There are plenty of new 2021 movies coming out in the last half of this year, but in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins September 15, 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 honestly one of my favorite films ever. 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 (Cinemax Go)
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 Ciadade de Deus suburb in Rio de Janerio, 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.
Frida (HBO Max)
If you wanted a biographical drama, look no further than Frida. This Academy-Award-winning film is all about the life of Frida Khalo, 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 (Disney+)
The second animated film on this list, 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.
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 talk about 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.
Real Women Have Curves (HBO Max)
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.
I’m Leaving Now (Netflix)
In this documentary film, I’m Leaving Now tells the story of Felipe, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who has been living in Brooklyn for 16 years, working three low-paying jobs so he can send the bulk of his money to his wife and children in Mexico. Now, he’s deciding to return home after almost two decades.
I believe what I love the most about I’m Leaving Now is that it really offers a perspective into the immigration experience that I don’t think a lot of us get to know when we grow up in the United States. The story of Felipe, from start to finish, is informative and heartbreaking at the same time, talking about the complexities of trying to provide for a family that’s so far away, and yet feeling like a stranger to them simultaneously.
Nothing Like The Holidays (YouTube Movies)
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. It only just came out, so if you haven’t watched it yet, be sure to check it out now.
As the last on this list, it’s certainly not the least. 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.
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.