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Top 10 Spanish Movies to Learn Spanish


Learning a second language by immersing yourself completely in the foreign language is probably the most effective and quickest way to learn that language. Although you are probably not living in a native country right now, you can still do many things to replicate the experience of being completely surrendered in the language, at least for an hour a day.

Applying the immersion approach to learn Spanish may be perceived as quite challenging at first though. That is why you need to learn some techniques that will help you take most advantage of this method while not getting totally overwhelmed at first or discouraged by the initial difficulties that you may encounter. One way to do this is by making a habit of watching movies in Spanish following our recommendations.

Below we have outlined the 10 best Spanish movies to learn Spanish. We are sure that you will enjoy many if not all of them. There are dramas, comedies, or adventure, among many other gendra in this list. Although these are some of the most inspiring and uplifting movies in Spanish, some of these movies may have some cruelty or sadness at times. It is difficult to avoid this as the realities in Latinoamerica or Spain can be somewhat harsh.

Watch mostly movies that you feel you will love. Take the time to click in the trailers and read the synopsis before you start watching any of these films. Doing this will give you a preview of what the film is about before you set aside a couple hours of your life.

Please revise your parental control as some of these movies may not be adequate for children due to occasional violence or nudity.

Note that as an Amazon Associate we earn commisions from qualifying purchases made through links in this page.


The Motorcycle Diaries

1. Diarios de Motocicleta

  • Genre: Drama
  • Countries: Argentina, Brazil, United States, Chile, Peru, United Kingdom, Germany, France
  • Featured actor: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna

The beauty of the South American landscape gives this movie a charisma that is decidedly apolitical. But this portrait of the young Che Guevara (later to become a militant revolutionary) is half buddy-movie, half social commentary, but at the same time quietly passionate. Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado set off from Buenos Aires, hoping to circumnavigate the continent on a leaky motorcycle. They end up travelling more by foot, hitchhiking, and raft, but their experience of the land and the people affects them profoundly. This movie gives a soulful glimpse of an awakening social conscience, and that's worth experiencing.

Volver

2. Volver

  • Genre: Drama
  • Country: Spain
  • Director: Pedro Almodovar
  • Featured actress: Penélope Cruz
  • Awards: Best actress award at Cannes

The story revolves around a group of women in Madrid and his native La Mancha. Raimunda is the engine powering this heartfelt, yet humorous vehicle. When husband Paco is murdered, Raimunda makes like Mildred Pierce to deflect attention away from daughter Paula. After telling everyone the lout has left, she struggles to conceal his body. The other women in her life all have secrets of their own.

Mar Adentro

3. Mar Adentro

  • Genre: Drama
  • Countries: Spain, France, Italy
  • Director Alejandro Amenábar
  • Fatured actor: Javier Bardem
  • Awards: Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film

The Sea Inside is a life-affirming film about a man who wishes to die. That may seem like a massive contradiction, but this fact-based Spanish drama concerns the final days of Ramón Sampedro, the quadriplegic poet who waged a controversial campaign for his right to die. He was denied this right for 30 years, and ultimately arranged for his own assisted suicide, but this remarkable film--and Bardem's keenly intelligent performance--examines the hotly-debated issue of assisted suicide with admirable depth and humanity, just as Sampedro did until his death.

El Crimen del Padre Amaro

4. El Crimen del Padre Amaro

  • Genre: Drama
  • Countries: Mexico, Spain
  • Director: Carlos Carrera
  • Featured actor: Gael García Bernal
  • Year: 2002

This excellent movie is loosely based on the novel O Crime do Padre Amaro (1875) by 19th-century Portuguese writer José Maria de Eça de Queiroz. When it was first released, El Crimen del Padre Amaro was very controversial; Roman Catholic groups in Mexico tried to stop the film from being screened. They failed, and the film became the biggest box office draw ever in the country.

Hable con Ella

5. Hable con Ella

  • Genre: Drama
  • Country: Spain
  • Director: Pedro Almodovar

Talk to Her is the surprising altogether original and quietly moving story of the spoken and unspoken bonds that unite the lives and loves of two couples. Two men (Benigno and Marco) almost meet while watching a dance performance but their lives are irrevocably entwined by fate. They meet later at a private clinic where Benigno is the caregiver for Alicia a beautiful dance student who lies in a coma. Marco is there to visit his girlfriend Lydia a famous matador also rendered motionless. As the men wage vigil over the women they love the story unfolds in flashback and flashforward as the lives of the four are further entwined and their relationships move toward a surprising conclusion.

Open your Eyes

6. Abre Tus Ojos

  • Genre: Drama
  • Countries: Spain, France
  • Featured actress: Penélope Cruz

This film takes the viewer toward one perception of reality, then switching to another until reality itself is called into question. Melodrama, love story, and psychological thriller combine with a dash of science fiction, forming a plot that is both disorienting and deceptively precise.

The story, set in Madrid, defies description, but this much can be revealed: young, handsome Cesar is vain, rich, charming, and--following a botched suicide-murder scheme by a jilted lover--horribly disfigured. He'd fallen in love with Sofia but is now an embittered husk of his former self, stuck in a "psychiatric penitentiary" on a murder charge and hiding behind an expressionless mask.

Todo sobre mi Madre

7. Todo sobre Mi Madre

  • Genre: Drama
  • Countries: Spain, France
  • Director: Pedro Almodóvar
  • Featured actress: Cecilia Roth
  • Awards: Academy Award for Best Foreign-language Film, seven Goya Awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Year: 1999

Todo sobre mi madre is a film that deals with complex issues such as AIDS, transvestitism, sexual identity, gender, religion, faith, and existentialism, but always with his classical tragicomedy touch, the film presents these serious issues with an edge of dark humour.

Maria 
                                        Llena de Gracia

8. Maria Llena de Gracia

  • Genre: Drama
  • Countries: Colombia, United States
  • Featured actress: Catalina Sandino

Maria Alvarez, a bright, spirited very young lady, lives with three generations of her family in a cramped house in rural Colombia. Desperate to leave her job stripping thorns from flowers in a rose plantation, Maria accepts a lucrative offer to transport packets of heroin-which she must swallow-to the United States. The ruthless world of international drug trafficking proves to be more than Maria bargained for as she becomes ultimately entangled with both drug cartels and immigration officials. The dramatic thriller builds toward a conclusion so powerful and revealing it could only be based on a thousand true stories.


Amores Perros

9. Amores Perros

  • Genre: Drama, thriller
  • Country: Mexico
  • Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

In this movie, translated into "Love's a bitch" three stories connect by one traumatic incident to make three movies in close orbit, expressing the notion that we are defined by what we lose--from our loves to our family, our innocence, or even our lives. These interwoven tales about a young man in love with his brother's pregnant wife, a perfume spokeswoman and her married lover, and a scruffy vagrant who sidelines as a paid killer are united by a devastating car crash that provides the film's narrative nexus, and by the many dogs that the characters own or care for. There is graphic violence, prompting a disclaimer that controversial dog-fight scenes were harmless and carefully supervised, but what emerges from this movie is a uniquely conceptual portrait of people whom we come to know through their relationship with dogs.

El Laberinto del Fauno

10. El Laberinto del Fauno

  • Genre: Drama, Fantasy
  • Country: Spain

Following a bloody civil war, young Ofelia enters a world of unimaginable cruelty when she moves in with her new stepfather, a tyrannical military officer. Armed with only her imagination, Ofelia discovers a mysterious labyrinth and meets a faun who sets her on a path to saving herself and her ailing mother. But soon, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, and before Ofelia can turn back, she finds herself at the center of a ferocious battle between good and evil.



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Here is a bonus list of other movies in Spanish that you may like.

Like Water for Chocolate

11. Como Agua para Chocolate

  • Genre: Drama
  • Country: Mexico
  • Director: Alfonso Arau

This is the story of a young woman who learns to suppress her passions under the eye of a stern mother, but channels them into her cooking. The result is a steady stream of cuisine so delicious as to be an almost erotic experience for those lucky enough to have a bite. The film's quotient of magic realism feels a little stock, but the story line is good and the affinity for the sensuality of food (and of nature) is sublime.

Bajo la Misma Luna

12. Bajo la Misma Luna

  • Genre: Drama
  • Countries: Mexico, United States

Even across thousands of miles the special bond between a mother and son can never be broken. It gives hope to Carlitos a scrappy nine-year-old boy whose mother Rosario has gone to America to build a better life for both of them. While Rosario struggles for a brighter future fate forces Carlitos hand and he embarks on an extraordinary journey to find her. Critics and audiences alike have praised this inspirational and heartwarming tale of a mother's devotion a son's courage and a love that knows no borders.

El Callejon de los Milagros

13. El Callejón de los Milagros

  • Genre: Drama
  • Country: Mexico
  • Director: Jorge Fonz
  • Featured actress: Salma Hayek
  • Awards: 11 Ariel Awards including Best Picture and more than 49 international awards and nominations
  • Year: 1994

El callejón de los milagros (Miraq Alley) is an award-winning film that deals with complex issues such as gay and lesbian related topics, the lower-middle class of Mexico City, and the lives of many people. The story is told from three perspectives: an owner of a cantina where most of the men in the story gather to drink and play dominoes, a beautiful girl of the neighborhood who dreams of passion, and the owner of the apartment complex where the beautiful girl and many of the other characters live. This film may vey well be one of the greatest Mexican film of all-time.

 

Atame

14. ¡Átame!

  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Romance
  • Country: Spain
  • Director: Pedro Almodóvar
  • Featured actor: Antonio Banderas, Victoria Abril
  • Year: 1990

¡Átame! (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!) is a Spanish drama that controversy and was denounced by women's rights groups in Spain and the United States and German feminists for its light-hearted depiction of kidnapping. It was also instrumental in creating the NC-17 rating, along with Henry & June in light of a lawsuit brought on by Miramax and Almodóvar to the MPAA for being certified with an X rating, which carried the stigma of being associated with pornography. The film was initially released unrated and later re-rated NC-17 for video after the Henry & June controversy. Surprisingly, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! contains very few instances of explicit sexuality, despite its risqué subject matter.

 

Nada+

15. Nada+

  • Genre: Drama
  • Country: Cuba
  • Year 2003

Carla, a postal worker in Havana, fulfills her romantic longings by opening letters and rewriting them into passionate prose before sending them out again to their intended recipients. After her co-worker Cesar catches her, Carla turns her amorous talents on him. But the dictatorial new postmaster and her overexcited assistant begin to suspect something’s up. Nada+ combines visual humor, poetry, satire of Cuban bureaucracy and a lighthearted love story.

 

La Mujer de mi Hermano

16. La Mujer de mi Hermano

  • Genre: Drama
  • Country: Peru
  • Director: Ricardo de Montreuil

La Mujer de mi Hermano (My Brother's Wife) is a soap-operatic tale complete with adulterous transgressions, hysterical breakdowns, devastating betrayals, and a shocking finale. Zoe, who is wildly unhappy and frustrated with her dying marriage, is the focal point of this Byzantine affair. Though it can veer toward slightly over-the-top melodrama, the film is too intelligently written and acted to be passed off as fluff and instead is a serious deep look into the eternal problems of love sexuality and betrayal.

 

El Orfanato

17. El Orfanato

  • Genre: HorrorΒ 
  • Country: Spain
  • Director: Guillermo del Toro
  • Featured actress: Belén Rueda
  • Awards: The film was nominated for 14 Goya Awards, including Best Picture. It won seven.
  • Year: 2007

El Orfanato (The Orphanage) is a horror/suspense/drama film. It stars Laura, a woman who returns to the orphanage where she stayed for a period as a child. She purchases the house, with plans to turn it into a home for disabled children. Everything seems to be going well for Laura, her husband Carlos and their son Simón. However, the parents soon realize their son has an imaginary friend and horror begins to unfold.

 

 

If you do not find some of these movies, watch other Spanish movies that Netflix will recommend to you on your feed or when you do a search. You may also be surprised to even find out that you may be able to watch your favorite English movie with Spanish audio. You probably already know the dialogue of it. Watching it one more time, now in Spanish, may be an incredible uplifting experience that will increase your confidence in your learning as you will feel that you can understand much more and discover new vocabulary easier than if you were watching a movie for the first time.

It is certainly a good idea to watch movies in Spanish if you are learning Spanish because of the following reasons:


1. It is a fun way to improve your Spanish listening comprehension skills Spanish.

Spanish movies will allow you to learn about the Hispanic culture and gain exposure to different accents and slang used in Spanish speaking countries.


2. As a Spanish student, you will have topics of conversation to complement your Spanish classes

You may use these movies as topics of conversation to enrich your own Spanish classes. You may, for example, be prepared to talk in class about the last movie that you saw. :) This is many times what our native Spanish tutors at SpanishBlackbelt occasionally do in their classes. ;)


3. You will have fun while learning

If you are already thinking about watching a movie, why not consider watching one in Spanish?

There are a lot of award-winning movies available on Netflix made in Spain, Mexico, and several other Latin-american countries.


4. Watching movies in Spanish will help you think and speak like a native Spanish speaker

Watching movies in Spanish filmed in a particular hispanic country, by hispanic directors, and performed by latino actors and actresses can help expand your understanding of the language, culture and idiosyncrasies of hispanics living in their home countries.


5. It will help you memorize tenses, verb endings and irregular verbs.

You will be able to understand and remember how verb tenses are used. Irregular verbs will suddenly be easy to remember. Endings of verbs will start to appear obvious to you.


6. Repetition will help you memorize words

Many words will appear many times in the same movies and across the different movies that you will be watching. These new words will become easier and easier to remember because of the many times that you will have heard them and the specific contexts in which you will have heard them. The more times you listen to a word or phrase, the higher the chances that the word or phrase will stick in your mind. Repetition will do the magic on its own.

Furthermore, when you watch a movie, you are relaxed, which makes it easier for your brain to capture and retain words and phrases.

1. Netflix allows you to find movies in Spanish and suggests you many others based on your preferences

Netflix is a streaming service that allows people to watch unlimited movies and TV shows on demand through a monthly subscription. Aided by algorithms, Netflix learns the users’ genre preferences so that the more movies someone watches the more content Netflix will recommend to the user based on the preferences of other people who also watched what you have watched. Not only that, the more movies you watch in a particular foreign language, the more movies in that language will Netflix introduce to you.


2. Netflix has powerful tools to learn a language while watching movies

Netflix can be accessed on your TV, combined with Apple TV, or through the Netflix app on your smartphone.

When accessing Netflix on your TV, your AppleTV remote control will allow you to separately choose a language for the audio output and the same or a different language for the subtitles. Just clicking on the main button of your Apple TV remote control for 3 seconds while watching a movie will give you access to setting up these options.

On your smartphone, you will see the option to select either audio or subtitles once you click “Play” on a movie.

This means that whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced Spanish student, you can find the best settings to be challenged, yet still understand the film.


3. Netflix is available anywhere you go
You can watch movies on Netflix from the comfort of our own home or even from your smartphone if you are traveling or on the road.

While watching movies in the Spanish language, SpanishBlackbelt, our Spanish language school, recommends the following Netflix audio and subtitle settings based on your current level, if feasible:

  • If you are an absolute beginner Spanish student, watch the movies with audio in English (or your native language if other than English), and Spanish subtitles. If you are a visual learner, you will find great pleasure in getting your first exposure to the language in a painless and gradual way.

  • If you are a beginner Spanish student, you should watch Spanish films with Spanish audio and English subtitles (or subtitles in your native language). This will help you start developing your Spanish listening comprehension skills while being aided visually in your native language so that you can understand and enjoy more of what you are watching.

  • If you are an intermediate Spanish student, transition into watching the movies with both audio and subtitles in Spanish. This technique will allow you to continue improving your Spanish listening comprehension skills while still getting some visual aid in the same language. Watching the words in Spanish while listening to them in the same language will help you memorize words and pay attention to subtle details about how some of these words are written.

  • If you are an advanced Spanish student, we recommend watching the films with no subtitles. Don't stress out if you feel that watching movies this way is too difficult. Consider listening to the segments that you are having a hard time understanding a second or third time. If still you cannot understand, activate the close captions for that segment only. Look for any words that you do not know in the dictionary, remove the captions again, and move on. 

Spend as much time in each of these phases as you need to, and when you feel close to being ready do the switch into the next step. Don’t wait until you feel totally comfortable in any of these steps before switching. Just jump into the pool once you feel that you are close to understanding everything in the current settings

Don't feel discouraged if you need to go back to a prior setting every once in a while. When you do, you will be impressed by how much more you understand now while using the recommended setting of the prior step. We all have difficult days every once in a while. You will notice that on certain days depending on how tired you are, you may need to go back to a prior setting. Do not worry. This is totally fine. It is always better to watch a movie in a lower setting than not watching a movie at all.

There is nothing wrong in waiting to be totally comfortable in any of the steps before switching to the next one. Just be aware that if doing this your progress may be slower.

Occasionally you will run into a movie that feels harder to understand because of the speed in which the characters talk, because too much slang is used, or simply because the accent seems to be from a hispanic country to which you have not yet been much exposed too. It is totally fine to choose a recommended setting that belongs to any of the prior steps to watch that specific movie. After watching this movie you can switch back to the recommended settings for your current step.

If subtitles are recommended for your set, try not to read the subtitles all the time once you start getting better on your listening comprehension skills. You can do this on and off as needed.

In order to learn Spanish quickly while watching movies, besides take advantage of subtitle settings addressed in the prior section, consider the following strategies:


1. Watch the same movie more than once if you have the time

If you have extra time at your disposal, consider watching the same movie twice. This will help you capture a lot of further detail not captured the first time that you watched that movie. It will also help consolidate many words in your memory because of the repetition. Remember, the more times you listen to a specific word, the more it will get sealed in your memory.


2. Set a goal not to pause the movie more than 10 times

The most important thing when starting to watch movies in a new foreing language for the first time is to understand the context, get the exposure to the language and enjoy it even if you do not understand everything. When you identify a new word for the first time, you may choose to pause and write it down so that you can review and study it later. You may also want to look it up in a dictionary app/website such as Google translate or Wordreference.

Pausing too often though may take too much of your time and may make you feel more tired or even bored. Therefore, once you reach your limit of 10 pauses, either write down the words and expressions that you would like to look up afterwards or just ignore them. Sometimes less is more, as having more information many times overwhelms and paralyzes. Keep in mind that aiming at perfection when starting to learn Spanish or any other foreing language is the enemy, not your friend.


3. Repeat the words or phrases in Spanish that you enjoy hearing out loud (or in your mind if you can't)

Repeat the words or phrases that you like or find useful, aloud or in silence in your mind, while you are listening to them. Think as if you were already saying those words and phrases in Spanish to someone else. Then, try to recall them throughout your day. Say them outloud several times. After doing this exercise for a while those words and phrases will start coming naturally to your mind while attempting to speak in Spanish.


4. Bring the volume up

When watching a movie in Spanish or frankly in any other foreign language that you may be learning, bring the volume up. How high? Try raising the volume to about about twice your usual volume. Doing this will allow you to hear even the most minor audio frequencies. At times the actors or actresses will speak softer. At other times there will be noise and background music within a scene that will make it harder to listen to a word or phrase. Simply raising the volume on these occasions may solve the issue easily.

Watching a film in Spanish may sometimes seem a little overwhelming at first. At the beginning it’s totally normal to have some trouble following along. This is a feeling that you’ll just have to get used to as a Spanish student. As long as you understand roughly half of what’s going on, you’re doing just fine. Eventually your brain will learn how to guess what is going on based on context clues and fill in any blank spots.

It may not be sufficient to just watch movies or TV shows to learn Spanish. Think of watching movies or TV shows more like a complementary tool. Although you can look for other learning sources on your own, nothing replaces attending conversational Spanish classes or being professionally tutored by a native Spanish tutor. If you want to look into working with one of our native Spanish tutors, click here.

Whether you watch movies as a complement or as a stand alone solution to learn Spanish, the improvement in your ability to comprehend the Spanish language will not be noticed in one day or even in one week. You will however notice significant improvements each month that passes by. Other learning solutions such as  apps, for example, that promise you to learn in just 10 minutes a day are simply exaggerating their results to persuade you into buying them. Don't fall into this trap. They will not work and you will end up being frustrated thinking that the problem is not the app but you. You are never the problem. Anyone can learn the language if being persistent and well guided.

Don't feel bad if you don't understand all the words. Accept that this is part of the learning process. Please trust us. We have been teaching Spanish for a long time and are quite familiar with how the process of learning a language works and what to do to accelerate it and make it more enjoyable. Just be patient. You will understand much more of that second movie that you are watching now than of the first one you watched, as so on.

Set yourself a realistic goal and be consistent.

Although the more the merrier, we recommend that you watch just one movie a week if you can. Because watching a movie will take two hours away of your time, instead of just watching too many movies, consider combining watching movies in Spanish with other activities that you can also do to continue immersing yourself in the Spanish language such as listening to Spanish music or a good Spanish podcast, watching Spanish youtube blog channels or shorter Spanish TV series, reading Spanish short stories for beginners or a local hispanic newspaper written in Spanish if you are an intermediate or advanced Spanish student, or browsing through a good Spanish grammar book.

Mixing different activities should be more enjoyable and will generate better results for you. If you get saturated or bored of watching too many movies, take a break. Do another type of Spanish learning activity and resume your watching when you are ready.

There are plenty of benefits to watching movies in Spanish!

  1. Watching films in Spanish will make your learning be more enjoyable, interesting, and inspiring.

  2. You will learn proper Spanish pronunciation by hearing tones, rhythm, sound, and accents in various scenarios and environments.

  3. You will understand how words in Spanish are used together and how they may suffer variations depending on the context.

  4. You will become familiar with expressions, regionalisms and local slang used in many latinamerican countries and Spain.

  5. You will develop a Spanish that is more smooth and less broken.

  6. You will immerse yourself in the Latino culture by witnessing how hispanic people live, how they interact, and how they express themselves in their native countries.

A positive reinforcement cycle will start once you start watching movies as you start falling in love with Latino culture. The more you fall in love with the culture, the more you will fall in love with the language. And the more you fall in love with the Spanish language, the more you will fall in love with hispanics and their culture. 

As a complement to your Spanish classes online or your Spanish classes in person after watching each movie, consider writing a paragraph about the movie. Do not just read it to your Spanish tutor. Instead try to speak about it more spontaneously. Don’t worry about forgetting how to say specific words. Try using the words in Spanish that you already know to express your thoughts.

Make sure that your Spanish tutor is not only a patient and understanding person but also someone that corrects you and provides adequate explanations when there is still space for some improvement.

Get creative and make it personal. Find an actress or actor that you like. Then watch all of her other movies by doing a search by actress name on Netflix or on Google.

Don’t miss our recommendations for Spanish-language TV shows on Netflix which can be shorter and allow you to watch something each night.

If you do not already have a Netflix account, consider opening one. It is really inexpensive and worth it. It is also a great alternative to cable TV so consider cancelling that service if you have it. You will be saving a lot of money. 

If you already have an Amazon Prime or a HULU membership account, explore the offering that they give you to watch movies. You may also be able to find some good ones on their websites.









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