MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Mexicans celebrated on Tuesday as Roma grabbed 10 Oscar nominations – none more exuberantly than the film’s breakout star, Yalitza Aparicio, who melted hearts and went viral with her ecstatic reaction to her best actress nomination.
Aparicio, an indigenous schoolteacher with no acting experience who landed the part when she accompanied her sister to the audition, posted a video on Twitter of the moment she got the news.
Watching the announcements on a laptop in what appeared to be her hotel room in Tijuana – where she had travelled for a photo shoot at the US-Mexican border fence – Aparicio let out a scream when her name popped up, then pressed her hands to her face, choking back tears, in a gesture of pure joy no actress could feign.
The video went viral, garnering tens of thousands of likes and countless replays on Mexican TV.
“I’m so happy. I was not expecting this news when I woke up so early today,” Aparicio wrote.
Filmed in Spanish and the indigenous Mixtec language, set in Mexico City in the 1970s and filmed in black and white, Roma is not supposed to be the kind of movie that finds huge success in the United States – especially not in the Mexico-bashing era of President Donald Trump.
But Alfonso Cuaron’s intimate portrait of his childhood and the two women who raised him – his nanny, played by Aparicio, and his mother, played by best supporting actress nominee Marina de Tavira – garnered the most Oscar nominations of any film this year, together with Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite. Roma scored several firsts in the process: first Spanish-language film nominated for best picture, and the first nominations for streaming giant Netflix in the directing, original screenplay, foreign language film and best picture categories, among others.
For Mexico – where the film triggered a national conversation on race, class and the traumas of the past – the news was celebrated by figures from the president on down.
Cuaron “is a first-rate filmmaker, a source of pride for Mexico. I congratulate him and all the actors and production team…. We should all see the film,” said President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador – admitting that he himself had not watched it yet.
“We’re all happy! What can I say? It’s been a very intense morning,” said Eugenio Caballero, the production designer on Roma who famously recreated Cuaron’s boyhood home and street in minute detail for the film.
“I’m so happy to see the nominations for Yalitza, Marina, Alfonso and the entire team,” he told AFP.
Mexican filmmakers have racked up an impressive string of successes at the Academy Awards in recent years.