THIS year's Goya Awards – Spain's answer to the Oscars – saw a string of lesser-known films, some low-budget arthouse productions, walking away with the prizes whilst the more obvious candidates with the highest-grossing box-office results were nowhere to be found among the nominees.
The 2014 'film of the year' in Spain, Ocho apellidos vascos ('Eight Basque surnames') was followed up in 2015 by Ocho apellidos catalanes ('Eight Catalán surnames') which immediately became the country's second best-selling big-screen production after its prequel - but it was not nominated for a Goya last night (Saturday).
Neither was Regression by Alejandro Amenábar – better-known as director of The Others with Nicole Kidman and of Abre los Ojos ('Open your eyes') and its Hollywood remake Vanilla Sky, each starring Penélope Cruz – nor other popular Spanish films of 2015, such as Perdiendo el norte ('Losing the way') or Ahora o nunca ('Now or never').
But household names did indeed feature among the nominations for best actor and actress categories, some of them international – French actress and Chocolat star Juliette Binoche, for her role in Nadie quiere la noche; Tim Robbins for his part in Un día perfecto; Ricardo Darín for his character in Truman and Spain's most globally-renowned actress Penélope Cruz for her role in Ma ma were among the nominations.
Before the show, Penélope (first picture, right) said she had not bothered to prepare a speech because she 'knew she was not going to win anything' – and unfortunately for the 42-year-old mum-of-two, who appeared with her Bond villain husband Javier Bardem (first picture, left), she was correct in her predictions.
Celebrity guests included politicians such as Madrid's city mayoress Manuela Carmena, lead candidates for national government parties Pablo Iglesias (Podemos), Pedro Sánchez (PSOE), and Albert Rivera (Ciudadanos) (pictured left to right, second photograph).
Iglesias, Rivera and Sánchez were seeing chatting and laughing together, and Podemos' leader had ditched his usual lumberjack shirt and jeans and donned a black dinner jacket and bow tie.
Conspicuous by his absence was acting president Mariano Rajoy of the right-wing PP party, whose cabinet has been accused of nearly killing off the national film industry by moving everything arts and entertainment-related from the bottom-rate IVA level of 4% to the top level, just as this was upped from 18% to 21%.
Other stars included new celebrity couple, Spanish-Philippine model Isabel Preysler and Nobel Literature Prize-winning author, Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, who have rarely been seen in public together.
The prolific novellist and former liberal-left Peruvian presidential candidate was asked during the Goya ceremony whether he was ever likely to star in a film, and he replied: “Well...I won't say that's water I'd never drink from.”