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10 Movies and Shows to Watch for Hispanic Heritage Month

September 13, 2022

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by watching these 10 movies and shows, including Selena, In the Heights, Jane the Virgin and Coco.


Latino creators, actors and collaborators have a long history of making movies and shows but their contributions have not always received full recognition. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, watch these fantastic movies and TV series that spotlight the Latino experience and/or originated from Latino creators. You can find them all on streaming services supported by Cox Contour.
In the Heights
Watch on: HBO Max
Before Lin-Manuel Miranda created the cultural sensation Hamilton, he made his Broadway debut with the musical In the Heights. The film adaptation focuses on characters in the predominantly Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights in upper Manhattan, New York City.
They each have their own sueñitos, or little dreams, of a better life. Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) wants to close his bodega and return to the Dominican Republic, while Vanessa (Melissa Barrera) hopes to move downtown and become a fashion designer. On top of hard work, they'll need a bit of luck to make those dreams come true.
Watch on: Disney+
Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that pays respect to loved ones who have passed away. It's also celebrated in the United States and across the world by people of Mexican heritage, and served as the inspiration for Pixar's Coco.
The animated movie follows 12-year-old Miguel, who yearns to play music despite it being strictly forbidden by his family. When he strums his idol's old guitar, Miguel is transported to the Land of the Dead, where he must seek out his ancestors to return to the living. Along the journey, he uncovers deeply buried family secrets that could reverse the ban on music.
Hispanic Heritage Month ends just a couple of weeks before Day of the Dead, which is observed on Nov. 1-2, making it an ideal time to watch or rewatch Coco.
Selena/Selena: The Series
Watch on: HBO Max/Netflix
The all-too-short life of Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla Pérez is the subject of a 1997 film starring Jennifer Lopez airing on HBO Max and a drama series on Netflix with Christian Serratos. Known as the Queen of Tejano music, Selena became one of the most influential and famous Latina singers of all time.
Both projects track Selena from childhood through her rise to fame through her tragic murder at the age of 23. The movie version made Lopez the first Hispanic actress to earn over $1 million for a role and helped catapult her to stardom. The Netflix series received several nominations for Imagen Awards, which recognize positive portrayals of Latinos.
Jane the Virgin
Watch on: Netflix
Telenovelas are hugely popular among Hispanic communities around the world for their colorful characters, dramatic twists and swooning romances. Jane the Virgin is both an American version of a telenovela and a satire of one. The title character (Gina Rodriguez) becomes pregnant, despite never having sex, when she is accidentally inseminated.
When Jane decides to keep the baby, she leans on the support of her mother Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) and grandmother Alba (Ivonne Coll). The three generations of strong Venezuelan-American women see many ups and downs, but like these other famous TV moms, they always have each other's backs.
One Day at a Time
Watch on: Netflix
The sitcom reimagines the Norman Lear-produced classic with a Cuban-American family at the center. Penélope Alvarez (Justina Machado) is an army nurse who returns to civilian life. She's struggling with PTSD, raising two kids on her own and trying to date again. On hand to help is her mother, Lydia (Rita Moreno), who was a dancer in Cuba before she fled Castro's regime.
The show tackles a number of issues, including racism, sexism, cultural identity, LGBTQ rights, religion, mental illness, addiction and immigration, all with grace and humor.
Watch on: Netflix
Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón has become one of Hollywood's most respected directors, after turning out hits like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men and Gravity. For Roma, he drew on his experience growing up in the titular neighborhood in Mexico City.
The plot focuses on Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), an indigenous live-in maid working for an affluent family. As she grapples with an unexpected pregnancy and rejection from her boyfriend, the mother of the family, Sofía (Marina de Tavira), has her own issues within her marriage to address. The personal touch paid off, as Cuarón was the first Mexico-born filmmaker to win the Oscar for Best Director.
Real Women Have Curves
Watch on: HBO Max
The story at the heart of Real Women Have Curves is as universal as it gets: a mother and daughter clashing over different views of what's best for the future. The movie is also a more specific portrait of the Mexican-American immigrant experience and a rebuke of Caucasian beauty ideals.
Ana García (America Ferrera) is a high school senior in L.A. who is torn between her dream of attending Columbia University and working in a factory to help alleviate her family's precarious financial situation. Her mother, Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros) is as strident in her belief that Ana should stay home, get married and have children as she is in pointing out her daughter's “flawed" body.
Watch on: Netflix
America Ferrera served as an executive producer on Gentefied, which portrays the Mexican-American experience of the next generation in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of L.A. The show chronicles the efforts of three cousins — Erik (J.J. Soria), Ana (Karrie Martin Lachney) and Chris (Carlos Santos) — as they try to save their grandfather's taco shop.
Meanwhile, they must deal with a host of issues, including racism, deportation, gentrification and even prejudice from other Latinx communities. The question of tradition vs. innovation applies equally to the family business and the cousins' perspectives.
Father of the Bride (2022)
Watch on: HBO Max
This is the latest remake of the classic movie comedy about a family planning their daughter's wedding that was originally depicted in 1950 and 1991 version. In the new version, the setting shifts to Miami, the central family is Cuban-American and the in-laws are Mexican. It's quite the mix of Latino cultures — perfect for Hispanic Heritage Month and some end of summer family fun.
As in the previous movies, the father in question, Billy Herrera (Andy García), is taken aback when his daughter (Adria Arjona) announces her engagement. Still, he's determined to throw a beautiful wedding, which entails hiding that he and her mother Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) are on the brink of divorce.
Tortilla Soup
This 2001 film highlights family bonds as well as the role of food in bringing people together — both are hallmarks of the Latino community. Martin Naranjo (Héctor Elizondo) is a retired chef who has lost his sense of taste after his wife's death, but still cooks elaborate Sunday dinners every week.
His three daughters (Elizabeth Peña, Jacqueline Obradors, Tamara Mello) fall into romantic entanglements, while Martin fends off the advances of a persistent widow (Raquel Welch). Even when they drift apart to deal with their own lives, Martin and his daughters always come back together for a good meal.
Why Is Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated?
Hispanic Heritage Month, held from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, recognizes the achievements and contributions of Hispanic-American people who have inspired others to achieve success. It celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Why Is Hispanic Heritage Month Across 2 Months?
Hispanic Heritage Month spans parts of September and October for several reasons. The first is that it began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson. Sept. 15 was chosen because it coincides with the national independence days of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Mexico's independence day is September 16.
When President Ronald Reagan expanded the celebration to a 30-day period in 1988, he kept the original start date.
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