Oscar Actors: Cruz, Penelope

Penelope Cruz, the sexy Spanish-born actress, touted by some critics as the new Sophia Loren, has made a name for herself as an international star in several films directed by Pedro Almodovar (All About My Mother) and in some Hollywood pictures, most notably “Vanilla Sky,” as Tom Cruzs love interest (in real-life too).

This year, Penelope Cruz has received her first Best Actress Oscar nomination for Almodovar's women-dominated melodrama, “Volver,” playing a strong-willed wife-mother in the tradition of such screen heroines played by Anna Magnani and Sophia Loren in the past. Cruz is the only foreign thespian in the Best Actress category, and one of the youngest to be nominated.

Earlier this year, Cruz was seen in the period melodrama Head in the Clouds, as a bisexual woman and center of romantic triangle whose other partners were Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend. Cruz has deservedly won Italys top acting honor, the David di Donatello Award, for Dont Move, directed by vet actor Sergio Castellitto.

When a young woman crashes on her scooter, she is rushed to the hospital, where her father is a top surgeon. While waiting for the brain specialists to save her life, the married man (Castellitto) recalls the fight for life of someone he had loved, a vivacious woman named Italia (Penelope Cruz) whom he had met 15 years earlier when his car broke down in the country, and who became his house cleaner and mistress. Rendering a flawless performance, Cruz plays a woman mal treated by men and abused by her own father whose basic innocence and capacity for love towers over all of her miseries.

Written in January 2007

In 2008, Penelope Cruz won her second Oscar nomination, this time in the Supporting Actress category, for Woody Allen's comedy “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”