25 Classic Movies Latinos Grew Up With
Despite how interesting, fascinating and important they are, Latino stories, haven’t always received the attention they deserve when it comes to films and mainstream media coverage. Fortunately for us, as kids, and even now where we’re still learning to grow into ourselves, there were a few movies that depicted classic Latino stories, families, and people.
Here are 25 classic films about Latinos that most of us grew up with!
1. “Spy Kids”
CREDIT: Spy Kids / Dimension Films
This film about two kids who discover their parents are spies was the ultimate film back when it came out. Fans of the show watches as two kids took on the role of spies in order to save their kidnapped parents. Starring a pretty all-star Latino cast including Antonio Banderas, Danny Trejo and Alexa Vega.
2. “Tortilla Soup”
CREDIT: Tortilla Soup / Samuel Goldwyn Films
It was hard not to get sucked into this TV favorite about sisters trying to grow under the watchful eye of their father. Starring Héctor Elizondo, Jacqueline Obradors and Elizabeth Peña.
3. “Fools Rush In”
CREDIT: Fools Rush In / Columbia Pictures
After a one-night stand in Vegas, a Las Vegas-based Latina discovers she’s pregnant with a New York City real estate agent. It might not have been totally parent-approved, but you know snuck this one in for all of the romantic and funny moments when abuela wasn’t watching. Stars Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry.
4. “Mi Vida Loca”
CREDIT: Mi Vida Loca / Sony Pictures Classics
Young Latino women evaluate their lives as gang members in Echo Park, Los Angeles in this film. Starring Angel Aviles and Seedy Lopez.
5. “La Bamba”
CREDIT: La Bamba / Colombia Pictures
This biographical film is about the life and career of Chicano rock ‘n’ roll star Ritchie Valens. Starring Lou Diamond Phillips as Valens in a classic case of Hollywood brown face.
6. “My Family”
CREDIT: My Family / New Line Cinema
A film that depicts the three generations of a Mexican family that emigrated and settled in East Los Angeles. Starring a young Jennifer Lopez and Jimmy Smits.
CREDIT: Selena / Warner Bros.
This film about the young Texan music legend has become a cinematic classic. Starring aJennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos.
8. “Stand And Deliver”
CREDIT: Stand And Deliver / Warner Bros.
When an L.A. high school teacher becomes pressured to control his classroom of tough students he decides to challenge them with higher math. Starring Edward James Olmos.
9. “El Norte”
CREDIT: El Norte / PBS
The independent drama about two indigenous kids who flee Guatemala in the 1980s. Starring Zaide Silvia and GutiérrezDavid Villalpando.
10. “Born in East L.A.”
CREDIT: Born In East L.A. / Universal Pictures
The American comedy is about a Mexican-American who becomes mistaken for an undocumented immigrant and is deported. Starring Cheech Mari and Daniel Stern.
11. “American Me”
CREDIT: American Me / Universal Pictures
This biographical crime drama depicts a fictionalized account of California’s Mexican Mafia. Starring Edward James Olmos who also directed the film.
12. “The Sandlot”
CREDIT: The Sandlot / 20th Century Fox
“The Sandlot” wasn’t entirely a Latino film, but it did have a pretty epic Latino character. The film starred Mike Vitar as Benny “The Jet” Rodrigues.
13. “Por La Libre”
CREDIT: Por La Libre
This film follows Rodrigo and Rocco as they journey from Mexico City to Acapulco to accomplish their grandfather’s last wish. The film touches on key notes on family and sexuality.
14. “I Like It Like That”
CREDIT: I Like It Like That / Columbia Pictures
The Bronx-based comedy follows the highs and lows faced by a young, poor Puerto Rican couple. Starring Lauren Vélez and Jon Seda.
15. “Raising Victor Vargas”
CREDIT: Raising Victor Vargas/ Samuel Goldwyn Films
This depiction of life in the early 2000’s in New York City’s Lower East Side explains what it’s like to grow up in a large Latino family. The film stars Victor Rasuk and Judy Marte.
16. “Hangin’ With The Homeboys”
CREDIT: Hangin’ With The Homeboys / New Line Cinema
The quintessential coming of-age tale depicts the everyday lives of four men from the Bronx over the course of one night. Young John Leguizamo stars.
17. “Mosquita Y Mari”
CREDIT: Mosquito y Mari / Sundance Film Festival)
This film follows two young Chicanas and explores the experience of being a queer woman of color. Venecia Troncoso and Fenessa Pineda star.
18. “Zoot Suit”
CREDIT: Zoot Suit / Universal Picture
Daniel Valdez stars as Henry Reyna a man at the center of a Pacheco gang. The film has the Zoot Suit Riots and World War II as its backdrop.
19. “The Best Things In The World” (2010)
CREDIT: The Best Things In The World / Warner Bros. Pictures
This movie tells a family’s experience as they deal with divorce and their father’s coming out. The Brazilian film follows the family over a one-month period and stars Francisco Miguez and Caio Blat.
20. “Confissões de Adolescente”
CREDIT: Confissões de Adolescente / Sony Pictures Entertainment
Lovers of “Tortilla Soup” will love this tale about a band of sisters while helping their father. The film is based off of the diary entries of Maria Mariana, who also stars.
21. “The Way He Looks”
CREDIT: The Way He Looks / Vitrine Films
This film based off of the 2010 short film, “I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone,“ follows a blind teenager and his best friend Giovana as they explore the terms of their relationship. Gilherme Lobo stars as a blind high school student who struggles to gain his own independence.
22. “The Year My Parents Went On Vacation”
CREDIT: The Year My Parents Went On Vacation / Buena Vista International
Exploring the themes around politics and familial discord this film follows a young boy and his obsession over the World Cup.
23. “Lake Tahoe”
CREDIT: Lake Tahoe / Berlin Film Festival)
When Juan crashes his family car into a pole, his attempts to make amends leads him to a series of interesting characters.
24. “Like Water for Chocolate”
CREDIT: Like Water for Chocolate / Miramax Films
Despite her heart and will, Tita is a young girl raised to believe that as the younger daughter in her family she will never be with the man she loves. This romantic film based on a Laura Esquivel novel stars Lumi Cavazo.
25. “McFarland USA.”
This 2015 sports drama stars Kevin Costner and Maria Bello in a depiction of the true story of a cross country team. The team from a mostly Latino high school trains to win a state championship.