The Best Movies on HBO Max

HBO Max is swiftly becoming the utility player you must have in your streaming selection, with its Max Originals just getting started. But, with a good amount of best movies on HBO Max, how can a discriminating streamer decide what to watch?

We have compiled a list of the Best Movies on HBO Max to guide you in the right direction. There’s a movie for every mood, whether you want to brush up on an old classic regarded as one of the best produced, catch up on the newest box office smashes, or snuggle up with a familiar favorite. But you have a choice here, you can also pick the movie from our list of best movies on HBO Max. HBO Max Canada also has this list if you do not have access to HBO Max.

After days of research and feedback from the community, we learned that not all the latest movies are the best ones. Sometimes the old legendary classic will make you happy and enjoy your moments while watching the film. Share with us if any of the movies from the list of best movies on HBO Max makes it to be your favorite.

Related: Best Shows on HBO Max Right Now 


1. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Year: 1968

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, Douglas Rain, William Sylvester

Rating: G

Runtime: 139 minutes

Half a century ago, Stanley Kubrick presented the narrative of everything—of life, of the cosmos, of loss and grief, and the way actuality and time change as we, these insignificant space travelers, sail through it all, seeking to change it all, unsure whether we’ve changed anything.

Far more than just a theoretical narrative about humanity populating the Solar System, 2001 questions why we do what we do and why, despite so many opposing influences, seen and otherwise, do we push outward, beyond the boundaries of all that we know, everything that we ever have to understand? Amidst long vistas of corpses sifting through space, of spaceships and cosmonauts floating silently across the unknown, Kubrick finds grace—aided, of course, by an amazing classical soundtrack that even now can’t separate from Kubrick’s memorable images—and in grace he finds meaning: If we can surpass our terrestrial roots with inquiry and boldness because we should. 


2. Malcolm X

Year: 1992

Director: Spike Lee

Stars: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr., Delroy Lindo

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 201 minutes

Spike Lee’s classic Do the Right Thing (1989) might have also possibly made this list, but the other peak of Lee’s legacy is his epic portrayal of the notorious ’60s activist. Denzel Washington’s magnificent act is at the center of the movie, with a burning charisma throbbing behind a calm exterior.

Unafraid to dig into the core of the man’s weak spots, ideological and emotional takes on the mission of demythologizing a postmodern legend. An unnerving high point in the movie occurs during the evocative usage of Otis Redding’s A Change is Gonna Come; when the rousing call for racial rights is contrasted with the tragic lead-up to Malcolm X’s killing. — Christina Newland


3. Spirited Away

Year: 2001

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Stars: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Yumi Tamai

Rating: PG

Runtime: 125 minutes

Is there something about Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away that puts it to be one of his finest, perhaps the absolute greatest he has ever made? Perhaps it’s because it represents the best representation of his most distinguishing theories and concepts, bravery and persistence of a young woman, the ecstatic grandeur of flight, the spiritual conflict of personal and cultural forgetfulness with Japanese society, and the restorative power of love.

Maybe it has something to do with the crux of the film’s tale being so archetypically recognized, not so much a modern retelling as it is a spiritual remembrance of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, a childhood voyage in a realm that feels both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

Whatever the case, there is nothing like viewing Spirited Away for the very first time. The picture of Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi), having discovered her parents changed into pigs, racing wildly through the roads as the community around her comes back to life, lights flickering into reality and spirits springing up from the earth, is nothing short of miraculous.


4. Seven Samurai

Year: 1956

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Stars: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Yoshio Inaba, Kuninori Kodo

Rating: R

Runtime: 207 minutes

The ideal Akira Kurosawa movie is Ikiru, but the mind is indeed dead-set on Seven Samurai. Neglect the myriad of official and unofficial reboots and re-imaginings, merely consider virtually any aspirational action/adventure yarn, of thrilling stories of underdogs fighting seemingly invincible forces endangering their existence, with only courage, brains, and brashness on their side: Seven Samurai is developed into that DNA.


5. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Year: 1964

Director: Jacques Demy

Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon

Rating: G

Runtime: 92 minutes

Jacques Demy’s masterwork is a soaring, bright, fundamentally heartbreaking drama of love lost, regained, and permanently dissolved, another wartime fatality in a country ravaged by military warfare. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a lived-in, a tale inspired by Demy’s experience, and also that keyword—“experience”—is fundamental to making the film click.

Take away its musical cues, and folks are left with a tale of a young male (Nino Castelnuovo) and a young lady (Catherine Deneuve) who fall madly in love with each other, only to be broken apart when he’s recruited to war overseas. The plot remains based on Demy’s pathos, and sorrow leads to Umbrellas’ gravitas. The music, of course, is a vital aspect of its personality, a dose of enchantment Demy uses to bolster the struggles in life in warfare with grandeur and purpose.


6. The Passion of Joan of Arc

Year: 1928

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer

Stars: Renée Jeanne Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, Antonin Artaud, Maurice Schultz

Rating: NR

Runtime: 82 minutes

Whether you’re conscious of it or not, Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s visage is in your head. Its curves and stipples, crowned with hair devoid of substance or style—her head centered by two large eyes brimmed with tears, in a superposition between ecstasy and sorrow although we’re staring at her—consume unbounded space in Danish filmmaker Carl Th. Dreyer’s silent masterwork, presumably suspended throughout the long course of history between today (whatever now happens to be) and when Dreyer first envisioned this immersive, expressionist Dreyer remarked of his picture, “What counted was getting the viewer involved in the past,” and then, “A careful study of the records from the rehabilitation process was important; I did not examine the costumes of the time and things like that.

The year of the occurrence felt as inessential to me as its distance from the present.” Although The Passion of Joan of Arc Dreyer is based on the 1491 transcripts of the eponymous saint’s heresy trial (the director was invited by the Société Générale des Films to create a picture in France, and his choice of subject was backed by France’s canonization of Joan of Arc following World War I), he provides little visual information or historical context. Instead, he submerges the viewer in Joan’s perspective and keeps his hand on our heads while we wallow in the pain of what she’s subjected to, hardly removing his weight except ‌in the film’s last moments, when Joan’s execution at the stake ignites violence throughout the city.


7. 8 1/2

Year: 1963

Director: Federico Fellini

Stars: Marcello Mastroiani, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée

Rating: NR

Runtime: 140 minutes

With Fellini we journey through a shadow of his psyche, wondering where his recollections begin and where Guido’s (Marcello Mastroianni) psychoses end. Perhaps Fellini’s most stunning mingling of dreams and fantasies, of moral truth and oneiric falsehood, of space and time, 8 ½ recounts its story in Möbius strips, wrapping realities into realities to leave audiences utterly trapped within its main character’s self-absorption.

Guido’s preoccupation is so inward-looking that he can’t help but destroy every personal relationship in his life, and yet, by focusing the narrative on one filmmaker’s battle to complete his current film—the title refers ‌that this was Fellini’s eight-and-a-half feature—the legendary Italian director appears to suggest that artistic brilliance almost needs such solipsism. It’s a bold statement, but Fellini does it with such elegance and vision, with such seamless aim, that 8 ½ becomes a bittersweet masterwork: Clear, poignant, and soaked in nostalgia, it embraces the ‌ magnificent existence that cinema can offer.


8. The Dark Knight

Year: 2008

Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Rating: R

Runtime: 142 minutes

Following Joel Schumacher’s neon-disco nightmare on ice, which was Batman & Robin in 1997, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) deserved the universal sigh of relief it got for resurrecting the Caped Crusaders cinematic reputation. And if Batman Begins marks the character’s aesthetic course correction, The Dark Knight offers an equally vital act of restoration of Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker.

Although technically part of the heroic club, The Dark Knight is, at its center, a classic crime saga—just as was its genesis, originating from the covers of Detective Comics, less Spider-Man than it is Heat, in quite a theatrical garb. Significantly moving up in the antagonist area this round, Heath Ledger’s portrayal as the Clown Prince of Criminals is a freak of nature portrayed as a crime boss who seeks no less than Gotham’s soul. Ledger’s Joker is as scary as he is darkly comic, and the most sobering reminder to date of why he’s the most known opponent of the World’s Finest Cop.


9. Casablanca

Year: 1942

Director: Michael Curtiz

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre

Rating: PG

Runtime: 102 minutes

There are probably a significant number of film director types who’d dispute with me for thinking Casablanca is a wonderful movie. The production staff didn’t consider it a huge deal. In fact; simply one of many movies being made that same year. It did moderately at the box office, although still not brilliantly. Also, it won a handful of Academy Awards and its popularity started to increase. One of the several incredible things about Casablanca is its legendary longevity – the plot feels as vivid as it did in 1945.

A love drama with political tones and a ton of wit, it boasts standout results by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, and Paul Henreid. Doomed love, self-sacrifice, Bogie one-liners galore, and one of the most defining cinematic moments of its age. Smart, lovely, and amusing; certainly the definitive film of the 1940s, and one of the best feel-good movies of the 20th century.


10. Inception

Year: 2010

Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 148 minutes

The “it was all a dream” plot twist is the most groan-inducing in film history. With Inception, director Christopher Nolan produces a bracing and high-octane work of sci-fi fiction wherein that conceit isn’t simply a plot device, but the fullness of the story. The controlled and ever-steady pace and accuracy with which the plot and images build, and Nolan staple wally Pfister’s stunning, globe-spanning on-location photography, implies relatively close attention to the details.

The picture winds up and runs out as a mechanical beast, each additional element of detail converging to make a majestic whole. Nolan’s directing and Inception’s dream-delving strive toward the same end: to provide us with a simulation that plays with our perceptions of reality. As that, and as a bit of midsummer popcorn-flick entertainment, Inception works ‌excellently, leaving behind pictures and recollections that tug and twist our conceptions to ask if we’ve wrapped our brains around it, or we’re merely partially a waking dream.


11. Godzilla

Year: 1954

Director: Ishiro Honda

Stars: Sachio Sakai, Takashi Shimura, Momoko Kochi, Akira Takarada

Rating: NR

Runtime: 95 minutes

A local fisherman informs visiting reporters Hagiwara (Sachio Sakai) about the drama they’re witnessing earlier in Godzilla, even before the creature is even seen off the coast of the island of Odo. He describes the play as the sole remaining vestige of the old “exorcism” his people formerly practiced. Hagiwara watches the performers “sacrifice” a young girl to the terrible sea creature to fulfill its hunger and persuade it into sparing sufficient seafood for the humans to appreciate only till the next sacrifice.


12. The Great Dictator

Year: 1940

Director: Charles Chaplin

Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner

Rating: G

Runtime: 126 minutes

Charlie Chaplin’s first “movie” was a scathing satire in which he wrote, directed, produced, scored, and starred—as both the principal characters, a fascist ruler who bears a striking resemblance to Adolf Hitler and an oppressed Jewish barber. A political satire can be quite effective, as this film was: When it was released when the US was still legally at peace with Germany, it sparked increased public outrage and criticism of the Nazis and Mussolini, as well as anti-Semitism and fascism. (However, Chaplin later stated that the satirical film could not have been made even a year or two later when the enormity of the atrocities in German concentration camps became obvious.)


13. Beauty and the Beast

Year: 1946

Director: Jean Cocteau

Stars: Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély

Rating: G

Runtime: 93 minutes

There was Jean Cocteau before Jerry Orbach and Angela Lansbury were voicing animated interactive home goods. From the fourth-wall-breaking preamble, in which the director implores the viewers to approach the movie with an inner-child-forward belief in the wizardry of fairy tales, to the final moment, Beauty and the Beast is a masterpiece of delicate imagery, fascinating music, baroque opulence, romantic intensity, and total pleasure in fantasy, assisted by Jean Marai.


14. Bloodsport

Year: 1988

Director: Newt Arnold

Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Donald Gibb

Rating: R

Runtime: 92 minutes

In the following 40 seconds or more, the hopes and dreams of Bloodsport are bared, with no regard for taste, aim, or consideration for the physically constraining rules of reality—at this moment, a growing movie star channels his greatest traits (astonishing muscles; decades of restrained wrath; the contrast of elegance and ferocity that is his well-oiled and neatly shaved bodily body) to try his hand at real-life Hollywood acting.

Although Bloodsport is the action movie that helped lead to Jean-Claude Van Damme and his incomprehensible accent, as well as serving as the crucible for (literally) every specific plot of every Van Damme film to come, it’s also a foundational movie of the millennium, establishing martial arts as certifiably insane blockbuster action cinema.


15. Citizen Kane

Year: 1941

Director: Orson Welles

Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore

Rating: PG

Runtime: 120 minutes

Citizen Kane is no stranger to lists like these, but there’s no doubting that part of what has made this picture purportedly the “best of all time” is the way it exploits the journalism process to produce a form and content of narrative that felt completely new at the turn of the century. We see a lot of the movie from the perspective of a reporter (the legendary Joseph Cotten) who is trying to figure out what happened to newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane.


16. The French Dispatch

Year: 2021

Director: Wes Anderson

Stars: Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson

Rating: R

Runtime: 108 minutes

The French Dispatch, like 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, is a narrative inside a story, or many stories within a story. Wes Anderson is still a force to be reckoned with in the world of filmmaking. Despite being chastised by critics for sticking to his finely polished, “quirky” filmmaking approach, “The French Dispatch” demonstrates that he is more concerned about experimenting with the medium of cinema and finding new methods to communicate his story. Here, he tests himself with a significantly more complex method of narrative, one that is often baffling but always makes you want to return to the movie to explore and find something new.


17. Solyaris

Year: 1972

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky

Stars: Donatas Banionis, Natalya Bondarchuk, Jüri Järvet

Rating: PG

Runtime: 168 minutes

Steven Soderbergh made a wonderfully acceptable and attractive film adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s classic science fiction book in 2002. It’s the first time a Tarkovsky film’s plot has been repeated using the same primary sources, and it demonstrates an essential truth: Andrei Tarkovsky’s vision is distinctive, incomparable, and stands above all others.

Tarkovsky created visual poetry of the greatest kind, whilst an experienced filmmaker like Soderbergh constructed a functional sci-fi film. Even though it was a big-budget genre film, Tarkovsky’s artistic instincts hardly ever failed him, and Solyaris takes initiative with the same self-assurance of expression and complexity of resonance as any other Tarkovsky film.


18. Taste of Cherry

Year: 1997

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Stars: Homayoun Ershadi

Rating: PG

Runtime: 100 minutes

Taste of Cherry is a philosophical theme poem with an irritating speed and thoughtfulness that goes the long path in practically every manner imaginable. Kiarostami uses his preferred setting—a moving vehicle—to stage a bare minimum of the story, with his middle-aged protagonist traveling through the sandy roads of the Northern Iranian town of Koker (Homayoun Ershadi), a stoic Range Rover driver, observes stranger after stranger, asking a few people into his vehicle to talk about a low-effort, high-paying employment. He needs help in committing suicide. The subsequent discussions are tense, intellectual, multi-layered, and laborious.


19. Modern Times

Year: 1936

Director: Charles Chaplin

Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman

Rating: G

Runtime: 88 minutes

It’s no surprise that the President of Modern Times’ industrial setting looks so much like Henry Ford’s: Chaplin, who traveled the globe after the triumph of City Lights, saw the conditions of automotive lines in Detroit and how the monotony of our day weighed on young people.

The Great Depression, Chaplin appears to be arguing, was the first warning of how deeply technology may poison our souls, absorbing our personality rather than abandoning us. As a result, Modern Times is a picture with a consciousness that is much beyond its time, a type of seamless melding of spectacular effects, optimistic silent cinema approaches, and radical wrath.


20. Ikiru

Year: 1952

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Stars: Takashi Shimura, Yunosuke Ito, Miki Odagiri

Rating: NR

Runtime: 144 minutes

Ikiru gives the impression that Leslie Knope would like it: it’s a joyous celebration as much as it is of one specific person, but it’s also an endorsement of what local government can achieve if just one dedicated public worker can boost the value of bureaucracy. Ikiru is one of Akira Kurosawa’s best films, a large-scale film that tells a small-scale narrative in a little under two and a half hours.

It follows section head Kenji Watanabe, an older government official who has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Throughout Kurosawa’s film, he is steered towards meaningfulness by two vastly distinct figures—a debauched author and the bright Toyo, one of Kenji’s subordinates.


21. The Birdcage

Year: 1996

Director: Mike Nichols

Stars: Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane

Rating: R

Runtime: 119 minutes

The Birdcage, like many of Robin Williams’ film roles, has a significant run of success where hypocrisy, acceptance, snobbery, and, most importantly, everyone’s independent vibe of “drag” (and hey, we all have one, even if we do not often demonstrate it by having to put on fake eyelashes and trying to sing Sondheim) is pushed to the limit.


22. Mad Max: Fury Road

Year: 2015

Director: George Miller

Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough

Rating: R

Runtime: 120 minutes

When the movie uses technology, it’s to fill in the borders or create a storm. Miller’s approach is defined by tactile texture, he conveys stories via motion, and he is uninterested in the pattern of modern Hollywood extravaganza. Furthermore, Mad Max: Fury Road is a diverse project that encourages us to assist its characters in challenging gender stereotypes. George Miller has created a fantastic action picture with a good purpose, one that combines intelligent commentary with jaw-dropping set-pieces.


23. Grey Gardens

Year: 1975

Director: Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Muffie Meyer

Stars: Edith ‘Little Edie’ Bouvier Beale, Edith Bouvier Beale

Rating: PG

Runtime: 100 minutes

And you assumed your relatives were odd? As a trio of documentarians thrusts us into the life of two distant relatives of Jackie O, Grey Gardens reigns supreme as the champ of artistic kookiness. When it comes to the breakdown between mom and daughter Little and Big Edie, recluses on the verge of entropy due to isolation, the reality is full of surprises.


24. Pineapple Express

Year: 2008

Director: David Gordon Green

Stars: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride

Rating: R

Runtime: 117 minutes

Pineapple Express, which began as a concept for a “marijuana action movie,” ends up being a fantastic action film in its own right. By filtering the genre via the stoner genre, Seth Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg create both a heartfelt homage and a parodic send-up of the genre. It has enough unforgettable one-liners and physical humor to please those seeking a good laugh, while also offering the type of raunchy shoot-em-up set-pieces that action enthusiasts will appreciate.


25. Bad Education

Year: 2020

Director: Cory Finley

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Ray Romano

Rating: TV-MA

Runtime: 109 minutes

There’s an innovative shoe-leather investigative journalism film in town, and it’s called All the President’s Men. Before you enter, the less you learn about Bad Education, the better. Start preparing to be astonished by the level of corruption revealed by a basic high school journalism article — and the absurd lengths to which individuals would go to evade responsibility for what she finds.


26. To Be or Not To Be

Year: 1942

Director: Ernst Lubitsch

Stars: Jack Benny, Carole Lombard, Robert Stack

Rating: NR

Runtime: 99 minutes

It’s no small achievement that Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be or Not To Be managed to satirize Hitler and Nazism amid World War II. But maybe even more remarkable is that now the movie does not appear outmoded or tangled up in the zeitgeist in the least. To a riotously enjoyable result, this snappy movie played as both political humor and a spy thriller.


27. Monterey Pop

Year: 1968

Director: D. A. Pennebaker

Stars: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding

Rating: NR

Runtime: 79 minutes

Monterey Pop by D. A. Pennebaker may have been the nearest thing to something like time travel you can get without leaving your house. Play to be taken back to that Time of Love and to witness the music concert that featured Simon and Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and others. Otis Redding’s magnificent rendition of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” is the true highlight. The result is nothing short of spectacular, as he is filmed in shadows against the dazzle of the blazing lights.


28. Clueless

Year: 1995

Director: Amy Heckerling

Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Stacey Dash

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 97 minutes

Realizing that Alicia Silverstone has a child with whom she may sarcastically replicate Clueless episodes on TikTok could well make you feel a tiny bit ancient. However, because Amy Heckerling bases the teen comedy on Jane Austen’s traditional story Emma, little else about the film’s humor feels outmoded. In addition, Paul Rudd looks the ‌same now as he appeared in 1995.


29. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Year: 2001

Director: Peter Jackson

Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 178 minutes

The word “epic” barely describes Peter Jackson’s work in putting The Lord of the Rings to existence on screen. The magnitude and scope of this film never fail to amaze me. The Fellowship of the Ring, the series’ first installment, strikes a nice blend between presenting us to Middle Earth, revealing the characters, and giving us a sample of the grounded epic adventure to come.


30. Easy A

Year: 2010

Director: Will Gluck

Stars: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 92 minutes

In terms of Mean Girls, Easy A is the classic millennial high school film. No film better encapsulated the hazards and potential of a generation raised on screens, reflecting on adolescence while consuming outmoded representations of what that time of life should entail. Emma Stone’s whip-smart Olive Penderghast, a silver-tongued loner who unintentionally finds herself at the center of attention owing to a tempting falsehood, gives us an excellent tour of this brave new world. Her quest to correct the record while simultaneously developing her self-image is full of wit and heart.


31. My Cousin Vinny

Year: 1992

Director: Jonathan Lynn

Stars: Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Ralph Macchio

Rating: R

Runtime: 119 minutes

The hysterical Vinny, my cousin, is the antidote to the ordinary judicial procedure. As Joe Pesci’s boisterous New Yorker Vinny Gambini conflicts with a genteel Southern town keeping his falsely accused cousin in prison, the picture rises based on comic “fish out of water” humor. Not to be outdone, it’s also a unique cinematic representation of the judicial system that, according to legal specialists, gets the guts and bolts of court operations accurately. Get a good chuckle and an education at the same time!


32. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Year: 1974

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Stars: Brigitte Mira; El Hedi ben Salem ; Barbara Valentin; Irm Hermann; Elma Karlowa.

Rating: NR

Runtime: 93 minutes

Rainer Werner Fassbinder departed much too young, yet he left an outstanding body of work in a short period. This 1974 spoof of Douglas Sirk’s masterpiece All That Heaven Allows, in which an old German lady finds love with a Moroccan immigrant, is perhaps his most popular masterpiece. It’s sophisticated and emotionally stirring.


33. The Aviator

Year: 2004

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio · Cate Blanchett · Kate Beckinsale · John C. Reilly · Alec Baldwin · Alan Alda · Ian Holm · Danny Huston.

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 169 minutes

In Martin Scorsese’s immensely detailed and sumptuous period drama on one of the most famed eccentric millionaires among all, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Howard Hughes. Every single month, there seems to be some societal indignation about Scorsese’s position in film history or his views on Marvel films. Ignore the background noise and focus on one of his lesser-known masterpieces, which has one of DiCaprio’s greatest performances.


34. Collateral

Year: 2004

Director: Michael Mann

Stars: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Rating: R

Runtime: 115 minutes

In his 2004 movie Collateral, Michael Mann led Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx to two of their best performances. As a contract killer who hires Foxx’s taxi driver to go out on a murdering rampage, Cruise acts against stereotype. It’s clever and wonderfully photographed.


35. The Departed

Year: 2006

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg

Rating: R

Runtime: 151 minutes

A few will argue that The Departed is an inferior Scorsese film, practically pitying the movie’s triumph, which culminated in the iconic American director winning Best Picture and Director. Those individuals are incorrect. Scorsese’s best films about tormented men and criminal organizations are just as deep and fulfilling as this one. It’s one of Scorsese’s most fascinating investigations of his thematic fixation with missing fathers and aimless sons, as it tells the narrative of two Boston-bred macho men living their days like double agents–one for mobs, and the other for cops.


36. Chinatown

Year: 1974

Director: Roman Polanski

Stars: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston

Rating: R

Runtime: 131 minutes

It’s not for nothing that they say this is the greatest film ever produced. Chinatown is a great slow burn of tension as Jack Nicholson’s private eye, Jake Gittes, investigates a mystery that grows past his wildest imaginings. The picture encircles us in such a miasma of fatalistic despondency as we investigate an unfaithful spouse and uncover a large network of water theft in Los Angeles. It’s never felt so good to be so pessimistic about the status of the world.


37. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Year: 2004

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson

Rating: PG

Runtime: 139 minutes

Perhaps every Harry Potter film seems to be the finest, but it is difficult to argue that Prisoner of Azkaban is by far the most significant among them all. The addition of dark ambiance and wicked humor by director Alfonso Cuarón helped the series transition from juvenile reading to serious adult drama. Rather than relegating it to the realm of fiction, he grounded it in the reality of adolescent fears and growing pains. It has a villainous style and joy that sets the tone for everything else to emerge from the cinematic universe on screen.


38. North by Northwest

Year: 1959

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason

Rating: NR

Runtime: 136 minutes

Let’s all have a lively discussion regarding Hitchcock’s finest film. However, North by Northwest is very certainly his most entertaining movie — and‌ his masterpiece. Hitchcock’s trademark preoccupation with mistaken identity blends smoothly with the action thriller at the pinnacle of his commercial success. (This appears to be the cinematic template for James Bond, who might make his debut appearance three years later.) I don’t think any male in a movie has ever looked as casually calm and sophisticated as Cary Grant here.


39. The Matrix

Year: 1999

Director: Lana and Lily Wachowski

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss

Rating: R

Runtime: 136 minutes

The Wachowskis accomplished something rarely seen in Hollywood with The Matrix: they transformed the medium on both a creative and logical level. Where would we be if “bullet time,” a bizarre phenomenon that slows down things so fast that will make their whirling movement evident, didn’t exist? Where would we be now if the movie hadn’t introduced notions about virtual reality to the public through the easily consumable (and equally easily misconstrued) concept of the red pill? It was and continues to be revolutionary.


40. In The Mood For Love

Year: 2001

Director: Wong Kar-Wai

Stars: Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Maggie Cheung

Rating: PG

Runtime: 98 minutes

Wong Kar Wai’s story of hapless would-be mates in 1960s Hong Kong could be the ideal film. Two neighbors who discover their wives are unfaithful to them attempt to sublimate their desires for one another in the magnificent In the Mood for Love. Wong amps up the anger and anguish with each succeeding needle drop of the plucky violin melody “Yumeji’s Theme.”


41. Blade Runner

Year: 1982

Director: Ridley Scott

Stars: Harrison Ford · Rutger Hauer · Sean Young · Edward James Olmos · M. Emmet Walsh · Daryl Hannah · William Sanderson

Rating: R

Runtime: 117 minutes

When Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi blockbuster premiered, the movie was highly criticized, yet it would then go on to alter the cinematic world forever. This is the 2007 edition of the movie, which eliminates the voice-over, reintroduces the unicorn, and eliminates the original joyful finale. It’s the most important version.


42. City of God

Year: 2003

Director: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund

Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Matheus Nachtergaele

Rating: R

Runtime: 130 minutes

Considering how cleanly the City of God catches a spark of dramatic fire and vigor, it just might be an act of God. The gritty look into Rio de Janeiro’s streets by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund explodes at the boundaries with elegance and personality. It’s thrilling as a thriller about organized crime, and it’s also uplifting as a narrative about the power of the mind to transcend.


43. Speed

Year: 1994

Director: Jan de Bont

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 116 minutes

The setup is simple: keep a bus going above 50 miles per hour, or it blows up. As it turns out, you need little more than that to create two hours of nerve-wracking, pulse-pounding action! Speed stands out in an age of over-complicated blockbusters for getting us on board with the mission of Keanu Reeves’ Jack Traven from the jump and keeping us on the edge of our seats throughout.


44. In the Heights

Year: 2021

Director: Jon M. Chu

Stars: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Jimmy Smits

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 143 minutes

Director Jon M. Chu filled the traditional rom-com narrative of his Crazy Rich Asians remakes with classic Hollywood extravagance in 2018, while still putting it all on a well-constructed cultural specificity foundation. For an American film of its genre, it was massive, magnificent, and outrageously new. Now, in 2021, we’ll see Chu’s adaptation of In the Heights, the Broadway musical that launched Lin-Manuel Miranda’s career (and won him his first Tony).


45. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Year: 1971

Director: Mel Stuart

Stars: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, and Julie Dawn Cole

Rating: G

Runtime: 100 minutes

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, from 1971, is a must-see. Because of Gene Wilder’s main performance, the picture walks a surprising and enjoyable edge between charming and horrifying, yet it’s moderate enough to avoid any severe traumatization. Furthermore, the off-kilter character will lead your child to believe that he or she is privy to some type of mystery. To be sure, it’s a quirky picture, although it has a large heart. The script was written by Dahl himself, therefore you’ll want to go along with this edition.