Spanish movies with English subtitles offer more than just a language lesson. These films from Spain, Mexico and Latin America cover the gamut of human experience: crime, love, sex, death, poverty, beauty and fantasy. The best of them have received awards and international acclaim, becoming classics of world cinema.

  1. “The Exterminating Angel.” Spanish director Luis Bunuel was a genuine cinema pioneer, creating numerous influential films over his 50-year career. 1962’s “Exterminating Angel” showcases his ability to create bizarre storylines that reveal truths about humanity. Wealthy guests at a dinner party degenerate into madness and chaos after they find themselves unable to leave the room. 

  2. “The Official Story.” An Argentine couple discovers their adopted daughter has a link to their nation’s brutal past. This 1985 drama put a human face on the tragic history of South American nations like Argentina. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Feature, a first for the continent.

  3. “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” Spain’s Pedro Almodovar is famous for unique films that blur the lines between gay and straight, male and female, comedy and drama. He won an international audience in 1988 with “Women on the Verge.” A tiny apartment becomes the meeting place for several bizarre characters obsessed with love, sex and death.

  4. “Like Water for Chocolate.” Mexico’s 1992 romantic fantasy wooed moviegoers around the world. A spurned woman redirects her passion into her cooking, with magical results. The film set box-office records in the U.S. for a foreign-language film.

  5. “El Mariachi.” Texan director Robert Rodriguez decided to make his 1992 debut film on the cheap. He shot it in Mexico, intending to sell it to Spanish-language TV. Instead, it was picked up by an American studio, launching a career that later included “Sin City,” “Spy Kids” and “Desperado.”

  6. “All About My Mother.” Almodovar’s international following grew in the decade following “Women on the Verge.” In 1999, the director won the Best Foreign Film Oscar for this heartfelt drama. A middle-aged woman moves to Barcelona and reinvents her life after the tragic death of her son.    

  7. “Amores Perros.” Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu won international acclaim for his 2000 debut film. Three separate stories of love, crime and dogs are tied together by a traffic accident. This “Mexican Pulp Fiction” was nominated for an Oscar, as were his later films “Babel” and “Biutiful.” 

  8. “Y Tu Mama Tambien.” This 2001 Mexican film generated both praise and controversy around the world. Two teens learn about life and love while traveling with an older woman. The film’s frank approach to sex made it a major hit in its homeland, while it was released unrated in the U.S. 

  9. “The Motorcycle Diaries.” In 1952, future revolutionary Che Guevera set out on the road to discover America, as many were doing at the time. The difference is that he was in South America, and the beauty and poverty he observed changed him forever. The 2004 Argentine film about this real-life odyssey won acclaim around the world.

  10. “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Pioneering director Luis Bunuel made beautiful but bizarre fantasy films in Spain and Mexico, and Mexican director Guillermo del Toro has continued the tradition. In 2006, del Toro released his masterpiece, about a girl who escapes from war by entering a fantasyland. The film was nominated for six Oscars and many other awards; critic Roger Ebert called it “the year’s best film.”