Happy Cinco De Mayo! 13 Excellent Films From Mexican Directors

You know you're having margaritas tonight, but do you actually know why? Today is Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates Mexico's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. And while few will begrudge your decision to celebrate at your local taqueria, wouldn't it be nice to dig a little deeper?

Turning to Mexican cinema is one place to start. You're no doubt familiar with the "Three Amigos," filmmaker friends Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Guillermo del Toro. Iñárritu, after all, just won an Oscar for directing The Revenant, the same award he won in 2015 for Birdman, and which Cuarón picked up in 2014 for Gravity. In 2007, Del Toro picked up an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Pan's Labyrinth, and has been delighting us with action and horror fare like Hellboy and Chronos.

Those works are just a handful of the compelling films Mexican filmmakers have given us. Inside, you'll discover more, from Hollywood blockbusters to subtitled art-house favorites. These stories capture such universal themes as love, crime, and, yes, hot, hot sex so well that any film buff worth his or her salt will be scouring Netflix in no time. Enjoy!
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Video: Courtesy of Koch-Lobber Films.
Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) (1950)
Surrealist Luis Buñuel, famed for controversial classics like Belle du jour and Viridiana, was born in Spain but became a naturalized Mexican citizen. Among the films he made in his adopted country is this bleak portrayal of street children in Mexico City.
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Video: Courtesy of Miramax.
Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate) (1992)
Alfonso Arau directed this cinematic adaptation of Laura Esquivel's popular 1989 novel. The story incorporates magical realism as it follows a young woman who must sacrifice true love for the sake of her family, but uses her cooking to convey her true feelings.
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Video: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
Sexo, pudor y lágrimas (Sex, Shame & Tears) (1999)
This film was box-office hit in Mexico. From director Antonio Serrano, it stars Oscar nominee Demián Bichir as a blond lothario caught up in his friends' rocky relationship.
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Video: Courtesy of Nu Vision.
Amores Perros (2000)
You may have seen 21 Grams and Babel, but the first film in Alejandro González Iñárritu's so-called Trilogy of Death is the best, no matter how overlooked it is. Like the other two films, Amores Perros tells the story of a group of characters bound only by a random occurrence.
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Video: Courtesy of IFC Films.
Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
Alfonso Cuarón's dramedy about two friends besotted with the same woman grossed $13 million in the U.S. — a significant sum for a foreign-language film. You might remember it for its steamy threesome scene, and yes, it's also responsible for your lingering crushes on Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal.
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Video: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Though set in Spain circa 1944, this dark fantasy film was directed by Guadalajara-born Guillermo del Toro. Young Ofelia's world blurs the lines between fact and fairy tale as she deals with a hateful stepfather and a challenge to achieve immortality.
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Video: Courtesy of Sony.
Rudo y Cursi (2008)
Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal reunited in this film helmed by the other Cuarón, Alfonso's brother Carlos. The title translates to "Aggressive and Tacky," and the film finds the stars playing impoverished stepbrothers competing for the chance to be a soccer star.
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Video: Courtesy of IMCINE.
Fecha de caducidad (Expiration Date) (2011)
Female filmmakers are also making their mark in Mexico. Kenya Márquez co-wrote and directed this festival favorite about a woman whose life unravels after her only son dies.
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Video: Courtesy of Chamaca Films.
No quiero dormir sola (She Doesn't Want to Sleep Alone) (2012)
In the first feature from Natalia Beristáin, a young woman who has a string of casual lovers must take care of her alcoholic grandmother.
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Video: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Gravity (2013)
Sandra Bullock's solo drift through space makes Matt Damon's sojourn on the red planet in The Martian look like a trip to Club Med. Alfonso Cuarón became the first Latin-American to win an Oscar for Best Director for his dizzying tale of an astronaut lost and found.
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Video: Courtesy of Catatonia Films.
Güeros (2014)
Shot in black and white, Güeros is a striking example of modern Mexican cinema and marks the feature-film debut of director Alonso Ruizpalacios. The story follows a troublesome teen who embarks on a road trip with his brother and his love interest in pursuit of their favorite folk singer.
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Video: Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Crimson Peak (2015)
Del Toro's latest film is a sinister tale starring Mia Wasikowska as a writer of ghost stories plagued by doubts about her strange beau, played by Tom Hiddleston. Jessica Chastain is imperiously creepy as the sister-in-law safeguarding family secrets.
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Video: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
The Revenant (2015)
Maybe you've heard about this one? Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his Oscar after teaming up with Alejandro González Iñárritu.
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