The state-sponsored award highlighted Iglesias "for a professional trajectory full of inspiration, enlivened by a constant search for new and stimulating expressive forms of film-oriented musical composition."
"Spanish culture is very associated with music and after a kind of disjointed period is now living a special moment," said Iglesias, speaking on TV news channel CNN+.
Iglesias is in Los Angeles, where he has been working on Marc Forster's forthcoming film "The Kite Runner," which is based on a novel by Afghani-American author Khaled Hosseini. Published in 2003, it was the first novel published in English by an author from Afghanistan.
Among Iglesias' critically acclaimed musical scores were Almodovar's "The Flower of My Secret" (1995), "Live Flesh" (1997), "All About My Mother" (1999) and "Talk to her" (2002) and "Bad Education" (2004), as well as Fernando Meirelles' "The Constant Gardener" which was nominated for an Oscar in 2005.
A jury nominated by the ministry singled out the musician's score for Almodovar's "Volver" (2006) for special praise as "a perfect example."
In a career stretching back to the 1980s, when he had a band with fellow composer Javier Navarrete, Iglesias has penned a string of film scores, including Oliver Stone's "Comandante" (2003) and Julio Medem's "Sex and Lucia" (2001).
Iglesias, a Basque musician, was born in 1955 in the northern port city of San Sebastian, known for its annual film festival, where he studied piano, harmony and composition.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969