The Fipresci prize was decided by a vote of about 350 movie critics in more than 60 countries. It was announced late Thursday at a ceremony inaugurating the 54th San Sebastian International Film Festival in the northern Basque city.
"Volver" stars Penelope Cruz as a feisty young woman whose mother comes back from the dead to tie up loose ends.
Cruz and her five key castmates shared the actress prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The movie also won the screenplay honor for Almodovar.
Almodovar's "All About My Mother" won the first Fipresci prize in 1999.