HBO Max: 10 Must-Watch Films

by Maryssa Orta

HBO Max, released on May 27th, has an incredibly wide array of movies to choose from. With such a diverse listing it can be difficult to find a movie that fits what you’re looking for. Here are 10 HBO Max movies to start your journey in not just finding the right film, but also becoming a little more well-versed in the cinema world:

“House” (1977)

Directed by the late Nobuhiko Obayashi, “House” (1977), is a Japanese horror film about a group of girls who go on vacation to their friend’s aunt’s home. There, they learn the sinister secret of the aunt who owns it. Filled with stunning visuals and a story that leaves you constantly on the edge of your seat, I believe HBO Max is worth it just for this film.

“The Hate U Give” (2018)

Directed by George Tillman Jr. and based on the book by Angie Thomas, “The Hate U Give” tells the story of Starr Carter’s two worlds. There’s her poor and mostly black neighborhood and her wealthy, mostly white prep school. Her worlds both collide and shatter with each other after witnessing a terribly tragic event. This drama/crime movie discovers how to find a voice and stand up for what’s right.

“Spirited Away” (2001)

If I could include all the Studio Ghibli films on HBO Max, I would. But since I can’t, here is just one of the stunning films from the studio. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, “Spirited Away” (2001), tells the whimsical story of a girl who must work at a resort in order to reverse the curse that has been placed on her parents. This film feels magical and nostalgic. There is a huge cast of characters to know and fun to watch. If you loved this one, I can guarantee you’ll love the other Ghibli films as well.

“Cleo From 5 to 7” (1962)

Directed by Agnes Varda and an important find on HBO Max. “Cleo from 5 to 7” (1962) tells the story of a superstitious musician named Cleo. For 90 minutes, she goes through her day in Paris while she waits for the results of her biopsy. She encounters plenty of people from long time friends to strangers. Not only do we see the streets of Paris as they were, but we also get to see Cleo grow as a character in such a short time.

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Cleo from 5 to 7 🥀 #cleofrom5to7 #vintage

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“Crimson Peak” (2015)

This horror/mystery is directed by Guillermo Del Toro and stands as one of his most prominent works. This movie tells the story of Edith Cushing and the mysteries surrounding her new husband Thomas and his sister Lucille. “Crimson Peak” (2015) is reminiscent of films like “Rebecca” (1940), and the writings of romantics such as Mary Shelley. If you’re a fan of romance, mystery, and anything Victorian you will love this film!

“Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of The Were-Rabbit” (2005)

Directed by Nick Park and Steve Box, this is an all-time favorite of mine along with plenty of others who grew up with the titular characters. This film follows the duo of Wallace and Gromit as they solve the mystery of the giant rabbit that is eating all the vegetables in town. And to top it all off the humor is great. It’s a fun, family-friendly movie that everyone will love!

“Rashomon” (1950)

Directed by the prolific Akira Kurosawa, “Rashomon” (1950) tells four versions of the same crime told by different witnesses. The film looks closely at topics such as truth and justice. This movie is sure to be on any film studies curriculum. It’s also compelling to see how every version differs from the other. TW: for sexual assault

“Singin’ In The Rain” (1952)

Of course, HBO Max would also have one of the best musicals ever made. Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, this film tells the story of Don and Lina. They’re a pair of actors who must make a musical. While Don can sing, Lina can’t and it’s up to Kathy, an aspiring actress, to record for her. This movie is filled with catchy songs that will have you humming their tunes all day.

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Here for the singin'.

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

It is possible that you have already seen this, and you might have seen the rest of the movies. But why not take a trip back? If you haven’t seen this trilogy and you have about three hours to spare, then this is the way to spend it. It’s undeniable that this series has influenced everything about fantasy. So, why not see where it all began? Follow a mythical group of heroes as they go on a quest to destroy the One Ring.

“Blindspotting” (2018)

This comedy/drama was directed by Carlos López Estrada and stars Daveed Diggs. This film tells the story of Colin who is on his last days of probation in Oakland, CA. Throughout the film, the relationship with his erratic best friend is put to the test and keeps escalating. This film has a thought-provoking story and great performances from the actors.

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That’s a real phone number. You should call it.

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So, here are 10 movies to begin your journey through HBO Max. Even if you aren’t a fan of a certain genre, I’m sure you’ll find these films both fun and insightful. Maybe you can find your next favorite because I sure did!

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