If you’re trying to figure out what to watch on HBO Max, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve assembled a list of the best movies available to stream on HBO Max right now, from comedies to blockbusters to rom-coms to Oscar-winning dramas and beyond. Since first launching in 2020, HBO Max has quickly solidified itself as lowkey one of the best streaming services around, with a robust library of some genuinely great movies past and present to choose from. It’s a true bounty of choice with plenty of older films alongside bona fide new releases.
Take a look at our curated list of the best movies on HBO Max below. This list will be updated weekly with new titles, so be sure to check back often.
Director David Fincher is known for making dark films, but his 1995 thriller “Seven” remains his darkest – and one of his best. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker, the film stars Brad Pitt as a young detective who is partnered up with a veteran on the brink of retirement (played by Morgan Freeman), and for the latter’s final case the two find themselves chasing a serial killer who is killing according to the Seven Deadly Sins. The film takes place in a slightly exaggerated version of reality, all reflective of the themes of futility, morality and justice explored within.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
One of the best and funniest comedies of the 21st century, full-stop, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” finds The Lonely Island putting their own twist on a “Spinal Tap”-style story. Andy Samberg stars as a Justin Bieber-esque pop star who used to be part of a three-person group in the vein of the Beastie Boys. “Popstar” is a mockumentary, following Samberg’s character on tour after the disastrous release of his new album. The laughs are plenty and hearty throughout, but the film is also a sweet story of friendship. And the songs – written and performed by The Lonely Island – are legitimate bops.
If you’re in the mood for a dark thriller with a powerhouse lead performance, check out 2014’s “Nightcrawler.” Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, the film is a darkly comic look at the world of local news media, as Jake Gyllenhaal plays a stringer named Lou who records violent events and sells them to a local Los Angeles news station. But as Lou’s ambition grows, his motives become murky. The film certainly has shades of a modern “Taxi Driver” with Gyllenhaal delivering a transformative performance that gets under your skin. The whole thing is anchored by terrific co-starring turns by Renee Russo and Riz Ahmed.
The American President
Before Aaron Sorkin created “The West Wing,” he wrote a romantic comedy called “The American President.” You’ll find the bones of Sorkin’s acclaimed drama series within this film, but at heart this is a romance about a widowed president (played by Michael Douglas) who strikes up a relationship with a lobbyist (played by Annette Bening) and all the complications that ensue. This one’s funny, romantic and sharp.
If you’re in the mood for a twisty and tight little thriller, M. Night Shyamalan’s “Old” will do the trick. The 2021 film stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps as a couple considering divorce who take their kids to a tropical resort for one last family vacation. But when they go down to a secret beach one day, they not only find themselves unable to leave, but also discover that they all start aging rapidly. Like, very rapidly. The family and a few other strangers must try and figure out what’s going on and if there’s a way out before they literally grow old and die.
If you’re in the mood to watch a mind-bending thriller, you can’t go wrong with Christopher Nolan’s 2010 blockbuster “Inception.” Written and directed by Nolan, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who is proficient in performing heists within the subconscious of individuals who are subdued. He’s offered one last job in exchange for his freedom, and assembles a crew to perform a task thought near-impossible — planting an idea inside someone’s head. Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, and Michael Caine co-star in this action-packed adventure with surprising emotional heft.
“Elvis” is a biopic of The King by way of “Moulin Rouge!” and “Romeo + Juliet” filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. Which is to say it’s wildly kinetic, exciting and unlike any take on Elvis Presley’s life before. There are the usual Luhrmann flourishes, especially in the first half of the film, but they fit snugly with the chronicle of a larger-than-life figure. Austin Butler transforms into the role of Elvis, delivering a jaw-dropping performance, while Tom Hanks anchors the film as Presley’s conniving business manager Colonel Tom Parker. The story is told from Parker’s perspective, which offers an interesting twist to the storytelling, but it’s clear Luhrmann cares deeply about doing justice to Elvis’ story. And that soundtrack!
If anyone can pull off commanding an entire movie set inside a car, it’s Tom Hardy. Filmmaker Steven Knight’s 2013 film “Locke” follows a successful construction manager in Birmingham who gets a phone call on his way home that dismantles his life. The rest of the story plays out inside the car as the man drives and makes a series of phone calls in an effort to control the fallout, with Hardy serving as the only character you see onscreen while Tom Holland, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott and others fill the roles on the other end of the phone. This thing is riveting.
The Devil’s Backbone
Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s third film put him on the map in a big way – and for good reason. 2001’s “The Devil’s Backbone” is a Spanish-language ghost story set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War in 1939. The story takes place at a small orphanage where the ghost of a young boy haunts the halls and its inhabitants, all while the threat of the war encroaching on the orphanage’s grounds looms.
Tim Burton’s comedy classic is a great watch pretty much anytime. “Beetlejuice” revolves around a couple who die in a car accident (played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) and become ghosts trapped inside their home where they’re forced to witness its sale and renovation by a gauche family from the city. They enlist the help of a “bio-exorcist” named Beetlejuice (played by Michael Keaton), and all hell breaks loose. The film is a colorful and inventive twist on the afterlife, offering up a darkly comic spin on the living dead.
Out of the Past
One of the best film noirs ever made, “Out of the Past” is indicative of the kinds of essential classic films that are par for the course on HBO Max. This 1947 film stars Robert Mitchum as Jeff Bailey, a man quietly living out his life in a rural mountain town, only to be interrupted by a figure from his past. Flashbacks then reveal his former life as a private investigator in New York City, with the film solidifying many cinematic flourishes that would become hallmarks of the film noir genre. Kirk Douglas and Jane Gree co-star.
Annabelle Comes Home
If you’re looking for a spooky horror movie that’s light on gore but heavy on the scares, 2019’s “Annabelle Comes Home” is well worth a watch. The film is technically a sequel to the “Annabelle” movies and is set in the “Conjuring” universe, as it focuses on the daughter of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively) played by McKenna Grace. Left home alone with a babysitter, the Warrens’ basement full of cursed objects gets loose, resulting in a bevy of horrors being unleashed on the young girl, her babysitter and her babysitter’s friend. You don’t need to have seen any of the previous “Annabelle” movies (or even a “Conjuring” movie) to enjoy this one.
A heady sci-fi two-hander with an iconic dance break from Oscar Isaac, 2014’s “Ex Machina” contains multitudes. The film hails from writer/director Alex Garland, whose knack for telling smart (and thought-provoking) sci-fi stories ranges from “Annihilation” to “Devs.” In “Ex Machina,” Isaac plays an enigmatic billionaire who summons a programmer (played by Domhnall Gleeson) to his remote compound to assess whether his A.I. creation (played by Alicia Vikander). Philosophical conversations are interspersed with feelings of dread and horror, as Garland masterfully weaves a tale about what it means to be human.
One of filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s many classics, 1990’s “Goodfellas” is a quintessential gangster film. Based on a true story, it chronicles the rise and fall of mob associate Henry Hill, as played by the late Ray Liotta. Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino co-star in what is essentially a prototype for “The Sopranos,” with Scorsese drawing the audience into the world of the mob through the eyes of a wannabe gangster. The filmmaking is some of the best of Scorsese’s career, from the iconic oner at the Copacabana night club to a cocaine-fueled third act sequence that’ll have you on edge no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
Tim Burton’s 1992 sequel remains one of the boldest, most interesting and sexiest Batman movies ever made – and it holds up tremendously well. “Batman Returns” is the superior follow-up to Burton’s 1989 hit, with Michael Keaton reprising his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Michelle Pfeiffer is phenomenal as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, with the character serving as a tempting mirror of Bruce Wayne’s own dichotomy — a more violent path towards vigilantism and revenge. There’s also Danny DeVito’s snarling Penguin, and perhaps most terrifying of all Christopher Walken’s soulless businessman Max Schreck. With a Christmas setting and Burton pushing the Gothic aesthetics to the extreme, this is one of the best Batman movies ever made.
The World’s End
If you like “Shaun of the Dead” or “Hot Fuzz,” you owe it to yourself to check out the third film in the loosely connected Cornetto Trilogy, “The World’s End.” Edgar Wright once again directs with many familiar faces from those previous two films – including Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – returning to tell the story of a group of childhood friends who reunite in their hometown to reluctantly take part in a pub crawl, as organized by Pegg’s character who’s an addict stuck in the past. But their night of friendship turns into a fight for survival, as they discover the town’s residents may or may not have been taken over by robots.
A riff on the buddy cop formula, “The Heat” is a hilarious comedy that pairs Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, under the direction of “Bridesmaids” and “Spy” filmmaker Paul Feig. Bullock plays a tight-laced FBI agent who’s forced to let loose when she’s partnered with a tough-as-nails cop who doesn’t play by the rules, played by McCarthy. Together they try to take down a mobster in Boston, with each learning a little something about themselves in the process.
13 Going on 30
An absolute delight of a romantic comedy, the 2004 film “13 Going on 30” is the epitome of “feel-good movie.” The story concerns a 13-year-old girls in 1987 who, after being humiliated by her friends, wishes on her birthday that she was 30 years old. She’s then suddenly pushed forward in time to her 30-year-old self’s body (played by Jennifer Garner), and is appalled to see where life has taken her. Garner delivers a terrific performance as a teen trapped in an adult’s body, and her romantic pairing with Mark Ruffalo is swoon-worthy. There’s also a top-notch “Thriller” dance break.
Under the Skin
If you’re an adventurous sci-fi fan, “Under the Skin” is a must-see. This singular, unnerving film from director Jonathan Glazer stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien woman who preys on men in Scotland. But instead of high-flying theatrics, CGI or predictable plot structure, “Under the Skin” surprises at every turn. Johansson’s performance is predatory and elegant all at once, and the way Glazer captures her character’s kills will keep you up at night. Add in a transfixing score by composer Mica Levi, and this one will have you under its spell.
If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, check out the 2016 film “Colossal.” This darkly comic sci-fi film stars Anne Hathaway as a self-destructive alcoholic who realizes she controls a giant kaiju monster in Seoul. At the same time, she’s working out a relationship with her childhood friend Oscar (played by Jason Sudeikis), whose “nice guy” exterior hides a more toxic underbelly. Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, the film reveals itself to be a smart and impactful story of toxic masculinity and alcoholism. It’s also a ton of fun.
If you yearn for the days when a new legal thriller was in theaters every few months, it’s a great time to revisit the Tom Cruise-fronted John Grisham adaptation “The Firm.” The 1993 film follows a young Harvard law school soon-to-be-graduate who is recruited to join one of the top law firms in Tennessee. But once he’s inside, he learns more sinister works may be at play. Sydney Pollack directs an A-list cast that includes Gene Hackman, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Ed Harris, Hal Holbrook, Wilfred Brimley and Holly Hunter.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
One of the best sequels ever made, James Cameron’s 1991 film “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” is hailed by many as even better than its predecessor. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as a killer robot sent from the future, only this time he’s sent to protect a young John Connor (Edward Furlong) who is destined to lead the human revolt against the machine uprising. Linda Hamilton is a full-on action hero in this follow-up, traumatized by the events of the first film in which she was told that her son was the key to humanity’s future. This film pioneered CGI characters with Robert Patrick’s T-1000 antagonist, but still manages to keep a beating human heart among all the spectacle.
Putting a new spin on a character like Batman is incredibly difficult, but director Matt Reeves and star Robert Pattinson accomplish this and much more in the 2022 reboot “The Batman.” The film picks up in Bruce Wayne’s second year of prowling the streets as the caped crusader, and finds him roped into an investigation into a series of killings committed by The Riddler (Paul Dano). Reeves draws from films like “Zodiac” and “All the President’s Men” to result in a process-driven (and wildly compelling) crime thriller that packs some of the most striking cinematography in the character’s history thanks to Oscar-winner Greig Fraser. And that score by Michael Giacchino is a new classic. At three hours in length this one’s quite long, but it’s the detective-driven Batman story fans have long been waiting for.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet
“Moulin Rogue!” and “The Great Gatsby” filmmaker Baz Luhrmann has always had a flair for the theatrical, which made him a brilliant fit for 1996’s reimagining of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Aptly named “Romeo + Juliet,” the film retains much of Shakespeare’s dialogue but features a contemporary setting and characters, trading swords for guns and Verona for “Verona Beach.” The freshly popular duo of Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes make a firecracker pairing at the center of the film, and a hip soundtrack pairs nicely with Luhrmann’s fast-paced visual approach.
Director Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” is the kind of prestige, epic sci-fi adaptation that studios rarely make, and for that alone it’s worth seeking out. Based on the Frank Herbert novel of the same name, the film stars Timothee Chalamet as the young Paul Atreides, a man who accompanies his family House Atreides as they’re tasked with overseeing the mining of a valuable resource on the planet Arrakis. But once they arrive, they struggle against the planet’s native population and the nefarious House Harkonnen who wants its position back at all costs. This film, gorgeously crafted, is the first half of the “Dune” story with the second half due to be adapted in the forthcoming sequel “Dune: Part Two.”
West Side Story
Steven Spielberg’s first-ever musical “West Side Story” is one of the best films he’s ever made, and that’s saying something. This new adaptation of the Broadway hit is set in 1957 New York, where two warring gangs – the Polish youths The Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks – battle for control over a strip of land that’s due to be gentrified anyway. Caught in the middle are Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler) who fall in love despite coming from opposite sides of the tracks. Spielberg crafts a film set in the past that speaks to the tensions we face today, grounded in an emotional and tragic love story.
If you’re in the mood for a contained action movie, Bob Odenkirk’s “Nobody” will do the trick. The “Better Call Saul” actor trained for over a year to get in fighting shape to play a family man who, after experiencing a home invasion, returns to his dangerous former life. Directed by Ilya Naishuller, the film boasts some jaw-dropping action scenes in the vein of “John Wick” (and it’s no surprise to find that the film was written and produced by “John Wick” alums).
A delightful original blockbuster, “Free Guy” stars Ryan Reynolds as an NPC (aka Non-Playable Character) living in a “Sims”-like video game populated largely by online players. When he suddenly gains consciousness, he begins making decisions for himself outside of his predetermined routine, all the while a female gamer from the outside world played by Jodie Comer enlists his help to find some embedded code within the game. Taika Waititi plays a nefarious video game designer and “Stranger Things” breakout Joe Keery plays an employee at the game company who may or may not be helpful in Reynolds and Comer’s quest. If you’re looking for a delightful and surprisingly emotional film for all ages, check this one out.
Guillermo del Toro’s 2021 drama “Nightmare Alley” is not for the faint of heart, but it is a rich and disturbing character piece about identity. Set in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Bradley Cooper stars as Stanton Carlisle, a drifter who ends up working for a traveling carnival where he picks up a mentalist act. Years later, he’s now stolen this mentalist act as his own and finds success in the big city, but when he teams up with a mysterious therapist (played by Cate Blanchett), his world begins to crumble. Cooper is terrific in the lead role, and the film builds to one of the most unforgettable endings in recent memory.
News of the World
The Tom Hanks-fronted 2020 Western “News of the World” is a surprisingly touching and poignant film that speaks to the world we live in today. Directed by Oscar-nominated “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “United 93” filmmaker Paul Greengrass, the film takes place in 1870 and follows a former Confederate officer (played by Hanks) who now travels from town to town to read the news of the day. When he rescues a young woman who has seemingly been captured and raised by Native Americans, he makes it his mission to deliver her to her home.
You must be on the right wavelength to enjoy “Malignant,” but if you’re down for a horror movie that plays out with a knowing wink, this might become a new favorite. From “Aquaman” and “The Conjuring” director James Wan, the film stars Annabelle Wallis as a woman who begins to have visions of people being murdered, and when she starts digging into her past she discovers disturbing secrets – all while a killer is on the loose. This thing goes from creepy horror film to murder mystery to campy monster movie and never misses a beat, and the third act is a total blast.
The Last Duel
Ridley Scott’s historical drama “The Last Duel” made an early streaming debut on HBO Max, and if you missed this 2021 film in theaters now is a great time to catch up. The story recounts the last officially sanctioned duel in the 1400s, and kicks into gear when a woman (played by Jodie Comer) accuses one of her husband’s (Matt Damon) former friends and semi-rival (played by Adam Driver) of rape. The film plays out in three parts, telling the story from three different points of view — that of the woman, that of her husband, and that of the man she accused of raping her — and in doing so serves as an insightful and unsettling look at the way men view the world and their place in it, and how that impacts women. Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofencer wrote the screenplay.
Singin’ in the Rain
Quite simply one of the most joyous films ever made, there’s no way that “Singin’ in the Rain” will leave you in a bad mood. Released in 1952, the film is set against the backdrop of the transition from silent films to “talkies” and revolves around three Hollywood performers: Gene Kelly is Don Lockwood, Debbie Reynolds is Kathy Selden and Donald O’Connor is Cosmo Brown. In addition to telling a compelling Hollywood-set story, the film boasts some of the most mesmerizing musical numbers ever put to film, from the acrobatics of “Make ‘Em Laugh” to Kelly’s iconic “Singin’ in the Rain.” This is a perfect feel-good movie.
The 7 Best New Movies on HBO Max in July
The Suicide Squad
While filmmaker James Gunn brought a lighter sensibility to his “Guardians of the Galaxy” films for Marvel Studios, his DC film “The Suicide Squad” harkens back to the darkness of his earlier work. Not quite a sequel and not quite a reboot, the 2021 film largely stands alone as it follows the anti-hero team of Task Force X – which includes Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Idris Elba’s Bloodsport – as they’re assigned to sneak into a foreign country on a top secret mission. R-rating antics abound, but there’s a surprising humanity at the center of this gloriously weird and wild superhero movie.
When Harry Met Sally…
One of the classics. Director Rob Reiner and screenwriter Nora Ephron make for a perfect duo in 1989’s “When Harry Met Sally…” which follows two people played by Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal through over a decade of near-misses and friendship in New York City. Everyone can relate to this story of friends who can’t decide if they want to be something more, or can’t get on the same page with how they truly feel about one another. Reiner, who was coming off of a divorce, served as the basis for Harry while Ephron served as the inspiration for Sally.
If you’re a fan of the work of Steven Spielberg, then the documentary “Spielberg” is a must-watch. The film is anchored by an interview with Spielberg himself (and his family members) as it runs through his storied career, with the filmmaker offering candid insight along the way. If you’ve ever wondered how Spielberg took the blow of “1941” or why “Catch Me If You Can” was rooted in a family secret, those answers and more are found within.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
At four hours in length, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is really for interested parties only, but for those with even a passing familiarity with “Man of Steel,” “Batman v. Superman” and “Wonder Woman,” this HBO Max exclusive marks a fascinating, rich and wildly different take on “Justice League” than the one that was released in theaters in 2017. Presented in six chapters with an epilogue, everyone gets more story this time around, and it’s for the better. Cyborg (Ray Fisher) provides some emotional heft; Superman (Henry Cavill) actually gets some depth; and Ben Affleck’s Batman gets more to do than half-heartedly pull together a Justice League. This film is director Zack Snyder’s unfiltered vision for better and for worse, and that includes some major teases for sequels that never came to fruition, plenty of violence and lots of slow motion. And honestly? It’s good.
All the President’s Men
One of the best films ever made, 1976’s “All the President’s Men” chronicles the real-life investigation into the Watergate scandal by journalists Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford). Director Alan J. Pakula captures the electric atmosphere of the newsroom but treats the investigation with the seriousness it deserves, as there’s no need for embellishment when the story’s this good. Shades of a paranoid thriller keep the tension up even when you know how the story unfolds, and Hoffman and Redford are stellar as the two journalists at the center.
In the Heights
If you missed Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical “In the Heights” when it was released in 2021, now’s your chance to catch up with this joyous, colorful and hopeful film. Anthony Ramos stars as Usnavi, a young man living in Washington Heights who dreams of reopening his late father’s business in the Dominican Republic. As Usnavi and others in the neighborhood struggle with xenophobia, gentrification and the decision to move back home, he must make a decision that will determine the trajectory of his entire life. The songs are incredible, the musical numbers are stunning and the whole thing builds to an emotional finale that celebrates community.
No Sudden Move
Steven Soderbergh’s HBO Max original film “No Sudden Move” is a heck of a crime thriller. Set in 1954 Detroit, it stars Don Cheadle as a gangster short on cash who wants to leave town, and who reluctantly agrees to do a job that immediately goes sideways. He’s then on the run with a fellow gangster played by Benicio Del Toro, trying to figure out who he can trust and discovering who’s behind it all. The script by Ed Solomon brilliantly weaves a twist-filled story with thematic resonance, as the film uses historical context to add to the complexity of its plot and characters.
The Harry Potter Franchise
All eight films in the “Harry Potter” franchise are currently streaming on HBO Max, making for a fulfilling binge-viewing if you so desire. The eight-part series still stands as one of the best and most complete film franchises of all time, as it charts the adventures of a boy wizard from his very beginnings to his final showdown with the evil Lord Voldemort. What makes “Harry Potter” so brilliant is the films evolve and mature along with the characters, so while the first few films are bright and cheery – just like their young protagonists – the latter films are dark and complex, reflecting the characters being forced into adulthood. Brush up before the big reunion on HBO Max in January.
One of the scariest films ever made, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” is the story of a father slowly going insane while serving as caretaker of an empty hotel high up in the mountains. Based on the book by Stephen King, the 1980 film stars Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, who agrees to live in a snowed in hotel with his wife and young son over the winter. But once they arrive, Jack slowly starts to go insane (due in part to the fact that the hotel is haunted) and then things turn murderous. You no doubt know the iconography for this one, but if you’ve never seen it it’s certainly a thing to behold.
No Country for Old Men
If you’re in the mood for a dark, complicated drama, the Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winning 2007 film “No Country for Old Men” will do the trick. The Cormac McCarthy adaptation stars Josh Brolin as a man who happens upon the aftermath of a deadly shootout that has left behind a bag full of money. He takes the money for himself, but in doing so puts him and his wife in the crosshairs of a cold-blooded killer played by Javier Bardem. The film is a harrowing meditation on morality and chance, and won four Oscars including Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay.
Promising Young Woman
“Promising Young Woman” not only checks the “fairly new release” box but also the “movie you won’t stop thinking about for days” box as well. The 2020 thriller from writer/director Emerald Fennell stars Carey Mulligan as a young woman with a traumatic secret who spends her nights picking up men and punishing them for preying on what they thought was a drunk, barely conscious woman. As the story unfolds, twists and turns abound, but Mulligan centers the entire story with a conviction that’ll rattle you to your core, up through the jaw-dropping ending. The film won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Pam Grier takes center stage in Quentin Tarantino’s wonderfully romantic 1997 film “Jackie Brown.” The story revolves around a flight attendant, played by Brown, who’s smuggling money from Mexico for a dangerous criminal played by Samuel L. Jackson. When she’s approached by the authorities about setting Jackson’s character up, she’s faced with a tough decision, all while striking up a romantic relationship with a bail bondsman played by Robert Forster. “Jackie Brown” is more measured and, frankly, more tastefully sensual than any of Tarantino’s other films, and Grier shines as a woman who works her way out of a tight spot.
Widely hailed as the greatest film of all time, 1941’s “Citizen Kane” is also just tremendously entertaining. The groundbreaking effort from co-writer/producer/director/star Orson Welles traces the life and career of a mysterious and wealthy newspaper publisher by beginning with his death. The film employs techniques that were, at the time, unheard of in order to weave the complicated narrative and immerse viewers into the story. Eighty years after its original release, “Citizen Kane” remains a humdinger of a film. That’s cinema, folks.
Mad Max: Fury Road
For a jolt of adrenaline, check out filmmaker George Miller’s action masterpiece “Mad Max: Fury Road.” You don’t have to be familiar with the “Mad Max” franchise in order to appreciate the pulse-pounding at the story of this film, which finds captive Max (played by Tom Hardy) hopping aboard an oil tanker driven by Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who is absconding from Immortan Joe’s Citadel with his “wives” in tow. A chase ensues, and indeed the entirety of “Mad Max: Fury Road” is one car chase from start to finish, but captured in jaw-dropping form by Miller, who takes a meticulous approach to the action. But on top of the theatrics, the film is also a meaty feminist diatribe that leaves you with much to chew on after you’ve finished your popcorn.
The Truman Show
“The Truman Show” came at a time, in 1998, when reality television was just starting to take hold, and in hindsight it’s a tremendously prescient film. Jim Carrey plays a man named Truman who, unbeknownst to him, has been on camera since the day he was born. His parents, his friends, his co-workers and even strangers are all actors living inside the world’s biggest soundstage, as Truman is literally the star of a television show being broadcast across the globe. But when Truman starts to get curious about why he’s never left his small island town, the whole thing starts to unravel. This film is funny, sweet and wildly inventive.
Look no further for proof of Steven Spielberg’s brilliance as a director than his 1993 film “Jurassic Park.” This Michael Crichton adaptation follows a group of strangers who are whisked away to a wealthy billionaire’s tucked-away island, where he’s built a theme park full of resurrected dinosaurs in secret. Things soon get out of hand when the power goes out and the dinosaurs are loose, and Spielberg relishes in thrilling and terrorizing his audience in equal measure.
2001: A Space Odyssey
If you’re looking to watch a sci-fi classic that may or may not make your head hurt a little bit, try Stanley Kubrick’s masterful 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The epic adventure takes place in the year 2001 (then the future) and follows a crew that’s sent to Jupiter after a mysterious monolith is discovered on Earth. Aboard the ship is a computer named HAL that wreaks havoc on the mission. This is one of the most visually stunning and perplexing films of all-time – a true work of art that’s open to various forms of interpretation by the time you reach the end of the journey.
The Matrix Trilogy
Revisit the original trilogy before taking in the truly bonkers fourth “Matrix” film “The Matrix Resurrections.” “The Matrix,” from 1999, remains the best of the bunch, as Keanu Reeves plays a man named Neo who is awoken to the truth that the world he inhabits is actually a computer program called The Matrix, and the real world is actually a desolate landscape run by machines. The story gets far more complicated from there in “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions,” as the few humans awake in the real world stage a coup against their machine overlords. Writers and directors The Wachowskis break ground both in terms of action and allegorical storytelling, as the films are loaded with heady philosophical ideas.
Spike Lee’s 2006 thriller “Inside Man” is one of the director’s best and most entertaining films. The story opens in the aftermath of a bank heist, with those taken hostage giving their interviews to police about what happened. The film then flashes back to portray the events as they unfold, with Denzel Washington playing the detective trying to talk down the robber and kidnapper (played by Clive Owen) who seems to be harboring some kind of secret. Mind games ensue, and this one keeps you guessing all the way up through the end.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
With the holiday season comes plenty of vacation time, and if you’re in for a really long binge-watch, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy will do the trick. Peter Jackson’s epic trio of J.R.R. Tolkein adaptations remain some of the most accomplished achievements in the history of moviemaking, as this fantastical tale of a young hobbit who sets out to save the world as he knows it is crafted with ingenuity and passion to spare. Whether it’s your first or fifth time to Middle-earth, it’s a journey well worth taking. As a bonus, HBO Max offers both the theatrical versions and the richer extended versions available to stream.
The 55 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now