There are plenty of upcoming 2023 movies coming out in the last half of this year, but in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins September 15th, why don’t we enjoy some of the best Latinx films that the industry has to offer?
I’m talking about classics like Coco, to Academy-Award winners like Frida, there are plenty of options out there for fans to enjoy. If you’re looking for some of the best Latinx films out there to stream right now, look no further than here.
Miguel is a young boy who wants to spend his life playing music in Coco, but his family forbids it, as music is what tore the family apart more than a century ago. But when Miguel suddenly finds himself thrust into the land of the dead, he must learn the value of family above music.
I won’t lie - Coco is one of my favorite Pixar animated films, and I’d arguably say it’s ranked as one of Pixar’s best. The animation is absolutely stunning, from the moment he crosses the marigold bridge to the beautiful colors that are embedded into Hispanic culture. The music is catchy, and the story is heartwarming - and there’s a twist that I’m pretty sure no one saw coming, but I’m not revealing anything to you here. If you haven’t seen Coco yet, do yourself a favor and watch it now.
City Of God (2002)
In this Brazilian crime film, City of God is based on the novel of the same name, and shows the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb in Rio de Janeiro, between the timespan of the 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s.
For fans of crime films, this is the perfect movie for you to watch, because not only does it have a pretty interesting story, the history behind it is fascinating. As someone who grew up in the United States with not that much exposure to Spanish countries until I got older, City of God offers some really insightful moments into organized crime in Brazil, and how it affects the area. It really is one of the best movies of the 2000s.
Yes, you will be singing about Bruno too by the end of this movie. Encanto released in 2021 and tells the story of a young woman named Mirabel who grew up in a home where everyone was given a special power, all except for her. But when her home begins to fall apart, it’s up to her to figure out why and restore the magic.
Encanto is still my favorite Disney movie that has been released in years, just because there’s so much to love about it. From the music (featuring some of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s best songs) to the animation to the phenomenal voice talents of the Encanto cast, there is so much to love about this movie. The songs are catchy as heck, and you’ll be rewatching this movie over and over until you can’t get “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” out of your head. Oh god, it’s stuck in mine again.
If you want a biographical drama, look no further than Frida. This Academy-Award-winning film is all about the life of Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican surrealist, as we follow her through her professional career and private life.
Salma Hayek was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for a reason. She is the star of Frida and she plays the part so perfectly, completely disappearing into the role. Her performance was outstanding. Not only that, but the score is phenomenal, and the makeup is top-notch. It really takes you back to the time that Frida Khalo was alive, and paints a picture of her life (pun intended).
The Book Of Life (2014)
The Book of Life is all about the journey of Manalo, a young man who has to choose between the expectations of his family and following what his heart desires the most, going on an adventure that spans between three fantastical and fantasy worlds to face his fears.
Alright, comparisons to Coco aside, The Book of Life is a stunning movie on its own. It has a very distinct animation style that makes it stand out from the rest, and let’s not even get started on this wonderful cast. The film includes stars like Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Christina Applegate - the list just goes on and on. It’s such a great film and deserves so much praise.
In The Heights (2021)
Get ready to get out of your seat and dance. In the Heights is a brilliant movie musical directed by Jon M. Chu, following the story of several inhabitants of Washington Heights, NYC, and their dreams beyond the concrete jungle, from traveling outside the United States to just moving downtown.
In the Heights came out during a rough time in my life, and I watched this movie on repeat because everything about it is so much fun. The In the Heights cast features plenty of talent from Anthony Ramos to Melissa Barrera, and the choreography is spot on and will literally make you want to get up on your feet and dance. Plus, the Latin influence on every piece of music is perfect to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Maria Full Of Grace (HBO Max)
Back to amazing drama films, Maria Full of Grace is all about a young Colombian teenager who ends up getting pregnant. In order to get money for her family, she becomes a drug mule, pushing her into a dangerous world of crime.
Catalina Sandino Moreno was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for Maria Full of Grace, and honestly in my opinion, she should have won. Her performance as Maria is so raw that it will pull at your heartstrings, following her story from beginning to end. I’ll warn you that this film sometimes isn’t easy to digest - there’s some serious moments and issues that they address and establish throughout the film, such as trafficking, the process of being a drug mule, and more, but I do think it’s one of those drama films that really do stand above the rest.
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Selena is a biographical musical film that tells the heartbreaking story of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, a young singer who was killed when she was just 23. This movie follows her rise to stardom, and what led to her murder.
Arguably, Selena is one of Jennifer Lopez’s best movies so far, and I don’t think anything has come close to surpassing it. She delivered an excellent performance that perfectly captured the spirit of the legendary singer, and the movie tells the story in a respectful manner. Out of many biographical features, this one ranks up there as one of my favorites.
Real Women Have Curves (2002)
Let’s move into a great comedy-drama, why don’t we? In Real Women Have Curves, we follow America Ferrera’s character (in her feature film debut) Ana Garcia, as she struggles to figure out what to do with the rest of her life while her domineering mother tries to tell her how to live it.
Real Women Have Curves is a film that defined me as a young woman growing up. There are so many amazing themes that are touched on in this seemingly regular comedy, such as acceptance of one’s body, positivity about yourself, rejecting societal norms, and following your own heart. Ana Garcia as a character is one of the best ones out there role-model wise, because she decides in the end what she wants to do, and doesn’t let the world control her. It’s a great coming-of-age story, and one I feel everyone needs to watch if they’re feeling down on themselves.
Flamin’ Hot (2023)
Do you love those Flamin’ Hot Cheetos as much as I do? Well, you can learn all about them in Flamin’ Hot. This Hulu biographical comedy-drama directed by Eva Longoria is based on the memoir A Boy, a Burrito, and a Cookie: From Janitor to Executive, written by Richard Montañez. The movie details the story of how Montañez claims to have invented the famous snack, and how it revolutionized the snack industry and introduced a whole new market.
There’s honestly so much to love about this movie. Not only is it pretty funny and features a great cast, but it’s a genuine underdog story that will make anyone feel as if they can do anything. You can start from the bottom but if you have a good idea, you can push your way towards the top, and I think Flamin’ Hot perfectly captures that. While it is only about Montañez claiming the invention, and the director has come out to talk about the claims, it’s still entertaining, nonetheless.
Nothing Like The Holidays (2008)
Hey, it’s almost Christmas time practically, why not celebrate with a great Latinx Christmas film? Nothing Like The Holidays documents a Puerto Rican family living in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago, facing what may very well be their last Christmas all together.
I know that sometimes Christmas films feel like the same formula over and over again, with a happy ending all the time, but I feel like Nothing Like the Holidays really breaks that mold and establishes itself as a different kind of Christmas film. It focuses more on the realistic aspects of the holidays and the struggles that families face when life doesn't necessarily go their way. There are ups and downs to every Christmas season - and Nothing Like the Holidays establishes that well.
The last animated film on this list, Vivo is an adorable adventure about a kinkajou traveling from Cuba to Miami to deliver a song to a long lost love of his owner so that they can somehow, in some way, be reunited once more.
I can’t tell you enough to watch Vivo. The film is so heartwarming, with plenty of moments that will make you cry and others that will make you smile and laugh. The music is so much fun, with songs written by the wonderful Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, and the Vivo cast is full of stars that you’ll recognize in an instant.
Roma is set in 1970-71, following the life of a live-in housekeeper in a middle-class family, in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City.
Roma earned much acclaim after its release, with ten nominations at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The Roma cast is stunning, each with wonderful performances, especially from Marina de Tavira and Yalitza Aparicio.
The story is full of dramatic moments that will have you engrossed by your television screen, unable to turn away, and the cinematography is breathtaking - I can’t talk more about this film without giving too much away. Alfonso Cuaron, who won the Academy Award for Best Director for Roma, really knocked it out of the park with this one. Watch it if you haven’t already.
A Million Miles Away (2023)
Releasing on Amazon Prime on September 15th, 2023, A Million Miles Away is based on the real story of José Hernández, a NASA flight engineer, and his story of beginning with nothing in Mexico to migrate to the United States in order to pursue his lifelong dream alongside his family.
The movie is based on the Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut and stars Michael Peña in the lead role. This inspiring story is the one to watch if you’re looking for a fresh new movie.
With so many films to pick from, I’m sure you’ll find a new movie for film night with your family for this special month we are entering into. Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m going to re-watch Coco and cry all over again.
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Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!