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The 29 Best Movies on HBO Max to Watch Right Now (May 2022)

Take a trip to the beach that makes you Old

screen-shot-2020-04-02-at-8-50-16-am.png
Allison Picurro

Old, M. Night Shyamalan's thriller about people who go to a beach that makes them old, is now on HBO Max. It's a great time if you enjoy laughing out loud and being a little confused. There's something wrong with that beach, indeed! It joins other recent additions like The BatmanTony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off, and the Lana Condor-Cole Sprouse sci-fi rom-com Moonshot. And if you're as thrilled as I am by the news that Christopher Walken will be joining Dune Part Two, you can watch Dune Part One on HBO Max right now.

A note about how this list was made: In the interest of keeping it relevant, we're emphasizing movies recently added to HBO/HBO Max and new releases, but we've also made sure to add other movies we think you'll want to know about. We'll be updating it regularly.

Last updated May 13; newer additions are at the top

Old

For fans of: M. Night Shyamalan, old-age makeup, bad vacations

Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps, Old

Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps, Old

Universal Pictures

Year: 2021
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Alex Wolff, Rufus Sewell, Eliza Scanlen, Thomasin McKenzie
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 55

You can say many things about M. Night Shyamalan, but no one could ever make the claim that he doesn't fully commit to his ideas. Shyamalan's latest is Old, a horror-adjacent thriller about a vacationing family who discover that the mysteriously secluded beach they're visiting is somehow causing them to age rapidly. With no way off the beach, everyone is powerless to it: The parents, played by Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps, are suddenly elderly; the kids (Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie) become teenagers become adults, and I won't spoil too much, but let's just say there's an evil corporation involved. There's also a supporting character named Mid-Sized Sedan. Old is the kind of gonzo, balls-to-the-wall movie we rarely get anymore, with every new occurrence more confoundingly entertaining than the last. I genuinely wish I could see Old for the first time again, and if you can suspend your disbelief a bit, you'll have as great of a time watching it as I did. -Allison Picurro [Trailer



The Matrix film series

For fans of: Questioning reality, incredible/hilarious action set pieces, learning about the origins of redpilling

Carrie-Ann Moss and Keanu Reeves, The Matrix Resurrections

Carrie-Ann Moss and Keanu Reeves, The Matrix Resurrections

Murray Close

Year: 1999, 2003, 2004, 2021
Director: Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss, Laurence Fishburne
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 73, 62, 47, 63

Ever heard of it? All the way back in 1999, the Wachowskis gave us The Matrix, a movie about reality being different than the reality we all think we're living in, and now all these years later, Reddit users have turned "redpilling" into a whole men's rights activism thing. How the world has changed! Despite all that, these movies still rule (even an OK Matrix movie is still a ton of fun to watch), with excellently choreographed fight scenes, and all of them are devoid of all the annoying quippy humor every action movie made today has. The polarizing fourth film, The Matrix Resurrections, is very, very different from the first three, but its strangeness and the fact that it exists at all make it a must-watch. [Trailer



The Batman

For fans of: Bad detective work, riddles, Nirvana

Zoë Kravitz and Robert Pattinson, The Batman

Zoë Kravitz and Robert Pattinson, The Batman

Jonathan Olley/DC Comics

Year: 2022
Director: Matt Reeves
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, John Turturro, Andy Serkis
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Drama, Mystery, Crime
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 72

There seem to be two general reactions to The Batman: Either you think it's the greatest Batman movie of all time, or you're totally ambivalent about it. But you'll never know until you watch it! Here, Robert Pattinson dons the big black cape and a whole Hot Topic's worth of black eye makeup to play Bruce Wayne's alter ego. The film follows Batman's hunt for a killer with the peculiar quirk of leaving a trail of cryptic riddles in his wake, uncovering dark secrets about Gotham's history of corruption along the way. Doing an incredible approximation of a New Yawk accent and wearing about 200 layers of prosthetics that rendered him wholly unrecognizable, Colin Farrell steals this movie with his performance as The Penguin, and we'll soon get to see how he holds his own now that HBO Max went ahead and gave him his own spin-off series-Allison Picurro [Trailer]



Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off

For fans of: Tony Hawk's Twitter account, skateboarding

Tony Hawk and Sam Jones, Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off

Tony Hawk and Sam Jones, Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off

HBO

Year: 2022
Director: Sam Jones
Stars: Tony Hawk
Genre: Biography, Sport, Documentary
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 74

Tony Hawk, the godfather of skateboarding and getting misrecognized in public, gets a documentary detailing the ups, downs, frontside grinds, and McTwists of his life. The film is at its best when it's examining Hawk's irrepressible drive to figure out a trick — his attempts at landing a 900 give Until the Wheels Fall Off its meaning and heart — and the cost of that drive in his personal life, but the basic recounts of his achievements as a young pro, which take up a good chunk of the first half, are mostly filler. The more interesting stuff happens when friends, family, and former enemies all explain why Tony is a skategod. -Tim Surette [Trailer]



Moonshot

For fans of: Perfectly entertaining rom-coms, supporting Lana Condor

Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse, Moonshot

Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse, Moonshot

Bob Mahoney

Year: 2022
Director: Christopher Winterbauer
Stars: Lana Condor, Cole Sprouse, Zach Braff, Michelle Buteau
Genre: Sci-Fi, Comedy, Romance
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 60

Lana Condor helped reignite the romantic comedy when she starred in 2018's To All the Boys I've Loved Before(plus its two sequels), and while Moonshot will never achieve instant classic status like TATB, it's still worth your time. Set in a future world where Mars has been colonized by humans (stay with me), Condor and Cole Sprouse play college students who sneak aboard a rocket headed for Mars to be united with their significant others. It has a kooky premise that involves Condor and Sprouse's characters pretending to date until they, of course, actually begin to fall for each other, and is overall just a good, fun time. Plus, it's set in space! -Allison Picurro [Trailer | Review]       


More recommendations:


Death on the Nile

For fans of: Big boats, old-fashioned mystery and adventure, all-star casts, having enough champagne to fill the Nile

Gal Gadot, Death on the Nile

Gal Gadot, Death on the Nile

HBO Max

Year: 2022
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Jennifer Saunders, Rose Leslie
Genre: Mystery, Adventure
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 52

Cruises aren't a good idea right now, but you can still get the feelings of big-boat adventures — large terraces overlooking the water, grand ballrooms, floating reverie, MURDER — with Death on the Nile, Kenneth Branaugh's adaptation of Agatha Christie's famous 1937 novel. The mystery film is a whodunnit with a who's who cast, which includes Gal Gadot, Annette Bening, Armie Hammer, and Branaugh (who does double duty as director). It's an imperfect film, no doubt, but it has an old-fashioned sensibility to it that makes it a great escape from life's doldrums. -Tim Surette [Trailer]       



King Richard

For fans of: Triumphant sports stories, Venus and Serena

King Richard

King Richard

Warner Bros.

Year: 2021
Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Stars: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Jon Bernthal, Tony Goldwyn
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 76

Will Smith won a Best Actor Oscar in this biopic of Richard Williams, father of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams. He portrays Richard with careful intensity in his dedication to shaping his young daughters' commitment to the sport, doing everything in his power and going to audacious lengths to help push them forward. King Richard goes beyond the confines of a typical movie like this with its dedication to crafting some spectacular tennis scenes, as well as scene-stealing supporting performances from Saniyya Sidney as Venus; Aunjanue Ellis as the sisters' mother, Brandy Price; and Jon Bernthal as Venus' coach. Plus, Beyoncé wrote a power ballad for it. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]



Dune: Part One

For fans of: Sand, cinematography, remakes worth a darn

Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, and Timothée Chalamet, Dune

Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, and Timothée Chalamet, Dune

Warner Bros.

Year: 2021
Director: Denis Villenueve
Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac
Genre: Drama, Science-Fiction
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 74

Denis Villenueve's new take on Frank Herbert's science-fiction novel (and David Lynch's "classic" 1984 version) is a stunning film, despite all the browns. The hard sci-fi story follows Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a young royal, as his family is thrust into battle for a planet that is the only source for the most valuable substance in the universe, spice. But you are just watching for the giants worms, right? Dune is back on HBO Max for good after a simultaneous release in theaters and on HBO Max and a 90-day break from HBO Max to boost those box office numbers. -Tim Surette [Trailer]



Drive My Car

For fans of: Oscar films, tenderness, slow burns

Hidetoshi Nishijima and Toko Miura, Drive My Car

Hidetoshi Nishijima and Toko Miura, Drive My Car

Janus Films

Year: 2021
Director: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi
Stars: Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura
Genre: Drama
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 91

Adapted from a Haruki Murakami short story, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi's Oscar-nominated film follows an aging, widowed actor (Hidetoshi Nishijima) who takes a job directing a stage adaptation of Uncle Vanya. He strikes up a curious bond with the young woman (Toko Miura) tasked with chauffeuring him back and forth, and begins to process his grief for his wife through their conversations. Its runtime clocks in at three hours total, but every hauntingly beautiful minute is worth it. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]



West Side Story

For fans of: Classic musicals, remakes, Spielberg

Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Amblin Entertainment

Year: 2021
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Rachel Zegler, Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno, Mike Faist, David Alvarez
Genre: Drama, Musical
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 85

Steven Spielberg's West Side Story is the kind of movie that makes the case that some remakes are good, actually. If you're familiar with the Broadway musical, the 1961 film, or even just Romeo and Juliet, you already get the general idea: In 1957 New York, a young couple fall in deep, sweeping love at first sight, but their burgeoning romance fuels an all-out war between two rival gangs. Yes, Spielberg's film has "I Feel Pretty," "America," and all the iconic Sondheim-Bernstein songs, but it also miraculously breathes new life into a familiar story with poignant updates (it's kind of about gentrification now! The Sharks actually speak to each other in Spanish!) and great performances from Ariana DeBose, Mike Faist, and Rita Moreno, who starred in the original film and plays a whole new character here. It's a true old school movie musical, the kind of big, exuberant thing that'll make you lean back in your chair and say, "Ah, cinema." -Allison Picurro [Trailer]



The French Dispatch

For fans of: Being twee as F, Hollywood's coolest actors

The French Dispatch

The French Dispatch

Year: 2021
Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Benicio Del Toro, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Timothée Chalamet
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 74

It's not his best work, but Wes Anderson's die-hard fans won't care. The visual director's 2021 film follows the editor (Anderson staple Bill Murray) of an American newspaper in mid-20th century France and is divided into five vignettes in the form of stories written by his reporters. Each offers different looks and themes, and most importantly, a cast of major Hollywood talent. Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro, Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, and more were probably knocking down Anderson's door to find out which sweaters they would be wearing in the film. -Tim Surette [Trailer]



Kimi

For fans of: Hitchcock for today's age, staying inside, pandemic paranoia

Zoë Kravitz, KIMI

Zoë Kravitz, KIMI

HBO Max

Year: 2021
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Zoë Kravitz
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 78

Zoë Kravitz plays an agoraphobe who works for a tech company with its own digital personal assistant. Her job is to listen to users' failed requests and improve the gadget's artificial intelligence, but when she thinks she hears a murder in one of the recordings, she inadvertently gets involved in the crime. It's a thriller in the vein of Rear Window, but better than it should be thanks to Kravitz and the eye of director Steven Soderbergh. -Tim Surette [Trailer]



Free Guy

For fans of: Video games, Ryan Reynolds

Jodie Comer and Ryan Reynolds, Free Guy

Jodie Comer and Ryan Reynolds, Free Guy

Alan Markfield/20th Century Studios

Year: 2021
Director: Shawn Levy
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi
Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 62

This special effects-travaganza was one of the biggest box office hits of 2021 — a very weird year at the movies — and got unexpectedly positive reviews from critics who couldn't help but be charmed by Ryan Reynolds, one of Hollywood's most likable personas. Reynolds plays Guy, a non-player character in a video game who one day decides to take charge of his destiny and start doing what he feels like. This leads to him helping a gamer/computer programmer named Millie (Jodie Comer) try to take down an evil game company CEO (Taika Waititi) who stole code from her. It's a pleasant, undemanding watch that seems more like a straight-to-streaming movie than a theatrical blockbuster. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]



The King's Man

For fans of: Spy jinx, movies that don't require brain activity

Ralph Fiennes, The King's Man

Ralph Fiennes, The King's Man

Hulu

Year: 2021
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Goode, Djimon Hounsou
Genre: Action, Adventure
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 44

After a promising start, The Kingsman films have gotten worse and worse, meaning that The King's Man, the third and most recent film in the franchise, is the worst. Yet audiences still gobble them up because the movies are only here to keep you occupied for a couple hours, and absolutely nothing more. This prequel gussies up the franchise by setting it around WWI as the Kingsman organization is formed after the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and it delivers a decent brain vacation of action and mediocre screenwriting. At the very least, watch to see Charles Dance in a comical mustache. -Tim Surette [Trailer]



Nobody

For fans of: Bob Odenkirk, regular guys as badass guys

Bob Odenkirk, Nobody

Bob Odenkirk, Nobody

Year: 2021
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Stars: Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 64

You know Bob Odenkirk from his role as the sniveling, conniving criminal lawyer Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, so one thing you'd never expect him to be is an action hero. But in the John Wick-esque thriller Nobody, Odenkirk gets serious, going from mild-mannered family man to ass-kicking machine when his house is robbed. It's a fun movie loaded with violence that proves Odenkirk is a bonafide star who can do more than grovel or con his way out of a situation. -Tim Surette [Trailer]



Nightmare Alley

For fans of: The circus, sideshow freaks and cons, an A-list cast and A-list sets

Bradley Cooper,  Nightmare Alley

Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

Hulu

Year: 2021
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 70

Someone somewhere is still eating popcorn they bought while watching Nightmare Alley in the theaters on its mid-December premiere night and yet the movie is already on Hulu. That's not a knock on the quality of Nightmare Alley, the traveling circus film noir from Guillermo del Toro, it's more an indication of the speed of streaming. Bradley Cooper stars as a carnival worker in the 1930s and 1940s who learns to grift the rich and famous from other circus folk, and he's joined by a stellar cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, and David Straitharn. Under del Toro's eye, Nightmare Alley is a sight to behold, a time warp to the shady traveling sideshows and elegant art deco ballrooms of the era when everyone was working some sort of scheme. -Tim Surette [Trailer]



The Fallout

For fans of: High school, trauma bonding, indie film

Jenna Ortega and Maddie Ziegler, The Fallout

Jenna Ortega and Maddie Ziegler, The Fallout

HBO Max

Year: 2021
Director: Megan Park
Stars: Jenna Ortega, Maddie Ziegler
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 84

This is one of those indies that people who are super into film festivals have been talking about for months, and now the rest of us finally get to see it. It's about two high school girls — played by Jenna Ortega and Maddie Ziegler — who strike up a bond after surviving a school shooting. The movie is more of an empathetic look at their responses to it than it is about the actual tragedy, which is a refreshing change of pace from movies like this, which typically try to turn their characters into inspiring symbols of resilience. The Fallout is more interested in exploring how these kids get through the day after witnessing something unthinkable. Shailene Woodley and Julie Bowen co-star. [Trailer]



The Last Duel

For fans of: Matt 'n Ben, medieval times, seeing the same story told several different times

Matt Damon and Adam Driver, The Last Duel

Matt Damon and Adam Driver, The Last Duel

20th Century Studios

Year: 2021
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck
Genre: Drama, Action
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 67

You might've missed The Last Duel when it was released in theaters, but it's actually the better — and much more subtle — of Ridley Scott's two 2021 films (apologies to House of Gucci). Set in medieval France, it's based on the true story of the last trial by combat, which takes place when a knight, Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), challenges a squire, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), to a duel after Jean's wife (Jodie Comer) accuses Jacques of raping her. The movie is divided into three parts, showing how each character interprets the events of the film differently. Damon and Ben Affleck co-wrote the film with Nicole Holofcener, and Affleck totally steals the movie in a supporting role as the flamboyant Count Pierre d'Alençon. [Trailer]



The Eyes of Tammy Faye

For fans of: Uncanny prosthetics, biopics, Jesus

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Searchlight Pictures

Year: 2021
Director: Michael Showalter
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Vincent D'Onofrio
Genre: Drama, Biopic
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 55

Jessica Chastain lights up what could've otherwise been a by-the-books biopic of one of the most famous televangelists of all time, Tammy Faye Bakker. It follows the rise and fall of Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim (Andrew Garfield), through the '70s as they created an enormously popular religious broadcast network that was eventually destroyed by a host of scandals. As Bakker, Chastain wears some crazy prosthetics and some even crazier makeup, but she also finds the human being in there that made Bakker such a fascinating cultural figure. [Trailer



Listening to Kenny G

For fans of: Saxophone music, seeing divisive icons in a new light

Kenny G, Listening to Kenny G

Kenny G, Listening to Kenny G

HBO

Year: 2021
Director: Penny Lane
Stars: Kenny G
Genre: Documentary
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 81

Maybe the words "Kenny" and "G" send chills down your spine, unearthing deep-seated trauma from that time you got stuck in an elevator. That notion isn't ignored in this fun documentary about the curly-locked saxophonist, which not only looks at the legend himself, but also his polarizing position among musicians and normal folk alike. Director Penny Lane uses Kenny G as a jumping-off point for questions about taste, making this more than just a typical music documentary. -Tim Surette [Trailer



DMX: Don't Try to Understand

For fans of: Intimate looks at the inner lives of celebrities

DMX: Don't Try to Understand

DMX: Don't Try to Understand

HBO

Year: 2021
Director: Christopher Frierson
Stars: DMX
Genre: Documentary
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 91

It's easy to be skeptical of documentaries about deceased celebrities, especially ones who were as beloved and influential as Earl "DMX" Simmons, but this one stands apart for the fact that the late rapper was actually involved. It follows a year in DMX's life, beginning in early 2019 as he rebuilds his life and career after serving a 12-month sentence in prison. The film contains interviews with DMX and gives a look into his private life, all while examining the impact he had on culture. There's no way to watch a film like this without mourning the artist at its center who died too soon, but it's a must-watch for anyone who wants to learn more about the person DMX was behind the music. [Trailer



The Suicide Squad

For fans of: Re-do movies, blood, antiheroes

The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad

Warner Bros.

Year: 2021
Director: James Gunn
Stars: Idris Elba, John Cena, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman
Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 72

Not to be confused with 2016's Suicide Squad (there's no "the" in that one, get it?), James Gunn directs this irreverent superhero movie about a team of villains who are recruited by the government to go to a remote island and destroy an evil starfish. With a cast that includes Margot RobbieIdris ElbaJohn CenaJoel Kinnaman, and Viola Davis and over-the-top violence that fits the franchise, it's a big improvement from the first Suicide Squad movie. Once you're done watching it, you can check out HBO Max's spin-off series Peacemaker, which centers on Cena's character. [Trailer



Spirited Away

For fans of: Gorgeous animation, enchanting stories

191016-spirited-away.jpg

Spirited Away

Studio Ghibli

Year: 2002
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Stars: Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Animation
Rating: PG
Metacritic score: 96

One of the coolest things about HBO Max is that it's home to the Studio Ghibli collection, putting Hayao Miyazaki's greatest films in one place. Spirited Away is probably his most famous one, having won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It came out in 2001, and all these years later, it remains a stunningly animated, wholly moving film, following a little girl named Chihiro whose parents are turned into pigs by a witch, forcing her to enter the witch's treacherous, mysterious world as she tries to find a way to free her parents. It's an absolutely magical experience, and the perfect gateway to Miyazaki's work. [Trailer



Moonstruck

For fans of: Insane people, Italians

Cher and Nicolas Cage, Moonstruck

Cher and Nicolas Cage, Moonstruck

Sunset Boulevard, Corbis via Getty Images

Year: 1987
Director: Norman Jewison
Stars: Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance
Rating: PG
Metacritic score: 83

HBO Max has a great Turner Classic Movies catalog, and Moonstruck is just one of many selections to choose from — but personally, I'd say it's one of the best. The 1987 rom-com stars Cher as Loretta Castorini, a disillusioned widow who falls in love with her new fiancé's estranged and erratic brother, Ronnie (Nicolas Cage). Not a single character in this movie acts like a person you'd ever run into in real life, but they're all operating on the same level of craziness, which is what makes it all work so well. It's funny and shamelessly goofy, completed by Cher and Cage's crackling chemistry. [Trailer



Zack Snyder's Justice League

For fans of: Acts of fan service, superhero team-ups, long movies made longer

Henry Cavill, Jason Mamoa, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Ben Affleck, and Ray Fisher, Zack Snyder's Justice League

Henry Cavill, Jason Mamoa, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Ben Affleck, and Ray Fisher, Zack Snyder's Justice League

HBO Max

Year: 2021
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Jared Leto, Jason Momoa
Genre: Drama, Action
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 54

What else is there to say about Zack Snyder's Justice League? Much like the original 2017 non-Snyder cut, this Justice League follows a team of superheroes, comprised of Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), as they attempt to save the world from a powerful supervillain, but this version has new scenes and world-building elements that Joss Whedon's version did not. It's also much longer, clocking in at just over four hours. [Trailer]



Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

For fans of: The wholesome art of kids' TV, Elmo and friends

Jim Henson, Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

Jim Henson, Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

Sesame Workshop/HBO

Year: 2021
Director: Marilyn Agrelo
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG
Metacritic score: 82

I can't think of a more wholesome time than watching a documentary about how Sesame Street came to be. Back in the '60s, a group of geniuses had the radical idea to make kids' programming educational, which of course ended up becoming one of the most successful and influential TV series of all time. It's fun to see people like Jim Henson and Frank Oz when they were young and totally uncertain about the gamble they were making on this show about friendly puppets. [Trailer



The Lord of the Rings trilogy

For fans of: Epic fantasies, friendship, dangerous jewelry

Viggo Mortensen, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Viggo Mortensen, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Warner Bros.

Year: 2001, 2002, 2003
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 92, 87, 94

If HBO Max only had the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy I would still confidently call it the best streaming service out there. Luckily, it has a lot more stuff than that (clearly), but that doesn't make it any less exciting that we LOTR fans can watch the full versions of Peter Jackson's sprawling, visually stunning adventure series whenever we want. Even if you haven't seen them, you're probably familiar with the general plot: Frodo (Elijah Wood), a hobbit, goes on a quest to destroy the extraordinarily powerful One Ring and the dark lord who made it. Each extended installment clocks in at well over three hours, but HBO Max also has the regular theatrical cuts (which, admittedly, are all about three hours) if you're more of a casual fan. There's no wrong way to watch LOTR[Trailer



Malignant

For fans of: Movies that feel like fever dreams

Annabelle Wallis, Malignant

Annabelle Wallis, Malignant

Warner Bros.

Year: 2021
Director: James Wan
Stars: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young
Genre: Horror
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 51

HBO Max has a big selection of horror movies that includes things like The Shining and the Conjuring series, but I'm choosing to highlight James Wan's frankly batty Malignant to represent them all. It's an audacious, wholly original thrill ride about a woman (Annabelle Wallis) who keeps having visions of people being killed, only to realize the murders are actually happening in real life. I won't spoil anything, but when she eventually learns who the murderer is, it results in one of the wildest horror-action showcases you'll likely ever see. Malignant is a cult classic in the making, and it deserves our respect. [Trailer



Pride & Prejudice

For fans of: Tom Wambsgans, English countrysides, repressed people

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, Pride & Prejudice

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, Pride & Prejudice

Focus Features

Year: 2005
Director: Joe Wright
Stars: Kiera Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: PG
Metacritic score: 82

Before he was TV's saddest manMatthew Macfadyen starred in the best Jane Austen film adaptation of all time. (Yeah, I said it! I'm not afraid!) Joe Wright directs this version of the classic story, where the headstrong Elizabeth Bennett (Keira Knightley) meets Mr. Darcy (Macfadyen), whose deep-set emotional repression complicates their fledgling connection. You haven't lived until you've seen Tom Wambsgans flex his hand. Is Pride & Prejudice mostly a story about a bunch of people going to each other's houses? Absolutely. Is that part of what makes it so good? Duh. [Trailer

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