All Apple TV Plus movies ranked from best to worst
Quality over quantity is an old adage that Apple seemingly embraces with both hands when it comes to its movie line-up on the Apple TV Plus streaming service. Normally, our lists of the best movies on Netflix or the best movies on Stan are a selection rather than a breakdown of the entire library.
As noted in our Apple TV Plus review, this sophomore streaming service doesn’t seek to compete in terms of an expansive library, instead with a focus on producing quality results. For the most part, despite only having nine titles at the time of writing, Apple TV Plus’s movie line-up is robust, even if it’d take you less than a full day of bingeing to get through it all.
Best movie on Apple TV Plus
Apple made a wise move when it swooped in to nab the distribution rights for Greyhound because it’s a solid World War II flick, so long as you have a vibrant 4K TV to properly display an abundance of night-time scenes. Greyhound sees Tom Hanks once again donning a captain’s hat, this time ship captain, as he’s tasked with protecting a supply convoy that’s being mercilessly stalked by Nazi submarines.
At a tight 90-minute running time, Greyhound doesn’t waste a lot of time getting into the swing of things. And when those U-boats are first spotted, it’s effectively a relentless chase film to the end credits, admirably steered by the always-reliable Hanks and some tense action set pieces.
The Elephant Queen
Best documentary on Apple TV Plus
If this wasn’t a documentary, you’d think it was a Disney animated movie judging by the title and plot. In The Elephant Queen, Athena is the matriarch of a herd of elephants and is tasked with protecting her family when they’re forced to leave the safety of their waterhole. The epic elephant tale is elevated above typical documentary fare care of gorgeous 4K imagery of the African savannah and the warm tones of narrator Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Speaking of tone, that Disney comparison for The Elephant Queen isn’t far off in terms of emotional preparedness: ready yourself to laugh and cry, but mostly you’re in for a family-focused trek.
Beastie Boys Story
If you want to watch a funny Beastie Boys tribute, head over to YouTube and check out the often hilarious Fight for Your Right (Revisited) tribute that features the comedic talents of Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride (and that’s just the shortlist). For fans of the actual iconic rap-meets-rock trio, Beastie Boys Story is for you.
In the vein of Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Beastie Boys Story takes you behind the scenes of the history of the Beastie Boys, as recalled by surviving duo Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond. While a lot of time is spent on the still-hot ’80s era of iconic tunes, it’s the focus on the friendships that really make this doco shine.
Some of the more popular movie picks on Apple TV Plus are docos, and while a couple are dedicated to music legends, this one is a fascinating oddball tale about a group of Texan high schoolers facing the music of an elaborate mock state government exercise. Knowledge of American politics isn’t as essential as a willingness to go along with this wild ride into a documentary experience that’s got a dark comic edge but is frequently entertaining.
As the boys battle to be elected mock governor, you’ll switch who you want to be elected to faux office and you’ll marvel at the lengths these boys are willing to go to in order to take out the top spot. It’s the Littlefinger-like comments from those not on centre stage that makes for the doco’s best moments.
Best drama on Apple TV Plus
The Banker is a fascinating tale based on a true story that’s set in segregated 1960s America where a couple of African-American entrepreneurs devise an ingenious scheme for bypassing the racist laws of the time. Real estate-loving Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) enlists the help of rich club owner Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson) and patsy Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult).
The plan is simple: use Steiner as the white face of their organisation as they coach him on closing real estate deals and, eventually, setting their sights on bigger financial fish. The Banker is a larger-than-life story with a talented cast and plenty of heart.
Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You
While Community’s Abed Nadir may be content to debate the merits of who the boss is in Who’s the Boss?, real Boss fans will know there’s only one correct answer to that question: Bruce Springsteen. So-called “Bruce Tramps” will likely have already devoured Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You but for those who aren’t so diehard in their fandom, there’s still a lot to appreciate here.
The doco is a mix of studio footage, new archival clips, and ultimately a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how Springsteen does what he does. If you don’t care about any of that, this is a music documentary with plenty of music from rocking The E Street Band.
On the Rocks
After a fantastic collaboration on Lost in Translation, writer/director Sofia Coppola and leading legend Bill Murray reunite for On the Rocks. While not as iconic as their first foray, there’s still a lot to like about this second outing. On the Rocks tells the story of young mother Laura (Rashida Jones) who’s in a rut and reaches out to her eccentric playboy father Felix (Murray) for some parental advice.
That advice turns out to be terrible – tail her constantly busy partner Dean (Marlon Wayans) to see what he’s really up to – though the results are entertaining. On the Rocks is closer to killer than filler, with the best bits coming from Murray’s legendary comedic chops and his interactions with the always endearing Jones.
Titular Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan) is a teenager caught between two worlds. On one side, there’s the traditional beliefs of her Muslim family. On the other, there’s an American school full of more traditional coming-of-age stories that are typical of so many Hollywood tales. Hala’s love of literature is shared by her crush Jesse (Jack Kilmer), even if this romantic pursuit isn’t particularly pleasing to Hala’s parents.
Thankfully, her parents get to be more than just roadblocks by the time the story plays out, and this unique coming-of-age perspective is made all the more appealing because of the solid performances across the board, particularly from comedy breakout Viswanathan who was hilarious in Blockers.
If you want to watch an era-transcending flick about masculinity in crisis, check out Fight Club on Prime Video. If you want an infinitely less cynical and less deconstructive spin on modern-day dudes, Dads is a cute and smile-inducing exploration of the constant evolution of fatherhood. Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard – who also directed an episode of The Mandalorian last year – and helped along by her director father Ron Howard, this doesn’t veer too far into serious territory and is always pushing for a smile.
It’s made more endearing by a cast of entertaining dads – Neil Patrick Harris, Jimmy Kimmel, and Will Smith to name a few – and it’s the kind of fluffy doco that you won’t hate yourself for watching, but nor will you need to go out of your way to prioritise.