Who Is Alfonso Cuarón?
Born on November 28, 1961, in Mexico City, Mexico, Alfonso Cuarón helmed several movie and television projects before directing the erotic road film Y Tu Mamá También. After taking the reins as director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he received further critical acclaim with his dystopic drama Children of Men. Cuarón's internationally successful space-based tale, Gravity, won seven Academy Awards in 2014, including for Best Director. His follow-up effort, Roma, again was a hit with critics and garnered Cuarón a second Best Director Oscar.
Early Life and Career
Award-winning film director, screenwriter and producer Alfonso Cuarón was born on November 28, 1961, in Mexico City, Mexico. He grew up in a movie-going family with a mother who encouraged a passion for the arts and career exploration, and the young Cuarón became an avid film fanatic himself. He attended film school within the National Autonomous University of Mexico system, though was kicked out after working on a project in English.
Cuarón found work in television before directing his first big-screen feature, Sólo Con Tu Pareja (released for English-speaking audiences as Love in the Time of Hysteria), a 1992 satirical comedy about a womanizer made to reflect on his life upon receiving false medical results about his sexual health. Co-written with Cuarón's younger brother Carlos, the film was a success in their country. Cuarón subsequently worked with Sydney Pollack on an episode of the U.S. noir TV series Fallen Angels (1993-95).
'Y Tu Mamá También'
Cuarón made his film directing debut in the United States with two literary adaptations—A Little Princess (1995), based on the Francis Hodgson Burnett novel, and Great Expectations (1998), a modern re-telling of the Charles Dickens classic starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke.
Going in an entirely different direction, Cuarón and brother Carlos wrote the script for Y Tu Mamá También (2001), a road trip film set in Mexico that profiled two young men and their sexual hijinks, fits of ego and relationship to an older woman who travels with them. Featuring Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna and Maribel Verdú, También became the highest grossing film in Mexican history at the time of its release and one of the top foreign language films in the U.S., with the Cuaróns receiving an Oscar nomination for their screenplay.
Cuarón then contributed to one of the biggest fantasy franchises in history when he directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a critically well-received venture that focused on Potter's relationship to escaped sorcerer Sirius Black, played by Gary Oldman.
After contributing to the collection of shorts in Paris, Je T’Aime (2006), Cuarón continued in the sci-fi/fantasy realm with a more decidedly adult, dystopic orientation. The 2006 film Children of Men was based on the P.D. James novel and starred Clive Owen in a world where babies stopped being born; the project received Academy Award nods for film editing and its screenplay adaptation.
Collaborations and 'Gravity'
Cuarón's son Jonás followed in his father's footsteps and directed the 2008 film Año Uña, comprised entirely of still photos, with the elder Cuarón serving as executive producer. The director cited Oscar-nominated cinematographer Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki—with whom Cuarón has regularly collaborated, no surprise seeing as though the two were in film school together—as a major contributor to their movies' overall vision. The two have become known particularly for riveting, continuous takes, as seen in Children of Men and the 2013 fall blockbuster known as Gravity.
For the technically innovative, visually sumptuous film, which features two astronauts—played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney—stranded in space, Cuarón and Chivo worked out a deliberate, complex filming preparation and post-production process. With a record-breaking debut, Gravity held the No. 1 spot for consecutive weekends in the United States and garnered major international success. The film took home seven honors at the 2014 Academy Awards, including two for Cuarón, for best director and film editing.
Around this same time, Cuarón worked with J.J. Abrams in creating the 2014 NBC series Believe, about a youngster with special powers.
Cuarón returned to directing for the big screen with Roma (2018), a semi-autobiographical story about the hired help for an upper-middle-class Mexico City family in the 1970s.
Although the film lacked the A-list stars and big-budget allure of his previous efforts, it impressed critics enough to land a whopping 10 Academy Award nominations, winning for Best Director, Foreign Language Film and Cinematography.
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