The 25 Best Movies on Max (aka HBO Max) Right Now

As the birthplace of prestige TV shows like The Sopranos and The Wire, HBO—and, by extension, Max (aka the streamer formerly known as HBO Max)—is best known for its impressive lineup of original series. The network has also been upping the ante with feature-length content that is the stuff of Oscar dreams. However, because Max is not (yet) a production powerhouse like, say, Netflix, hundreds of great movies come and go each month. So if you see something you want to watch, don’t let it linger in your queue for too long.

Below is a list of some of our favorite films streaming on Max—from iconic westerns to recent Oscar nominees you’ll see near the top of any “Best Movies of the Year” list. If you decide you’re in more of a TV mood, head over to our picks for the best shows on Max. If you’re looking for even more recommendations, check out our lists of the best movies on Netflix, the best movies on Amazon Prime, and the best movies on Disney+.

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Barbie

Greta Gerwig is a master of breathing new life into old properties (see: Little Women). With Barbie, she has ignited a revolution. At the outside, Barbie (Margot Robbie) is living her best life in Barbieland when one day her perfectly plastic world, and heels, begin to collapse. To get her fabulous life back, Barbie must travel to the real world—well, Los Angeles—to determine who or what is causing her existential crisis. The film has grossed nearly $1.5 billion worldwide, meaning you likely may have already seen it. But even if you did, it’s absolutely worth a second watch—if only to lament its many Oscar snubs.

Fargo

Frances McDormand won her first of four (and counting) Oscars for her role as Marge Gunderson, the extremely pregnant and no-nonsense chief of police in Brainerd, Minnesota—and wife of Norm “Son of a” Gunderson. When a mysterious crime scene puts Marge on the trail of a car salesman (William H. Macy) with a terrible plan for getting his hands on a boatload of cash, it also puts Marge in the crosshairs of a couple of career thieves (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) with little regard for human life. As is often the case in any Coen brothers movie, there’s a perfectly balanced mix of very bad things and very funny moments, which somehow makes seeing a murderer attempt to dispose of a body in a wood chipper as funny as it is expected.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sergio Leone is the undisputed master of spaghetti Westerns, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is his masterpiece. A mysterious stranger (Clint Eastwood) decides to partner up with a Mexican outlaw (Eli Wallach), but their kinship is not what it seems. With its clever twists, superb acting, and unforgettable score by Ennio Morricone, the film is a classic for a very good reason.

Eastern Promises

Come for David Cronenberg’s iconic style, stay for Viggo Mortensen’s naked ass-kicking. Nikolai (Mortensen) is a strongman for one of the most ruthless crime families in London. But when a well-meaning midwife (Naomi Watts) comes around, asking questions about the death of a woman that may or may not be connected to Nikolai’s employers, he finds himself at a crossroads. The film is more action-packed than a typical Cronenberg film, which tend to lean toward the side of “bizarre,” and is all the more compelling because of it.

RoboCop

From Total Recall to Showgirls and back to Basic Instinct, director Paul Verhoeven has a track record almost unmatched in modern cinema. RoboCop, his dystopian take on law enforcement, is proof. Set in a bleak vision of Detroit overrun with crime, it follows a cop (Peter Weller) who gets fatally wounded and turned into, yes, a robot cop, who you might think is good at fighting crime, but of course is not. Some of the visual effects may look a little beat up now, but in 1987, they looked like the future. Also, if RoboCop leaves you wanting more, the film’s two sequels and 2014 reboot—none of which, sadly, were directed by Verhoeven—are also available on Max.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

In reality, a great many of the Star Trek films are now on Max, but it’s Wrath of Khan that you need to watch before it leaves the streaming service. The movie that gave a kick in the teeth to the whole franchise and paved the way for Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s the one held up as the Trek film. J.J. Abrams tried rebooting this one with Star Trek Into Darkness but ultimately couldn’t beat the original.

Jodorowsky’s Dune

For years, Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky tried to make an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune. He intended for H. R. Giger to do character designs, and Pink Floyd to make the soundtrack. He wanted Salvador Dali to play a role. He had an outline for the film, at one point, that would have come in at around 14 hours. As you might imagine, this movie ultimately never came to pass, but director Frank Pavich’s documentary about his efforts is a masterpiece all its own.

Albert Brooks: Defending My Life

Albert Brooks is a comedian’s comedian. Though he might be best known as the filmmaker behind such celebrated comedies as Defending Your Life, Lost in America, Real Life, and Mother, he’s also a brilliant actor (with an Oscar nomination to prove it). Brooks’ longtime pal Rob Reiner directs this charming documentary, which documents Brooks’ one-of-a-kind talent, with a stunning lineup of A-listers—including David Letterman, Steven Spielberg, Sarah Silverman, Judd Apatow, Chris Rock, Larry David, and Ben Stiller—all ready to sing his praises.

Dune

Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of those iconic novels that several directors have attempted to bring to the screen and ended up abandoning. Nearly 40 years before Denis Villeneuve won six Oscars for his 2021 adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel (which is also streaming on Max), David Lynch gave it a go—and the results weren’t as admired at the time. But Lynch’s Dune has experienced a bit of a critical reappraisal in recent years, particularly for what we now know to be its very Lynchian style. (Back then, it just seemed strange and surreal.) The film, which is set in the year 10191, sees the fate of the planet Arrakis—and its supply of melange, a unique spice and the most valuable substance in the universe—in the hands of young Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), the untested son of a powerful duke.

Furious 7

You’d be forgiven for thinking a lot of the Fast & Furious movies start to run together. Car chase, fistfight, street race, big booms, Corona, “family”—the end. But this one is special. For starters, it’s the one where the gang parachutes a bunch of souped-up cars out of the back of a cargo plane. For another, it marks Paul Walker’s final appearance in a Fast movie. (He died in a car accident in 2013.) It’s a bittersweet film, and also one of the franchise’s best.

Meg 2: The Trench

If one hour and 53 minutes of watching Jason Statham attempt to kick a prehistoric shark’s ass wasn’t enough for you in The Meg, behold: Meg 2. Less than two months after arriving in theaters, this hotly (albeit somewhat ironically) awaited sequel is already streaming on Max. If you’re looking for a campy creature feature that requires zero amount of thinking, but plenty of giant sharks, ass-kickings, and Statham one-liners, you’re in for a treat.

Carrie

Four directors have attempted to mine Stephen King’s debut novel for cinematic inspiration, which ultimately seems pointless after Brian De Palma’s 1976 original. Nearly 50 years after its debut, the film still manages to scare the pants off audiences. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a shy, sheltered, and, yeah, kinda weird teen who is a favorite target of her high school’s clique of mean girls. When one of said mean girls (Nancy Allen) is barred from attending her own senior prom because of her behavior, she and her boyfriend make a plan to get revenge on poor ol’ Carrie. But Carrie has the last laugh when, after being doused by a bucket full of pig’s blood, she shows a gymnasium full of prom-goers why her “Creepy Carrie” nickname is well earned. The film also features an ending that can still make audiences quite literally jump out of their seats.

Mommie Dearest

In his 1981 review of Mommie Dearest, Washington Post film critic Gary Arnold described the film as “wretched excess.” While that’s obviously not meant to be a compliment, the film’s over-the-topness turned what was presumably supposed to be a straightforward Joan Crawford biopic into a beloved two-hour campfest that sees Faye Dunaway chomping away on every last bit of scenery. The movie, about Crawford’s allegedly abusive relationship with Christina and her brother Christopher, paints a picture of a monster—and has been publicly denounced by Crawford’s other children. Veracity aside, this two-hour-long film has become a cult classic that is often seen on midnight movie marquees, and it very well may have killed the wire hanger industry.

Pulp Fiction

If you’re a movie buff, chances are you’ve already seen Quentin Tarantino’s seminal Pulp Fiction. But, if you’re a movie buff, you’re also probably the kind of person who likes to revisit it often. But be warned: If you think this might inspire you to indulge in a Tarantino marathon, you’re out of luck. It’s one of the only Tarantino flicks on Max. (This depends a lot on whether you count the director’s appearance in From Dusk Till Dawn.) Still, enjoy your time with Jules and Vincent (and Honey Bunny and the gimp and Marsellus Wallace and Butch) while you can.

Edge of Tomorrow

Has the one-two punch of Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One left you jonesing for a quick Tom Cruise marathon? Well, no playlist of Tom Cruise Running is complete without Edge of Tomorrow. This alien-invasion flick from director Doug Liman remains as fun today as it was when it came out nearly a decade ago. And it’s still the best video game you can never play.

Avatar: The Way of Water

James Cameron’s Avatar sequel felt like a movie centuries in the making. In reality, just over a dozen years passed between the original 2009 movie and last year’s The Way of the Water. That timeline adds up: The second in a scheduled series of five films takes place 16 years after the events of the original and catches up with Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña)—now married with children, and still blue. Though the movie didn’t seem to make as loud as a splash as its predecessor, it managed to wipe Cameron’s own Titanic out of the water—plus all the Star Wars movies—to become the third-highest-grossing movie of all time (with Avatar in the top spot, followed by Avengers: Endgame—though they all might want to watch out for Barbie).

Magic Mike’s Last Dance

Way back in 1989, few could have predicted that Steven Soderbergh—the new indie auteur setting Sundance ablaze with Sex, Lies, and Videotape—would one day direct a dramedy about a group of male strippers with names like Tarzan and Big Dick Richie. Channing Tatum certainly wouldn’t have guessed it (then again, he was only 9 years old at the time). Still, what sounded like a bizarre collaboration turned into a very good movie, which then morphed into a full-on franchise. Now, Tatum—upon whom the eponymous dancer is loosely based—is ready to pop, lock, and rock a pair of rip-away pants once more in the third entry in the Magic Mike saga. This one moves the action to London, when a hot rich lady (Salma Hayek Pinault) asks him to bring his moves across the pond. Scheming and secret agendas ensue, but Mike, as always, prevails.

Reality

In 2017, an intelligence report about Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election was leaked anonymously. One year later, former NSA translator Reality Winner (yes, that’s her real name) was sentenced to more than five years in prison for the crime—the longest sentence ever received by a government whistleblower. HBO’s reigning muse, Sydney Sweeney, (EuphoriaThe White Lotus) shines in this gripping true story, which plays out mostly in real time as the FBI knocks on the 25-year-old’s door and spends more than an hour questioning her.

Parasite

Even if you don’t care about awards, the fact that Parasite is the first—and still only—non-English-language movie to win a Best Picture Oscar should tell you something about the universality of its themes. The Kims, a family struggling to make ends meet, set their scheming sights on the Parks, a well-to-do family with plenty of problems of their own, but also plenty of money to muffle their dysfunction. At least for a time. Just when you think you know how class warfare is playing out in this black comedy, it changes course to reach an unexpected conclusion. As always, Bong Joon-ho knows just how to lead his audience down one path, only to open a trapdoor into another.

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Finding success in one’s lifetime might seem like the dream of every artist, but Nan Goldin has bigger ambitions. Though she’s a photographer by trade, she’s an activist by calling and has long used her camera to capture painfully intimate moments of America in crisis, including extensive work focused on the HIV/AIDS and opioid epidemics. But All the Beauty and the Bloodshed reveals the artist in conflict: Should she allow her work to be showcased in one of the prominent museums or galleries that have received endowments from the Sackler family—the Big Pharma family many blame for America’s opioid crisis? It’s a moving portrait of an artist willing to risk it all for her beliefs.

The Banshees of Inisherin

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson—reuniting after playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges (2008)—play longtime best friends who have an unexpected falling out when Gleeson’s Colm suddenly decides to cut Farrell’s Pádraic out of his life. When Pádraic seeks an explanation for why, Colm begins cutting off a lot more. McDonagh is a virtuoso of absurdist comedy, and The Banshees of Inisherin might be his masterpiece. Though it walked away empty-handed at the Oscars in 2023, the movie was deservedly nominated for a total of nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and nominations for Farrell, Gleeson, Barry Keoghan, and Kerry Condon. (Farrell’s day will come.)

Elvis

“This ain’t no nostalgia show,” says Austin Butler, as the King, in Elvis. “We’re going to do something different.” Butler might as well have been talking about the movie itself, which is certainly not your typical Presley biopic. Then again, in the hands of director Baz Luhrmann, would one expect anything different? Told from the deathbed perspective of Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s (shady) longtime manager, Luhrmann does away with the musical deity angle so often seen to paint a much more vulnerable picture of Presley. Of course he does it all with the same frenetic energy, wild pacing, and over-the-top style that have become hallmarks of Luhrmann’s work.

The Menu

A small group of overprivileged foodies (including Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) travel to an island in the middle of nowhere in order to be placed at the culinary mercy of world-renowned master Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), and pay top dollar for the privilege. But during the dinner service in which The Menu takes place, Slowik has plans that go beyond an eight-course tasting menu. It’s probably best to go in knowing as little as you can about where this weird little black-comedy-horror flick is going, but be warned that it’s nowhere nice.

The Dark Knight

First things first: All three of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies are currently on HBO Max, and binge-watching all of them in a row is certainly one way to spend an evening. But if you’re opting to watch just one, the second film in the series is the one to beat. Though Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader gets top billing, it’s Heath Ledger’s now-iconic performance as The Joker that makes The Dark Knight the most compulsively watchable Batman movie (even beyond Nolan’s entries). Though Ledger tragically passed away six months before the film’s release, he posthumously won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his villainous turn, in which he managed to find the perfect balance between dark humor and outright insanity.

Hereditary

Ari Aster made a splash—and one memorable splat—with his directorial debut, which took psychological horror to new heights. Annie Graham (Toni Collette) is a miniature artist living a seemingly contented life with her psychiatrist husband (Gabriel Byrne) and their two teenagers, Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro). But any sense of normalcy disappears almost immediately following the death of Annie’s mom, with whom she had a challenging relationship. Is Annie crazy? Is her husband a terrible shrink? Is Peter a terrible person? Why does Charlie make that clicking noise? What’s that in the backseat of the car? These are all valid questions that are answered by Aster, whose deft directorial style has made him an instant Hollywood icon.

By 111 Tech

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