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The Most Exciting Movies by Mexican Filmmakers to Watch Right Now

Stream classics ‘Roma’ and ‘Like Water for Chocolate,’ along with thrilling newer works


spinner image Marco Leonardi and Lumi Cavazos in a scene from the film Like Water for Chocolate and Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina De Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey and Carlos Peralta Jacobson embrace together as a group on the beach in a scene from the film Roma
(Left to right) Marco Leonardi and Lumi Cavazos in "Like Water for Chocolate"; Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina De Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey and Carlos Peralta Jacobson in "Roma."
Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection; Carlos Somonte/Netflix

Though Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is a bigger deal in the U.S. than Mexico, where it’s a minor holiday that celebrates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla, it’s always a great time to celebrate Mexican art and culture. These 10 dramas, romances and thrillers by Mexican filmmakers are the perfect place to start: Check them out right now on your favorite streaming platforms, including Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video.

Cronos (1992)

Immortality is not all it’s cracked up to be, according to Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, 58. The Mexican auteur’s first feature film, which he wrote and directed in his 20s, is a highly entertaining horror movie that will please mainstream audiences, as well as those seeking artier films. The stylish, charming and thoughtful variation on the vampire movie, redolent with alchemy, mythology and religious references, was honored at Cannes and submitted by Mexico as its best foreign language film entry at the Academy Awards.

Watch it: Cronos on Prime Video and HBO Max

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Like Water for Chocolate (1992)

Romance, passion and delectable dishes come together in an artful cazuela in this exquisite adult fairy tale, based on the popular novel by Laura Esquivel, 72, and directed by her husband, Alfonso Arau, 91. The sensual feast of a film, considered a classic of magical realism, focuses on a family of Mexican women who challenge their traditional roles.

Watch it: Like Water for Chocolate on Prime Video

Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

A more recent example of magical realism, this dark fable set in a small Mexican town follows five orphaned children grappling with the murder of their parents at the hands of drug cartels. Director Issa López, 51, tells the story through the eyes of the children, rendering the already-harrowing subject deeply affecting.

Watch it: Tigers Are Not Afraid on Prime Video

The Chambermaid (2018)

This intimate, detailed look at the daily life of a 20-something mother who cleans hotel rooms in an upscale Mexico City hotel is told quietly and at a measured pace with great emotional sensitivity. Like the sprawling city that the five-star hotel overlooks, the film thrums with life. Adapting her own stage play, director Lila Avilés invites viewers to step into the well-worn shoes of her protagonist, a woman rendered almost invisible, an unseen visitor in the luxurious lives of others. Gabriela Cartol is masterful in the titular role.

Watch it: The Chambermaid on Prime Video

Roma (2018)

The stunningly beautiful and revelatory magnum opus by writer-director Alfonso Cuarón, 61, contains multitudes. It’s a poetic love letter to Mexico City, an autobiographical ode to childhood memories, a document of social unrest, a subtle statement about societal structure and class differences, and a tender love story. The sound design is as indelible as the haunting black-and-white imagery, and production designer Eugenio Caballero’s meticulous recreation of Cuarón’s childhood home and neighborhood creates pure cinematic poetry.

Watch it: Roma on Netflix

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I’m No Longer Here (2019)

Set partly in Monterrey, Mexico, and partly in Queens, New York, this stylish film about a young cumbia dancer combines beautiful cinematography, soulful music and fascinating storytelling. Beyond the thrilling dance moves, I’m No Longer Here defies stereotypes by examining migration and identity through the struggles of a marginalized young person seeking to avoid being drawn into drugs and gangs like his brother before him. Writer-director Fernando Frías de la Parra also directed six episodes of the great HBO limited series Los Espookys.

Watch it: I’m No Longer Here on Netflix

New Order (2020)

The gap between the haves and have nots has reached the breaking point in this powerful, harrowing and unflinching look at class struggle. Bearing some thematic resemblance to 2019’s Parasite, Michel Franco’s politically charged, riveting horror thriller interrupts a lavish high-society wedding with a revolutionary attempt; the results will have you on the edge of your seat.

Watch it: New Order on Hulu

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Prayers for the Stolen (2021)

This haunting coming-of-age tale by writer/director Tatiana Huezo, 51, follows a trio of best friends growing up in rural Mexico where opium poppy fields cover the hillside, drug cartels abound and mothers face the peril of their daughters being stolen for human trafficking. Huezo draws pitch-perfect, naturalistic performances from her young cast and blends a quasi-documentary filmmaking style with striking visual symbols. It’s a story of fear and friendship with prickly dread set against the wonder and discovery of youth.

Watch it: Prayers for the Stolen on Netflix

Identifying Features (2020)

Visually arresting and riveting, this well-crafted tale of loss and lawlessness in contemporary Mexico by first-time filmmaker Fernanda Valadez is a must-watch. The deeply personal story of the migration crisis reflects a painful national reality, bringing headlines to unsettling life. Here, a mother searches for her teenage son who set off with his best friend from rural Guanajuato for a job in Arizona. She contends with mountains of bureaucracy and officials too exhausted to respond with any urgency to her emotional pleas. In her quest to find her son, she meets others facing similar trauma.

Watch it: Identifying Features on HBO Max

What We Leave Behind (2022)

Director Iliana Sosa pays tribute to her beloved, hardworking grandfather in this beautiful and emotionally evocative documentary about legacy and familial relationships set in rural Mexico. We meet Julián Moreno during the final few years of his life, thanks to his filmmaker granddaughter who interviews him from behind her camera. He’s in his 90s, a man of few words who takes pleasure in the simple act of frying an egg. He moves slowly but keeps going, regretting nothing. “Life is hard work,” he tells her, and we see that he lives by that credo contentedly.

Watch it: What We Leave Behind on Netflix

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