My 5 favorite new to HBO Max movies that you should watch this month

The HBO Max logo on a phone on top of a keyboard
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Trying to find great movies on HBO Max isn't hard, but finding the right ones for your interests may be. So, while we do our best to make our list of the best HBO Max movies complete, I like to take some time every month to compile a more personal list.

Here, I've pulled together five movies that hit HBO Max in the last 45 days. And while some are critics' darlings you might have heard of (and made it to our recent list of new to HBO Max movies with high Rotten Tomatoes scores), some are odder titles that didn't really mesh with reviewers.

One of those is a comedy that's beloved by many, another is a bewildering tale where James Franco goes full Florida Man and the third has a lot of famous people hanging out. either by group consensus or by their Rotten Tomatoes scores. Sometimes, though, when we see a new list of movies that come out, we like to curate a list with a more personal touch.

In all cases, though, these movies (to me) help make HBO Max the best streaming service.

Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)

Sometimes, people push you to see a movie you have no interest in, but you're the better for it. 

I happened upon Coffee and Cigarettes because of just such a recommendation. One night, my parents talked me into going to see this odd black and white movie in a theater, on the promise that two Wu-Tang Clan members and Bill Murray were in it. They comprise the cast of one of 11 segments in the film where writer/director Jim Jarmusch assembled a who's who of oddball characters who share — you guessed it — coffee and cigarettes.

Throughout, a peculiar and welcoming vibe grounds the likes of Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, Cate Blanchett, Steve Coogan and — most memorably, The RZA, The GZA and Bill Murray. If you can't tell what you're in the mood for, but think you'd enjoy weirdos sharing lovely moments with each other, hit play.

Arrived on HBO Max on: May 1, 2023
Anthology comedy
Rotten Tomatoes score:
Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright, Tom Waits, Alfred Molina, Meg White, Jack White, Bill Murray
Jim Jarmusch
Watch now

Parasite (2019)

Parasite is the quintessential movie that you've either seen and loved or somehow avoided (possibly out of stubbornness) while everyone gabbed about it. So, now that it's just arrived on HBO Max, it's the perfect time to watch (or rewatch) this instant classic. 

In Bong Joon-ho's film, we start with the Kim family whose finances are underwater, and live in a semi-basement apartment that's in a constant state of turmoil. This leads them to do anything for cash, including conning their way into the rich Park family's life. 

After their clever daughter Ki-jung (Park So-dam) fakes art therapist skills to help calm the Park family's unruly son, the Parks' son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) poses as a tutor to get a foot in the door. Soon enough, father Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) takes the Park family driver's job, and mother Chung-sook (Jang Hye-jin) tricks her way into the role of housekeeper.

All that is just the funny setup to a big twist that amps up the drama. Throughout, you'll think you have a grip on the class-warfare story going on, but that surprise will have you seeing everything in a new light. I remember seeing it at the IFC Center in NYC, where the line stretched down the block, and everyone was a buzz about the hype. I left thinking "I need to own it." I wound up buying Parasite on its Criterion Collection 4K release.

Arrived on HBO Max on: May 1, 2023
Rotten Tomatoes score: 99%
Stars: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-gyun, Jo Yeo-jeong
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Watch now

Step Brothers (2008)

I don't know how embarrassing this is, but I initially resisted Step Brothers. While I loved previous Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly movies, this case of arrested development just seemed too far-fetched. Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly) are a pair of unemployed man-children whose now-single parents just moved in with each other, forcing the two to share a room. 

Throughly silly and immature, but ultimately quotable, Step Brothers comes together perfectly once Brennan and Dale realize that they've become best friends. I understand if you scoff at this recommendation, but god I'm excited to watch it after a long day working for a living. Something Brennan and Dale have no idea about. 

Oh, and Adam Scott is perfect as the villainous Derek, Brennan's younger brother who's a snob and a jerk.

Arrived on HBO Max on: May 1, 2023
Rotten Tomatoes score: 55%
Stars: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn
Director: Adam McKay
Watch now

Blue Valentine (2010)

OK, for those who started to distrust my taste after talking about Step Brothers, I have one for you. Blue Valentine utterly shattered my heart when I saw it in theaters, so much so that I had to applaud them for the triumph. 

Blue Valentine tracks a couple, Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), throughout different stages of their relationship — which is shown out of order. No, not just chronologically, but Dean and Cindy are the equivalent of a vending machine that refuses to take your money. They just seem doomed to fail.

Director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance won deserved praise for Blue Velvet, especially for the work done with Dean. As much as Gosling does to make him likable, the film successfully crosses a taut tightrope when it comes to his flaws.

Arrived on HBO Max on: May 1, 2023
Genre: Romantic drama
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
Stars: Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling, Mike Vogel, Faith Wladyka, John Doman
Watch now

Spring Breakers (2012)

Now, as a reward for reading to the fifth and final recommendation, I offer one of the weirdest movies I'm glad I saw. 

James Franco's turn as a drug dealer/rapper named Alien (who resembles actual rapper Riff Raff) is the napalm that lights a fire among four vacationing college students on spring break. Except they're not just on vacation: they're on the run from the cops.

In a completely unsympathetic move, Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Faith (Selena Gomez), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) robbed a diner because they needed money. Once they get to Florida, three members of the gang decide they actually want to join Alien in his criminal activity.

Completely weird, and likely repulsive to many, Spring Breakers was the latest piece of proof that director Harmony Korine still had it in him. 

Arrived on HBO Max on: April 1, 2023
Rotten Tomatoes score: 68%
Stars: James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Heather Morris
Director: Harmony Korine
Watch Now

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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.