MEXICO CITY – Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu said Tuesday he is honored by the best foreign film nomination for "Biutiful," an Oscar category Mexico has yet to win despite seven earlier nominations.
Gonzalez Inarritu also said he is excited that Spanish actor Javier Bardem was nominated for best actor in the film's lead role.
"I am very happy for myself, very happy for the movie, very happy for Javier, very happy for all the people who worked in this film," he told The Associated Press. "And I am very honored for the Academy's recognition. The fact that was our colleagues who voted makes it very special."
The Mexican film academy recently chose "Biutiful" to represent the country, and Monday's nomination by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was Gonzalez Inarritu's second in the category after his 2000 film "Amores Perros."
Films from Greece, Algeria, Canada and Denmark were also nominated.
Gonzalez Inarritu said he would watch the other foreign films in the next few weeks and would attend next month's awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
"We will celebrate whether we win or lose," he said. "The nomination itself is a great award. After spending four years fighting for this movie ... this is a smile on the lips. We feel rewarded with the recognition, a beautiful love letter."
"Biutiful" deals with the lives of immigrants in Barcelona and tells the story of a father, played by Bardem, who knows he's dying and discovers the meaning of life and love.
Bardem also thanked the Academy for the selection and also expressed gratitude for those who have supported the film.
"I am very happy for Alejandro and everyone who has made possible the special movie we made together," he said in a statement. "It's really a huge honor to have been nominated in a non-English speaking performance."
Bardem won the best actor Oscar in 2008 for his role in the English-language "No Country for Old Men." He was also nominated in 2001 for "Before Night Falls."
Gonzalez Inarritu said he had been confident Bardem would receive an Oscar nomination this year, even though the actor was passed over earlier by the Golden Globes.
Besides "Biutiful" and "Amores Perros," Mexico's other entries in the best foreign film category were "Macario" (1960), "Animas Trujano" (1961), "Tlayucan" (1962), "Acts of Marusia" (1975), "The Crime of Father Amaro" (2002) and "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006).
Gonzalez Inarritu's "Babel," which was not eligible for a foreign-language film nomination, received seven Oscar nominations in 2007, including best picture and best director.
AP Entertainment Writer Sigal Ratner-Arias in New York contributed to this report.