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 Exorcist and Little Shop of Horrors to celebrated modern films like The Lego Movie and The Notebook, here are some of the best films you can find currently streaming on Max.
Updated: September 15.
Timeless Horror: The Exorcist (1973)
It’s impossible to celebrate Halloween without thinking about supernatural films. Fortunately, Max has recently added a bundle of chill-inducing supernatural horror movies this past month, including the most famous possession movie of them all, the 1973 classic The Exorcist.
Suspecting her daughter (Linda Blair) has been possessed by a demonic entity, an actress (Ellen Burstyn) in Washington, D.C. reaches out to two Catholic priests (Jason Miller and Max von Sydow) in the hopes of performing an exorcism on the young girl.
With the film’s director – the late, great William Friedkin – having passed away just over a month ago, what better is there to honor the filmmaker than by revisiting this unrivaled entry in the horror genre? An unforgettably terrifying film to sit through in its entirety, The Exorcist is able to get under your skin with the deftness of Pazuzu himself, leaving you rattled and horror-stricken by the time the credits start to roll.
Family: The Lego Movie (2014)
Less than a decade before Barbie, another toy-focused film was garnering audiences’ attention in the form of the 2014 family film, The Lego Movie. The first part in a short-lived franchise, The Lego Movie contained many of the same warm themes as Barbie, boasting an equal number of relatable issues when it came to self-reliance, self-independence, and familial relationships.
Emmet (Chris Pratt) is an ordinary Lego construction worker living a peaceful life in the city of Bricksburg. Stumbling into an epic conflict between an underground resistance movement and the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell), Emmet learns of his own role as the prophesied “Special,” a hero sworn to save the Lego Universe from sure destruction.
With a Lego cast that includes Batman, Spider-Man, Lando Calrissian, Gandalf, and Abe Lincoln and a voice cast made up of Morgan Freeman, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, and Liam Neeson, The Lego Movie is a refreshing and imaginative family film that’s sure to enliven viewers young and old.
Romance: The Notebook (2004)
As with most Nicholas Sparks books and their subsequent adaptations, you either love The Notebook or you hate it – there’s simply no middle ground between those two extreme points. Whatever your individual feelings towards it, though, it’s impossible to take anything away from The Notebook’s enduring success.
In a retirement home, an elderly man (James Garner) reads a romantic story to a fellow patient (Gena Rowlands) about a young couple (Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling) who meet and fall in love in 1940s South Carolina.
A significant box office hit, The Notebook has since earned an avid cult following of fans, many of whom have been won over by the movie’s melodramatic, sensationalized tone and the performances of its two lead stars.
Comedy: Friday (1995)
Owing money to anyone is always a hassle, especially when they just happen to be a dangerous criminal who gives you less than 24 hours to repay him … or else. Such is the simple premise behind 1995’s fan-favorite Friday, the best stoner comedy since in the glory days of Up in Smoke.
Upon losing his job, an unmotivated slacker (Ice Cube) must help his best friend (Chris Tucker) raise $200 within a day in order to pay off a criminal acquaintance in their neighborhood (Faizon Love).
A favorite film of Quentin Tarantino, Friday makes extensive use of Ice Cube and Tucker’s agreeable pairing, the two bouncing their drastically different energies off of one another like Abbott and Costello or Martin and Lewis (Tucker easily baffled and manic, Ice Cube straight-laced and perpetually angry).
Teen: A Cinderella Story (2004)
Like most fairy tales, the story of Cinderella has gone through numerous interpretations and adaptations over the years, from Walt Disney’s 1950 animated film to the company’s recent remake starring Lily James as the title character. In 2004, the tale was adapted for contemporary San Fernando Valley, resulting in the teen romantic comedy, A Cinderella Story.
Regularly mistreated by her domineering stepmother (Jennifer Coolidge) and her two stepsisters, a mild-mannered teen (Hilary Duff) escapes her personal woes by dressing up as a princess on Halloween, meeting the love of her life (Chad Michael Murray) at her high school dance.
A film adored by nostalgic millennials and Gen Z teens alike, A Cinderella Story adds a unique spin on an age-old story, giving rise to a film that’s as fresh and fun as a John Hughes rom com from the 1980s.
Superhero: The Flash (2023)
The DCEU’s answer to Spider-Man: No Way Home, DC planned for The Flash to be an all-encompassing final chapter for the original DCEU lineup, bidding farewell to several faces from the franchise’s past while introducing a few new stars into the series’ universe.
Traveling back in time in order to prevent his mother’s death, the Flash (Ezra Miller) accidentally causes his timeline to change, allowing versions of heroes and villains from alternate universes like Batman (Michael Keaton) and Supergirl (Sasha Calle) to enter his reality.
Despite some hokey special effects straight out of a 2009 video game, The Flash makes for an exciting enough addition to the DCEU, helping reintroduce certain characters like Michael Keaton’s fan-favorite Batman or Michael Shannon’s dastardly General Zod.
Crime: Gangs of New York (2002)
Rising near the top of this week’s most-watched movies list on Max is Martin Scorsese’s 2002 historical crime epic, Gangs of New York. Taking his go-to genre (the gangster film) back in time to the 19th century, Scorsese presents a nightmarish yet accurate depiction of historical New York, filled with murderers, thieves, corrupt politicians, and cutthroats on every city block.
In 1860s New York, the son (Leonardo DiCaprio) of a deceased crime boss (Liam Neeson) seeks revenge for his father’s death, ingratiating himself with his dad’s killer – a deranged gangster who holds New York in the palm of his hand (Daniel Day-Lewis).
Ranking among Scorsese’s finest achievements as a director, Scorsese truly manages to capture the squalor and poverty of Gilded Age Manhattan with Gangs of New York. In the lead roles, the always-tremendous DiCaprio finds himself upstaged by Day-Lewis, who gives one of his best performances as the top hat-wearing, mustachioed New Yorker, Bill the Butcher.
Drama: Leaving Las Vegas (1996)
Whoever says Nicolas Cage can only handle over-the-top performances has clearly never seen 1996’s Leaving Las Vegas. One of the best films of the 1990s, Leaving Las Vegas finds Cage as his most subtle, relying on more intuitive emotion in his role as grizzled ex-screenwriter, Ben Sanderson.
With his personal and professional life in shambles, a depressed Hollywood screenwriter (Cage) travels to Las Vegas, revealing his plans to take his own life to a distressed call girl (Elisabeth Shue).
Opposite one another on-screen, Cage and Shue make for an idyllic match, embodying two characters at the end of their proverbial ropes. Desperate for a way to improve their current lives, they hopelessly throw themselves at the possibilities Las Vegas has to offer, lacking any other means of escape.
Comic Book: Blade (1998)
With how many superhero movies there are floating around today, it can be difficult to remember a time when the genre was still in its infancy. Around a decade before the MCU was spewing out crossovers and sequels galore, the superhero genre was more well-known for comparatively simpler action superhero films, such as 1998’s Blade.
Learning of a vampiric plot to take over the world, the superhuman vampire-hunter Blade (Wesley Snipes) is tasked with wiping out a coven of the malevolent blood-suckers within Los Angeles.
The most famous film to feature Wesley Snipes in a starring role, Blade remains as popular and well-loved today as it proved to be in the late ‘90s. Though containing little in the way of plot or story, Snipes’ sleek and charismatic performance as the eponymous hero propels the film from forgettable superhero fodder into one of the genre’s most underrated entries.
Thriller: Take Shelter (2011)
Experiencing visions of a looming apocalypse, a Midwestern husband (Michael Shannon) wonders whether his visions are Biblical prophecy or merely a result of his worsening mental health.
A stylish director deserving of a larger audience, Jeff Nichols created three remarkable gems with his debut effort, Shotgun Stories, followed by 2011’s Take Shelter and 2016’s Spielbergian homage, Midnight Special.
In the case of Take Shelter, Nichols crafts an unforgettable psychological thriller, keeping you guessing around the contents of Shannon’s character’s dreams. Discussed and dissected by a number of film scholars and theorists since its release, its interpretative nature makes it a film well worth seeing.
Rom Com: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Wanting to avoid being typecast after his career-making tenure as Michael Scott in The Office came to an end, Steve Carrell signed on to a variety of roles that allowed him to break free and expand his performing repertoire. This includes his thoughtful 2011 role in the romantic comedy, Crazy, Stupid, Love.
When his wife (Julianne Moore) abruptly leaves him, the middle-aged Cal (Steve Carrell) learns how to effectively navigate the dating scene with the help of a dashing younger man (Ryan Gosling).
With a cast that includes Carrell, Moore, Gosling, and Emma Stone, Crazy, Stupid, Love operates as a deft comedy of manners, exploring the disconnect and often chaotic consequences that come with romantic entanglements (unreciprocated or otherwise).
Mystery: Night Moves (1975)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger star in the 1970s than Gene Hackman. Having made a name for himself off the late, great William Friedkins’ all-time classic, The French Connection, Hackman embarked on a lengthy career in the film industry, headlining such audacious projects as 1975’s neo-noir mystery, Night Moves.
Hired to find the daughter of an aging actress (Janet Ward), a Los Angeles private detective (Hackman) discovers a vast criminal conspiracy deep in the heart of Florida.
One of the many films that provided a loose commentary on Watergate and its effect on the national conscience, Night Moves is often regarded as being among the finest psychological thrillers of all time, giving Hackman one of the meatiest roles of his illustrious career.
Avant Garde: THX 1138 (1971)
Before he was redefining popular entertainment and reinventing the sci-fi genre as we know it with Star Wars, the struggling young filmmaker George Lucas tried his hand at directing experimental avant-garde projects, doing so with his 1971 feature-length debut, the audacious dystopian film, THX 1138.
In the 25th century, humanity has been reorganized into an oppressive totalitarian police state, with ordinary citizens being forced to live off of mind-altering substances to keep them in line. After his roommate (Maggie McOmie) tampers with his substance supply, a mindless worker drone (Robert Duvall) begins questioning his existence for the first time in his life.
Though overshadowed by Lucas’s later work on Star Wars and Indiana Jones, THX 1138 has garnered a devout fan following since its release five decades ago, owing to its ingenious (and timeless) exploration of individuality and conformity in modern societal settings.
Spoof: Spy (2015)
Making a name for herself in the popular CBS sitcom, Mike & Molly, Melissa McCarthy went on to forge a successful transition into the film industry with her breakthrough performance in 2011’s Bridesmaids. Capitalizing on this newfound career success, McCarthy appeared in several more fantastic comedies throughout the decade, including the 2015 comedy espionage thriller, Spy.
After her veteran field agent partner (Jude Law) is taken out of action, a bookish C.I.A. analyst (McCarthy) takes to the field, going deep undercover to investigate a dangerous arms dealer (Rose Byrne).
In a role that earned her first Golden Globe Award nomination, McCarthy dials it up to 11 as the anti-James Bond heroine – a homely yet capable secret agent finally getting her shot in the field. Opposite a similarly hilarious Jason Statham in an almost self-parodic role, it’s a film guaranteed to leave your sides hurting from its infectious humor and hilarious takedown of the spy genre.
Sport: Kingpin (1996)
It’s hard to beat a good sports comedy, especially one as unapologetically gross and offensive as the 1996 cult favorite, Kingpin. Directed by the influential ‘90s comedy team, the Farrelly brothers (Dumb and Dumber), it’s a riotously funny movie that’ll leave you laughing in the most unexpected of places, thanks in large part to its unique branch of characters.
Struggling to pay his bills, disgraced former bowling champion Roy (Woody Harrelson) mentors a young Amish talent (Randy Quaid) he sees promise in, guiding him to the national championship in Reno, Nevada against Roy’s former rival (Bill Murray).
Like the Farrelys’ previous work on Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin thrives off of the talent of its exceptional cast, the film’s main trio (Harrelson, Quaid, and Vanessa Angel) bouncing remarkable comedic energy off of each other.
Horror: It (2017)
In the 1980s, a group of pre-teen outcasts are menaced by an otherworldly creature (Bill Skarsgård) able to take the form of their greatest fear. Banding together, the group attempts to overcome this inhuman monster, ending its centuries-long reign of terror in their small New England town.
Pop culture has seen many different adaptations of Stephen King’s work over the years, from claustrophobic haunted house stories like The Shining to more disappointing efforts like Thinner or Maximum Overdrive.
As many vastly different takes on King’s novels as there’s been over the past several decades, 2017’s It may just be the greatest film based on the Master of Horror’s bibliography. A taut and terrifying monster film, it’s one of the highest-rated and most financially successful horror movies in recent memory, capitalizing on the performances of its young cast and a blood-chilling portrayal of Pennywise by Bill Skarsgård.
War: The Great Escape (1963)
How could any movie with Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Donald Pleasence, and James Garner possibly be bad? Assembling one of the finest casts of the 20th century, The Great Escape also happens to be among the finest films of its era, making endlessly great use of its massive ensemble.
In the midst of World War II, a group of captured Allied soldiers plot an ambitious escape from a German P.O.W. camp, pooling their efforts to dig a series of tunnels deep underground.
Though heavily dramatized for film, The Great Escape underlines the momentous uphill battle the film’s historical counterparts faced in their attempts to escape Nazi detainment, as well as the immediate challenges awaiting them on the other side of the barbed wire fence (namely a relentless manhunt across Nazi-occupied Europe).
Fantasy: The Mask (1994)
In 1994, Jim Carrey went from being the feature attraction on In Living Color to the next big thing in the comedic genre. Within the span of one year, Carrey’s work on Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura, and The Mask helped the burgeoning young star ascend to the very top of Hollywood, a prestigious place he held for the next decade.
Happening across a strange wooden mask, a perpetually unlucky bank clerk (Carrey) discovers that the mask is capable of bestowing whoever wears it magical powers, complete with a cartoonish alter ego dependent on the wearer’s underlying personality traits.
Abandoning the darker nature of its original comic book source material, The Mask may not be suitable for incredibly young children, but its high-octane energy and Carrey’s high-speed performance make it a certified cult classic amidst Carrey’s extensive filmography.
Documentary: My Scientology Movie (2015)
Nowadays, it’s common to poke fun at the mysterious organization known as Scientology, a clique made up of celebrities and wealthy citizens that’s been parodied in everything from The Master to South Park.
As humorous as these depictions of Scientology can be, the 2015 documentary, My Scientology Movie, shows that there’s nothing at all funny about the modern religious movement. One of the most hair-raising documentaries you’ll find anywhere, My Scientology Movie chronicles filmmaker Louis Theroux as he shines a light on some of Scientology’s questionable practices, all the while being sabotaged by Scientologists determined to stop his film from seeing the light of day.
Exiting the film, you’ll leave with an entirely new outlook on Scientology and its indoctrination process, well-conveyed by Theroux and his expert handling of his subject material. If nothing else, you’ll also become more attuned to how strange the entire movement truly is.
Western: The Searchers
Except for Clint Eastwood, no actor embodies the cinematic role of a cowboy as heartily as John Wayne. Throughout his career, the Duke perfected the archetype one associates with a gunslinging Western hero, as seen in starring roles in movies like Rio Bravo, True Grit, and The Searchers.
Returning home from the Civil War, a cynical veteran (Wayne) sets out on a multi-year journey to find his niece (Natalie Wood), who was kidnapped by a band of Comanche years prior.
Often cited as one of the greatest Westerns ever made, The Searchers has been likened to a Western retelling of The Odyssey, and has been praised by everyone from Martin Scorsese to Steven Spielberg. From an acting standpoint, it’s a lasting testament to Wayne’s dramatic powers as a performer, handing in a role that’s outwardly despicable, racist, and consumed by hate, and yet who harbors a deep love and affection deep within himself.
Animated: The Venture Bros.: Radiant Is the Blood of the Baboon Heart (2023)
Debuting on Adult Swim in early 2003, the fan-favorite adult animated series, The Venture Bros., had the honor of being one of the network’s longest-running series, airing from ‘03 up to its eventual cancellation in 2018. As a final farewell to one of the channel’s flagship series, Adult Swim green-lit a feature film continuation of the show – 2023’s The Venture Bros.: Radiant Is the Blood of the Baboon Heart – to act as the official finale for the series’ overarching story and characters.
As Hank (Chris McCulloch) sets out to find his long-lost mother (Jane Lynch), a remorseful Dean attempts to find him, all the while Rusty (James Urbaniak) prepares for the imminent launch of new company product and The Monarch (McCulloch) tries to find out the truth behind his relationship to Rusty.
In the final adventure for Dean, Hank, and their estranged father Rusty, Radiant Is the Blood of the Baboon Heart offers a fitting goodbye to one of Adult Swim’s most cherished dysfunctional families. Retaining the series’ entertaining combination between familial emotion and genre mashups, it’s the best possible ending for The Venture Bros. viewers could ever hope to see.
Raw: Euphoria (2019)
With the end of summer in sight, kids are either already back in school or gathering their school supplies in preparation for the upcoming semester. With September bringing with it a whole new school year, what better time than the present is there to revisit some teen comedies or dramas, like the 2019 HBO series, Euphoria.
In the Californian town of East Highland, high school student Rue (Zendaya) tries to retain her sobriety, navigating the murky waters of high school social politics.
One of the most-watched HBO exclusive series in recent memory, Euphoria has become famous for its inclusion of more serious thematic issues younger generations of viewers might relate to, ranging from substance abuse and mental health to toxic masculinity and abusive relationships.
Sci-Fi: Solaris (1972)
Russia’s answer to 2001: A Space Odyssey, where 2001 is concerned with technological innovations and the history of humankind, 1972’s Solaris is aimed at humanity’s emotional responses and underlying mental health.
Venturing to a space station orbiting the ocean planet of Solaris, a dedicated psychologist (Donatas Banionis) tries to determine why the station’s crew are experiencing increasingly problematic mental health crises.
Often cited as one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time by respected film scholars, Solaris might just be Soviet auteur Andrei Tarkovsky’s masterpiece, possessing the same in-depth deconstruction of the human psyche as Tarkovsky’s Stalker or Ivan’s Childhood.
Biopic: 42 (2013)
It’s been just over three years since Chadwick Boseman passed away, and yet the late actor’s death seems just as shocking now as it did three years ago. As tragic as Boseman’s passing was, the actor left behind a rich assortment of cinematic roles in his short but stellar career, including the lead role in 2013’s biographical sports film, 42.
In the mid 1940s, Jackie Robinson (Boseman) breaks down color barriers when it comes to equal representation in baseball, becoming the first Black ball player to join the M.L.B.
With Boseman delivering his breakthrough performance as the legendary Jackie Robinson, 42 illustrates Robinson’s underdog rise to the top of the sports industry, as well as his continuous struggle against the inherent racism of 1940s America.
Music: Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
In addition providing the now-iconic voices of Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy in The Muppets and Grand Jedi Master Yoda in Star Wars, Frank Oz has also had a noteworthy career as a director in his own right, producing such films as What About Bob?, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and 1986’s dark musical, Little Shop of Horrors.
While pining after a coworker (Ellen Greene) locked in an abusive relationship, a bookish flower shop worker (Rick Moranis) discovers a strange plant with a taste for human flesh.
Based on the Broadway musical of the same name, Little Shop of Horrors blends horror and comedy seamlessly, alternating between the two succinct genres for one wholly creative combination. The songs – all sung in the vein of ‘50s duwop – are all fantastic, the special effects better than average, and the performances of the cast (Moranis, Greene, and Steve Martin) are all worthy of praise.
Anime: Belle (2021)
Mamoru Hosoda may be a relatively new name in the anime industry, but within the past several years, the director has accrued a cherished reputation for his rich, complex animated films, from his earlier work on films like One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island to his latest projects like 2021’s Belle.
Navigating a mundane life in her rural village, the withdrawn teenager Suzu becomes a renowned pop star every time she enters the virtual reality simulation known as “U.”
A wondrous sci-fi film for the modern age, Belle creatively reorients the concept of virtual reality, exploring how such such devices and simulations impact our lives and shape our psyche. It’s a powerful movie, and one that establishes Hosoda as one of the most exciting directors currently working within the anime genre.
Classic: Cat People (1942)
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call Cat People the first modern psychological horror film. Channeling the same dizzying narrative progression of many horror films in the decades ahead, 1942’s Cat People helped set the blueprint for the standard psychological horror movie as we know it today, informing later works like The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby.
A short time after marrying a New York engineer (Kent Smith), a Serbian-born fashion designer (Simone Simon) begins to obsess over an urban legend from her native country, leading her to believe she might transform into a black panther when physically aroused.
Among the most influential horror films of all time, Cat People not only helped reinvent the psychological horror genre, it also introduced a certain horror technique known as a jump scare that became commonly used in the decades since. More than anything else, it also reinforced the idea that, sometimes, less is more when it comes to depictions of horror movie monsters, with people’s imagination doing a far better job than any hackneyed special effects.
Underrated: The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
Like most horror subgenres, natural horror movies have ebbed and flowed in popularity, giving viewers a wide range of winners like Jaws, The Birds, and Piranha alongside stinkers like Lake Placid, Anaconda, and Shark Night 3D. While 1996’s The Ghost and the Darkness doesn’t exactly rise to the heights of Jaws, it nevertheless falls more so into the former category, existing as an enjoyable enough natural horror movie for most audience members in attendance.
In the late 1890s, a British military engineer (Val Kilmer) partners with a Kenyan railroad foreman (John Kani) and an American big game hunter (Michael Douglas) to pursue a pair of man-eating lions slowing construction on an East African railroad.
Very loosely based on an actual historical incident, The Ghost and the Darkness offers a more sensationalized portrait of its two titular man-eaters, one rooted more in legend and folktale than in historical reality.