Even before calls for more Latine representation in TV and film, Latine filmmaking has been influential in U.S. culture. And in 2023, we saw a growth of Latine-led and all-Latine cast projects. Some of those movies were great, some did the best with what they were given, and others were literally historic. One thing is certain: Latine filmmakers have a lot to say, and many, many stories to tell — we just need the space and the funding to do it well.
From the first-ever Latine superhero to be depicted on film to explorations of queer Latine lives, 2023 was full of important stories that you should add to your watch list. While we wish there were more Latine movies that centered on women, nonbinary, and Black Latine characters this year, Latine filmmakers made history, entertained audiences, and told necessary stories. Below, we rounded up the five best Latine movies of 2023.
Blue Beetle, Available to Stream on Max
Puerto Rican director Ángel Manuel Soto delivers a historic DC superhero film in Blue Beetle. Recent Mexican American graduate Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) returns to his hometown of Palmera City to learn his family is facing eviction due to poverty. Later, Reyes finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology called the Scarab. Once the Scarab chooses Jaime to be its symbiotic host and grants him a super-cool suit of armor that has unpredictable and unbelievable powers, he becomes the superhero Blue Beetle, thus changing his destiny forever. The all-Latine cast also includes George Lopez, Bruna Marquezine, Harvey Guillén, and many more in this powerful tale about family, gentrification, colonialism, Indigeneity, and revolutionary Latin American movements.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Available to Stream on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video
Based on the hit novel of the same name, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a queer coming-of-age movie that tells the story of two Mexican American teenagers in El Paso, Texas, during the late 1980s, as they struggle with their intense friendship, their own identities, and their class differences. Aristotle "Ari" Mendoza (Max Pelayo) is a bad-tempered teenager who meets Dante Quintana (Reese Gonzales) at the public pool. Despite being two very different people, the two teenagers hit it off immediately and start a passionate friendship.
Cassandro, Available to Stream on Amazon Prime Video
In the movie Cassandro, Mexican actor Gael García Bernal takes on the role of Saúl Armendáriz — more famously known by his stage name, Cassandro — an openly gay Mexican luchador who rose to fame in the early 1990s in El Paso, Texas. In this biopic, the complex story of Armendáriz honors the sport and art form that is the Mexican lucha libre scene, as well as the entertainers who shaped the industry. Though outsiders might see lucha libre as violent, the film demonstrates how much of the sport is performance and entertainment, and something the Mexican public is and should be proud of. Importantly, the film doesn’t shy away from showing the homophobia the wrestler endured.
A Million Miles Away, Available to Stream on Amazon Prime Video
Telling the story of José Hernández’s inspiring journey from migrant farmworker to NASA astronaut, A Million Miles Away is a a triumphant production. Directed and cowritten by Mexican director Alejandra Márquez Abella (Northern Skies over Empty Space; The Good Girls) and starring Michael Peña as Hernández, this movie is a heartwarming tale of heritage, drive, discrimination, and familial support. Spanning decades of his life, the movie explores Hernández’s determination and hard work to travel to space, a dream he chased since childhood.
Miguel Wants to Fight, Available to Stream on Hulu
In this sweet coming-of-age comedy, Miguel (Tyler Dean Flores) lives in a neighborhood where kids fight each other all the time. His story starts with a personal dilemma: The high school junior has managed to stay out of any physical altercations up until that moment. His friends, who aren’t shy about protecting themselves when the teenage aggression comes out, point out that it’s almost impossible to stay out of fights in their neighborhood and in their high school — it’s basically a rite of passage. When Miguel finds out that his parents want to move out of the neighborhood in a week so his mom — played by the amazing (and generally underused) Andrea Navedo — can take a brand new, better-paying job in Albany, the teen overhears his father (Raúl Castillo) declare that his son will do better in a new, more peaceful environment. Suddenly, Miguel becomes determined to get into a fight to show he is a part of his community.