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The 20 best movies on Apple TV+

Apple TV+, one of the newer streaming platforms circa 2019, had the monumental task of standing out amongst heavy-weight competitors like Netflix and Hulu. Yet, in the past few years, the streamer has found a large audience thanks to successful TV shows like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, and Severance. On top of its original series, Apple TV+ has plenty of original films (no outside features here!) worth checking out. As its catalog continues to grow, EW takes a look at the 20 best movies on Apple TV+.

<i>The Banker</i> (2020)

In The Banker, Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson step out of their superhero suits and into the shoes of Bernard Garrett and Joe Morris, two 1950s Black entrepreneurs who have to hire a white man (Nicholas Hoult) to be the face of their business. The film is carried out magnificently by the two experienced leads, who chronicle how the duo risked everything to succeed in an overtly racist society. Though its initial release was pushed back when one of the former producers, Garrett's son Bernie Jr., was accused of sexual assault, The Banker has since found an audience inspired by the moving true story.

Where to watch The Banker: Apple TV+

Director: George Nolfi

Cast: Anthony Mackie, Nicholas Hoult, Nia Long, Jessie T. Usher, Samuel L. Jackson

Related content: The Banker cast, director respond to Apple delaying film's release amid abuse allegations

The Banker
The Banker

<i>The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse</i> (2022)

Winner of the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a breathtaking work about the unexpected friendship between the four titular companions as they search for the child's home. Featuring the vocal talents of Idris Elba, Tom Hollander, Gabriel Byrne, and Jude Coward Nicoll, the film is based on the beloved book by Charlie Mackesy, who returns to direct with Peter Baynton. Its delicately hand-drawn characters are now translated into expressive animation, bringing the loveable gang to life in a way that is sure to charm audiences for years to come.

Where to watch The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse: Apple TV+

Director: Peter Baynton, Charlie Mackesy

Cast: Jude Coward Nicoll, Gabriel Byrne, Idris Elba, Tom Hollander

The Boy (voiced by Jude Coward Nicoll) and The Mole (voiced by Tom Hollander) in "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse," now streaming on Apple TV+.
The Boy (voiced by Jude Coward Nicoll) and The Mole (voiced by Tom Hollander) in "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse," now streaming on Apple TV+.

<i>Causeway</i> (2022)

Lila Neugebauer's directorial film debut stars Jennifer Lawrence as Lynsey, a U.S. soldier who returns home to New Orleans after a traumatic head injury. There, she struggles to reconnect with her old life but strikes up an unlikely friendship with James (Bryan Tyree Henry), an auto mechanic with his own struggles. This grounded drama is a subdued, poignant reflection on trauma, as Neugebauer "saturates the movie in measured silences and humid, lived-in atmosphere, letting Lawrence and Henry's low-key performances contract and expand," per EW's review. And Henry is particularly exceptional, garnering his first ever Academy Award nomination for this role.

Where to watch Causeway: Apple TV+

EW grade: B (read the review)

Director: Lila Neugebauer

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Brian Tyree Henry, Linda Emond, Jayne Houdyshell, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Harvard

Related content: Causeway's Brian Tyree Henry, the contenders who are up (and down) in the Oscars race, and more in EW's The Awardist

Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry in Causeway (Apple)
Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry in Causeway (Apple)

<i>Cha Cha Real Smooth</i> (2022)

Cooper Raiff wrote, directed, and starred in this dramedy about a young man named Andrew working on the Bar Mitzvah circuit who begins a friendship with a young mother (Dakota Johnson) and her autistic daughter. Though the film benefits from the talent of Johnson and Leslie Mann as Andrew's mother, it's Raiff who commands this "smartly constructed, amiably appealing coming-of-age" tale. His performance as "a scruffy hyper-literate charmer and a self-sabotaging wreck" is utterly affecting, and Cha Cha Real Smooth is, according to EW's critic, "a real-smooth manifesto for the anti-toxic man."

Where to watch Cha Cha Real Smooth: Apple TV+

EW grade: B+ (read the review) 

Director: Cooper Raiff 

Cast: Dakota Johnson, Cooper Raiff, Raúl Castillo, Odeya Rush, Evan Assante, Vanessa Burghardt, Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann

Related content: Meet Cha Cha Real Smooth's breakout teenage star Vanessa Burghardt

Sundance Film Festival Preview
Sundance Film Festival Preview

<i>CODA</i> (2021)

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2022, CODA which stands for "Child of Deaf Adults" — is a charming coming-of-age tale like no other. Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is a quiet, musically-inclined teenager who balances her dream of being a singer with helping her family's fishing business. The cast is rounded out by the incredible talents of Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin as her parents and Daniel Durant as her brother, all of whom are deaf (as are the actors).

CODA made a huge splash when it premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, with EW's critic praising filmmaker Sian Heder's script, which "works so winningly to bring the often unseen (or just terminally under-explored) world of deafness to such joyful, ordinary life." With acclaim and awards from all corners of the industry, this film deserves to be celebrated for its landmark inclusion and deeply human story.

Where to watch CODA: Apple TV+

EW grade: B+ (read the review) 

Director: Sian Heder

Cast: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin

Related content: CODA wins Best Picture at 2022 Oscars, becoming first streaming title to get top prize

CODA
CODA

<i>Emancipation</i> (2022)

From director Antoine Fuqua comes Emancipation, a 2022 drama about Peter (Will Smith) and his escape through the swamps of Louisiana from sadistic slave hunters. The film is loosely based on the real life story of a man dubbed "Whipped Peter," who was made famous through a graphic photograph, though the story is less of a historical biopic and more of a survivalist action narrative framed "via grand God's-eye vistas and excruciating closeups." What sets the movie apart — and makes it brutally affecting — is Smith's performance as Peter, whom he plays with the utmost conviction.

Where to watch Emancipation: Apple TV+

EW grade: B (read the review) 

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Will Smith, Ben Foster, Charmaine Bingwa

Related content: Emancipation costar Charmaine Bingwa: 'I don't think it's trauma porn'

Emancipation Will Smith
Emancipation Will Smith

<i>Finch</i> (2021)

Miguel Sapochnik, director of several rousing Game of Thrones episodes, helms this futuristic, post-apocalyptic film about an older man who built a robot to protect his dog when he dies. Tom Hanks' Finch is suffering from radiation poisoning, which inspires him to teach his robot (played convincingly by the wonderful Caleb Landry Jones) about friendship in an ailing world. Finch finds joy in its bleak setting, utilizing Hanks' inherent charm to carry its themes of connection even in the absence of life.

Where to watch Finch: Apple TV+

Director: Miguel Sapochnik

Cast: Tom Hanks, Caleb Landry Jones

Related content: It's Tom Hanks, a robot, and a dog versus the world in first trailer for Finch

Apple TV+ movie 'Finch'
Apple TV+ movie 'Finch'

<i>The Greatest Beer Run Ever</i> (2022)

Based on the extraordinary true story of Chickie Donohue (played by Zac Efron), The Greatest Beer Run Ever is a historical dramedy about a man's 1967 journey into Vietnam to bring beer to American soldiers. Russell Crowe costars as Arthur Coates, a photographer who tags along on Donohue's quest to crack open cold ones. The film invites viewers to learn about the lesser-known details of the infamous conflict, with Chickie even getting tangled up in the Tet Offensive, one of most consequential campaigns of the war. Efron also got to know the man behind the legend personally while preparing for the role. "He's just one of those crazy guys that seems to land on his feet all the time," Efron told EW about Chickie. "I think we've all had friends like that. In real-life, he just couldn't be more lovely and sweet…"

Where to watch The Greatest Beer Run Ever: Apple TV+

Director: Peter Farrelly

Cast: Zac Efron, Russell Crowe

Related content: Zac Efron and his six-pack go to war in the name of booze in Greatest Beer Run Ever trailer

The Greatest Beer Run Ever
The Greatest Beer Run Ever

<i>Greyhound</i> (2020)

We're used to seeing Tom Hanks in starring roles, but in Greyhound, he also steps into the writer's room, adapting this true story of a naval officer who leads an Allied convoy across the Atlantic Ocean while being pursued by German U-boats. Released during the height of the pandemic, it's a shame that a war film as grandiose as this one couldn't be enjoyed on the big screen. Yet, the "terse, breathless thriller" — which takes place almost entirely at sea — still brims with danger, claustrophobia, and the patriotic sheen of WWII. Hanks is as good as ever in this role (bringing to mind his character in Saving Private Ryan) as the captain who is the only one standing between his crew and certain death.

Where to watch Greyhound: Apple TV+

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Aaron Schneider 

Cast: Tom Hanks, Stephen Graham, Rob Morgan, Elisabeth Shue

Related content: Tom Hanks and Greyhound director on ensuring authenticity in the World War II drama

Greyhound
Greyhound

<i>Hala</i> (2019)

Minhal Baig wrote and directed this powerful coming-of-age story about Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan), a Muslim Pakistani-American teen who loves skateboarding and has a crush on a non-Muslim boy despite her family's traditional values. Viswanathan is mesmerizing as the lead in Hala, commanding the screen and adding resonance to what Baig calls a "universal story" that's much more than a rehash of teen tropes. "I didn't have those stories growing up, for myself, and so I really wanted that for, like, the teenage me," she told EW. "I really wanted to normalize that experience; I didn't want it to feel like you can't relate to it if you're not from that background."

Where to watch Hala: Apple TV+

Director: Minhal Baig

Cast: Geraldine Viswanathan, Jack Kilmer, Gabriel Luna, Anna Chlumsky

Geraldine Viswanathan in “Hala,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
Geraldine Viswanathan in “Hala,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

<i>Luck</i> (2022)

This animated film follows Sam, the unluckiest person alive, who tries to turn her fortune around with an adventure through the Land of Luck. Hadestown's Eva Noblezada lends her vocal talents to our heroine, accompanied by a kaleidoscope of side characters voiced by the likes of Simon Pegg, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Fonda, and Lil Rel Howery. Luck is among the best (and only) children's programs on Apple TV+, with a new short titled Bad Luck Spot! about the film's loveable hazmat bunnies now also on the streamer.

Where to watch Luck: Apple TV+

Director: Peggy Holmes

Cast: Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Flula Borg, Lil Rel Howery, Colin O'Donoghue, John Ratzenberger

Related content: The best animated movies on Netflix

Bob (voiced by Simon Pegg) and Sam Greenfield (voiced by Eva Noblezada) in “Luck,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
Bob (voiced by Simon Pegg) and Sam Greenfield (voiced by Eva Noblezada) in “Luck,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

<i>On the Rocks</i> (2020)

Bill Murray reunites with his Lost in Translation director for the lighthearted, family-focused comedy On the Rocks. The comedian stars as Felix, a playboy bachelor who reconnects with his daughter Laura (Rashida Jones), a successful author and mother struggling with writer's block. When Laura begins to doubt her husband Dean's (Marlon Wayans) fidelity, she and her father start an investigation while dredging up their own past together. Murray is the standout of the film, playing Felix with, as EW's critic writes, "shades of mortality and regret pulling at the corners of that puckish, here's-looking-at-you-kiddo grin."

Where to watch On the Rocks: Apple TV+

EW grade: B (read the review)

Director: Sofia Coppola

Cast: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans

Related content: Sofia Coppola says dad's spirit lives in Bill Murray's On the Rocks character

Rashida Jones and Bill Murray in “On The Rocks,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
Rashida Jones and Bill Murray in “On The Rocks,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

<i>Palmer</i> (2021)

In this moving examination of masculinity, Justin Timberlake is Palmer, an ex-con who returns to his small town and befriends a young boy from a troubled home. Ryder Allen, in his feature length debut, plays Sam, the child who helps open Palmer's heart to a fuller idea of what it means to be a man. Palmer works so well in part thanks to the collaboration between the director and his lead. Succession's Fisher Stevens (an actor himself) provides a compelling character study for Timberlake, who in turn generates additional depth for this touching story. As EW's Maureen Lee Lenker writes, Palmer is an effective drama and "a lovely meditation on the unexpected bonds we form and the healing they can provide."

Where to watch Palmer: Apple TV+

EW grade: B (read the review) 

Director: Fisher Stevens

Cast: Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple, Alisha Wainwright, June Squibb, Ryder Allen

Related content: Palmer star Justin Timberlake recalls the scene that makes him 'get all up in my feelings'

Justin Timberlake and Ryder Allen in “Palmer,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
Justin Timberlake and Ryder Allen in “Palmer,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

<i>Sharper</i> (2023)

One of the newest movies on this list, Sharper is a crime thriller about a Manhattan con artist who limits his victim pool to the richest people among us. Sebastian Stan stars as Max, the anti-hero who sets his eyes on the billionaire Richard Hobbes (John Lithgow). The film weaves in and out of time, linked by the vignette stories of Max, Hobbes' wife Madeline (Julianne Moore), and her son Tom (Justice Smith). It's a clever film, playing with its narrative structure to give the caper genre a breath of fresh air. As EW's critic put it, Sharper is "exactly the kind of sleek, shenanigan-y frolic that bleak midwinter calls for."

Where to watch Sharper: Apple TV+

EW grade: B+ (read the review) 

Director: Benjamin Caron 

Cast: Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, Justice Smith, Briana Middleton, John Lithgow

Related content: Guilty as Charged: 21 Great Crime Thrillers

Sharper
Sharper

<i>The Sky Is Everywhere</i> (2022)

After the success of CODA, Apple TV+ released another emotional coming-of-age drama, The Sky Is Everywhere, this time based on the book of the same name by Jandy Nelson, who returns to pen the script. Grace Kaufman stars as Lennie Walker, a teenage musician who must come to terms with her older sister Bailey's sudden death. Kaufman is the heart of this A24 film while her character finds support from her father and grandmother, portrayed by Jason Segel and Cherry Jones. Their combined efforts make The Sky is Everywhere deeply emotional, balancing light and dark to tell a tale of love and loss.

Where to watch The Sky is Everywhere: Apple TV+

Director: Josephine Decker

Cast: Grace Kaufman, Pico Alexander, Jacques Colimon, Cherry Jones, Jason Segel

Related content: First look at YA drama The Sky is Everywhere 'embraces imperfect feelings' about grief and love

Jaques Colimon and Grace Kaufman in “The Sky Is Everywhere,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
Jaques Colimon and Grace Kaufman in “The Sky Is Everywhere,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

<i>Spirited</i> (2022)

Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds star in this Christmas musical based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Reynolds portrays Clint Briggs, a supposedly unredeemable business consultant who has his world turned upside down by the Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Ferrell. Spirited modernizes the Christmas classic, with a new twist and catchy songs from Pasek and Paul (La La Land, Dear Evan Hansen). It may not have the all-star status of Ferrell's other Christmas classic, Elf, but it still packs plenty of holiday charm into a new family adventure.

Where to watch Spirited: Apple TV+

Director: Sean Anders 

Cast: Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, Octavia Spencer, Sunita Mani, Patrick Page, Marlow Barkley, Tracy Morgan

Related content: Will Ferrell's Christmas movie Spirited calls out Elf in the most cotton-headed ninny muggins way

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in "Spirited," premiering November 18, 2022 on Apple TV+.
Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in "Spirited," premiering November 18, 2022 on Apple TV+.

<i>Swan Song</i> (2021)

Two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali sees double in Swan Song, a sci-fi romance about a terminally ill man who duplicates himself to help his grieving wife and son cope with his eventual death. Ali acts alongside his Moonlight costar Naomie Harris — plus Glenn Close, Awkwafina, and child actor Dax Rey — as he weaves in and out of his memories trying to discover the best way to ensure a better future for his family. As our present world edges closer into a sci-fi dystopia with each passing day, director Benjamin Cleary does his best to touch on the undeniable bleakness of the situation while also lending the story plenty of heart.

Where to watch Swan Song: Apple TV+

EW grade: (read the review) 

Director: Benjamin Cleary

Cast: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Awkwafina, Glenn Close

Related content: How Mahershala Ali tackled twin roles in the moving sci-fi drama Swan Song

Swan Song
Swan Song

<i>Tetris</i> (2023)

Given that video game movies often lack in character and plot, the retro puzzle game Tetris didn't seem like an obvious contender for an adaptation. That's why Apple TV+'s new biographical Cold War thriller focuses on Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton), a Dutch entrepreneur who falls in love with the game during the Consumer Electronics Show in the mid-'80s, and his race to acquire the rights from the Russians. Based on the real-life story of the game's licensing, the film involves some surprising names (see: media tycoon Robert Maxwell, the father of convicted sexual predator Ghislaine Maxwell).

Tetris was originally titled Falling Blocs, a nod to the game's premise and a reference to the clash of cultures and political theories during the time period. A complicated thriller based on one of the world's simplest — but most beloved — computer games, Tetris will show you how the pieces for the original game fell into place.

Where to watch Tetris: Apple TV+

Director: Jon S. Baird

Cast: Taron Egerton, Nikita Efremov, Sofia Lebedeva, Anthony Boyle

Related content: Taron Egerton despised his Tetris mustache: 'I will never do it ever again'

Taron Egerton and Nikita Efremov in "Tetris," now streaming on Apple TV+. Apple Footer  Apple
Taron Egerton and Nikita Efremov in "Tetris," now streaming on Apple TV+. Apple Footer  Apple

<i>The Tragedy of Macbeth</i> (2021)

Joel Coen worked without his usual collaborator and brother Ethan to direct this outstanding adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic tragedy, Macbeth. Denzel Washington plays the titular Lord, who, along with his wife (Frances McDormand), plans to seize the crown of Scotland from his father (Brendan Gleeson). With hundreds of rehashings since the play surfaced in the 17th century, it's a daunting task to make a new film that stands out, but Coen absolutely succeeds.

The colorless cinematography and inventive production design combine for a unique aesthetic treatment rarely lended to Shakespeare, as each frame brims with art and mood that reflects the original prose. Certainly one of Washington's best roles in recent years — and one of the best films that Apple TV+ has to offer — The Tragedy of Macbeth is, as EW's review called it, "a stark, sumptuous retelling helmed by two titanic stars and shot in startling black and white."

Where to watch The Tragedy of Macbeth: Apple TV+

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Joel Coen

Cast: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling, Brendan Gleeson

Related content: Something wicked: Behind the geometric style of Joel Coen's Tragedy of Macbeth

Alex Hassell in “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” now streaming on Apple TV+. Kathryn Hunter, writer/director Joel Coen and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel behind the scenes of “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” now streaming on Apple TV+. Corey Hawkins in “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” now streaming on Apple TV+. Moses Ingram in “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” now streaming on Apple TV+. Frances McDormand in “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” now streaming on Apple TV+. Kathryn Hunter in “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” now streaming on Apple TV+. Writer/director Joel Coen and Frances McDormand behind the scenes of “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” now streaming on Apple TV+. Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

<i>Wolfwalkers</i> (2020)

Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 2021 Oscars, Wolfwalkers is a visually captivating tale about an ancient society that shares parallels to our modern one. The story follows two girls, one a hunter who travels to Ireland to kill the last of the wolves, the other a "Wolfwalker" who transforms into the animal by night and is seeking a safe haven for her mother and their pack. What transpires next is a stunning exploration of mankind's connection to nature set against gorgeous art from the Irish animation studio, Cartoon Saloon.

Where to watch Wolfwalkers: Apple TV+

EW grade: B+ (read the review) 

Director: Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart

Cast: Honor Kneafsey, Eva Whittaker, Sean Bean, Simon McBurney, Tommy Tiernan, Jon Kenny, John Morton, Maria Doyle Kennedy 

Related content: Dubbed the Irish Studio Ghibli, the makers of Wolfwalkers are giving everything they've got

Wolfwalkers
Wolfwalkers