With films like Bad Education, The Motorcycle Diaries, and The Sea Inside on many critics’ best-of-2004 lists, Spanish-language movies — from Brazil, Spain, even America — are muy caliente. And now that the awards season is upon us, actors like The Sea Inside‘s Javier Bardem and directors like Maria Full of Grace‘s newbie filmmaker Joshua Marston can expect the hoopla to continue. ”I think it’s actually reaching a crescendo at this point,” says Motorcycle Diaries screenwriter José Rivera. ”It’s part of a larger trend — the Latinization of America — which has been going on for a decade.” Certainly, hip contemporary films like 2001’s Amores Perros and 2002’s Y Tu Mamá También, as well as international stars such as Bardem (Collateral) and Gael García Bernal, have raised Spanish-language films’ profiles. But Alejandro Amenàbar, who co-wrote and directed The Sea Inside, has a different take: Rather than a linguistic phenomenon, he thinks the upsurge has only to do with ”the independent talent of a few directors.” Makes sense in any language.