Some familiar faces in surprising roles get the nominations for MTV’s Best Latino Actor, 2012

There are some very familiar faces and a few surprises coming at the MTV Movie Awards this year, at least as far as the Latino division is concerned.

Some of the names and roles for Best Latino Actor are just who you’d expect: Zoë Saldaña for Colombiana. Penélope Cruz for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. And it was good to see Demián Bichir’s powerful performance in A Better Life get a nod too.

Penélope Cruz

But there are a couple of unusual choices, too–both puzzling and revealing. For one, you have distinguished international star

 as a nominee…but not for Contraband or Rudo y Cursi. He’s nominated for his, um, ‘work’ in Will Ferrel’s Casa de mi Padre, the horrible-Spanish-Language parody of telenovelas and bad Latin cinema in general. Then, from the other end of the culture, MTV has also nominated transgender actress Harmony Santana for her incredibly effective performance in 2011’s family drama Gun Hill Road. (we’ve talked about this movie at length before, here and here.)

Demián Bichir

Harmony Santana

The list of nominees taken together gives us a unintentionally insightful view of Latino Hollywood c. 2012. These days you can find talented Latinos in serious dramas, in low comedy and high adventure, and in films that challenge the viewers and the industry. And the work they do is recognized and appreciated–at least enough to get a nod on, of all places, MTV. Quite a change from just last year, when the winner was Alexa Vega for From Prada to Nada.

Diego Luna

Fans can vote for the winner until June 2 at www.movieawards.tr3s.com. The MTV Movie Awards itself are schedule for a live broadcast on MTV on June 3, and will be rebroadcast with Spanish subtitles on Tr3s a week later, on June 10. We don’t know if any of these folks will be attending the awards ceremony, but at least it should be interesting to see…