Movie night just got Netflixed—Spanish style!
Movies are a great way to delve into the lives of people from all over the world, as well as to develop your Spanish skills without textbooks or homework.
Using Spanish movies on Netflix to immerse yourself in Spanish conversation is simple: Just press play.
- How Can Watching Movies on Netflix Improve Your Spanish?
- 25 Must-Watch Spanish-language Movies on Netflix in 2022
- “El Hoyo”
- “La noche de 12 años”
- “Durante la tormenta”
- “Lo más sencillo es complicarlo todo”
- “A pesar de todo”
- “El camino de Xico”
- “El laberinto del fauno”
- “Ya no estoy aquí”
- “La tribu”
- “Soltera Codiciada”
- “Gente que viene y bah”
- “¡Ay, mi madre!”
- “Pickpockets: Maestros del bobo”
- “Thi Mai”
- “Lusers, los amigos no se eligen”
- “Como caído del cielo”
- “7 años”
- “Nuestros amantes”
- “100 metros”
- Strategies for Learning Spanish with Netflix Movies
How Can Watching Movies on Netflix Improve Your Spanish?
- Improve your pronunciation: Movie dialogue will allow you to hear the natural sounds of Spanish words and phrases.
- Hear and understand the structure of Spanish sentences: The more you expose yourself to fluent dialogue, the more familiar you’ll become with how natural sentence structure should sound.
- Learn new expressions and local slang: Spanish is the official language of 21 countries and each of these countries has its own dialect and vocabulary. By watching movies from these countries, you can hear their accents and local slang.
- Immerse yourself in the language: When you don’t live in a Spanish-speaking country, it can be difficult to familiarize yourself with the language and achieve the immersion you need to become fluent. Movies can be a way to bridge that gap.
25 Must-Watch Spanish-language Movies on Netflix in 2022
English title: “Below Zero”
What starts as a standard prison transfer of some hardened inmates quickly goes haywire. It’s then up to police officer Martín (Javier Gutiérrez) to defend the armored truck and all those inside from an invading outside force.
But who’s the mysterious man outside the truck? Which prisoner is he pursuing and why?
This isn’t a film for the faint-hearted nor claustrophobic! It’s packed full of action and rather brutal scenes of violence in confined spaces.
As the plot develops, the storyline quickly transforms into a story of revenge and has the viewer questioning their own moral convictions. At the end of the film, you’ll ask yourself just how far would I go for justice?
The movie is excellent for learning informal Spanish and slang. There’s heaps of banter and chat between the prisoners of the transfer van and the police officers.
Please note that some of the language used can be pretty colorful!
English title: “The Platform”
“El Hoyo” shows how quickly society can crumble into a hierarchy of selfishness and gluttony. This dystopian film is set in a vertical prison where all inmates anxiously anticipate the daily meal.
Like many prisons, those inside pass the time with meaningless chatter, reading and sleep until the big event: lunchtime!
A smorgasbord consisting of roasted meats, puddings, desserts, fresh fruit and other delicacies is delivered to the prisoners via a platform that descends through a hole in the middle of the prison. Too good to be true? Of course.
The problem? The food is communal and the “prisoners'” unlucky enough to be randomly assigned to the lower levels of the platform have only scraps (or nothing) to choose from, due to the selfishness of those above.
It’s a fairly striking metaphor for society in general and the concept of the “haves” and “have nots.” The main character Goreng realizes there’s only one way out of this nightmare: He has to go up. But to go up, he first has to go down.
Funnily enough, I would recommend this film as a great way to practice the numbers in Spanish as the characters are constantly discussing those above and below them on the other platforms.
“La noche de 12 años”
English title: “A Twelve Year Night”
“La noche de 12 años” is an Uruguayan masterpiece of a movie that depicts the real story of José Mujica (who was President of Uruguay), Mauricio Rosencof (an Uruguayan poet, playwright and journalist) and Eleuterio Fernández (an Uruguayan politician, writer and journalist).
These three men were members of the National Liberation Movement (Tupamaros, also known as MLN-T), a guerrilla group created in Uruguay to fight against the civic-military dictatorship that took place in the country between 1973 and 1985.
The movie tells the story of these three men and how, while already in prison, they’re kidnapped one night during a secret military operation and kept in underground prisons (around 40 of them) for 12 long years.
The title of the movie is a clear reference to those 12 years during which they couldn’t see the light of day, but also a metaphor of the claustrophobic and deplorable conditions they were kept in.
I recommend this film to people who want to practice the Uruguayan accent and want to learn more about one of the most infamous chapters of the history of this beautiful country.
“Durante la tormenta”
English title: “Mirage”
Dramas are the backbone of many movie nights, at least in my house. Plots are layered, characters show growth and, most of the time, there’s a twist at the end. It’s just a good way to pass a few hours.
And it’s even better if the action takes place in Spanish!
This sci-fi drama/thriller is sure to keep viewers engaged. It’s about a woman who experiences an odd event during a storm and saves a child… or does she?
I’m not going to give the ending away—you’ll have to watch for yourself if you want to know what happens.
Viewers can expect to hear some news broadcasts as well as a bit of medical jargon. All this is presented with some seriously gripping, frightening music that’s the perfect backdrop to the heart-stopping action.
This film is a great option to get comfortable with core Spanish vocabulary revolving around family, everyday routines and time. The characters also talk about the past a lot, so you’ll get plenty of past tense practice.
The dialogue is fairly simple so if you’ve got an intermediate or advanced skill level, forgo the subtitles. Just enjoy the movie!
English title: “The Occupant”
What would you do if you hated your life? What about if you lost your job and had to move out of your fancy apartment?
Well, former advertising executive Javier Muñoz becomes a stalker. Not just any stalker, a stalker with a plan and an obsession to completely transform his life. But this transformation comes at a price and Javier is willing to pay this price at the expense of all of those around him.
This alarming thriller takes you deep inside the mind of a psychopath masquerading as a dedicated and loving family man.
This film will give you a reasonably interesting and engaging introduction to corporate language and business Spanish due to the numerous scenes set in offices and advertising buildings. There are even a few interview scenes to help you understand how the experience may look in Spanish!
English title: “Roma”
“Roma” is ultimately a story of class differences in Mexican society. However, it also hints at components of racism and its prevalence in 1970’s Mexico. The film is shot in black and white by Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón, who is perhaps known more commercially for directing “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”
The story of “Roma” follows Cleo, a house worker who, although hardworking and kind, is often subjugated to moments that remind her of her lowly stature in society and the high status of the family that she works for.
She later becomes pregnant and the story explores how this event ripples through the family contrasted against a background of rising political tensions and ideological movements in wider Mexican society.
In this film, you’ll load up on heaps of Mexican slang and common expressions. You’ll also hear some Mixtec language, an indigenous language of several Mexican regions sprinkled throughout the film. It’s a very unique language and sounds quite beautiful.
“Lo más sencillo es complicarlo todo”
English title: “The Easiest Thing Is to Complicate Everything”
The title of this movie pretty much tells the tale. It’s a coming-of-age rom-com that’s a bit predictable but still loads of fun to watch. The flick is geared toward a young adult audience so it’s suitable for family viewing, despite dealing with some misguided love.
The movie follows the story of a young girl who finds out that her older crush is engaged to be married. What follows is a ridiculous plot that she and her friend concoct to stop the marriage from taking place. It’s a pretty typical and entertaining young adult film!
As its target audience is on the younger side, this film contains talk about cars, school, boys, relationships and, well, topics that interest high schoolers and college-age adults!
The vocabulary is conversationally basic so upper beginners and intermediate learners should be able to catch a lot of what’s said. On the other hand, the storyline moves quickly and sometimes each subject is only touched upon briefly before the next one is introduced—you might have to rewatch bits to keep up.
“A pesar de todo”
English title: “Despite Everything”
Family dramas can be so interesting—and relatable! If you’ve got sisters, you just might see a bit of your family in this flick.
Following their mother’s death and the shocking discovery that their father isn’t their biological dad, four sisters go on an adventure to find their real fathers.
Expect the unexpected with this one! The search is on, and with it are chats about expectations, DNA testing, inheritances and family secrets. The four women also have very different personalities, so it’s fun to see how differently they speak. Take note!
Besides that, there’s plenty of solid, core vocabulary for listening practice here. Settle in and enjoy this one!
As the sisters make their way to their final destination, they discover more than they bargain for—and the result is truly heartwarming. Along their journey, they find peace with each other and themselves… and maybe even a little love.
“El camino de Xico”
English title: “Xico’s Journey”
This children’s animation film follows the classic archetype of “David and Goliath.”
Copi and her loyal dog Xico take on a multinational corporation planning to exploit the local mountain for its gold supply.
This children’s movie carries a strong core message of environmentalism and mixes in components of mysticism and mythologies, which I absolutely love in Mexican culture. The young girl, her dog and their friend Gus must go deep into the mystical mountain to protect all those that they love.
If you’re a fan of animation, then this is definitely one to check out. The film provides short and easily understood dialogues, which are common in children’s animation.
This makes it the perfect movie for a beginner Spanish learner of all ages!
“El laberinto del fauno”
English title: “Pan’s Labyrinth”
Country: Spain and Mexico
Incorrectly translated as “Pan’s Labyrinth” (Guillermo del Toro, the director, has stated that the faun-like creature in the movie isn’t Pan), “El laberinto del fauno” is possibly one of the most beautiful yet gut-wrenching movies you’ll ever watch.
Set in Spain in 1944, just five years after the end of the Spanish Civil War, the movie intertwines two stories that may seem completely incompatible: War and fairy tales.
On the one hand, we have ruthless Captain Vidal, a Falangist working for General Francisco Franco whose mission is to capture and kill the guerrilla rebels that are hiding somewhere in the forest.
On the other hand, we have Ofelia, Vidal’s step-daughter, who travels with her very pregnant mother to the mill where Vidal is living and working from.
While Vidal and his troops are killing rebels, Ofelia finds an old labyrinth near the mill.
There, she meets a faun-like creature who tells her she can enter the heart of the labyrinth and become the princess she once was if she passes three difficult tests.
If you want to know what happens next and how both stories come to a common end, you’ll have to watch the movie.
This film is recommended for lovers of the Castilian Spanish accent who want to see a faithful depiction of Spain’s after-Civil War life… with a magical twist.
“Ya no estoy aquí”
English title: “I’m No Longer Here”
This artistic drama centers around the character Ulises who, after some troubles with a rival gang in his area, is forced to flee Mexico and take refuge in Queens, New York.
Ulises experiences culture shock upon his arrival in the States and the film’s non-linear narrative cuts back between scenes in the US and Ulises’ suburb in Mexico. He meets heaps of unique characters, all searching for their place in between two contrasting societies: the ones they left behind and the ones that they came to.
It’s an uplifting film but in many ways, it’s also a heartbreaking and all too common story. I loved the film for its realism and wasn’t surprised to learn that the cast was comprised of numerous local people and individuals with no prior acting experience.
You’ll learn heaps of informal Mexican language from this movie, plus there are a couple of scenes in English with translations from the characters.
English title: “Yucatán”
Let’s set the scene: Two thieves, a baker who’s just won the lottery, a couple of quirky wives and a mature dating scene… all converge on a cruise heading from Spain to Mexico. There’s no way this could go wrong, right?
The thieves bumble along, trying to outwit each other in their quest to get their hands on the baker’s lottery winnings, leading to hilarious situations. Will they continue in their misguided and greedy ways, or will they learn that some things are more important than money? You’ll have to watch this movie to find out.
This comedy film with heart is intended for mature audiences. It’s off-beat and funny, with gorgeous scenery and great dialogue. Use this movie to grab idioms and even off-color phrases.
English title: “Terrified”
If you enjoy horror movies as much as I do, “Aterrados” is the film for you.
Picture this: A street. Three different houses, close to each other.
In one, a woman says she’s hearing voices in the kitchen. Voices that want to kill her. Later that night, her husband finds her levitating, dead.
In a second house, a mom cries over the death of her son. The child’s corpse appears sitting at the kitchen table, having returned from the cemetery by itself, on foot!
In a third house, a man feels a presence and sees his furniture moving, so he decides to install a camera. While watching the recording, he sees a figure emerging from under his bed and standing beside him while he’s sleeping.
In this setting, a group of paranormal investigators decides to have a look at what’s going on. Little do they know they should’ve stayed away from that street…
Perfect for listening to some Argentinian Spanish and learning some paranormal/psychiatry vocabulary, this movie will scare and teach you equally. Watch at your own risk!
“Aterrados” isn’t available in the US at the time of this writing, but it can be watched in many other countries (see a full list of availability here).
English title: “The Tribe”
“The Tribe” is a ridiculously funny film involving a corporate bigwig, a dancing cleaning woman, her super-cool dancing tribe and a case of amnesia.
The bigwig, Fidel, attempts to commit suicide by tossing himself in front of a bus. The attempt falls short and he ends up in the hospital where his biological mother decides to take him home—to a life he’s never known, people he’s never met and a dance group that treats him as one of their own.
We get to watch Fidel evolve as he grapples with his dark past and tries to find a place to belong in the world. For a while, at least, this unlikely hero lives an ordinary life!
The dialogue is excellent—quick-witted and authentic. Learners should watch this for many reasons, not the least of which is to increase their conversational vocabulary.
English title: lit. “Boss”
Country: Spain and Portugal
Business as usual? Hardly. When corporate head César’s life goes awry, he has only a very short time to get to the bottom of everything—and fix it. His marriage ends, his business fails and life seems like it’s over.
César is pretty self-centered and obnoxious until he meets the cleaning woman who opens his eyes to life, love and laughter. The woman, Ariana, isn’t impressed with César’s stuffy business sense or uptight demeanor. She’s more casual, fun and laid-back—in other words, she’s the perfect person to teach him how to live his life to its fullest.
This off-beat romance is an entertaining choice for a girls’ night or even a date movie!
English title: “How to Get Over a Breakup”
María gets suddenly dumped by her boyfriend after a six-year relationship. Unable to cope, she decides to write a blog to get over the breakup.
“Soltera codiciada” (lit. “coveted single woman”) is a Peruvian romcom that’ll melt your heart and make you laugh, cry, shout at the TV and everything in between.
If you’re used to American romantic comedies, let me tell you this movie is nothing like that.
This movie shows you Peru, with a Peruvian breakup, a Peruvian woman (who my sister found completely relatable) and the Peruvian way of doing things. Oh, and the exquisite Peruvian accent, obviously.
Anyway, this film tells the story of how María figures life out and learns to live with herself. Thanks to her two best friends and a whole lot of self-work, she’ll come out of the tunnel eventually. You’ll have to watch the movie to see if there’s any light at the end or not.
“Gente que viene y bah”
English title: “In Family I Trust”
This drama is based on a novel about a woman who’s been cheated on and the proof that it is, indeed, possible to go home again. When Bea’s boyfriend’s infidelity becomes public, she loses her job and her relationship all at once—so she leaves Barcelona and returns to her family in their coastal town.
Family life isn’t always peaceful, though. Affairs, secret liaisons that produce children, revealed illnesses and a friendship that has no expiration date all combine to make this coming-home story an intriguing tale.
Anyone who likes to see family dynamics, overcoming adversity and heartfelt drama will enjoy this film. It’s also a great way to armchair travel to a very beautiful spot by the water!
As a bonus, the Spanish title of the movie is a pun on “bah” (an expression used when something doesn’t really matter) and va (go). So while the implied meaning of the title is “People Who Come and Go,” the real reading of it is more like “People Who Come and… Eh, Whatever.”
“¡Ay, mi madre!”
English title: lit. “Oh, My Mother!”
The passing of María mother should a be sad, sentimental or even peaceful event. Instead, it sends María into a legal whirlwind. Her mother has left a will with certain stipulations and if María wants to inherit, she must adhere to the rules.
This is an incredible film for those who love dark comedies. Since the plot is predicated on the aftermath of a death, one would expect it to be somber, but it’s just the opposite. Quirky characters, fast-paced action and dialogue that quickly moves the plot along make this movie a definite must-see!
“Pickpockets: Maestros del bobo”
English title: “Pickpockets”
Country: Colombia and England
Give this movie a try if you’re in need of some Colombian slang and don’t mind having an anti-hero as the narrator of the action.
The movie tells the story of two class-B teenage pickpockets who aren’t really good criminals (they continuously get caught and try to run from the police).
Suddenly, a master pickpocket who’s hiding in the shadows decides to take care of them and teach them the art of stealing.
He has to pay some debts but needs to be “invisible” for a while, so he pins his hopes on the alleged potential the two teenagers might have.
This is a movie I found interesting at times and verging on the glamorization of petty crime too often for my taste. However, I still think it deserves a chance to be watched, however niche it might be, for the excellent slang and conversational learning potential.
English title: “Thi Mai”
“Thi Mai” is a heartwarming story of a mother’s love—and the women who support her. The death of Carmen’s daughter begins a journey that takes a sweet trio of best friends from Spain to Vietnam.
The decision to locate and adopt the girl that Carmen’s daughter was in the process of adopting is an emotional one, but this isn’t an overly dramatic film. Instead, it’s a lively mix of heartfelt and comical. The women must make their way through this new country, face cultural differences and make themselves understood in a place that speaks another language.
They manage to do it all and give viewers a story that’ll stay with them for a while.
“Lusers, los amigos no se eligen”
English title: “Lusers”
This hilariously comic adventure involves three guys from Peru, Argentina and Chile who are on their way to the final of the FIFA World Cup. Their travels don’t go smoothly, but the trip is definitely one for the record books!
These men are incredibly diverse, from their characters to their accents. It’s interesting to see how they work through issues together, given their different backgrounds.
This film is a great choice for language learners who might want to hear native pronunciation from any of the three countries the characters are from!
“Como caído del cielo”
English title: “As if Fallen from Heaven”
This story about the real-life star of Mexican cinema, Pedro Infante, offers up the premise that the great man is given a chance to redeem himself for his behavior on earth. It’s a romantic comedy with some drama—one of those something-for-everyone films!
I watched this film more than once. It was that good! The actor’s stage persona was caught brilliantly (you’ll especially appreciate it if you’ve seen the old Mexican films and are familiar with the man’s mannerisms and style) so it feels as if we’re really seeing him on the stage again.
This is a tale of redemption and I highly recommend it!
English title: “7 Years”
“7 Años” is an interesting drama that centers around a decision that’ll affect the lives of a small group of business partners. For one, the decision will have drastic consequences: The four partners need to decide who’ll go to jail for a crime they’ve committed.
They might start out as friends but this decision could make them enemies. No one wants to go to prison, so they discuss (sometimes heatedly) which one of them should be sacrificed.
Everyone feels they shouldn’t go. So the question is, how to choose?
Watch this movie for compelling storytelling with intense situations and pick up on a mix of corporate vocab and informal chatter between adults.
English title: “Our Lovers”
This film is a romantic slice-of-life story that tugs at viewers’ heartstrings. When a writer meets a book lover, there are bound to be some mutual interests. The lead characters have that dynamic—but what they don’t reveal about their situations and themselves could ruin this budding romance.
The dialogue is a treasure trove of cultural references. Books, authors, artwork—all these aspects of Spanish culture and art history are referenced time and again, allowing the viewers glimpses into Spanish life that wouldn’t be available without the snappy conversations.
English title: “100 Meters”
Country: Spain and Portugal
“100 Meters” shows that it takes more than a strong body to make an athlete; it takes the heart of a lion, as well.
When a businessman is diagnosed with a degenerative muscular disease, his whole life changes. It affects his wife, too, who does all she can to care for him.
The patient learns about an Iron Man competition and he decides to enter—and win—the race. Training begins but it soon becomes apparent that what any athlete needs is a strong desire to excel and a will to keep going, even in the face of obstacles.
This is a heartwarming film that shows just how much one is willing to do to achieve a goal.
Strategies for Learning Spanish with Netflix Movies
Now before you start hopping onto Netflix and searching for these films, there are a few strategies you should know to utilize while watching. You aren’t just an average movie-viewer—you’re a dedicated language learner too!
Watch with Spanish subtitles
Add Spanish subtitles to the movie you’re watching so you can read along and improve your Spanish reading skills.
While learning with video content can be great (and super fun), this can often be a passive Spanish learning method. We convince ourselves that we’re learning when really we’re just watching a movie (I’m guilty of this).
Spanish subtitles can ensure that you’re following along with the speech, even if it may be muddled somehow and hard to discern with your ears. If there are any words in the captions that capture your interest, you can jot them down and study up on them later.
Schedule Spanish movie nights
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a random movie date or late-night film binge. In addition to those spur-of-the-moment jaunts, strive to watch a minimum of one or two movies a week. This will give you a solid block of listening time.
Watch a movie you know and love that’s dubbed in Spanish
If you’ve watched a movie many times, you already know the storyline, you know where it’ll lead and you probably know many of the lines in English. So listen to the Spanish dubbed version for a new experience!
This allows you to quickly learn new vocabulary and grammar in Spanish simply because you’re already familiar with the film’s content in English.
Close your eyes and listen
Take a moment to turn away from the television screen so you can focus on the dialogue taking place. By losing the aid of visuals, are you able to understand what’s being said?
At the end of the scene, jot down what you think the characters were talking about, then rewind and compare your answer to the visual, subtitled movie scene.
Repeat what you hear
During a part of a movie that particularly catches your attention—practice repeating what you’ve heard. You might want to pause the film when you do this. Otherwise, wait until after the movie’s over and repeat key lines while you’re washing the popcorn bowl and tidying the sofa cushions.
Don’t just watch and forget. Watch, gain meaning and get a feel for the language!
Practice with shorter videos
Movies can be pretty long, and if you’re watching with the intent of a learner and not just that of a casual viewer, then it can also get exhausting. There’s a lot to handle while you’re watching, not including following the plot of the movie itself.
To prepare you for these hour-plus long watch sessions, you can practice first with shorter Spanish videos that feature native speakers. They can prep you with the Spanish vocabulary and dialects you may encounter in films and get you accustomed to the act of watching, listening and reading the language all at once.
You can easily find Spanish videos online on platforms like YouTube. You can also use multimedia language learning programs that teach with videos. One example is FluentU, which has a library of authentic clips organized by topic and difficulty. They come with interactive subtitles that explain in context the words used, and you can review vocabulary with the program’s personalized flashcards and quizzes.
We listen to understand, we listen to engage and we listen to take part. By using Spanish movies on Netflix, you can further develop your language skills in an entertaining way.
Remember to enjoy the movies for what they are: a way to get away from the textbooks, relax and learn some authentic Spanish!
Francisco J. Vare loves teaching and writing about grammar. He’s a proud language nerd, and you’ll normally find him learning languages, teaching students or reading. He’s been writing for FluentU for many years and is one of their staff writers.