Top 30 best movies on HBO Max of all time
Top 30 best movies on HBO Max of all time

The best movies on HBO Max reflect nothing if not the culmination of our streaming dystopia. Ostensibly, this is a good thing: Below you’ll find masterpiece after masterpiece from the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Agnes Varda, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Barbara Kopple, Jacques Demy, Akira Kurosawa, the Maysles, Pennebaker, Ingmar Bergman—those looking for a crash course in world cinema can pretty much single-handedly thank Turner Classic Movies’ folding under the HBO banner for the bounties they’re about to inhale. Basically, it’s like Criterion Channel Lite in some of its more highbrow corners.

Like most other streaming services that aren’t owned by, say, the House of Mouse, there is no real overarching theme to what HBO Max presents, which is exactly why HBO Max represents such a powerful urge to just roll over and let it all happen. Even Hayao Miyazaki, notoriously against having his movies available on streaming services, finally gave in. Whereas once these streaming services represented a more accessible alternative to an overpriced cable TV package, now we’re given no alternative, even though pretty much every movie imaginable is available for us to watch right now. Welcome HBO Max: You get a piece of us too.

List of top 30 best movies on HBO Max of all time

30. American Splendor (2003)

29. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

28. Blade Runner (1982)

27. City of God (2002)

26. Clerks (1994)

25. Clueless (1995)

24. The Dark Knight (2008)

23. Deerskin (2020)

22. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

21. The Empty Man (2020)

20. Escape From New York (1981)

19. Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

18. Ford v Ferrari (2019)

17. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

16. Seven Samurai (1956)

15. Casablanca (1942)

14. Citizen Kane (1941)

13. Jules et Jim (1962)

12. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

11. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

10. Godzilla (1954)

9. Not Another Teen Movie (2001)

8. Modern Times (1936)

7. Goodfellas (1990)

6. The Graduate (1967)

5. Gremlins (1984)

4. In the Mood for Love (2000)

3. Innerspace (1987)

2. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

1. The Matrix (1999)

Detailed information on top 30 best movies on HBO Max of all time

30. American Splendor (2003)

Photo: Letterboxd
Photo: Letterboxd

American Splendor is a 2003 American biographical comedy-drama film about Harvey Pekar, the author of the American Splendor comic book series. The film, which is a hybrid production featuring live actors, documentary, and animation, is in part an adaptation of the comics, which dramatize Pekar's life. American Splendor was written and directed by documentarians Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini.

The film stars Paul Giamatti as Pekar and Hope Davis as Joyce Brabner. It also features appearances from Pekar and Brabner themselves (along with Pekar's long-time co-worker Toby Radloff), who discuss their lives, the comic books, and how it feels to be depicted onscreen by actors. It was filmed entirely on location in Cleveland and Lakewood in Ohio.

29. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

A comedy of all time. Photo: HBO Max
A comedy of all time. Photo: HBO Max

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (or simply Austin Powers) is a 1997 American spy action comedy film directed by Jay Roach. It is the first installment in the Austin Powers series. It stars franchise co-producer and writer Mike Myers, playing the roles of Austin Powers and Dr. Evil, Powers' arch-enemy. Supporting roles are played by Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, and Michael York. The film is a parody of the James Bond films, especially Diamonds Are Forever, and other popular culture from the 1960s.

The film, which cost US$16.5 million, opened on May 2, 1997, grossing US$53 million from its North American release and over $67 million worldwide. The film spawned two sequels, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002).

In the years following Austin Powers in Goldmember, Myers has discussed the possibility of a fourth film.

28. Blade Runner (1982)

Photo: HBO Max
Photo: HBO Max

Director Ridley Scott went out of his way to imagine 2019 Los Angeles as a pretty terrible place to be, and yet the look, sound, and feel of the world are so seductive that we want to visit regardless. Same goes for the story: Blade Runner's plot is a barely warmed-over detective yarn with Harrison Ford in the role of the hard-boiled investigator, but we can feel glimmers of the pain and confusion of artificial humans who realize they are powerless against their pre-determined fate. The movie is a triumph of world-building that still makes a mark on viewers and filmmakers years later.

27. City of God (2002)

Photo: Imdb
Photo: Imdb

City of God (Portuguese: Cidade de Deus) is a 2002 Brazilian crime film co-directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, released in its home country in 2002 and worldwide in 2003. Bráulio Mantovani adapted the story from the 1997 novel of the same name written by Paulo Lins, but the plot is loosely based on real events. It depicts the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro, between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1980s, with the film's closure depicting the war between the drug dealer Li'l Zé and vigilante-turned-criminal Knockout Ned. The tagline is "If you run, the beast catches you; if you stay, the beast eats you."

The cast includes Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino da Hora, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Alice Braga, and Seu Jorge. Most of the actors were, in fact, residents of favelas such as Vidigal and the Cidade de Deus itself.

26. Clerks (1994)

An unusual movie of Kevin Smith . Photo: HBO Max
An unusual movie of Kevin Smith . Photo: HBO Max

Clerks is a 1994 American black-and-white buddy comedy film written, produced and directed by Kevin Smith. The film stars Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson, it presents a day in the lives of titular store clerks Dante Hicks (O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Anderson), along with their acquaintances. Clerks is the first of Smith's View Askewniverse films, and introduces several recurring characters, notably Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith).

Clerks was shot for $27,575 in the convenience and video stores where director Smith worked in real life. Upon its theatrical release, the film received generally positive reviews and grossed over $3 million in theaters, launching Smith's career. The film is considered a landmark in independent filmmaking and, in 2019, was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, who deemed it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

25. Clueless (1995)

Photo: Imdb
Photo: Imdb

Clueless is a 1995 American coming-of-age teen comedy film written and directed by Amy Heckerling. It stars Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy and Paul Rudd. It was produced by Scott Rudin and Robert Lawrence. It is loosely based on Jane Austen's 1815 novel Emma, with a modern-day setting of Beverly Hills. The plot centers on Cher Horowitz, a beautiful, popular and rich high school student who befriends a new student named Tai Frasier and decides to give her a makeover.

Clueless was filmed in California over a 40-day schedule. The film's director studied real Beverly Hills high school students to understand how real teens in the 1990s talked and learn some appropriate slang terms.

The film grossed $56.1 million in the United States. It has received positive reviews from critics and is considered to be one of the best teen films of all time. Clueless has developed a cult following and has a continuing legacy. The film was followed by a spin-off television sitcom, series of books, and Paramount Pictures has announced that they are producing a remake.

24. The Dark Knight (2008)

Poster of The Dark Knight. Photo: Imdb
Poster of The Dark Knight. Photo: Imdb

The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed, produced, and co-written by Christopher Nolan. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is the second installment of Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy and a sequel to 2005's Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale and supported by Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Morgan Freeman. In the film, Bruce Wayne / Batman (Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Eckhart) form an alliance to dismantle organized crime in Gotham City, but are menaced by an anarchistic mastermind known as the Joker (Ledger), who seeks to undermine Batman's influence and throw the city into anarchy.

Nolan's inspiration for the film was the Joker's comic book debut in 1940, the 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, and the 1996 series The Long Halloween, which retold Harvey Dent's origin. The "Dark Knight" nickname was first applied to Batman in Batman #1 (1940), in a story written by Bill Finger. The Dark Knight was filmed primarily in Chicago, as well as in several other locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. The film was the first mainstream feature to partially utilize IMAX 70 mm cameras, with Nolan using them for 28 minutes of the film, including the Joker's first appearance. Warner Bros. initially created a viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screenshots of Ledger as the Joker. Ledger died on January 22, 2008, some months after he completed filming and six months before the film's release from a toxic combination of prescription drugs, leading to intense attention from the press and movie-going public.

23. Deerskin (2020)

Photo: Roger Erbert
Photo: Roger Erbert

When deadbeat Georges (Jean Dujardin) takes his car on a post-breakup road trip to the dreary French countryside, he answers an ad for an old man who has a slammin' deerskin jacket -- fringe and all -- and an unused digital camera burning a hole in the bottom of his trunk. Georges dons the jacket, admires his "killer style," and embarks on a crusade to make his jacket the only jacket in the world. First, he merely steals them from a few townspeople, pretending to be a filmmaker to convince a local bartender (Adèle Haenel) to spot him some cash, but eventually his desperation to fulfill his task turns to more murderous measures. Director Quentin Dupieux squeezes every drop of hilarity out of Georges' painful awkwardness and ridiculous schemes.

22. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Photo: Movieclips
Photo: Movieclips

Dog Day Afternoon is a movie that vibrates with the energy of a city on the brink of exploding. In telling the story of a real-life New York bank robbery, director Sidney Lumet captures more than just the inherent tension between Al Pacino's stressed-out Sonny and the put-upon citizens trapped inside the bank with him. The movie also pulls back enough to capture the media circus, the community uproar, and the law enforcement response without losing sight of the human drama at the center. There's a reason almost every bank robbery movie since has stolen liberally from this one.

21. The Empty Man (2020)

A horror scene of The Empty Man. Photo: Twitter
A horror scene of The Empty Man. Photo: Twitter

The Empty Man is a 2020 supernatural horror thriller film written, directed, and edited by David Prior, based on Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey's graphic novel of same name published by Boom! Studios. The film stars James Badge Dale, Marin Ireland, Stephen Root, Ron Canada, Robert Aramayo, Joel Courtney, and Sasha Frolova. It follows an ex-cop who, upon an investigation into a missing girl, discovers a secret cult.

Originally filmed in August 2017, the film received poor scores at test screenings and distributor 20th Century Studios lost faith in its commercial prospects. The final product, theatrically released in the United States on October 23, 2020, was still considered a rough edit by Prior. The film received mostly negative reviews from critics and audiences at the time of its release, although reception improved after it came out on home media and has since gained a cult following.

20. Escape From New York (1981)

Photo: Dailymotion
Photo: Dailymotion

Escape from New York (stylized on-screen as John Carpenter's Escape from New York) is a 1981 American science fiction action thriller film co-written, co-scored and directed by John Carpenter. It stars Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, and Harry Dean Stanton.

The film's storyline, set in the near-future world of 1997, concerns a crime-ridden United States, which has converted Manhattan Island in New York City into the country's maximum-security prison. Air Force One is hijacked by insurgents and is deliberately crashed in New York City. Ex-soldier and current federal prisoner Snake Plissken (Russell) is given just 24 hours to go in and rescue the President of the United States, after which, if successful, Snake will be pardoned.

19. Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

Photo: Michael Gibson/ HBO
Photo: Michael Gibson/ HBO

Fahrenheit 451 is a 2018 American dystopian drama film directed and co-written by Ramin Bahrani, based on the 1953 book of the same name by Ray Bradbury. It stars Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon, Sofia Boutella, Lilly Singh, Grace Lynn Kung and Martin Donovan. Set in a future America, the film follows a "fireman" whose job it is to burn books, which are now illegal, only to question society after meeting a young woman. After premiering at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, the film aired on HBO on May 19, 2018 receiving mixed critical reviews.

18. Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Christian Bale (left) stars as Ken Miles and Matt Damon (right) stars as Carroll Shleby in “Ford v Ferrari” (2019), directed by James Mangold. By Courtesy of Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox
Christian Bale (left) stars as Ken Miles and Matt Damon (right) stars as Carroll Shleby in “Ford v Ferrari” (2019), directed by James Mangold. By Courtesy of Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox

Ford v Ferrari (titled Le Mans '66 in some European countries) is a 2019 American sports drama film directed by James Mangold and written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller. The film stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale, with Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, and Ray McKinnon in supporting roles.

The plot follows a determined team of American and British engineers and designers, led by automotive designer Carroll Shelby and his British driver, Ken Miles, who are dispatched by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca with the mission of building the Ford GT40, a new racing car with the potential to finally defeat the perennially dominant Italian racing team Scuderia Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. In early stages of the film's production, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were cast in the starring roles, but the plans never came to fruition. Mangold was then hired in February 2018, and Damon, Bale, and the rest of the cast joined that summer. Filming began in July 2018 in California and lasted a little over two months.

17. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

Photo: Imdb
Photo: Imdb

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (French: Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is a 1964 musical romantic drama film written and directed by Jacques Demy and starring Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo. The music was composed by Michel Legrand. The film dialogue is entirely sung as recitative, including casual conversation, and is sung-through, or through-composed like some operas and stage musicals.

Umbrellas is the middle film in an informal "romantic trilogy" of Demy films that share some of the same actors, characters and overall look; it comes after Lola (1961) and before The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967). The film was very successful in France, and was also shown internationally, introducing Deneuve to a larger audience. It was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Film, Best Song, Best Soundtrack, and Best Original Screenplay. It won three awards at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival, including its top prize, the Palme d'Or. Jim Ridley has called Cherbourg "the most affecting of movie musicals, and perhaps the fullest expression of [Demy's] career-long fascination with the entwining of real life, chance, and the bewitching artifice of cinematic illusion."

16. Seven Samurai (1956)

Seven Samurai (Japanese: 七人の侍, Hepburn: Shichinin no Samurai) is a 1954 Japanese epic samurai drama film co-written, edited, and directed by Akira Kurosawa. The story takes place in 1586 during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. It follows the story of a village of farmers that hire seven rōnin (masterless samurai) to combat bandits who will return after the harvest to steal their crops.

At the time, the film was the most expensive film ever made in Japan. The film took a year to shoot and faced many difficulties. The film was the second-highest grossing domestic film in Japan in 1954. Many reviews compared the film to westerns.

Since its release, Seven Samurai has consistently ranked highly in critics' lists of the greatest films, such as the BFI's Sight & Sound and Rotten Tomatoes polls. It was also voted the greatest foreign-language film in BBC's 2018 international critics' poll. It has remained highly influential, often seen as one of the most "remade, reworked, referenced" films in cinema.

15. Casablanca (1942)

A classic of all time. Photo: Getty Images
A classic of all time. Photo: Getty Images

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, and starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid. Filmed and set during World War II, it focuses on an American expatriate (Bogart) who must choose between his love for a woman (Bergman) or helping her and her husband (Henreid), a Czech resistance leader, escape from the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Germans. The screenplay is based on Everybody Comes to Rick's, an unproduced stage play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. The supporting cast features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson.

14. Citizen Kane (1941)

Photo: Paramount Pictures
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced and directed by Orson Welles, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz. The picture was Welles's first feature film. Considered by many critics and filmmakers to be the greatest film ever made, Citizen Kane was voted number 1 in five consecutive British Film Institute Sight & Sound polls of critics, and it topped the American Film Institute's 100 Years ... 100 Movies list in 1998, as well as its 2007 update. Nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories, it won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) by Mankiewicz and Welles. Citizen Kane is praised for Gregg Toland's cinematography, Robert Wise's editing, Bernard Herrmann's music, and its narrative structure, all of which have been considered innovative and precedent-setting.

The quasi-biographical film examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles, a composite character based on American media barons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, Chicago tycoons Samuel Insull and Harold McCormick, as well as aspects of the screenwriters' own lives. Upon its release, Hearst prohibited the film from being mentioned in his newspapers.

13. Jules et Jim (1962)

Photo: Janus Films
Photo: Janus Films

Jules and Jim (French: Jules et Jim [ʒyl e dʒim]) is a 1962 French New Wave romantic drama film, directed, produced and written by François Truffaut. Set around the time of World War I, it describes a tragic love triangle involving French Bohemian Jim (Henri Serre), his shy Austrian friend Jules (Oskar Werner), and Jules's girlfriend and later wife Catherine (Jeanne Moreau).

The film is based on Henri-Pierre Roché's 1953 semi-autobiographical novel describing his relationship with young writer Franz Hessel and Helen Grund, whom Hessel married. Truffaut came across the book in the mid-1950s while browsing through some secondhand books at a shop along the Seine in Paris. He later befriended the elderly Roché, who had published his first novel at the age of 74. The author approved of the young director's interest to adapt his work to another medium.

12. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Claude Rains and Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Claude Rains and Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 American political comedy-drama film directed by Frank Capra, starring Jean Arthur and James Stewart, and featuring Claude Rains and Edward Arnold. The film is about a newly appointed United States Senator who fights against a corrupt political system, and was written by Sidney Buchman, based on Lewis R. Foster's unpublished story "The Gentleman from Montana". The film was controversial when it was first released, but successful at the box office, and it made Stewart a major star. It was also loosely based on the life of Montana U.S. Senator Burton Wheeler, who underwent a similar experience when he was investigating the Warren Harding administration.

11. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Top 30 Best Movies On HBO Max Of All Time
Malcolm McDowell as Alex DeLarge in, "A Clockwork Orange."

A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film adapted, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. It employs disturbing, violent images to comment on psychiatry, juvenile delinquency, youth gangs, and other social, political, and economic subjects in a dystopian near-future Britain.

Alex (Malcolm McDowell), the central character, is a charismatic, antisocial delinquent whose interests include classical music (especially Beethoven), committing rape, theft and what is termed "ultra-violence". He leads a small gang of thugs, Pete (Michael Tarn), Georgie (James Marcus), and Dim (Warren Clarke), whom he calls his droogs (from the Russian word друг, "friend", "buddy"). The film chronicles the horrific crime spree of his gang, his capture, and attempted rehabilitation via an experimental psychological conditioning technique (the "Ludovico Technique") promoted by the Minister of the Interior (Anthony Sharp). Alex narrates most of the film in Nadsat, a fractured adolescent slang composed of Slavic (especially Russian), English, and Cockney rhyming slang.

10. Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla (Japanese: ゴジラ, Hepburn: Gojira)[c] is a 1954 Japanese kaiju film directed by Ishirō Honda, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Produced and distributed by Toho Studios, it is the first film in the Godzilla franchise and the Shōwa era. The film stars Akira Takarada, Momoko Kōchi, Akihiko Hirata, and Takashi Shimura, with Haruo Nakajima and Katsumi Tezuka as Godzilla. In the film, Japan's authorities deal with the sudden appearance of a giant monster, whose attacks trigger fears of nuclear holocaust during post-war Japan.

Godzilla entered production after a Japanese-Indonesian co-production collapsed. Tsuburaya originally opted for a giant octopus before the filmmakers decided on a dinosaur-inspired creature. Godzilla pioneered a form of special effects called suitmation, in which a stunt performer wearing a suit interacts with miniature sets. Principal photography lasted 51 days, and special effects photography lasted 71 days.

9. Not Another Teen Movie (2001)

Photo: Screenrant
Photo: Screenrant

Not Another Teen Movie is a 2001 American teen parody film directed by Joel Gallen and written by Mike Bender, Adam Jay Epstein, Andrew Jacobson, Phil Beauman, and Buddy Johnson. It features an ensemble cast including Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans (in his film debut), Jaime Pressly, Eric Christian Olsen, Eric Jungmann, Mia Kirshner, Deon Richmond, Cody McMains, Sam Huntington, Samm Levine, Cerina Vincent, Ron Lester, Randy Quaid, Lacey Chabert, Riley Smith and Samaire Armstrong.

Released on December 14, 2001, by Columbia Pictures, the film is a parody of teen films. While the general plot is based on She's All That, as well as Varsity Blues,[4] 10 Things I Hate About You, Can't Hardly Wait and Pretty in Pink, the film is also filled with allusions to teenage and college-age films from the 1980s and 1990s, such as Bring It On, American Pie, Cruel Intentions,American Beauty, Never Been Kissed, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Can't Buy Me Love, Jawbreaker, Sixteen Candles, Dazed and Confused, Lucas, Rudy, The Breakfast Club, Grease, and Road Trip.

8. Modern Times (1936)

Photo: Classic Movies
Photo: Classic Movies

Modern Times is a 1936 American silent comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin in which his iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a comment on the desperate employment and financial conditions many people faced during the Great Depression — conditions created, in Chaplin's view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization. The movie stars Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford and Chester Conklin. It is notable for being the last time that Chaplin portrayed the Tramp character and for being the first time Chaplin's voice is heard on film.

In 1989, Modern Times was one of the first 25 films selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2003, it was screened "out of competition" at the Cannes Film Festival.

7. Goodfellas (1990)

Unholy trinity: Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in the poster artwork for ‘Goodfellas’ (Warner Bros)
Unholy trinity: Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in the poster artwork for ‘Goodfellas’ (Warner Bros)

Start thinly slicing garlic, make yourself some gravy, and settling in to watch Martin Scorsese's still incredible classic, Goodfellas. The story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), how he became a made man, and how it all went wrong is our favorite Scorsese movie for a reason. It's a brilliant dissection of the allure of the mob lifestyle, and a horrifying look at how it corrodes people's souls all at the same time.

6. The Graduate (1967)

Anne Bancroft talking with Dustin Hoffman in a scene from the film 'The Graduate', 1967. (Photo by Embassy Pictures/Getty Images)
Anne Bancroft talking with Dustin Hoffman in a scene from the film 'The Graduate', 1967. (Photo by Embassy Pictures/Getty Images)

Dustin Hoffmann's early career masterpiece of privileged malaise holds up, because it turns out that America hasn't matured enough to deal in any meaningful sense with the existential angst its productivity-first ethos creates. Today, the one word Benjamin Braddock would hear might be two: "Venture capital" or "data mining" or "fintech startups" but the vast meaningless would be the same. And, of course, we can't forget the iconic Anne Bancroft, whose Mrs. Robinson is one of the most memorable characters in American film. She's got a whole song named for her!

5. Gremlins (1984)

Photo: Roger Ebert
Photo: Roger Ebert

Gremlins is a 1984 American comedy horror film directed by Joe Dante from a screenplay written by Chris Columbus. It draws on legends of folkloric mischievous creatures that causes malfunctions—"gremlins"—in the British Royal Air Force going back to World War II and stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, with Howie Mandel providing the voice of Gizmo, the main mogwai character. The story follows a young man who receives a strange creature as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, aggressive monsters that all wreak havoc on a whole town on Christmas Eve.

The film was the center of large merchandising campaigns and opts for black comedy, balanced against a Christmas time setting. Steven Spielberg was the film's executive producer, with the film being produced by Michael Finnell.

4. In the Mood for Love (2000)

Photo: The New York Times
Photo: The New York Times

Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love has gone down as one of the best, and certainly most breathtaking, films of all time. The Hong Kong film chronicles a story of unrequited love between two neighbors (Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung) who discover their spouses are having an affair. Set in the '60s and later torn apart by war, the immensely sensual romance is about the beauty and lust in even the subtlest moments when every gesture, or trip down the block to pick up noodles, can mean so much.

3. Innerspace (1987)

Photo: HBO Max
Photo: HBO Max

Gremlins director Joe Dante gave this take on the old Fantastic Voyage framing of the human body as the next expanse for exploration a necessary shot of comedy in the arm. Dennis Quaid plays an ex-naval pilot who signs up to be the test subject in a miniaturization project. Shrunk down to the size of a single cell, the pilot finds himself accidentally injected into the bloodstream of Martin Short, a manic grocery clerk. Working together—Jack navigating a world of espionage and assassins as Quaid does what he can from inside the cranial region—the two foil a plan to steal the miniaturization technology, and we have a ball watching it.

2. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Photo: HBO Max
Photo: HBO Max

Luckily, HBO Max has all three chapters of director Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings series available, but we suggest starting with the first entry, a rousing adventure that kicks off with wide-eyed and furry-footed hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) leaving home for the first time. Staying true to his gross-out horror roots, Jackson turns J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy novel into a thrill-ride populated by masked riders, dark forests, and hideous Orcs. At the same time, the movie is packed with awe-inspiring images of mysterious cities and stirring portraits of friendships forged in battle.

1. The Matrix (1999)

WARNER BROS. PICTURES
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Combining its signature slo-mo, 360-degree “bullet time” sequences with artfully choreographed Hong Kong-style martial-arts scenes, the Wachowskis' pathbreaking sci-fi epic set a new bar for special effects done right. As much of a kinetic and visual triumph as it was a psychological mindfuck—and that's saying something. Hands down, one of the best action movies of all time. Give this another rewatch before the anticipated fourth installment drops on HBO Max later this year.

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