HBO Max has an extremely diverse collection of critically acclaimed and popular movies from filmmakers around the world. These films range from Tarkovsky’s and Kurosawa’s classics to Studio Ghibli movies. Check out this list curated by us that compiles all the best movies on HBO Max, for you. Read on to find out.
Animated by Studio Ghibli for Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Tohokushinsha Film, and Mitsubishi, and released by Toho in 2001, Spirited Away is a Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Takeshi Naito, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Tsunehiko Kamij, Takehiko Ono, and Bunta Sugawara all lend their voices to the movie. In Spirited Away, a ten-year-old girl named Chihiro Ogino (Hiiragi) learns about the realm of Kami while relocating to a new neighbourhood (spirits of Japanese Shinto folklore). Chihiro accepts a job working at Yubaba’s bathhouse to try to discover a method to free herself and her parents and get back to the human world after the witch Yubaba (Natsuki) turns them into pigs. This is one of the most iconic and best movies on HBO Max.
The 1928 French silent historical drama The Passion of Joan of Arc, also known as La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, is based on the actual account of Joan of Arc’s trial. Renée Jeanne Falconetti plays Joan in the movie, which was helmed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Particularly for its creation, Dreyer’s directing, and Falconetti’s performance, which is frequently cited as one of the greatest in movie history, it is widely recognised as a milestone in cinema. The movie depicts Joan of Arc’s trial and execution while summarising her period as an English prisoner of war.
Akira Kurosawa co-wrote, edited, and directed Seven Samurai, a 1954 Japanese epic samurai drama film that was first released in the United States under the title The Magnificent Seven. The story takes set in 1586, at the height of Japan’s Sengoku era. In order to fight off robbers who will return after the harvest to take their crops, a village of desperate farmers hires seven rnin (masterless samurai). Since its premiere, Seven Samurai has frequently been at the top of reviewers’ rankings of the best movies, including those produced by the BFI’s Sight & Sound and Rotten Tomatoes. Additionally, it won the title of the best foreign language film in the 2018 worldwide critics’ poll conducted by BBC. It is still widely regarded as one of the movies that has been “remade, altered, and referenced” the most in cinema. This is a huge classic, and is therefore indubitably on the list of the best movies on HBO Max.
A superhero movie called The Dark Knight was released in 2008, and Christopher Nolan co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan. It is the sequel to Batman Begins (2005) and the second film in The Dark Knight Trilogy, all of which are based on the DC Comics superhero Batman. The superhero vigilante Batman, Police Lieutenant James Gordon, and District Attorney Harvey Dent team up to fight organised crime in Gotham City in the storyline of the movie. However, their efforts are thwarted by the Joker, an anarchistic mastermind who wants to see how far Batman will go to keep the city from falling into total anarchy. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Morgan Freeman are among the cast members.
Wes Anderson co-wrote, co-directed, and co-produced the 2021 American anthology comedic drama film The French Dispatch with Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, and Jason Schwartzman. The French Dispatch is also known as The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun. It has a sizable ensemble cast and follows three distinct plotlines as the fictional Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun newspaper’s French international office releases its final issue.
The science fiction action movie Inception was written and directed by Christopher Nolan in 2010, and continues to be one of the best movies on HBO Max. He and his wife, Emma Thomas, also served as producers. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a skilled thief in the movie who obtains information by penetrating his victim’ subconsciouses. He is given the opportunity to have his criminal record cleared in exchange for implanting someone else’s concept into the target’s brain. Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine are all part of the ensemble cast.
7. Citizen Kane
The 1941 American drama film Citizen Kane was produced, directed, and starred by Orson Welles. Along with Herman J. Mankiewicz, he co-wrote the movie’s script. Welles’ first feature-length film was the picture. Most people agree that Citizen Kane is the best movie ever created. It topped the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound decennial critics’ vote for 50 years in a row, and the American Film Institute’s 100 Years… 100 Movies list in 1998 and its 2007 edition. The movie received nine Academy Award nominations, with Mankiewicz and Welles winning for Best Writing (Original Screenplay).
Following in the pattern of many of his past films, Charlie Chaplin, a British comedian, wrote, directed, produced, scored, and starred in the 1940 American satirical comedy-drama The Great Dictator. This was Chaplin’s first truly sound movie, and he was the only Hollywood director to continue making silent movies well into the sound movie era. The Nazis, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, fascism, and antisemitism were all strongly condemned in Chaplin’s film. The United States was officially at peace with Nazi Germany at the time of the film’s initial release, and World War II had just begun. Chaplin portrays two prominent characters in this film: a persecuted Jewish barber and a brutal Nazi leader.
Stanislaw Lem’s 1961 novel of the same name served as the basis for the 1972 Soviet science fiction drama picture Solaris. Donatas Banionis and Natalya Bondarchuk star in Andrei Tarkovsky’s co-written and directed movie. The main theme of the electronic music score, which was performed by Eduard Artemyev, is a J.S. Bach work. The action takes place on a space station orbiting the imaginary planet Solaris, where a scientific expedition has been put on hold because the three scientists who make up the skeleton crew are experiencing emotional problems. When visiting the station to assess the situation, psychologist Kris Kelvin (Banionis) runs into the same enigmatic phenomenon as the others. Tarkovsky made the movie in an effort to give science fiction movies a fresh emotional depth, and is one of the best movies on HBO Max.
George Miller co-wrote, co-produced, and directed the post-apocalyptic action movie Mad Max: Fury Road, which was released in 2015 in Australia. On the screenplay, Miller worked with Nico Lathouris, Brendan McCarthy, and others. Produced by Village Roadshow Pictures, Kennedy Miller Mitchell, and RatPac-Dune Entertainment, it is the fourth instalment of the Mad Max series and a “reboot.” It is released domestically by Roadshow Entertainment in Australia and worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. Fury Road follows Max Rockatansky as he teams up with Imperator Furiosa to flee from cult leader Immortan Joe and his troops in an armoured tanker truck, sparking a protracted road battle in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland where water and gasoline are in short supply.
11. The Wind Rises
Hayao Miyazaki wrote and directed The Wind Rises, a 2013 Japanese animated historical drama film, which was produced by Studio Ghibli and distributed by Toho for the Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Walt Disney Japan, Mitsubishi, Toho, and KDDI. Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982), who created the Mitsubishi A5M fighter plane and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, both of which were employed by the Empire of Japan during World War II, is the subject of the fictionalised biographical film The Wind Rises. The movie was made based on Miyazaki’s manga of the same name, which was itself largely based on Jiro Horikoshi’s life and Tatsuo Hori’s 1937 novel The Wind Has Risen. Before his retirement in September 2013, it was Miyazaki’s last film to be in charge of the camera.
12. Pather Panchali
Satyajit Ray wrote and directed Pather Panchali, an Indian drama film in Bengali, which was made by the West Bengali government in 1955. It served as Ray’s directing debut and is a translation of the same-titled Bengali novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay from 1929. Pather Panchali, the first movie in The Apu Trilogy, stars Subir Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee, Uma Dasgupta, Pinaki Sengupta, and Chunibala Devi. It tells the story of the childhood struggles of the protagonist Apu and his older sister Durga in the context of their impoverished family’s hard life in the village. It would be remiss to not mention Pather Panchali while mentioning the best movies on HBO Max.
13. A Star is Born
A Star Is Born is a 2018 American musical romantic drama film that Bradley Cooper produced and directed (in his directorial debut). Cooper, Eric Roth, and Will Fetters wrote the screenplay. Cooper, Lady Gaga, Dave Chappelle, Andrew Dice Clay, and Sam Elliott all appear in the film, which centres on Cooper’s character, an alcoholic musician who meets and falls for a young singer (Gaga). After the 1937 American romantic drama, the 1954 American musical, and the 1976 American musical, this is the fourth cinematic adaptation of the narrative. At the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, principal photography commenced in April 2017.
Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, and Eric Roth wrote the screenplay for the epic science fiction movie Dune, which is titled Dune: Part One onscreen. It is the first of two adaptations of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, focusing mainly on the first half of the book. The film, which is set in the distant future, follows Paul Atreides as his aristocratic family, the House Atreides, gets drawn into a conflict over the dangerous and hostile desert planet Arrakis. Along with Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgrd, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem, the ensemble cast also features Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.
A 1988 American fantasy horror comedy picture called Beetlejuice was directed by Tim Burton, produced by The Geffen Company, and released by Warner Bros. Betelgeuse, an annoying and cunning “bio-exorcist” from the Netherworld who is played by Michael Keaton, is hired by a recently deceased couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), who are ghosts haunting their former home, to frighten away the new residents of the house (Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones, and Winona Ryder).
Bennett Miller’s 2005 biographical drama film Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as the title character, is about American author Truman Capote. The incidents that occurred while Capote was writing his 1965 nonfiction book In Cold Blood are the main focus of the movie. On Gerald Clarke’s 1988 biography Capote, movie was based. On September 30, 2005, Capote’s birthday, it was published. Hoffman’s lead performance helped the movie become a box office hit and win praise from reviewers. In the end, it garnered numerous accolades and received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for Miller, Best Supporting Actress for Keener, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Hoffman ultimately took home the prize for Best Actor.
Edgar Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns collaborated on the script for Edgar Wright’s 2021 British psychological horror thriller Last Night in Soho, another one of the best movies on HBO Max. Starring in it are Diana Rigg, Matt Smith, Rita Tushingham, Michael Ajao, Terence Stamp, and Thomasin McKenzie. It serves as Rigg and Margaret Nolan’s last cinematic performances before their deaths in 2020. The movie honours the lives of Rigg and Nolan. It had its world premiere on September 4, 2021, at the 78th Venice International Film Festival. On October 9, 2021, at the BFI London Film Festival, it had its UK premiere. On October 29, 2021, Universal Pictures and Focus Features, respectively, distributed it in theatres in the UK and the US.
18. King Richard
American biographical sports drama King Richard was produced in 2021 and will be directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and written by Zach Baylin. Will Smith plays the father and coach of well-known tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams in the movie, which also has Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Tony Goldwyn, and Jon Bernthal in supporting parts. Venus and Serena Williams also served as executive producers. On September 2, 2021, it had its world premiere at the 48th Telluride Film Festival. On November 19, 2021, Warner Bros. Pictures and the HBO Max streaming service both distributed it in theatres.
19. Drive My Car
Ryusuke Hamaguchi co-wrote and directed the 2021 Japanese drama film Drive My Car, one of the best and most glorious movies on HBO Max, which centres on the loss and sadness experienced by a middle-aged theatre director after his wife unexpectedly passes away. While drawing inspiration from other pieces in the book, it is based on Haruki Murakami’s short story of the same name from his 2014 anthology Men Without Women. The movie follows Hidetoshi Nishijima’s character, Ysuke Kafuku, as he oversees a multilingual production of Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima while also mourning the loss of his wife, Oto.
20. The Fallout
American teen drama The Fallout is Megan Park’s first feature-length film, and it was written and directed by her. Jenna Ortega plays Vada Cavell in the movie, a high school student who must deal with severe mental trauma after a school massacre. In supporting parts, the movie also features Maddie Ziegler, Julie Bowen, John Ortiz, Niles Fitch, Will Ropp, and Shailene Woodley. American musician and actor Finneas O’Connell wrote the soundtrack.
Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema’s The Fallout had its South by Southwest debut on March 17, 2021, and it was made available on HBO Max on January 27, 2022. Critics appreciated the director, writing, O’Connell’s score, and Ortega’s acting, and it was well received.
This list just cites 20 of the best movies on HBO Max. There are more, obviously, but we think you should get started with these amazing ones. We hope these end up on your watchlist.