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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.
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
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