The 22 best of contemporary Mexican cinema (2016) - Top Netflix & Cinema



Luis Bunuel is without a doubt Mexico’s most famous movie director up until this day. But don’t forget about the richness and greatness of contemporary Mexican cinema. We put together a long list which should serve as a proper introduction!
The Vore's Film staff selects the top best Mexican movies of 2017 in cinema or on DVD or Netfix. Are Jonás Cuarón, Alejandra Marquez Abella & Shaul Schwarz Mexico's biggest directors?

When people think of contemporary Mexican cinema, they usually tend to mention the ‘Big Three’, also called the ‘Three Amigos’, which features the directors Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro. First of all, even though they get classified as part of a ‘buena onda’, I would not consider them as Mexican filmmakers, anymore. After delivering one Mexican, so-called masterpiece and breakthrough film, respectively Amores perros [Love’s a Bitch] (2000), Y tu mamá también [And Your Mother Too] (2001) and El espinazo del diablo [The Devil’s Backbone] (2001), they all fell for the glitter & glammer and more particular the wealth & fame of the Hollywood system. Secondly, the last pictures they have done there or in terms of it, were horribly overrated. Iñárritu made Biutiful (2010), Cuarón Gravity (2013) and del Toro Pacific Rim (2013). All of them colored inside the Hollywood lines in order to become an overblown blockbuster. That last fellow del Toro even thought of taking on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, just to indicate their distance from their Mexican ‘indie roots’. Fortunately, there is more also much more to explore from this country's great cinema.


Mexico country statistics

Mexico2017
Country popularity
80%
Country ranking#16 (List of most popular countries)
Familiar facesDavid Thornton, Tenoch Huerta & Anajosé Aldrete Echevarria
Trending movies600 Millas, Semana Santa & Club Sandwich
Amount of country films per year from 2010 to 2017

91 Mexican movies scheduled for release this year.

The amount of movies from Mexico has been steady for a long time now, about 100 movies a year. In 2016 this suddenly peaked to 188, and 2017 appears to being to approach this number as well.

List of highest grossers of the decade & budget

Spanish language movies typically do quite well at the US Box Office. Because great movies originate from there, but also because many Americans originate from Mexico. No se aceptan devoluciones was an incredibly high grossing movie.
TitleBox officeBudget
No se aceptan devoluciones (2013)$44.46M$5M
Un gallo con muchos huevos (2015)$9M$5.3M
Cantinflas (2014)$6.3M$3M
(Read: Who needs big budgets? 25 low budget success stories!)


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Best Mexican movies on Netflix or DVD in 2017

2010's best rated Mexican movies out on DVD, Bluray or streaming on VOD (Netflix, Amazon).

  1. Club Sandwich (21-11-2014, 82 minutes)
  2. Eimbcke is a master in working out annoying, little situations to full feature movies with subtle but hilarious humor. In Temporada de patos [Duck Season] (2004), a couple of kids are waiting for their pizza to be delivered. In Lake Tahoe (2008), a guy is searching for a replacing engine part of his broken down car. In Eimbcke’s third, Club Sandwich, he describes the holidays of a single mom and her teenager son in an empty hotel during low season. They basically do nothing the whole day. Eimbcke transfixes his camera on pleasurable details a lot of us can recognize themselves in. In that way, the film is a very funny and touching story that will grab you, shake you and make you think.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maj-C6d35qE
    StarringMaría Renée Prudencio, Lucio Giménez Cacho & Danae Reynaud
    DirectorFernando Eimbcke (Duck Season, Lake Tahoe & Weightwatch)
    Themesholidays, parenting, comedy,
    CountryMexico
    Keywordsawkward, believable,
    Rating
    84%
    Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

  3. Heli (19-10-2013, 105 minutes)
  4. One of the most promising voices in Mexican cinema must be Amat Escalante. He already delivered two intriguing short-films, Amarrados (2002) and El Cura Nicolás Colgado (2010) and three impressive feature films, Sangre [Blood] (2005), Los bastardos [The Bastards] (2008) and Heli (2012). All of them show how unpredictable violence can invade normal people’s lives all of a sudden. Los bastardos feels like Funny Games (Haneke, 1997) as illegal workers penetrate a middle class family’s home. Everything goes wrong afterwards. Heli as well is one hell of an unbelievable thrilling and shocking ride when a guy finds a bag of cocaine and decides to hide at his house. And it’s beautiful shot too, definitely worth your time. Go and see it!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfcNTCn9k5g
    StarringArmando Espitia, Andrea Vergara & Linda González
    Director Amat Escalante (Los Bastardos, Sangre & Amarrados)
    Themesdrugs, mafia, murder, crime, drama, romance,
    CountryFrance Germany Mexico Netherlands
    Keywordschilling, extraordinary,
    Rating
    85%
    Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

  5. Post Tenebrax Lux (20-02-2013, 115 minutes)
  6. Japón [Japan] (2002), Batalla en el cielo [Battle in Heaven] (2005), Stellet Licht [Silent Light] (2007) stand for amazing contemplative cinema, reminiscent of Bresson, Kaurismäki, Dreyer and Bergman, containing often a lot of sexual tension. Especially the second, Batalla en el cielo, can be considered a contemporary masterpiece. It’s a film Harmony Korine would have wished he would have made. Amat Escalante owes a lot to Reygadas. As a matter of fact, the first was the second’s assistent director and the second co-producer of the first. Post Tenebras Lux is a dazzling journey into thought provoking scenes that remember of Apichatpong Weerasethakuls films. So if you like those, you will love this one. The film is full of stuff to think about, it’s dreamy and shocking. Just see it and resee it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYeXnNzJ89Y
    StarringRut Reygadas, Mitsy Ferrand & Joakim Chardonnens
    DirectorCarlos Reygadas (Silent Light, Battle in Heaven & Japón)
    Themeschildhood, memories, drama,
    CountryFrance Germany Mexico Netherlands
    Keywordsabstract, dreamlike,
    Rating
    90%
    Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

  7. Narco Cultura (21-01-2013, 103 minutes)
  8. When you see this highly interesting documentary, you will first of all not believe your eyes but second of all learn so much about contemporary Mexican culture. And it will make you understand the movies on this list even more. Criminals pay songwriters to compose accordion ‘schlager’ songs about them killing each other. Bazookas are frequently used as accessories on stage when they sing their songs to families and children. It’s a fucked up world you know.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiqzVnA5uLE
    Starring
    DirectorShaul Schwarz (Southern Rites, Nelson Mandela Redrawn & Miracle Rising: South Africa )
    Themescrime, drugs, documentary,
    CountryMexico United States
    Keywordsamazing, informative,
    Rating
    77%
    Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

  9. Mai Morire (03-05-2013, 84 minutes)
  10. A woman returns to her hometown in the middle of nowhere when her mother is dying. During simple but at the same time complex family situations, the magnificent landscapes of Xochimilco surrounding their little hut, are beautifully portrayed. We follow Chayo, a strong and mysterious looking middle-aged mother, coming from the city, through river branches and open fields. Besides the ridiculously over-symbolic dream sequences, which the director admitted he should not have included, Mai Morire is an intriguing piece of cinema.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEfnbW4CTCg
    StarringMargarita Saldaña
    DirectorEnrique Rivero (Parque via, The Last Christeros & Pozoamargo)
    Themesdeath, freedom, grieving, drama,
    CountryMexico
    Keywordssubtle,
    Rating
    72%
    Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

  11. Depués de Lucía (17-02-2013, 103 minutes)
  12. Después de Lucia is about bullying, but in a much further developed, sadistic form. That’s immediately also the downside of the movie. Sometimes it goes way beyond the point of credibility. Franco shows the events as slices of life in a Michael Haneke kind of way, which makes the occurrences even more shocking. The acting is great and its shock value never bores. It gives also a great view on the consequences of the immediate access to capturing and spreading events on video in the ‘smart phone generation’.Besides having made an compelling, equally shocking feature in 2009, Daniel & Ana, Michel Franco has finished a new one. One featuring Año bisiesto‘s Monica del Carmen and other non-actors to achieve a semi-documentary style. A los ojos (2013), not yet released, will be about ineffectiveness of the health system, a very important subject but can he make it into a good film?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJwu1A6ZYUI
    StarringTessa Ia, Hernán Mendoza & Gonzalo Vega Jr.
    DirectorMichel Franco (Daniel and Ana, Chronic & A los ojos)
    Themesbullying, high school, drama,
    CountryFrance Mexico
    Keywordsshocking,
    Rating
    70%
    Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

  13. La Cebra (18-01-2013, 94 minutes)
  14. The history of the Mexican Revolution in the 1910’s, envisioned through the eyes of two random wanderers. After tossing a coin, they decide to join revolutionary Obregon’s troupes. Like Barry Lyndon, they are straight opportunists and get from the one Bunuellian situation in the other Jodorowskian one. Nice little, funny acid western.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfBjolyIHZo
    Starring Jorge Adrián Spíndola, Harold Torres & Leticia Huijara
    DirectorFernando Javier León Rodríguez (Herod's Law, The Last Train & The Attempt Dossier)
    Similar movies70
    Themesmilitary, opportunities, revolution, action, adventure, comedy,
    CountryMexico
    Keywordshistorical,
    Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

  15. Año bisiesto (24-06-2011, 94 minutes)
  16. A young female journalist goes to live in the big city. She tells her family she has a lot of friends and a good time. Everyday, she calls her mom to describe stuff like what she has been eating. When her brother visits her, he has to travel for eight hours. We see her loneliness and isolation. Then, she meets Arturo, who fulfils her weird, sexual desires. Those evolve into a sadomasochistic obsession and a peculiar wish that you will have to find out yourself. Despite the freaky and heavy subject, it’s all wonderfully depicted by the main actress and perfectly understandable because of that, in a way, I think.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IydjZKoqje8
    StarringMonica del Carmen, Gustavo Sánchez Parra & Armando Hernández
    DirectorMichael Rowe (Early Winter, The Well & Napa)
    Themesisolation, journalism, oppression, sex, drama,
    CountryMexico
    Keywordscontroversial, remarkable,
    Rating
    77%
    Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

  17. Alamar (14-07-2010, 73 minutes)
  18. A Mexican grandfather goes fishing with his son and grandson. We get to know that his son is divorced and his grandson now lives with his mom in Italy. Through photographs and home video, Alamar explains the previous romance of the now broken marriage. On the boat, fishing, it feels like a semi-documentary which gives a wonderful portrait of a father-son relationship. And never getting too sentimental, it’s a really sympathetic and true to life picture.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cRKgk4_4bQ
    StarringJorge Machado, Roberta Palombini & Natan Machado Palombini
    DirectorPedro González-Rubio (Ícaros & Inori)
    Similar movies85
    Themeschildhood, nature, parenting, documentary, drama,
    CountryMexico
    Keywordskind, life-like, little,
    Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

600 Millas (17-10-2015, 85 minutes))

This upcoming drama/thriller, which was screened at the Berlinale quite recently and met with positive reactions, tells the story of an American narcotics agent getting kidnapped by a Mexican cartel member. As the two are being forced to spend a lot of time together, they slowly befriend.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c63jvTxJ5S8
DirectorGabriel Ripstein (Pulling Strings, The Ruination of Men & No One Writes to the Colonel)
StarringTim Roth, Kristyan Ferrer & Monica del Carmen
Similar moviesSicario & Helios
Themesdrugs, friendship, police, drama, thriller,
CountryMexico United States
Keywordsadventurous, social, thrilling,
Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

Desierto (13-09-2015, 94 minutes))

Director Jonás Cuarón (Gravity & Year of the Nail )
StarringGael García Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan & Alondra Hidalgo
Similar moviesThe 800 Mile Wall & Biutiful
Themesfear, migration, drama, thriller,
CountryFrance Mexico
Keywordscaptivating, frightening,
Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix

Semana Santa (11-09-2015, 85 minutes))

DirectorAlejandra Marquez Abella (Mal de tierra & Perra)
StarringDavid Thornton, Tenoch Huerta & Anajosé Aldrete Echevarria
Similar moviesAlamar & Paraiso
Themesfamilies, holidays, sea, drama,
CountryMexico
Keywordsaccurate, excellent,
Buy/stream it Amazon / Netflix
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