15 of the Best Movies You Should Watch on HBO Max this Month

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The essential question of “What movie should I watch tonight?” grows only more vexing as the streaming landscape becomes ever-oversaturated. Picking a platform from which to stream is dicey enough—Netflix? Hulu? Wait…Peacock, seriously?—even before the thousands of options in seemingly random order flood your screen. Decision fatigue sets in; suddenly, it’s easier to watch The Office again than it is to try that prestige vehicle your #FilmTwitter friends won’t shut up about. Relax, we get it, and we’re here to cut out the guesswork.

If you’re in a movie-watching mood, one of the best streamers to hit first is HBO Max. The Warner Bros. treasure trove is home to not only a crop of the latest Oscar nominees, but collections from Studio Ghibli, Turner Classic Movies, DC Comics, and—of course—HBO itself. The full list of titles available shifts throughout this year, so we’ll update this story regularly to keep you abreast of the best and the latest. In the meantime, read ahead for 15 of the best films streaming on HBO Max this month. Finally, you can put the remote down, and settle in.

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The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Director Martin McDonagh expertly fuses the quaint and the absurd in his Oscar-nominated tale of frenemies in 1920s-era Ireland. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson star as the central duo, long-term friends who—seemingly out of nowhere—split at the seams when one suddenly decides he doesn’t “like” the other “anymore.” The resulting drama is hilarious, heart-wrenching, and troubling, made all the more absorbing through top-tier performances from supporting cast members including Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan.

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The winner of 2022’s Best International Feature Film Academy Award—it was also nominated for Best Picture that same year—Drive My Car is based on acclaimed Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s short story, about a recently widowed actor who befriends the young woman assigned as his chauffeur. It’s a gorgeously shot though simply crafted story—accessible, immersive, and deeply affecting.

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Undoubtedly the best Batman film since The Dark Knight—sorry, Batfleck—The Batman stars lovable weirdo Robert Pattinson as lovable weirdo Bruce Wayne, taking on Paul Dano’s Riddler with the help of a fantastic Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman.

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Love it or hate it, Austin Butler’s Elvis accent is inescapable these days. As he makes a run for Best Actor at this year’s Academy Awards, it’s worth watching (or re-watching) his turn as the King in Baz Luhrmann’s dazzling, at times confounding take on Elvis Presley’s explosive, inimitable career.

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Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

A 2021 Best Picture nominee, Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah is one of the best crime dramas in recent memory. The story follows Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton, the Illinois chapter leader of the Black Panther party, and LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neil, the titular Judas, who betrays Hampton to the FBI.

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A big splashy sci-fi movie starring Timothy Chalamet and Zendaya—for, uh, seven minutesDune might not be a perfect adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sandy masterwork, but it is required viewing if you’re planning to tune in for Dune: Part II, out November 3.

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In the Mood for Love (2000)

Widely agreed to be one of the best films ever made—and for good reason, given the intimacy and care with which it’s crafted—In the Mood for Love stars iconic actors Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung as two strangers drawn together by their spouses’ affair. Twenty-plus years on, it’s still a crowd and critic favorite: In 2022, Sight & Sound ranked it No. 5 on its “Greatest Films of All Time” list.

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A clever, well-executed horror film about the terrors of renting an Airbnb—sort of, anyway—Barbarian churned through its paltry budget to make a surprising smash at the box office in September of last year. It’s a must-watch if you love zany plot twists and indie films that could, or if the idea of a stranger lurking behind your hotel shower curtain keeps you up at night.

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If you’ve managed to make it through life so far without seeing Casablanca in its entirety—you’re not alone!—it’s finally time to devote a couple hours to Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s dazzling performance as Rick and Ilsa, lovers caught amidst the backdrop of World War II in Casablanca, Morocco.

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Believe it or not, journalism is riveting!! Starring one of Mark Ruffalo’s best performances of all time—yes, even better than 13 Going on 30—Best Picture winner Spotlight is a harrowing look into the Boston Globe’s investigation of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Equally heartbreaking and mobilizing, the film is one of the greatest so-called “journalism movies” ever made.

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford in two of the most beloved roles of their storied careers, classic western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is just as rollicking and captivating a watch now as it was during its 1969 release. Newman and Redford are a natural duo as a pair of charming robbers and outlaws in 1899 Wyoming; and together, they created one of the most iconic freeze frames in all of motion picture history. No easy feat given Ratatouille as competition!

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My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Many of us ’90s babies keep a Studio Ghibli movie or two (or ten) close to the heart—for me, it’s Kiki’s Delivery Service—but even those less familiar with Hayao Miyazaki groundbreaking animation will find themselves charmed, moved, and heartened by My Neighbor Totoro. A tale of friendship and childhood wonder, it’s not just one of the best animated films of all time, but one of the best films period.

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Hysterically funny even years past the prime of its mid-2000s aesthetic—though the Y2K girlies might beg to differ—Juno brought Elliot Page hurtling into the spotlight as a pregnant teenager straddling the chasm between youth and adulthood. Today, it remains compulsively re-watchable, the kind of film you reach for no matter the hour, no matter the mood.

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Directed by Martin Scorsese with Robert De Niro in the starring role, Raging Bull is much more of a character study than it is a sports drama, featuring De Niro in one of his characteristic impossible-to-look-away-from roles—no matter how ugly it might be to watch. The film is now considered necessary viewing in the Scorsese canon, if not the best of the acclaimed director’s career.

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Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Titanic has its charms, but my formative Leonardo DiCaprio viewing experience will always be Catch Me If You Can. Starring DiCaprio as con artist Frank Abagnale Jr. and Tom Hanks as the FBI agent hot on his trail, the film is breezy and delicious without sacrificing substance, supplied in full by DiCaprio at his best.

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Culture Writer
Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture writer at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books.

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15 of the Best Movies You Should Watch on HBO Max this Month

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