Pedro Almodovar He is an Academy Award, BAFTA, and Emmy winning director who has also written his own films. He started his filmmaking career in Madrid in the early 1970s. After the closure of the National Film School in Madrid, Almodóvar became self-taught. His first works were completed with a Super 8 camera; These shorts had no voice, so he was allegedly doing the voices himself. In 1978, he made his first feature film, Foley… Foley… Foley Team! But his breakthrough movie didn’t come for another 10 years in 1988 when he was released Women are on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Almodóvar’s film world is secluded but recognizable. He regularly incorporates Catholicism, sexuality, and motherhood into the themes and motifs of his films. However, iterating on these concepts doesn’t tire the filmmaker — it just makes his signature style recognizable as he explores these ideas in a new way. Certain actors often appear regularly in his films, for example, Chus Lampreave, Antonio Banderas, and Penélope Cruz have all starred in several different Almodóvar projects. Here are the 10 perfect Pedro Almodóvar movies that all movie lovers must see.

10 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Orion classic

Women are on the verge of a nervous breakdown An essential offering for movie fans interested in Almodóvar’s work. As a blockbuster, it’s a great example of him at his best, and shows what makes his movies famous. Starring Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, and Julieta Serrano, the story follows the character of Maura as she searches for her lover so he can explain why he left her. movie based human voice, a play by Jean Cocteau, received an Oscar nomination for Best International Film. The plot expertly connects all of the characters’ worlds in a satisfying way, and this complex plot is emblematic of Almodóvar’s unique style.

9 Volver (2006)

Penelope Cruz in Volver
Sony Pictures classics

Volver Penelope Cruz earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance here as Raymonda. Her mother was played by Carmen Mora, who died in a fire long before the film opened. The narrative follows their family as Maura’s character appears to return from the dead to settle unresolved issues and tensions between her and her children. Volver Visually impactful as well as deeply emotional. There’s also enough humor to complement the dark story, but the two opposing components haven’t drowned out one another. It’s one of Almodóvar’s best works with Cruz’ performance being an incredible standout.

Related: Every Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar Collaboration Film, Ranked

8 Talk to her (2002)

talk to her
Sony Pictures classics

One of Almodóvar’s most famous films, talk to her It follows two men who meet by chance caring for two comatose women. The film’s elliptical storytelling allows the narrative to follow each of these characters through different time periods in the past, present, and future. The four central characters are played by Rosario Flores, Javier Camara, Dario Grandinetti and Leonor Watling. talk to her It is less significant than many of Almodovar’s films, and prefers mystery to theatricality. Interestingly enough, this simpler screenplay is what earned Almodóvar his Best Original Screenplay Oscar, because it’s not his usual style.

7 Julieta (2016)

Sony Pictures classics

Almodovar Giulietta It is a complex and meandering tale about a mother who is estranged from her daughter, Antaya. The film is based on a series of short stories by Alice Munro, which Almodovar adapted for the screen himself. Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte play Julieta in the present and the past, respectively. When Julieta meets Anta’s childhood best friend, she finds out that Anta is married with children and lives in Switzerland. Receiving this news after a 12-year absence sets Julieta down a path of memories and depression. Mother and daughter stories have been portrayed countless times on screen but Almodovar manages to avoid the clichés here and instead finds an emotional arc for these women.

6 The Skin I Live In (2011)

The skin I live in 2011
Warner Bros.

The skin I live in It is more of a psychological thriller than many of Almodóvar’s films. The protagonist, Lidgard, is played by Antonio Banderas, a talented plastic surgeon who keeps a woman hostage in order to experiment on her. Ledgard’s wife was badly burned before her death, and now he’s on a mission to create a second skin that’s immune to damage so he can heal the wounds of his past. As the film unfolds, the plot becomes more and more complex with each revelation. This is arguably Almodóvar’s most complex plot, but this makes it entertaining in a different way than his usual films. If you are a fan of cinema and looking to understand Almodóvar’s work, don’t leave The skin I live in off your watchlist.

5 tie me up! Tie me up! (1989)

tie me up!  Tie me up!

At a strange and campy turn, tie me up! Tie me up! Almodovar at his most subversive. The plot follows Ricky (Banderas) who, upon his release from a psychiatric hospital, decides to kidnap an actress and former sex worker (Victoria Aprile) and persuade her to marry him. Almodóvar is clearly aiming for shock value here, something he’s mastered throughout his career. While the story is clearly not morally sound, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and clearly doesn’t endorse these events as a good idea. Almodovar’s career wouldn’t be what it is today without these bits of trauma and camp, and they are essential to examining when contextualizing his work.

Related: The best Pedro Almodóvar movies, ranked

4 Parallel Mothers (2021)

Madres Paralelas or Parallel Mothers
Sony Pictures Entertainment Iberia

Almodovar’s latest production is Parallel mothers. She finds Cruz and Melina Smit, as well as Janice and Anna, who are giving birth in the same hospital room on the same day. This shared moment creates an unlikely bond between the two despite their differences in age and attitude towards motherhood. Besides the stories of these two nations, the film also deals with the impact of Franco’s rule on Spain throughout these later years. These two aspects don’t go together perfectly, but Almodóvar’s move toward addressing the Spanish Civil War is interesting because he doesn’t mention it so far in his career. It makes sense that he keeps looking for new ways to beat the circumstance because he’s a filmmaker who’s constantly striving to shock his audience.

3 All About My Mother (1999)

It's all about my mother

Another of Almodovar’s Oscar-winning films – for Best International Film – is It’s all about my mother. The story here follows a bereaved mother who is helped by her new friends to get her life back on track. She, in turn, also becomes a mother figure to these friends. It’s all about my mother is one of Almodóvar’s most abstract films, his usual style is still there but the focus here is on real emotion. The sincerity of the feelings given to these characters makes it impossible not to love and care for them despite their story twists and turns. This film is a fine representation of the more complex end of the Almodovar filmmaking spectrum, but make no mistake, the isolated melodramatic ending is just as important.

2 Pain and glory

Pain and Glory Pedro Almodovar Penelope Cruz
Scanbox Entertainment

Pain and glory He finds an elderly director who reflects on his past and his relationship with his mother in particular. If a director contemplating his relationship with his mother sounds familiar at this point, it’s because this film was inspired by Almodóvar’s own experiences. He tells Slate that it’s the film he’s closest to, but it’s not autobiographical: he says, “All the places and all the situations that happen are familiar to me, but I haven’t gone through them explicitly myself.” Likes It’s all about my motherThis movie is another of his more realistic novels. It stars Banderas as Almodóvar’s replacement in the winning role, so it’s no surprise that he was nominated for an Academy Award for this brilliant performance.

1 Bad education

Gael Garcia Bernal in poor education
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Company

in Bad educationAlmodóvar addresses child abuse in religious schools under Franco. The story revolves around two friends and their manager who meet several times over several decades. Almodóvar manages to include a number of subplots covering different experiences without the film’s arc intertwining. While this is another personal film, it achieves enough distance between him and the events of his childhood to make for a more neutral film. He told The Guardian, “I’m not too mad about this thing [sexual abuse]As it was 20 years ago. This allows Almodóvar to take a more neutral stance as a filmmaker rather than needing to enact some kind of narrative revenge. Bad education is a prime example of Almodóvar’s ability to craft a film that is hilarious, emotional, and dangerous in all the right ways.


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