Soderbergh's 'Che' among award contenders

MADRID — Spain’s foreign-language Oscar contender, “The Blind Sunflowers” helmed by vet Jose Luis Cuerda, has nabbed 15 nominations for the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 23rd Goya Awards.

Steven Soderbergh’s “Che” also scored a bevy of noms, including one for Puerto Rican-born thesp Benicio Del Toro. Echoing U.S. kudos, Penelope Cruz scored a supporting actress nom for Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

Mexico’s Diego Luna is in the running for actor, thanks to a tearaway perf in Spanish helmer Agustin Diaz Yanes’ “Solo quiero caminar,” which took 11 noms.

Recognition for films that involve foreign talent behind or in front of the camera is still quite rare here, where Academy members consider such pics not Spanish enough to qualify.

“Sunflowers” has no such bar in Spain. It’s already a crowd-pleaser, grossing e4 million ($5.6 million).

The fact that the film contains many elements typical of upmarket Spanish filmmaking — a period meller with a social underbelly, set in the grim aftermath of the Spanish Civil War — may have helped its cause as well.

The noms also are a salute to the pic’s cinematographer Hans Burmann and co-screenwriter Rafael Azcona, who is considered by many to be Spain’s greatest scribe. Both died recently.

“Sunflowers” and “Caminar” will face off for best film with Javier Fesser’s “Camino” (seven noms) and Alex de la Iglesia’s “The Oxford Murders” (six).

The Goya ceremony will take place in Madrid on Feb. 1.

(Emilio Mayorga contributed to this article.)

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