5 best HBO Max movies you're not watching

A phone with the HBO Max logo sits to the left of a spilled popcorn container
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At Tom's Guide, we believe that the best movies on HBO Max are a key part of why it's one of the best streaming services. For example, it takes little time at all for our streaming editor (me) to go through the site to find five great movies that would make for a great movie night.

Yes, we regularly update a roundup of just that — all of the best movies on HBO Max. But that story is both a collection based around what we as a team think, and on the long side. For anyone looking for a mix of great movies you might not have heard about, and one that's a bit more personalized, I've got the list for you.

To make that list, I pulled up the movies section of HBO Max, and dove into the genre lists. Then, I ignored all things DC and Studio Ghibli, because those are what HBO Max is known for, and anyone looking for recommendations already has watched the low-hanging fruit (if not: watch Birds of Prey and Kiki's Delivery Service). 

Then, I've selected a range of films that I think shows off a fair bit of what I love about movies. This batch includes one excellent and moody drama, a comedy that's a series of three stories, a horror movie with a great twist and a documentary that's incredibly of this moment. 

Only one of these movies, by the way, is an HBO movie. That's how good HBO Max is at curating outside content.

The French Dispatch is the best Wes Anderson movie in ages

Wes Anderson leaned into all of the traits he's most well-known for in The French Dispatch, and the result is excellent. A fictional high-brow magazine come to life, The French Dispatch is an anthology film that tells three different stories.

In "The Concrete Masterpiece," Benicio del Toro plays a criminal who takes up fine art in prison, only to find himself in a relationship with a guard (Léa Seydoux). All of this is narrated fantastically by Tilda Swinton. Then, "Revisions to a Manifesto" finds Timothée Chalamet at the center of student protests that will practically take you back to France in the May of 1968. Last, "The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner" is a delicious crime caper involving a police commissioner's son starring (and narrated by) Jeffrey Wright. 

All sorts of Anderson's favorites appear throughout The French Dispatch, including Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Owen Wilson, Saoirse Ronan and Jason Schwartzman. It's very much not for some folks, but others will delight in Anderson at his most Anderson-esque. 

Genre: Comedy
Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes score: 75%
Watch it on HBO Max (opens in new tab)

Moon is a out-of-this-world drama

Isolation does maddening things to people, as many of us learned over the last years. In Moon, we meet Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), who's at the end of of three-year long solitary shift working on the far side of the moon. Then, Sam makes some discoveries about what he wasn't told about his shift.

Both Rockwell and director Duncan Jones won praise for their work in the film, which is all about the concepts of reality and emotion. Incredibly minimalist at times — I wonder if I'm over explaining it — but driven by Rockwell's powerful performance, Moon is one of those haunting movies that I'm glad I say I own on optical media. 

Genre: Drama
Running time:
1 hour, 37 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Watch it on HBO Max (opens in new tab)

Colossal will catch you off guard with its goofiness

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is having a rough time, as her partying ways got so bad that her now-ex-boyfriend both broke up with her and kicked her out of their New York apartment. Oh, and it seems like she's connected to a giant Kaiju monster terrorizing South Korea. 

Back in her home town of Mainhead, New Hampshire, Gloria's making a lot of discoveries about herself with the help of her childhood best friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). And then things get more interesting and dramatic, as Gloria and Oscar's friendship is tested by all of the above combustable elements. A funny modern fairy tale, driven to succeed by strong performances from Hathaway and Sudeikis, Colossal is one of those movies you'll be surprised more people don't know about.

Genre: Comedy with fantasy elements
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes score: 81%
Watch it on HBO Max (opens in new tab)

Barbarian is a horror movie with an amazing twist

Horror movies love to make us say "oh no, don't go in there, what are you thinking?" Barbarian, though, one-ups that by making audiences wonder "wait, what happened to the movie I was just watching?" But the less I say about that twist, the better.

What you should know is that Barbarian starts with Tess (Georgina Campbell) arriving at her Airbnb in the wrong side of a bad neighborhood, only to find that Keith (Bill Skarsgård) is already there. Apparently on the wrong side of a double-booked lodging, Tess decides to go inside the house. Then, Tess makes a series of discoveries that will have your eyes widening as you hope she survives. 

Genre: Horror
Running time:
1 hour, 43 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Watch it on HBO Max (opens in new tab)

The Janes is a documentary that's befitting of the moment

The debate over abortion rights is one of the most polarized in the United States, and news media often frames it by showing the angriest folks on both sides of the argument. The Janes, a documentary about women who helped women before legal abortion was possible, does something different. 

The Janes presents women who need abortions, and those who help other women get abortions, as regular, everyday people. Soft-spoken, funny and telling their stories like friends at the bar late at night, the women of The Janes have horrors they need to share with the world.

Genre: Documentary
Running time:
1 hour, 41 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Watch it on HBO Max (opens in new tab)

Next: HBO Max is missing a very obvious feature — and it's driving me nuts.

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior 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.