You may already know why #TeamFreestyle loves ‘authentic materials’ … for their culturally-rich themes, the lyricism of language, the ability to learn from context while absorbing accent and pace of speaking, the list goes on. And yet only those most dedicated to their language goals incorporate them into a daily routine!

Branching out to films in a new language? Here are some tips to boost your cultural currency with ease. Read on for native Spanish speaker Abel’s top film picks (18+!)* and relevant slang from Mexican Directors. Abel believes it’s important for language learners to also get an understanding of slang terms because they are part of everyday language in Spanish-speaking countries.

Only one in the family learning a new language? Make or join a Netflix watch party! Here you can see Freestyle learners enjoying a movie while learning Spanish!

#Film Challenge: Watch each movie trailer below ¡en español! Ask yourself:

  • Do you understand the plot?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • Can you summarize each trailer in Spanish?

*Disclaimer: Most of these films are rated R for mature audiences, reader discretion is advised.

Why You Need to Watch Mexican Films: 

The Mexican film industry produces outstanding directors who go on to become household names in Hollywood, ones who frequently win Academy Awards.

¿Lo sabías? Alejandro Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guillermo Del Toro comprise The ‘Tres Amigos’ – a nickname famously dubbed to the group, as they have won an astonishing aggregate of eleven Oscars since 2013.

Mexico Flag

The contemporary success of Mexican directors in Hollywood is a testament that movie-watchers need to take a deeper look at the best films Mexico has to offer, as this country consistently delivers quality content on the silver screen.

Amores Perros 2000 (Rated R)

often considered the ‘Mexican Pulp Fiction’

palacio de bellas artes

Muy impresionante: Amores Perros brought in $20.9 million USD at the box office with only a budget of $2.4 million USD.

This Academy Award Nominee for Best Film showcases Iñárritu’s cinematic genius and his ability to create instant classics outside of Hollywood.

Based in Mexico City, Amores Perros provides viewers with insight to the capital’s socioeconomic and cultural systems in the lower, middle, and upper class of Mexico – painting a complete & contemporary picture of the country.

Trailer & Relevant Slang:

Güey/Wey: Dude

Used to refer to any person without using their name.
ex: ¿Qué tal, güey? “What’s up bro?”

Chido: Cool / great 

Used when agreeing to a plan, showing excitement, and showing positive feelings about something
ex: ¡Esa banda toca bien chido! “That band plays really well!”

Up your Spanish intake & listen now to the Amores Perros soundtrack. We recommend starting with Lucha de Gigantes by Nacha Pop as it encapsulates the poetic chaos of this movie.

Y Tu Mamá También 2001 (Rated R)

Coming-of-age, friends or foes?

Warning to viewers: while not extreme, this film contains explicit sex & use of drugs as ever-present & defining themes.

Embark on a road trip with two Mexican teens and a Spanish woman (after the teens’ girlfriends embark on their own trip to Italy!). Y Tu Mamá También highlights Mexico’s society, culture, and geography throughout, portraying a Mexico going through major political change – as the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s seven decades of uninterrupted presidency had come to an end.

Explore various places, from Mexico City to a beautiful virgin beach, to a shanty town and everything in between! The movie’s diverse elements make it a must-watch for those curious about Mexican and Latin American culture.

Trailer & Relevant Slang:

La neta: the truth

Can be used in a questioning and exclamatory tone. Also when being honest with someone.
ex: La neta, yo tomé la última cerveza. “Honestly, I drank the last beer.”

No manches: No way / Are you serious? 

Used as an exclamation when having a conversation
ex. ¿No manches güey, por qué me traicionarías? “Are you serious? Why did you betray me?”

El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) 2006 (Rated R)

Paradise within a grim reality

Laberinto / Labyrinth Español Spanish

¿Lo sabías? Mexico (#1 with 121.9+ million speakers) and Spain (#4 with 42.9+ million speakers) are two of the most populous Spanish-speaking countries. 450 million people speak Spanish globally.

Data from Statista

Based in Spain but directed by Guillermo del Toro and produced by Alfonso Cuarón (yes, two of the three ‘Tres Amigos’!), this film depicts the early Francoist period, a couple of years after the Spanish Civil War.

Protagonist Ofelia and her parents Captain Vidal and Carmen move to a remote part of Spain. Ofelia, in disbelief of her new reality, follows a bug down a path & finds herself in the mystical world of Pan’s Labyrinth. 

The plot intertwines a controversial period in history and Del Toro’s love for the fantasy genre – through visual effects and purpose-driven characters, this film achieves success that not many can replicate.

Trailer & Impactful Quote:

“¡Venga Serrano, sin miedo, que esta es la única forma decente de morir!”
Translation: “Come on Serrano, without fear, this is the only decent way to die!”

This quote from Captain Vidal resonates with viewers, as neither Vidal nor Ofelia are afraid to die for what they believe in.

Vámonos con Pancho Villa (Let’s go with Pancho Villa) 1936 (Rated R)

The catalyst for social change

The Mexican Revolution, one of the most important historic events in Latin American history, sparked a series of regional governmental changes. Historically, wealth was concentrated at the top with very few opportunities for upward mobility. Based on a novel, this anti-epic film focuses on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Mexican revolution. Most uniquely, it depicts Pancho Villa as a not-so-perfect protagonist.

Let’s Go with Pancho Villa made it to the list of best Mexican cinema for its unorthodox description of an idolized figure by many and for its revolutionary cinematic techniques.

Trailer & Impactful Quote:

“Yo, Pancho Villa, fui un hombre leal que el destino trajo al mundo para luchar por el bien de los pobres y que nunca traicionaré ni olvidaré mi deber.” 
Translation: “I, Pancho Villa, was a loyal man that destiny brought into the world to fight for the good of the poor and that I will never betray or forget my duty.”

This quote provides viewers with context for Villa’s mentality towards his cause, allowing them to understand the drastic actions he takes in this film.

El fin

We hope that by the end of this blog, you’re not like Josefina – and can choose with certainty which film to watch this weekend! Watch her dialogue below with Raúl to learn how to discuss possible movie selections ¡en español! 

Want to take your Spanish to the next level? Subscribe to our YouTube to see more of Josefina (and other full-length Spanish lessons!) or view our dynamic line-up of online Spanish classes – from complete beginner to advanced.

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