Fall is here, chicas! Cold rain rolls slowly on the window pane, and it’s time to face facts: Tonight is not the night for your cozy fall bonfire, so why not stay in tonight and watch one of these classic films starring our favorite Latina stars?The Wedding Planner
Just released on Netflix over the summer, let’s bring it back to 2001—a simpler time, when a rom-com could feasibly open at number one for its weekend box office debut, contouring wasn’t in vogue, and J-LO was at the top of her game (she is still the first and only woman to have her film open at #1 at the box office, and have a single, “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” chart at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time).
For anyone who’s experienced unrequited love, missed opportunities (and let’s be honest, who hasn’t let something go by?)—this movie is a fun bit of wish fulfillment. Jennifer Lopez’s character Maria (an ambitious wedding planner whose father is quite worried that she’s not married yet) has chance encounter with Dr. Steve (a young and charming Matthew McConaughey) who saves her from being hit by car—somehow in ’01 it didn’t seem so ridiculous that McConaughey would be a doctor. Maria is instantly smitten with this dashing young man, only to find out that he’s the groom in wedding for the biggest account she’s ever scored. Rom-com antics ensue!Fools Rush In
Falling further into the late 90s, here’s a film that stars Salma Hayek (who seriously looks exactly the same today) and Matthew Perry at the height of Friends madness. This clash of outlooks on life (and two people from different worlds romance) may not be the best film in the world, but Salma Hayek’s charisma cannot be tamped down, and I’ll watch anything with Perry acting essentially as Chandler Bing.
In this film, Hayek’s character Isabel and Perry’s character Alex meet a strike up an instant flirtation. They have a one-night stand: boom, Isabel gets pregnant. Months later she returns to tell Alex what’s happened and that she’s keeping the baby but he doesn’t have to be involved. Not used to taking risks, or doing anything on blind faith, Alex decides to be spontaneous and suggests they get married. The rest of the film deals with the fallout of dealing with the displeasure of their respective families at their marrying people their families never expected them to. Another fun, and sweet rom-com.Selena
Another J-Lo film, but her debut in the biopic of Selena Quintanilla, filmed shortly after the singer’s tragic death. Lopez is irresistible as the young, and hopeful rising star of Tejano. She sings, she dances, and she works on propelling her career of eventual superstardom herself.
This infinitely quotable film follows the creation of Selena’s family band, Selena y Los Dinos, until eventually she’s crowned the Queen of Tejano, starts own clothing line, and performs for larger and larger audiences. We all know how her story ends. This film is a deeply moving celebration of the late Selena’s spirit.West Side Story
The musical re-telling of Romeo and Juliet that won Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno her Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and tells the tale of Maria and Tony, two members of the rival Jets and Sharks gangs, falling in love while they sing and dance throughout the streets of New York. I’m sure most of us are familiar with how this story goes, but this film is a charming and catchy take on a classic story.
How can you resist a rumble that consists of competitive dancing, and threatening snapping (When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet!)? Also, Rita Moreno steals every scene as Anita, let’s be real.I Like it Like That
If you’ve never seen this movie, tonight’s the night! This dramedy (before we started using that word) tells the story of Lisette and Chino, a Puerto Rican couple living in NYC in the early 90s. We’ve got another woman, a difficult mother-in-law, drugs, jail, and female independance. This movie stars a number of Latino actors, most notably Rita Moreno. A must-watch.Hitch
Another rom-com that I can’t help but love, starring Eva Mendes as Will Smith’s main love interest, Sara Melas. (Fun fact, the date doctor that this movie is loosely based on is real—I saw him speak once about dating pitfalls). While most people probably remember the hilarious moments between Smith and Kevin James, Mendes shines as the smart guy’s girl, who’s not sure she’s ready to trust.Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Regardless of your feelings about Woody Allen, this film bravely challenges contemporary notions of love and relationships. Penelope Cruz gives the performance of a lifetime—winning the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, which is interesting because even though María Elena is not the main character of the film, she is definitely the most memorable.
Best friends Vicky and Cristina decide to spend the summer in Barcelona when they are invited to spend a weekend with mysterious and sexy artist Juan Antonio (played by a wicked Javier Bardem), who tries to seduce both women, even though he’s still clearly in love with his ex-wife, María Elena. It’s movie that’s smart, sexy, and surprising eight years after its release. Also, we get to see the undeniable chemistry between the now married Cruz and Bardem begin to blossom on screen.Y Tu Mamá También
Alfonso Curón’s directorial debut that starts Maribel Verdú as an older twenty-something woman Louisa who embarks on a sensual road trip with two young friends (Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal) after she finds out her husband has been cheating on her.
A timely film that interrogates the nature of repressed desire, and has some sexy scenes that are definitely worth warming your fall nights with. (also, odd that this leads to Curón directing the third Harry Potter film).Pan’s Labyrinth
If you want a departure from the earlier rom-coms in this list to add to your fall chills (who doesn’t like a bit of mystery for their fall nights?), here’s a shift to a bit of fantasy in which young star Ivana Baquero, plays a young girl utilizing her imagination as her number one weapon right in the midst of Franco led, fascist Spain. A stunning, and at times quite chilling film from Guillermo Del Toro, this is a great movie to pop in around Halloween if you want a departure from the typical slasher flick.Frida
Another biopic starring Salma Hayek (the thing to note—the great range of many of these fantastic Latina actresses) as the tumultuous and alluring Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Playing against Alfred Molina, the film also showcases her dysfunctional relationship with fellow painter Diego Rivera, and demonstrates the massive impact a traumatic bus accident has on the rest of Kahlo’s life and career.
So whether you’re in the mood for some lighthearted rom-coms to warm up your chilly fall nights, or in the mood for some seriously dark films to match the tone of the darkening days, there should be a film on this list for you!