By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –
Since cinema is a type of art, sometimes filmmakers produce films that focus on art history and/or creative expression. Two of the most famous films that celebrate art and life are Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) and La La Land (2016). A recipient of two “Best Director” Oscars for two “Best Picture” winners should have been able to shed light upon the life and times of a famous painter, right? Well…that depends on the artistic merit of Goya’s Ghosts (2006) and the subjectivity of creativity.
Even though this film failed to receive major nominations during awards season that year, it is still as stylized as Goya’s artwork. Like many period dramas, this film combines drama with artistic merit to create a unique work of cinematic art. The three main stars (Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, and Stellan Skarsgård) all form an ensemble cast even though both Bardem and Portman had to wait awhile before winning Oscar gold. Just like many historical fiction films, this movie beautifully captures the era of Goya himself, and this film is definitely a sight to behold.
Even though this film features some of the biggest names working in Hollywood (as of its 2006 release), this film really could have done better. The film itself appears to have faded to obscurity when Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman starred in more iconic films like Biutiful (2010) and Black Swan (2010), films that earned both of these stars Academy Award recognition (even though Javier Bardem lost the “Best Actor” Oscar to Colin Firth in The King’s Speech that same year).
The quality of Javier Bardem’s performance is also a bit ambiguous. Jeffrey Lyons from NBC praised this actor, but Bardem failed to receive nominations from major awards circuits. The performance itself is also similar to when Amy Irving earned both an Oscar and a Razzie award nomination her supporting role in Yentl (1983). At least Javier Bardem won an Oscar the following year for his supporting role in the “Best Picture” winner No Country for Old Men (2007) the following year.
A fundamental fact is that each perform has his or her own opinion as to what he or she considers to be beautiful. Javier Bardem might have been nominated for an Oscar for his leading role in Biutiful (2010), but some people might say that Goya’s Ghosts is not really that meritorious. Nevertheless, the haunting legacy of Goya lives on within this film that is just as graceful and beguiling as the fascinating life of one of the greatest painters in both Spanish and art history.
Goya’s Ghosts (2006) Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every painting
Drink a Shot: for every historical reference (including Napoleon and The Spanish Inquisition)
And Cheers: to the power and enduring legacy of Goya and his exquisite art!