HBO Max, is home to a plethora of quality film and TV, streaming right now. Whether you're a longtime HBO loyalist or a newcomer with an HBO Max subscription, everyone can appreciate HBO's top-notch selection. Though streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have been steadily on the rise in recent years, no one can quite match HBO's carefully curated film library.
Between Oscar-winning movies, gripping documentary features, comedy specials that will have you peeing your pants, and HBO original productions, HBO's streaming service remains the go-to for any film lover. There are star-studded movies galore, so check them out; these are the best movies available on HBO Max right now.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Harry Styles, Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Aneurin Barnard, Jack Lowden, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney
Genre: War, Drama
Runtime: 1h 46m
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (Critics), 81% (Audience)
With his recent return to the cinema via World War 2 epic Oppenheimer, there has never been a better time to enjoy another one of director Christopher Nolan’s wartime films. Dunkirk tells the story of how allied forces raced against the clock to rescue 330,000 British and French troops from annihilation. Trapped on a beach with the German army pushing in on land, Nazi dive bombers attacking from the sky, enemy submarines and battleships controlling the sea, and little more than volunteer fishermen and Red Cross vessels manning the evacuation, Nolan uses his mastery of film to turn two-hours of film into the most gut-wrenching experiences of modern cinema.
American Sniper (2014)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Luke Grimes, Sienna Miller, Sammy Sheik, Kyle Gallner, Jonathan Groff
Genre: Drama, Biopic
Runtime: 2h 12m
Rotten Tomatoes: 72% (Critics), 84% (Audience)
Grabbing six Oscar nominations and one win you already know American Sniper is going to be a great film. Based on the true story of U.S. Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), American Sniper unravels the heartbreaking tale of how one man became a military legend, a national hero, and a helping hand to a generation of soldiers coming back from war. Chris Kyle is by all accounts a normal Texas boy, with a love for family, country, and football. Taught to shoot by his father at a young age, the Navy soon discovers he has a rare talent and puts him into special training to become a sniper. Sent off to Iraq and tasked with hunting terrorist insurgents, Kyle proves his worth by becoming the most effective sniper in American military history. Upon returning home he finds success at war doesn’t translate to success at home though as he battles with PTSD. Dragging himself up for the sake of his family, Kyle takes the knowledge of his experience onto his next battle: aiding other soldiers like himself in their return to civilian life. As inspiring as it is entertaining it’s no wonder American Sniper remains one of the most beloved biopics on streaming.
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure
Runtime: 3h 12m
Rotten Tomatoes: 76% (Critics), 92% (Audience)
Hotel Artemis (2018)
Director: Drew Pearce
Cast: Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Zachary Quinto
Genre: Action, Crime
Runtime: 1h 35m
Rotten Tomatoes: 57% (Critics), 35% (Audience)
Director: Tina Satter
Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Josh Hamilton, Marchánt Davis
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 1h 23m
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% (Critics), 64% (Audience)
Based on the real-life case of intelligence leaker, Reality Winner, Reality follows Winner (Sydney Sweeney) through her resulting interrogation by the FBI. Tearing back through her menial life as they search for clues, Winner first denies, but then slowly brings to light not only her path to divulging facts to the wider public, but why she felt American citizens deserved to know the truth. Examining the hypocrisy of charging Winner with espionage while then using the same documents in televised hearings of the senate, and as campaign tools for the same people that called her a traitor, Reality shines a light on the corruption Winner hoped to expose. Thought provoking and thrilling, this hard-boiled spy flick finds the perfect balance between entertainment and education.
The Conjuring (2013)
Director: James Wan
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Sterling Jerins, Joey King, Lili Taylor
Runtime: 1h 52m
Rotten Tomatoes: 86% (Critics), 83% (Audience)
A period paranormal that single-handedly revived horror, The Conjuring follows couple Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga), as they investigate the strange occurrences said to haunt an old farmhouse. The blend of 1970s Exorcist vibes with modern techniques has proven so popular with purists and horror laymen alike that it spawned an entire universe currently tallying seven incredibly popular sequels, spin-offs, and prequels: Annabelle (2014), The Conjuring 2 (2016), Annabelle Creation (2017), The Nun (2018), The Curse of La Llorona (2019), Annabelle Comes Home (2019), and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021).
Legion of Super-Heroes (2023)
Director: Jeff Wamester
Cast: Meg Donnelly, Jensen Ackles, Yuri Lowenthal, Harry Shum Jr., Darren Criss, Matt Bomer
Genre: Cartoon, Action
Runtime: 1h 23m
Rotten Tomatoes: 60% (Critics), 69% (Audience)
While more of a Supergirl movie than a real Legion-focused flick, Legion of Super-Heroes does pack plenty of action into its short runtime to make up for the misleading title. After the destruction of Argo City, Kara (Meg Donnelly) A.K.A. Supergirl decides to follow in her cousin’s path and make the journey to Earth. Sent into the future to better serve the public and gain mentorship from the Legion, Kara uncovers a plot by a secret society called The Dark Circle to destroy the earth. Spanning the two timelines, Kara, with the help of Brainiac 5 (Harry Shum Jr.) must work to unravel the mystery behind The Dark Circle’s plan and finally become the hero she was always meant to be.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Cast: Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Tommy Lister, John Witherspoon, Nia Long, Regina King
Runtime: 1h 30m
Rotten Tomatoes: 76% (Critics), 91% (Audience)
Hands down the funniest hood comedy of all time, Friday follows Craig Jones (Ice Cube), a recently fired South Central L.A. native during an average Friday in his neighborhood. Hanging out with his best friend and small-time weed dealer Smokey (Chris Tucker), the pair watch the goings on of their environment. The two are quickly approached by local gangster Big Worm (Faizon Love) who informs them that if they don’t pay back Smokey’s debt by 10 pm they’ll both end up dead. As the two scramble to get the money owed hilarity ensues, showcasing a far more inviting, yet still harsh reality of California hoods. The good mixed with the bad makes Friday not only a treat for fans of Black cinema but also marks an important changing point for it. The community as much as any character falls victim to the actions of a few bad apples still manages to find love and laughter in the darkest of stories.
Office Space (1999)
Director: Mike Judge
Cast: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole, Stephen Root
Runtime: 1h 29m
Rotten Tomatoes: 80% (Critics), 93% (Audience)
The holy grail of indie comedies, Office Space speaks to every person who’s ever hated their job… and then yells in their ear to do something about it. Sick of his soul-crushing cubicle work at software firm Initech, Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) seeks out a better life by way of hypnosis. Transformed into a god of DGAF ideology, Pete tells off his boss, refuses to work overtime, and finally starts enjoying the everyday. When the news comes down that Initech is going to be laying off a large part of its workforce Pete can’t help but worry for his friends and his future though. Playing like the perfect revenge fantasy for the overclocked everyman, Office Space takes your wildest dreams and turns them into reality. If that wasn’t hilarious enough, it then shows you the consequences.
Empire of Light (2022)
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Hannah Onslow
Runtime: 1h 53m
Rotten Tomatoes: 45% (Critics), 74% (Audience)
Director Sam Mendes and legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins have done it again! Set in the 1980s in the struggling blue-collar town of Kent along the English coast, Hilary Small (Olivia Colman) has just come back to work as a duty manager of the once magnificent, now-neglected movie palace known as the Empire Cinema. Despite her tendency towards mood swings, new hire Stephen (Micheal Ward) takes an instant liking to her, and the two spark up a tryst. Hiding their relationship due to Stephen being half Hilary’s age and black in a time when just walking home alone could spell trouble, the couple explores each other while simultaneously discovering the secrets of the theater. An ode to the magic of movies, no film released last year is as visually captivating as Empire of Light.
House Party (2020)
Cast: Jacob Latimore, Tosin Cole, D.C. Young Fly, Andrew Santino, Kid Cudi, LeBron James, Snoop Dogg
Runtime: 1h 40m
Rotten Tomatoes: 28% (Critics), 60% (Audience)
More of a revamp than a remake, 2023’s House Party follows Kevin (Jacob Latimore) and Damon (Tosin Cole), two best friends who work as house cleaners for the stars with dreams of one day making it big as party promoters. Seeing an opportunity, Kevin and Damon decide to throw a house party at the mansion they’re cleaning while the owner is away. Playing into the wildest of Hollywood conspiracy theories, stolen NBA Championship rings, the Illuminati, gladiator fights, and celebrity hookups all feature heavily in what turns out to be a surprising off-brand bunch of laughs.
Black Adam (2022)
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Shahi, Henry Cavill, Pierce Brosnan, Noah Centineo, Aldis Hodge
Runtime: 2h 5m
Rotten Tomatoes: 38% (Critics), 88% (Audience)
Freed from his prison of 5000 years, Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) sets out to deliver his own form of justice until coming head-to-head with modern-day superheroes. Accepting that the world would only be worse off with his anger, Adam allows himself to be taken prisoner once more. Sadly, Adam wasn’t the only ancient power to be awoken, and he is called back to action when an evil gang leader uses the power to wreak havoc on the descendants of Adam’s people. While not quite on the level of Marvel’s best, this action-packed flick easily comes in at the top of DC’s list, avoiding all the mistakes of previous films while delivering a thoroughly enjoyable, if somewhat subdued take on the famous anti-hero.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, David Thewlis, Danny Huston
Runtime: 2h 29m
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% (Critics), 83% (Audience)
Easily the most acclaimed entry in DC’s superhero universe, Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana (Gal Gadot), the princess of the Amazons, a fierce race of superhuman women warriors. Raised on their magically isolated island, Diana has never had any interaction with the outside world, and certainly not with a man. That all changes when WW1 pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands on the beach where Diana is training. Saving him from his injuries, German soldiers soon hunt him down and invade the island only to be met by the full might of the Amazon warriors. Witnessing their power firsthand Steve pleads with Diana to save the world from destruction. Sensing the interference of Ares (David Thewlis), Diana feels responsible and sets out with Steve to become the hero she’s always known she was destined to be.
Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons (2022)
Director: Matt Peters
Cast: Jack Griffo, Jack Dylan Grazer, Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Tom Kenny
Genre: Cartoon, Action
Runtime: 1h 19m
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (Critics), 91% (Audience)
Based on the comic books of the same name, Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons jumps right into the world of masked heroes when the two greatest crime fighters make introductions between their heirs. Robin (Jack Griffo) AKA Damian Wayne, has already spent years on the hard streets of Gotham. That’s why when his dad Batman (Troy Baker), and old-time buddy Superman (Travis Willingham) introduce him to what’s supposed to be his new partner, Robin. Naïve, geeky, and just an all-around newbie, Superboy (Jack Dylan Grazer) lacks the suave air of been-there-done-that permeates from his seasoned partner. The chance for experience quickly bares its ugly head though, when an alien race starts taking over hero’s minds. Now with only the two of them left, Robin and Superboy must put their differences aside and prove they have what it takes to save the world.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Douglas Rain, Margaret Tyzack
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Runtime: 2h 19m
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (Critics), 89% (Audience)
The most groundbreaking space film of all time (yes even more than Star Wars), 2001: A Space Odyssey took the epic scale of literary classics and brought them to modern cinema. Directed by multiple Oscar winner Stanley Kubrick, and based on legendary sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke’s short story The Sentinel, 2001: A Space Odyssey tells the tale of Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and the accompanying crew of spacecraft Discovery One. Largely reliant on the onboard computer system Hal 9000 (Douglas Rain), Bowman and the rest of the crew begin to panic when the A.I. with a human personality is believed to have made a mistake. Hal sees the error a different way though, and blames it on the failings of his human companions. Set out amongst the lonely void of space, this final frontier of human evolution pits man against machine in a movie that’s proposed possibilities of the near future will both captivate and terrify.
A Christmas Story Christmas (2022)
Director: Clay Kaytis
Cast: Peter Billingsley, Erinn Hayes, Julie Hagerty, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, Zack Ward
Genre: Holiday, Family
Runtime: 1h 38m
Rotten Tomatoes: 76% (Critics), 80% (Audience)
Ralphie (Peter Billingsley), Randy (Ian Petrella), and Flick (Scott Schwartz) are back to bring the Christmas cheer. A sequel to the 1983 classic, A Christmas Story Christmas sees Ralphie return to his childhood home with kids of his own. Vowing to give them a Christmas every bit as memorable as his own growing up, Ralphie takes over where his father left off. Hilarious foibles soon mount, and Ralphie learns the holidays are a lot harder as an adult. Packed full of nostalgia, good family vibes, and all the important and wholesome life lessons ’80s movies used to love to teach, A Christmas Story Christmas is a blast-from-the-past done right.
See How They Run (2022)
Director: Tom George
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Sam Rockwell, Harris Dickinson, Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Charlie Cooper
Runtime: 1h 38m
Rotten Tomatoes: 75% (Critics), 69% (Audience)
Cozy whodunits are seeing a resurgence. Following in the trail of Knives Out and Only Murders in the Building, See How They Run spins a yarn of mystery, comedy, and crime sure to leave you loving every minute. The year is 1953, and the long-performed Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap has just celebrated its 100th show. After American movie director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody) makes an ass of himself during the celebrations and seemingly fails to gain the film rights, his body is discovered backstage. Called in to lead the investigation, Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) along with his rookie assistant Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan), declare every attendee of the party a suspect and unable to leave the theater. Filled with an array of colorful characters, sordid backstories, and beautiful scenery, See How They Run checks all the boxes for a must-see family mystery.
White Chicks (2004)
Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans
Cast: Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Terry Crews, Busy Philipps, Jaime King, Brittany Daniel, Jennifer Carpenter, Lochlyn Munro
Runtime: 1h 49m
Rotten Tomatoes: 15% (Critics), 55% (Audience)
Hated by critics but loved by audiences, the Wayans brothers’ outlandish style of comedy goes to new heights in this gender/race swapping detective flick. Brothers Marcus (Marlon Wayans) and Kevin Copeland (Shawn Wayans) are two FBI agents on the fast track until they fumble a high-priority drug bust, landing them on babysitting duty. Forced to go undercover as wealthy white women for a high society wedding, Marcus and Kevin are transformed by utterly unconvincing disguises that only make the film that much more hilarious.
Halloween Kills (2021)
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Anthony Michael Hall, Dylan Arnold, Bob Odenkirk
Runtime: 1h 46m
Rotten Tomatoes: 38% (Critics), 66% (Audience)
The masked killer, Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney), is back in the 12th installment of this classic slasher series. 40 years since his first appearance, Myers has left countless victims in his wake, but there are a few who have survived. Celebrating the imprisonment of their tormentor, Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet), Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), and Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards) have gotten together, only to learn the killer has escaped. Tired of running, the group form a mob to put an end to the unstoppable Michael Myers once and for all. Packed full of characters from the original film, Halloween Kills offers a nostalgic fright that reminds you just how good the series can be when done right.
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Dacre Montgomery, Olivia DeJonge, Kodi Smit-McPhee
Genre: Musical, Biopic
Runtime: 2h 39m
Rotten Tomatoes: 77% (Critics), 94% (Audience)
Throughout all modern music history there has only ever been one “King of Rock and Roll,” and now thanks to the famed director of movies like Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!, we finally get to experience his story. Told from the perspective of longtime Elvis manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), we’re taken back to the beginning when the then small-time sideshow promoter Parker stumbles across a poor boy on the streets of Memphis. That boy was Elvis Presley (Austin Butler). It was evident to Parker from the start that Elvis—who was bullied because of his family’s poverty and his own fascination with Black music—had all the makings of something different. The dream team now assembled, Parker’s circus style promoting and Elvis’ never-before-seen type of performances soon lifted the Presley family out of their financial woes and set the rock and roll star on a meteoric rise. Quickly becoming the biggest sensation in music, fame brought new joy to Elvis’ life, such as the love of his wife Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge), but it also brought pain and temptation. Making a music movie like only he can, director Baz Luhrmann has yet another hit on his hands, and now so does HBO.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Kelly Yu, Charlie Plummer, Donald Sutherland
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Runtime: 2h 10m
Rotten Tomatoes: 36% (Critics), 70% (Audience)
It’s the end of the world! Or at least it is on HBO streaming thanks to the new Armageddon-style movie Moonfall. After conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (John Bradley) discovers the moon veering off its orbit, he tries to warn former NASA hero turned disgraced has-been Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson). Brushed aside by the ex-astronaut, Houseman takes his discovery public, forcing NASA’s deputy director Jocinda Fowler (Halle Berry) to act. Calling Harper back into service and admitting to Houseman that many of his outlandish beliefs are in fact true, the three take aim at saving Earth from almost certain doom.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: M. Night Shyamaln, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Gael García Bernal, Rufus Sewell
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Runtime: 1h 48m
Rotten Tomatoes: 50% (Critics), 53% (Audience)
Making a mystery packed full of twists like only he can, director M. Night Shyamalan hits all the high notes we’ve come to expect from the award-winning auteur. Guy Cappa (Gael García Bernal) and his wife Prisca (Vicky Krieps) are getting a divorce and have decided the best way to break it to their kids is by taking them on a beach vacation. Of course, this is a terrible idea, but it quickly turns out to be far worse than anyone could have imagined. Invited to a secluded beach by their hotel manager, the family arrives to find themselves in the company of three strangers. It isn’t long before people start dying, but even odder, both pre-pubescent Cappa children age into teens in the matter of an hour. Racing against the clock to save themselves and their loved ones, all living parties must work together to find out what’s going on and how they can stop it.
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Morgan, Josie Walker, Jude Hill
Runtime: 1h 38m
Rotten Tomatoes: 87% (Critics), 92% (Audience)
1960s Northern Ireland is on the edge of implosion as tensions between Protestants and Catholics reach their boiling point. All of this is news to Buddy (Jude Hill) though, the 9-year-old son of Ulster Protestant parents. Ignorant of prejudices older than himself, Buddy develops a crush on his Catholic schoolmate Catherine (Olive Tennant). Pulled between his own feelings and those his surroundings deem necessary, Buddy must decide what kind of person he wants to grow up to be. Contrasting a young boy’s growth against Northern Ireland’s downslide, this thoughtful coming-of-age flick highlights the influence that one’s surroundings, especially family, can have on their development. The fact that Belfast sports one of the most impressive casts of UK actors we’ve seen in the past decade doesn’t hurt either.
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Cast: Kaho Nakamura, Lilas Ikuta, Takeru Satoh, Mamoru Miyano, Kenjiro Tsuda, Kôji Yakusho, Ken Ishiguro
Genre: Anime, Adventure
Runtime: 2h 2m
Rotten Tomatoes: 95% (Critics), 95% (Audience)
Suzu Naito (Kaho Nakamura) used to be a singer, but after a childhood tragedy, lost the ability. Shy and lonely, the 17-year-old seeks solace in a popular virtual reality game. Upon signing up, Suzu finds she’s able to sing using her avatar. Forgoing reality in favor of logging more game time, Suzu’s vocals soon help her amass enough fans to put on an in-game concert. Suzu’s big event is crashed, however, when a fellow player known as The Dragon (Takeru Satoh) decides to terrorize the crowd. Blending beautiful visuals, immersive world building, and thoughtful character development, Belle immediately draws comparisons to Studio Ghibli classics such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Far more Disney fairytale than video game-based adventure, Belle is packed with enough creative storytelling to entice viewers of all ages.
Last Night in Soho (2021)
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Rita Tushingham, Michael Ajao, Terence Stamp, Diana Rigg
Runtime: 1h 56m
Rotten Tomatoes: 76% (Critics), 90% (Audience)
Wannabe designer Eloise “Ellie” Turner (Thomasin McKenzie) has finally taken the first step in achieving her dream. Moving to London to attend fashion school, Ellie soon finds herself falling behind her fellow classmates. That’s why when she strikes inspiration within a vivid dream of London’s 1960s nightlife, she makes no complaint. As elements of the dream start to manifest in her waking hours though, Ellie begins to think there may be cause for concern. Digging deeper she discovers her dreams to be visions of the past, and soon sets about investigating. Truly a thrilling ride through London’s Swinging Sixties, this psych-out horror mixes trippy cinematography with script elements guaranteed to keep you guessing right up until the end.
Training Day (2001)
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg
Runtime: 2h 2m
Rotten Tomatoes: 73% (Critics), 89% (Audience)
King Kong ain’t got s*** on Training Day! LAPD officer, Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke), is about to experience the longest day of his life. Up for a promotion to join the elite narcotics squad under the command of legendary detective, Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington), Hoyt is determined to make a good impression. As the day unfolds, Alonzo’s veteran wisdom begins to feel a lot more like corruption though, eventually putting the rookie at odds with his commanding officer. Torn between the cop he swore to be and the one he hoped to be, Hoyt is forced to face the hardened gangsters of LA and perhaps the biggest criminal of them all: Harris. Calling any actor’s performance their best is no small feat, but for one as great as Denzel Washington, it carries a special weight. Even still, there can be no doubt that Training Day is just that. Earning Washington his third Oscar nomination for Best Actor, and his first and only win, the role of Alonzo Harris sees him run the spectrum of emotion, starting with machine-like control and eventually devolving into his most flawed, yet human character. If guns and gangs aren’t your thing, then let me be clear. Training Day isn’t a crime movie. Training Day is art.
Obvious Child (2014)
Director: Gillian Robespierre
Cast: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, Gabe Liedman, Richard Kind, Polly Draper, David Cross
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Runtime: 1h 23m
Rotten Tomatoes: 90% (Critics), 72% (Audience)
Made at a time when the right to an abortion was still law, Obvious Child adds levity to one of the most difficult decisions any woman can ever make. Unemployed comic Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) is no longer a kid yet far from grown up. Or at least that’s what her now ex-boyfriend says while dumping her in the bathroom of a local comedy club. Following an attempt to drown that night’s sorrows in alcohol, Donna ends up meeting Max at the bar and taking him home. Several weeks later, Donna discovers she’s pregnant and goes on the hunt to track down her one-night stand and tell him she’s having his abortion. Heartwarming and hilariously awkward in all the ways you’d expect from Jenny Slate, Obvious Child is a coming-of-age for all those grown-children that have refused to grow up.
Love & Basketball (2000)
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Cast: Omar Epps, Sanaa Lathan, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert
Genre: Sport, Romance
Runtime: 2h 4m
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% (Critics), 95% (Audience)
Back in the early 2000s, when Black actors were confined to the genres of crime or action, Love & Basketball showed the world that not only can they do more, but they can achieve it without shunning their culture. Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) have shared not only a childhood, but a dream, with both aspiring to one day be professional basketball players. As the two grow up, their separate paths and the unique obstacles placed before each of them become ever more apparent. Quincy, a male, and the son of an already established basketball star is immediately recognized for his potential greatness. Monica, a woman, and without the benefit of a famous father is continually seen as less of a lady for having athletic skill, drive, and the kind of toughness that makes her a star athlete in the first place. Leaning into Black culture to showcase a unique story, one that, at the time, had never been seen from a POC cast, Love & Basketball offers a refreshing take on the classic Sport Romance mashup.
Director: Asif Kapadia
Cast: Mitch Winehouse, Mark Ronson, Mos Def, Russell Brand, Tony Bennett, Jay Leno, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Graham Norton, David Letterman
Genre: Documentary, Music
Runtime: 2h 8m
Rotten Tomatoes: 95% (Critics), 87% (Audience)
Using extensive testimonials from friends and family to reconstruct the occurrences leading from fame to her eventual death, Amy offers new insight into one of modern pop culture’s most talented and tragic figures. Ever since she was young, Amy Winehouse wanted to be a singer. The bubblegum pop popular at the time held no interest to her though. Obsessed with jazz and R&B greats like Donny Hathaway, Johnny Mercer, and Ella Fitzgerald, Amy set about finding her own kind of sound. And what a sound it was. Never-before-seen home videos, auditions, performances, and recording sessions highlight the evolution of the artist, all the while capturing the destruction of the person. Plagued by addiction and abusive relationships, Amy’s closest friends offer their opinions on what it was that made this modern siren so unhappy that it would eventually lead to her death at the young age of 27.
The Replacements (2000)
Director: Howard Deutch
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Orlando Jones, Jon Favreau, Brooke Langton, Rhys Ifans
Genre: Sport, Comedy
Runtime: 1h 58m
Rotten Tomatoes: 41% (Critics), 66% (Audience)
Lauded by critics and loved by fans, The Replacements is one of those basic cable comedies you don’t know why you keep coming back to other than it makes you smile. The rich and entitled players of the mediocre football team, The Washington Sentinels, have just gone on strike. Desperate to save the season, retired legend, Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman), has been brought in to coach, but without a team, that’s proving a little difficult. Given free reign, McGinty sets about enlisting the oddest cast of characters that professional football, and possibly film, has ever seen. Disgraced QB Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), minimart stock boy Clifford Franklin (Orlando Jones), sumo wrestler Jumbo Fumiko (Ace Yonamine), and the list goes on. Apart, they resemble anything other than a football team, but together they might just be crazy enough to work.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel
Runtime: 2h 33m
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (Critics), 96% (Audience)
Not only does Pulp Fiction hold up to the hype nearly 30 years after its release, but it’s better than we remember it. Changing film forever, this non-linear, multi-perspective crime story starts at the end with a couple about to rob a coffee shop. It then cuts to Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), two hitmen on their way to collect a mysterious briefcase for their boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), and they achieve this goal by extremely violent means. The story then cuts to soon-to-be ex-prize fighter Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) taking a bribe from Marsellus to throw a fight, and Vincent being ordered to take Marsellus’ drug addict wife Mia (Uma Thurman) out for a night on the town. Continuing this ping pong between plots, the film finds a way to seamlessly weave five stories into one, creating an experience unlike any other. Imitated but never replicated, Pulp Fiction remains one of the greatest storytelling feats in the history of cinema, and more importantly, it’s a damn good watch.
The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Fernando Tielve, Federico Luppi, Íñigo Garcés, Eduardo Noriega, Marisa Paredes, Irene Visedo
Genre: Horror, Drama
Runtime: 1h 46m
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% (Critics), 89% (Audience)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, J. K. Simmons, Paul Reiser
Genre: Drama, Music
Runtime: 1h 47m
Rotten Tomatoes: 94% (Critics), 94% (Audience)
The movie that made the world realize Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons’ greatness has just landed on HBO Max! Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) has always dreamed of being a jazz drummer. Earning a spot under the tutelage of acclaimed instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) just seems to be the next step in achieving that dream. Fletcher’s extreme teaching style soon pushes Andrew to his limits though, as he is violent, unpredictable, and demanding beyond belief. Andrew begins to doubt whether his dream is worth it; and even if it was, whether he possesses the skills to achieve it. Turning music into a brawl, Whiplash is as much style as it is substance. With Oscar-winning acting, editing, and sound, Whiplash will get your heart pounding and fully invested in this thrilling music drama.
Blue Bayou (2021)
Director: Justin Chon
Cast: Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Mark O’Brien, Linh Dan Pham, Sydney Kowalske, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Emory Cohen
Runtime: 1h 59m
Rotten Tomatoes: 74% (Critics), 93% (Audience)
After being harassed by police and arrested, soon-to-be-father Antonio LeBlanc (Justin Chon) finds himself under ICE detention. Adopted as a baby from Korea, but raised in New Orleans, Antonio must struggle to find a solution to his legal woes or face being deported from his wife, child, and country. Based on 100s of real-life stories, Blue Bayou’s message is an important one that often goes overlooked or misunderstood. Something as simple as outstanding parking tickets can unjustly group non-citizens and foreign violent offenders into the singular category of alien criminal. Director/star Justin Chon puts on a masterclass, offering a naked insight into the emotions and mental state such an experience can have on an individual and their family. Blue Bayou is a shining example of socially conscious film making.
The Card Counter (2020)
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, Willem Dafoe
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 1h 49m
Rotten Tomatoes: 86% (Critics), 42% (Audience)
Reuniting the dream team behind Taxi Driver, this Martin Scorsese produced, Paul Schrader written/directed crime thriller follows William Tell (Oscar Isaac) a former military man turned professional gambler. After being recognized by fellow ex-soldier Cirk (Tye Sheridan) at a casino, Tell finds out Cirk is planning revenge on a mutual enemy. Mixing classic heist and revenge story elements into a simple, well done, and exceedingly satisfying film, Paul Schrader proves why he is considered one of the greatest writers of the century.