Watch out, Kristen Stewart: Penelope Cruz (‘Parallel Mothers’) is coming for you in the Best Actress race

It looks like Penelope Cruz could get her fourth Oscar nomination with the help of the filmmaker who got her her very first. As of this writing the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed from major media outlets rank her third in the race for Best Actress for “Parallel Mothers,” the latest film from Pedro Almodovar, who directed her to a Best Actress bid for “Volver” 15 years ago. That now puts her ahead of Lady Gaga (“House of Gucci”) and Jennifer Hudson (“Respect”) and right behind front-runner Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”) and strong challenger Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”).

In “Volver” (2006), Cruz played Raimunda, whose late mother returns from the dead with unfinished business. After that awards breakthrough she won Best Supporting Actress for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008) and was nominated again for Best Supporting Actress for the movie musical “Nine” (2009), so she racked up all three of her nominations in the space of just four years. Sometimes when you’re hot, your hot. But it has now been more than a decade since Cruz’s last bid.

In “Parallel Mothers” she plays a photographer who becomes pregnant and forms a close bond with the young woman (Milena Smit) who gives birth on the same day. The film premiered in September at the Venice Film Festival, and then in October it was the closing film at the New York Film Festival. The reviews so far have been glowing, with critics calling Cruz’s performance an “outstandingly vivid” “knockout“; it’s “one of the best performances of her career.” And now there are 14 Experts betting on Cruz to be nominated, among whom Tim Gray (Variety) and Michael Musto (Queerty) say she’ll win.

If she does make the cut this would be the second straight Almodovar movie to earn its star an Oscar bid following Antonio Banderas‘s Best Actor nom for “Pain and Glory” (2019). Cruz would be the fifth woman in 10 years to be nominated for Best Actress for a non-English language performance (following Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour,” Marion Cotillard for “Two Days, One Night,” Isabelle Huppert for “Elle,” and Yalitza Aparicio for “Roma”), so that’s not uncommon, but if she wins it would be the first foreign-language turn to prevail here since Cotillard for “La Vie en Rose” (2007). Do you agree with our Experts that Cruz will make her Oscars comeback?

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