The Best Movies on HBO Max Right Now

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Another streaming service is launching, which means another vast library of titles to sift through to find what you want to watch. HBO Max is the new streaming service from WarnerMedia, hosting not just titles from the pay cable channel HBO, but a bevy of films from the Warner Bros. library and other studios. In truth, the HBO Max movies that are available at launch are actually pretty terrific. There’s a great selection of classics, fairly new releases, quirky indies, and yes, superhero movies. The studio behind The Dark Knight and Man of Steel has a solid number of DC films available to stream on launch day.

But if you’re daunted by the over 600 movies available to stream, we’ve got your back. Below, we’ve put together a curated list of the absolute best movies on HBO Max. Films that will be well worth your time, with our writers making the case for why each film is special. Some you may have heard of but haven’t gotten around to seeing yet, and some you may have already seen countless times. Whatever the case, we guarantee you’ll find something you enjoy.

So check out our list of the best movies on HBO Max streaming below, and for more recommendations check out our list of the best shows to watch on HBO Max.


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Mad Max: Fury Road

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: George Miller

Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris

Cast: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravtiz, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Riley Keough

Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the greatest action movies ever made. The acclaim this prequel of sorts achieved when it was released in 2015 was well-deserved, and it holds up tremendously well as filmmaker George Miller truly pulled off a story that is wall-to-wall action – the film is one long car chase, with kinetic cinematography and stunts that will blow your mind. But what elevates Fury Road is it’s also a deeply feminist story of independence and empathy, as it follows a woman named Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who absconds with an evil post-apocalyptic dictator’s harem of wives in an act of revenge that eventually morphs into rescue. What an astounding piece of cinema. – Adam Chitwood

Wonder Woman

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Patty Jenkins

Writer: Allan Heinberg

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, and Elena Anaya

The best DCEU superhero movie by far, Patty Jenkins crafted a terrific origin story for Diana’s first lead outing on the big screen. The story puts the Amazonian (Gal Gadot) into World War I where she goes hunting for Ares, the God of War, to try and bring peace to mankind. However, her journey has her confronting the world in all its beauty and terror while also falling for pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Wonder Woman embraces the heroism of its female superhero while also challenging her beliefs and forcing her to grow and change. It’s a difficult balancing act, especially as it carries the weight of being a feminist icon, but Jenkins pulls it off with style to spare. – Matt Goldberg

Se7en

Image via New Line Cinema

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker

Cast: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, and Kevin Spacey

David Fincher had a rough start with his first feature Alien 3, but he bounced back tremendously with his 1995 film Se7en, solidifying himself as an astoundingly talented director to watch. Set in an unnamed city that appears to be rotting from the inside out, the film follows two detectives – one on the verge of retirement (Morgan Freeman) and one newly promoted (Brad Pitt) – as they hunt a serial killer who appears to be killing based on the seven deadly sins. The performances are wonderful all around, and the story builds to one of the most upsetting twists in movie history. – Adam Chitwood

All the President’s Men

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Alan J. Pakula

Writer: William Goldman

Cast: Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Warden, Hal Holbrook, and Jason Robards

They don’t really make many movies like All the President’s Men anymore. Filmmaker Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 masterpiece came out just two years after President Richard Nixon resigned from the White House in disgrace, and it chronicles how the dogged investigative skills of journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein helped expose the Watergate scandal for what it truly was, and how high up it went. The film is tremendously thrilling and wildly tense, all without any explosions, stunts, or visual effects spectacle. It’s a series of scenes of people talking in rooms (and parking garages), but it’s more interesting than most blockbusters released nowadays. So if you’re in the mood for a classic throwback that epitomizes 70s cinema, give All the President’s Men a spin. – Adam Chitwood

A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born Bradley Cooper Lady Gaga

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Bradley Cooper

Writers: Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, and Sam Elliott

Straight-up, A Star Is Born is maybe one of the best films of the last 10 years. An assured directorial debut from Bradley Cooper, this remake follows a famous country rock singer spiraling into alcoholism and despair who crosses paths with a wildly talented up-and-comer named Ally (Lady Gaga). He shepherds her career from the ground up, but as she takes off he declines deeper and deeper, as the tragedy of this story begins to truly unfold. The music is absolutely stellar, with cinematographer Matthew Libatique capturing each performance in wonderfully intimate fashion. But it’s the performances by Cooper and Gaga at the heart of the film that really make A Star Is Born special. You’ll be thinking about what Cooper accomplishes here in particular long after the credits have rolled. – Adam Chitwood

Batman Begins

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writers: Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer

Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, and Ken Watanabe

Before he crafted the masterful sequel The Dark Knight, filmmaker Christopher Nolan had to first reinvent the Batman franchise from the ground up with the “gritty reboot” Batman Begins. This movie came on the heels of the exceedingly goofy Batman & Robin and thus had to prove to audiences a grounded, realistic Batman story was one worth watching. Casting Christian Bale in the lead role helped, but Nolan’s sprawling, Gotham-centric story feels more in line with a compelling character drama than a superhero movie—and that was by design. Batman Begins spawned not only two direct sequels but a trend in Hollywood of revitalizing franchises with the “gritty reboot” treatment, and this wholly influential redo still holds up over a decade later as a terrific Batman origin story. – Adam Chitwood

The Dark Knight

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Jonathan Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine

One of the best superhero movies ever made, full-stop, The Dark Knight is a masterpiece. Christopher Nolan successfully introduced the world to the idea of a “gritty reboot” with Batman Begins, but for the follow-up he crafted an epic, surprising, and downright thrilling story of escalation. Heath Ledger’s take on The Joker is iconic, offering up an enigmatic villain who consistently throws Christian Bale’s Batman for a loop. Then you have Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent, as The Dark Knight crafts a meaty, fulfilling, and heartbreaking arc for this Bruce Wayne foil. On top of all of that, Nolan is essentially making a film about the post-9/11 world—one in which fighting “the bad guys” only leads to bigger and more severe devastation. How do you confront an enemy that just wants to watch the world burn? There’s a reason The Dark Knight has lingered in the public consciousness for a decade, and it still holds up as the best of the best in the face of the bevy of superhero movies that soon followed. – Adam Chitwood

Citizen Kane

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Orson Welles

Writers: Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz

Cast: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane, and Ray Collins

Yes, Citizen Kane is one of the greatest movies of all time. No, it is not boring. On the contrary, if you like investigative dramas and stories about damaged individuals, Orson Welles‘ acclaimed 1941 drama is a damn entertaining film. The story starts with the death of newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane (Welles) and his cryptic last word, “Rosebud.” Even if you know what “Rosebud” is, the film loses none of its impact as Welles, by pioneering new cinematic techniques like Deep Focus, is able to weave a captivating and tragic narrative about a man who gains the world but loses his soul by being unable to buy the things he truly wants out of life. Packed with terrific performances and a timeless story, Citizen Kane is a classic that shouldn’t intimidate you from finally giving it a shot. – Matt Goldberg

No Country for Old Men

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Image via Miramax Films

Directors/Writers: Joel and Ethan Coen

Cast: Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Kelly Macdonald, and Tommy Lee Jones

In hindsight, No Country for Old Men winning Best Picture is one of the boldest moves the Academy has ever made. It was not the easy choice. Atonement and even There Will Be Blood would have been far more traditional picks for the Academy, but they went for it. They gave credit where it was due, and honored the Coen Brothers’ masterful Cormac McCarthy adaptation with four major Oscars. The film is severe and challenging, with one of the all-time great villain performances from Javier Bardem, playing a character who remains enigmatic throughout. It’s a tough movie, but that’s exactly what makes it so special. If you were lukewarm on first watch, give it another go. It takes a few viewings to really soak in the brilliance of what the Coens are doing here, and boy is it special. – Adam Chitwood

The Notebook

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Image via New Line

Director: Nick Cassvetes

Writer: Jeremy Leven

Cast: Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Sam Shepard, and Joan Allen

While Nicholas Sparks adaptations were run into the ground, 2004’s The Notebook remains the gold standard when it comes to Sparks’ bevy of weepy love stories. The film is told in frame story as it opens in a modern-day nursing home where an elderly man reads a romantic story from his notebook to a fellow patient. The story begins in 1940 and follows the unlikely summer affair between a poor quarry worker (Ryan Gosling) and a 17-year-old heiress (Rachel McAdams). Their on-again/off-again relationship plays out in tumultuous fashion, anchored by a pair of truly phenomenal performances from Gosling and McAdams that really make you yearn for these two to end up together. To find out, you’ll just have to watch. But bring tissues. – Adam Chitwood

Ocean’s Eleven

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Ted Griffin

Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, and Shaobo Qin

There’s an effortlessly cool vibe to Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven that makes it one of the most rewatchable movies ever made, and while it’s certainly a heist film, it’s also hilarious. Soderbergh’s cast plays the whole thing with a dryness that suits the suave con men looking to rob a Las Vegas casino, and clearly George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, etc. are having a blast. So yes, while Ocean’s Eleven is a thrilling heist movie all its own, it’s also sneakily one of the best comedies of the 21st century. – Adam Chitwood

Ocean’s Twelve

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: George Nolfi

Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mac, Scott Caan, Vincent Cassel, Eddie Jemison, Carl Reiner, and Elliott Gould

Yes, really. When it was released, Ocean’s Twelve was not nearly as warmly received as its predecessor, but that’s because Soderbergh opted to try something entirely different. The plot is purposefully convoluted, and if you read Ocean’s Twelve’s story as a metaphor for how hard it is to make a good sequel, it is immensely more satisfying. The story mirrors Soderbergh’s task of following up a huge hit film with a movie that’s the same but different: Benedict (the studio) demands Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh and his cast) form once again to pay him back his money. Hilarity ensues, and the film never takes itself too seriously as the cast is all in on the joke. It’s divisive to be sure, but give the film another shot. It may surprise you. – Adam Chitwood

Ocean’s Thirteen

oceans-thirteen

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writers: Brian Koppelman and David Levien

Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mac, Scott Caan, Vincent Cassel, Eddie Jemison, Carl Reiner, and Elliott Gould

For everyone upset that Ocean’s Twelve wasn’t just Ocean’s Eleven again, that’s kind of what you get with Ocean’s Thirteen. The least-good Ocean’s movie isn’t a bad one — it’s still fun and flirty and has that cast you love. It just lacks the originality of the first two films. Al Pacino chews the scenery as a hotel magnate who stiffs Reuben in the worst way, spurring the gang to reunite to take him down on the eve oft he opening of his new casino. The production design is spectacular, and at the end of the day it’s still an Ocean’s movie. – Adam Chitwood

True Grit

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Image via Paramount Pictures

Directors/Writers: Joel and Ethan Coen

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin

What do you get when the Coen Brothers make a full-on earnest Western? A great movie. 2010’s True Grit is more an adaptation of the source material than a remake of the John Wayne movie, as the Coen Brothers embrace the Western genre fully with the story of a young woman (Hailee Steinfeld) who charges a boozy lawman (Jeff Bridges) with escorting her across the rough terrain in search of the man who murdered her father. The film luxuriates in the Western landscape as cinematographer Roger Deakins brings it to life in stunning fashion, accompanied by Carter Burwell’s beautiful classic hymn-inspired score and dialogue that is stylized just so. If you shrugged this one off as “not as good as No Country” when it first came out, give it another shot. It may surprise you. — Adam Chitwood

The Conjuring

Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: James Wan

Writer: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes

Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Mackenzie Foy, Joey King, Hayley McFarland

James Wan had already made a name for himself in the horror genre with mega-franchise starters SAW in 2004 and Insidious in 2010, and he pulled off the impossible once again with the 2013 pic, The Conjuring. This is a film that was “so scary and intense” at the time that Warner Bros. slapped it with an R rating despite the fact that there was no blood, gore, excessive violence, or profanity. I can remember a convention hall full of people muttering to themselves and shifting nervously as the “clapping game” scene played out, to gasps and thunderous applause. You can relive the same terrifying experience in the comfort of your own home.

The Conjuring introduces Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga), based on the real-life paranormal investigators. They attempt to help the traumatized Perron family whose farmhouse harbors a dark and deadly presence. The Warrens themselves soon discover that this is no mere hoax, but something much more sinister. The Conjuring is a fantastic addition to the horror genre and the start of a solid franchise, so go back to where it all began with this new Netflix addition. – Dave Trumbore

Just Mercy

just-mercy-michael-b-jordan

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Writers: Destin Daniel Cretton and Andrew Lanham

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Rob Morgan, Brie Larson, Rafe Spall, and Tim Blake Nelson

Just Mercy is essential viewing. Filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) adapts Bryan Stevenson’s non-fiction book of the same name and brings to life a story about the failings of the criminal justice system and the inhumanity of the death penalty in stark, unsettling reality. Michael B. Jordan plays Stevenson, an idealistic young Harvard law graduate who travels to Alabama in the hopes of fighting for poor people who can’t afford legal representation. While there, he attempts to help a man (Jamie Foxx) appeal his murder conviction – which was secured with minimal evidence. It’s an emotionally upsetting but necessary watch for folks on both sides of the death penalty debate, as Cretton forces viewers to confront the realities of such a sentence. – Adam Chitwood

Shaun of the Dead

shaun-of-the-dead

Image via Universal Pictures and Rogue Pictures

Director: Edgar Wright

Writers: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy, and Penelope Wilton

Shaun of the Dead is one of the best films of the 21s century, full-stop. Filmmaker Edgar Wright brings a refreshing touch to the comedy genre with a film that pays loving tribute to horror classics while still going its own way. Simon Pegg is Shaun, a directionless shop salesman whose girlfriend has had just about enough of him. But when a zombie apocalypse hits, Shaun rises to the challenged alongside his BFF Ed (Nick Frost), making something of himself once and for all. Hilarious, whip smart, and surprisingly emotional, Shaun of the Dead also happens to be immensely rewatchable. – Adam Chitwood

Hot Fuzz

hot-fuzz

Image via Universal Pictures

Director: Edgar Wright

Writers: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Olivia Colman, Lucy Punch, Rafe Spall, and Paddy Considine

After breaking out big with Shaun of the Dead, the filmmaking trio of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost reunited for another genre-bending British comedy, this time taking on the action genre. Hot Fuzz follows an annoyingly perfect police constable who is promoted and transferred to a sleepy English town, only to uncover a sinister plot. The film takes inspiration from the horror and action genres to great effect, but as is true of all of Wright’s films, transcends inspiration to stand on its own as a wholly unique – and wildly entertaining – piece of art all its own. One part slasher, one part Michael Bay actioner, and one part buddy cop movie, Hot Fuzz is all great. – Adam Chitwood

Blade

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Image via New Line

Director: Stephen Norrington

Writer: David S. Goyer

Cast: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright, and Donal Logue

Blade gets somewhat forgotten in the conversation about how the superhero movie genre really took off, but this 1998 Marvel Comics adaptation was a sizeable hit (it earned $131 million at the box office with an R-rating) and preceded the explosion that followed with X-Men and Spider-Man. And it holds up! The titular Blade is what’s called a “daywalker” – a rare vampire who is impervious to sunlight on account of the fact that his mother was bitten by a vampire while pregnant. He works to kill vampires and in this first movie, runs up against a vampire named Frost (Stephen Dorff) who’s trying to incite a war between vampires and humans. It’s bloody fun, especially if you’re looking for a Marvel movie with a darker tone. — Adam Chitwood


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