The streaming service is a goldmine of great films
If you’re trying to figure out what to watch on HBO Max, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve assembled a list of the best movies available to stream on HBO Max right now, from comedies to blockbusters to rom-coms to Oscar-winning dramas and beyond. Since first launching in 2020, HBO Max has quickly solidified itself as lowkey one of the best streaming services around, with a robust library of some genuinely great movies past and present to choose from. It’s a true bounty of choice with plenty of older films alongside bona fide new releases.
Take a look at our curated list of the best movies on HBO Max below. This list will be updated weekly with new titles, so be sure to check back often.
The Harry Potter Franchise
All eight films in the “Harry Potter” franchise are currently streaming on HBO Max, making for a fulfilling binge-viewing if you so desire. The eight-part series still stands as one of the best and most complete film franchises of all time, as it charts the adventures of a boy wizard from his very beginnings to his final showdown with the evil Lord Voldemort. What makes “Harry Potter” so brilliant is the films evolve and mature along with the characters, so while the first few films are bright and cheery – just like their young protagonists – the latter films are dark and complex, reflecting the characters being forced into adulthood. Brush up before the big reunion on HBO Max in January.
No Country for Old Men
If you’re in the mood for a dark, complicated drama, the Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winning 2007 film “No Country for Old Men” will do the trick. The Cormac McCarthy adaptation stars Josh Brolin as a man who happens upon the aftermath of a deadly shootout that has left behind a bag full of money. He takes the money for himself, but in doing so puts him and his wife in the crosshairs of a cold-blooded killer played by Javier Bardem. The film is a harrowing meditation on morality and chance, and won four Oscars including Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay.
Promising Young Woman
“Promising Young Woman” not only checks the “fairly new release” box but also the “movie you won’t stop thinking about for days” box as well. The 2020 thriller from writer/director Emerald Fennell stars Carey Mulligan as a young woman with a traumatic secret who spends her nights picking up men and punishing them for preying on what they thought was a drunk, barely conscious woman. As the story unfolds, twists and turns abound, but Mulligan centers the entire story with a conviction that’ll rattle you to your core, up through the jaw-dropping ending. The film won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
A Star Is Born
If you’re in a musical mood but are in the market for a combo of great songs and great drama, Bradley Cooper’s phenomenal 2018 version of “A Star Is Born” will do the trick. Cooper co-wrote, directed and stars in the film as an alcoholic musician on the decline who discovers a star in the making, played by Lady Gaga. As her career takes off he guides her – both as a mentor and a romantic partner – but the question becomes whether he himself can survive the journey. Cooper and Gaga turn in spectacular performances, the original songs are genuinely great, and Cooper proves he’s an incredible filmmaker as he captures it all with an intimate gaze.
‘Tis the season, as they say, and there are fewer holiday films more beloved than “Elf.” Directed by Jon Favreau, this 2003 comedy stars Will Ferrell as a human raised to believe he’s an elf, who as an adult discovers his true origins. He decides to leave the comfort of the North Pole and head to New York City to track down his real father (played by James Caan), but the reunion proves challenging when his father – an executive at a publishing firm – doesn’t quite believe his story. Holiday cheer, comedy and a little bit of heart collide to make this a yearly staple.
Pam Grier takes center stage in Quentin Tarantino’s wonderfully romantic 1997 film “Jackie Brown.” The story revolves around a flight attendant, played by Brown, who’s smuggling money from Mexico for a dangerous criminal played by Samuel L. Jackson. When she’s approached by the authorities about setting Jackson’s character up, she’s faced with a tough decision, all while striking up a romantic relationship with a bail bondsman played by Robert Forster. “Jackie Brown” is more measured and, frankly, more tastefully sensual than any of Tarantino’s other films, and Grier shines as a woman who works her way out of a tight spot.
Widely hailed as the greatest film of all time, 1941’s “Citizen Kane” is also just tremendously entertaining. The groundbreaking effort from co-writer/producer/director/star Orson Welles traces the life and career of a mysterious and wealthy newspaper publisher by beginning with his death. The film employs techniques that were, at the time, unheard of in order to weave the complicated narrative and immerse viewers into the story. Eighty years after its original release, “Citizen Kane” remains a humdinger of a film. That’s cinema, folks.
Crazy Rich Asians
If you’re looking for lighter fare, the 2018 romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians” is an absolute delight. Based on the Kevin Kwan novel of the same name, the story follows a Chinese American professor played by Constance Wu who goes to meet her boyfriend’s (Henry Golding) family in Singapore, only to discover he’s the heir to a massive fortune and the beloved son of a very controlling mother. Director Jon M. Chu builds out a charismatic ensemble as the story weaves in various different characters, making the experience that much richer.
The Truman Show
“The Truman Show” came at a time, in 1998, when reality television was just starting to take hold, and in hindsight it’s a tremendously prescient film. Jim Carrey plays a man named Truman who, unbeknownst to him, has been on camera since the day he was born. His parents, his friends, his co-workers and even strangers are all actors living inside the world’s biggest soundstage, as Truman is literally the star of a television show being broadcast across the globe. But when Truman starts to get curious about why he’s never left his small island town, the whole thing starts to unravel. This film is funny, sweet and wildly inventive.
Look no further for proof of Steven Spielberg’s brilliance as a director than his 1993 film “Jurassic Park.” This Michael Crichton adaptation follows a group of strangers who are whisked away to a wealthy billionaire’s tucked-away island, where he’s built a theme park full of resurrected dinosaurs in secret. Things soon get out of hand when the power goes out and the dinosaurs are loose, and Spielberg relishes in thrilling and terrorizing his audience in equal measure.
Director David Fincher is known for making dark films, but his 1995 thriller “Seven” remains his darkest – and one of his best. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker, the film stars Brad Pitt as a young detective who is partnered up with a veteran on the brink of retirement (played by Morgan Freeman), and for the latter’s final case the two find themselves chasing a serial killer who is killing according to the Seven Deadly Sins. The film takes place in a slightly exaggerated version of reality, all reflective of the themes of futility, morality and justice explored within.
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen’s beloved novel “Pride and Prejudice” got the prestige treatment with director Joe Wright’s 2005 film, which remains one of the best adaptations of the material of all time. Keira Knightely stars as Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman who falls for the enigmatic Mr. Darcy played by Matthew Macfadyen. The terrific ensemble cast of this romantic drama also includes Donald Sutherland, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone and Judi Dench.
2001: A Space Odyssey
If you’re looking to watch a sci-fi classic that may or may not make your head hurt a little bit, try Stanley Kubrick’s masterful 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The epic adventure takes place in the year 2001 (then the future) and follows a crew that’s sent to Jupiter after a mysterious monolith is discovered on Earth. Aboard the ship is a computer named HAL that wreaks havoc on the mission. This is one of the most visually stunning and perplexing films of all-time – a true work of art that’s open to various forms of interpretation by the time you reach the end of the journey.
The Matrix Trilogy
What better way to prepare for the fourth “Matrix” film this month than by revisiting the original trilogy. “The Matrix,” from 1999, remains the best of the bunch, as Keanu Reeves plays a man named Neo who is awoken to the truth that the world he inhabits is actually a computer program called The Matrix, and the real world is actually a desolate landscape run by machines. The story gets far more complicated from there in “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions,” as the few humans awake in the real world stage a coup against their machine overlords. Writers and directors The Wachowskis break ground both in terms of action and allegorical storytelling, as the films are loaded with heady philosophical ideas.
Spike Lee’s 2006 thriller “Inside Man” is one of the director’s best and most entertaining films. The story opens in the aftermath of a bank heist, with those taken hostage giving their interviews to police about what happened. The film then flashes back to portray the events as they unfold, with Denzel Washington playing the detective trying to talk down the robber and kidnapper (played by Clive Owen) who seems to be harboring some kind of secret. Mind games ensue, and this one keeps you guessing all the way up through the end.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
With the holiday season comes plenty of vacation time, and if you’re in for a really long binge-watch, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy will do the trick. Peter Jackson’s epic trio of J.R.R. Tolkein adaptations remain some of the most accomplished achievements in the history of moviemaking, as this fantastical tale of a young hobbit who sets out to save the world as he knows it is crafted with ingenuity and passion to spare. Whether it’s your first or fifth time to Middle-earth, it’s a journey well worth taking. As a bonus, HBO Max offers both the theatrical versions and the richer extended versions available to stream.
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