Mexican movies can really help you to gain an understanding of the traditions and culture in Mexico. Whether you love Mexico, want to get yourself in the mood for an upcoming trip, or simply enjoy world cinema, you will enjoy a lot of the suggestions for the best Mexican movies on this list.
Since I live in Mexico, I like to try and immerse myself in the country’s culture as much as possible through reading books, watching movies about Mexico, following discussions and developments in the country, and watching documentaries.
This post will be updated periodically as more great Mexican movies are discovered!
Best Mexican Movies to Watch in 2024
Some of the best Mexican movies – from recent releases to beloved classics are detailed below. They are in Spanish but you can view them with English subtitles or subtitles in whatever language you need.
Many can be found on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, and other streaming services. (Or you may also be able to find them online.)
Some also offer you the option of watching them in English dub. This can be handy if you don’t want to have to read subtitles, although watching movies in their original native language usually makes for a better experience.
Me gusta pero me asusta
Me gusta pero me asusta (I like it but it scares me) is a cute and hilariously funny Mexican movie. It follows the story of Claudia (Minnie West), a Real Estate Agent in Mexico City, and the trials and tribulations of her dating life.
She meets Bryan (Alejandro Sánchez Speitzer) who has moved to the city from Sinaloa and is the son of one of the state’s most influential families. The couple struggles with their differences, with her being accustomed to the glamorous city life and him having grown up on a ranch.
There is also the small problem that since he has grown up in Sinaloa, she is convinced he is a narco. The movie, released in 2017, is guaranteed to make you laugh, and everyone will enjoy it.
It’s a comedy, but it definitely isn’t “just” a chick flick that only women will like.
The Old Ways
The Old Ways is one of the best Mexican movies you can watch if you are interested in learning about indigenous Mexican traditions and culture. It follows Christina, a Mexican American Journalist who returns to Catemaco, Veracruz to write a story on the area, and rediscover her heritage.
Catemaco is an area that is best known for its curanderos (witch doctors). This is very popular even today and many locals will often consult curanderos to ask for blessings or tinctures to help them gain success at work, gain confidence, improve their love lives, etc.
People travel from across Mexico to visit Catemaco curanderos and every January, there is a witchcraft festival here that attracts people from across the world. In the movie, Christina is specifically warned not to enter a specific cave that is said to be cursed.
Naturally, she doesn’t listen. She finds herself haunted by a spirit and needs to seek out the help of a local bruja (witch).
Have a nice day
Have a nice day is a new Mexican movie released in 2023 starring Álvaro Guerrero and Andrea Chaparro. An old retired radio host named Quique is down on his luck and takes a job packing bags in a local supermarket.
He hopes to save for a ticket to Mexico City where he can attend a party that his former radio station is throwing. In particular, he dreams of reconnecting with “La Bomba”, his beautiful coworker that he didn’t pursue back in the day.
In the supermarket, Quique forms an unlikely friendship with a teenage boy (Eduardo Minett) from a violent home. Despite his age, Quique is still a rebel.
He drinks, smokes, steals and drives around in an old American car while blasting out rock and roll. His fellow old-timers meet and hang out at a local cantina every week and take their new teenage friend under their wing.
It’s a simple, yet charming movie. It shows how the simple things in life are the most important and why we shouldn’t let time pass us by.
Ruido (“noise”) is one of the harder-to-watch Mexican movies but it shines a light on an important problem faced in Mexico today. It is written and directed by Natalia Beristain and focuses on the many people that go missing in Mexico.
More than 100,000 people are currently missing in Mexico. Many disappear without a trace and are never found, nor does the government have any apparent means of handling the situation.
Families report missing loved ones and the cases go into a seemingly endless pile of open missing person cases. Bureaucracy doesn’t help the situation and most of the time, the families end up investigating for themselves.
Many “disappeared” persons are involved with organized crime. But many are victims of trafficking, and domestic violence, or are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In places like Guadalajara and El Fuerte, Sinaloa, where a lot of people disappear, locals often form search groups. They take matters into their own hands and dig in search of loved ones – an unsettling and gruesome task.
In Ruido, Julieta Egurrola plays Julia, a woman whose daughter has gone missing. Her endless search to find her daughter and the impact it has had on her mental health has placed a wedge between her relationship with her son and husband.
It follows her interactions with the police, search groups, and journalists. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but it’s a story that needs to be told.
Mal de Ojo
Mal de Ojo (Evil Eye) is a Mexican horror movie that was played in movie theaters across Mexico in late 2022. It is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime and HBO Max Latin America.
It’s a popular Mexican superstition that when people get sick, it’s because someone looked at them with malicious intent or envy. (AKA, they gave them the “evil eye”).
In Mal de Ojo, Nala and her family travel to their grandmother’s house while her parents are in search of an alternative medicine to cure her sister’s illness. Her grandmother, Josefa, is a mean-spirited and creepy woman, and Nala becomes convinced that she is a bruja (witch).
The movie has a spectacular twist and its ending will stay with you long after you have finished watching the movie.
No Manches Frida
No Manches Frida (2016) is a goofy Mexican romantic comedy. It follows the story of Zequi (Omar Chaparro) who has recently been released from prison and who lies on a job application in order to secure a role as a teacher.
He starts an unlikely romance with his coworker, a nerdy teacher played by Mexican actress Martha Higareda. He also somehow manages to become an unlikely role model and friend to his rebellious students.
If you like the movie, you can then go on to watch the sequel, No Manches Frida 2.
No Se Aceptan Devoluciones
No Se Aceptan Devoluciones (No Refunds) is a Mexican comedy movie starring Eugenio Derbez, one of Mexico’s favorite comedy actors. Eugenio’s character Valentín is a wild, partying womanizer living in Acapulco.
He has no routine or responsibilities in his life which revolves mostly around tanning on the beach with an ice-cold cerveza and taking home a different woman every night. One day, his womanizing ways come back to haunt him when an American woman whom he hooked up with shows up on his doorstep to hand over his baby.
Valentin heads to the US in search of the child’s mom. But instead, he and his daughter Maggie form a strong bond and find a new home where they can live together.
Amor Primera Visa
Amor Primera Visa (Love at First Visa) is a movie set in Mexico City with a star-studded cast of American and Mexican actors. It follows the story of Alejandro, a struggling Mariachi singer who falls in love with a US Embassy employee after she declines the visa he is trying to get for his daughter.
Alejandro is played by Jamie Camil who you may recognize as Rojelio de la Vega in Jane the Virgin, and who has featured in a number of comedy movies in Mexico. Omar Chaparro, Laura Ramsey, and Stockard Channing of “Grease” fame also co-star.
Amores Perros is widely regarded as being one of the best Mexican movies ever made. It was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu and was nominated for an Oscar.
(Iñárritu also directed The Revenant and Birdman so you know this is a director with plenty of accolades under his belt). It explores the topics of love, loss, and betrayal and follows the lives of three very different people whose lives unexpectedly come together when they are involved in a car crash in Mexico City.
There is Octavio, a man involved in illegal dog fights, Valeria, a troubled former model, and El Chivo, a man involved in organized crime. The movie’s name translates to mean “love dogs” and dogs are used as symbolism throughout the movie.
A la Mala
A la Mala is a Mexican romantic comedy that was released in 2015. It follows the story of Maria Laura (Aislinn Derbez), a struggling actress who moonlights as a “honey trap” in order to help women find out whether their boyfriends are loyal or not.
She ends up falling in love with one of her targets: Santiago, a successful TV producer played by Mauricio Ochmann. Maria tries several hilarious and questionable methods to try and seduce Santiago from his partner, while also trying to keep her identity as a honey trap under wraps.
Pan’s Labyrinth is a Mexican dark fantasy/horror movie by Mexican screenwriter and director Guillermo del Toro. It is perhaps one of the biggest Mexican movies in the genre to catch on internationally and has something of a cult following.
The movie won Oscars for best achievement in cinematography, best achievement in art direction, and makeup. It was also nominated for best foreign language film and best screenplay.
The movie is set in Spain in the 1940s and follows the story of a young girl named Ofelia who wanders into the woodland where she meets a mysterious faun named Pan. Pan gives her a series of increasingly-dangerous challenges she must pass if she wants to become immortal.
One of the most terrifying and notable is when she encounters a monster known as “the pale man”. He’s a tall and creepy skinless being who has his eyes on his hands.
(If you’re a horror movie fan, you might have seen pictures or fan art of him around. He will probably terrify young children so this movie is perhaps not for them. But by the same token, it is likely to terrify adults too!)
Los Tres Garcia
Ask any Mexican who the best Mexican actor and singer of all time was and many will answer you with the same thing: Pedro Infante. He played the main character in many movies during the golden age of Mexican cinema.
Los Tres Garcia (The three Garcias) follows the story of three cousins who grow up with their abuela in a small town in rural Mexico. They are constantly getting into brawls with each other and their sworn enemies: the neighborhood Lopez kids.
One day things change when they meet a beautiful Mexican American girl named Lupita Smith Garcia and fight for her attention while trying to protect her from the Lopez brothers.
The movie is shot in black and white and is obviously a little dated now. But Pedro Infante movies are something of a “rite of passage” for anyone who wants to understand how the Mexican film industry has developed.
It’s not just old people that love Pedro Infante movies either. Many young Mexicans will watch them for nostalgia!
If you enjoy Los Tres Garcia, you can also add some other Pedro Infante movies to your radar. Nosotros los Pobres (1948), Dos Tipos de Cuidado (1953), and Tizoc (1957) are other beloved classics.
Y Tu Mamá También
Y Tu Mama Tambien (“and your mother too”) is a 2001 comedy about two best friends who compete for the attention of a young woman while en route to the beach. It is directed by Alfonso Cuaron (of Roma fame).
Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna star as two competing friends. Maribel Verdu plays Luisa Cortes, the woman whose attention they are fighting for.
Movies About Mexico
The movies about Mexico detailed below are movies that are set in Mexico. Although many have been produced in English, and typically by an American/western director and cast.
Mexican culture may be a focal point of the story or the country may be a backdrop. But they are great movies nonetheless!
Cry Macho (2021) is a heartwarming drama/thriller starring Clint Eastwood and emerging Mexican actor Eduardo Minet. Clint Eastwood’s character Miko is sent across the Mexican border by his former employer who wants his son brought to the United States.
Miko rescues the young boy Raph from his troubled alcoholic mother and the two embark on a road trip back to the United States. “Machismo” and being a manly man is considered important to many Mexicans and Raph is proud of his masculinity, his participation in flights, and his cock-fighting hobby.
Miko tries to teach him what is really important about being a man. The two develop an unlikely friendship.
Frida (2002) is a biographical drama directed by Julie Taymor that tells the story of Frida Kahlo – one of the most prolific Mexican artists of all time. It sees Kahlo develop her persona as an artist, her tumultuous relationship with fellow artist Diego Riviera and her radical political views.
Frida is played by Salma Hayek, who received several Golden Globes and Oscar nominations for her role. If you are considering visiting Coyoacan, Frida’s former neighborhood, and Casa Azul, Frida’s former home, in the Mexican capital, this movie can provide a nice introduction to Frida before your visit.
Roma is widely regarded as being one of the best Mexican movies of all time and was met with critical acclaim around the globe when it was released in 2018. It depicts the life of an indigenous woman working for a middle-class barrio of Roma in 1970s Mexico City.
The mother of the family is struggling to raise four children by herself while her husband often works away for extended periods of time. Cleo, the nanny takes the responsibility of caring for the children as if they were her own.
It is a fictionalized version of Alfonso Cuarón’s life and upbringing. He based the character Cleo on his nanny Libo Rodríguez and dedicated the entire movie to her.
The movie introduces important themes. For instance, the trials and tribulations faced by a wealthy family versus those faced by the indigenous and the working class.
Cleo is of Mixtel descent and a major issue in Mexico today is the matter of how indigenous groups are not well represented or cared for. There are 68 indigenous groups in Mexico that speak more than 300 languages between them.
Yalitza Aparicio plays Cleo. She had no prior acting experience and previously worked as a teacher.
Director Alfonso Cuaron discovered her while scouting for actresses in Oaxaca.
Mule (La Mula) is an American movie starring Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper. Eastwoods Character Earl Stone is a down-on-his-luck grandpa that is estranged from his family and struggling to find a sense of purpose.
He wants to reconnect with his daughter and his granddaughter who is planning a wedding. His efforts to reach out are not well received.
However, Earl meets a shady friend of the groom who tells him that he can make some easy money by running deliveries back and forth across the Mexican border. Unaware of what he is letting himself in for, Earl agrees.
He sees the opportunity as a way to help pay for his granddaughter’s wedding. He ends up doing drug runs for an intimidating cartel, while an FBI agent tries to track him down.
There is a lot of dark humor and this is perhaps one of the top Mexican movies released in recent years. You can find Mule on the Amazon Prime streaming service.
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) is a spaghetti western-style thriller produced and directed by Rober Rodriguez. It stars Antonio Banderas as El Mariachi and Johnny Depp as a rogue CIA agent named Sands.
The two are on a mission to prevent a coup d’etat against the President of Mexico. Along the way, El Mariachi reunites with the beautiful Carolina, a former lover played by Salma Hayek and the two reignite their love affair.
It’s a fast-paced action movie with some dark comedy thrown in for good measure. If you enjoy trying Mexican food or have traveled through Mexico previously, look out for the dish that Johnny Depp’s character keeps ordering known as “cochinita pibil”.
This slow-cooked pork dish was invented by the ancient Maya centuries ago and is cooked in an underground oven known as a “pib”. It is one of the most famous dishes in Yucatan cuisine and if you’ve been to places in the Yucatan, you can probably relate to his character.
(He keeps rambling on about how good it is and trying to encourage other people to try it while they are clearly more preoccupied with serious matters!)
Man on Fire
Man on Fire is a 2004 action movie starring Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken, and a young Dakota Fanning. Denzel Washington’s character John Creasy is a former CIA agent that has been hired as a bodyguard for a young girl named Lupita.
The two strike up an unlikely bond and when Lupita gets kidnapped, Creasy aims to seek revenge and rescue the little girl. This is perhaps one of Denzel Washington’s best films.
However, it does lean into the stereotype of Mexico being a dangerous and lawless place so do take that aspect of the movie with a pinch of salt. Mexico City can be safe with precautions and it’s a wonderful place to explore as a tourist today.
Best Mexican Movies: Final thoughts
How many movies on this movie list have you seen? What did you think of them?
Are there any other movies by prominent Mexican directors or movie stars that you would recommend? This list of Mexican films will be expanded regularly.
You might also enjoy browsing this list of books about Mexico.
I live in Merida in the Yucatan. If you have any questions about Mexican movies, culture, or travel, feel free to contact me!
Safe travels and happy viewing, Melissa xo