HBO Max combines the huge film library of HBO with a number of other films available just 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 that are currently available on the streaming service. We kept this list to just the 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.
Best HBO Max movies:
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best HBO Max movies regularly as new ones launch.
1. 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 highlight of the movie 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 in 2020. 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.
3. 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. It’s unfortunate that he passed away before he saw the movie released, but he still won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role.
4. All The President’s Men
This 1976 movie tells the true story of how two reporters for The Washington Post helped to expose the crimes of President Richard Nixon and members of his administration. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman played the two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who started investigating a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington DC in 1972. What followed was something neither reporter anticipated, and eventually caused President Nixon to resign. The movie does a great job showing out investigative journalism worked during that time, and how the power of the press was needed (and still is) to keep a check on what the government does.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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 is 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.
8. This is Spinal Tap
This 1984 classic is not only one of the best HBO Max movies, but it also introduced most of us to the concept of the “mockumentary.” Rob Reiner made his directorial debut with this movie, which follows a fictional heavy metal band as they slowly lose their popularity. It comments on fame, the rock-and-roll lifestyle, and it is still one of the funniest movies of all time. Plus, it brought us the concept of going up to “11.” That’s certainly what this movie does.
9. The Maltese Falcon
The hardboiled detective movie came into its own with this 1941 classic movie. Humphrey Bogart plays the private eye Sam Spade. At first, we see him and his partner accept the job to find a missing woman. However, things go south when his partner is killed, and Spade soon becomes involved in a plot involving a falcon statue. All of the classic detective tropes are here, but few movies handle them as well as this film.
10. Citizen Kane
Is Citizen Kane the best movie of all time? Many people think so, and there’s no doubt that this 1941 classic was a major influence on many future movie directors. Orson Welles directed, co-wrote and stars as Charles Foster Kane, a fictional media baron who, in the beginning of the movie, is seen dying with one word on his lips: “Rosebud”. What did he mean? The rest of the movie looks back at Kane’s life as both a reported, and the audience, attempt to find out what “Rosebud” means. This movie’s use of flashbacks and different viewpoints to tell a story was unusual at the time, but it’s an effective way to keep the mystery of Kane, and Rosebud, alive until the very end.