These days there are so many streaming services, you might as well just have cable again. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+, Peacock, the list goes on and on. While most people do not subscribe to them all, one that seems to be climbing in popularity lately is HBO Max. You might have it because you were already paying for HBO or because of all the new movies coming in 2021. Either way, the popularity is not undeserved.
The fact is HBO Max has an incredibly deep and varied selection of movies new and old. Instead of having you scroll endlessly, io9 decided to go through and pick out some of the best on the service. We recently highlighted the classic, can’t miss films and today, we’re going in the opposite direction: the deep cuts.
io9 regulars’ mileage may vary on the definition of “deep cuts” of course—you all watch more than the average viewer—but these are the titles people may or may not have heard of, but should definitely give a shot.
The Girl with all the Gifts - We’ve been stumping for this one since we first saw it in 2016. It’s a new spin on the zombie trope that feels a lot like The Last of Us come to life. A young girl (Sennia Nanua) who is part zombie is led by a group of soldiers to, maybe, save the world. If you haven’t seen it, don’t miss it. It also stars Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, and Glenn Close.
Sleight - There are a bunch of reasons to watch Sleight. First, it’s a good film. It’s the story of a boy protecting his family with science and magic who, eventually, has to become a kind of self-created superhero à la Iron Man. So that rules. It also happens to be the first film from J.D. Dillard who, two films into his young career, has impressed enough people to be in the mix for making Star Wars content. You see that talent on display here.
Sound of My Voice - This one sneaks up on you. Brit Marling (The OA, Another Earth) stars as a cult leader who is the subject of a documentary. She claims she’s from the future, but no one believes her and things get a little contentious...until they don’t. The movie is tense, small, and has an ending that’ll make you scream over Marling never getting to star in a sequel.
Ruby Sparks - Sci-fi romances are pretty rare but one of the best in recent years is Ruby Sparks. It features an author (Paul Dano) who begins to see and interact with his ideal woman (Zoe Kazan, who also scripted) as he’s writing about her. It’s a little creepy but very sweet, funny, and excellent.
Hausu - Want to talk about weird and wonderful? Look no further than this 1977 Japanese film. It’s a psychedelic mix of horror and comedy about a house that starts eating a bunch of girls. You’ll laugh, you’ll be shocked, you’ll become obsessed.
Frequency - A few movies on this list did get legit theatrical releases so maybe they aren’t exactly “deep cuts,” but they’re underappreciated. For example: this emotional sci-fi story of a man who talks to his dead dad over a radio. It’s a simple idea, done well, with a huge heart. Directed by Gregory Hoblit and written by Toby Emmerich, it stars Dennis Quaid, Jim Caviezel, Andre Braugher, Shawn Doyle, Andre Braugher, Noah Emmerich, and Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell.
Hero - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may have gotten all the accolades, but a few years later, Hero took that genre of martial arts film to a whole new level, incorporating even more beautiful costumes and weapons along with an epic scale. It also didn’t hurt bringing Jet Li on board. Hero is an awesome, in every sense of the world, action epic.
Troll 2 - Okay so, this is not a good movie. In fact, it’s so bad, it’s literally the subject of a documentary called Best Worst Movie. But therein lies the joy. It’s so, so bad, it’s actually incredibly entertaining. And HBO Max has it (along with the unrelated first film).
Beasts of the Southern Wild - Hard to call a film nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, a deep cut but somehow Beasts of the Southern Wild is. This evocative tale of a young girl’s (Quvenzhané Wallis) struggle in a partially recognizable, partially fantastic, lush naturalistic world is wholly original and incredibly powerful. In case you haven’t seen it, we figured we’d mention it, especially because...
Wendy - Beasts of the Southern Wild came out in 2012. It then took its director Benh Zeitlin eight years to release his follow-up. That’s Wendy, which came out to little fanfare last year but is absolutely worth watching. It’s a similarly lush, grounded fantasy film except, this time, it’s an adaptation of Peter Pan. But you’ve never seen Peter Pan like this.
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