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The best movies on Max right now

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as two lighthouse keepers in The Lighthouse.
A24

Max is a go-to platform for streaming the best movies thanks to its accessibility and its countless hours’ worth of content. Beyond quantity, the streamer’s greatest strength is the diversity of the films in its catalog.

Every kind of fan will find their niches catered to, with Max’s library spanning fantasy, sci-fi, comedies, dramas, and more. Still, the sheer amount of content available can intimidate new subscribers. Thankfully, this monthly-updated guide combs through the service’s selection to highlight some of the best movies to watch on Max right now.

In need of some more streaming recommendations? 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+ that are worth looking through. 

The Lighthouse (2019)

The Lighthouse
109m
Genre
Drama, Fantasy, Thriller
Stars
Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman
Directed by
Robert Eggers
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Director Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse is one of the most inventive dramas in recent years. The plot follows 19th-century lighthouse keepers Ephraim Winslow (The Batman 2′s Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Poor Things‘ Willem Dafoe). The two find themselves stranded on a remote New England outpost after a devastating storm, with their mental faculties deteriorating from the isolation.

The Lighthouse earned widespread acclaim for its brutally tense atmosphere and commanding co-leading performances from Pattinson and Dafoe. The movie is an inspired mash-up of various genres, ranging from drama and thriller to psychological horror.

Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max
91m
Genre
Adventure, Action, Thriller, Science Fiction
Stars
Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne
Directed by
George Miller
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With George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga releasing soon, it’s worth diving back into the director’s debut in this franchise. Miller’s Mad Max stars Mel Gibson as the eponymous antihero navigating the postapocalyptic wasteland of a near-future take on Australia. Once a police officer before the country’s societal collapse, “Mad” Max Rockatansky wanders the landscape as a vigilante fighting off the biker gang forces who dominate the roads.

While it received a mixed reception when it premiered in 1979, Mad Max earned retroactive praise as decades passed. The movie was particularly lauded for director Miller’s vision of this dystopic landscape and the bold choreography for its over-the-top action sequences.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

Hellboy II: The Golden Army
120m
Genre
Fantasy, Adventure, Action
Stars
Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones
Directed by
Guillermo del Toro
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While the 2000s were understandably dominated by Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Batman, the Hellboy duology deserves more praise. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Hellboy II: The Golden Army sees the titular superhero (Ron Perlman) and his team at the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense fight against the resurgent forces of a mythical underworld prince who is amassing the Golden Army to reclaim Earth from humanity.

Though it didn’t take the box office by storm, Hellboy II: The Golden Army garnered a strong critical reception for its imaginative take on this comic book universe. Del Toro is a well-known auteur director, and his eye for fantasy and horror combines perfectly with creator Mike Mignola’s weird world.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

The Killing of a Sacred Deer
121m
Genre
Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Stars
Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan
Directed by
Yorgos Lanthimos
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From Poor Things director Yorgos Lanthimos, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is another thoughtfully made thriller. Famed cardiac surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) lives a picturesque suburban life with his wife, Anna (Nicole Kidman). However, this idealized lifestyle of his is disrupted in eerie ways by Martin Lang (Saltburn‘s Barry Keoghan), a fatherless teenager with a connection to Steven’s past.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer received a positive critical reception for Lanthimos’ uncompromising approach to his surreal directing style. Complemented by an impressive main cast, the movie is an exciting horror-thriller with an unforgettable aesthetic.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
152m
Genre
Adventure, Fantasy
Stars
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Directed by
Chris Columbus
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The Harry Potter franchise’s global juggernaut status is partly due to the film series’ critical success. Directed by Chris Columbus, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — or Philosopher’s Stone, alternatively — adapts the first book in author J.K. Rowling’s acclaimed series. After living in his abusive uncle and aunt’s house, young Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) discovers he’s a powerful wizard and embarks on his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

He meets various characters, including his endearing friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was praised for its tasteful balance of faithfulness to the book and condensing it to fit into a satisfying feature-length runtime. More than that, its main cast was lauded for their charm and heartfelt performances.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
113m
Genre
Action, Comedy, Romance
Stars
Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong
Directed by
Edgar Wright
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While it was a box-office bomb when it released in 2010, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World developed into a cult classic thanks to its strong critical reception. Director Edgar Wright’s take on this universe does justice to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic book series, telling the story of musician Scott Pilgrim’s (Michael Cera) efforts to win a music competition and a record deal.

At the same time, Scott has to fend off the seven evil exes of his girlfriend, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Though it has a straightforward plot, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World elevates it with colorful comic book-like imagery and lively performances. The movie leans into its larger-than-life nature and is complemented by its quirky humor.

Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan
108m
Genre
Drama, Thriller, Horror
Stars
Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
Directed by
Darren Aronofsky
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Director Darren Aronofsky is famed for his frighteningly surreal brand of horror and thrills, with Black Swan being his highlight from the 2010s. Based on an original story by co-writer Andres Heinz, the plot centers around two ballet dancers, Nina Sayers (May December‘s Natalie Portman) and Lily (Mila Kunis), cast as the White and Black Swans, respectively, for a production of Swan Lake.

This premise unravels into something far bleaker when Nina succumbs to the relentless pressure of competition, leading to her struggling to separate fiction from reality and Lily becoming far more than her on-stage counterpart. Black Swan earned critical acclaim for its unsettlingly clever spin on Swan Lake and for using its premise to explore the concept of looming doppelgangers. Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis’ chemistry earned the strongest plaudits, as the former won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Source Code (2011)

Source Code
94m
Genre
Thriller, Science Fiction, Mystery
Stars
Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga
Directed by
Duncan Jones
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The science fiction genre succeeding on the big screen is always a joy to see, adaptation or otherwise, and 2011’s Source Code is one of the more popular original sci-fi movies in recent memory. Directed by Duncan Jones, the plot has U.S. Army Captain Colter Stevens (Road House‘s Jake Gyllenhaal) repeatedly thrown into an eight-minute time loop of a train explosion to uncover the identity of the terrorist responsible.

Source Code received widespread acclaim for its original and high-octane story, backed by Jake Gyllenhaal’s reliably charismatic performance. Both Jones and writer Ben Ripley’s sci-fi thriller is suitably mind-bending, but the plot also leaves room for a sincere human element worth rooting for at its core.

The Green Knight (2021)

The Green Knight
130m
Genre
Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Stars
Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton
Directed by
David Lowery
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Director David Lowery’s The Green Knight puts Dev Patel in an interesting new take on Arthurian legend. Taking inspiration from the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patel takes on the role of King Arthur’s stubborn nephew Gawain as he dives headfirst into a grand and bizarre quest to challenge the Green Knight and achieve glory.

The Green Knight is an impressive feat, as this A24 indie movie features visually stunning — and even surreal — visuals and production value. Dev Patel is a standout performer throughout the movie, making its sincere coming-of-age themes feel impactful as this subversive take on the Arthurian story plays out.

Good Time (2017)

Good Time
102m
Genre
Crime, Thriller
Stars
Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress
Directed by
Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
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After the financially lucrative Twilight franchise came to an end theatrically, Robert Pattinson tested his acting mettle in a series of unique indie movies. Josh and Benny Safdie’s Good Time was among the greatest standouts, following the story of a petty criminal (Pattinson) who tries to free his developmentally disabled brother (Benny Safdie) from prison after an attempted robbery goes wrong.

Good Time is an excellent small-scale crime drama and keeps a frenetic energy throughout this story. It also further proves how much of a chameleon Pattinson is as an actor, with his character Connie Nikas being palpably hateable in the role and notably different than other characters he’s played.

The Revenant (2015)

The Revenant
157m
Genre
Western, Drama, Adventure
Stars
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson
Directed by
Alejandro González Iñárritu
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Director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant will always be at least partly known for getting Leonardo DiCaprio his first acting Oscar Award, but it’s compelling in its own right as well.

Loosely based on author Michael Punke’s novel of the same name, the movie is centered around a revenge story, as frontiersman Hugh Glass survives a brutal bear attack and hunts down the men who left him to die. The Revenant is filled with striking camera shots and bolstered by DiCaprio’s visceral performance, with Tom Hardy playing a convincing antagonist alongside him. The movie’s runtime and pacing can occasionally feel drawn out, but overall, it’s a gripping tale of vengeance.

Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla
62%
6.4/10
123m
Genre
Action, Drama, Science Fiction
Stars
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche
Directed by
Gareth Edwards
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With director Adam Wingard’s Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire being the latest in the thriving Monsterverse franchise, now is a great time to watch the movie that kickstarted the shared universe. Director Gareth Edwards‘ (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Creator) Godzilla unfolds when an American soldier is entangled in an ancient conflict between the titular reptilian Titan and two beasts of a species dubbed MUTOs.

While Edwards overplays his hand somewhat in giving the monster enough screen time, Godzilla’s presence throughout the movie is wonderfully atmospheric, building up to his appearances with an almost Jaws-like approach. Godzilla makes each of the reptile’s appearances feel significant, and the monster-fighting action is incredibly cathartic.

Midsommar (2019)

Midsommar
147m
Genre
Horror, Drama, Mystery
Stars
Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
Directed by
Ari Aster
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Director Ari Aster and A24 have developed some hauntingly memorable horror movies, and 2019’s Midsommar is no exception. The Hereditary director takes a different approach in this chilling feature, with Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor playing a dysfunctional couple who take a vacation with their friends to a rural Swedish settlement, only to get entangled in a grim pagan cult.

Similar to Hereditary, Aster’s Midsommar succeeds in horrifying audiences without the need for cheap jump scares by emphasizing visceral, psychological, and body horror direction in its storytelling. Pugh is the standout performer, as she makes her and the group’s steady decline and the unraveling of the cult’s practices mesmerizing.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club
98m
Genre
Comedy, Drama
Stars
Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald
Directed by
John Hughes
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The 1985 movie The Breakfast Club is a bona fide coming-of-age teen comedy and drama classic. Directed by John Hughes (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Home Alone), the movie follows the story of five teenagers in a high school, each belonging to a unique clique that is a stark contrast to the others. Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez) is the “jock,” Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall) is the “nerd,” John Bender (Judd Nelson) is the “criminal,” Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) is the “princess,” and Allison Reynolds (Allie Sheedy) is the “basket case,” with all five of them attending Saturday detention for various reasons.

The Breakfast Club holds up well as a heartfelt and endearing character-driven story. With sincere coming-of-age themes at its core, including coming from troubled homes and struggling to find one’s identity, The Breakfast Club is endlessly relatable.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
113m
Genre
Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Thriller
Stars
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
Directed by
Nicholas Meyer
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Directed by Nicholas Meyer, this sequel sees Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and the rest of the USS Enterprise clash against the vengeful genetically engineered conqueror Khan (Ricardo Montalbán) as he attempts to acquire a devastating terraforming weapon dubbed Genesis.

Overall, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was seen as a triumphant return to form for the franchise on the big screen, doing a markedly better job of evoking what made the TV show so successful. The movie featured spirited and grandiose performances from the main cast of heroes, a convincing new villain, and a sense of swashbuckling adventure that longtime fans and newcomers could enjoy.

The Ides of March (2011)

The Ides of March
101m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by
George Clooney
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A movie that was directed and co-written by and starred George Clooney, The Ides of March was a compelling political drama. The movie is an adaptation of Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North — who also co-wrote the script with Clooney — The Ides of March mainly centers around press secretary Stephen Meyers (played by Barbie‘s Ryan Gosling) grappling with the fact that Mike Morris (played by Clooney), the political candidate he’s backing for the presidency, works for an immoral figure higher up the ladder.

The ambitious press secretary and campaign manager becomes tangled in the middle of a political scandal where he struggles with maintaining his dignity and giving into the dirty politics to advance his career. Ironically, The Ides of March might not be the most ambitious social commentary on political corruption, but it’s a convincing enough drama thanks to the talented duo of Gosling and Clooney.

RoboCop (1987)

RoboCop
102m
Genre
Action, Thriller, Science Fiction
Stars
Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy
Directed by
Paul Verhoeven
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Arguably actor Peter Weller’s most iconic theatrical role, 1987’s RoboCop is a classic sci-fi action movie of the era. The Paul Verhoeven-directed story follows police officer Alex Murphy (played by Weller) in a crime-infested Detroit set in a dystopic sci-fi future. The officer is murdered in a gang attack but is later revived by the corporation Omni Consumer Products to experiment with their titular “RoboCop” initiative.

Together with Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, RoboCop helped bolster the cyberpunk subgenre, with the movie having an impressive level of nuance. While the cartoonishly over-the-top action certainly draws appeal on its own, RoboCop uses its titular cyborg protagonist to explore themes of what it means to lose one’s humanity, as well as a bold critique of corporate corruption and the real-world economic policies driving the U.S. at the time.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Mad Max: Fury Road
121m
Genre
Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
Stars
Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Directed by
George Miller
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The long-awaited prequel Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga finally has a trailer out and a release date set, making director George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road the perfect watch for the uninitiated. A reboot of the classic film series starring Mel Gibson, Fury Road sees Tom Hardy (Bronson, Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises) as the titular protagonist teaming up with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in a rebellion against the brutal cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

The movie proved to be an excellent reboot of the franchise, bolstered by a tense story, jaw-dropping action set pieces, and impressive cinematography. Mad Max: Fury Road stands as one of the most impressive dystopian sci-fi movies of the modern era.

Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World
124m
Genre
Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Thriller
Stars
Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins
Directed by
Colin Trevorrow
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Though arguably nothing will top Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed 1993 classic, director Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World is an exciting sci-fi thriller on its own terms. Several years after the theme park failed, the titular vacation destination has replaced its predecessor, even operating smoothly for some time. However, things inevitably veer into chaos when the park’s experimentation with hybrid species leads to a breakout of the Indominus Rex.

Claire Denning (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), the park’s operations manager, and Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt), an expert animal handler, are forced to lead an emergency containment effort. Jurassic World succeeds with how it leans on being an unapologetic nostalgia trip, with its CG dinosaurs providing fast-paced thrills amid touches on the classic “man playing god” theme of the original Jurassic Park.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
90m
Genre
Adventure, Comedy, Science Fiction
Stars
Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin
Directed by
Stephen Herek
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Director Stephen Herek’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a cult-classic romp from the ’80s that’s fondly remembered today. The sci-fi comedy stars Keanu Reeves as Ted Logan and Alex Winter as Bill Preston, two high-school slackers who embark on a time-traveling journey to pass their history class and fulfill their future of becoming utopian paragons.

Accompanied by the time-traveler Rufus (George Carlin), the movie boasts an endearing cast of characters that help make for a charming sci-fi comedy. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure remains a delightfully goofy adventure today that will satisfy those looking for some ’80s nostalgia. This movie is also responsible for breaking Keanu Reeves’ career into the mainstream.

Aliens (1986)

Aliens
137m
Genre
Action, Thriller, Science Fiction
Stars
Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen
Directed by
James Cameron
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Not many film franchises have the benefit of changing directors with similarly lauded reputation in the industry, but Aliens certainly did. Picking up the baton from Ridley Scott’s trailblazing original, James Cameron takes the reign of this sequel, seeing the iconic sci-fi female lead Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) agree to investigate the source of a loss in communication with a human lunar colony at the site of the original movie.

Still regarded today as one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made — and in general — Aliens was widely acclaimed for its blend of sci-fi, horror, and visceral action. Like with Scott’s film, this sophomore installment in a legacy series was anchored by another commanding performance by Weaver.

Rocky (1976)

Rocky
119m
Genre
Drama, Romance
Stars
Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
Directed by
John G. Avildsen
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One of the most iconic movies of the ’70s, director John Avildsen’s Rocky paved the way for a theatrical legacy. Starring Sylvester Stallone as up-and-coming boxer Rocky Balboa, audiences are treated to the young and unlikely upstart’s journey from poor club fighter dodging loan sharks to taking a shot at the heavyweight belt held by the legendary Apollo Creed.

Also written by Stallone, Rocky was groundbreaking for popularizing the “rags-to-riches” trope in inspiring dramas, as well as becoming a quintessential sports drama in film. Bolstered by a courageous performance by Stallone, swelling score, and striking cinematography, Rocky holds up well today and leaves a promising successor in the form of Michael B. Jordan’s Creed series.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

The Devil Wears Prada
109m
Genre
Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars
Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt
Directed by
David Frankel
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Adapted from the novel of the same name by Lauren Weisberger, director David Frankel’s The Devil Wears Prada became a mid-2000s classic. The movie revolves around recent college graduate Andy Sachs (played by Anne Hathaway) as she lands a job in New York as prolific fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly’s (played by Meryl Streep) co-assistant.

Effortlessly blending comedy, drama, and witty commentary on the ruthlessness of the fashion industry, The Devil Wears Prada is an incredibly entertaining romp. It earned Streep another feather in her cap with a Golden Globe award win, with Hathaway getting noteworthy praise as well.

Flight (2012)

Flight
138m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly
Directed by
Robert Zemeckis
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Denzel Washington has been celebrated for several of his iconic performances, and his role in Flight deserves to be among them. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Flight is a drama centered around Whip Whitaker (played by Washington), a pilot suffering from severe alcohol and drug addictions who has miraculously managed to go through his career with a clean record.

However, when a mechanical failure on one of his flights forces him to undertake an emergency crash landing, the investigation that follows begins to uexpose his addictive habits. Flight conducts one of the best character profiles in Washington’s backlog, and it marks a triumphant comeback to the industry for director Zemeckis.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
130m
Genre
Science Fiction, Action, Drama, Thriller
Stars
Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman
Directed by
Matt Reeves
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The first movie in the rebooted Planet of the Apes trilogy directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, The Batman), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is set 10 years after its predecessor. Now with human society firmly in shambles after the rise of the Simian Flu, Dawn follows Caesar (played by Andy Serkis) fighting to maintain order among his ranks and expand the apes’ territories. Meanwhile, ex-police officer Dreyfus (played by Gary Oldman) struggles to help what remains of his human colony to survive in this new world order. The worlds of apes and humans collide violently, thrillingly raising the stakes from the first movie. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes succeeds in making a story of anthropomorphic apes feel intimate.

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

The Bourne Ultimatum
115m
Genre
Action, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Stars
Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn
Directed by
Paul Greengrass
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The closer for the original Bourne trilogy, Paul Greengrass’ (The Bourne SupremacyCaptain Phillips) The Bourne Ultimatum features Matt Damon (Oppenheimer) at his action-packed best. The story sees Jason Bourne continuing his quest to uncover the truth of his past before becoming an elite assassin for the CIA black ops’ arm called Operation Treadstone — and now being targeted by the government he used to serve. Greengrass’ The Bourne Ultimatum accomplishes the rare feat of finishing a beloved film series stronger than how it started, with Damon’s performance and meticulously directed action sequences praised as the highest points.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Avatar: The Way of Water
192m
Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Action
Stars
Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver
Directed by
James Cameron
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It took over a decade for the sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 box office juggernaut to release, but it was well worth the wait considering its even greater commercial success. Avatar: The Way of Water sees the Na’vi pair Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) return as they face a new human threat against their young family. As they brace themselves for this assault, the group seeks shelter and refuge with Pandora’s aquatic Na’ci clan known as Metkayina. Much like the first film, The Way of Water is a visual showstopper that raises the bar for cinematic special effects.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction
154m
Genre
Thriller, Crime
Stars
John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman
Directed by
Quentin Tarantino
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Quentin Tarantino is another one of the most celebrated directors in the industry, and his 1994 feature Pulp Fiction is possibly his most iconic work. A combination of gritty crime drama that lives up to its name and a dose of dark comedy, Pulp Fiction revolves around a group of unique and eccentric criminals that see their chaotic lives converge. The movie has an ambitious narrative structure, with each storytelling point of view taking place out of order before culminating into one big, bloody picture.

Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight
111m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe
Directed by
Barry Jenkins
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A three-time Academy Award winner including Best Picture, director Berry Jenkins’ Moonlight is one of the most powerful dramas in recent years. Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unpublished semi-autobiographical play, Moonlight revolves around the protagonist Chiron (played by Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex Hibbert) going through various stages of life. Following his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, Moonlight is a poignant coming-of-age story that explores struggles with abuse, coming to terms with his self-image, and discovering his sexuality.

The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

The Lego Batman Movie
104m
Genre
Animation, Action, Comedy, Family
Stars
Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera
Directed by
Chris McKay
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Many of Batman’s best outing across DC Comics media has been exploring the gritty, street-level ventures. However, that’s not to say there isn’t any room for lighthearted campiness in the modern age, with Chris McKay’s The Lego Batman Movie being a strong testament to this. The movie focuses on Batman (played by Murderville‘s Will Arnett) as he attempts to overcome his fear and thwart the Joker’s latest scheme (played by Zach Galifianakis). The Lego Batman Movie is packed with witty humor, wildly entertaining performances, and a colorful revolving cast of characters.

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

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
179m
Genre
Adventure, Fantasy, Action
Stars
Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler
Directed by
Peter Jackson
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Regarded as the father of the genre, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books are seen as the benchmark of high fantasy. Thankfully, director Peter Jackson made beautiful work of adapting his epic to the screen, with The Fellowship of the Ring being a sweeping opening for the trilogy. This installment sets the stage with the Dark Lord Sauron seeking the One Ring to return his power before jumping forward in time to follow Frodo Baggins (played by Elijah Wood) and eight companions as they begin their journey to Mount Doom. Complete with a stunning ensemble cast including Ian McKellen, Sean Bean, and Viggo Mortensen, Fellowship was acclaimed for its rich story, superb performances, and show-stopping cinematography.

Parasite (2019)

Parasite
133m
Genre
Comedy, Thriller, Drama
Stars
Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong
Directed by
Bong Joon-ho
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Director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite was a breakout hit in 2019, earning an Academy Award for Best Picture. The Korean dark comedy/thriller hybrid focuses on the desperate exploits of a poor family that schemes their way into working for a wealthy family.

The family poses as qualified for the tasks at hand, but the more they involve themselves in the wealthy Park family’s lives, the deeper they get tangled in a shocking incident. Parasite earned widespread critical acclaim for its smart humor combined with equally poignant social commentary on class dynamics.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
201m
Genre
Adventure, Fantasy, Action
Stars
Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler
Directed by
Peter Jackson
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Cementing the series’ status as one of the most outstanding film trilogies ever made, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a triumphant finish for Peter Jackson’s tenure in Middle-earth. The film continues with Bilbo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) journeying to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom.

Meanwhile, the remaining heroes, including Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), and Legolas (Orlando Bloom), amass an army to battle with Sauron. Winning an astonishing 11 Academy Awards out of 11 nominations, The Return of the King was emphatically acclaimed for its faithfulness to Tolkien’s source material, stunning visuals, and powerfully emotional payoff.

Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary
128m
Genre
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Stars
Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro
Directed by
Ari Aster
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A24 studio has made itself one of the biggest names in the indie film scene, with director Ari Aster providing it with some of the best horror movies in recent years. Aster is a master of building dread through psychological and body horror, and Hereditary is a terrifyingly effective showcase of both.

It stars the likes of Toni Collette and Alex Wolff as part of a family that finds itself haunted by an ominous presence after the death of their mysterious grandmother. Collette was an expected standout, but the whole cast put up excellent performances in a genuinely foreboding experience, with its striking cinematography adding to the tension.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises
78%
8.4/10
165m
Genre
Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman
Directed by
Christopher Nolan
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Following up on what’s widely considered to be the greatest live-action Batman movie is a tall order, but Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises earns its victory lap. Taking place nearly a decade later, a Dark Knight Returns-esque Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement when the mysterious Bane leads a resurgent League of Shadows against Gotham City to finish what Ra’s al Ghul started in Batman Begins. Tom Hardy does an excellent job at putting together this imposing rendition of the hulking mastermind, and The Dark Knight Rises ultimately serves as a satisfying finish to Bruce Wayne’s character arc and Nolan’s celebrated Batman trilogy.

The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight
152m
Genre
Drama, Action, Crime, Thriller
Stars
Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine
Directed by
Christopher Nolan
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The movie that effectively became the gold standard for live-action Batman ventures, Christopher Nolan’s sophomore effort in the revered Dark Knight trilogy became the most acclaimed. The Dark Knight takes place in the titular superhero’s second year of cleaning up the streets of Gotham City, which has seen organized crime take a stranglehold over it for decades. However, the Clown Prince of Crime makes his presence known to attempt to upend that progress through sheer chaos. In part thanks to the dynamic between Christan Bale’s take on the brooding hero and Heath Ledger’s mesmerizing rendition of the Joker, The Dark Knight succeeds as one of the best superhero movies to date, as well as a compelling Michael Mann-like crime thriller.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
179m
Genre
Adventure, Fantasy, Action
Stars
Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler
Directed by
Peter Jackson
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Following up on the widespread critical acclaim of director Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers successfully builds upon its predecessor’s strengths. This epic fantasy adventure is masterfully structured into three parallel storylines: Frodo and Sam continue their trek across Middle-earth to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mordor; Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the revived Gandalf arrive at the war-ravaged nation of Rohan to help defeat the invading army of Sauron; and Pippin and Merry escape the orcs’ imprisonment and, with the help of Treebeard, coordinate the attack on Sauron’s fortress at Isengard. Bolstered by a talented ensemble cast, The Two Towers is as riveting a watch now as it was in 2002.

Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins
140m
Genre
Action, Crime, Drama
Stars
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson
Directed by
Christopher Nolan
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Christopher Nolan revitalized the DC Comics icon for the big screen with this origin story. Going back to the more grounded, street-level roots of the character, Batman Begins stands as one of the most triumphant Hollywood reboots. Christian Bale brings forth a darker, grittier take on the Dark Knight in a story that’s truer to the source material. Nor does it stray far from the inherent fantastical nature of the comic book medium, with Liam Neeson giving a convincing portrayal of international terrorist Ra’s al Ghul and Cillian Murphy in tow as the mad doctor known as the Scarecrow. Batman Begins paved the way for arguably one of the best modern movie trilogies.

The Witch (2015)

The Witch
83%
6.9/10
r
92m
Genre
Horror, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy
Stars
Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Directed by
Robert Eggers
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The Witch was Anya Taylor-Joy’s first feature film, and it made her a star. In the early 1600s, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is the eldest daughter in a family of Puritans led by her parents, William (Ralph Ineson) and Katherine (Kate Dickie). After the family is banished by their local religious sect, Thomasin is horrified when her infant brother is stolen out from under her nose. Unbeknownst to the family, there really is a witch (Bathsheba Garnett) in the woods, and she has a taste for the young. Through her hardships, Thomasin discovers that she also has powers of her own, which only makes things scarier.

The Batman (2022)

The Batman
72%
8.2/10
pg-13
176m
Genre
Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Stars
Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano
Directed by
Matt Reeves
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Let the era of Battinson begin! The Batman is a complete reboot of the Dark Knight, with Robert Pattinson in the title role. In director Matt Reeves’ vision for Gotham City, Batman is still early in his career when he goes up against Riddler (Paul Dano), a madman who may bring down the entire city. While Batman trusts Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), he isn’t so sure about Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), a cat burglar who has her own agenda. But if Batman wants to save Gotham, he will have to become more than just a vigilante.

Dune (2021)

Dune
74%
8.1/10
155m
Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure
Stars
Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac
Directed by
Denis Villeneuve
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Director Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune was one of the few true hits of the pandemic era. And now that the film is back on Max, viewers can see why it received several Oscar nominations as well. Timothée Chalamet portrays Paul Atreides, the heir of House Atreides and seemingly a figure of destiny. The universe is in Paul’s hands, or at least it was until his house was betrayed by the emperor and attacked by House Harkonnen. Now, Paul and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), must find a way to survive on the desert planet, Arrakis/Dune, and reclaim the power that was once theirs.

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Guillermo Kurten
Freelance Writer, Entertainment

A University of Houston graduate in Print Media Journalism, Guillermo has covered sports entertainment and practically all forms of geek culture as a freelance writer.

His young career so far has seen him write about soccer through websites including Read Bundesliga and Bayern Strikes, specializing in FC Bayern Munich. From there he moved on to Comic Book Resources, Game Rant, The Gamer, and Screen Rant to indulge his inner nerd, with over 2 years and counting as a senior writer at the latter.

Guillermo's interests span video games, movies, TV series, comic books, anime, and manga -- and if you're not careful, will talk your ear off specifically about the last 40-plus years of Batman lore.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Guillermo studied at Lone Star College in Texas before ultimately completing his Bachelor's degree.

Blair Marnell

Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek Monthly, SYFY Wire, Superhero Hype, Collider, DC Universe, and the official sites for Star Trek and Marvel. He also lends his pop culture expertise to Digital Trends on a variety of TV, movie, and streaming features.

Rick Marshall

A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and emerging technology, Rick has been writing for Digital Trends since 2011.

Over the years, Rick has served as an editor for MTV News and Wizard Magazine, as well as a columnist for Time Inc., Movies.com, Fandango, and IFC.com. He is a member of Critics Choice Association and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic for films and television series. A voracious consumer of movies and TV series, as well as a lifetime fan of comic books, video games, and all manner of geekery, his work can also be found in Mental Floss, Space.com, and various other print and online outlets.

Dubbed a "Professional Geek," Rick has appeared on Spike TV, MTV, ABC, CBS, Fox Business, and NPR to offer commentary on entertainment and pop culture trends. He served as co-producer and host of WAMC Northeast Public Radio's "RetConned" podcast, interviewing a wide spectrum of pop-culture personalities and creators from 2016-2018.

A native of New York's Capital Region, Rick began his journalism career at the alternative newsweekly Metroland. He was named the New York Press Association's Writer of the Year while covering local, state, and national news around New York's capital city and surrounding region.

Rick attended college at SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Albany, earning degrees in Computer Science, Environmental Science, and Journalism. He is a proud father of two great kids, husband to an endlessly patient partner who tolerates his love for "The Transformers: The Movie," and a big fan of good beer.

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The summer blockbuster season is almost here, but you don't have to wait to catch some of the best recent releases thanks to our list of the best movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Max (HBO), and other services. Whenever something new that's worth your time hits the major streamers, we're on top of it, so you don't miss a beat.

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