Almodóvar's twentieth film was chosen over Iciar Bollain's El Olivo (The Olive Tree) and Paula Ortiz's La Novia (The Bride)to compete for Best Foreign Language Film in the next Academy Awards.
Julieta recounts a mother's excruciating 10-year wait for a daughter who abandoned her when she turned 18.
Spain's most successful director has already won two Oscars. All About My Mother (1999) received the award for Best Foreign Language Film while Talk to Her (2002) earned him the award for Best Original Screenplay.
His 1988 film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.
Inspired by Runaway, a book of short stories by Canada's Nobel laureate Alice Munro, Julieta is pure drama stripped of any hint of the laughs or idiosyncrasies that made films like All About My Mother or Talk to Her so popular.
A mix of romantic betrayal, bereavement, spiritual quest, escape and guilt, Julieta goes through three decades of the life of a Spanish woman and mother.
Julieta is played by two actresses - Adriana Ugarte portraying the sensual, wistful woman in her earlier years and Emma Suarez in the role of the older, tormented mother abandoned by her daughter.
The film explores "the impenetrable mystery that makes us abandon the people we love, erasing them from our life as if they had never meant anything. And the pain that this desertion causes the victim," according to the official description.
It is full of female characters that include actress Rossy de Palma, an Almodóvar regular, as a dour housekeeper.
The film's release in Spain in April had initially been clouded by the appearance of Almodóvar and his brother in the global Panama Papers scandal over an offshore company they briefly controlled in 1991.
The 66-year-old cancelled a press junket just days before the April 8th premiere due to scrutiny over the revelations, but the bad start soon wore away as Julieta climbed to fourth place in Spain's box office.