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55 Best Movies On HBO Max [May 2022]

If you're looking for a streaming service with tons of famous, high-quality films across all genres, HBO Max is one of your best bets. Boasting partnerships with Turner Classic Movies and The Criterion Collection, this platform has an extensive backlog of classics and arthouse films. And then you still have to consider everything else HBO Max has on tap, which includes an amazing selection of popular contemporary films and made-for-HBO content. 

It's hard to get a better deal than that ... but when you finally settle down with your remote, it's also hard to pick a movie. We can tell you that the choice paralysis is very real, and we've wasted a lot of time scrolling through streaming catalogs. You don't want the night to be over before you've even picked your movie! With that in mind, we've curated a list of the 55 best movies on HBO Max. These are all guaranteed to be good for conversation, sheer entertainment, or — best of all — both.

Updated on April 26, 2022: To stay on top of HBO Max's ever-changing catalog, we'll be updating this list every month with the best new movies available on the platform. Be sure to check back often to keep up with new releases, hidden gems, and beloved classics.

2001: A Space Odyssey

In "2001: A Space Odyssey," featureless monoliths periodically appear to accelerate intellectual and technological development. This leisurely, chilly, and sophisticated science fiction film covers humanity's evolution from tool-using apes all the way to the futuristic, transcendent "Star Child." Astronaut David Bowman unexpectedly comes face-to-face with this phenomenon when his mission is endangered by the malfunctioning shipboard intelligence, HAL 9000. Bowman must then face the true purpose of his trip, in a way that means he may never return home. "2001: A Space Odyssey" requires patience, but it also rewards it, giving viewers an unforgettable panorama full of dread and wonder.

  • Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester

  • Director: Stanley Kubrick

  • Year: 1968

  • Runtime: 142 minutes

  • Rating: G

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

This beautifully crafted romantic drama offers an in-depth and unsentimental look at the unlikely but sincere love affair between Moroccan immigrant Ali, in his 30s, and native German Emmi, a widow in her 60s. The two are genuinely drawn to each other, and their relationship has a great tenderness to it. However, it attracts nearly constant derision from the people around them, especially after they get married, and their social circles scorn this "unsuitable" romance. It's tempting for Emmi and Ali to trade some of their regard for each other for an easier life — can their marriage really thrive, with so many people against it? Will they betray each other?

  • Starring: Brigitte Mira, El Hedi ben Salem, Barbara Valentin

  • Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

  • Year: 1974

  • Runtime: 93 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

All the President's Men

"All the President's Men" delves into the true story of the Watergate scandal, providing a grounded and thoroughly detailed look at how Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein investigated and revealed the story. What really makes it great is how it combines that documentary-like depth with top-notch performances and an uneasy, paranoid atmosphere. As Woodward and Bernstein unravel the initial break-in and gradually uncover a massive conspiracy, they get into deeper and deeper danger, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. It doesn't matter that we know what happens: The movie keeps us riveted all the same.

  • Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden

  • Director: Alan J. Pakula

  • Year: 1976

  • Runtime: 138 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

The Battle of Algiers

A harrowingly effective film about the realities of guerrilla warfare, "The Battle of Algiers" feels more like a covertly shot documentary than anything scripted. It tells the story of Ali La Pointe, a young Algerian man inducted into fighting the occupying French, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Colonel Mathieu, a French commander charged with cracking down on the revolutionaries. "The Battle of Algiers" delves into the strategy and tactics of this kind of warfare, and doesn't hesitate to show the grim violence that often accompanies it. Its realism and gritty details are a huge strength.

  • Starring: Jean Martin, Brahim Haggiag, Saadi Yacef

  • Director: Gillo Pontecorvo

  • Year: 1966

  • Runtime: 120 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

Beetlejuice

"Beetlejuice" is a wild ride, both morbid and hilarious. Goth girl Lydia Deetz discovers that her yuppie family's new house is haunted by its previous occupants, Adam and Barbara Maitland. The Maitlands are sweethearts, but they're so desperate to get their house back that they hire a "bio-exorcist," the undead force of chaos Betelgeuse, to evict the Deetzes for them. Unfortunately, Betelgeuse quickly gets out of control — especially since he wants to coerce Lydia into marrying him. The exuberant weirdness, over-the-top visuals, and sparkling performances make this a classic, and the surprisingly sweet relationship between Lydia and the Maitlands gives it a lot of heart.

Bicycle Thieves

Italy is in an economic downturn, and Antonio and his family have been pawning their most precious possessions just to stay afloat. When he finally gets a good-paying job, it feels like a miracle — but then the bicycle he needs for work is stolen. Suddenly, there's every chance they could fall right back into dire poverty. Desperate and determined, Antonio scours Rome with his young son, hoping against hope that the bicycle will turn up — and not knowing what he'll do if it doesn't. "Bicycle Thieves" is a masterpiece of wrenching moral conflict, and also offers a tender look at family and community.

  • Starring: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell

  • Director: Vittorio De Sica

  • Year: 1948

  • Runtime: 89 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

The Big Sleep

This classic noir has terrific dialogue — witty and sly — and giving those lines to Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall results in a knockout of a film. Bogart plays Philip Marlowe, the quintessential world-weary but noble private eye. It's his job to wade into all the trouble and corruption that his wealthy (and not always honest) clients bring with them. The dying General Sternwood hires Marlowe to deal with his spoiled, out-of-control daughter Carmen, but that seemingly simple task soon develops ornate and deadly complications — some of which involve Sternwood's other daughter, Vivian, with whom Marlowe shares sizzling chemistry.

  • Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers

  • Director: Howard Hawks

  • Year: 1946

  • Runtime: 114 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Blade Runner

In this rainy, neon-soaked vision that helped shape modern sci-fi, Rick Deckard is hired to take up his old work as a blade runner, which sees him track down and destroy replicants (humanoid androids) who have escaped their off-world servitude and made their way to Earth. Finding them takes him into a shadowy world where it's almost impossible to tell the human and the nonhuman apart — and where the nonhuman may be more soulful and alive than many of their biological counterparts. "Blade Runner" is a complex and layered film that combines a thrilling noir plot with real philosophical questions, making it both intellectually and emotionally satisfying.

Bonnie and Clyde

Stylish, violent, and bleak, "Bonnie and Clyde" follows the exploits of real-life outlaw couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Darrow. It's the Great Depression, and the whole country feels downtrodden and dispirited — you can see why the bored Bonnie would run away with criminal Clyde, who at least promises to make life interesting. The two of them have a spark of invigorating glamor that quickly makes them, and their crime spree, famous — but their fun comes at a high and bloody price. "Bonnie and Clyde" offers both high-octane movie star charisma and the cold certainty of how all that charm can come crashing down, making this a lucid and gripping study of the underside of a legend.

  • Starring: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard

  • Director: Arthur Penn

  • Year: 1967

  • Runtime: 111 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Brief Encounter

"Brief Encounter" is a bittersweet, melancholy romance about a man and a woman who find each other at the wrong time. When Laura and Alec meet by chance at the train station, there's an instant connection between them. Their easy rapport and fledgling friendship begin to tip towards romance ... but they're both already married to people they care for, and this is 1945. Still, the breathlessness and sweetness of falling in love jolts them both after years of settled marriage, making separation as painful as it is necessary. Delicately handled and emotionally realistic, "Brief Encounter" is a touching look at a short affair that could have been more.

  • Starring: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway

  • Director: David Lean

  • Year: 1945

  • Runtime: 87 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Casablanca

It's 1941, and Casablanca sits uneasily in the middle of a warring world, with refugees, Nazis, collaborators, and criminals all pouring through the city on their way to somewhere else. Rick Blaine wants no part of it. He used to take bold stands, but those days are behind him — now, all he wants is to run his club and forget about Ilsa, the woman who broke his heart. The last thing he needs is for her to show up with her Resistance hero husband, with both of them in desperate need of his help. "Casablanca" perfectly blends its bittersweet personal stakes with the fate of the world, making for one of cinema's best romances and most powerful endings.

  • Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid

  • Director: Michael Curtiz

  • Year: 1942

  • Runtime: 102 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

Citizen Kane

Business magnate Charles Foster Kane is dead, and a reporter is on a quest to track down the elusive meaning of his last declaration: "Rosebud." This involves going back through Kane's entire life, from the moment he was sent away from home at a young age to the day he took over the New York Inquirer and made it a one-stop shop for scandal, slanted reporting, and political manipulation. Kane never stops wanting things, but chasing after them never makes him or anyone else in his life very happy. "Citizen Kane" is a landmark tale of financial success and personal failure that's also innovative and crisply shot.

  • Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Ruth Warrick

  • Director: Orson Welles

  • Year: 1941

  • Runtime: 119 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

City Lights

Charlie Chaplin's classic silent film character the Tramp gets one of his best and most poignant outings in "City Lights." Here, the poor Tramp falls in love with a blind girl who sells flowers on the street. She mistakes him for a rich man, and, believing she would be disappointed to find out the truth, he does his best to keep up the act. This means protecting her, trying to pay her rent, and getting money for her eye operation. All his mishaps — which include a friendship with a drunken millionaire (but not his sober counterpart) — eventually take a sweet, emotional turn.

  • Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee

  • Director: Charlie Chaplin

  • Year: 1931

  • Runtime: 87 minutes

  • Rating: G

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Clueless

Welcome to Jane Austen's "Emma" — in 1990s Beverly Hills. High school student Cher Horowitz has a dream life, with an adoring father, loyal friends, oodles of money, and even a computer to help her pick out her outfits. She also has a good heart, so she decides she should use her skills and resources to help the less fortunate: New classmate Tai, who is in dire need of a status-elevating makeover and the right boyfriend. Unfortunately, Cher's insights into her classmates and herself are definitely not as flawless as she thinks. As smart as it is breezily charming, "Clueless" is an unmissable romantic comedy and a classic teen film.

  • Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy

  • Director: Amy Heckerling

  • Year: 1995

  • Runtime: 97 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

The Dark Knight

At the start of this sequel to the groundbreakingly gritty "Batman Begins," Gotham is on the cusp of changing for the better. District Attorney Harvey Dent is bold enough to take on the city's crime and corruption, and there's a chance Bruce Wayne could hang up his cape for good. Then along comes the Joker, an unhinged nihilist who brings murderous chaos to the streets. Heath Ledger is rivetingly sinister in the role, crafting one of the most terrifying movie villains of all time. This grand battle for one city's soul helped prove comic book movies can be deeply significant as well as thrilling.

Dog Day Afternoon

Everything goes wrong for live-wire Sonny, who's just trying to scrape together the money for his lover's surgery. Sure, he's trying to do it by robbing a bank, but nobody's perfect. In spite of this tension, even Sonny's hostages find themselves liking the guy: He's just genuinely friendly, and when he's going up against a whole wall of law enforcement, he seems like an appealing underdog. This film perfectly balances dark and offbeat comedy, nervy suspense, and tragedy, grounding it all in two spot-on performances from Al Pacino and John Cazale.

Goodfellas

"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster." That's how our narrator Henry Hill opens "Goodfellas," the lively, stylish, and occasionally brutal movie that strips some of the prestige polish off wiseguys, but leaves behind enough snap and allure to make watching it a blast. Henry's rise up the criminal ladder is full of murder, backstabbing, and impulsive mistakes. It's a tragicomedy populated by one of the best and liveliest casts around, creating a busy and buzzing underworld for Henry to thrive in (and sometimes betray). Stuffed full of unforgettable scenes and quotable lines, "Goodfellas" is a classic for a reason.

Hoop Dreams

The revelatory documentary "Hoop Dreams" takes a close look at what happens when two young Black men, William Gates and Arthur Agee, get a major opportunity. Both excellent basketball players, Gates and Agee have the skills to attend St. Joseph's, a mostly white private school neither could afford otherwise. It's hard to be suddenly installed in an unfamiliar environment, however, and they struggle to adjust. Their futures are up in the air, and eventually, they take different paths. "Hoop Dreams" is a window into a world movies usually ignore, full of tension, ethical tangles, uncertainty, and humanity.

Hotel Rwanda

"Hotel Rwanda" is a brutal gut-punch, as it should be. It functions partly as a chronicle of the Rwandan genocide, but it's also just an effective drama — well-acted (Don Cheadle is especially great in his lead role) and with storytelling that's as gripping as it is horrifying. Cheadle plays Paul Rusesabagina, who manages a hotel. Paul is Hutu and therefore nominally safe from the sweeping ethnic-based violence, but his wife, Tatiana, is Tutsi — and there's every chance the current government will eliminate the Tutsi completely. Paul works to shelter both Tutsi and Hutu refugees in his hotel, risking everything to try to protect whomever he can.

Inception

In the sci-fi world of "Inception," technology has made it possible to interfere with dreams. Dom Cobb and his team are expert thieves of others' minds, but a wrench gets thrown into the works when they're hired not for an extraction, but an "inception." This is the supposedly impossible feat of planting an idea in someone's mind and convincing them it's their own. If they can pull it off, Cobb, who is a wanted fugitive, can finally return home to his children. This all sets up a mind-blowing, spectacle-filled movie full of paradoxes, ambiguities, and dreams within dreams.

  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page

  • Director: Christopher Nolan

  • Year: 2010

  • Runtime: 148 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

In the Mood for Love

Su Li-zhen and Chow Mo-wan keep crossing each other's paths. They live next to each other, eat at the same noodle shop, and, in a melancholy twist, are both victims of adultery: Su's husband is sleeping with Chow's wife. There's a hypnotic pull between the two of them, full of longing and sexual tension that only amps up as they start working on a project together. "In the Mood for Love" has a bittersweet ache to it that perfectly captures pining and heartbreak. It's also gorgeous to look at, with nearly every shot looking like a lushly colored painting.

Jackie Brown

Flight attendant Jackie Brown has a big problem: She's been using her job to move ill-gotten money around for Ordell Robbie, and the cops have just nabbed her. The arrest is a problem, but the bigger concern is what Ordell does to people he suspects might cooperate with the police. With both her freedom and her life at stake, she devises a plan to one-up both Ordell and the cops, and get out of this alive ... and rich. "Jackie Brown" is full of clever schemes, but its biggest strength is Pam Grier and Robert Forster, who bring heart and maturity to the proceedings.

  • Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster

  • Director: Quentin Tarantino

  • Year: 1997

  • Runtime: 154 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

M

There is a child murderer roaming the streets of Berlin in this chilling psychological horror movie. With both subtlety and cynicism, "M" gives us an unconventional hunt for the killer: One spearheaded by criminals who need these high-profile deaths to stop so the police will leave and they can get back to business. When their trap closes around the all-too-realistic Hans Beckert, the film brilliantly captures an almost nightmarish paranoia. Unsparing and vividly cinematic — it's full of eerie whistling and striking images — "M" was decades ahead of its time.

  • Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Gustaf Gründgens

  • Director: Fritz Lang

  • Year: 1931

  • Runtime: 111 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Memento

Leonard Shelby wants to find John G., the man he believes murdered his wife, but his quest is hampered by brain trauma that prevents him from forming new long-term memories. He keeps himself on track via self-manipulation, studying his tattoos and the notes and Polaroids he leaves for himself. As "Memento" gradually unfurls — moving backwards in time so that we, like Leonard, are always facing the question of how we ended up here — we uncover a tense and chilling story that isn't remotely what we thought it would be. This is a tightly paced, mind-bending thriller with an electric central performance.

  • Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

  • Director: Christopher Nolan

  • Year: 2000

  • Runtime: 113 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Mon Oncle

The amiable, gawky, and slightly bumbling Monsieur Hulot was Jacques Tati's recurring comedic hero, and "Mon Oncle" is one of his best and most touching adventures. Hulot is exactly the kind of charming figure you'd want as an uncle. Young Gérard is lucky to have him, especially as an alternative to his more staid parents, and he knows it. While the two of them have aimless fun, Gérard's parents keep themselves in a rigidly controlled existence that's all about striving for money and social success. This movie offers a winning blend of sharp satire, gentle humor, and stunningly designed visuals.

  • Starring: Jacques Tati, Jean-Pierre Zola, Adrienne Servantie

  • Director: Jacques Tati

  • Year: 1958

  • Runtime: 120 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Moon

"Moon" is a fairly small-scale science fiction film, with a small cast, a limited setting, and few special effects, but it packs in enough creativity and intelligence that it feels big. It also features one of Sam Rockwell's best performances as astronaut Sam Bell, who's the sole worker at a lunar base. The isolation is clearly getting to Sam, but at least the end of his three-year contract is in sight. Soon, he'll be reunited with his family back on Earth. At least, that's what he thinks until an accident away from the base brings him face-to-face with his own double ... and a complex web of deception.

  • Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott

  • Director: Duncan Jones

  • Year: 2009

  • Runtime: 97 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Night and Fog

"Night and Fog" is a short, brutal, and unforgettable documentary about the Holocaust. It covers the rise of the Nazi atrocities, their aftermath, and the living nightmare in between, delving into life inside the concentration camps. By cutting back and forth between the then-abandoned sites and real footage of the camps in operation, "Night and Fog" makes a moving and powerful case for the necessity of passing these harrowing stories on. Time can cover up tragedies, and the only way to reckon with them — and prevent them from happening again — is to commit them to memory.

Night of the Living Dead

The dead are staggering back to mindless half-life, and they crave human flesh. They're slow, but also relentless and numerous, and soon enough, they have a small group of human survivors penned up inside a Pennsylvania farmhouse. The trapped characters include Barbra, who is left in a catatonic daze after her brother is killed in front of her, and the quick-thinking, heroic Ben, who becomes the group's unofficial leader. "Night of the Living Dead" defined zombie horror, and remains as eerie and unsettling as ever.

  • Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman

  • Director: George A. Romero

  • Year: 1968

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

No Country for Old Men

Llewelyn Moss is out hunting in the desert when he comes across the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong — one that's left a duffel bag full of cash behind. When he takes it, he accidentally puts himself in the path of the almost inhumanly terrifying Anton Chigurh. A relentless force of nature who can stake someone's life on a coin flip, Chigurh is the last man you want on your trail. Aging and disillusioned sheriff Ed Tom Bell, meanwhile, is following all the carnage left in Chigurh's wake, hoping he can find Moss before it's too late. Gorgeously shot, hypnotically watchable, and full of impeccable performances, "No Country for Old Men" will leave you stunned.

North by Northwest

This suspenseful classic is a rollercoaster of surprises and ceaselessly engaging tension, and stands as proof that thrillers don't have to be too plausible — they just have to be this much fun. When ordinary advertising exec Roger Thornhill is mistaken for a spy, he's abducted, interrogated, and set up to die in a drunk driving "accident." He survives and tries to tell people what happened to him, but finds that everything has been rearranged to make his story seem ridiculous. He'll have to get to the bottom of this himself, a task that throws him in with the glamorous Eve Kendall and embroils him in complex international intrigue full of double-crosses.

  • Starring: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason

  • Director: Alfred Hitchcock

  • Year: 1959

  • Runtime: 136 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Ocean's Eleven

Ready for a heist? How about a delightful, snazzy hangout movie full of Hollywood's most charismatic actors? "Ocean's Eleven" gives you both. Veteran thief Danny Ocean is out of prison and ready to round up a crew for an unprecedentedly ambitious heist: He's aiming to knock off three casinos on the same night. Casinos are notoriously hard to rob, and these three are owned by Terry Benedict, a man capable of any amount of cold-blooded revenge. Watching Danny round up everyone he needs for his clever, audacious plan, then seeing it all come together (and sometimes nearly fall apart) is pure entertainment.

On the Waterfront

There's a quote that makes "On the Waterfront" immortal — "I could've been a contender" — but there's a lot more to the movie than that. This is a complex, deeply felt social drama about corruption, social pressure, and the cost of speaking up. Marlon Brando shines as stoic but sensitive dockworker Terry, whose union leader, Johnny Friendly, tricks him into setting up a friend for murder. Terry isn't sure how or when to turn on the crooked union bosses around him, but as he sees more of Friendly's collateral damage and also falls in love with the murdered man's sister, he knows he wants to be more than just a "bum." Terry's conscience takes center stage here, making this one of the best movies ever made about a personal moral dilemma.

  • Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb

  • Director: Elia Kazan

  • Year: 1954

  • Runtime: 108 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

The Passion of Joan of Arc

This exquisitely moving silent film presents the last days of Joan of Arc. Her spectacular feats and leadership in battle made her a heroine, but now she's on trial for heresy for claiming God told her to lead the French army. Neither tricks nor torture dissuade Joan from her central truth, and Jeanne Falconetti makes her resilience luminous, painful, and all too real. Her intensity and clarity are remarkable, and the film spotlights them — and the spiritual ugliness of her interrogators — in a series of distinct close-ups that will linger in your mind's eye.

  • Starring: Renée Jeanne Falconetti, Eugène Silvain, André Berley

  • Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer

  • Year: 1928

  • Runtime: 82 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Pather Panchali

"Pather Panchali" is the first film of the Apu Trilogy, which follows young Apu as he grows and matures. Here, he's just a young boy in a loving but penniless household. While his parents work frantically to keep a roof over everyone's heads and food in the kitchen, he and his older sister, Durga, find small, universal childhood pleasures. Unavoidably, however, the children's lives are shaped by their family's poverty. This is a realistic and nuanced coming of age story that takes note of both the joys and sorrows of ordinary life.

  • Starring: Subir Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee

  • Director: Satyajit Ray

  • Year: 1955

  • Runtime: 126 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

The Philadelphia Story

Philadelphia socialite Tracy Lord is getting married — well, remarried. She had a brief, tumultuous marriage to the hard-playing C.K. Dexter Haven, but now she's trying to have a thoroughly acceptable and high-minded marriage with a new beau ... never mind that their relationship has no spark. Things get complicated when it turns out she does have sparkling chemistry with society reporter Mike, there to cover the big event, and the returned Dexter. This emotional tangle leads Tracy to consider what the men in her life really think of her, and reexamine what she thinks of herself. "The Philadelphia Story" is as fizzily delightful as champagne.

  • Starring: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart

  • Director: George Cukor

  • Year: 1940

  • Runtime: 112 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Dreamy, sumptuous, and strange, "Picnic at Hanging Rock" leaves its mystery thoroughly mysterious. Several schoolgirls and their teacher disappear while on a day trip to Hanging Rock, and only one of them is ever found. She claims to remember nothing about what happened, and no single theory seems to explain everything. As the characters scrutinize unsettling dreams and possible clues — the returned girl, for example, is missing her corset — it feels like they're brushing up against something that goes far beyond the rational world. The movie's lack of answers means this won't be for everyone, but if you're looking to experience something genuinely numinous and unnerving, this is the film for you.

  • Starring: Anne-Louise Lambert, Rachel Roberts, Dominic Guard

  • Director: Peter Weir

  • Year: 1975

  • Runtime: 115 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Punch-Drunk Love

"Punch-Drunk Love" was one of the first films to establish Adam Sandler's dramatic chops. He plays Barry Egan, who lives a small, unhappy life, selling novelty gifts and enduring his family's contempt. The one hopeful development is his meeting with Lena, who is genuinely drawn to him despite all his awkwardness and angry outbursts. But given his sisters' constant belittling and an ongoing extortion attempt, it's hard to say whether a happy ending is really in the cards. This film adds depths of unhappiness, uncertainty, and unconventionality to the usual romantic comedy setup, placing it firmly in a genre all its own.

  • Starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman

  • Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

  • Year: 2002

  • Runtime: 95 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

Rashomon

The hugely influential "Rashomon" turns courtroom drama on its head. Everyone agrees that a samurai, his wife, and a bandit had some kind of encounter in the woods that left the samurai dead. All the testimony, however — from the wife, the bandit, and even (via medium) the samurai himself — adds up to a confusing and contradictory picture. Mistakes, self-serving bias, and outright lies all combine to make each person present their own version of the story, leaving the viewer to try to decide the truth ... and maybe reflect on why these characters would rather be seen as guilty than humiliated. These insights make "Rashomon" thought-provoking, challenging, and fun.

  • Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyō, Masayuki Mori

  • Director: Akira Kurosawa

  • Year: 1950

  • Runtime: 88 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Reservoir Dogs

This heist was supposed to be simple and professional. The crooks involved even identify each other by colors, rather than real names. But everything changes when the cops show up way too quickly and the robbery gets far too bloody, leaving the surviving criminals to hole up in an empty warehouse and try to work out exactly what happened. Is one of them an undercover cop or a snitch? Is the violent Mr. Blonde, who opened fire in the store, too dangerous to have around? Can they risk taking the slowly dying Mr. Orange to a hospital? "Reservoir Dogs" crackles with tension, and is memorable for both its witty dialogue and its darkly comedic violence.

  • Starring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen

  • Director: Quentin Tarantino

  • Year: 1992

  • Runtime: 99 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Safety Last!

In this iconic silent comedy, poor Harold Lloyd just wants to make it in the big city and impress his girlfriend back home. Unfortunately, the best he can do is a low-level job at a department store, which he's too proud to admit to his girlfriend. Soon he's in real, urgent need of money to live up to the image he's created, and his best chance of getting it is the cash-prize stunt of scaling the side of the department store. He has a plan to make it easier on himself ... but as we've already seen, he just doesn't have that kind of luck. Full of classic physical comedy, "Safety Last!" is a great example of how good laughs are eternal.

  • Starring: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Bill Strother

  • Director: Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor

  • Year: 1923

  • Runtime: 73 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Say Anything...

If you only know this film as the reason people hold boomboxes above their heads, rest assured, "Say Anything..." has a lot more to offer than that one famous moment. Lloyd Dobler is a sweet kid who falls deeply in love with Diane, a girl clearly destined for greatness. The chemistry between them is delicate and lovely, but the differences in their lives and probable futures — and the pressure from Diane's father, who wants the best for her (but has done something awful to try to get it) — may lead to them parting for good. This teen romance is warm and emotionally nuanced, and handles deep material with the complexity it deserves.

  • Starring: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney

  • Director: Cameron Crowe

  • Year: 1989

  • Runtime: 100 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Secrets and Lies

Hortense is a successful optometrist, but she feels like there's a hole in her life only finding her birth mother can really fill. There is a gap between her and the woman she discovers, however: Unlike Hortense, who is Black, Cynthia is white and working-class, and has another grown daughter she's frequently in conflict with. Cynthia's life hasn't turned out how she hoped, and while at first Hortense is an unwelcome reminder of the pain of her past, a connection soon grows between the two women. From that bond springs a second chance. This complex and affecting unraveling of familial history lingers long after the credits roll.

  • Starring: Timothy Spall, Brenda Blethyn, Marianne Jean-Baptiste

  • Director: Mike Leigh

  • Year: 1996

  • Runtime: 142 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Seven Samurai

In 16th century Japan, a poor farming village is facing extinction. The coming harvest won't bring prosperity, just a raid by vicious bandits who will take everything they have. Their best chance of survival is hiring samurai to protect them, and since they can only afford to pay in rice, they'll have to take whoever they can get. Luckily, they do get some skilled (if odd) fighters — but they're still only seven men against a horde of bandits. This means the samurai will have to train the villagers to stand up for themselves as well. "Seven Samurai" is both deep and exciting, an almost Shakespearean drama crossed with an action-adventure epic.

  • Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Daisuke Katō

  • Director: Akira Kurosawa

  • Year: 1954

  • Runtime: 207 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

The Seventh Seal

On a lonely beach, a knight plays a fateful game of chess with Death. World-weary Antonius Block is coming back from the Crusades, and after all he's seen, he longs for a sense of meaning. He doesn't want to die until he has that, so he hopes to drag this chess game out as long as possible. This is a time when hope, joy, and purpose feel hard to come by, though — plague is ravaging Europe, casual violence is everywhere, and women accused of witchcraft are burned at the stake. Movingly, this striking and complex film shows Antonius and the people he encounters eking some beauty and connection out of life ... even if the darkness still abounds.

  • Starring: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Nils Poppe

  • Director: Ingmar Bergman

  • Year: 1957

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

The Shawshank Redemption

Soft-spoken banker Andy Dufresne is wrongfully convicted of his wife's murder and sentenced to life in prison. Through assault, humiliation, and solitary confinement that amounts to torture, Andy holds onto a crucial sense of dignity and hope — and to his friendship with fellow lifer Red, who narrates Andy's story. The film follows Andy's years at Shawshank, all building up to a legendary climax. "The Shawshank Redemption" is full of moving, beautiful scenes that have become iconic. This is a movie that will get every possible feeling out of you.

The Shining

The remote Overlook Hotel needs a winter caretaker, and the job goes to Jack Torrance, whose drinking problem and violent temper aren't as far behind him as he pretends. He's not the kind of man who should spend all winter in an isolated, pressure-cooker environment with his vulnerable wife and son, even under the best circumstances — and "The Shining" doesn't remotely involve the best circumstances. The Overlook is haunted, and its long and bloody history works on Jack's already-troubled mind while it terrorizes his psychically sensitive son, Danny. Stunningly terrifying and crafted with Kubrick's usual level of intensity and care, "The Shining" is one of the scariest films ever made.

Singin' in the Rain

Talkies are on the way in, and silent films are on the way out, which means existing stars have to adapt or fade away. Don Lockwood is prepared to make the leap — especially if it means separating from his studio-mandated "romance" with frequent co-star Lina Lamont, whose unpleasant voice will keep her out of the new Hollywood. Don falls in love with free-spirited actress Kathy Selden, and wants a happy ending with her. He has the means to get it: He, Kathy, and his friend Cosmo have a plan for a musical that they're sure will be a hit. This frothy, energetic film is full of irresistible joie de vivre.

  • Starring: Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor

  • Directors: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen

  • Year: 1952

  • Runtime: 103 minutes

  • Rating: G

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Stagecoach

In this classic early Western, a disparate group of strangers — an alcoholic doctor, a prim whiskey salesman, a respectable wife, a "dance hall girl" run out of town, an outlaw with a heart of gold, and more — all find themselves in the same packed stagecoach. They're on a long and dangerous journey, one that keeps developing new complications. Their trials bring them together in satisfying and unexpected ways, muddling the social divisions that seem so clear at the start. "Stagecoach" is old-fashioned fun with some deeply rewarding storytelling and a great early turn by John Wayne.

  • Starring: Claire Trevor, John Wayne, Andy Devine

  • Director: John Ford

  • Year: 1939

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Tampopo

A widowed restaurant owner, Tampopo, meets a truck-driving "culinary ronin" named Gorō, who becomes her tutor in making lackluster ramen into a masterpiece. While Tampopo goes through a rigorous training process to develop the perfect noodle, she starts blossoming into greater confidence. The film also follows several smaller stories about people and food, from a tale of a gangster obsessed with the sensuality of eating to a comedy about elite businessmen who are too self-conscious and unadventurous in their restaurant ordering. "Tampopo" is the perfect movie for foodies: cheerful, colorful, and destined to make your mouth water.

  • Starring: Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Kōji Yakusho

  • Director: Juzo Itami

  • Year: 1985

  • Runtime: 115 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Tokyo Story

"Tokyo Story" is a quiet, elegiac look at an elderly couple and their grown children. Shūkichi and Tomi decide to travel to Tokyo for a visit, but it's easy for them to see that their elder son and daughter and their families view them as an intrusion at worst and an inconvenience at best. They humor their aging parents, but they don't really appreciate them. Ironically, their most loyal "child" isn't their child at all: It's their widowed daughter-in-law, who is the only one in Tokyo who truly embraces them. It would be easy to turn all this into melodrama — especially towards the end — but "Tokyo Story" manages incredible pathos without ever losing its restraint.

  • Starring: Chishū Ryū, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara

  • Director: Yasujirō Ozu

  • Year: 1953

  • Runtime: 136 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

The Truman Show

Truman lives an ordinary, peaceful life in a small island town. He has a good marriage, a best friend he's known all his life, and a strong community. If he still sometimes pines for the mystery girl who got away or fantasizes about a trip without taking it, well, everyone has these little dissatisfactions. What Truman doesn't know is that his "normal life" is a carefully maintained construct: He's the lifelong star of groundbreaking reality program "The Truman Show." When he slowly starts putting the pieces together, the movie's comedy darkens and deepens, resulting in something at once funny and profound.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

"The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" is a wistful romantic musical that perfectly captures both the whirlwind intoxication of first love and the sweetness and stability of later, more permanent relationships. Geneviéve and Guy are two young French lovers who feel like they can't live without each other. But the Algerian War forces them to: Guy is drafted, leaving Geneviéve alone ... and, as she soon finds out, pregnant. Their separation forces both Guy and Geneviéve to find other lovers, the ones they will wind up spending the rest of their lives with — but fate may let them brush up against each other once more. This is a stunning and sweet ode to love.

  • Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon

  • Director: Jacques Demy

  • Year: 1964

  • Runtime: 91 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

Unforgiven

When a brothel patron carves up a woman's face for laughing at him, she and her friends want the kind of justice the law refuses to give them — and they're willing to pay to get it. Word soon gets to William Munny. Munny may have reformed in recent years, and his past weighs on him, but he still has a reputation for ruthless and indiscriminate violence. He reunites with Ned Logan, a friend from his outlaw days, and alongside the greenhorn Schofield Kid, they set out to claim this informal bounty. It's murder-for-hire from the start, and it only gets darker from there. Few movies have ever blended violence and solemnity as well as "Unforgiven" does.

When Harry Met Sally...

In 1977, college students Sally and Harry share a long car trip, and Harry advances a theory: Men and women can't be friends, because any mutual attraction will always get in the way. Any attraction between them, however, seems destined to be overwhelmed by mutual dislike — until time marches on, and the two of them become older and wiser. Gradually, they develop a deep, inseparable friendship, and find themselves putting Harry's old theory to the test ... but in reverse. If they're such good friends, will transitioning to romance ruin what they have and leave them permanently apart? "When Harry Met Sally..." is a strong candidate for the best romantic comedy ever made.

  • Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher

  • Director: Rob Reiner

  • Year: 1989

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Wings of Desire

Life can be lonely and painful. In "Wings of Desire," however, there are angels who do their best to give solace to the people of their cities. Damiel and Cassiel watch over Berlin, bearing witness to its inhabitants and their struggles. They've always been removed from the world, but when Damiel begins to fall in love with a trapeze artist, he starts to yearn for a human life. "Wings of Desire" is elegant, thoughtful, and surprising, and, as a bonus, contains one of the best-ever cases of an actor playing himself.

  • Starring: Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander

  • Director: Wim Wenders

  • Year: 1987

  • Runtime: 127 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%