HBO Max combines the huge HBO film library with several other films available exclusively for the service. But which of the HBO Max movies are the best ones to stream and watch today?
Here are our picks for the best HBO Max movies. We kept this list to films you can watch on HBO Max. For a list of the best movies on the HBO service, head over to our separate feature. You can sign up for the new streaming service at the link below.
The best HBO Max movies:
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best HBO Max movies regularly as new ones launch.
2001: A Space Odyssey
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 HBO Max movies.
The 1942 classic WWII-themed romantic movie is still highly emotional to watch. Rick, played perfectly by Humphrey Bogart, is the owner of a bar in Casablanca, Morocco, where all sorts of “business” is taken care of 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.
The Dark Knight
This 2008 movie is definitely the best of the Batman films you can watch on HBO Max. It’s certainly one of the best HBO Max movies you can watch. 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 passed away before the movie was released, but he still won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role.
We can’t talk about 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 (and gets multiple Best Actor awards for it).
The film follows the Joker’s early story as he becomes the villain we all know so well. His dark story digs deep into the psychological and emotional problems a taxi driver must endure, and gives you a better understanding of how he became Batman’s biggest rival. It’s definitely among the best HBO Max movies.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
You still should watch The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers on HBO 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 2008). 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 is an epic film that also pulls at the heartstrings.
This movie clocks in at 3 hours and 20 minutes. However, you can also watch the even longer Extended Edition (4 hours and 23 minutes) of this movie on HBO Max. You can also watch extended versions of the first two films, The Fellowship of the Ring (3 hours and 48 minutes) and The Two Towers (3 hours and 55 minutes) on the service. Yes, that’s a total of just over 12 hours of Lord of the Rings goodness.
Singin’ in the Rain
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 tons of great songs, tons of great singing by the leads, and some memorable dance and set pieces that really can’t be topped, even today.
The Wizard of Oz
1939 not only brought us Gone with the Wind, but also this children’s musical classic that is still great to watch. Ok, Judy Garland might have been a tad too old to play Dorothy Gale, but you can ignore that for the most part. What you get are 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 of all time, with Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West. Anyone who threatens a dog is automatically someone to be feared.
The Suicide Squad
Supervillains are dangerous and deserve their own prison, but they are also competent killing machines. This is why they’re offered a chance to get out of this prison and join the secretive Task Force X. They are tasked with a search and destroy mission in the middle of a remote island.
The job won’t be easy, as the jungle is full of enemies. This is why Task Force X has some of the most dangerous characters in the DC universe. These include Harley Quinn, Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark, Thinker, Savant, Javelin, etc.
You’ve heard plenty of bachelor’s party stories, but none of them are as wild as this one. Doug and his three friends go on a wild night in Vegas. The only problem is they don’t remember a thing the day after, and it seems they made some terrible decisions. Especially considering the soon-to-be groom is nowhere to be found. Join them in this wild adventure as they try to retrace what they did to find Doug.
You can’t go wrong with a Stephen King classic. This time Pennywise is back and more hungry than ever. He has had 27 years to build up his appetite for children. A group of kids must get the courage to face the beast, which happens to be much more than a crazy clown. The creature keeps threatening Derry, a small town in Maine, so something must be done about it.
The best HBO Max movies – Honorable mentions
There are a ton of classic and great HBO Max movies to watch on this service. Here are just a few more to check out.
- King Kong (1933) – The original film about the discovery of a massive ape remains the best Kong film ever made.
- Rebel Without a Cause – James Dean was an immediate star in this instant classic film from 1955 about real teenage life at the time.
- The Dirty Dozen – It’s not a realistic WWII movie, but this 1967 action film about Army convicts given one more chance to fight the Nazis has been highly influential ever since.
- Rocky – The first and best of the long-running series about a down-on-his-luck boxer that has an opportunity to fight the heavyweight champ can still tug on the heartstrings.
- The Right Stuff – Perhaps the best-scripted movie about the US space program, as it looks at how the original seven Mercury astronauts were selected.