Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The 72 best movies on HBO Max right now

When did you first start watching movies? At this point, there are very few people left who lived in a time when films weren’t ubiquitous. And we all come into the movies at different points in our lives. That’s one of the reasons that HBO Max is such a prime destination for cinema lovers. Thanks to the massive Warner Bros. film catalog that dates back almost a century, there’s a good chance that some of your favorite movies from your childhood are right here and waiting to be rediscovered. There’s also a long lineup of classics and modern hits at your fingertips. Admittedly, the number of choices can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve narrowed down the list of the best movies that you can stream on HBO Max right now.

Looking for more suggestions? We also have guides to the best movies on Netflix, the best movies on Hulu, the best movies on Amazon Prime Video, and the best movies on Disney+.

Kathryn Newton in Freaky.

Freaky (2020)

There have been a few Freaky Friday movies about mothers and daughters swapping bodies and living in each others’ lives. Freaky goes in a different direction by putting the mind of a teenage girl, Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton), into the body of a serial killer, the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn). And vice versa. A mystical dagger is responsible for the switch, and the Butcher discovers that it’s a lot easier to kill when his victims assume that he’s weak. As for Millie, she finds her confidence and even confesses her feelings for her crush, Booker Strode (Uriah Shelton), while in the Butcher’s body. However, she only has a few hours to reverse the mind swap before it becomes permanent.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Katie Finneran, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, Alan Ruck
Director: Christopher Landon
Rating: R
Runtime: 101 minutes

A look back at Woodstock 99.

Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage (2021)

It’s an incredible understatement to say that Woodstock 99 did not go off as planned. Where should we start? The violence, looting, arson, vandalism, or sexual assaults? HBO Max’s Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage takes a very unflattering look back at what happened at that three-day festival, and why it’s still infamous. A selection of musicians, attendees, journalists, and behind-the-scenes workers share their stories from Woodstock 99. And there’s a true feeling of dread as the documentary relates how the event went so horribly wrong.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Documentary
Stars: Bryan Vadnais
Director: Garret Price
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 110 minutes

Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer in Disturbia.

Disturbia (2007)

Disturbia owes a lot to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but this is an updated version of that story. Shia LaBeouf stars as Kale Brecht, a teenager who is angry over the recent death of his father. After getting in trouble at school, Kale is sentenced to house arrest. While spying on his neighbors to relieve his boredom, Kale comes to believe that Robert Turner (David Morse) may be a serial killer. Unfortunately, Kale can’t prove his suspicions without violating the terms of his sentence. And when Kale involves his neighbor, Ashley Carlson (Sarah Roemer), and his friend, Ronald “Ronnie” Chu (Aaron Yoo), it only lands all three of them in greater danger.

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Genre: Thriller
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss
Director: D. J. Caruso
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 105 minutes

The cast of The Right Stuff.

The Right Stuff (1983)

The Right Stuff could have been called “The Space Race,” because it’s a very compelling look at the pilots who helped make that possible. Sam Shepard stars as Chuck Yeager, the pilot who first broke the sound barrier. However, there are even greater challenges awaiting out in space, as Chuck and his fellow pilots train for missions that even they aren’t sure if they’ll come back from. This movie also has an incredible ensemble cast, including Fred Ward as Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Dennis Quaid as Gordon “Gordo” Cooper, Ed Harris as John Glenn, Scott Glenn as Alan Shepard, Lance Henriksen as Walter “Wally” Schirra, and Scott Paulin as Donald K. “Deke” Slayton. Thanks in part to those performers, this film has withstood the test of time.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Charles Frank, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Lance Henriksen, Scott Paulin, Dennis Quaid
Director: Philip Kaufman
Rating: PG
Runtime: 192 minutes

Tobey Maguire and Marley Shelton in Pleasantville.

Pleasantville (1998)

In the film that shares its name, Pleasantville is the name of a fictional ’50s sitcom and an otherworldly black and white town that remains oddly untouched by the present. Siblings David (Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) find themselves mysteriously transported to Pleasantville in the lives of sitcom characters Bud and Mary Sue Parker. Although the siblings initially enjoy the throwback town, their modern sensibilities soon begin changing both Pleasantville and its residents. New ideas, emotions, and concepts are turning the people into full-color characters, and the rest of town lashes out against them in a tense culture clash.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, Drama
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J. T. Walsh
Director: Gary Ross
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 124 minutes

Michelle Pfeiffer in Married To the Mob.

Married to the Mob (1988)

The title of Married To the Mob is very appropriate for Angela de Marco (Michelle Pfeiffer). Even the death of her husband, Frank “Cucumber” de Marco (Alex Baldwin), isn’t enough to get her out of the mob’s orbit. It doesn’t help that the man who murdered Frank was his Don, Tony “The Tiger” Russo (Dean Stockwell), and he wants to seduce Angela regardless of his own wife and family. FBI Agent Mike Downey (Matthew Modine) is keeping tabs on the situation, but even he has romantic feelings for Angela.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Crime, Comedy
Stars: Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Modine, Dean Stockwell, Mercedes Ruehl, Alec Baldwin
Director: Jonathan Demme
Rating: R
Runtime: 104 minutes

Mike Myers with a woman on his shoulders in Austin Power.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Mike Myers goes for a dual role in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. In this hilarious James Bond spoof, secret agent Austin Powers (Myers) battles his nemesis, Dr. Evil (also Myers), in the late ’60s. And when Dr. Evil goes into suspended animation, Austin follows suit and awakens in the present day. Neither Austin nor Dr. Evil is able to easily make the adjustment to modern spy warfare. But at least Austin has a great partner, Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley). On the other hand, Dr. Evil has an inept crew of henchmen, and a clone son, Scott Evil (Seth Green), who resents him.

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Genre: Action, Comedy
Stars: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Mimi Rogers, Seth Green
Director: Jay Roach
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 89 minutes

John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney in Saturday Night Fever.

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Movies couldn’t possibly get more disco than Saturday Night Fever. But if you’re expecting a feel-good musical romance, then you’ve come to the wrong place. John Travolta stars as Anthony “Tony” Manero, a young man with dismissal prospects in his personal life and his day job. Yet on the dance floor, Tony is a king. He soon meets Stephanie Mangano (Karen Lynn Gorney), a dancer who may be his equal or even his superior. Unfortunately for Tony, Stephanie isn’t looking for love, just a platonic partnership. Meanwhile, the personal drama around Tony reaches a boiling point, and he jeopardizes his relationship with Stephanie by going way too far. If Tony’s not careful, his entire life could be shattered by his missteps.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Genre: Drama
Stars: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller, Joseph Cali, Paul Pape
Director: John Badham
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

Drew Barrymore in Scream.

Scream (1996)

Do you like scary movies? Then chances are very good that you’re going to love Scream. Horror maven Wes Craven’s return to the genre was a deconstruction of the films that made him a cinema legend. It also mixed horror with flashes of comedy. Neve Campbell stars as Sidney Prescott, a teenager haunted by the murder of her mother. When a costumed killer starts stalking Sidney and her friends, she takes it upon herself to find the truth. Meanwhile, reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) simply wants to get the scoop. But this is a story that may get her killed.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Horror
Stars: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore
Director: Wes Craven
Rating: R
Runtime: 79 minutes

Ed Norton and Ethan Suplee in American History X.

American History X (1998)

In American History X, Edward Norton plays Derek Vinyard, an angry young man who embraces white supremacy after the tragic death of his father. Derek’s views and actions are so extreme that he soon spends a very brutal stint in jail. But behind prison walls, Derek comes to realize just how wrong he was to adopt a racist worldview. By the time he gets out, Derek discovers that his younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong), is following in his footsteps and making the same mistakes. To get his brother out of the local skinhead group, Derek decides to face his past head-on, even if it kills him.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Fairuza Balk, Stacy Keach, Elliott Gould, Avery Brooks
Director: Tony Kaye
Rating: R
Runtime: 119 minutes

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in McCabe & Mrs. Miller.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller is a Western that challenges the tropes of the genre. It doesn’t romanticize its title characters, nor does it attempt to morally justify their actions or personas. Warren Beatty stars as John McCabe, a man who carries himself like a gunslinger and uses that reputation to his advantage. After establishing a brothel in town, John is joined by a new partner-in-crime, Constance Miller (Julie Christie). John and Constance’s ensuing romance is complicated by their differing approaches to business and pleasure. However, their relationship is strained when Eugene Sears (Michael Murphy) and Ernest Hollander (Antony Holland) come to town to force them out of their brothel business. And they won’t take no for an answer.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Genre: Western
Stars: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, René Auberjonois, Michael Murphy, Antony Holland
Director: Robert Altman
Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes

Embeth Davidtz and Anthony Hopkins in Fracture.

Fracture (2007)

Anthony Hopkins headlines Fracture as a brilliant engineer named Theodore “Ted” Crawford. Ted realizes that his wife, Jennifer Crawford (Embeth Davidtz), has been cheating on him with Rob Nunally (Billy Burke), a police officer. When Jennifer is found dead in Ted’s home, Rob places him under arrest. And yet the evidence doesn’t add up, despite Ted’s obvious motive for murder. Assistant District Attorney William “Willy” Beachum (Ryan Gosling) soon makes it his mission in life to prove Ted’s guilt. But that’s a quest that may prove to be very costly for him.

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Genre: Thriller
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn, Rosamund Pike, Embeth Davidtz
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Rating: R
Runtime: 113 minutes

Don Cheadle and Benicio del Toro in No Sudden Move.

No Sudden Move (2021)

Do you remember Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels? Those are movies where good guy crooks pull off an improbable heist while taking down villains who are far worse than they are. No Sudden Move is not that kind of movie, although Soderbergh does reunite with several of his Ocean’s Eleven stars. Don Cheadle and Benicio del Toro headline the film as Curt Goynes and Ronald Russo, a pair of gangsters in the ‘50s. Curt and Ronald are hired to lean on a hapless accountant, Matt Wertz (David Harbour), and threaten his family. But when Curt refuses to execute Matt and his family, he and Ronald are thrust into increasingly dangerous situations that leave them in dire straits and desperate for a way out.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Crime
Stars: Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Rating: R
Runtime: 115 minutes

The cast of Judas and the Black Messiah.

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

Judas and the Black Messiah is based upon the real story of the death and betrayal of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), the leader of Chicago’s Black Panther Party during the late ‘60s. Petty thief William “Bill” O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) is given an opportunity to avoid jail by FBI Special Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) if he agrees to join the Black Panthers and report back on them. As Bill becomes more prominent within the Black Panther Party, he has a firsthand view of what Fred is trying to accomplish. However, Bill can’t escape his deal with the FBI, even when he wants out.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Ashton Sanders
Director: Shaka King
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.

The Matrix (1999)

There is a fourth Matrix film coming to HBO Max and theaters at the end of this year, but the original movie is still in a class by itself. The Matrix came out of nowhere in 1999 and quickly revolutionized sci-fi action with its slick direction and compelling story. Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a hacker who is haunted by a singular question: “What is the Matrix?” Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and her boss, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), hold the answers, but Neo is completely unprepared for the truth. And as he adjusts to his new reality, Neo is threatened by the ruthless Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and an enemy much closer than he realizes.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano
Director: The Wachowskis
Rating: R
Runtime: 136 minutes

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner in Let Him Go.

Let Him Go (2020)

After starring as Superman’s parents in Man of Steel, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner reunited in Let Him Go. Within the film, Margaret (Lane) and her husband, George Blackledge (Costner), are the grieving parents of their adult son, James (Ryan Bruce). When James’ widow, Lorna (Kayli Carter), remarries and abruptly moves away with her child without saying goodbye, Margaret realizes that Lorna’s new husband, Donnie (Will Brittain), is abusive. But when George and Margaret finally catch up to Donnie and Lorna, they soon find that the danger is even greater than they thought.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Lesley Manville, Will Brittain, Jeffrey Donovan
Director: Thomas Bezucha
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth shooting guns in Reservoir Dogs.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Quentin Tarantino recently said that he briefly considered doing a remake of his directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs, as his tenth and final film. A remake is not going to happen, and that’s a good thing, because this is a classic. Crime boss Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) puts together a motley crew to pull off a heist, including Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), and the psychotic Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen). However, one of their numbers is an undercover cop who is in way over his head. Getting out alive may not be an option, once the heist goes bad and the bodies pile up.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Crime
Stars: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Rating: R
Runtime: 99 minutes

Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, and Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

A decade before Star Wars dominated the sci-fi realm, 20th Century Fox’s Planet of the Apes kicked off a franchise of its own. Astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) and his crew crash on a world where humans are mute slaves and talking apes are ascendant. While scientists Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Zira (Kim Hunter) are sympathetic toward Taylor, Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) and other ape extremists will go to any lengths to silence Taylor and suppress the evidence that men once ruled the world. The iconic ending is still a Twilight Zone-level twist that has been endlessly imitated, but it still works.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Sci-fi
Stars: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Maurice Evans, Kim Hunter, James Whitmore
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes

Samuel L. Jackson, Jurnee Smollett, and Lynn Whitfield in Eve's Bayou.

Eve’s Bayou (1997)

There are a lot of supernatural overtones to Eve’s Bayou, but it doesn’t overpower the emotional impact of this period drama. In one of her breakout roles, Jurnee Smollett stars as Eve Batiste, a 10-year-old girl whose psychic gift emerges during one tumultuous summer in the ‘60s. While Eve’s parents, Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) and Roz Batiste (Lynn Whitfield), seemingly have a happy marriage, even Eve begins to see through the cracks when she witnesses Louis’s infidelity. Eve’s older sister, Cisely (Meagan Good), also accuses her father of an unforgivable crime. And in Eve’s quest for justice and vengeance, she goes too far to discover what really happened.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Jurnee Smollett, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Vondie Curtis-Hall
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Rating: R
Runtime: 109 minutes

Ben Kingsley in Gandhi.

Gandhi (1982)

Gandhi won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, for its accurate and compelling take on the life of Mahatma Gandhi (Ben Kingsley). As a young man, Gandhi realizes that Indians are treated as less than full citizens within the British empire. In response, Gandhi organizes a nonviolent resistance movement that eventually helps India win its independence. But not even Gandhi can unite all religious extremists behind a single cause, and the resulting strife leads to tragedy for Gandhi himself.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard
Director: Richard Attenborough
Rating: PG
Runtime: 191 minutes

Ewan McGregor in Doctor Sleep.

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Poor Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) lived through the events of The Shining, and turned to drugs and alcohol to drown out his supernatural gifts. In the cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, Danny gets a second chance to reinvent himself as a hospice worker who comforts patients that are close to death. He also befriends Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), a young girl whose powers may exceed his own. But when they are both threatened by a cult that preys on people with “the shining,” Danny realizes that he may have to confront the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel one last time in order to save himself and Abra.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Horror
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Carl Lumbly, Zahn McClarnon
Director: Mike Flanagan
Rating: R
Runtime: 152 minutes

Peter Sellers in Doctor Strangelove.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Chances are very good that you’ve already seen the famous ending of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Director Stanley Kubrick’s deliciously dark comedy features Peter Sellers in three leading roles: Group captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, and Doctor Strangelove himself. When the deranged Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) goes rogue and orders a nuclear attack on Russia, the President desperately tries to prevent the impending end of the world. If you’re looking for a heroic and happy ending, you won’t find it here. But there are a lot of laughs on the way to the apocalypse.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Rating: PG
Runtime: 98 minutes

Ron Perlman and Judith Vittet in The City of Lost Children.

The City of Lost Children (1995)

American audiences may get a bit of culture shock when they see the French sci-fi film, The City of Lost Children. It’s not a typical story, and the visuals are otherworldly. Ron Perlman stars as One, a carnival strongman whose adoptive younger brother, Denree (Joseph Lucien), is kidnapped by a madman named Krank (Daniel Emilfork). Krank has taken Denree and several other children to literally steal their dreams for himself. One finds an unlikely ally in Miette (Judith Vittet), an orphan girl who accompanies him on his quest to free his brother. Unfortunately, One’s carnival won’t let him go without a fight.

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Genre: Sci-fi, Fantasy
Stars: Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vittet, Dominique Pinon, Jean-Claude Dreyfus
Director: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes

John Cusack and Anjelica Huston in The Grifters.

The Grifters (1990)

There are three main characters in The Grifters who live up to the title of the movie. Lilly Dillon (Anjelica Huston) is by far the most impressive of the three, and a gifted con artist who has been at it for decades. Lily’s son, Roy Dillon (John Cusack), is also a grifter, but far less talented than his mother. In her eyes, Roy just doesn’t have the stomach to pull off the big cons. Finally, there’s Myra Langtry (Annette Bening), Roy’s girlfriend and Lily’s rival. Myra’s younger and more hungry for a score than Lily, and she takes an instant dislike for her. Their conflict may destroy them, and Roy as well.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Thriller
Stars: John Cusack, Anjelica Huston, Annette Bening, Pat Hingle, Henry Jones
Director: Stephen Frears
Rating: R
Runtime: 110 minutes

Catherine Keener and Steve Carell in The 40-Year Old Virgin.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

Judd Apatow’s film The 40-Year-Old Virgin went a long way toward making Steve Carell a leading man in the movies. Carell plays Andy Stitzer, the titular virgin who has spent most of his life without romantic entanglements. After Andy’s status as a virgin is exposed at his day job, his friends David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Malco), and Cal (Seth Rogen) go to great lengths to get him past his personal issues. A single mother, Trish Piedmont (Catherine Keener), may hold the key to winning Andy’s heart, but only if he can bring himself to finally take the next step.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen
Director: Judd Apatow
Rating: R
Runtime: 116 minutes

Stacey Dash and Alicia Silverstone in Clueless.

Clueless (1995)

Did you know that Clueless was loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma? And we mean very loosely. In the modern setting of 1995, director and screenwriter Amy Heckerling made the story her own by reimagining the heroine as Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), a rich and beautiful high school student in Beverly Hills. While Cher seemingly has it all, her step-brother, Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd), challenges her to take a closer look at her existence. Over time, Cher realizes that she has truly been “clueless” about the important things in life and strives to find a purpose of her own.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Wallace Shawn
Director: Amy Heckerling
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 97 minutes

Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile.

The Green Mile (1999)

Stephen King is best known for his tales of terror, but The Green Mile is something else entirely. It’s a prison drama with supernatural flourishes set in 1935. Tom Hanks stars as Paul Edgecomb, a guard at Cold Mountain Penitentiary’s death row. Much to Paul’s amazement, the gentle giant, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), is capable of performing divine miracles and other fantastic feats. However, John is scheduled to die because he was falsely accused of raping and murdering children. After witnessing John’s actions and his private moments, Paul becomes convinced that killing him would be a needless tragedy. And yet, Paul seems powerless to prevent John from walking “the Green Mile” and facing his fate.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Stars: Tom Hanks, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter
Director: Frank Darabont
Rating: R
Runtime: 189 minutes

The stop-motion puppets from The Corpse Bride.

Corpse Bride (2005)

While Tim Burton’s Disney movies The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach were both instant classics, he didn’t direct either film. That changed when Burton jumped to Warner Bros. for his third stop-motion animated movie, Corpse Bride. Co-director Mike Johnson handled the bulk of the film, but the story is pure Burton. Johnny Depp stars as Victor Van Dort, a man madly in love with his fiancée, Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson). After Victor accidentally recites his wedding vows in the woods, he finds himself joined in holy matrimony with Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), the titular corpse bride. And she’s eager to take her new husband to the land of the dead so they can spend eternity together.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Genre: Musical, Fantasy
Stars: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Albert Finney, Joanna Lumley
Director: Mike Johnson, Tim Burton
Rating: PG
Runtime: 77 minutes

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

The late Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut, had the novelty of casting a real-life married couple, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, to play a couple in a deeply troubled marriage. Dr. William “Bill” Harford (Cruise) is greatly disturbed by his wife, Alice (Kidman), when she admits to being tempted to stray from fidelity. As Bill struggles with his feelings, he runs into an old friend, Nick Nightingale (Todd Field), who tells him about a secretive group of rich people who engage in ritualistic sex. When Bill is caught at their ceremony and unmasked, he is forced to wonder if the group will make good on its threats to destroy his life if he reveals what he has seen.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Marie Richardson
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Rating: R
Runtime: 159 minutes

A scene from Shazam!

Shazam! (2019)

There’s no shortage of superhero movies on HBO Max. But Shazam! is one of the few that is truly family-friendly. Asher Angel stars as Billy Batson, an orphan who is placed with a new foster family. When Billy lashes out, he inadvertently encounters the wizard, Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), who passes Billy his power before he dies. Now, Billy can become the new Shazam (Zachary Levi), and he shares his good fortune with his new foster brother, Frederick “Freddy” Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer). Unfortunately for Billy, the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) wants Shazam’s power for himself. And he’s willing to go through Billy’s new family to get it.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Action, Superhero
Stars: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou
Director: David F. Sandberg
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 132 minutes

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon.

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Lethal Weapon is the quintessential action buddy cop movie of the ‘80s. A middle-aged police sergeant, Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), is partnered with Sergeant Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), whom Roger suspects is crazy. But Martin has good reasons for his deteriorating mental state, as he struggles to move past the death of his wife. And when Martin is contacted by his old friend, Michael Hunsaker (Tom Atkins), he and Roger soon find themselves way over their heads in a deadly drug conspiracy. Lots of explosions, shootings, and fistfights ensue. But it’s the comedic chemistry of Gibson and Glover that made this flick into a franchise.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Genre: Action, Comedy
Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitchell Ryan, Tom Atkins
Director: Richard Donner
Rating: R
Runtime: 132 minutes

Matchstick Men

Matchstick Men (2003)

What’s a Matchstick Man? In the context of Matchstick Men, it’s just another way to say “con men.” Roy Waller (Nicolas Cage) is a veteran con man with his partner and protégée, Frank Mercer (Sam Rockwell). When Roy’s mental health deteriorates, he begins seeing a therapist, Dr. Harris Klein (Bruce Altman). With his doctor’s blessing, Roy reaches out to the daughter he never met: Angela (Alison Lohman). And much to Roy’s surprise, Angela takes to his grifter lifestyle and asks him to teach her the tips of the trade as he and Frank pursue a long con.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman, Bruce McGill
Director: Ridley Scott
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 116 minutes

The American President

The American President (1995)

In retrospect, The American President seems like Aaron Sorkin’s prelude to The West Wing. Michael Douglas stars as President Andrew Shepherd, a widower who is facing a tough reelection. During the closing months of his first term, the President meets and falls for Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), an environmental lobbyist. Their chemistry is undeniable, and yet the President faces some hard choices because of their relationship. In addition to facing attacks in the press from his political rivals, the President is also forced to consider going back on his word to Sydney just to shore up his reelection.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance
Stars: Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, David Paymer. Samantha Mathis, Michael J. Fox
Director: Rob Reiner
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 113 minutes

3 Days of the Condor

3 Days of the Condor (1975)

Robert Redford built his reputation as an actor in the ‘70s by starring in tense thrillers. And 3 Days of the Condor is one of his best. Within the film, Redford plays Joseph Turner, a.k.a. Condor, a low-level CIA analyst. After noticing an unusual piece of intelligence, Joseph’s entire office is murdered, and he’s next on the hit list. Despite his escape, Joseph is also framed for murdering his colleagues. To hide from both his enemies and the CIA, Joseph takes Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway) as his hostage and hides in her home. But with few options and no one else to turn to, Kathy may be the only ally that Joseph can trust as the walls close in on him.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Thriller
Stars: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow
Director: Sydney Pollack
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

Klute

Klute (1971)

In the movie Klute, Donald Sutherland stars as a private investigator named John Klute. After an executive, Tom Gruneman (Robert Milli), goes missing, John is hired to find out what happened to him. The trail soon leads to Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), a high-priced call girl with links to Tom and other suspicious characters. John goes undercover in Bree’s apartment building in order to keep an eye on her for his investigation. But they soon develop real feelings for each other, and both of them are drawn into an increasingly dangerous investigation.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Thriller
Stars: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi, Roy Scheider
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

Cinderella Man

Cinderella Man (2005)

Cinderella Man is the nickname of James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe), one of the iconic boxers of the Great Depression era. In this biopic, James is forced to retire from boxing after breaking his right hand. Years later, and much to the consternation of his wife, Mae (Renée Zellweger), James realizes that his recovery has made him an even more formidable fighter. James’ boxing comeback opens several doors, including a match with world champion Max Baer (Craig Bierko). This is a wonderful underdog story that has the added benefit of having some truth within this Hollywood-infused fable. Even the setbacks can’t hold James down for long.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Genre: Drama, Sports
Stars: Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine
Director: Ron Howard
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 144 minutes

Greenland

Greenland (2020)

It’s the end of the world as we know it in Greenland, but this is no Roland Emmerich-style disaster movie. Instead, it’s a very personal story of survival about John (Gerard Butler) and Allison Garrity (Morena Baccarin), as well as their son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). John’s family is selected for emergency shelter when an extinction-level event heads toward Earth. But reaching sanctuary is much easier said than done — there are people who are more than willing to kill in order to improve their own chances of survival. Keeping the family together has never been more difficult.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Thriller, Disaster
Stars: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, David Denman, Hope Davis, Roger Dale Floyd, Andrew Bachelor
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 119 minutes

Igby Goes Down

Igby Goes Down (2002)

Money doesn’t solve everything in Igby Goes Down. Kieran Culkin stars as Jason “Igby” Slocumb, Jr., a teenager who is desperate to get away from his wealthy and toxic family. That’s why he intentionally fails in multiple schools and squanders opportunities in order to create more physical distance between them. After finally being sent away to spend time with his godfather, D.H. Banes (Jeff Goldblum), Igby befriends D.H.’s mistress, Rachel (Amanda Peet). And yet Igby can’t seem to stop himself from sabotaging those relationships as well. Unfortunately for Igby, there are some family secrets that even he doesn’t know about. And if he wants to make a true break from his family, it’s going to take more than failure to get away.

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Kieran Culkin, Claire Danes, Jeff Goldblum, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe
Director: Burr Steers
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 97 minutes

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, received a slight name change for the big screen. Instead, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory wisely put Gene Wilder’s mischievous candy factory owner in the title. It’s just as well, because Wilder’s manic performance carries the movie through Willy’s wild shifts in tone and attitude. Peter Ostrum also stars in the film as Charlie Bucket, one of five children from around the world who have located one of Wonka’s golden tickets. The winner will get a lifetime supply of chocolate, but first Charlie and the rest of the kids have to pass Willy’s demented morality tests. Spoiler alert: Most of the children don’t pass, and Willy seems to delight in their bizarre and outlandish fates.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Musical, Fantasy
Stars: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole. Leonard Stone
Director: Mel Stuart
Rating: G
Runtime: 100 minutes

Happy Feet

Happy Feet (2006)

Would you believe that Mad Max director George Miller helmed the animated film Happy Feet? Not only did Miller expand into new, all-ages territory, but it’s a great example that other studios beyond Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks can make terrific animated movies as well. Elijah Wood stars as Mumble, a penguin born without the ability to sing. Fortunately, Mumble was also born with the gift of dance, and he uses it to pursue the penguin of his dreams, Gloria (Brittany Murphy). Mumble’s elders may not understand his dancing gestures, but they can’t stifle his moves forever.

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Genre: Musical, Comedy
Stars: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman
Director: George Miller
Rating: PG
Runtime: 108 minutes

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018)

For several generations of television viewers, Fred Rogers wasn’t simply the host of a children’s TV show. He was “Mister Rogers,” a beloved icon of public television who had a unique gift for connecting with a young audience. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood also taught kids valuable life lessons and didn’t shy away from difficult topics. Morgan Neville’s documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, is a wonderful look at not only the legacy of that show, but the man behind it. Fred Rogers was a rare individual who practiced what he preached. His warmth and kindness are still evident through his archival appearances here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Biography, Documentary
Stars: Fred Rogers, François Clemmons, Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Negri, David Newell
Director: Morgan Neville
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 93 minutes

Barry Lyndon

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon isn’t as highly regarded as some of director Stanley Kubrick’s other movies, but it’s still a beautifully shot film that has found its audience over time. The story takes place in the 18th century and follows Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal), an Irishman who was born into nothing. After fleeing from a duel, Redmond befriends a fellow rogue named Chevalier du Balibari (Patrick Magee) and decides to marry for money. Upon meeting the soon-to-be widowed Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson), Redmond reinvents himself and woos her before taking the name Barry Lyndon. However, staying in high society isn’t as easy as Barry thought it would be. And his good fortune won’t last forever.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Krüger, Diana Koerner
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Rating: PG
Runtime: 187 minutes

Dreamgirls

Dreamgirls (2006)

Dreamgirls is an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name, and it plays just as well on the silver screen as it did on the stage. The story is loosely inspired by the history of Motown, and it focuses on the rise of a girl group called the Dreams. Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx) quickly realizes that the trio of Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), Deena Jones (Beyoncé), and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose) can become major stars. The Dreams’ success soon eclipses their associated act, Jimmy “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy). However, Curtis’ manipulations also splinter the unity of the Dreams when he elevates Deena at Effie’s expense.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Musical, Drama
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, Jennifer Hudson
Director: Bill Condon
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 130 minutes

The Year of Living Dangerously

The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver burn up the screen in The Year of Living Dangerously, a movie that was made relatively early in their careers. The film is set in 1965, when Australian correspondent Guy Hamilton (Gibson) is sent to Jakarta on assignment. Guy soon meets and falls for Jill Bryant (Weaver), an assistant at the British embassy. But their newfound love is tested when a coup attempt is made against President Sukarno. Guy disregards warnings to leave the country, and he gets a firsthand look at the brutality of Sukarno’s reign … which may cost him his life.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Romance, Drama
Stars: Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Kerr, Michael Murphy, Linda Hunt, Noel Ferrier
Director: Peter Weir
Rating: PG
Runtime: 114 minutes

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

There aren’t many films that can command a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, but The Treasure of the Sierra Madre lives up to its lofty reputation. Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt co-headline the film as Fred C. Dobbs and Bob Curtin, a pair of broke drifters making their way through Mexico. After encountering an old prospector named Howard (Walter Huston), the trio make their way to the Sierra Madre mountains and finds a fortune in gold. Unfortunately, their good luck soon turns sour as greed tears them apart. And even their bonds of friendship are ripped to shreds with alarming ease.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Western, Drama
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett
Director: John Huston
Rating: N/A
Runtime: 126 minutes

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Nearly two decades after World War II, several veterans of that conflict were cast in The Dirty Dozen. Lee Marvin led the impressive ensemble performers including Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, and more. Marvin played Major John Reisman, the man in charge of turning 12 of the army’s worst convicts into a fighting unit for a critical mission behind enemy lines. Through a grueling training experience, the men come together as a team. But going through with the operation ahead of D-Day leads to unforeseen complications. And not everyone will make it home from this suicide mission.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: War, Action, Adventure
Stars: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel
Director: Robert Aldrich
Rating: N/A
Runtime: 150 minutes

Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997)

Pop quiz: What’s the best Quentin Tarantino movie? The director’s earliest films and his most recent hits have their ardent defenders. Yet his third movie, Jackie Brown, is arguably his greatest. This adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch features Blaxploitation star Pam Grier in the title role as Jackie Brown. Jackie’s a flight attendant who is in a tough situation. Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) and the feds catch Jackie smuggling money for Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). With her life and her freedom on the line, Jackie teams up with bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) to con the men holding her strings.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Drama, Crime
Stars: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Rating: R
Runtime: 154 minutes

Good Morning, Vietnam

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

The late Robin Williams received an Oscar nomination for his performance as Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam. In 1965, the real Adrian was a DJ for the Armed Forces Radio Service in Saigon. Instead of toeing the official military line, Adrian’s unique brand of comedy and his willingness to tell the truth quickly earns him a following. He also forms an unlikely friendship with a local, Tuan (Tung Thanh Tran), while romantically pursuing Tuan’s sister, Trinh (Chintara Sukapatana). Naturally, Adrian’s antics enrage his superior officer, Sgt. Maj. Phillip Dickerson (J. T. Walsh), who plots to get rid of Adrian in a way that endangers his life.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Stars: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Tung Thanh Tran, Chintara Sukapatana, Bruno Kirby
Director: Barry Levinson
Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Dumb and Dumber isn’t exactly a cinematic masterpiece. However, it is a very funny movie with Jim Carrey at the height of his comedic powers. Carrey stars as Lloyd Christmas, a clueless limo driver who develops a crush on Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) after chauffeuring her to the airport. Lloyd inadvertently ruins Mary’s attempt to pay a ransom for her husband, and soon finds himself flush with cash. That’s why Lloyd and his best friend, Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels), go on a cross-country road trip to reunite with Mary. But they fail to realize that the kidnapper has sent hired killers to take them out.

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly, Karen Duffy, Mike Starr, Charles Rocket
Director: Peter Farrelly
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 106 minutes

All Is Lost

All Is Lost (2013)

Robert Redford is the only actor who appears in All Is Lost, and we never learn the name of his character. In fact, he barely even speaks in the entire film. Yet that doesn’t diminish the drama at all, If anything, it heightens the life-or-death struggle of the man whose solo trip across the Indian Ocean becomes derailed after his ship collides with a shipping container. Redford is riveting as his character battles for survival while fighting the elements and his own despair. The human spirit can overcome almost any adversity, but this is a harrowing tale that may make you glad that you’re still on dry land.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Robert Redford
Director: J. C. Chandor
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 105 minutes

Kramer vs. Kramer

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Kramer vs. Kramer is an acclaimed family drama that successfully humanizes both sides of the conflict. Dustin Hoffman’s Ted Kramer suddenly finds himself a single father to his son, Billy (Justin Henry), when his wife, Joanna (Meryl Streep), walks out on both of them. Although Ted and Billy eventually overcome Joanna’s absence, her sudden return throws their lives into turmoil. The subsequent court battle for custody of Billy also pushes the bonds of this family to their breaking point. There can be no winner in this war, but there is some hope for empathy from the former spouses.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Justin Henry, Jane Alexander, Petra King
Director: Robert Benton
Rating: PG
Runtime: 105 minutes

Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married (2008)

Don’t let the title of Rachel Getting Married fool you. Rachel Buchman (Rosemarie DeWitt) may be the titular character, but this movie belongs to her sister, Kym (Anne Hathaway). Hathaway has a powerhouse performance as an addict who has lost 10 years of her life to rehab and addiction relapses. On the weekend of Rachel’s wedding, Kym gets a temporary discharge to reunite with her family. Yet old grudges and simmering distrust openly erupt between the sisters, in addition to the lingering resentment between Kym and her mother, Abby (Debra Winger). The Buchman family drama threatens to overshadow Rachel’s wedding, but it’s a reckoning that has been coming for years.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Anna Deavere Smith, Tunde Adebimpe, Debra Winger
Director: Jonathan Demme
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

Goodfellas

Goodfellas (2008)

Where would we be without the crime epics of Martin Scorsese? Cinema would certainly be less interesting if films like Goodfellas didn’t explore such dark and compelling territory. This movie was based on the life of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a criminal who was part of the Gambino crime family for 25 years. Henry’s illegally obtained wealth helps him woo his wife, Karen (Lorraine Bracco), and gives him a taste of the good life alongside his friends, Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). Yet even these bonds of friendship can be shattered when money and power are at stake.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Drama, Crime
Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating: R
Runtime: 146 minutes

Walk Hard

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

Think about every musical biopic you’ve ever seen. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is essentially a parody of all of the previous biographical films about musicians. Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) has a ridiculous life story that weaves in and out of different musical eras and styles. Following a family tragedy, Dewey has a rapid rise to fame and an equally fast fall into infamy. Along the way, he finds love with both Edith (Kristen Wiig) and Darlene (Jenna Fischer), as well as a deadly grudge held by his father, Pa Cox (Raymond J. Barry).

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows, Kristen Wiig
Director: Jake Kasdan
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition (2001)

Nearly two decades ago, Peter Jackson unleashed the first film in his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. But this isn’t The Fellowship of the Ring that you experienced in theaters. The Extended Edition is a nearly four-hour affair that greatly expands on the early story of Frodo (Elijah Wood), the young Hobbit who comes into possession of the One Ring. To keep this malevolent object out of enemy hands, Frodo and his eight companions embark on a dangerous quest to destroy the ring. Yet the greatest threat to the Fellowship may come from within.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure
Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean
Director: Peter Jackson
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 228 minutes

Ted

Ted (2012)

The titular talking teddy bear of Ted would probably find it hilarious that his film has a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In the world of the film, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) wished his favorite bear into sentience when he was a young child. Years later, Ted (Seth MacFarlane) and John are still close friends, much to the annoyance of John’s girlfriend, Lori Collins (Mila Kunis). When Ted goes too far, John and Lori try to set him up with an independent life of his own. But these friends just can’t stay separated for long, regardless of the consequences.

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain (2003)

Cold Mountain could almost be called a romantic film if its leading characters didn’t suffer so much. But this is a sweeping period film that finds young lovers William “W. P.” Inman (Jude Law) and Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman) promising to find each other after the Civil War. William even deserts from the Confederacy to keep his vow, while Ada struggles to maintain her farm on Cold Mountain with the help of her friend, Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger). William and Ada go to great lengths to find each other again, even in the face of overwhelming adversity. Now that’s a love story.

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Director: Anthony Minghella
Rating: R
Runtime: 154 minutes

Black Dynamite

Black Dynamite (2009)

Black Dynamite is a modern sendup of ‘70s blaxploitation films, but it’s also a really terrific example of the genre. Michael Jai White stars as Black Dynamite, a Vietnam veteran and former CIA operative who comes home and takes it upon himself to avenge his brother and clean up the streets. Alongside his new love, Gloria Gray (Salli Richardson), and his ally, Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson), Black Dynamite discovers a government plot that sends him off to Kung Fu Island to confront an old nemesis. And the film only gets wilder as it goes along.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Genre: Action, Comedy
Stars: Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Salli Richardson
Director: Scott Sanders
Rating: R
Runtime: 84 minutes

A League of Their Own

A League of Their Own (1992)

A League of Their Own is the fictionalized story of the women’s baseball league that emerged during World War II. Geena Davis stars as Dorothy “Dottie” Hinson, a catcher who would have turned away from her chance at baseball stardom if not for her sister and fellow player, Kit Keller (Lori Petty). Former Cubs player Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is tasked with managing the sisters on the Rockford Peaches, which also includes Doris Murphy (Rosie O’Donnell) and Mae Mordabito (Madonna). Just remember, there’s no crying in baseball. But there is a lot of heart.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sports
Stars: Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz
Director: Penny Marshall
Rating: PG
Runtime: 128 minutes

Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Ben Affleck’s comeback hit its stride with Gone Baby Gone, his feature-length directorial . However, it’s Affleck’s younger brother, Casey Affleck, who headlines the film as private investigator Patrick Kenzie. Patrick and his partner, Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), are drawn into the case of a kidnapped four-year-old girl, Amanda McCready (Madeline O’Brien). Amanda’s mother has connections to organized crime, which forces Patrick and Angie to enlist Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and his partner, Nick Poole (John Ashton), to back them up. But the case is anything but straightforward, and finding Amanda proves to be far more complicated than anyone expected.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton
Director: Ben Affleck
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

Labyrinth

Labyrinth (1986)

The Muppets creator Jim Henson explored some of his darkest themes on the big screen. His final film, Labyrinth, fully embraces that aspect of his career — and it’s arguably his best movie. Jennifer Connelly has a dazzling turn as Sarah Williams, a 16-year-old girl who resents her new half-brother, Toby (Toby Froud). When Sarah carelessly wishes that the goblins would take Toby away, it actually happens. The Goblin King, Jareth (David Bowie), offers Sarah a chance to reclaim her infant half-brother if she can survive a journey through the labyrinth in 13 hours.

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Genre: Fantasy
Stars: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly
Director: Jim Henson
Rating: PG
Runtime: 101 minutes

The People vs. Larry Flynt

The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

The real Larry Flynt passed away recently, and he seemed like an odd choice to be a free speech icon. But the founder of Hustler was the subject of The People vs. Larry Flynt, with Woody Harrelson in the title role. By challenging the complaints against his porn magazine in court, Larry pushed the boundaries of what could be put into print. Courtney Love also stars as Althea Leasure, Larry’s longtime lover. Additionally, Edward Norton has a terrific turn as Larry’s lawyer, Alan Isaacman. Love him or hate him, Larry Flynt left an impact on this film and beyond.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Drama, Biography
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, Edward Norton
Director: Miloš Forman
Rating: R
Runtime: 130 minutes

The Color Purple

The Color Purple (1985)

Steven Spielberg adapted Alice Walker’s seminal novel The Color Purple to great acclaim in the mid-’80s. Whoopi Goldberg stars as Celie, an African American woman who has been abused and put-upon for her entire life. As Celie endures the abuse of her husband, Mister (Danny Glover), she finds solace and inspiration from two women in her life: Sofia (Oprah Winfrey) and a singer named Shug Avery (Margaret Avery). Through the relationships that Celie forms, she finds the strength to stand up for herself and chart her own path.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Adolph Caesar, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery, Rae Dawn Chong
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 153 minutes

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

What if a politician was everything that he or she claims to be? Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is an iconic take on that idea. James Stewart stars as Jefferson “Jeff” Smith, an idealistic young man who is named to the Senate following his predecessor’s unexpected death. Jeff finds a mentor in Senator Joseph Harrison “Joe” Paine (Claude Rains), unaware of the older man’s corruption. When Jeff’s reputation is destroyed by lies and innuendo, he pleads his case on the Senate floor in a classic filibuster scene. This is definitely a fantasy, but it’s nice to believe that happy endings can happen in the political arena.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Stars: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rain, Edward Arnold
Director: Frank Capra
Rating: TV-G
Runtime: 126 minutes

Risky Business

Risky Business (1983)

Who likes that old-time rock and roll? Everyone! The iconic scene of Risky Business may have Tom Cruise dancing in his briefs, but it’s still a great teen comedy after that sequence. Cruise plays Joel Goodson, an overachieving who takes full advantage of his parents’ extended absence. Joel soon befriends a prostitute named Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) and begins a relationship with her. However, Lana’s unsavory pimp, Guido (Joe Pantoliano), causes complications for the young lovers and threatens to derail Joel’s plans for college and his parents’ trust.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano, Nicholas Pryor
Director: Paul Brickman
Rating: R
Runtime: 99 minutes

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Extended Edition

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Extended Edition (2003)

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was capped off with The Return of the King, which won Best Picture at the Oscars. The Extended Version of the film is now on HBO Max, and it includes several scenes that didn’t make it into the theatrical cut. For example, Saruman’s fate is no longer ambiguous. This is also a thrilling and satisfying wrap-up to the story that began during The Fellowship of the Ring. Just be sure to pace yourself along the way. This one clocks in at nearly four and a half hours, so it can be an endurance test for some. But it’s well worth the commitment.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Drama
Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving
Director: Peter Jackson
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 263 minutes

The Departed

The Departed (2006)

Would you believe that Martin Scorsese finally won a Best Director Oscar for The Departed? It’s another Best Picture winner on this list as well as a thrilling crime drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy Costigan Jr. and Matt Damon as Colin Sullivan. Billy is a cop under deep cover within the crime family led by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). But Frank also has Colin as a well-placed mole within the police department. As Billy and Colin become aware of each other, it becomes a race to see who can uncover their counterpart’s identity first.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating: R
Runtime: 151 minutes

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction doesn’t have a traditional narrative, but it does feature some of the most unforgettable characters of the ‘90s. Hitmen Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) just can’t seem to stay out of trouble even in the aftermath of an apparent miracle. In another storyline, aging boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) tries to skip town after ripping off mob boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Uma Thurman also steals the movie as Marsellus’ wife, Mia. These seemingly disjointed storylines come together beautifully in Tarantino’s incredibly quotable film, which remains one of his very best.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Crime, Comedy
Stars: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Rating: R
Runtime: 154 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

There have been many Batman movies, but Batman: Mask of the Phantasm may be the best one ever made. This isn’t an exaggeration, as the creative team and the cast behind Batman: The Animated Series created a new adversary for the Dark Knight while opening up a previously unexplored chapter in the life of Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy). In the past, Bruce almost walked away from his destiny as Batman to marry Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany). But in the present, Bruce’s life is complicated by both Andrea’s return and by the emergence of the Phantasm, a vengeful vigilante whose murder spree has been blamed on Batman himself. Mark Hamill’s chillingly evil Joker is the film’s wild card, and the wonderfully dark animation truly captures the spirit of the comics that inspired this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Superhero, Action
Stars: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner
Director: Eric Radomski, Bruce Timm
Rating: PG
Runtime: 76 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

Casablanca

Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca, the Oscar-winning film that gave the world the iconic line, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” casts Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as a pair of star-crossed lovers caught up in the dire events of World War II. Bogart portrays an American expatriate who’s forced to choose between the love of his life and the life he’s grown to love in the city of Casablanca.

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Genre: Romance, Drama
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
Director: Michael Curtiz
Rating: PG
Runtime: 102 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane (1941)

Often cited as the greatest movie ever made, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane chronicles the rise and fall of fictional newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, who rose from poverty to become a prominent player in American politics. Welles directed, co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film, which famously explores its titular character’s life in an attempt to discern the meaning of his dying words.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Orson Welles, Dorothy Comingore, Joseph Cotten
Director: Orson Welles
Rating: PG
Runtime: 119 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

Spirited Away

Spirited Away (2001)

Acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and the animators at Studio Ghibli crafted this tale of a young girl who finds herself drawn into the fantastic world of Japanese Shinto folklore after an encounter with a powerful witch puts her — and her family — in danger. To date, Spirited Away remains the only hand-drawn, non-English film to win the Academy Award for the year’s Best Animated Feature and was ranked the fourth-best film of the 21st century in a 2016 poll of international film critics. You can also check out the best anime series on Netflix if you’re looking for more like this.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Fantasy, Family
Stars: Rumi Hiiragi, Mari Natsuki
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Rating: PG
Runtime: 124 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

Editors' Recommendations