When it comes to cinema, Argentina has one of the most developed industries in Latin America. The country has won 14 Goya Awards for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film and is the only in the region to have won two Academy Awards, with ‘La Historia Oficial’ (The Official Story) in 1985 and ‘El Secreto de sus Ojos’ (The Secret in Their Eyes) in 2009.
However when it came to picking the best Argentine actors/actresses- of the last century- we looked not only at abilities and successes as measured by commercial or industry hype, but also the qualities that an actor possesses, such as imagination, passion, flexibility and intelligence amongst others.
Graciela Borges-born Graciela Noemi Zapala- on 10th June 1941 was renowned for her great beauty and talent in the world of Argentine cinema.
Since her first role in the film ‘Una Cita con la Vida’ (1958) by Fernando Ayala, at the tender age of 16, she jumped to popularity for her natural affinity and worked with an array of notable directors, such as Leopoldo Torre Nilson and Raul de la Torre.
Throughout her successful career, Borges starred in as many as 60 films and in 2006 she was featured in Vogue Paris as “The great actress of Argentine cinema”.
Although she admits to have started very early and didn’t recommend it – “you lose many stages in your life” – she is possibly the most notable actress of Argentine cinema of the 60’s era.
In an interview with Gaspar Zimerman for the newspaper Clarin she explained that film was a sacred act in her life: “There are actors that act from acting. That’s not the case for me: I make it my own, I have to be natural.”
She won the “Concho de Oro de San Sebastian” for her role in ‘Cronica de una Senora’ (1971) in which critics applauded her infallible portrayal of the life of a bored aristocratic woman.
It is difficult to pick out her most distinguished performances, considering her vast trajectory, but her roles in ‘La Cienaga’, ‘Las manos’ and ‘Pobre Mariposa’ were all greatly received by critics.
Considered one of the best contemporary movie stars in Argentina, Darín emerged as an actor through a number of roles in TV series such as ‘Alta Comedia’, ‘Estacion retiro’. and ‘Mi Cuñado’ before hitting the big screen.
His outstanding performances and charisma, as well as ability to impersonate with ease any character sent his way, made him an increasingly popular leading actor.
His most prominent roles as a film actor include ‘Nueve Reinas’ (2000), ‘El Hijo de la Novia’ (2001), ‘Luna de Avellaneda’ (2004), ‘El Aura’ (2005) and ‘La Señal’ (2007), which was also his directorial debut.
More recently, he starred as the lead character, Benjamín Espósito, in the academy award-winning film ‘El Secreto de sus Ojos’ (2009) and in 2011 The Argentine Konex Foundation granted him the “Diamond Konex Award” as the most important personality in entertainment in the last decade in his country.
Darín has been in the media of late for criticising some aspects of the current government and its administration, after one interview in which he is said to have “reflected” upon the fortune that the Kirchner family had amounted over the years.
Another recognised local film and theatre icon is Norma Aleandro, born in 1936, who starred in the Oscar-winning 1985 film ‘La Historia Oficial’ a role that earned her the Cannes Award for best actress, cementing her place as a leader in performing arts in Argentina.
In a career spanning over five decades, she also performed in other successful films like ‘La Tregua’ (1974), ‘Sol de Otoño’ (1996), ‘El Faro’ (1998) and ‘Hijo de la Novia’ (2001).
Her progressive views during the military dictatorship in the late 70’s forced her to go into exile to Uruguay, then Spain and she did not return to Argentina until 1982.
For her role as Florencia in the 1988 film Gaby: A True Story, she was nominated for both an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
“In this profession, you have to have discipline and work (…) do the work that one likes and not stop doing it” she once told Clarín.
With one of the most extensive and fruitful careers in national cinema, acting in almost 100 films and 50 television series since his debut in 1964, Federico Luppi holds the record for being the Argentine actor winning the most times (six) the Premios Condor de Plata for best actor.
He considers myself “absolutely provincial” and describes his relationship with Argentina as one of “love and hate, like that I feel for my team, Boca.”
In 2005, he directed his first film Pasos in Spain, where he had re-located during Argentina’s economic crisis of 2001-2002.
His English-language films (and his work with international directors) include ‘Bad Company’ and ‘Men with Guns’ and as an actor he worked with renowned director Guillermo del Toro in ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and ‘The Devil’s Backbone’.
Hugo del Carril
Hugo del Carril was an Argentine actor, film director, and tango singer popular for much of the 20th century
His ability to transmit a charismatic personality as well as being an adaptable and realistic actor turned him into one of Argentina’s major early film stars.Starting as a popular personality on Argentine radio, his film career kicked off in 1937 when he was contracted to perform a tango in ‘Los muchachos de antes no usaban gomina’.
He made as many as 50 film appearances as an actor between then and his retirement in 1976.
Del Carril also turned to directing in 1949 and produced and simultaneously directed many of his films, becoming known for a great ability to express himself visually, using a combination of romantic and expressionist influences. In 1952, he directed the widely acclaimed film, ‘Las Aguas Bajan Turbias’ based on the novel by Alfredo Varela.
He also composed the “Marcha Peronista”, which served as the anthem of the Peronist movement – indeed, his political identity turned him into an emblematic voice of Peronism. In 1986, after 50 years of success and just three years before his death, Del Carril was named a ‘distinguished citizen’ of the city of Buenos Aires.