Movies on HBO Max That Will Wreck You Emotionally
Autumn Sonata (1978)
Blood is thicker than water, but the stakes of estrangement are tougher to quench than thirst. If you’re so masochistically inclined, Autumn Sonata is Ingmar Bergman’s gift to you. Liv Ullmann and Ingrid Bergman show absolutely no tact in their ambition to absolutely shred your heart to pieces, as they should! It’s the type of gut-punch whose existence you’re grateful for — an exquisite and essential chapter in Bergman’s catalog.
Revolutionary Road (2008)
America’s most beloved couple-that-never-was, Leo and Kate, reunite for a love story yet again. This time, though, it’s not floating doors and icebergs. Instead, it’s the fear of mediocrity and the challenge of the American ideal — the harshness of begrudgingly conditional love.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
This film is a massive “fuck you” to the trust of viewer sympathy, and I mean that positively. If it didn’t betray your trust and stoically screw you over emotionally, it probably wouldn’t have been nominated for Best Picture. A study in ambition, goodwill, and carpe diem mentality, Million Dollar Baby is a testament to the paths we forge and the relationships we foster.
The Tale (2018)
The cliché goes, “time heals all wounds,” but sometimes the years only unravel the realities of traumas we didn’t realize we had. The Tale is an incredibly difficult film to watch. Yet, there’s a power and assurance in knowing this film is the product and process of director Jennifer Fox’s discovery and reclamation of her own story in a genre that is so often exploitative.
Paris, Texas (1984)
“The dust has come to stay. You may stay or pass on through or whatever.” Quite the quote to embody the apathy of a universe that prompts you to act on your own free will (what a burden). With picturesque color palettes, barren expanses, and relationships defined by complication, Paris, Texas dissects the danger that comes with undulating between acting for yourself or for the sake of another. The line is fine and foggy, but this film’s journey to the other side is tangibly dosed with compassion.
— Peyton Robinson
The Best Comedy Movies on HBO Max
After Hours (1985)
This is quite possibly blasphemy in some circles, but After Hours is Martin Scorsese’s best film. I know, I was shocked to discover this truth as well, but its pacing, motley crew of characters, and masterful genre-shifting make it an undeniable slice of brilliance. Griffin Dunne’s steadily increasing exasperation is an endless source of amusement, and the film walks a delirious balance between dark laughs and odd dangers. As films that unfold over one night go, After Hours is aces.
Best in Show (2000)
Mockumentary-style comedies aren’t to every taste, but if you’re a fan of the genre, then you’re undoubtedly a fan of the brilliant Christopher Guest. My favorite of his is A Mighty Wind, but Best in Show is a very close second. He co-stars alongside a glorious comedic ensemble including Parker Posey, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Bob Balaban, and more in a look at the fast-moving world of competitive dog shows. The writing is sharp, the performances are perfect, and the laughs are frequent.
Death Becomes Her (1992)
You may not be old enough to remember this, but once upon a time, Robert Zemeckis made fantastic and fun films. It’s been two decades since he directed something truly great (Castaway), but you have to go back even further for his last true comedy. This effects-heavy, supernaturally tinged tale feels right at home with his love of EC Comics, and with a game cast including Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, and Bruce Willis, the film is a dark and zany blast.
This is probably the least seen of my comedy picks, and that’s a damn shame. A twisty tale of double and triple crosses, this is a laugh out loud comedy that moves fast and smart with sharp writing and pitch-perfect comedic performances. The unlikely powerhouse trio of Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and a hilarious Gene Hackman makes for a lively ensemble as romance, deception, and tomfoolery go hand in hand.
Midnight Run (1988)
Robert De Niro sleepwalks his way through plenty of comedies these days, but once upon a time “funny” movies in his filmography were more the exception than the rule. His first real comedy — sorry 1982’s The King of Comedy — was director Martin Brest’s follow-up to Beverly Hills Cop, and it remains a highpoint in a distinguished career. De Niro stars in Midnight Run opposite a deliciously dry Charles Grodin, and together they deliver an extremely funny action/comedy that also makes time for some real heart.
— Rob Hunter