The 20 best movies on HBO Max right now

WarnerMedia has joined the streaming wars with HBO Max, its own streaming service that offers an impressive library of original and licensed TV shows and movies to subscribers. The service’s film vault encompasses a long list of Warner Bros. Pictures movies and is the exclusive home to Studio Ghibli’s award-winning animated films, among other noteworthy offerings.

In order to get an early start on your movie marathon with HBO Max, we’ve put together a list of the best films currently available on WarnerMedia’s new streaming service.

Looking for additional suggestions? We also have guides to best movies on Netflix, the best movies on Hulu, the best movies on Netflix, and the best movies on Disney+.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi drama is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, and follows the crew of a spacecraft bound for Jupiter to investigate a mysterious alien monolith. Along with offering a chilling tale of artificial intelligence gone awry, it also explores some complicated philosophical themes pertaining to extraterrestrial life and human evolution with Oscar-winning visual effects that make a great film even better.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Sci-fi, Drama
Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Rating: G
Runtime: 139 minutes

Casablanca

The Oscar-winning film that gave the world the iconic line, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” Casablanca casts Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as a pair of star-crossed lovers caught up in the dire events of World War II. Bogart portrays an American expatriate who’s forced to choose between the love of his life and the life he’s grown to love in the city of Casablanca.

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Genre: Romance, Drama
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
Director: Michael Curtiz
Rating: PG
Runtime: 102 minutes

Citizen Kane

Often cited as the greatest movie ever made, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane chronicles the rise and fall of fictional newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, who rose from poverty to become a prominent player in American politics. Welles directed, co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film, which famously explores its titular character’s life in an attempt to discern the meaning of his dying words.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Orson Welles, Dorothy Comingore, Joseph Cotten
Director: Orson Welles
Rating: PG
Runtime: 119 minutes

The Conjuring

The Conjuring best HBO movies

James Wan directed this terrifying 2013 film based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star in the film, which has them assist a Rhode Island family plagued by horrifying, supernatural events in 1972. The film was a massive success and went on to spawn multiple sequels and spinoff films.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Horror
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
Director: James Wan
Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes

The Dark Knight

If you’re going to watch any single film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman movies, make it The Dark Knight. The second installment of the series has Christian Bale’s Batman dealing with an unpredictable criminal mastermind known as The Joker — a role Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded an Oscar for as the year’s Best Supporting Actor.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Director: Christopher Nolan
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 152 minutes

The Departed

Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning 2006 remake of Infernal Affairs casts Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon as two men on opposite sides of a dangerous undercover operation. Damon portrays a mole for the Irish Mob planted within the Massachusetts State Police, while DiCaprio plays an undercover state trooper working for mob boss Francis Costello (Jack Nicholson). The film follows the escalating game of cat-and-mouse the characters play as they attempt to protect themselves without exposing their true identities.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating: R
Runtime: 152 minutes

The Fellowship of the Ring

The first chapter in filmmaker Peter Jackson’s epic adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, this film offers the perfect introduction to author J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical world of hobbits, elves, orcs, and wizards. Elijah Wood plays the saga’s reluctant hero, Frodo Baggins, who is swept away on a far-reaching journey by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), with the ultimate fate of his world at stake.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Fantasy, Action & Adventure
Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Bean
Director: Peter Jackson
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 165 minutes

Gremlins

When a young man is given a strange pet as a gift, he soon learns that the list of rules for caring for the pet comes with terrible consequences if they’re broken. That’s the premise of Joe Dante’s 1984 film, a dark comedy that pushed the boundaries of the “PG” rating with its fantastic — and occasionally scary — tale of a small town overrun by strange, vicious creatures.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Fantasy
Stars: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates
Director: Joe Dante
Rating: PG
Runtime: 120 minutes

Hairspray

Entertainment Wallpaper

This 2007 musical comedy is actually an adaptation of a Broadway musical that was based on a 1988 film of the same name, but nevertheless, it’s a movie well worth watching — particularly for its impressive ensemble cast. Adapted from filmmaker John Waters’ original script, the film casts John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, Zac Efron, Allison Janney, and Nikki Blonsky as some of the colorful residents of Baltimore whose lives intertwine with a local TV show’s dance competition in 1962. The film remains one of the highest-grossing movie musicals of all time.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Musical
Stars: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes
Director: Adam Shankman
Rating: PG
Runtime: 117 minutes

The Iron Giant

Oscar-winning filmmaker Brad Bird (The Incredibles) made his directorial debut with this 1999 animated feature that follows a young boy who befriends a massive robot that fell to Earth one night. Set in 1957, the film is steeped in Cold War themes and period-appropriate aesthetic and is widely regarded as one of the best films of the modern animated era.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Family
Stars: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick, Jr.
Director: Brad Bird
Rating: PG
Runtime: 86 minutes

The Matrix

Directing duo The Wachowskis made themselves household names with this 1999 film that cast Keanu Reeves as a mild-mannered computer programmer who discovers that the world he perceives is actually a simulation. Reeves’ character soon finds himself drawn into a rebellion against the machines that have turned humanity into a complicated network of batteries. A seminal classic in the cyberpunk genre, The Matrix blended elements of classic martial arts cinema with modern sci-fi filmmaking techniques to create a film unlike anything else at the time.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving
Director: The Wachowskis
Rating: R
Runtime: 136 minutes

Mona Lisa Smile

Released in 2003, this drama follows the experiences of several students and faculty members at Massachusetts’ famous Wellesley College in 1953 as they grapple with the changing role of women in America. Julia Roberts plays a newly hired instructor whose open-minded approach to teaching art causes friction with some of the school’s conservative traditions. The all-star cast also features Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, and Maggie Gyllenhaal in lead roles.

Rotten Tomatoes: 34%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Director: Mike Newell
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 107 minutes

My Neighbor Totoro

Acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki wrote and directed this 1988 Japanese animated feature about a small family who moves to the countryside in postwar Japan. Throughout the film, their experiences there bring them into contact with all sorts of fantastic wood spirits from Japanese lore, and help them cope with both tragedy and joy as they acclimate to their new environment. One of animation shop Studio Ghibli’s most popular films, My Neighbor Totoro is beloved around the world.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Fantasy, Family
Stars: Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Rating: G
Runtime: 87 minutes

Ocean’s Eleven

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and a long list of other familiar faces team up for this ensemble film that remakes the 1960 movie of the same name. The film follows a pair of friends who put together a team to pull off a daring simultaneous heist of three Las Vegas casinos. It was so successful it spawned not just two sequels, but also a female-led 2018 spinoff movie, too.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Genre: Heist, Drama, Comedy
Stars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy García, Bernie Mac, Julia Roberts
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 117 minutes

The Right Stuff

The winner of four Oscars, Philip Kaufman’s 1983 film tells the story of various pilots involved in aeronautical research and early spaceflight tests in the decade leading up to and following the creation of NASA. Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Sam Shepard, Fred Ward, Dennis Quaid, and Barbara Hershey lead the ensemble cast, playing real-world pilots like Chuck Yeager, John Glenn, and others who became famous for pushing the boundaries of manned flight.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward
Director: Philip Kaufman
Rating: PG
Runtime: 193 minutes

The Shawshank Redemption

An adaptation of Stephen King’s story “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” this 1994 drama cast Tim Robbins as a former banker sentenced to life in prison who is pushed to the limits but finds a new purpose in life after befriending a fellow prisoner played by Morgan Freeman. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, Shawshank Redemption is one of several movies released in 1994 — along with Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump — that made it one of Hollywood’s most celebrated years for new films.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman
Director: Frank Darabont
Rating: R
Runtime: 142 minutes

The Shining

Considered by many movie pundits to be one of the scariest films ever made, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name cast Jack Nicholson as an aspiring writer who agrees to serve as the winter caretaker at an isolated hotel high in the Colorado Rockies. As the winter drags on, he and his family find themselves tormented by supernatural forces within the hotel that threaten his sanity and put his wife and son in danger.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Horror
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Rating: R
Runtime: 145 minutes

Spirited Away

Acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and the animators at Studio Ghibli crafted this tale of a young girl who finds herself drawn into the fantastic world of Japanese Shinto folklore after an encounter with a powerful witch puts her — and her family — in danger. To date, Spirited Away remains the only hand-drawn, non-English film to win the Academy Award for the year’s best animated feature, and was ranked the fourth-best film of the 21st century in a 2016 poll of international film critics.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Fantasy, Family
Stars: Rumi Hiiragi, Mari Natsuki
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Rating: PG
Runtime: 124 minutes

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman 2

The highest-grossing movie of all time from a solo female director and the best-reviewed film in Warner Bros. Pictures’ DC Extended UniverseWonder Woman broke just about every record possible when it hit theaters in 2017. The film casts Gal Gadot as the eponymous DC Comics heroine and follows her journey from her hidden island home of Themyscira to the frontlines of World War I as she attempts to thwart the machinations of a powerful villain manipulating humanity. The film’s sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, is currently scheduled to hit theaters August 14.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Fantasy
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine
Director: Patty Jenkins
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 141 minutes

The Wizard of Oz

1939 wizard of oz blu ray yellow brick road

Judy Garland famously took on the role of Dorothy Gale in this 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and her quest to find her way home from the magical world of Oz soon became the stuff of Hollywood legends. Along with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy’s journey took her from Kansas to the Emerald City of Oz and again, freeing an entire kingdom from a wicked witch along the way. Few would argue the film’s status as one of the greatest movies ever made, and its iconic status has spanned generations of audiences.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Fantasy, Family
Stars: Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr
Director: King Vidor, Victor Fleming
Rating: G
Runtime: 101 minutes

Editors' Recommendations