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 Yojimbo and All the President’s Men to celebrated modern films like Step Brothers and Mid90s, here are some of the best films you can find currently streaming on Max.
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Updated: May 26.
Superhero: Shazam! Fury of the Gods
The latest entry to the DCEU, 2023’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods acts as the long-awaited follow-up to 2019’s Shazam! – itself one of the better additions to DC’s extensive cinematic universe.
As they adjust to their newfound life as superheroes, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his adoptive family battle the Daughters of Atlas (Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler), who seek revenge against Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) for the death of their father.
Though not nearly as impressive as its predecessor, Shazam! Fury of the Gods tells an overarchingly strong story related to its characters, illustrating their continued growth both as superheroes and as young adults coming to terms with their powers. Future films oriented around Batson and his family are still up in the air, but no matter what, we’ll always have the initial two films to fondly look back on.
Comedy: Step Brothers
It’s hard to say for certain which Will Ferrell movie is the actor’s definitive best, but most people will likely point to his work on 2009’s Step Brothers, his most popular film alongside Anchorman and Talladega Nights.
After their respective parents get married, two immature middle-aged men (Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly) are forced to live under the same roof.
As divisive a comedy as any, some might find Ferrell and Reilly’s childish antics a bit unappealing. Yet for fans of Ferrell’s previous films, there’s no doubt Step Brothers exists as a welcome addition to Ferrell’s similarly-veined, perversely humorous filmography.
Political: White House Plumbers
One of the newest series to land on HBO, White House Plumbers satirizes an otherwise dark chapter in American politics, turning the nefarious secret organization founded by Richard Nixon into an oafish, bumbling operation run by inept personnel.
Howard Hunt (Woody Harrelson) and G. Gordon Liddy (Justin Theroux) are two government operatives hired to plug leaks from the executive office of President Nixon. After a botched burglary at the Democratic National Committee, the two become embroiled in the Watergate scandal – one of the most controversial moments in presidential history.
Surprisingly accurate in its adherence to real-world history, White House Plumbers takes viewers on a factual journey into the heart of Watergate. Led by commanding lead performances from Harrelson and Theroux, it’s an enthralling, hilarious series that history buffs will enjoy viewing.
Biopic: All the President’s Men
An ideal counterpart to the satirical hilarity of White House Plumbers, All the President’s Men offers a far more serious look at the Watergate scandal of 1972, four short years after the story made headlines in American newspapers.
Uncovering a sinister conspiracy that incriminates President Nixon in the Watergate break-in, two Washington Post reporters (Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman) tirelessly work to piece together the story.
With the wounds the country suffered at Nixon’s hands still fresh, All the President’s Men highlights the incredible journalistic efforts of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in breaking the story in the first place. Overcoming adversity and political red-tape around every corner, the pair helped expose the corruption and abuse of power the Nixon Administration had worked so hard to cover up, splintering Nixon’s hold over the presidency and paving the way for his resignation.
Sci-Fi: Star Trek: First Contact
Among more modern generations, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has the tendency of overshadowing the various other successes in the Star Trek film series. As admirable as the achievements of The Wrath of Khan are, it’s also worth checking out the many other entries in the Star Trek filmography as well, including the eighth film in the franchise, Star Trek: First Contact.
With the Borg planning to travel back in time to stop mankind’s first encounter with an alien species, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E ventures to the past to prevent their adversaries from affecting Earth’s timeline.
The second film to feature the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, First Contact is to Generations what The Wrath of Khan was to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. A bold and ambitious film, it’s a major improvement from its immediate predecessor, and is perhaps the second best film in the franchise behind its 1982 counterpart.
Romance: Blue Valentine
Flashing back and forth to the beginning of their relationship and its gradual dissolution, a working class couple (Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) try to work out the issues in their marriage, even as they both inwardly wonder if they’ll be able to save their relationship.
Films about gradually eroding marriages aren’t anything new, dating back practically to the invention of the camera itself. With how many movies there are that deal with such a topic, inventing something new and unique can indeed be a challenge.
Fortunately, Blue Valentine manages to tap into new ground, ushering in a quietly intimate film about two twenty-something-year-olds’ who meet and fall in love, cross-cut with what seems like the end of their time together in the future. Gosling and Williams are simply stunning in their respective roles, evoking extraordinary depth and emotional nuance through miniscule facial expressions and body language alone.
Action: Kong: Skull Island
The trailer for the newest installment in the Godzilla/Kong MonsterVerse – Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire – has recently dropped, affording fans a preliminary look at where the franchise will be going next. That being said, it’s probably not a bad idea to refresh yourself with the MonsterVerse’s earlier films, including 2017’s Kong: Skull Island.
In the early 1970s, the U.S. government dispatches a research team to explore the uncharted Skull Island in the South Pacific. Upon their arrival, the expedition uncovers horrors beyond their wildest imagination, ranging from giant underground reptiles to a massive ape known as Kong.
Imagine Apocalypse Now on a prehistoric island and you have the makings for Kong: Skull Island. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, and Tom Hiddlestone, it’s a fitting introduction to the MonsterVerse’s iteration of the fabled towering gorilla.
Video Game: Free Guy
Few actors today are able to interchange between comedy and action as effectively as Ryan Reynolds. Though he’ll almost certainly be known for his role as the Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool, in the years to come, Reynolds has also had plenty of success with non-superhero-related comedic performances as well, including 2021’s Free Guy.
Guy (Reynolds) is a happy-go-lucky bank teller who spends a majority of his time daydreaming about a life of adventure. When he meets a mysterious woman (Jodie Comer), Guy learns the truth about his existence: that he’s actually a non-playable background character in a popular video game.
Poking fun at everything from The Matrix to Fortnite, Free Guy is a movie that’s able to introduce video game concepts into the world of film, not unlike Steven Spielberg’s work on Ready Player One. As usual, too, Reynolds absolutely delights as the clueless but mild-mannered lead character.
Fantasy: Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix
With students from several other magical schools gathering at Hogwarts for the prestigious Triwizard Tournament, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) unexpectedly finds himself entered into the competition.
HBO has recently announced their plans to remake the Harry Potter series of novels as a full-fledged TV series. With everyone processing the news, the fans’ reception has been … mixed, to say the least. Some are all for it, others are viewing it as a needless attempt to improve upon an already fantastic series of films.
No matter what your response is, at the very least, you’ll always be able to turn to the original eight movies based on the young adult fantasy series. With Order of the Phoenix, the Harry Potter franchise took a darker turn, setting up the Second Wizarding War that would dominate the rest of the films, and ushering in the return of He Who Must Not Be Named himself, Lord Voldemort.
In the free-spirited atmosphere of early 1930s Germany, a carefree cabaret dancer (Liza Minnelli) enters a love triangle with two men: her aspiring writer roommate (Michael York) and a wealthy playboy (Helmut Griem).
If you’ve ever wondered how Liza Minnelli became the undisputed starlet she was in the 1970s, look no further than Cabaret. A spellbinding character study, Minnelli’s Sally Bowles lights up the stage like a charismatic cross between Judy Garland and Audrey Hepburn, performing the most fabulous dance moves you’ve ever seen.
Along with its focus on Minnelli’s Sally, Cabaret is also a shifting portrait of life in ‘30s Berlin, an integral moment in history where the peaceful days of the Weimar Republic petered out, replaced by something insidious waiting to infect all of Europe.
Thriller: The Firm
In 1991, the now famous master of the legal thriller, John Grisham, had his first best-seller in the form of The Firm. As evidence of his ascension in the world of entertainment, Grisham’s literary success was followed up by a 1993 film adaptation, starring rising star Tom Cruise and directed by the celebrated filmmaker Sydney Pollack.
Joining the ranks of an elite law firm, a young lawyer (Tom Cruise) realizes his new place of employment has some dark secrets behind it.
Skewering the world of cutthroat ‘80s capitalism and business ethics, The Firm is a first-rate thriller that benefits from some notably strong performances from Cruise and a well-rounded ensemble cast (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, and Holly Hunter, among others).
Jonah Hill has always been an exceptionally talented actor and comedian, having made a name for himself off hit comedies like Superbad and 21 Jump Street. In more recent years, though, Hill has been spending more time behind the camera than in front of it, writing and directing his own feature films, like his debut effort, Mid90s.
In 1990s Los Angeles, a lonely 13-year-old boy (Sunny Suljic) escapes his troubled home life by taking up skateboarding as a hobby, bonding with a group of older teens in his area.
A nostalgic look at ‘90s culture, Mid90s also touches upon more grounded aspects of adolescence as well, ranging from repeated clashes with older siblings to the struggles that come with trying to make new friends.
Western: The Outlaw Josey Wales
Nearing his 93rd birthday, Clint Eastwood has directed and starred in many, many films over the years, most of which are firmly ingrained in the Western genre. For clear evidence of this fact, just look at some of Eastwood’s most prominent films, from his breakthrough Dollars trilogy to his work on The Outlaw Josey Wales.
As the Civil War winds down, a legendary gunfighter (Clint Eastwood) is chased down by the authorities, fleeing south in the hopes of building a new life for himself in Texas.
A gripping anti-war film showing the horrors that came with the Civil War, The Outlaw Josey Wales is among the more underrated of Eastwood’s many films, being every bit as great as his earlier work on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly or later films like Unforgiven.
While on the subject of underrated, wholly forgotten films, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the incredibly inventive sci-fi family film, Robots – a fun, lightweight film from prominent animation company Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age, Rio).
In a world populated entirely by sentient robotic beings, an aspiring inventor (Ewan McGregor) travels to Robot City in the hopes of meeting his idol Bigweld (Mel Brooks). Instead, he learns that Bigweld has been replaced by an unscrupulous business robot (Greg Kinnear) who launches a hostile takeover of the company.
Though perhaps not as viscerally pleasing to the eye or presenting as memorable a story as a Disney or Pixar film, Robots does a more than decent job presenting a central story that viewers (especially younger ones) will easily connect with.
No man had a bigger influence on Western movies from the 1960s onwards than Akira Kurosawa, the lauded filmmaker behind such famous films as Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, and Yojimbo. In no uncertain terms, Kurosawa essentially constructed what would become the modern Western film from the ground up, Yojimbo serving as a key influence on everything from A Fistful of Dollars to the original Django.
When a wandering ronin (Toshiro Mifune) comes to town, he finds himself in the middle of a gang war between two criminal factions, both of which try to lure the samurai to their side of the conflict.
Collaborating with his frequent (and favorite) actor, Toshiro Mifune, Yojimbo is a well-paced, well-acted, characteristically well-shot samurai film that delivers everywhere it matters most. Mifune is predictably great as the nameless ronin, a disarmingly aloof figure whose guile and abilities to play the two factions against one another is equal to his skill with a sword.
Underrated: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
There have been so many amazing Batman films over the years, claiming one film is better than another can prove an extremely daunting task. While viewers are quick to look to The Dark Knight, 1989’s Batman, or even the latest Robert Pattinson-led The Batman as hallmarks of the franchise, we’d also add the 1993 animated film, Batman Mask of the Phantasm, to that top-tier list as well.
Wrongfully implicated in the murders of several prominent Gotham City gangsters, Batman (Kevin Conroy) must find a masked murderer’s true identity to prove his innocence.
A continuation of the critically acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series, Mask of the Phantasm takes advantage of its PG rating to spin more adult elements into the otherwise innocent adventures of Conroy’s Caped Crusader. Easily the best of the Dark Knight’s animated films, it has everything you could ever want in a Batman movie: an enthralling story, stunning visuals, and a scene-stealing Mark Hamill as Batman’s greatest adversary, the Joker.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).