The guests on this episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast — Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu, also known as “The Three Amigos” — have each previously appeared on the podcast individually, but this conversation is one of the few times they have been interviewed together. All are remarkable filmmakers who were born in Mexico in the early 1960s, became friends and consultants on each other’s work around the turn of the century and helped to usher in the “New Golden Age of Mexican Cinema” in which we now live.
This trio has been doing outstanding work for decades, going back as far as del Toro’s 1993 film Cronos, Inarritu’s 2000 film Amores Perros and Cuaron’s 2001 film Y Tu Mama Tambien. But they shot to a new degree of fame in 2006, when they each had a breakthrough film in Oscar contention — Cuarón with Children of Men, del Toro with Pan’s Labyrinth and Inarritu with Babel — each of which dealt with struggles to communicate, and which collectively wound up with 16 Oscar nominations, three of which resulted in below-the-line wins.
Then, in a period of just six years spanning 2014 through 2019 — at a time of rising anti-immigrant sentiment in parts of America, which was certainly not discouraged by Donald Trump, who famously declared in the 2015 speech announcing his presidential campaign that Mexico was “not sending their best” — these immigrants collectively claimed five best director Oscars (Cuarón for Gravity and Roma, Inarritu, in consecutive years, for Birdman and The Revenant, and del Toro for The Shape of Water). Two of those films were also chosen as the best picture of their respective years (Birdman and The Shape of Water), adding another Oscar to the tally for del Toro and Inarritu. And then, in 2017, Inarritu was awarded an honorary Oscar for his virtual reality installation of that same year, Carne y Arena.
16 years after they were first simultaneously in Oscar contention, The Three Amigos find themselves in that situation again.
Cuarón was one of the producers of Alice Rohrwacher’s 37-minute Christmas-themed film Le Pupille, which is streaming on Disney+ and is shortlisted for — and currently favored to win — the best live action short Oscar. Del Toro and Inarritu, meanwhile, are both in contention for Netflix films. Del Toro directed a stop-motion version of Pinocchio that has been shortlisted for several Oscars and is the favorite to win best animated feature. And Inarritu, for the third time — each in a different decade — has had a film, in this case the semi-autobiographical Bardo, chosen to represent Mexico in the best international feature Oscar race — an honor twice bestowed by that country on a del Toro film and once on a Cuarón film.
Over the course of a lively conversation at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, ahead of a public conversation there between the three men that was one of the hottest tickets in town, Cuarón, who is 61, del Toro, who is 58, and Inarritu, who is 59, reflected on how they first came to know each other and become close enough that their friendships have been able to withstand tough-love criticism from one another; what they learned while working in Mexico, and how that helped to prepare them to work abroad; what it’s been like when they have chosen to revisit Mexico in their films in the years since they stopped living there — such as Roma and Bardo — and what they make of the Mexican film industry today; plus more.
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