10 quintessential Pedro Almodóvar films that you might wanna watch if you’re a movie buff!

Aishwarya Srinivasan
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Pedro Almodóvar

Pedro Almodóvar films have made his signature style of filmmaking recognizable over the years and before you watch his latest short western drama, Strange Way of Life, you might wanna go through the best of his filmography!

Pedro Almodóvar is a prolific filmmaker who has won many prestigious awards like the Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA. He’s also one of the few filmmakers who write their own movies. Pedro entered the world of cinema in the 1970s when he was 18 years old and shifted to Madrid from his hometown. He then enrolled himself at the National School of Cinema, Madrid but after it unexpectedly closed down, he sharpened his filmmaking skills by himself. The first film he ever made was called Folle... folle... fólleme Tim! But it was not until a decade into his career that he got a career breakthrough with his movie, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. He sure had his favorites when it came to starring someone in his movie. Antonio Banderas, Cecilia Roth and Academy Award winner Penelope Cruz were a part of several projects made by him. 

He had his own peculiar style of filmmaking just like many other renowned directors do and that became his identity, and he carved a niche for himself. While his way of making movies was different, he did it without looking repetitive and always had a fresh take to it. His movies are known to be melodramatic while having a lot of color in the frame. He also mixes key elements like comedy, drama, sex and violence in his movies. Pedro Almodóvar is openly gay and his films popularly include characters that are from the LGBTQIA+ community, giving them the much deserved representation. His recent short film, Strange Way of Life, starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke, which is premiering at Cannes 2023 also has main protagonists from the queer community. His movies are heavily female centric and a lot of them famously revolve around the subject of motherhood. His movies build on shocking his audiences with premises that have never been explored before. 

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So let’s dig deeper into his best films so far!

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

The movie that put him on the map, Women on the Verge of a Breakdown stars Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas and Julieta Serrano. The film revolves around Maura’s character who is in search of her lover in order to get closure for why he really left her. The movie earned him an Oscar nomination for Best International Film. 

Volver (2006)

Volver is an emotionally impactful film where a mother who dies in a fire comes back from the dead to sort out unresolved issues between her and her children. The film has a good balance between a dark plot and some humor that manages to keep it light. The movie earned Penelope Cruz her first Oscar nomination. 

Talk To Her (2002)

Talk to Her is about two men who get to know each other while taking care of women who are in coma. The movie juggles between the past, present and future timelines of the four main characters. The film earned him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Bad Education (2004)

Bad Education deals with subject of sexual abuse of children in religious schools. The movie’s main characters are Enrique Goded and Ignacio Rodriquez who is a transgender drag queen who goes by the stage name Zahara. The movie goes back and forth between real life and the movie they are making together as a narrative revenge for the abuse they went through when they were in school. 

Pain and Glory (2019)

In Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar takes experiences and stories from his own childhood. The film is centered around an aging director who recalls joyful and painful memories from his past and reflects on his relationship with his mother in particular. 

All About My Mother (1999)

All About My Mother is quite different from his usual style of filmmaking but nevertheless the genuine emotion is alive in all his characters. This is another film that won him an Oscar for Best International Film. The movie is about a mother, who with the help of her friends is trying to get her life back on track and in a way becomes a mother figure for them too. 

Parallel Mothers (2021)

Parallel Mothers stars Penelope Cruz and Milena Smit who play two pregnant women who give birth on the same day, in the same hospital room. This leads to them having an unexplainable bond even though the two have completely different attitudes towards motherhood. The movie also shows the impact that the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s rule has had on many generations but the two storylines completely stay away from each other. 

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989)

The movie follows Ricky played by Antonio Banderas, who is just discharged from the psychiatric hospital and kidnaps an actress played by Victoria Abril and convinces her to marry him. The movie is aware of the fact that it is morally gray. 

Julieta (2016)

Julieta and Antia, an estranged mother-daughter duo reconnect with each other after 12 years. This happens when Julieta finds out that Antia is married and has children which depresses her and sends her on a path of reminiscing about their past and present relationship. 

The Skin I Live In (2011)

The Skin I Live In is a psychological thriller film with a twisted plot wherein a plastic surgeon holds a woman hostage in order to experiment on her. The plastic surgeon’s wife died in a fire and now in response to that trauma, he is in the process of making a second layer of skin that is damage resistant. 

Which of these have you watched before? Tell us in the comments below!

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