The Motorcycle Diaries
Essential Gael García Bernal Movies to Watch
Image
A.frame

Gael García Bernal's versatility has made him one of the most respected actors working today. The Mexican actor and producer began his feature film acting career working with Oscar-winning filmmakers Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón in the early 2000s, taking on his career-launching roles in Amores perros and Y tu mamá también

In the two decades since, Bernal has demonstrated a knack for selecting challenging, impactful projects. Whether he's appearing in a thriller, a comedy, or a biopic, he always manages to captivate the audience with his undeniable charisma and remarkable vulnerability. 

Behind the scenes, Bernal has worked as a producer and a writer, co-creating the Mexican television show Aquí en la Tierra (2018). He’s also worked behind the camera as a director, making shorts and directing segments of larger projects (8, Madly), as well as directing an episode of his Amazon Prime series, Mozart in the Jungle

Bernal currently has several films in post-production, including Cassandro, the Saúl Armendáriz biopic, which tells the story of the gay amateur wrestler who rose to international superstardom. He'll also star in The Mother, an action thriller co-starring Jennifer Lopez and Joseph Fiennes. Next month, fans can catch the actor making his Marvel Studios debut in the Disney+ special Werewolf by Night, premiering Oct. 7. 

Below, A.frame looks back at the dynamic roles Bernal has taken on throughout his career so far.   

1
Amores perros
2000
Amores perros
Icon_Audio-Video_-PlayCreated with Sketch.
Where to watch

Alejandro González Iñárritu's feature film directorial debut is structured as a triptych, containing three separate stories in Mexico City connected by a car crash. Bernal, making his feature film acting debut, stars as Octavio, a man who is in love with his abusive brother Ramiro's (Marco Pérez) wife, Susana (Vanessa Bauche). He becomes involved in dogfighting to come up with the money he needs to run off with Susana. Simultaneously, the film also follows magazine publisher Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero) and model Valeria's (Goya Toledo) relationship, as well as hitman El Chivo (Emilio Echevarría) and his daughter, Maru (Lourdes Echevarría).

The gritty crime thriller was the four-time Oscar-winning filmmaker's first installment in his Death Trilogy, which also includes 21 Grams and Babel. Amores perros received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

2
Y tu mamá también
2001
Y tu mamá también
Icon_Audio-Video_-PlayCreated with Sketch.
Where to watch

Directed by four-time Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón, this drama follows teenage best friends Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Bernal) who embark on a road trip with a woman in her late twenties named Luisa (Maribel Verdú). Both attracted to Luisa, tensions arise as they vie for her attention throughout their travels. However, Tenoch and Julio's friendship is strained after the three spend a drunken night together.

Y tu mamá también received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

3
El crimen del Padre Amaro
2002
El crimen del Padre Amaro
Icon_Audio-Video_-PlayCreated with Sketch.
Where to watch

Bernal stars as newly ordained Father Amaro, who arrives at a small town to start his service. Once there, he becomes seduced by a local teen named Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancón), as other priests are involved in their own controversies.

The film, directed by Carlos Carrera, is loosely based on Portuguese writer José Maria de Eça de Queiroz’s 1875 novel, O Crime do Padre Amaro. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

4
The Motorcycle Diaries
2004
http://aple.tmsimg.com/assets/p34841_i_h10_ac.jpg?w=1280&h=720
Icon_Audio-Video_-PlayCreated with Sketch.
Where to watch

Directed by Walter Salles, Bernal takes on the role of 23-year-old Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The film is set in 1952, years before Guevara would become the Marxist guerrilla leader that he is known as today. Guevara goes on a motorcycle expedition across South America with his friend, Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna).

The biographical adventure drama was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, and won the Oscar for Best Original Song for "Al Otro Lado Del Río" by Jorge Dexler.  

5
Bad Education
2004
http://aple.tmsimg.com/assets/p35121_k_h10_aa.jpg?w=1280&h=720
Icon_Audio-Video_-PlayCreated with Sketch.
Where to watch

Written and directed by Oscar winner Pedro Almodóvar, this Spanish drama tells the story of two childhood friends and former lovers who reconnect years later when one of them pitches the other a film about their sexual tendencies at a Catholic boarding school and the molestation by a teacher-priest. As their project gets underway, new secrets — and a murder — are revealed.

6
Babel
2006
Babel
Icon_Audio-Video_-PlayCreated with Sketch.
Where to watch

Bernal reunited with Iñárritu for the director’s third film in his Death Trilogy. Told through stories taking place in Japan, Morocco, Mexico, and the United States, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett star as a couple who face tragedy while vacationing in the Moroccan desert. The incident in which they're involved paves the way for the other storylines to unfold, including the one featuring Bernal as Santiago, the nephew of the couple's nanny, Amelia (Adriana Barraza).

The film was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, winning the Oscar for Best Original Score. 

7
Rudo y Cursi
2008
Rudo y cursi

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

Bernal and Luna reteamed as brothers Cursi and Rudo, respectively, in Carlos Cuarón’s comedy-drama. A sibling rivalry ensues when their skills as soccer players and a talent scout give them the opportunity to escape their lives as banana plantation workers and go pro. The film was produced by Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, and Frida Torresblanco.

8
A Little Bit of Heaven
2011
A Little Bit of Heaven
Icon_Audio-Video_-PlayCreated with Sketch.
Where to watch

Bernal and Kate Hudson co-star in this romantic comedy-drama about a carefree executive, Marley Corbett (Hudson), who is told by her doctor, Dr. Julian Goldstein (Bernal), during a checkup that she has terminal cancer. As Marley's health deteriorates, she strikes up a romance with her doctor. Kathy Bates, Peter Dinklage, Romany Malco, and Whoopi Goldberg co-star.

9
No
2013
No 2012 Film

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

Pablo Larraín’s film is based on the unpublished stage play El Plebiscito by Antonio Skármeta. The historical drama takes place in the late '80s as political campaigns revved up in Chile. Bernal portrays successful ad creator René, who works on a campaign to defeat General Augusto Pinochet in the 1988 national referendum.

Representing Chile, No was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

10
Rosewater
2014
http://aple.tmsimg.com/assets/p10784327_i_h10_aa.jpg?w=1280&h=720
Icon_Audio-Video_-PlayCreated with Sketch.
Where to watch

Written for the screen and directed by Jon Stewart, Rosewater is a biographical drama in which Bernal portrays Iranian Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari. Believing that he is a spy since he has sent footage of Iran's election protests to the BBC, Iranian forces capture Bahari. For 118 days, Bahari is interrogated and tortured by the Revolutionary Guard and a man dubbed "Rosewater."

11
Desierto
2015
http://aple.tmsimg.com/assets/p12346256_i_h10_ab.jpg?w=1920&h=1080

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

Bernal, who also executive produced, stars in this action drama directed by Jonás Cuarón. Desierto follows migrant Moises, who leads a group of people across the harsh and dangerous desert along the U.S.-Mexico border. Their lives are put at risk when a racist man, Sam (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and his hunting dog begin tracking them down.

12
You're Killing Me Susana
2016
http://aple.tmsimg.com/assets/p13757641_k_h10_aa.jpg?w=240&h=135

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

In this comedy-drama, Bernal plays Eligio, a man whose wife, Susana (Verónica Echegui), leaves him. Once he tracks her down in the U.S., he travels to her from Mexico to try to win her back. Once he gets to Iowa, Eligio discovers that Susana is actually at a writers’ conference with a new love.

13
Coco
2017
Coco
Icon_Audio-Video_-PlayCreated with Sketch.
Where to watch

This Disney/Pixar animated feature tells the story of a young boy, Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), who dreams of one day being a musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), despite his family’s ban on music. When Miguel finds himself in the Land of the Dead, he meets trickster Héctor (Bernal), and the two go on a mission to locate Miguel's great-great-grandfather, a singer, so that he may help Miguel return to the Land of the Living.

Coco won two Oscars, one for Best Animated Feature Film and another for Best Original Song for "Remember Me."

14
Old
2021
http://aple.tmsimg.com/assets/p19538939_i_h10_aa.jpg?w=1280&h=720
Icon_Audio-Video_-PlayCreated with Sketch.
Where to watch

Bernal stars in this M. Night Shyamalan psychological thriller as Guy, a father of two who takes his wife and family to a tropical island on vacation. While there, they and a group of other guests discover a secluded beach. As they spend time at this private spot, they begin to age rapidly! Within hours, they are old and the remainder of their lives has been reduced to a single day. Of course, with this being aShyamalan film, nothing is quite as it seems. Old co-stars Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, and Thomasin McKenzie. 

Related Lists
© 2022 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences