(1999)5Lucia BozzolaPutting his distinctive spin on the women's picture, renowned Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar affectionately salutes the female spirit and alternative families in All About My Mother. Combining serious melodrama with Almodóvar's signature flair for splashy color and flamboyant, theatrical characters, Manuela's journey to Barcelona to find her dead son's father and assuage her grief balances humor, pathos, and profound insight into love of all kinds -- especially maternal. The unexpected fortitude and empathy she discovers, with the help of a transsexual, a stage diva, and a pregnant nun, turn All About My Mother into a joyful portrait of feminine complexity (complete with La Agrado's hilariously candid monologue about what it took to make her a "real" woman). Among the outstanding cast of actresses in a film dedicated to actresses, Cecilia Roth glows as Manuela, revealing the depths of pain in her face even as she carves out a new life. Marisa Paredes manages to be both imperious and touchingly vulnerable as theater star Huma. Hailed as Almodóvar's most mature and heartfelt work, All About My Mother earned the Best Director prize at Cannes, numerous critics' awards, and a richly deserved Oscar for Best Foreign Film.