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Top 14 Spanish-Language Movies

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If you want to hear Spanish as it's used in real life, there is perhaps no easier nor more enjoyable way than to watch Spanish-language films. This list includes the top Spanish-language films of all time ranked approximately by their U.S. box office receipts. The first title in each listing is the one primarily used for U.S. marketing. Although most Spanish-language films marketed for home video are subtitled, not dubbed, check before buying if that's important to you.

1. Instructions Not Included (No se aceptan devoluciones)

Cinema in Bogota
Photo by Noalsilencio; licensed via Creative Commons.
This 2013 Mexican-American film was that rare Spanish-language film that was generally shown in the U.S. without subtitles and marketed to Hispanic audiences. It tells of a Mexican playboy who, through a series of unusual events, is forced to raise a daughter in Los Angeles.

 

2. Pan's Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno)

Guillermo del Toro skillfully combines the genres of fantasy, historical fiction and horror in this 2006 favorite.

3. Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua por chocolate)

A visually delightful tale about a rural Mexican woman growing up in a dysfunctional family, this film was nominated for the 1993 Golden Globe for best foreign film. It is based on the novel by Laura Esquivel.
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4. The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta)

This 2004 Argentine film tells the based-on-real-life story of a young Che Guevara, who went on a long motorcycle trip across South America with close friend, Alberto Granado, in the early 1950s while taking a year off from medical school in Argentina. The film is based on memoirs from the trip. It stars Mexican actor Gael García Bernal. Guevara is the Cuban revolutionary whose image is well-recognized throughout Latin America.

5. Y tu mamá también

This 2001 coming-of-age film set in Mexico was directed by Alfonson Cuarón. It was controversial in part for its depiction of sexuality.

 

6. Talk to Her (Hable con ella)

In this film written and directed by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, two men share an unusual friendship while their girlfriends are in comas.
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7. All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre)

Pedro Almodóvar's Todo sobre mi madre tells the story of Manuela, a 40-ish single mother of a teenage son. The boy never knew his father, and we find out throughout the film how the father's absence has affected both the boy and the mother. A tragedy forces Manuela, played by Cecelia Roth, to leave her home in Madrid and seek the father. The relationships she makes or revives there form the heart of the movie.

8. Maria Full of Grace (María, llena eres de gracia)

This is a 2004 HBO Films release about a 17-year-old Colombian girl who becomes a drug mule, transporting drugs to the United States in her digestive system. It was filmed in both the United States and Colombia, where, you may notice, people address even family members and close friends as usted.

9. The Crime of Padre Amaro (El crimen del padre Amaro)

This 2002 Mexican hit starring Gael Garcia Bernal tells the story of a priest who falls into corruption.
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10. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres ... ataque de nervios)

This 1988 Pedro Almodóvar film focuses on the lives of two dubbing actors (played by Carmen Maura and Fernando Guillén) and their increasingly complicated relationships.
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