Updated on April 9, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
Mexico is a country rich with beauty and culture, from cuisine, to music, to film. We’ve put together this list of the Best Mexican Movies of All Time as a guide to get you started exploring Mexico’s fascinating culture and the sensual Spanish language. We’ll cover the 5 Best Mexican Movies of All Time, as well as the Gangster, Romantic, Comedy, Horror, and more! Happy viewing!
5 Best Mexican Movies of All Time
The dramatic fantasy war film Pan’s Labyrinth stars Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, and Sergi López. Against the backdrop of Falangist Spain in 1944, a young girl, Ofelia, and her pregnant mother are sent to live with the girl’s step-father, a corrupt Spanish army captain. Ofelia is led to a mysterious labyrinth where she uncovers an eerie and magical new world where she is faced with tasks that will change her life forever.
IMDb 8.2 | 1h 58min | 2006 | Spanish
The Exterminating Angel is a dramatic fantasy film starring Silvia Pinal, Jacqueline Andere, and Enrique Rambal. Set in a mansion at an upscale dinner party, the party guests find themselves incomprehensibly unable to leave. As days pass, the guests’ chic facades begin to fade and they enter into survival mode. Without the societal pretenses in place, the guests begin to show their true nature, which reveals itself to be beastly and animalistic.
IMDb 8.1 | 1h 35min | 1962 | Spanish
Amores Perros is the dramatic thriller starring Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal, and Goya Toledo which details the lives of three characters whose stories intertwine in the midst of a dreadful car crash in Mexico City. The film tells an emotional story of love and loss as it weaves together the tales of the characters and their beloved canines.
IMDb 8.1 | 2h 34min | 2000 | Spanish
Based on true events, the adventure crime drama Canoa: A Shameful Memory is set in a small town outside of Mexico City and stars Enrique Lucero, Salvador Sánchez, and Ernesto Gómez Cruz. The film recounts the story of a group of students visiting the small town who get accused by the town’s priest of being communist agitators escaping the Mexican army. The priest tries to convince the townspeople to lynch the students.
IMDb 7.9 | 1h 55min | 1976 | Spanish; Nahuatl
Set in Mexico, The Holy Mountain stars Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horacio Salinas, and Zamira Saunders. This dramatic adventure fantasy follows a mystical guide as he leads a Christ figure along with seven materialistic disciples to a holy mountain where they plan to meet a group of divine wise men in hopes of reaching enlightenment. Their goal is to replace the men on the mountain in order to achieve immortality.
IMDb 7.9 | 1h 54min | 1973 | Spanish; English
3 Best Mexican Drug Cartel (Gangster) Movies
The hit film Sicario stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro. This dramatic action crime movie takes place at the US/Mexican border and follows the story of Kate Macer, an optimistic FBI agent who gets sent to the border to wipe out a drug cartel that has bombed and killed members of her team. As drug violence along the border increases, Kate’s team tries to use one cartel boss to pursue a larger one.
IMDb 7.6 | 2h 1min | 2015 | English; Spanish
Traffic is the dramatic crime thriller that follows America’s war on drugs in Mexican and American cities. The film stars Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro, and Catherine Zeta-Jones and tells several intertwined stories. A Supreme Court judge becomes head of the war on drugs, unaware that his own daughter is a heroin addict. The incarcerated wife of a cartel boss tries to uphold his business. Two DEA agents try to protect their source.
IMDb 7.6 | 2h 27min | 2000 | English; Spanish
The dramatic action crime film Miss Bala stars Stephanie Sigman, Noé Hernández, and Irene Azuela. Set in Tijuana, Mexico, the story follows Laura Guerro who enters a beauty pageant with her friend Suzu. When Suzu gets lost in a cartel shooting at a nightclub, Laura’s attempts to find her get noticed by the drug lords, and ultimately get her tangled up in their game.
IMDb 6.5 | 1h 53min | 2011 | Spanish; English
3 Best Mexican Romantic Movies
Set in Barcelona, Biutiful is a romantic drama that stars Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez, and Hanaa Bouchaib. The film tells the story of Uxbal, a man whose ability to see his own death influences the way he lives his life. As a single father of two young children and a career criminal, Uxbal must work to get his affairs in order before his impending untimely passing.
IMDb 7.5 | 2h 28min | 2010 | Spanish; Chinese; Wolof
Based on the Egyptian novel by the same name, Midaq Alley stars Ernesto Gómez Cruz, María Rojo, and Salma Hayek. This romantic drama takes place in a Mexico City neighborhood and follows the lives of the people who live there. A young man dreams of emigrating to America, a penniless barber is in love with a high-class prostitute, and a bachelorette chases love affairs seeking a husband.
IMDb 7.4 | 2h 20min | 1995 | Spanish
The romantic drama Like Water for Chocolate starring Marco Leonardi, Lumi Cavazos, and Regina Torné is set in Mexico during the Mexican Revolutionary War. The film tells the story of Tita, the youngest daughter in a traditional Mexican family. Tita is destined to care for her mother, and is thereby forbidden to marry her true love, Pedro, who marries her older sister instead. Tita’s emotions come out in magnificent ways through her cooking.
IMDb 7.1 | 1h 45min | 1992 | Spanish; English
3 Best Mexican Horror Movies
The dramatic horror film The Devil’s Backbone starring Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, and Federico Luppi, takes place in Spain after the Spanish Civil War. When young Carlos’ only parent dies during the war, he is sent to live in a mysterious orphanage for boys where he uncovers dark and haunting secrets.
IMDb 7.4 | 1h 46min | 2001 | Spanish
In the fantasy/horror/mystery film Tigers Are Not Afraid starring Paola Lara, Juan Ramón López, and Nery Arredondo, a gang of orphaned children living on the streets must survive the horrors of the drug cartels. Young Estrella is followed by the terrifying ghost of her mother as she and the other children try to escape a world of brutality and violence.
IMDb 7.0 | 1h 23min | 2017 | Spanish
The horror film Cronos stars Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, and Claudio Brook and is set in Veracruz, Mexico. The story begins in 1536 when a Mexican alchemist creates Cronos, a device that grants the user eternal life. Flash forward to the present day, an antiques dealer finds Cronos hidden in an age-old statue and he discovers its ancient powers. When Cronos gets stolen, the antiques dealer must get it back at all costs.
IMDb 6.7 | 1h 34min | 1993 | Spanish; English
2 Best Mexican American Movies
The animated family adventure film Coco stars Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, and Benjamin Bratt and takes place in the imaginary town of Santa Cecilia, Mexico. The story follows young Miguel, who dreams of being a musician despite his family’s generations-old ban on music. When Miguel enters the mysterious Land of the Dead, he embarks on a journey to discover his family history.
IMDb 8.4 | 1h 45min | 2017 | English; Spanish
2. La Bamba
The biographical musical drama La Bamba stars Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, and Rosanna DeSoto. Set in Los Angeles, the film follows the story of Ritchie Valens, a young rock and roll star who met his untimely death at age 17 in a plane crash alongside Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper. This true story focuses on Valens’ rise to fame and his relationships with the people he loved.
IMDb 6.9 | 1h 48min | 1987 | English; Spanish
Best Mexican Comedy Movie
El Infierno starring Damián Alcázar, Joaquín Cosio, and Ernesto Gómez Cruz tells the story of Benny Garcia who is deported back to Mexico from the United States. In this comedy/action/crime film, Benny gets wrapped up in Mexico’s drug cartels, quickly rising through the ranks. Though at first he enjoys a life of money, women, and excitement, he soon realizes it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
IMDb 7.8 | 2h 25min | 2010 | Spanish
Best Mexican Western Movie
The dramatic adventure western The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is set in the Sierra Madre Mountains and stars Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, and Tim Holt. The film follows the story of two Americans seeking work in Mexico. They team up with a local prospector and convince him to help them mine for gold in the mountains. Though they are eventually successful in finding gold, they are faced with obstacles that put their fortune at risk.
IMDb 8.2 | 2h 6min | 1948 | English; Spanish
Best Mexican Action Movie
The action thriller film Desperado stars Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, and Joaquim de Almeida and takes place in a small Mexican border town. The film tells the story of El Mariachi, a former musician who returns to the small town after years of being away. He quickly gets swept up in the life he left behind and gets involved with Bucho, the local cartel boss.
IMDb 7.2 | 1h 44min | 1995 | English; Spanish
From modern life in Mexico City to the fascinating mystical roots of traditional Mexican culture, you’re sure to be captivated by the eclectic characteristics of Mexican film. We hope this list of the Best Mexican Movies of All Time was just what you’ve been looking for! With so many wonderful genres to explore, from the Best Mexican Romantic Movies to the Best Mexican Action Movies, you had better get started watching! Enjoy!