Earlier this weekend, Jon Stewart's directorial debut "Rosewater" opened to rave reviews and scored Mexican-born actor Gael Garcia Bernal some of the best reviews of his career.

However, the opening lacked Oscar buzz and struggled to garner a big audience. 

The movie tells the story of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who is detained by Iranian forces and brutally interrogated under suspicion that he is a spy.

Back in September when the movie opened at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festival, Bernal was receiving Oscar buzz for his portrayal but quickly died out. The reason was due to the overcrowded Best Actor race and because Open Road Films has not been campaigning the film as many hoped. 

Bernal's role is actually tailored made for Academy voters, as it is based on a real person and the story has an uplifting element. Both these elements have helped many actors get their first Oscars. For example, only two years ago, Daniel Day-Lewis won for his portrayal as Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln," and Matthew McConaughey won the Oscar for his role as Ron Woodroof in "Dallas Buyers Club." Both those roles were based on real life people and both films were uplifting. Other actors who have won for real life characters include Colin Firth for "the King's Speech," Sean Penn for "Milk," Forest Whitaker for "The Last King of Scotland" and Philip Seymour Hoffman for "Capote." 

Bernal's portrayal has some dark elements, but the overall picture is a celebration and shows a man's struggle to survive. 

Bernal is one of the most popular Mexican actors at the moment and also one of the most versatile. He has been in many acclaimed films, including "Babel," "Amores Perros," "Bad Education," "El Crimen del Padre Amaro" "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Bad Education." In 2004, he received a Best Actor nomination at the BAFTAs for his searing portrayal as Che Guevara in "The Motorcycle Diaries." 

All these films have shown Bernal in a different aspect, and it is quite baffling as to why he has yet to receive a nomination. However, all the films mentioned above have been in Spanish, and only few actors have ever received nominations for foreign language roles. 

In "Rosewater," Bernal's role is in English. The fact that Bernal shows his skills in a different language also shows the actor's strengths and is another reason for a nomination. 

Open Road currently has one other film that is likely to be an Oscar contender: "Chef." However, that movie is unlikely to receive any type of consideration considering it is a comedy and the type of movie Academy voters do not go for. "Chef" is more likely to be a Golden Globe contender in the comedy category. As a result, Open Road has space to campaign "Rosewater." Although the company has never received an Oscar nomination -- and, therefore, does not have a real relationship with the Academy -- Open Road can focus its efforts on the Critics' awards.  

On Dec. 1, the first critics' awards will be handed out and will be followed by many organizations that influence Oscar voters and Globe voters. If Open Road goes full force, then Bernal could gain some attention. 

The distributor should campaign heavily because the Academy sometimes surprises. Last year, Christian Bale was nominated for "American Hustle," beating out favorites Tom Hanks for "Captain Phillips" and Robert Redford for "All is Lost." In 2011, Demian Bichir was nominated for "A Better Life." The actor was on no one's radar, and he took out Michael Fassbender for his award-winning portrayal in "Shame." Other surprise nominees came from Javier Bardem for "Biutiful" and Richard Jenkins for "The Visitor." Bardem was actually nominated in favor of Robert Duvall for "Get Low," and Jenkins beat out Leonardo DiCaprio for "Revolutionary Road." 

With a few more weeks until the first awards are unveiled, it will be interesting to see if Bernal will gain traction and if he can get his first Oscar nomination.