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 The Maltese Falcon and Singin’ in the Rain to celebrated modern films like The Artist and Captain Phillips, here are some of the best films you can find currently streaming on HBO Max.
Updated: January 28.
Drama: The Artist
When it was released in 2011, The Artist was instantly hailed as one of the year’s best movies, earning dozens of awards and nominations at every major ceremony from Cannes to the Academy Awards. Sadly, as is the case with most Best Picture winners, the movie has since dropped off the radar from most viewers — although you’re now able to remedy that injustice by revisiting The Artist on HBO Max today.
In the late 1920s, the cinematic landscape forever changes with the introduction of sound in film. As the world rapidly adapts to these new innovations, a silent film star (Jean Dujardin) struggles to make the jump to the “talkies” taking over Hollywood.
The standout trait that makes The Artist so unique is that, to keep in line with its setting and themes, the movie is actually presented as a silent film. Far from being a clever gimmick, such a retro approach allows for plenty of creativity, the actors bringing out every nuance of their characters’ personalities through facial and body expressions alone.
Biopic: Captain Phillips
Another major awards contender, Captain Phillips is a brilliant biographical thriller focusing on the tense standoff between Somali pirates and the US Navy — with the titular merchant mariner caught in the middle.
While traveling through the Guardafui Channel, a merchant ship captain (Tom Hanks) is held hostage by a group of pirates who board his vessel and forcefully hijack it.
It’s not often that Tom Hanks gets upstaged, but Barkhad Abdi undoubtedly steals the film as Somali pirate leader Abduwali Muse. A realistic antagonist pushed into a world of crime by intense poverty and a need for survival, Abdi makes for a wonderful pairing with Hanks, who’s similarly delightful as the hapless but empathetic lead character.
Comedy: Little Miss Sunshine
We hesitate calling a movie as frequently gut-wrenching as Little Miss Sunshine an outright comedy. But by mixing in so much genuine emotion, the comedy of Little Miss Sunshine is drastically sweetened, catching you by surprise and making you cackle out loud when you least expect it.
Olive (Abigail Breslin) is a seven-year-old from Albuquerque who learns she’s qualified for a prestigious girls’ beauty pageant in California. Driving to the competition with her dysfunctional family, each member of Olive’s family contends with their own crises, from her uncle’s (Steve Carrell) depression to her brother’s (Paul Dano) voluntary vow of silence.
Swapping between existential dread and dark comedy is usually a recipe for disaster, and few movies manage to strike the right balance. But in a rare feat, Little Miss Sunshine alternates flawlessly between the two with little to any effort, making you quietly reflect on the movie’s softer moments and loudly guffaw at its more crowd-pleasing scenes.
Family: Castle in the Sky
To call Studio Ghibli the house that Castle in the Sky built seems like a gross overstatement — but there is plenty of truth to that statement. The first film ever released by the fledgling studio, it helped elevate Hayao Miyazaki into an internationally renowned sensation, ushering in a golden age for anime films for the next decade.
Escaping from a gang of air-pirates, the 13-year-old Sheeta is rescued by a teenage orphan, the two of them going on an adventure to find a mythical floating city somewhere in the clouds.
Positively received in 1986, Castle in the Sky would go on to influence both Japanese and international pop culture, inspiring dozens of movies, video games, TV series, and manga comic books in the following years. But perhaps most importantly, it helped lay a stable foundation for Studio Ghibli to build off of, leading to an endless assortment of fantastic films like My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, and many, many more.
Sci-Fi: The Lobster
An oddity like The Lobster is almost impossible to simplify into one plain genre. At once, it’s a daring sci-fi film, a strange dystopian movie, and a deadpan absurdist comedy of the highest order. However you choose to categorize it, there’s no denying the movie’s odd nature, making it one of the most bizarre and original films currently streaming on HBO Max.
At an isolated resort exclusively for bachelors, guests must find a romantic partner within 45 days. If they fail to do so, they are turned into an animal of their choosing.
With the release of The Lobster, director Yorgos Lanthimos became the most popular surrealist filmmaker since David Lynch. As with his later films (The Favourite and The Killing of a Sacred Deer), The Lobster can be an acquired taste, but for those who enjoy off-beat humor, there’s more than enough weirdness in The Lobster to win you over.
Musical: Singin’ in the Rain
Possibly the most iconic musical ever put to the screen, Singin’ in the Rain has aged remarkably well since its release over 70 years ago. No matter your preferences or musical tastes, it’s next to impossible not to be taken by the movie’s sweeping soundtrack, colorful set design, delightful performances, and well-choreographed dance sequences.
With the advent of sound in film, a silent film star (Gene Kelly) and his fellow cast members do their best to transition into the “talkies.”
Like all the best movies from its era, Singin’ in the Rain is a timeless classic, and is just as easy and enjoyable to watch now as it was in 1952. Dancing legend Gene Kelly is at the top of his game, making for an effective pairing with his romantic interest, Debbie Reynolds, who’s as lovable and charming as ever.
Horror: My Bloody Valentine
Valentine’s Day is still a little ways off, but most TV networks and streaming services have already begun to beef up their supply of romance movies. That being said, if you’re looking for a sharp alternative to Titanic or The Notebook, My Bloody Valentine is as gritty and unromantic a movie as you can get.
As Valentine’s Day approaches in a small backwater town, a masked killer returns, vowing to violently murder anyone who celebrates the holiday.
On the surface, My Bloody Valentine is very much your standard Halloween rip-off, following a holiday-centric masked killer wreaking havoc on the residents of his hometown. Yet for all its similarities, My Bloody Valentine takes special strides to set itself apart from its immediate predecessor, featuring a distinctly different slasher setting (a blue collar mining town) and a refreshing twist ending.
Fantasy: Across the Universe
Have you ever wanted to jump into a Beatles music video, to have your life coordinated to a vivid background soundtrack by the most famous rock band of all time? For those unable to attend the incredible Beatles Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, your next best option is hitting play on Across the Universe, a visionary experience that will appease most Beatlemaniacs watching from home.
In the 1960s, a wealthy American woman (Evan Rachel Wood) and a lower-class English artist (Jim Sturgess) experience the changing social and political atmosphere of the decade first-hand.
You can head into Across the Universe the most diehard Beatles fan there is and still leave the movie with a renewed appreciation for the genius nature of the Fab Four’s music and enduring influence on the world we know today. Covering some of the band’s most famous songs, it’s a vivid and fantastical look at how everything was changing by the 1960s (not to mention the Beatles’ own increasingly hallucinogenic music).
Mystery: The Maltese Falcon
There’s a reason that you subconsciously conjure images of Humphrey Bogart whenever you hear the words “1940s private investigator.” The definitive personification of every noir hero, The Maltese Falcon is almost singularly responsible for cementing Bogie’s place in the detective genre.
After his partner is killed, PI Sam Spade (Bogart) becomes embroiled in a strange case involving a trio of eccentric criminals, an alluring client (Mary Astor), and a legendary priceless statue.
The directorial debut of John Huston (who’d go on to become one of Hollywood’s best directors in his day), The Maltese Falcon has repeatedly been named one of the greatest films ever made by numerous cinema groups and organizations, as well as continuously ranking as Bogart’s finest film.
Underrated: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
In Edwardian England, a brilliant inventor (Dick Van Dyke) rebuilds a Grand Prix automobile, equipping it with a number of magical gadgets. Wanting the car for himself, an evil European baron (Gert Fröbe) plots ways to steal the automobile and transport it back to his home country of Vulgaria.
We’ll admit Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is far from the best children’s movie on HBO Max. Most glaringly obvious among its faults is its uneven pace, all-over-the-place storyline, lengthy runtime (two and a half hours), and handful of unsettling scenes (what child wasn’t afraid of the Child Catcher?).
Still, it’s hard not to give this movie credit where credit is due, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang contains just enough whimsical plot elements to prevent it from falling completely flat (a great soundtrack, the Baron Bomburst, the daydreaming grandfather, the Abbott and Costello-esque spies, etc.).
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.