More movies. More original series. More classic sitcoms and documentaries. Just more. That’s because HBO Max contains the full catalog of HBO’s original works and all the best stuff from Warner Brothers too — think Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, Watchmen and Wonder Woman. Of course, because there’s more, you’ll probably need help deciding what to watch first. That’s where we come in.
Here’s a roundup of the best movies currently streaming on HBO Max. Get to bingeing.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Run Time: 178 min | IMDb: 8.8/10
Peter Jackson gave fantasy fans a stunning adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic book series which kicked off with this star-studded entry. The main story follows Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), a young hobbit faced with an impossible burden – to destroy the ring of Sauron, a Dark Lord with plans to destroy Middle Earth. He’s joined on his journey by wizards and elves and dwarves along the way as each faction fights their own battle against Sauron’s massive army.
The Matrix Trilogy
The Wachowski sisters created one of the greatest sci-fi franchises in cinematic history with their mind-bending Matrix trilogy, and HBO Max is making it possible to watch all three films so really, you’ve got no excuse. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a young man unplugged from the matrix — a kind of alternate reality that keeps humans docile, so machines can harvest their life energy. He teams up with a band of rebels fighting the machines (Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity) and faces off against a henchman named Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). The real draw of this trilogy, besides its inventive storyline, is the CGI effects. The movies also sport some of the most imaginative fight sequences you’ll ever see on the big screen.
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
Visionary director Taika Waititi gives us this World War II-set satirical masterpiece (and Oscar screenplay winner) that follows a young German boy, whose imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler. The kicker is that Waititi plays the genocidal maniac, making him a weak, comedic caricature of the infamous mass murderer, and as Jo Jo (a terrific Roman Griffin Davis) begins to bond with a Jewish girl hiding in his house, his worship of the dictator wanes in hilarious ways. Scarlett Johansson does some of her best work here as Jo Jo’s mother, a woman fighting to help the Jews, and Sam Rockwell steals every scene he’s in, playing a queer Nazi commander. Yet the joy and humor in this belongs to Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, and Archie Yates — the kids who give the film some much needed heart.
Run Time: 135 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
This reboot from writer Cary Fukunaga manages to do the impossible: improve upon a cult classic horror film. Bill Skarsgard is absolutely menacing as Pennywise, the supernatural clown terrorizing the small town of Derry by pulling innocent children into his sewer-y lair, while the group of bullied kids who form The Losers Club to stop him — Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Chosen Jacobs — give the film its emotional center.
Run Time: 122 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
In case you didn’t catch it in theaters, or you just want to revisit the chaos and mayhem of Joaquin Phoenix’s troubled clown, Todd Phillips’ Joker is now on HBO Max. This gritty origin story imagines the DC supervillain as a mentally-ill clown-for-hire named Arthur, who spirals when his stand-up career turns sour, and he discovers some details about his lineage. Really, it doesn’t take much to put this guy over the edge.
David Byrne’s American Utopia (2020)
Run Time: 105 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee helms this unique look that gives Broadway fans a chance to see David Byrne’s critically acclaimed show that broke records and sold out crowds earlier this year. The show is based on Byrne’s album of the same name, so if you liked watching Hamilton from home, you’ll probably enjoy this.
Just Mercy (2019)
Run Time: 137 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx both give gripping performances in this drama inspired by real-life events from director Destin Daniel Cretton. Foxx plays Walter McMillian, a Black man wrongly condemned to death row. Jordan plays famed defense attorney Bryan Stevenson who takes on the case and, in the process launches a fight for civil rights that extends far past the courtroom.
Run Time: 103 min | IMDb: 6.2/10
Hayley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira star in this road trip comedy with a timely twist. Richardson plays Veronica, a goody-two-shoes who winds up pregnant and in need of an abortion. The only problem: she’s 17 so she can’t get one in her state without parental consent. Enter Bailey (Ferreira), Veronica’s one-time best-friend who agrees to drive her across state lines to get the procedure. Of course, first, they’ll have to outrun the cops, contend with Jesus-freaks ready to kidnap them, and score a ride from limo driver Giancarlo Esposito.
Training Day (2001)
Run Time: 122 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Run Time: 127 min | IMDb: 8.6/10
David Fincher’s Seven follows a veteran detective on his way off the force (Morgan Freeman) and his begrudging, untested replacement (Brad Pitt) as they travel from poorly lit room to poorly lit room on the trail of a psychotic killer. The sin-driven murders are grizzly and grotesque but seem somewhat at home in the grungy, desolate world that Fincher creates. It’s certainly worth a fresh rewatch on a sunny day that’s a little too devoid of hopelessness.
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph star in this raunchy comedy about a woman on the brink of marriage and her best friend who’s struggling through a series of failures in her life. Wiig plays Annie, a woman who lost her bakery and relationship in one fell swoop right before her friend Lillian (Rudolph) gets engaged. To make matters worse, there’s competition for the maid of honor spot when Lillian finds a new friend in the wife of her fiancé’s boss (played by the excellent Rose Byrne). Ruined bachelorette parties, Parisian wedding showers, and quite possibly the funniest, most disgusting poop explosion to ever happen onscreen, quickly follow.
Run Time: 103 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Matthew Broderick plays a depressed high school teacher, who tries to manage his imploding marriage while facing off against a determined and cunning student in this dark comedy that features Reese Witherspoon in one of the best performances of her career. Witherspoon plays Tracy Flick, an overachieving student with dreams (of becoming the student body president) that are quickly dashed by the school’s popular jock. Tracy’s willing to go to extreme lengths to win the race, but when Broderick’s Mr. McAllister thinks to intervene, his own failing personal life is put on display.
Gangs of New York (2002)
Run Time: 167 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Cameron Diaz star in Martin Scorsese’s historical epic that re-imagines the birth of New York City. DiCaprio plays Amsterdam, an Irish immigrant who returns to the Five Points years following his father’s murder, looking for revenge. To get it, he infiltrates Bill the Butcher’s (Lewis) gang, a group of proud natives tired of the influx of foreigners in their city. Diaz plays a prostitute who forms a relationship with Amsterdam as he befriends Bill, then struggles to follow-through with his plan to kill the man who murdered his father and lead the Five Points in a rebellion against the city’s elite.
Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Run Time: 116 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Amy Adams turns in a haunting performance as a woman being, well, haunted by her ex-husband. More specifically, by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she assumes is some kind of threat or tale of revenge. As Adams’ Susan reads the novel — which plays out as a kind of separate film — she reminisces on her relationship with her ex-husband (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and her current relationship with her cheating spouse (Armie Hammer). It’s a beautifully-shot neo-noir that feels like the most dangerous break-up drama you’ll ever see.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Run Time: 149 min, IMDb: 7.5/10
Embraced by critics and filmgoers alike, Wonder Woman is living, breathing, ass-kicking proof that the DCEU is capable of providing superhero fare that doesn’t have to lead to shouty arguments over a Rotten Tomatoes score. Gal Gadot stars as Diana Prince (the titular woman of wonder) in Patty Jenkins’ exhilarating comic book motion picture set during World War I. Leaning into charm and fun alongside scenes of villain thumping, Wonder Woman sees our heroine as something too special not to stand out in her surroundings and the film is all the more captivating for it.
Run Time: 102 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Berman star in this cinematic classic. It’s on every must-watch list. It’s a national treasure. We really don’t need to sell it at this point but in case you’re unfamiliar, it’s the story of a cynical American expatriate who struggles to decide whether or not he should help his former lover and her fugitive husband escape French Morocco. Bogart and Berman’s chemistry is off the charts and the writing here is so smooth, so well-done, it makes you wonder why any other film ever tried after this thing came out.
Die Hard (1988)
Run Time: 132 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
Bruce Willis stars in this action classic that gave birth to a genre-defining franchise. Willis plays John McClane, an NYPD officer tasked with rescuing his wife and children from a group of German terrorists who hold a Christmas gathering hostage at an LA hotel. Alan Rickman plays the group’s leader, and it’s his bad guy that makes this thing so enjoyable to watch. That, and Willis’ iconic one-liners.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Run Time: 170 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
This ’90s sports documentary remains one of the most inspiring looks at the game of basketball, even 30 years after it first premiered. The film follows the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional. It’s filled with grit and emotion, joyous triumphs and devastating loss, and it feels like a relevant watch, especially right now.
The Departed (2006)
Run Time: 151 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Leonard DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, and Alec Baldwin star in this crime thriller from Martin Scorsese about an undercover cop and a mole in the police department who attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in Boston. DiCaprio plays the good guy (or as close as) with Billy, a disturbed officer playing the part of a criminal to get close to Nicholson’s kingpin, Frank. Damon plays the rat, Sullivan, who serves as a police officer on the force, but really works for Frank. The two unknowingly thwart each other at every turn, playing a thrilling game of cat and mouse before their secrets eventually come out.
Run Time: 117 min | IMDb: 8.4/10
Ridley Scott basically invented sci-fi horror with this alien thriller about a crew on a commercial space tug who must battle a violent extraterrestrial being that’s infiltrated their ship. Sigourney Weaver plays Ripley, an officer aboard the Nostromo, who’s forced to face down the titular Alien, an aggressive life form intent upon killing the ship’s human crew. Most of the action revolves around Weaver’s attempts to destroy the creature and save her shipmates, but it’s Scott’s direction behind the camera that creates the suspense and terror this film has become known for.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
Run Time: 131 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Sure, FX pretty much skewered the X-Men franchise in recent years but this origin story with James McAvoy playing a young Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender bringing Erik Lensherr to life is a bright spot. It follows Charles as he befriends a young Raven (later played by Jennifer Lawrence) and assembles a team of gifted individuals to turn the rising anti-mutant tide. He also befriend Magneto, offering him a chance at redemption that, obviously, doesn’t end well.
Run Time: 106 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix star in M. Night Shyamalan’s alien thriller about a family plagued by supernatural signs sent from space. The buildup is worth more than the reveal with this one, and Gibson, in particular, sells the scared-sh*tless-single-dad trying to parent his children while battling an invading alien race.
Run Time: 124 min | IMDb: 8.0/10
With just a few bars on the piano and an oversized mechanical shark, Steven Spielberg terrorized generations of moviegoers with Jaws. The film follows a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer who team up to hunt a great white shark who has a worrisome bloodlust and seems to be targeting a small beach town during the busiest time of the year. Spielberg’s camera work — the lingering, underwater shots, the quick cuts of flesh being torn from bone and rows of teeth flashing to the surface — make this exercise in inciting aquaphobia even more chilling. You’ll never look at a carefree day at the beach the same way again.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Run Time: 169 min | IMDb: 8.6/10
Tom Hanks leads an all-star cast in this Oscar-winning war drama from Steven Spielberg. Hanks plays Captain Miller who’s in charge of a unit directed to bring home Matt Damons titular Private Ryan after the man’s two brothers are killed in battled during World War II. It’s brutal and the cinematography is epic and Hanks gives a defining performance.
Gone With The Wind (1939)
Run Time: 238 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
If you’re old enough to remember VHS players, then you’ll probably have not-so-fond memories of having to switch out tapes midway through this behemoth of a movie. That’s because there’s a lot to get through — the American Civil War, the Reconstruction — and it all plays a part in the movie’s main romance between a Southern heiress and her roguish lover. Luckily, since it’s on HBO Max now, you won’t have to press pause on all of the action, drama, and romance contained in this thing.
Wizard Of Oz (1939)
Run Time: 102 min | IMDb: 8/10
Another classic, this Judy Garland starring staple is a fantasy adventure that never gets old. Garland plays Dorothy, a restless young woman, tired of living on her family’s farm, who gets swept by a tornado to a magical land filled with witches and cowardly lions and scarecrows and tinmen and all-powerful wizards. It’s a childhood classic and a nostalgic re-watch.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Run Time: 149 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Another Kubrik classic, this sci-fi adventure set the tone for so many space flicks that followed it. The film follows a crew of galactic explorers, who set out to find the origins of a mysterious object buried beneath the Lunar surface. Part thriller, part futuristic drama, there’s a lot to love about this genre entry, even if some of the special effects are a bit outdated.
Studio Ghibli Collection
So, Studio Ghibli is one of the most legendary Japanese animation house in the film industry and fans have begged for years for some of its most popular films — Ponyo, Spirited Away, and Castle in the Sky — to be made available. Well, beg no more animae geeks, because HBO Max has got pretty much every Ghibli creation you can think of.
Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Run Time: 91 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
If you’re looking for some nightmare fuel, HBO Max has this horror classic which should do the trick. From the truly disturbed mind of Wes Craven, this story follows a small town terrorized by a murderous spirit that invades people’s dreams, and well, you can probably guess the rest.
Run Time: 91 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Why is a movie about a talking pig, who’s raised by a sheepdog and dreams of managing his own herd, on this list you ask? Because it’s a damn masterpiece, that’s why. Babe is a farm animal who has dreams of a better life, and he works to make it happen with help from his friends James Cromwell’s Farmer Hoggett. If you don’t cry at least five times while watching this movie, then you’re not human.