The Best Movies on HBO Max Right Now

Another streaming service means another vast library of titles to sift through to find what you want to watch. HBO Max is the 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.


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.

Editor’s note: Last updated on September 16th to include Michael Clayton.

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Director: Matt Reeves

Writers: Matt Reeves and Peter Craig

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, and Andy Serkis

We’ve been inundated with different versions of Batman in recent years, with everything from the Snyderverse take to LEGO Batman. But even with plenty of Batman options to choose from, Matt ReevesThe Batman still manages to feel like a fresh take on a character we’ve seen adapted an absurd amount of times. Robert Pattinson plays Bruce Wayne as Gotham’s emo knight, trying to rid the streets of crime and failing at his goal. Making matters worse are gangster nightclub owner The Penguin (Colin Farrell), and a menace causing mayhem around the city that goes by the name of The Riddler (Paul Dano). Despite how many times we’ve experienced these characters and this city, Reeves’ dark take on the caped crusader is a captivating one, as we watch Bruce Wayne attempt to become the hero that Gotham needs. — Ross Bonaime

Pulp Fiction

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writers: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary

Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Ving Rhames, Harvey Keitel, Maria de Medeiros, Rosanna Arquette, Bruce Willis

But of course. Pulp Fiction, the film that simultaneously shot Tarantino into “superstardom” status and spawned a slew of imitators that would be churned out of Hollywood for the next decade. To find the extent of Tarantino’s influence, look no further than the fact that non-linear storytelling is now not only common, it’s become a staple of high-end television. Tarantino found himself in a neck-and-neck battle with Forrest Gumpall throughout awards season, and while he lost out on Best Director and Best Picture to Robert Zemeckis’ fable, he at least took home Best Original Screenplay. Oscars aside, though, Pulp Fiction is an enduring classic that has solidified its place in film history as an incredibly influential—and just cool—piece of work. – Adam Chitwood

Watch Pulp Fiction on HBO Max

Old

Director/Writer: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Aaron Pierre, Embeth Davidtz, Emun Elliott

Like all Shyamalan movies, Old is a trip. The plot centers around a set of parents who take their two young children on one last family vacation before they divorce. They figure the getaway will be good for them, with the fun in the sun helping make the news a little more palatable. Unfortunately, bigger trouble arises when they discover the beach they find themselves on rapidly ages them. The family, along with a few of their fellow resort goers, must put aside their differences and fight for their lives. Old offers a strange mixture of terrifying body horror, puzzling moral dilemmas, and even some genuinely heartwarming moments. Old is a lot of things, but one thing it certainly isn’t is boring. – Taylor Gates

West Side Story

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Tony Kushner

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno

While the pandemic hindered the box office success of Steven Spielberg‘s remake of West Side Story, that doesn’t take away from this refreshing reimagining of this Romeo and Juliet story. Spielberg updates the beloved musical with changes befitting a modern remake, including putting Rita Moreno in the cast as the new character Valentina. While Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler succeed as a new Tony and Maria, it really is Ariana DeBose‘s Anita that steals the show with here vivacious energy. From dancing up the streets of New York to her heartbreaking declaration at the end of the film, DeBose gives a performance that inspires and proves it with her Oscar win. A rare remake that is perhaps even better than its original, Spielberg’s West Side Story is a must-watch for musical lovers. — Therese Lacson

In the Heights

Director: Jon M. Chu

Writers: Quiara Alegría Hudes

Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, and Jimmy Smits.

Before Lin-Manuel Miranda rocked the world with Hamilton, he happened to rack up a bunch of Tony Awards for his musical In the Heights. The story chronicles a group of dreamers in Washington Heights as they strive to either leave the barrio or reestablish their roots there. Miranda and director Jon M. Chu make an electric pair as the duo take Miranda’s terrific songs and find a way to make them sing on the big screen. The cinematography is inventive, the performances are stunning, and like any good Broadway show, the songs are bound to get stuck in your head. However, we take no responsibility when you can’t stop humming “96,000”. – Matt Goldberg

Watch In the Heights on HBO Max

The Last Duel

Director: Ridley Scott

Writers: Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon

Cast: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck

Ridley Scott’s historical drama is a fascinating, Rashomon-like tale of varying viewpoints and contradictions. Told in three chapters, TheLast Duel tells the story of Jean de Carrouges (MattDamon), a knight who confronts his old friend Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) in a duel when Jean’s wife Marguerite (Jodie Comer) accuses Jacuqes of rape. As Scott shows each side of this story, the perspectives alter the series of events, the intentions of each scene shift, and truths become uncertain. While Damon, Driver, and Ben Affleck, as the flamboyant Count Pierre de’Alençon, are great, The Last Duel is Comer’s film, as her chapter tells the true reality of this scenario in a performance that deserves awards consideration. The Last Duel is one of Scott’s best, and one of the most underrated films of 2021. — Ross Bonaime

Watch The Last Duel on HBO Max

Promising Young Woman

Writer/Director: Emerald Fennell

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, and Connie Britton

A film that’s sure to get you talking, the 2020 Best Original Screenplay winner is as searing as it is scathing. The film follows Cassie (Carey Mulligan in arguably the best performance of her career thus far), a college dropout who is obviously haunted by the rape of her late best friend. As a way of coping with the trauma, Cassie will go out to a club, pretend to be drunk, and wait for some « nice guy » to take her back to his place where she then springs the trap. However, her ongoing mission of vengeance when she falls for a guy who appears to be actually nice and worth giving up a life of revenge. Emerald Fennell‘s film turns the rape-revenge genre on its head to take an incisive look at rape culture and how much it costs everyone to perpetuate it. Promising Young Woman is far from an easy movie, but it’s one that demands to be seen. — Matt Goldberg

Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off

Director: Sam Jones

Documentarian Sam Jones delves into the life of Tony Hawk, arguably the greatest skateboarder of all time, in Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off. Jones presents Hawk from a scrawny kid struggling to be taken seriously to one of the most impressive and accomplished athletes of our time. But through Hawk, we also see the difficulties of being the greatest as something, be it the lack of competition in the field, or how being in such high demand can destroy relationships with family and friends. Yet Until the Wheels Fall Off is at its most impressive when it shows the unrelenting drive of Hawk, his inability to quit even in his 50s, and his desire to continually push himself in this sport that he loves so much. — Ross Bonaime

Watch Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off on HBO Max

Drive My Car

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Writers: Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe

Cast: Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tōko Miura, Reika Kirishima, Park Yu-rim, Jin Dae-yeon, Sonia Yuan, Ahn Hwitae, Perry DIzon, Satoko Abe, and Masaki Okada

When the 2022 Academy Award nominations were announced, Drive My Car‘s nomination in Best Picture might have been a surprise to many, but the powerful Japanese drama from Ryusuke Hamaguchi is by far one of the best films of 2021. Based on a Haruki Murakami short story of the same name, Drive My Car tells the story of actor and theatre director Yūsuke Kafuku as he directs an adaptation of Uncle Vanya soon after his wife’s death. At close to three hours, Drive My Car takes its time capturing Yūsuke’s heartbreak and the beautiful stories of those he meets through this production. Spending so much time with Yūsuke only enriches this story with more compassion in Drive My Car, one of the most wonderful character studies in years. — Ross Bonaime

Watch Drive My Car on HBO Max

Kung Fu Panda

Director: John Stevenson, Mark Osborne

Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger

Cast: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim, Dan Fogler, Michael Clarke Duncan and Jackie Chan

While it may just seem like a silly movie about kung-fu fighting animals,Kung Fu Panda is a surprisingly deep and uplifting story about self reflection and acceptance. Starring Jack Black as Po, a clumsy panda who loves kung-fu almost as much as he loves food, the movie is the perfect balance of comedy and action. Despite his less than stellar entrance into the world of Kung-fu, literally crashing onto the scene and accidentally being named the fated Dragon Warrior of legend, Po’s journey towards becoming the very thing he has always dreamed of being is inspiring without being cliche. Jack Black’s performance is one that both tickles your funny bone and breaks your heart, and the film’s music score will make you feel as if you’re floating down a peaceful river, readying yourself to become the Kung-Fu Master you’ve always wanted to be. — Olivia Fitzpatrick

Watch Kung Fu Panda on HBO Max

Jerry Maguire

Director/Writer: Cameron Crowe

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger, Jay Mohr

Jerry Maguirespawned one of the biggest memes of the 90s. “Show me the money!” struck the American public with the unmitigated force of “Where’s the beef?”, to the delight of late-night TV shows and hackneyed joke writers everywhere. The inescapable catch phrase makes it easy to forget that the movie is actually pretty good. Tom Cruise stars as Maguire, a jaded sports agent who loses all of his clients except for the prima donna wide receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr. in an Oscar-winning performance). Although the movie has been criticized for being somewhat sappy (the film’s climax spawned two more meme-worthy lines – “You complete me” and “You had me at hello”), that’s kind of the point. The movie is about the value of being honest and genuine in a world that seems to reward cynicism, and while the ending is easy to dismiss as fairy tale nonsense, it’s equally easy to get swept up in all the earnestness and wonder, “Well, why can’t we all be better people?” — Tom Reimann

Watch Jerry Maguire on HBO Max

The Exorcist

Director: William Friedkin

Writer: William Peter Blatty

Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, and Jason Miller

The infamous The Exorcist is a classic for a reason. A young girl’s strange behavior becomes worse and worse, until it is decided that traditional diagnosis and treatments won’t do. Regan is determined to be possessed by a demon, and the only cure is an exorcism. The Exorcist is well known for having terrified audiences upon its initial release, while at the same time causing long, long lines for admittance to the theater. There were also rumors of the set being cursed: a fire shut down the set for six weeks; many of the actors and crew suffered from injuries, familial tragedies, and even death. Director William Friedkin eventually had a Jesuit priest come in to bless the set; everything seemed to be fine after that. — Alyse Wax

Watch The Exorcist on HBO Max

The Jurassic Park Trilogy

Directors: Steven Spielberg and Joe Johnston

Writers: Michael Crichton, David Koepp, Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne, and Jim Taylor

Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough

Okay so really and truly the first Jurassic Park is unmatched in terms of quality, but the entire Jurassic Park trilogy is now streaming on HBO Max if you feel like a marathon. Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film is movie magic plain and simple – a classic, perfect movie. His 1997 sequel The Lost World is a step down in quality story-wise, but still has some compelling sequences (that dual T. rex scene with the trailers on the cliff is incredible). And 2001’s Jurassic Park III, directed by Joe Johnston, well you can take or leave that one.

Watch Jurassic Park on HBO Max

The Hangover

Director: Todd Phillips

Writers: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, and Justin Bartha

The Hangover is one of those lighting-in-a-bottle comedies whose success is impossible to replicate—as evidenced by the sequels. The film is anchored by a terrific ticking clock as three friends wake up hungover after a night in Vegas with no memory of the night before, and a missing groom-to-be. They’re forced to retrace their insane steps to find their friend Doug before the wedding gets underway. Hilarity ensues, obviously, but the comedy here is hard to describe. The film is hilarious not in a traditional “set up and punchline” sort of way, but largely due to the chemistry between Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, and Ed Helms, and how the trio react to the increasingly ridiculous situations they’re put in. While the sequels failed to capture what made the original special, this film remains a fun watch. – Adam Chitwood

Watch The Hangover on HBO Max

The NotebookThe-Notebook rachel mcadams ryan gosling

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Writer: Jeremy Leven

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

No matter how many times you watch The Notebook, tears will be there by the end. A poor yet passionate young man (Ryan Gosling) falls in love with a rich young woman (Rachel McAdams), giving her a sense of freedom, but they are soon separated because of their social differences. From a tear-jerking love story to the chemistry between Gosling and Adams, The Notebook is a romantic movie that hits every single time. There are laughs, tears, and smiles throughout, a roller coaster of emotions that never leave, no matter how many times you have seen it. It’s a testament to the actors who sell this script and how much they bring to the roles. It’s no surprise that almost 20 years from its release, The Notebook continues to be one of those films you can revisit when you want to watch a good love story. — Arianne Binette

Watch The Notebook on HBO Max

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Director: Mel Stuart

Writer: Roald Dahl

Cast: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, and Julie Dawn Cole

Don’t you dare let your kids watch that terrible Johnny Depp adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic—1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is the way to go. The film toes a devilishly fun line between delightful and terrifying, largely thanks to Gene Wilder’s lead performance, but it’s tame enough to prevent any serious traumatization. Besides, the off-kilter nature will make your kid think he or she is in on some sort of secret. It’s a strange film to be sure, but it has a big heart. And Dahl himself wrote the screenplay, so this is definitely the version you’ll want to go with. – Adam Chitwood

Watch Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on HBO Max

GravitySandra Bullock floating in a space shuttle in 'Gravity'

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Writers: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón

Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris

The ambition and awe ofAlfonso Cuarón’s science fiction adventure Gravity is unparalleled when it comes to cinema of this kind. Almost entirely set in space, the film fully takes you into the world of Sandra Bullock’s astronaut Ryan. When catastrophe strikes and she is left alone she will have to use her wits to find a way to survive long enough to get back down to Earth. Bullock gives a committed performance when acting almost entirely alone and against the imagined nothingness of space that makes you really root for her character to somehow survive. That process of getting there is a grueling one as she continually must face new challenges that threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. However, it is a gorgeous spectacle to witness when handled with such care and craft on display. — Chase Hutchinson

Watch Gravity on HBO Max

Mad Max: Fury Road

Director: George Miller

Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris

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

After watching Mad Max: Fury Road, Steven Soderbergh once said, “I don’t understand two things: I don’t understand how they’re not still shooting that film and I don’t understand how hundreds of people aren’t dead.” That’s just a testament to George Miller’s insane action masterpiece, a film so over-the-top and insane that it’s remarkable it even exists. It’s no wonder that soon after its release in 2015, Fury Road was being considered one of the greatest action films ever made. By returning to the Max Mad franchise decades after Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Miller made an absurd and remarkable film that hits the gas hard and never lets up. – Ross Bonaime

Watch Mad Max: Fury Road on HBO Max

The Suicide Squad

Director/Writer: James Gunn

Cast: Idris Elba, Daniela Melchior, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, David Dastmalchian, Viola Davis, Steve Agee, Michael Rooker, Jai Courtney, Pete Davidson, Nathan Fillion, and Flula Borg

The Suicide Squad is not just the best DCEU movie yet, it’s one of the best films of 2021 hands down. This semi-sequel to the 2016 film is more a reboot than anything, as Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn envisions a Dirty Dozen-type war movie starring these DC outcasts. The members of Task Force X are sent into hostile territory on a secret mission from which they almost certainly will not return, and plenty of violence, action, and humor ensues. This is R-rated insanity through Gunn’s meticulous lens – the film is endlessly surprising and nutty, but never without purpose. A truly joyous, darkly comedic blockbuster that refuses to apologize for being so, well, weird. – Adam Chitwood

Watch The Suicide Squad on HBO Max

The Heat

Director: Paul Feig

Writer: Katie Dippold

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Michael McDonald, Demián Bichir

It’s time to turn up the heat. The buddy cop action-comedyThe Heat, directed by Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, features the hilariously reluctant team-up of Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock), an incredibly uptight and uber-professional FBI Special Agent who is forced to work with Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), a tough and aggressive Boston detective who loves her expletives. Horrified that they have to collaborate, Shannon and Sarah do their best to put their differences aside in order to get to the bottom of the intense case. Along the way, they come to appreciate each other’s differences and unique investigative techniques, and put some time aside to let their freak flags fly. Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock are the duo you never knew you needed. — Emily Bernard

Watch The Heat on HBO Max

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