Around the World in 80 Days (1956) 1
This film adaptation of a Victorian novel is not on my list because I love it so much, it's on my list because it stars Cantinflas and I love Cantinflas. Up until this movie, I had only ever seen Cantinflas in Spanish-language movies and I was so thrilled to see him in an English-language movie.
Zoot Suit (1981) 2
This movie adapted from the play by Luis Valdez made me want to learn more about the Zoot Suit riots. It turned me on to Chicano Theater and it also turned me on to Edward James Olmos and I'll tell you what: No one can out-pachuko Olmos in this iconic role.
El Norte (1983) 3
This is a film I need to revisit, it's been quite some time since I've seen it, but I remember how well it chronicled the arduous journey of a brother and sister from Guatemala to the U.S.
Born in East L.A. (1987) 5
I resisted watching this movie written by, directed by, and staring Cheech Marin because quite frankly I thought it was going to be stupid. And it is stupid: STUPID FUNNY!
Stand and Deliver (1988) 6
This movie tells the story of Jaime Escalante, a kick-ass high school math teacher, and how he motivates his students. I have found many occasions in life to use the following line from this movie: "I'll break your neck like a toothpick."
El Mariachi (1992) 7
Director and writer Robert Rodriguez thrilled me and my friends (whether they were Latino or not) with this fun film made with a tiny budget. This story of a mariachi mistaken for a criminal struck a young me as funny, creative, and downright wonderful.
American Me (1992) 8
Another Edward James Olmos that just blew my Lation mind with its depiction of Chicano gang life in Los Angeles.
The Mambo Kings (1992) 9
Based on the novel by Oscar Hijuelos, this film about two musician brothers who leave Cuba and come to the U.S. in the 1950s has a wonderful romantic feel to it and is filled with beautiful music.
My Family/Mi familia (1995) 11
Over three generations of an immigrant family's life is chronicled in this film. You know there is joy, heartbreak, trouble, fighting, and success like in every familia's life.
Selena (1997) 12
I grew up listening to David Bowie, X, and Tom Waits. My mother played Sonora Santancera, Juan Gabriel, and many other Latino greats, but Selena was not on our playlists. It wasn't until this movie that I developed an appreciation for Selena Quintanilla-Perez.
Y tu mamá también (2001) 13
Oh how I love this movie and soundtrack. Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna go together like café con leche. They compliment each other so well in this roadtrip movie where everyone learns something along the way.
Real Women Have Curves (2002) 14
I saw the play written by Josefina Lopez way before I saw the film adaptation. It is a great coming of age story about a young Latina caught between her dreams and ambitions and the her family's cultural expectations.
Spanglish (2004) 15
This movie about a Mexican mother and her daughter who is growing up in the U.S. reminds me so much of my relationship with my mother that I can't help but love it.
Maria Full of Grace (2004) 16
A pregnant teenager from Colombia finds herself out of a job and becomes a drug mule to the U.S. and of couse things don't go well.
Under the Same Moon/ La misma luna (2007) 18
Son of a gun, just the thought of this movie gets me teary-eyed. A little boy makes a long and arduous journey from Mexico to find his mother in the U.S.