The 20 Best Movies to Stream on HBO Max Right Now
A formidable new entry in the streaming service landscape has arrived in the form of HBO Max, a premium offering from the Warner-owned media giant. For $14.99 a month, subscribers can choose from a vast library of movies and television shows. If you’ve already made your way through the Police Academy series—all seven films are there—take a look at some of the best movies currently available on the service.
1. Joker (2019)
Joaquin Phoenix delivers a sensational performance in this disquieting take on the Batman villain. As Arthur Fleck, a disenfranchised and marginalized member of society, Phoenix channels his frustrations into sowing the seeds of anarchy in Gotham City.
2. Blood Simple (1984)
The debut film from Joel and Ethan Coen is a spare film noir about a bar owner (Dan Hedaya) who enlists a private detective to kill his wife (Frances McDormand) and her lover (John Getz). Naturally, things don’t go as planned.
3. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
This Italian-language film follows two emotionally affecting stories—the bond between a boy (Salvatore Cascio, Marco Leonardi, and Jacques Perrin at various stages of his life) and a movie projectionist (Philippe Noiret) as well as the bond between the pair and the movies they embrace so passionately in post-war Sicily.
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Despite advances in special effects, few films have come close to the grandeur and visual impact of director Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. Co-written with Arthur C. Clarke, the film takes viewers on a psychedelic journey through space in the guise of a manned mission to Jupiter that’s soon thrown off-balance by the sentient HAL, a computer with plans of its own.
5. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, and Ed Harris lead a terrific cast in this charged adaptation of director David Mamet’s potent stage play about a group of real estate salesmen who begin to crack under the pressure to perform. Alec Baldwin’s motivational speech remains a classic.
6. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
A seemingly mundane story of a blue-collar Italian worker (Lamberto Maggiorani) who finds his job in jeopardy when his only mode of transportation—a bicycle—is stolen turns into a mediation on the challenges of morality and ethics in the face of desperation.
7. Point Blank (1967)
Lee Marvin is a blunt-force object in this crime drama based on author Donald E. Westlake’s The Hunter. As Walker, Marvin is left for dead by his criminal associates but soon returns in a Terminator-esque bid for vengeance.
8. Babe (1995)
A farmer (James Cromwell) becomes fond of a pig named Babe, who quickly takes a position of prominence on the family farm because he believes he can operate as a sheepdog for livestock. The film has become a family classic, and its sequel—1998’s Babe: Pig in the City, which is a bit darker and directed by Mad Max creator George Miller—is also available on the service.
9. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Two vagabonds (Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt) join up with a prospector (Walter Huston) to search for gold in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. Unity soon crumbles as the men are faced with a series of obstacles, both natural and man-made.
10. Casino Royale (2006)
Daniel Craig’s first turn as James Bond is arguably the most compelling, with the character a recently-minted secret agent out to foil the plot of Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a financial backer for terrorists who happens to be an excellent card player.
11. Breaking the Waves (1996)
A nuanced story of love in a time of crisis, Breaking the Waves features Emily Watson as Bess McNeil, a Scottish woman who falls for an oil rig worker named Jan Nyman (Stellan Skarsgård). When tragedy befalls Jan, Bess must navigate their relationship through uncharted emotional waters.
12. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
This Russian silent film continues to pack an emotional punch nearly 100 years after it was made. Treated poorly on a Soviet vessel, a group of sailors decide to revolt against their superior officers, setting off a chain reaction of violence with far-reaching consequences. The film's "Odessa Steps" scene is one of the most analyzed sequences in the history of cinema, and has been partially recreated in a diverse slate of movies, from The Untouchables to Revenge of the Sith.
13. Cast Away (2000)
Few actors could hold an audience as they navigate the perils of an island as the lone survivor of a plane crash. But few actors are as versatile as Tom Hanks, who makes marooned man Chuck Noland a compulsively watchable survivor.
14. Titanic (1997)
The fate of star-crossed lovers Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is well known by now, as is the fate of the luxury cruise liner. But spoilers fail to diminish the impact of director James Cameron’s ambitious and reverential account of the great ship’s collision with history. It remains a spellbinding epic, one that stretches the boundaries of what monumental film productions can achieve.
15. The Wages of Fear (1953)
Director Henri-Georges Clouzot offers a masterclass in sustained suspense in this riveting story of four men who volunteer to drive two trucks of volatile nitroglycerine to the site of an oil field fire in South America. One bump in the road too many and they’ll explode. Consider it a predecessor to 1994’s Speed—only far more stressful to watch.
16. Fanny and Alexander (1982)
Director Ingmar Bergman received great acclaim for this enchanting story of two children (Pernilla Allwin and Bertil Guve) who find their happy home in ruins after their father dies and their mother remarries. Only their sibling bond and an indomitable will to survive can help them endure the upheaval.
17. Fight Club (1999)
Director David Fincher’s adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s testosterone-fueled novel is still a potent anarchic fairy tale. Everyman Ed Norton is consumed by consumerism until he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), an instrument of chaos who pulls Norton into a life of hedonism.
18. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, and John Cleese star in this heist comedy about a group of diamond thieves who encounter difficulties finding an agreeable resolution to their illegal activities.
19. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
This unsettling French film about a surgeon (Pierre Brasseur) who kidnaps young women in the hopes he can restore the beauty of his daughter (Édith Scob) who was in a disfiguring car accident by grafting their faces to hers is a study in restraint. There’s little gore but plenty of unease in what amounts to a highbrow take on the mad scientist genre.
20. Raising Arizona (1987)
Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter star in this Coen brothers feature about a wayward couple who plot to kidnap one of the quintuplets of a wealthy furniture dealer. Stylized and surreal, it features one of Cage’s most interesting performances.