It’s the end of the second year of the pandemic and many of us are staying indoors – both to avoid the spread of new variants like Omicron and to avoid the unpredictable weather of 2021. Whether you’re new to HBO Max or you signed up earlier for the half-price offer but haven’t opened the app in a while, it’s a particularly good month to check out the platform. HBO Max streams some of the most popular movies that are simultaneously hitting theaters (if you’re subscribed to the Ad-Free Tier), so you can enjoy them in the comfort and safety of your own home.
Hope you have prepared your favorite snacks and drinks because here are 11 movies and shows worth watching right now.
This highly anticipated fourth installment of the Matrix franchise brings stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss back to The Matrix – but this time Neo and Trinity don’t seem to know each other. Thanks to the new Morpheus (not Lawrence Fishburne) offering Neo a red pill to bring him back to a new version of The Matrix, Neo ends up joining the Resistance to fight a new enemy. Directed by Lana Wachowski, the Matrix resurrections released simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters starting December 22, 2021. But if you’re planning on watching the streaming version, don’t wait too long – you have (according to HBO Max) 31 days to do so.
The Matrix Trilogy: The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions
Before you start watching the Matrix resurrections, you should really fall down the rabbit hole and (re) watch the entire the Matrix trilogy. The original the Matrix (1999) follows hacker Thomas Anderson / Neo (Keanu Reeves) as he uncovers the truth about the virtual reality world he and his fellow humans have been trapped in, a world created by artificial intelligence lords under Agent Smith’s form. Written and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, The matrix changed the way slow motion action sequences are filmed with ‘bullet time’ and is responsible for iconic cultural references such as the red pill / blue pill and lines like ‘There is no spoon’ .
The Matrix Reloaded (2003) takes place six months after the events of The matrix, where a rogue agent Smith infiltrates Bane, one of the rebel ship’s crew. Meanwhile, Zion expects an attack from the AI-powered Sentinels in about 72 hours, and it’s up to Neo, as The One, to decide the fate of Trinity and the human race.
In the conclusion of the trilogy, Matrix revolutions (2003), the humans of Zion go to war with the machines. As rogue agent Smith attempts to conquer both the Matrix and the real world, it’s up to Neo to thwart his plans. Who will succeed?
Both family drama and dark comedy, Succession focuses on fictional media and entertainment mogul Logan Roy as his health declines and he finds out who among his children (or strangers) can afford to take over his billion dollar business. It’s a modern, curse-filled version of William Shakespeare King Lear: the Roy kids compete for the affection and trust of their narcissistic parents while they (and everyone around them) play games within games. The show just wrapped up its third season with a masterful season finale (it was renewed for a fourth season), so you can gorge on all three seasons to see what all those succession memes are all about.
Need a new Christmas movie to love? 8-bit Christmas (2021) is a hilarious and healthy reminder of how much your Christmas present meant to your 10 year old self. Jake Doyle (played by Neil Patrick Harris) regales his daughter with a story about how he and his friends, who lived in a working-class suburb in 1988 in Illinois, tried to get the Nintendo entertainment system for Christmas. Whether you have your heart set on a red haired Cabbage Patch doll or the still elusive PlayStation 5, we can all understand the trials and tribulations of trying to get that gift we dream of and not knowing if Santa Claus will get the job done on Christmas Day.
In the heights
As the first blockbuster movie released last summer (after vaccines became more widely available), the musical In the heights (2021) didn’t get as big of a box office as I hoped, but you can watch it on repeat to learn all the songs or the choreography. Adapted from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical, with a screenplay written by Quiara Alegria Hudes, the film weaves together stories of modern Latino immigrants, along with their hopes and dreams, into a stunning, hip soundtrack. hop and Latin rhythms. Directed by Jon M. Chu and choreographed by Christopher Scott, the team behind the iconic Microsoft Surface “Motion” ads, the choreography is crisp and shows varied styles, from mambo to ballet, particularly in “96,000” – Busby Berkeley-style extravagance at the pool. I dare you not to sing or dance on the couch.
Jean Smart deserves all the awards she receives, like the Emmy she won for playing diva actress Deborah Vance in Hacks This year. Much like her Las Vegas show plans to cut her weekly appearances (and therefore her paycheck), Deborah finds herself working with a Gen-Z comedy writer named Ava who can’t do anything right. Through brilliant writing that is darkly funny and yet too real, the two discover that they can reluctantly learn from each other and create a more authentic show for Deborah. It will be interesting to see where this show goes in season two.
Nora from Queens
When I felt extremely homesick during the first lockdown, my howling laughter from watching the first season of Nora from Queens really brought me closer to my family. Co-written and developed by Awkwafina (a.k.a Nora Lum), the show is loosely based on the actress’ own family: she was raised by her Chinese-American grandmother because her Korean mother died when she was young. The show shatters the model minority myth that all Asian Americans outperform and highlights some of the intraracial tensions within the Asian American community. When an app created by Nora and her cousin Edmund (played by SNL’s Bowen Yang) is taken over by a Chinese tech company, the show really demonstrates what it is capable of. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on HBO Max.
Raised by wolves
Raised by wolves (2020) is a sci-fi horror show that makes you wonder who’s good and who’s bad. Directed and produced by Ridley Scott for its first two episodes, the series begins by introducing you to two androids called Father and Mother, who crash into the desolate planet Kepler-22b and give birth to human babies. They look like a loving family until an accident forces them to come across a group of human missionaries who are very suspicious of androids. It is then that the public realizes that the two groups have been at war for some time and are thirsty for revenge. Created by Aaron Guzikowski, there’s a strong sense of foreboding in this world, but you just can’t turn away from it – luckily, this show has already been renewed for season two.
My neighbor Totoro
Didn’t realize that HBO Max offers the entire Studio Ghibli library on HBO Max (I always assumed it would be on Disney Plus). Known for their eco-friendly messages, beautifully hand-drawn animations, and strong female characters, the Japanese studio run by Hayao Miyazaki has something for everyone. My neighbor Totoro (1988) is my favorite: You see the world through the eyes of sisters Satsuki and Mei as they befriend the forest spirits in their new home. Miyazaki manages to capture the feelings of growing up so perfectly that I feel like I have fallen into the rabbit hole of my own childhood every time I re-watch this classic.