro and Inarritu are known, Mexico has never brought home an Oscar for best foreign-language film. Since the mid-1950s, the country has landed eight nominations in the category, including the Inarritu drama Biutiful in 2010 and the del Toro dark fantasy Pan's Labyrinth in 2006. Many have high hopes that Cuaron's Roma will pull it off this time around.

Netflix will begin streaming Roma on Dec. 14 and is considering giving the Golden Lion winner a limited theatrical run in the U.S. In Mexico, the pic had an exclusive one-week release in August in order to qualify as a foreign-language Oscar entry.

Cuaron produced, wrote and directed Roma, which he describes as his most personal film yet. He also shot the picture himself because his regular cinematographer, three-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki, was unavailable.

The black-and-white autobiographical picture draws on Cuaron's memories of growing up in Mexico City's Roma neighborhood. The Hollywood Reporter's Venice review calls it "a memory film of unusual beauty that pushes to the foreground what is commonly left in the background."

In addition to a possible Oscar nomination in the foreign-language category, Roma could also secure best picture and directing nods, but it will be challenging for a black-and-white, Spanish-language film. Nominees for the 91st Oscars will be announced in January, and the awards ceremony is set to be held Feb. 24.