HBO Max may be one of the newest platforms to enter the streaming world, but already it’s one of the best. Not only does the service offer a ton of exclusive content related to its hit properties — like Game of Thrones, The Wire, and The Sopranos — it also has a ton of fantastic films strengthening its online catalog.
Thanks to HBO’s partnerships with standout companies and networks like TCM, Studio Ghibli, and DC, the service has an absolutely stacked selection of films you’re able to choose from.
Whether you’re in the mood for a classic black and white monster movie from the ‘30s, a beloved anime film from Hayao Miyazaki, or a recent blockbuster from this past summer, there’s no end to the number of great films you’re able to choose from.
From universally praised films like Dances with Wolves and Night of the Living Dead to celebrated modern films like The Janes and No Sudden Moves, here are some of the best films you can find currently streaming on HBO Max.
Updated: December 3.
Drama: Dances with Wolves
The awards darling of 1990, Dances with Wolves is frequently hailed as one of the best movies of the 1990s. Taking the conventional Western and turning it on its head, it offers a more judicious look at Native American culture and the impact manifest destiny had on their existence (including immediate effects like war, disease, and forced migration).
Sent to oversee a remote military post on his own, Civil War hero and US Army Lieutenant Dunbar (Kevin Costner) begins interacting with a nearby tribe of Lakota on the Frontier. As he spends more time with the group, he slowly finds himself assimilated into the tribe.
While its historical authenticity is somewhat below par, Dances with Wolves is still a generally enlightening movie that treats its theme with the utmost sincerity. Like Dunbar, the audience is in awe of how quickly the landscape of America has changed over a few short years, the existence and presence of Native American groups coming at the cost of so-called “progress” for the American people.
Comedy: Three Amigos!
Three Amigos! might not have an engaging enough story to hook most audience members, but its star power make its well-worth seeing, especially for fans of other Martin Short-related projects like Only Murders in the Building.
Mistaken to be actual Western gunslingers, three ego-bloated actors (Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase) venture to a small Mexican town to combat a gang of fearsome bandits.
The comedic talent of Three Amigos! is there, but its conventional story doesn’t fully play to Martin, Short, or Chase’s strengths as comedians. (It’s a bit too straight-laced for its own good.) Still, it’s gone on to achieve a somewhat respected place in the three comics’ filmographies. Individually, it’s not their best movie, but it can still be tremendously funny the first time around.
Biopic: Malcolm X
Spike Lee has so many great films under his belt, it’s hard to single out one as his absolute best. However, even by Lee’s standards, his 1992 epic Malcolm X is a superior-quality film, serving as his quintessential masterpiece in the framework of his career.
Tracing Malcolm X’s life from his early childhood to his eventual assassination, Malcolm X focuses on its eponymous character (Denzel Washington) as he grows from troubled youth into one of the most celebrated figures of the Civil Rights movement.
There’s a lot to know when it comes to someone as important as Malcolm X, but Spike Lee hits all the major marks here. Following Malcolm’s eventful life from his juvenile delinquency to his lengthy stint in prison, we see how time and firsthand experiences form his individual perspective on race and racial relations in ‘60s America.
Horror: Night of the Living Dead
Before Night of the Living Dead, the zombie genre was a mishmash of conflicting voodoo horror stories clumsily translated to American film. Night of the Living Dead, however, created its own mythos around the lumbering ghouls — one that set the accepted standard for zombie movies as we know them today.
Shortly after the zombie apocalypse, a diverse group of survivors hole up at an abandoned farmhouse, battling the rampant waves of the resurrected dead outside.
With The Walking Dead having just wrapped its impressive 12 season run, it seems a fitting opportunity for hardcore zombie fans to revisit this 1968 genre classic. With its stark black and white cinematography and emphasis on practical effects, it’s still a profoundly unsettling movie to watch over half a century later.
Mystery: The Maltese Falcon
San Francisco-based private eye Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) is the best detective-for-hire in the city. Approached by a band of shady criminals, Spade soon enters a dangerous race to find a priceless artifact known as the Maltese Falcon.
Even if you’re never seen any one of his amazing movies, everyone knows Humphrey Bogart. Like fellow silver screen legends like Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, and Charlie Chaplin, your mind is instantly able to conjure up an image of the man whenever you hear his name.
Clad in his signature trench coat and fedora and with a cigarette loosely hanging from the corner of his mouth, he was the definitive image of a ‘40s private eye. In The Maltese Falcon, we see why. Directed by the legendary John Huston in his debut, it’s a fast-paced and entrancing mystery film, serving as a great illustration of the noir genre at its very best.
Crime: The Untouchables
In 1930s Chicago, the Treasury Department sends hotshot agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) to enforce Prohibition, putting him at odds with bootlegging kingpin Al Capone (Robert De Niro). Finding the police force overwrought with corruption, Ness puts together an unconventional team of officers to stop Capone, giving way to an all-out crime war within the city.
Loosely based on Eliot Ness’s crusade against organized crime in Prohibition-era Chicago, The Untouchables is a fantastic cross between the blood- and language-filled mafia epics of the ‘70s and ‘80s and the gangster films of the ‘30s and ‘40s.
With Brian De Palma in the director’s chair, David Mamet behind the script, Ennio Morricone composing the soundtrack, and Andy Garcia and Sean Connery filling in the rest of the cast, it’s one of the best and most ambitious crime films of the 1980s.
Documentary: The Janes
Shortly after the controversial Supreme Court ruling against abortion, HBO released a documentary film focusing on the Janes — a group of women who put their reputations and personal freedom on the line to guarantee abortion rights for all.
In 1970s America, an underground network of women work tirelessly to ensure other pregnant females are guaranteed abortion rights from a safe, reliable, and affordable source.
Given its divisive subject matter, The Janes is definitely not a movie for everyone. Regardless of your politics, it’s still an effective history lesson that follows the titular Janes and the lengths they went to in their operations — including using fake names, addresses, and safe houses.
Thriller: No Sudden Move
In 1950s Detroit, three criminals (Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, and Kieran Culkin) are hired to take a family hostage, pressuring the husband (David Harbour) into handing over a set of valuable documents. The job soon goes haywire, though, when the husband proves unable to find the right papers.
Steven Soderbergh has made many, many, many films since his 1989 debut. Some of his earlier movies have been released to incredibly positive reviews and award recognition (Out of Sight, Erin Brockovich, Traffic), while most of his more recent films have been consistently great sleeper hits.
Continuing off similarly underrated successes like Logan Lucky, Unsane, and Let Them All Talk, No Sudden Move is a tremendous crime thriller starring an extraordinary ensemble cast (Cheadle, del Toro, Harbour, Jon Hamm, Brendan Fraser, and Ray Liotta).
Family: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
It’s officially the start of the Christmas season, and HBO Max has a ton of holiday movies to get through in time for the big day. While the platform has several strong movies like A Christmas Story or Elf, we recommend going with this largely underrated 2000 comedy, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
High atop Mount Crumpit, far above Whoville, the mysterious recluse known as the Grinch (Jim Carrey) spends his days grumpily dreading the coming of Christmas. While peppy Whoville resident Cindy Lou (Taylor Momsen) tries to get him to embrace the holiday, the Grinch hatches a dastardly plot to do away with Christmas once and for all.
We understand if How the Grinch Stole Christmas isn’t up to your taste. It’s overly long, unevenly paced, and can be a little too scary/intense for younger audiences. Criticisms aside, the movie does contain a notably hilarious performance from Carrey, whose cartoonish acting matched the miserly Grinch perfectly.
Underrated: From Dusk till Dawn
Seth (George Clooney) and Richie Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) are two notorious fugitives fleeing from the US. Taking a family hostage, the siblings escape across the Mexican border, stopping at an adults-only club that turns out to be a feeding ground for ravenous vampires.
Written by and starring Quentin Tarantino, From Dusk till Dawn is an exceptionally weird movie for so many reasons. For starters, it’s one of the few movies to feature Tarantino in a prominent acting role. And then, of course, there’s the split genre approach the movie takes, veering into completely unexpected territory when you least expect it.
The first half of From Dusk till Dawn is very much your standard crime caper — Tarantino’s bread and butter. But the moment the two nefarious brothers and their kidnapped family step into that fateful bar, the movie makes a sharp left and dives into a campy horror movie. (Something like Night of the Living Dead with vampires.) It’s for this very reason that the movie has accrued a cult following in recent years, making it a fun, silly action horror film with line after line of deliciously cheesy dialogue.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.