The Best Movies Now on (HBO) Max

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 The Evil Dead and Little Shop of Horrors to celebrated modern films like Reality and Magic Mike, here are some of the best films you can find currently streaming on Max.

Watch Exclusive content on Max

Updated: June 9.

Drama: Reality

Sydney Sweeney in Reality (2023)
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The past four years have been very kind to Sydney Sweeney, her roles on Euphoria and the inaugural season of The White Lotus making her an undisputed television star. Making the leap from TV to film, Sweeney gives her first leading performance in the HBO original film, Reality, a recent arrival to Max.

Detained for questioning by the FBI, 25-year-old American intelligence specialist Reality Winner (Sweeney) is implicated in an information leak detailing Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Adapting actual conversations taken verbatim from Winner’s recorded dialogue with FBI investigators, Reality is a thought-provoking and routinely fascinating film that raises some poignant questions about the public’s right to know the truth. It also provides Sweeney with yet another fantastic character she could bring to life on the screen.

Comedy: Magic Mike’s Last Dance

Salma Hayek and Channing Tatum in Magic Mike's Last Dance (2023)
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Making its debut to Max this past month is Steven Soderbergh’s conclusive chapter in the Magic Mike series, Magic Mike’s Last Dance. Though not nearly as great as the initial two entries in the series, Magic Mike’s Last Dance still manages to end the trilogy in an overall satisfactory manner.

Now in his forties and struggling to make ends meet, retired exotic dancer Mike (Channing Tatum) agrees to help produce an ambitious stage play for a wealthy London socialite (Salma Hayek Pinault).

Most critics have been ambivalent towards Last Dance, feeling it lacks the same spark as the first two films, relying on too many of the tricks that made its predecessors so popular in the first place. Still, it has enough originality to keep viewers watching, if only for Tatum’s spell-binding turn as the titular Magic Mike.

Sci-Fi: Ready Player One

Ready Player One (2018) Tye Sheridan in Ready Player One (2018)
Image Credit: Jaap Buitendijk – © 2017 Warner Bros.

What his contemporary Martin Scorsese is to crime, Steven Spielberg is for sci-fi, the legendary director frequently crafting stories firmly embedded in the genre. Case in point with a film like Ready Player One, a suitably wonderful adaptation of Ernest Cline’s best-selling science fiction novel of the same name.

In the near future, people escape the grim reality of their lives by playing a VR-based video game called the OASIS. After the game’s creator (Mark Rylance) passes away and leaves behind a “golden easter egg” that grants whoever finds control over the OASIS itself, numerous players attempt to find it.

A hodgepodge of pop culture mash-ups, Ready Player One remains one of Spielberg’s most ambitious movies. Combining first-rate CGI with literally endless pop culture references and cameos – including homages to The Shining, Back to the Future, Godzilla, King Kong, and The Iron Giant – it’s a brilliant addition to Spielberg’s already stellar body of work.

Horror: The Evil Dead

Bridget Hoffman and Bruce Campbell in The Evil Dead (1981)
Image Credit: Renaissance Pictures.

Spending the night at an isolated cabin in the woods, a group of teenage friends uncover an ancient book that summons demonic spirits to their doorstep.

Many movie fans are quick to point out how influential the ‘90s were in terms of independent filmmaking – the decade seeing a slew of well-received, low-budget movies like Clerks, Reservoir Dogs, and The Blair Witch Project.

As important as the ‘90s were, such repeated praise overshadows just how similarly revolutionary the 1980s were, with movies like The Evil Dead setting the stage for practically every indie film that came after. Made on a shoestring budget of just $375,000, it jumpstarted not only the Evil Dead franchise (still going strong to this day), but the modern indie film movement as we know it.

Biopic: Just Mercy

Just Mercy, Jamie Foxx, Michael B. Jordan
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Legal thrillers aren’t for everybody, but every once in a while, a movie will come along of such high caliber that it practically demands to be seen by as many people as possible – such as the 2019 biographical drama, Just Mercy.

In the late 1980s, an idealistic young lawyer (Michael B. Jordan) sets out to help those who can’t afford criminal defense, traveling to Alabama to represent a man on death row (Jamie Foxx) he believes is innocent.

A judicious presentation of men wronged by the criminal justice system, Just Mercy brings their harrowing story to the big screen with its most heart-wrenching details in full view. Jordan is sensational as the determined attorney/social justice advocate, Bryan Stevenson, with Foxx similarly amazing as the wrongfully-convicted lumber worker, Walter McMillian.

Superhero: Shazam! Fury of the Gods

MV5BZGFlYjkyNzItOWQ4YS00MmQyLWI4ODQtMjAxZjFiODI4OWExXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODk4OTc3MTY@. V1 FMjpg UX2160 scaled e1678901937807
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

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.

Political: White House Plumbers

Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux in White House Plumbers (2023)
Image Credit: PHIL CARUSO/Warner Bros.

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.

Romance: Blue Valentine

Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

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

Kong Skull Island 2017 Warner Bros 2
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

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

free guy
Image Credit: 20th Century Studios.

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

Harry Potter and the Order of the
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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.

Thriller: The Firm

the firm movie
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

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).

Western: Unforgiven

Unforgiven Clint Eastwood, Aline Levasseur, Shane Meier
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

With Barry’s finale still on the back of everyone's minds, it’s only fair to point out how much influence co-creator/star Bill Hader took from existing films and TV shows when it came to his hit HBO series. In addition to obvious inspiration from movies and shows like Breaking Bad, Get Shorty, and Grosse Pointe Blank, Hader also took liberal influence from Clint Eastwood’s 1992 Oscar-winning Western, Unforgiven.

Years after retiring from a life of crime, a notorious outlaw-turned-humble farmer (Clint Eastwood) takes one last job out of financial desperation, hunting down two cowboys who disfigured a young woman (Anna Thomson).

Winning four Academy Awards the year it was released, Unforgiven may be the best of Eastwood’s many films, as well as being the movie that shows his abundant versatility as an actor. At the start of the movie, he’s meek, mild-mannered, and genuinely seeking redemption and reform for his past criminal life. Only by the end of the film do you see his sudden reversion back to his old self – a terrifying, cold-blooded killer capable of holding an entire town hostage by his mere presence.

Music: Little Shop of Horrors

little shop of horrors
Image Credit: The Geffen Film Company/Warner Bros.

The Broadway classic Little Shop of Horrors has recently returned to New York, delighting audiences now until January 2025. If you’re not traveling to New York anytime soon, though, we recommend doing the next best thing: watching Frank Oz’s 1986 cult classic of the same name.

Finding a strange plant he believes will go perfectly in his flower shop, the hapless Seymour (Rick Moranis) realizes something is very wrong with the shop’s latest acquisition – the plant having developed a speaking voice and a taste for human flesh.

Retaining the original stage production’s signature elements, Little Shop of Horrors is an astounding blend between horror, comedy, and duwop music, emblematic of its early 1960s period setting. One of Rick Moranis’s best films, it also cleverly employs well-known supporting actors like Steve Martin, John Candy, and Bill Murray in cameo roles.

Family: The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz Judy Garland
Image Credit: Loew's, Inc..

If you never watched The Wizard of Oz as a kid, you better call up your parents right now and demand an explanation. A cornerstone of American cinema, it’s been avidly enjoyed by generations of filmgoers since its release in 1939, delighting audiences for just over 80 years.

After a massive tornado transports her to the magical land of Oz, a Kansas farm girl (Judy Garland) and a cadre of fantastical creatures embark on a journey to meet with a wizard she hopes will send her back home.

With its crisp Technicolor color palette, The Wizard of Oz serves as a larger-than-life adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s inventive children’s book series. Simple, creative, and containing nothing close to a dull moment, it’s a movie impossible not to love, whether you watch it for Garland’s charmingly innocent Dorothy or Margaret Hamilton’s career-defining Wicked Witch.

Classic: Limelight

Buster Keaton and Charles Chaplin in Limelight (1952)
Image Credit: United Artists.

Stopping a young woman (Claire Bloom) from taking her own life, a washed-up vaudeville comic (Charlie Chaplin) strikes up a friendship with the woman, convincing her that life is worth living in spite of their personal shortcomings or lack of career success.

By the start of the 1950s, Charlie Chaplin had accomplished everything there was to accomplish in the film industry. He’d pioneered silent comedy, had effortlessly made the jump to talkies, and lampooned everything from industrial society (Modern Times) to World War II-era fascism (The Great Dictator).

In Limelight, a now older Chaplin turns inwards, reflecting back on his own career in an almost meta-fictional account of his life and influence in the comedic field. Nostalgic, melancholy, but – in true Chaplin fashion – ultimately hopeful, it’s a lovely movie that underscores the value of every human life. Plus, it also finds Chaplin starring alongside fellow silent movie legend, Buster Keaton, in their first and only film together.

Underrated: Lady Snowblood

Lady Snowblood 1973
Photo Credit: Tokyo Eiga.

Left an orphan after her entire family is killed by a gang of bloodthirsty criminals, a young woman (Meiko Kaji) is trained from childhood to become a deadly assassin, pursuing those responsible for her loved ones’ deaths.

If that plot sounds familiar, there’s a good chance you know it from Kill Bill. A clear inspiration on Quentin Tarantino’s kung fu epic, the underlying plot points are all there: the dastardly band of villains who’ve wronged the hero, the hero’s training montage, her expert proficiency with a katana, etc.

Similarities from Tarantino’s film aside, though, Lady Snowblood is also worth watching simply because of how excellent a revenge film it really is. The late 19th-century setting clashes nicely with the old-school sword fights and feudal atmosphere of family, honor, and redemption, paving the way for a truly remarkable samurai film.

Sign up for HBO Max

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).