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15 Best Movies On Apple TV Plus [May 2022]

Apple TV+ hit the competitive world of streaming services in late 2019, offering a bunch of classy, high-profile projects featuring big stars — the cinematic equivalent of a shiny new Apple smartphone. As a relative newcomer to the content production and distribution game, Apple TV+ doesn't have any pre-existing intellectual properties it can use to build up its library or produce new cinematic universes the way that Disney+ or Warner-owned HBO Max are able to do so easily. Instead, Apple TV+ has carved out a niche as a place for well-funded, carefully produced, thoughtful movies with a focus on voices and points of view rarely expressed, including fascinating documentaries, quirky comedies, and emotionally resonant thrillers. The Apple TV+ library has grown a lot in its few years in existence, and here are the best films currently available on the upstart service.

Updated on May 2, 2022: Apple TV+ adds new movies all the time, so check this space every so often to see what's new on the streamer.

The Banker

"The Banker" is based on the true story of one of the first banks in the United States owned, operated, and created for members of the Black community — one established in the 1950s, a world before the Civil Rights movement really picked up and in a more openly racist and segregated period of American history. 

Bernard Garrett finds too many race-related roadblocks in his quest to become a Los Angeles real estate investor, but he meets a club owner named Joe Morris, and together, the two African-American men create a property business, hiring a white man to pose as the face of the company to gain entry into the financial and real estate sectors. This arrangement continues when they attempt to start a bank in Texas, expressly to cater to Black clients shut out of the traditional banking system.

  • Starring: Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nia Long
  • Director: George Nolfi
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

CODA

"CODA" is an acronym, standing for "child of deaf adults," a designation in the culturally deaf community, a rich world that's the setting for a film that focuses on Ruby Rossi, a hearing girl with parents and an older brother who are not. "CODA" follows Ruby as she branches out from her family to explore her own identity, in the hearing world and otherwise, joining the school choir despite a lack of confidence about her voice and maybe starting a romance with a duet partner. Ruby's musical talents are so substantial that she entertains a teacher's suggestion to attend a prestigious music school, but she feels beholden to work for her family's struggling fishing business.

  • Starring: Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin
  • Director: Sian Heder
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 112 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Come from Away

The Apple TV+ adaptation of "Come from Away" is a carefully produced and filmed record of the Broadway production of the same name, a musical of Canadian origin nominated for seven Tony Awards in 2017. It's a sweet, inspiring tale of the warmth and kindness that can emerge during the darkest moments of the human experience. 

On September 11, 2001, thousands of flights were grounded or canceled after terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, killing thousands. But 38 planes from around the world were diverted to the small community of Gander, Newfoundland, where the 7,000 people that had "come from away" united, became friends, and consoled one another while the locals showed remarkable sympathy and hospitality.

  • Starring: Patricia Bromley, Jenn Colella, De'Lon Grant
  • Director: Christopher Ashley
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

The Elephant Queen

The best documentary films take viewers into worlds they might otherwise never be privy, and "The Elephant Queen" does just that, depicting with gorgeous cinematography the dramatic migration of a collective of elephants across the African savanna. Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor powerfully narrates the dreamlike tale of Athena, an elephant matriarch, as she guides her mother and two daughters, among others, from the wildlife-packed but drought-plagued Kingdom to a waterhole hundreds of miles away. Along the way, her newborn daughter falls ill, and Athena has to make some desperate decisions about whether to stay or soldier on.

Finch

"Finch" is like Pixar's "Wall-E," except sadder and with the addition of more cool sci-fi tech, a cute dog, and the inimitable Tom Hanks. A decade after solar flares melted the ozone layer, making the planet an overheated, radioactive, inhospitable wasteland where extreme weather is a constant, roboticist Finch Weinberg is probably the last human alive. He lives in an underground Midwestern laboratory, heading out occasionally in protective gear to locate supplies for himself, his dog Goodyear, and his robots. Knowing he can't survive the conditions much longer, Finch sets out to make his robot Jeff as advanced as possible, programming it with all of the knowledge and data possible, preparing it and Goodyear for future nomadic travel and survival.

Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds

Werner Herzog, a filmmaker best known for his dread-and-doom-filled works about man's darkest impulses and fatalistic hubris ("Fitzcarraldo," "Grizzly Man"), went and made "Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds," a brain-popping and even moving documentary. With volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, Herzog explores meteorites — what they are and how they hit the planet and create craters — and also what they mean to the religious, cultural, and social history of the world. Herzog and Oppenheimer are both fascinated with space rocks and how they link cultures worldwide, and that enthusiasm comes across, explaining in a way that anyone can understand just how magnificent it is to having something from outer space make a permanent impact on the planet.

Greyhound

Tom Hanks knows how to make an exciting, emotional, and respectful war movie, having starred in the classic "Saving Private Ryan." Plus, he wrote the screenplay for "Greyhound," based on a historical novel by C.S. Forester, which imagines an incredibly tense situation that could well have occurred in the early days of World War II. Set in 1942, just a few months into the U.S. military's involvement in World War II, a collection of three dozen Allied merchant and supply ships attempt to traverse the Atlantic Ocean, with German U-boats giving secret but violent chase. It's up to Hank's Ernest Krause, a military lifer and captain of a destroyer called the U.S.S. Keeling, aka Greyhound, to safely escort the innocent supply ships through deadly and hostile waters.

Hala

"Hala" is an emotionally intimate examination of what it feels like to be a teenager, just on the cusp of adulthood with one's mind spinning with possibilities, but told from the specific point of view of a Pakistani-American young woman conflicted between two cultures. Hala struggles to adhere to the faith and traditionalism of her family, which she appreciates and holds dear, while also actively embracing the flashier parts of American life, like skateboarding through the suburbs of Chicago or deciding to maybe date a winsome white classmate.

  • Starring: Geraldine Viswanathan, Jack Kilmer, Gabriel Luna
  • Director: Minhal Baig
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 94 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

On the Rocks

From Sofia Coppola, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind "Lost in Translation" and "Marie Antoinette," comes "On the Rocks," a low-key and gentle comedy about adults reconnecting with their parents and the fears that come when people settle into their lives. Laura, a novelist and mother of two little kids, is convinced that her businessman husband is cheating on her, what with all the late-night meetings and mysterious phone activity. When her flaky, flamboyant art dealer father, Felix — for whom she harbors resentment for cheating on her mother — flits back into her life, they bond over spying on Dean, following him all over Manhattan in search of the truth.

Palmer

All-around entertainer Justin Timberlake tones down the razzle-dazzle for "Palmer," an affecting film about second chances and choosing one's family. Timberlake plays Eddie Palmer, a guy whose high school football glory days are long behind him — as is a 12-year stint in prison — when he returns to his small Louisiana hometown to move in with his grandmother and figure out his next moves. And that's when his hard-drinking neighbor runs off, leaving behind her bullied, gender-nonconforming, 7-year-old Sam. Palmer finds purpose and joy in being a father figure, and Sam receives love and structure ... until Palmer's felon past could split them up for good.

  • Starring: Justin Timberlake, Ryder Allen, Juno Temple
  • Director: Fisher Stevens
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%

Swan Song

Two-time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali stars in this movie about a man at an emotionally difficult turning point. He plays Cameron, a family man very content in his life as a husband and father, who's diagnosed with a terminal disease. He doesn't have many treatment options, and time is short ... until his doctor tells him about an experimental procedure that would save his life in a way — or at least not devastate his family. He could be cloned, with his copy replacing him upon his death. The only caveat is that his family can't find out, lest they resist or become terribly confused. Cam must make his decision while also quietly mourning his own death and saying goodbye.

The Tragedy of Macbeth

After nearly four decades of working as an Oscar-winning duo with his brother, Ethan, filmmaker Joel Coen went it alone with a stylish, unsettling, luxuriously black-and-white take on "Macbeth," one of William Shakespeare's most famous tragedies and a hallmark of English literature. After receiving the ominous news that he's fated to become the king of Scotland, the general Macbeth kills the existing king to get things moving, with the assistance of his wife. After some machinations from close associates like Banquo and Macduff — and with all the death and mayhem thoroughly haunting and undoing Lady Macbeth — Macbeth falls deeper into madness and violence himself, threatening the accuracy of the prophecy and the future of the Scottish crown.

The Velvet Underground

As one of the most transgressive, subversive, and influential bands of all time, the Velvet Underground deserve a documentary but not a conventional one. Todd Haynes, director of such surreal, music-heavy narratives like the glam rock-based "Velvet Goldmine" and the Bob Dylan sort-of-biopic "I'm Not There," takes on the story of the original indie band, the New York collective of boundary-pushing, often atonal misfits who sang songs about heroin and desperation during a time when hippies and psychedelic rock were fashionable. The film itself is like the band — disjointed, genre-bending, a little weird, and wholly thought-provoking.

Who Are You, Charlie Brown?

Apple TV+ is the streaming home of the "Peanuts" gang, including all the classic holiday specials, the new "The Snoopy Show," and "Who Are You, Charlie Brown?" Incorporating plenty of familiar "Peanuts" animation and interviews with relatives, friends, and famous fans, it's a documentary about the strip's creator, Charles Schulz, a complicated and often inscrutable man who based the melancholic, self-deprecating Charlie Brown on himself. "Who Are You, Charlie Brown?" attempts to know and explain Schulz while also detailing how and why "Peanuts" became a cultural phenomenon.

Wolfwalkers

Compelling partly thanks to its gorgeous, detailed animation that resembles ancient folk art, "Wolfwalkers" is director Tomm Moore's third entry in a trilogy of films about Irish folklore, following "The Secret of Kells" and "Song of the Sea." A magical, dreamy fairy tale, "Wolfwalkers" is set in 17th-century Ireland, in an enchanted forest and an adjacent walled city. Young hunter Robyn Goodfellowe arrives to help her master hunter father eliminate the area's last predatory wolf pack, but she meets an enigmatic girl named Mebh, part of a small community of "wolfwalkers" — supernatural beings who can transform into wolves at night. Robyn helps Mebh find her wolf mother, while her father is looking too, ordered to kill the wolves by the city's evil Lord Protector.

  • Starring: Sean Bean, Honor Kneafsey, Simon McBurney
  • Director: Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%