10 Best Mexican Movies

Friday, March 18 by Richard Manfredi

The 10 best Mexican movies of all time span a broad range of styles, from comedies to thrillers. Many of the best Mexican movies have found critical and commercial success in the United States and elsewhere in recent years, winning major awards and expanding the reach of the audience for Mexican movies. In many cases, these movies find subtle and overt ways to shine a light on political corruption and class struggles in modern-day Mexico.

  1. “Y Tu Mama Tambien”: A stark, funny and sometimes haunting look at personal and sexual politics, “Y Tu Mama Tambien” earned director Alfonso Cuaron and his brother Carlos nominations for Best Original Screenplay at the 2002 Academy Awards. One of the best Mexican movies of the 2000s, it also helped launch the careers of stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.
  2. “Like Water for Chocolate”: Based on a story by Laura Esquivel and directed by her then-husband Alfonso Arau, “Like Water for Chocolate” became the highest-grossing Spanish-language film of all time in Mexico after its release in 1992. The erotic story focuses on forbidden love and the sensual nature of cooking. 
  3. “Amores Perros”: The first of three films revolving around the random nature of death from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Amores Perros” focuses on how one tragic car accident impacted three unrelated groups of people. Considered one of the most innovative Mexican movies in recent times, “Amores Perros” has been compared to Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.”
  4. “Pan’s Labyrinth”: Along with Alfonso Cuaron and Inarritu, “Pan’s Labyrinth” director Guillermo del Toro is considered to be one of the best Mexican movie directors and one of the “Tres Amigos” of Mexican cinema. A dark fairy tale set in post-Civil War Spain, “Pan’s Labyrinth” earned a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award nomination and won three other awards.
  5. “El Mariachi”: Made for a shoestring budget of $7,000 and intended for the Mexican home movie market, Robert Rodriguez’s tale of a guitar player turned vigilante launched his career. He would return to the story for the big-budget remake “Desperado” starring Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek.
  6. “Rudo y Cursi”: Reuniting “Y Tu Mama Tambien” stars Bernal and Luna with Carlos Cuaron, “Rudi y Cursi” tells the story of a pair of lower-clas brothers attempting to become professional soccer players. While broader and more slapstick than “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” “Rudo Y Cursi” mixes humor with political messages about class structures to become one of the best Mexican movies in recent years.
  7. “Nosotros los Pobres”: Directed by Ismael Rodriguez, “Nosotros los Pobres” became the biggest film of the Mexican Golden Age of cinema when it was released in 1948. Unlike most Mexican movies of the time, “Nosotros los Pobres” avoids clichés, cheap laughs or overt melodrama to present a portrait of the poor in Mexico that stands up today.
  8. “Cronos”: The first of del Toro’s movies to receive a theatrical release in the United States, “Cronos” is a psychological thriller which owes a strong debt to the works of David Cronenberg.
  9. “Babel”: Released in 2006 as the final part of Inarritu’s trilogy of death, “Babel” was nominated for seven Oscars including Best Picture. It uses three stories to show how language can unite or isolate individuals.
  10. “Lucia, Lucia”: The 2003 release by Antonio Serrano follows the journey of a children’s book writer dealing with the apparent kidnapping of her husband. Cecila Roth shines in one of the best Mexican films of the 2000s, giving fullness to the title character.