Oscars 2019: 'Roma,' Alfonso Cuaron's 'masterpiece,' earns Mexico its first Foreign Language Film win

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Monday, February 25, 2019
Oscars 2019: Fun facts about the nominees
The Academy Awards are just around the corner. Nominees were announced last week and there could be some history-making wins.

When it comes to Alfonso Cuaron's Spanish-language black-and-white art piece Roma, the word "masterpiece" has been thrown around by multiple movie critics.

Now the film has the Oscars to back that up.

Roma won three awards on Sunday and earned Mexico its first win in the Foreign Language Film category.

RELATED: Everything to know about Oscars 2019

Here's what you should know about the film that made history at the Oscars.

What is Roma about?

The story follows Cleo, a housekeeper in the Roma section of Mexico City in the 1970s. Cleo is beloved in the household where she works and lives, especially by the four children. In the beginning, the film paints an intimate portrait of household life. Its scope slowly expands as we witness scenes from Cleo's personal life, the household's extended family and the country's civil unrest.

Who made Roma and who is in Roma?

Filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron is known for everything from blockbusters like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to critically acclaimed works like Y Tu Mamá También, to his Oscar-winning space epic Gravity. For Roma, Cuaron is credited for directing, writing and some of the technical elements like cinematography.

The main character, Cleo, is played by newcomer Yalitza Aparicio, a former teacher, in her first acting credit. Marina de Tavira, who plays the mother character, is a Mexican stage actress who also has film and TV credits to her name.

What did Roma win at the Oscars?

Roma was nominated for 10 awards, making it tied for the most nominated this year. It won three awards, just shy of the most.

WIN: Best Directing (Alfonso Cuaron)

WIN: Best Cinematography

WIN: Best Foreign Language Film


Best Picture

Best Actress (Yalitza Aparicio)

Best Supporting Actress (Marina de Tavira)

Best Production Design

Best Sound Editing

Best Sound Mixing

Best Original Screenplay

FULL LIST: See who took home an Oscar in 2019

Is Roma based on a true story?

Roma is inspired by Cuaron's childhood, and he started with his own memories. He wanted to tell his family's story from the perspective of his housekeeper, Liboria "Libo" Rodríguez, as a tribute to the woman who helped raise him.

"Libo, like so many domestic workers, they go beyond a normal job and take on all these roles that are supposed to be covered by the parents," he told Variety.

Though the names have been changed, Cuaron wanted to get the true spirit of his childhood, and he searched far and wide to find someone who embodied Libo.

"I'd meet women who looked like Libo, but they wouldn't feel like her. Or sometimes I'd meet people who felt like Libo, but they didn't look like her," he told the Guardian. "With Yalitza, there was this amazing sense of familiarity; this mix of intelligence and warmth."

He painstakingly worked to recreate his childhood as told through her eyes.

"He was getting all this information without me knowing what it was for," Rodríguez told Variety through a translator. "'How do you remember this, Libo?' he said. 'Help me remember and understand.' Then it started to become weird. 'Libo, what did you used to wear? How did you dress?' Things like that. I never imagined everything I'm living right now, that a film would be based on me."

How did Roma make history at the Oscars?

Roma was the first Mexican entry into the Foreign Language Film category to come home with a victory.

In 2013, Alfonso Cuaron became the first Mexican director to win Best Director with Gravity. Since then, a Mexican director has won every year but one. This year, Cuaron became the first director to win for a foreign-language movie.

In addition, Roma was Netflix's first nominee in the Best Picture category.