The 28 Best Movies on HBO Max Right Now (April 2021)

This weekend, HBO Max is inviting subscribers to “Test Your Might” with a remake of Mortal Kombat. You don’t even have to pay an extra fee to check it out. While that’s a very good deal, the real appeal of HBO Max isn’t a single new movie. Instead, it’s the vast lineup of films that come from a cinematic library that goes back almost a century. There are some amazing flicks that you can watch at a moment’s notice … but good luck finding them all! It’s an ongoing challenge, but we’ve put together a list of the 28 best movies that you can stream on HBO Max right now.
Looking for additional suggestions? We also have guides to the best movies on Netflix, the best movies on Hulu, the best movies on Amazon Prime Video, and the best movies on Disney+

Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Don’t let the title of Rachel Getting Married fool you. Rachel Buchman (Rosemarie DeWitt) may be the titular character, but this movie belongs to her sister, Kym (Anne Hathaway). Hathaway has a powerhouse performance as an addict who has lost 10 years of her life to rehab and addiction relapses. On the weekend of Rachel’s wedding, Kym gets a temporary discharge to reunite with her family. Yet old grudges and simmering distrust openly erupt between the sisters, in addition to the lingering resentment between Kym and her mother, Abby (Debra Winger). The Buchman family drama threatens to overshadow Rachel’s wedding, but it’s a reckoning that has been coming for years.
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%Genre: DramaStars: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Anna Deavere Smith, Tunde Adebimpe, Debra WingerDirector: Jonathan DemmeRating: RRuntime: 114 minutes

Goodfellas (2008)
Where would we be without the crime epics of Martin Scorsese? Cinema would certainly be less interesting if films like Goodfellas didn’t explore such dark and compelling territory. This movie was based on the life of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a criminal who was part of the Gambino crime family for 25 years. Henry’s illegally obtained wealth helps him woo his wife, Karen (Lorraine Bracco), and gives him a taste of the good life alongside his friends, Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). Yet even these bonds of friendship can be shattered when money and power are at stake.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%Genre: Drama, CrimeStars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul SorvinoDirector: Martin ScorseseRating: RRuntime: 146 minutes

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Think about every musical biopic you’ve ever seen. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is essentially a parody of all of the previous biographical films about musicians. Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) has a ridiculous life story that weaves in and out of different musical eras and styles. Following a family tragedy, Dewey has a rapid rise to fame and an equally fast fall into infamy. Along the way, he finds love with both Edith (Kristen Wiig) and Darlene (Jenna Fischer), as well as a deadly grudge held by his father, Pa Cox (Raymond J. Barry).
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%Genre: ComedyStars: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows, Kristen WiigDirector: Jake KasdanRating: RRuntime: 96 minutes

Pale Rider (1985)
Pale Rider isn’t the first or the last western that Clint Eastwood has starred in and directed, but it is one of the best. When mining baron Coy LaHood (Richard Dysart) openly threatens the lives and livelihoods of hard-working independent miners, a stranger appears to turn the tide. The Preacher (Eastwood) is intentionally enigmatic as he befriends Hull Barret (Michael Moriarty), Sarah Wheeler (Carrie Snodgress), and the rest of the miners and settlers. Preacher’s presence alone seems to inspire the miners, yet it’s his physical prowess that makes him such a formidable challenger to the powers aligned against them.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%Genre: WesternStars: Clint Eastwood, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress, Christopher Penn, Richard Dysart, Sydney PennyDirector: Clint EastwoodRating: RRuntime: 116 minutes

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition (2001)
Nearly two decades ago, Peter Jackson unleashed the first film in his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. But this isn’t The Fellowship of the Ring that you experienced in theaters. The Extended Edition is a nearly four-hour affair that greatly expands on the early story of Frodo (Elijah Wood), the young Hobbit who comes into possession of the One Ring. To keep this malevolent object out of enemy hands, Frodo and his eight companions embark on a dangerous quest to destroy the ring. Yet the greatest threat to the Fellowship may come from within.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%Genre: Fantasy, Action, AdventureStars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Sean BeanDirector: Peter JacksonRating: PG-13Runtime: 228 minutes

Ted (2012)
The titular talking teddy bear of Ted would probably find it hilarious that his film has a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In the world of the film, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) wished his favorite bear into sentience when he was a young child. Years later, Ted (Seth MacFarlane) and John are still close friends, much to the annoyance of John’s girlfriend, Lori Collins (Mila Kunis). When Ted goes too far, John and Lori try to set him up with an independent life of his own. But these friends just can’t stay separated for long, regardless of the consequences.
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%Genre: Fantasy, ComedyStars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale, Giovanni RibisiDirector: Seth MacFarlaneRating: RRuntime: 112 minutes

Cold Mountain (2003)
Cold Mountain could almost be called a romantic film if its leading characters didn’t suffer so much. But this is a sweeping period film that finds young lovers William “W. P.” Inman (Jude Law) and Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman) promising to find each other after the Civil War. William even deserts from the Confederacy to keep his vow, while Ada struggles to maintain her farm on Cold Mountain with the help of her friend, Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger). William and Ada go to great lengths to find each other again, even in the face of overwhelming adversity. Now that’s a love story.
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%Genre: DramaStars: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour HoffmanDirector: Anthony MinghellaRating: RRuntime: 154 minutes

Big Fish (2003)
Big Fish is arguably Tim Burton’s best movie, and it’s certainly one of his most emotional. As Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) faces his death in the present, his estranged son, Will (Billy Crudup), learns more about young Edward (Ewan McGregor) and his seemingly tall tales about the people he met throughout his life. Edward’s love for Will’s mother, Sandra (Alison Lohman), takes on a mythology of its own. The truth isn’t always the way that Edward presented it, but his stories force Will to everything he thought he knew about his father.
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, DramaStars: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Alison LohmanDirector: Tim BurtonRating: PG-13Runtime: 125 minutes

The Mask of Zorro (1998)
There’s no shortage of superheroes on HBO Max, but Zorro is one of the pulp heroes who predates all of them. The Mask of Zorro also happens to be a nearly perfect reintroduction to the classic character. Anthony Hopkins plays the original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega, as he is exposed and imprisoned for decades. Fortunately, Don Diego finds an ally named Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), whom he trains to be the new Zorro. Along the way, Alejandro falls for Elena Montero (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Don Diego’s long-lost daughter, who was raised by his greatest enemy, Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson).
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%Genre: Action, AdventureStars: Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stuart WilsonDirector: Martin CampbellRating: PG-13Runtime: 137 minutes

Black Dynamite (2009)
Black Dynamite is a modern sendup of ‘70s blaxploitation films, but it’s also a really terrific example of the genre. Michael Jai White stars as Black Dynamite, a Vietnam veteran and former CIA operative who comes home and takes it upon himself to avenge his brother and clean up the streets. Alongside his new love, Gloria Gray (Salli Richardson), and his ally, Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson), Black Dynamite discovers a government plot that sends him off to Kung Fu Island to confront an old nemesis. And the film only gets wilder as it goes along.
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%Genre: Action, ComedyStars: Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Salli RichardsonDirector: Scott SandersRating: RRuntime: 84 minutes

La Bamba (1987)
Ritchie Valens is more famous for the way he died than for the music he created, but La Bamba flips the script by largely on how Ritchie lived. Lou Diamond Phillips stars as Ritchie, as he navigates his contentious relationship with his half-brother, Bob (Esai Morales). The story also explores Ritchie’s romance with his eventual wife, Donna Ludwig (Danielle von Zerneck). As Ritchie’s star rises, his fears threaten to overwhelm him. Yet his indomitable spirit allows him to rise above and become one of rock’s first superstars.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%Genre: Romance, Drama, BiographicalStars: Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, Rosanna DeSoto, Elizabeth Peña, Joe PantolianoDirector: Luis ValdezRating: PG-13Runtime: 108 minutes

A League of Their Own (1992)
A League of Their Own is the fictionalized story of the women’s baseball league that emerged during World War II. Geena Davis stars as Dorothy “Dottie” Hinson, a catcher who would have turned away from her chance at baseball stardom if not for her sister and fellow player, Kit Keller (Lori Petty). Former Cubs player Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is tasked with managing the sisters on the Rockford Peaches, which also includes Doris Murphy (Rosie O’Donnell) and Mae Mordabito (Madonna). Just remember, there’s no crying in baseball. But there is a lot of heart.
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%Genre: Comedy, Drama, SportsStars: Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon LovitzDirector: Penny MarshallRating: PGRuntime: 128 minutes

Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Ben Affleck’s comeback hit its stride with Gone Baby Gone, his feature-length directorial . However, it’s Affleck’s younger brother, Casey Affleck, who headlines the film as private investigator Patrick Kenzie. Patrick and his partner, Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), are drawn into the case of a kidnapped four-year-old girl, Amanda McCready (Madeline O’Brien). Amanda’s mother has connections to organized crime, which forces Patrick and Angie to enlist Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and his partner, Nick Poole (John Ashton), to back them up. But the case is anything but straightforward, and finding Amanda proves to be far more complicated than anyone expected.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%Genre: Drama, ThrillerStars: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John AshtonDirector: Ben AffleckRating: RRuntime: 114 minutes

Labyrinth (1986)
The Muppets creator Jim Henson explored some of his darkest themes on the big screen. His final film, Labyrinth, fully embraces that aspect of his career — and it’s arguably his best movie. Jennifer Connelly has a dazzling turn as Sarah Williams, a 16-year-old girl who resents her new half-brother, Toby (Toby Froud). When Sarah carelessly wishes that the goblins would take Toby away, it actually happens. The Goblin King, Jareth (David Bowie), offers Sarah a chance to reclaim her infant half-brother if she can survive a journey through the labyrinth in 13 hours.
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%Genre: FantasyStars: David Bowie, Jennifer ConnellyDirector: Jim HensonRating: PGRuntime: 101 minutes

The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
The real Larry Flynt passed away recently, and he seemed like an odd choice to be a free speech icon. But the founder of Hustler was the subject of The People vs. Larry Flynt, with Woody Harrelson in the title role. By challenging the complaints against his porn magazine in court, Larry pushed the boundaries of what could be put into print. Courtney Love also stars as Althea Leasure, Larry’s longtime lover. Additionally, Edward Norton has a terrific turn as Larry’s lawyer, Alan Isaacman. Love him or hate him, Larry Flynt left an impact on this film and beyond.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%Genre: Drama, BiographyStars: Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, Edward NortonDirector: Miloš FormanRating: RRuntime: 130 minutes

The Color Purple (1985)
Steven Spielberg adapted Alice Walker’s seminal novel The Color Purple to great acclaim in the mid-’80s. Whoopi Goldberg stars as Celie, an African American woman who has been abused and put-upon for her entire life. As Celie endures the abuse of her husband, Mister (Danny Glover), she finds solace and inspiration from two women in her life: Sofia (Oprah Winfrey) and a singer named Shug Avery (Margaret Avery). Through the relationships that Celie forms, she finds the strength to stand up for herself and chart her own path.
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%Genre: DramaStars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Adolph Caesar, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery, Rae Dawn ChongDirector: Steven SpielbergRating: PG-13Runtime: 153 minutes

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
What if a politician was everything that he or she claims to be? Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is an iconic take on that idea. James Stewart stars as Jefferson “Jeff” Smith, an idealistic young man who is named to the Senate following his predecessor’s unexpected death. Jeff finds a mentor in Senator Joseph Harrison “Joe” Paine (Claude Rains), unaware of the older man’s corruption. When Jeff’s reputation is destroyed by lies and innuendo, he pleads his case on the Senate floor in a classic filibuster scene. This is definitely a fantasy, but it’s nice to believe that happy endings can happen in the political arena.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%Genre: Drama, ComedyStars: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rain, Edward ArnoldDirector: Frank CapraRating: TV-GRuntime: 126 minutes

Risky Business (1983)
Who likes that old-time rock and roll? Everyone! The iconic scene of Risky Business may have Tom Cruise dancing in his briefs, but it’s still a great teen comedy after that sequence. Cruise plays Joel Goodson, an overachieving who takes full advantage of his parents’ extended absence. Joel soon befriends a prostitute named Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) and begins a relationship with her. However, Lana’s unsavory pimp, Guido (Joe Pantoliano), causes complications for the young lovers and threatens to derail Joel’s plans for college and his parents’ trust.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%Genre: ComedyStars: Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano, Nicholas PryorDirector: Paul BrickmanRating: RRuntime: 99 minutes

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Extended Edition (2003)
Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was capped off with The Return of the King, which won Best Picture at the Oscars. The Extended Version of the film is now on HBO Max, and it includes several scenes that didn’t make it into the theatrical cut. For example, Saruman’s fate is no longer ambiguous. This is also a thrilling and satisfying wrap-up to the story that began during The Fellowship of the Ring. Just be sure to pace yourself along the way. This one clocks in at nearly four and a half hours, so it can be an endurance test for some. But it’s well worth the commitment.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, DramaStars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Hugo WeavingDirector: Peter JacksonRating: PG-13Runtime: 263 minutes

The Departed (2006)
Would you believe that Martin Scorsese finally won a Best Director Oscar for The Departed? It’s another Best Picture winner on this list as well as a thrilling crime drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy Costigan Jr. and Matt Damon as Colin Sullivan. Billy is a cop under deep cover within the crime family led by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). But Frank also has Colin as a well-placed mole within the police department. As Billy and Colin become aware of each other, it becomes a race to see who can uncover their counterpart’s identity first.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%Genre: Crime, ThrillerStars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin SheenDirector: Martin ScorseseRating: RRuntime: 151 minutes

No Country For Old Men (2007)
The Coen brothers are known for having a deft comedic touch in many of their films. No Country For Old Men is not one of those movies. Instead, this harrowing tale features one of the most terrifying screen villains of recent memory: Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh. After Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) comes across $2 million dollars from a blown drug deal, Anton is hired to retrieve the money at all costs. He leaves a trail of violence in his wake, which forces Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) to question both his faith and whether the world has simply passed him by. There’s no Hollywood ending to be found here, but this is a modern classic.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%Genre: Drama, ThrillerStars: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody HarrelsonDirector: Joel Coen, Ethan CoenRating: RRuntime: 122 minutes
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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Three decades passed between the third and fourth Mad Max movies, but that didn’t stop director George Miller from revitalizing the franchise. Mad Max: Fury Road is a brilliant follow up that casts Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky, a role originated by Mel Gibson. More notably, this film introduced Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), and firmly established Theron as an action icon in her own right. Max and Furiosa find themselves in an alliance of convenience against Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a would-be dictator in the post-apocalypse. Fury Road’s visceral action sequences are frequently intense and memorable. Very few movies can match the thrills of this one.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%Genre: ActionStars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-ByrneDirector: George MillerRating: RRuntime: 120 minutes
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Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction doesn’t have a traditional narrative, but it does feature some of the most unforgettable characters of the ‘90s. Hitmen Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) just can’t seem to stay out of trouble even in the aftermath of an apparent miracle. In another storyline, aging boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) tries to skip town after ripping off mob boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Uma Thurman also steals the movie as Marsellus’ wife, Mia. These seemingly disjointed storylines come together beautifully in Tarantino’s incredibly quotable film, which remains one of his very best.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%Genre: Crime, ComedyStars: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Tim RothDirector: Quentin TarantinoRating: RRuntime: 154 minutes
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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
There have been many Batman movies, but Batman: Mask of the Phantasm may be the best one ever made. This isn’t an exaggeration, as the creative team and the cast behind Batman: The Animated Series created a new adversary for the Dark Knight while opening up a previously unexplored chapter in the life of Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy). In the past, Bruce almost walked away from his destiny as Batman to marry Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany). But in the present, Bruce’s life is complicated by both Andrea’s return and by the emergence of the Phantasm, a vengeful vigilante whose murder spree has been blamed on Batman himself. Mark Hamill’s chillingly evil Joker is the film’s wild card, and the wonderfully dark animation truly captures the spirit of the comics that inspired this movie.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%Genre: Superhero, ActionStars: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Dana Delany, Hart BochnerDirector: Eric Radomski, Bruce TimmRating: PGRuntime: 76 minutes
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The Invisible Man (2020)
Universal wisely moved away from its shared universe ambitions with its stand-alone horror flick The Invisible Man. Director Leigh Whannell re-envisioned H.G. Wells’ classic novel into a more modern story of terror. The actual invisible man isn’t the focus at all. Instead, the spotlight drops on Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss), a woman who is desperate to get out of her abusive relationship with the cruel Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a wealthy entrepreneur. Upon Adrian’s death, Cecilia finds herself haunted by an unseen force that slowly destroys her life and threatens her sanity. The movie is particularly terrifying in the small moments where the audience can discern the Invisible Man’s presence right before he strikes again. The Invisible Man is a triumph, and it’s a horror film that elevates the entire genre.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%Genre: Sci-fi, Horror, ThrillerStars: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm ReidDirector: Leigh WhannellRating: RRuntime: 124 minutes
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Casablanca (1942)
Casablanca, the Oscar-winning film that gave the world the iconic line, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” casts Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as a pair of star-crossed lovers caught up in the dire events of World War II. Bogart portrays an American expatriate who’s forced to choose between the love of his life and the life he’s grown to love in the city of Casablanca.
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%Genre: Romance, DramaStars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude RainsDirector: Michael CurtizRating: PGRuntime: 102 minutes
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Citizen Kane (1941)
Often cited as the greatest movie ever made, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane chronicles the rise and fall of fictional newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, who rose from poverty to become a prominent player in American politics. Welles directed, co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film, which famously explores its titular character’s life in an attempt to discern the meaning of his dying words.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%Genre: DramaStars: Orson Welles, Dorothy Comingore, Joseph CottenDirector: Orson WellesRating: PGRuntime: 119 minutes
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Spirited Away (2001)
Acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and the animators at Studio Ghibli crafted this tale of a young girl who finds herself drawn into the fantastic world of Japanese Shinto folklore after an encounter with a powerful witch puts her — and her family — in danger. To date, Spirited Away remains the only hand-drawn, non-English film to win the Academy Award for the year’s Best Animated Feature and was ranked the fourth-best film of the 21st century in a 2016 poll of international film critics. You can also check out the best anime series on Netflix if you’re looking for more like this.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%Genre: Fantasy, FamilyStars: Rumi Hiiragi, Mari NatsukiDirector: Hayao MiyazakiRating: PGRuntime: 124 minutes
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