Some film studios are a bit like indie record labels: just seeing their logo is a guarantee of a good, and sometimes very strange, time. That's definitely the case with the indie powerhouse A24, which has just signed what's called a Pay 1 output deal with Max.
In plain English that means when new A24 films are finished their theatrical runs, they'll be available to stream for a limited time on one of – if not – the best streaming services. A24 had a similar deal with Showtime but that's now expired and Max will be its films' new streaming home.
In addition to new releases, Max will also be getting to stream A24's existing hits, which total more than 100 movies – let's just say our best Max movies list is going to get a lot longer. And that means there are some absolutely superb films for you to enjoy, including some of my all time favorites. Here are seven to get you started.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
There are more ideas in a few minutes of Everything Everywhere All At Once than many movies manage in their entire running time, and it's so densely packed that it deserves multiple rewatches. It's a genre-busting time-traveling movie that's ostensibly about a woman worrying about her tax returns, but it soon spirals into a multiverse-spanning adventure involving googly eyes, hot dog fingers and a visual gag about something going where something of that size really isn't designed to go. Michelle Yeoh is wonderful in the lead role but Jamie Lee Curtis comes very close to stealing the whole thing. It's one of the most entertaining movies we've ever seen – no wonder it was one of the biggest Oscar winners of 2023.
Barbie may be making writer and director Greta Gerwig all the money, but Lady Bird is the film that really made her reputation. Her first solo-credit production is a smart, poignant and beautifully observed story of a 17-year-old girl on the brink of adulthood and trying to make sense of everything that comes with that, including her relationship with her mother. Saoirse Ronan is astonishing and the film is both laugh out loud funny and hide-behind-your-fingers awkward, sometimes simultaneously. It's a glorious, smart and heartwarming coming of age movie.
Is there anything Bo Burnham can't do? His film about growing up extremely online isn't quite a five-star movie but it's still an extraordinary watch, a teen movie that's unflinchingly honest in its portrayal of someone at war with the noise in their head. It has a whopping 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, with NME praising its depiction of "the awful awkwardness of adolescence" and the Herald Sun saying that "this exquisitely poignant portrait of a solitary teenage girl is quite unlike anything we have seen before".
Marcel The Shell With Shoes On
I cried all the way through this. Marcel is, as described, a shell with shoes on, and in this feature-length version of their tiny adventures we discover how they ended up looking after their grandmother in a large and empty house. That turns into a road movie that takes some well-deserved swipes at influencer culture. While it isn't immune to uplifting road movie tropes, the smart script, witty gags and most of all, Marcel makes this a joyful and surprisingly affecting adventure. If you see just one film starring a talking shell this year...
This five-star movie covers three periods in one man's life: as a troubled boy who is taken under the wing of the local drug dealer; as a teenager in love; and as a man struggling to reconcile the different parts of his identity. It's one of the best movies but it is often very bleak and occasionally hard to watch. Regardless, it's an extraordinary film that's drawn parallels with Richard Linklater's Boyhood and features some absolutely stellar performances by the trio of Alex Hibbert, Ashton Saunders and Trevante Rhodes as the three different versions of the same man. It's a beautiful looking movie, a powerful drama and a film that isn't scared to mix genres to incredible effect.
This beautifully sad movie is really rather special. Paul Mescal (Normal People) is Calum, a divorced dad taking his daughter on holiday somewhere in the 1990s. Not much happens, but what does happen is quietly devastating and will live in your head long after the final credits roll. The BBC called it a "subtle, piercing, small wonder of a film"; other critics have used words such as "mesmerising". Giving it the full five stars, Empire magazine said it's "a deftly orchestrated, empathetic and honest character study. It is beautifully performed, and captured with heart and ingenuity".
Written and directed by Alex Garland, Ex Machina is smarter than the average mainstream sci-fi movie and has some interesting questions to ask about artificial intelligence and what makes humans truly human. It's anchored by a superb performance by Alicia Vikander as Ava, an artificial human who's passed the Turing Test, and by Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb, the programmer who discovers the darkness beneath the shiny surface everybody is being sold. It's one of the best sci-fi movies around.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.