7 best HBO Max movies you haven’t watched yet

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I personally love HBO Max for its movies and shows, so much so that I got worried about the 'Max' rebranding due this month. Fortunately, it doesn't look like anything we love is truly leaving, and the best streaming service will just have a shorter name and a new blue hue.

That said, a recent deep dive in the HBO Max vault reminded me how your next great movie discovery is only a few clicks away. The only problem? HBO Max doesn't do a whole lot to surface the hidden gems of its library. This is where we at Tom's Guide come in, as our love of movies goes pretty deep.

So, we offer this list of under-loved HBO Max movies, to complement our guide to the best HBO Max movies overall. Most of these films are critically adored, but one's a quirky flick that deserves attention even if critics weren't impressed.

Obvious Child (2014)

OK, Jenny Slate superfans who know she voiced Marcel the Shell may have seen Obvious Child. But those who only know the former SNL cast member from her time there or on Parks and Recreation likely missed her starring role as Donna Stern, a comedian who's struggling left and right. Not only is she recently unemployed, but a one-night-stand with a grad student (Jake Lacy) leaves her an unplanned pregnancy.

Applauded for telling a personal story — instead of a polemic — about a controversial topic, Obvious Child won many audiences over. It also proved that Slate had a career in film to look forward to.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Genre: Comedy
Stream it on HBO Max

Ghost Dog (1999)

You know how John Wick wonders what if the world was full of hitmen and spies lurking in plain sight? Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai poses a similar, but different question: what if a nearly-silent swordsman was lurking in the shadows, operating with his own code of morals? Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) may be a killer, but he carries out hits to repay a debt to the mobster who saved his life.

A brilliantly singular and very moody masterpiece from writer/director Jim Jarmusch, Ghost Dog merges philosophy with crime. Oh, and it's all tied together with a masterful soundtrack from Wu-Tang Clan's The RZA, who cameos in the film. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%
Genre: Crime drama
Stream it on HBO Max

The Janes (2022)

The Janes travels back to the early 1970s to show us how the abortion debate led to women taking matters into their own hands. Without Roe vs. Wade to protect their right to a safe abortion, a group of women in Chicago who operated in secrecy. The film shows why The Janes were so necessary, as some men charged up to $1,000, or demanded sexual favors in exchanged. Some women even had to turn to the mafia.

Applauded for its interviews with the titular Janes, who are plainspoken and mix candor and humor to great effect, The Janes is a must-see. While the topic of abortion often, rightfully, creates loud and angry conversation, The Janes offers a more approachable angle.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Genre: Documentary
Stream it on HBO Max

Old Joy (2006) 

Kirk (Will Oldham) and Mark (Daniel London) are two old friends reuniting to go on a camping trip that they both need. Almost the anti-road trip movie, considering how meditative and measured it is, Old Joy is about observing the moment as your life is changing. Mark is about to become a father, and Kurt lives doesn't really have much of a future to look forward to.

Declared one of the best films of 2006 by multiple critics, Old Joy is a movie that proves you can be evocative while also being subtle. It's also one of writer/director/editor Kelly Reichardt's earliest successes that helped create the so-called 'mumblecore' film genre. You may know Reichardt from more-recent releases such as First Cow or Showing Up.

Genre: Drama
Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%
Stream it on HBO Max

Life After Beth (2014) 

Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) and Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) don't seem like natural romantic leads, which is why it makes sense that Life After Beth is a supernatural comedy. So while Zach (DeHaan) mourned the death of Beth (Plaza), that doesn't last long as she's back from the dead and hungry for both love and brains.

While some critics slighted Life After Beth for having too-slight a story, Plaza's perfect as the undead girl next door, quickly pivoting between her humane and undead polarities. Oh, and it also features John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon as Beth's parents.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 45%
Genre: Zombie comedy
Stream it on HBO Max

House (Hausu) (1977)

If you didn't think this list could get weirder than zombie Aubrey Plaza, allow me to introduce the surreal Japanese horror movie House (Hausu). It begins as upbeat as any 1990's teen comedy, with a group of teen girls off to visit one of their relatives.

Unfortunately for the gang, the house in Hausu is filled with terrifying horrors to delight those of us with twisted sensibilities. Zigging and zagging from beats that belong in Scooby-Doo and Evil Dead II, Hausu isn't for everyone. But those who love it will adore it forever.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Genre: Horror
Stream it on HBO Max

The Wrestler (2008)

Pro wrestling doesn't get all the respect it deserves, though the aging athletes of the industry have begun to get their flowers. No, not the Hulk Hogans and Ric Flairs, icons undone by outside-the-ring antics, but the stars that burned too fast and passed long before they should have.

And in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke personifies the infamous and expiring icons as Randy The Ram. While he's trying to exit the ring with his life intact for time with a potential love interest (Marisa Tomei) and his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), he has a hard time ignoring the glory that only the squared circle can provide.

Perfectly cast, as Rourke is no stranger to redemption stories, The Wrestler thrives off of his authentic performance. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%
Genre: Drama
Stream it on HBO Max

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Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.