Affiliate links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.
The best Max movies you can watch in 2024
Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max (formerly known as HBO Max) has become a major player in the streaming game since launching in 2020. The service offers some of the best streaming shows, brand new originals, library titles from Warner Bros., and a host of third-party films. So what are the best Max movies to binge? Find our top picks of Max originals, recent hits, and Hollywood classics below.
Prefer viewing TV shows? We also have an extensive list of the best Max shows for your perusal.
The best Max movies
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Stanley Kubrick directed and co-wrote (with Arthur C. Clarke) this 1968 sci-fi epic. Even in this age of CGI, this film still holds up extremely well. The themes of evolution and the discovery of a vastly superior alien civilization stand out as humanity takes its first few steps beyond Earth.
Of course, the movie’s highlight is HAL, the AI in charge of the Jupiter-bound spaceship Discovery. HAL doesn’t want anything to stop this mission, even the human astronauts, who HAL sees as threats. It’s definitely one of the best Max movies.
The 1942 classic WWII-themed romantic movie is still highly emotional to watch. Rick, played perfectly by Humphrey Bogart, owns a bar in Casablanca, Morocco, where all sorts of “business” is handled under the table. However, Rick never thought he would have to encounter his lost love, Ilsa, played equally perfectly by Ingrid Bergman.
Ilsa and her husband are on the run from the Nazis, and they both need Rick’s help to get away from them. Can Rick keep his feelings for Ilsa at bay? Will Ilsa abandon her husband for Rick? This movie is perhaps the first great romantic film, and it’s still one of the best you can watch on Max.
The Dark Knight (2008)
This 2008 movie is the best of the Batman films you can watch on Max. It’s also one of the best Max movies you can watch, full stop. Christopher Nolan makes the idea of a rich man who dresses up as a bat-man to fight crime in Gotham City believable, and that’s no small feat.
However, the main reason for the greatness of this film is Heath Ledger. His performance as a total anarchist Joker is perfect. Unfortunately, he died before the movie was released but he still won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his now-iconic role.
We can’t discuss Batman without mentioning his most popular enemy, the Joker. The movie received an onslaught of great reviews and plenty of accolades. Joaquin Phoenix plays the Joker, for which he won an Academy Award, like his predecessor Heath Ledger.
The film follows the Joker’s early story as he becomes the villain we know so well. His dark tale digs deep into the psychological and emotional problems he must endure and gives you a better understanding of how he became Batman’s biggest rival. It’s definitely among the best Max movies.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
You should watch The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers on Max before watching the final film in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel trilogy. However, it’s clear that The Return of the King is the best film in this series (it did win the Academy Award for Best Film in 2004). From the massive battles to defend Middle Earth from the forces of evil to the more personal story of Frodo and Sam venturing into Mordor to finally destroy the One Ring, this epic film pulls at the heartstrings.
This movie clocks in at 3 hours and 20 minutes. However, you can also watch this movie’s even longer Extended Edition (4 hours and 23 minutes) on Max too.
No Sudden Move (2021)
A Max original, No Sudden Move boasts a stacked cast, including Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Craig Grant, Julia Fox, Frankie Shaw, Ray Liotta, and Bill Duke. Behind the camera are writer Ed Solomon and director Steven Soderbergh.
When a simple robbery goes wrong in 1950s Detroit, a group of gangsters has to figure out who’s pulling their strings, how to get paid, and what the booming automotive industry has to do with it.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Is there a better movie musical than this 1952 classic? Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds are all at the top of their game as they play movie performers in 1920s Hollywood. The plot doesn’t really matter. What matters is this movie has many great songs, lots of great singing by the leads, and some memorable dance and set pieces that can’t be topped, even today.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
1939 not only brought us Gone with the Wind but also this children’s musical classic that is still great to watch to this day. Ok, Judy Garland might have been a tad too old to play Dorothy Gale, but you can ignore that for the most part. You get excellent songs, some fantastic performances by Garland and the rest of the cast, and some superb visual effects and art design.
You also get one of the best movie villains ever, with Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West. Anyone who threatens a dog is automatically someone to be feared.
Let Them All Talk (2020)
Steven Soderbergh has become well known for overcoming challenges he sets for himself. For instance, most of his recent films have been shot entirely on iPhones, and they look terrific.
For Let Them All Talk, he used very little equipment, natural lighting, and improvised dialogue from his cast, all aboard the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner on one of its transatlantic voyages. That meant production was limited to two weeks. And on top of all that, the film tells a smart and engaging story of a famous author who seeks to reconnect with old friends on her way to an awards ceremony in the UK.
With stellar performances by Meryl Streep, Dianne Wiest, Candice Bergen, Lucas Hedges, and Gemma Chan, it’s one of the best movies on Max.
Spirited Away (2001)
Chihiro is ten. She’s en route to her new home with her parents when they come across an abandoned amusement park. Curious, her parents venture inside despite Chihiro’s concerns. Soon, they’re trapped in what seems to be the spirit world, and it looks like only Chihiro will be able to get them out of there.
This movie knocks it out of the park with its visuals, although that is characteristic of any Studio Ghibli production. There’s also a generous helping of spirits, Gods, and magical creatures that Chihiro encounters as she brainstorms her way back to safety.
Birds of Prey (2020)
There are a lot of DC recommendations on this list, but we promise we’re not biased. Birds of Prey is a one-of-a-kind movie for a production house (and frankly, industry) that tends to give its male superheroes most of the spotlight. Harley Quinn has always been a supporting character, someone who only exists to give Joker dimension and showcase how crazy and heartless he really can be.
But Birds of Prey is just Harley Quinn and her girls. It’s uncharacteristically funny and whimsical for the DC universe. It’s fast-paced and feminist and follows Harley Quinn as she finally calls it quits with Joker and goes out into the world herself. Now, since she’s messed with her fair share of villains who haven’t been able to lay a finger on her because of Joker’s protection — she finds herself in a bit of a spot.
The Fallout (2021)
Mass shootings have become a grim reality for many cities across the US in recent years, and this 2021 drama tackles the subject head-on. In The Fallout, Jenna Ortega and Maddie Ziegler play high school students whose lives are changed forever after getting caught in a mass shooting on campus.
The incident has long-term repercussions for the women and their families (Julia Bowen and John Ortiz play Ortega’s parents). Ortega clearly shows that she’s a star on the rise here as her character tries to process several emotions with the help of her therapist (Shailene Woodley) in the aftermath of the shooting.
The Batman (2022)
The jury may still be out on whether Christian Bale or Robert Pattinson played the Caped Crusader better. Still, there’s no denying that Pattinson comes into his own in Matt Reeves’ 2022 cinematic masterpiece.
In The Batman, the actor’s portrayal of the DC Comics legend is that of a brooding Bruce Wayne whose sole driving motivation is vengeance. Meanwhile, Reeves, who also co-wrote the film, delivers a psychological tale that is dark and gripping. One might say it is almost reminiscent of David Fincher’s cult classic, Se7en. Zoë Kravitz is also outstanding as the new Catwoman, and Colin Farrell is truly menacing as The Penguin.
The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
This 2022 dramedy from Martin McDonagh sees Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play longtime friends whose relationship ends when one of them decides that their bromance is over. Later, it becomes clear that the decision also has serious consequences for both men, even as life seemingly goes on as usual.
Set in 1923 and with Ireland’s Civil War as a backdrop, the film has been praised for its bittersweet humor and stunning cinematography. Farrell and Gleeson also impressively play off each other here, and Barry Keoghan’s performance stands out. It’s easy to see why The Banshees of Inisherin would receive nine Oscar nods.
In recent years, the only role that Zoë Kravitz has been associated with is Catwoman, and in some ways, that’s a real shame. In Soderbergh’s Kimi, the actress carries the weight of an entire feature film and does so with such intensity and nuance.
The 2022 New Line Max Original crime drama sees Kravitz play an agoraphobic voice stream interpreter named Angela, who is typically holed up in her apartment where an AI named Kimi keeps her company (the program is essentially the fictional equivalent of Alexa). Then one day, her life is turned upside down after seemingly discovering audio evidence of a murder. Aside from Kravitz, the film also stars Rita Wilson, Byron Bowers, and Erika Christensen.
The Menu (2022)
In this horror comedy, Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult play a couple who joins an exclusive group being whisked off to a remote island for a unique dining experience. Once on the island, they are hosted by a culinary team under the strict supervision of a highly regarded chef (Ralph Fiennes) who runs the kitchen with the precision of a drill sergeant. However, little do his guests know that Fiennes’ character also has sinister plans for them.
The movie may be entitled The Menu, but it isn’t exactly about food (that said, the dishes are mesmerizing here). Rather, it is a social commentary, and Taylor-Joy’s character is meant to be the audience’s eyes.
The best Max movies: Honorable mentions
There are a lot of classic and great Max movies to watch on this service. Here are just a few more to check out.
- Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021): After controversial reshoots and edits, Max green-lit an extended director’s cut of The Justice League, and the end result was a huge improvement.
- Judas and the Black Messiah (2021): The story of Fred Hampton, the activist and head of the Illinois Black Panther Party, is well told in this 2021 film.
- Unpregnant (2020): A road trip comedy about a Missouri teen whose dreams of attending an Ivy League school come crashing down when she discovers she’s pregnant and must cross state lines to get an abortion.