Brazilian films, directors, actors and composers have been nominated for Academy Awards a total of 14 times, including this year. Here are the nominees, in chronological order.
1. “Rio de Janeiro”
Composer Ary Barroso got a Best Original Song nomination for “Rio de Janeiro,” from the little-known Hollywood musical Brasil in 1944. Barroso (second from the right) is pictured here at Walt Disney Studios, where we worked on Donald Duck cartoons such as Saludos Amigos.
2. Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro)
This Franco-Brazilian-Italian retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, filmed in Rio de Janeiro by French director Marcel Camus with a mostly Afro-Brazilian cast, won the Palme d’Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival and the 1960 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film — which was credited to France.
3. The Given Word (O Pagador de Promessas)
4. Kiss of the Spider Woman (O Beijo da Mulher Aranha)
This 1985 U.S.-Brazilian production, filmed mostly in English, is still the country’s top Oscar achiever, with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. William Hurt won the Best Actor in a Leading Role award for his portrayal of drag performer Luis Molina.
5. O Quatrilho
This 1995 drama about two Italian immigrant families trying to start anew in Southern Brazil is the least well-known (never released commercially in the U.S.) Brazilian Best Foreign Language Film nominee.
6. Four Days in September (O Que é Isso, Companheiro?)
Based on a true story about the kidnapping of the U.S. ambassador by leftist guerillas fighting Brazil’s military dictatorship in the 1960s, this 1997 political drama by Bruno Barreto was another Best Foreign Language Film nominee.
7. Central Station (Central do Brasil)
Walter Salles’ popular 1999 road movie was nominated for in the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actress in a Leading Role categories. Fernanda Montenegro, Brazil’s greatest living actress (if not all-time greatest), lost to Frances McDormand (Fargo) and is still the only Brazilian nominee in an acting category.
8. Uma História de Futebol
This fictionalized retelling of a soccer game involving a kid who would grow up to be Pelé was nominated for Best Live Action Short Film in 2001 — and you can watch it here (no subtitles).
9. City of God (Cidade de Deus)
The most acclaimed Brazilian film of the century so far, this gritty 2002 tale of life and death in a Rio favela received nominations for Best Director (Fernando Meirelles), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing — but not Best Foreign Language Film, for some reason.
10. Gone Nutty
11. Waste Land
This British-Brazilian co-production on artist Vik Muniz’s work with pickers of recyclable materials in the world’s largest landfill (Jardim Gramacho on the outskirts of Rio) was nominated in the Best Documentary — Feature category in 2010.
12. “Real in Rio”
13. The Salt of the Earth (O Sal da Terra)
This Franco-Brazilian documentary co-directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado portrays the life and works of the co-director’s uncle, world-renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado — was nominated for Best Documentary Feature last year; it lost to Citizenfour, about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
14. The Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo)
Writer/director Alê Abreu’s abstract, visually dazzling tale of child’s discovery of the oppressive forces shaping the world is Brazil’s first nomination in the Best Animated Feature Film category.
Update: The Boy and the World lost to Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out.