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Foreign Film Friday: 5 must-watch Spanish films starring Penélope Cruz

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Before famously dating Tom Cruise and starring in Hollywood movies alongside Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, Nicolas Cage and Matthew McConaughey, Penélope Cruz was already a renowned actress in Spain.

Even now that she is one of the most famous actresses in the world, she still comes back from time to time to work in Spain. Here are must-watch films made in Spain starring Cruz.

1. Jamón, Jamón (1992)

Directed by Bigas Luna, this was one of the first works of Cruz. She was only 18, and when the movie was released she became a sex symbol in Spain. She did not really enjoy the experience, and for a while she avoided sexualized characters. Javier Bardem, now Penelope’s husband, also stars in the movie.

2. Todo sobre mi madre (1999)

At some point in her career, Penélope saw her childhood dream come true and became one of director Pedro Almodóvar’s muses. This is just one of the many movies in which Cruz has worked with the director. It won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and also a Goya for Best Film.

3. Volver (2006)

With this movie, also directed by Pedro Almodóvar, Penélope Cruz became the first Spanish actress ever to be nominated to an Oscar for Best Actress. She plays Raimunda, a working-class woman living in Madrid who does whatever it takes to protect her teenage daughter after she kills her father while he is trying to rape her.

4. La niña de tus ojos (1998)

Directed by Fernando Trueba, this film follows Macarena Granada (Cruz), a young actress filming a movie in Nazi Germany during the Spanish Civil War.

5. La Reina de España (2016)

A sequel to La niña de tus ojos, La Reina de España, also directed by Fernando Trueba, happens nearly twenty years later. Now in the 50s, Macarena Granada, who has become a Hollywood star, returns to Francoist Spain to film a blockbuster about Queen Isabella I of Castille.

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