If you’ve been holding off on buying an HBO Max subscription, now might finally be the month you cave. First of all, you probably heard that the service is home to every minute of the (genuinely) epic Dune. Plus, in this year alone, the platform has already seen Godzilla and Kong pummel each other, the Mortal Kombat fighters rip each other’s guts out, and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It give us our first jump scare in months. Don’t forget—the wonderful reunion of the Toon Squad in Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Of course, HBO Max has a more-than-solid back-catalog, too, featuring loads of sci-fi, classic cinema, sports documentaries, and Studio Ghibli (!). It’s all here. If you need more convincing, know that Mechagodzilla, Arrietty, Frodo, David Byrne, and Wonder Woman all make cameos on this list. It’s beautiful. It’s weird. It’s great. Now read on—and watch all of the best movies on HBO Max.
A Star Is Born
In the Heights
If you’re looking for a music-filled movie that ends on a high note, look no further than In the Heights. The film adaptation of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Broadway hit will have you singing and dancing long after the credits roll.
You’ve already finished the new film, so, at this point, you might as well watch the Kyle MacLachlan-fronted adaptation of the sci-fi epic from the 80s.
LFG, LFG. If you can’t for the next summer Olympics to spend time with the stars of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, check out LFG, a documentary that chronicles its fight for equal pay. (Yes, Megan Rapinoe is in it, and, yes, we want a full-length solo profile of the legend someday.)
There’s never a wrong time to celebrate the late Chadwick Boseman’s indomitable legacy. Start with 42, where Boseman gave us the defining biopic of baseball and civil rights hero Jackie Robinson.
Night of the Living Dead
The defining movie in Zack Snyder’s zombieaissance. Night of the Living Dead is an essential watch for any horror buff, and the remastered version currently on HBO Max is a reminder of George Romero’s mastery of all things undead.
The King of Staten Island
Love Pete Davidson or not, The King of Staten Island weaves its weirdo vibes into a story that will genuinely make your heart warm. Loosely based on the story of how Davidson lost his own father, The King of Staten Island is as worthy as any Apatow film.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Say what you want about the Snyder Cut, but you can’t call it a lazy effort. Zack Snyder’s version of the 2017 film he departed (due to family reasons) finally saw its glorious debut in March. And it really, really (really!) went for it. It’s four hours long. And it features a woman huffing Aquaman’s sweater. And slo-mo. Lots of slo-mo.
He Got Game
Here’s a big three for you: Denzel, Spike Lee, Ray Allen. Together, they created one of America’s greatest sports movies—and a fictional basketball legend, Jesus Shuttleworth, worth imitating on your nearest blacktop.
Mad Max: Fury Road
“Well, if you like burgers, give them a try sometime. Me, I can’t usually get them ’cause my girlfriend’s a vegetarian, which pretty much makes me a vegetarian. I do love the taste of a good burger. Mmm.” Never gets old.
The Secret World of Arrietty
Again, another PSA: Studio Ghibli’s library is on HBO Max, if you’ve already exhausted Disney+’s Pixar offerings and need a reliable third-act cry. You might’ve already seen Spirited Away, so check out The Secret World of Arrietty—which will leave you with the same sense of wonder.
The Dark Knight
Whether you’re looking to relive Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as the Joker, want to see where many of today’s superhero flicks find their inspiration, or just want to lose yourself for two hours—you won’t be disappointed by a rewatch of The Dark Knight.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Amazon may have the proverbial ring in this scenario (i.e. keys to build the kingdom of the big-money Lord of the Rings TV series), but HBO Max has the entire Peter Jackson film trilogy. Start at the beginning with The Fellowship of the Ring. And keep going through Return of the King. You’ll feel better when you’re done.
If you still haven’t seen Citizen Kane, you’ve probably heard that it’s in the GOAT conversation. Time to find out why for yourself. The prescient story of Charles Foster Kane will haunt you for long after the credits roll.
David Byrne’s American Utopia
Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard’s cinema-shattering story of a French criminal, is a small drop in HBO Max’s film-student 101 bucket. Start here before you knock out the obligatory Citizen Kane watch.
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
The late Nirvana frontman has been endlessly profiled, covered, investigated, and talked about both during his career, and ever since his death in 1994. That said, few deep-dives on Cobain have offered a more defining portrait than Montage of Heck.
No Country For Old Men
Even if, in the Coen Brothers matrix, you’re more of an Inside Llewyn Davis kind of fan, you still have to respect No Country For Old Men—where Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Tommy Lee Jones all give career performances. Not bad!
Little Shop of Horrors
Two basketball movies on this list? Yeah. HBO can ball. If you want to know where nearly every sports documentary that doesn’t feature a big-named superstar takes its inspiration from, look no further than Hoop Dreams. Arthur Agee’s story shows the beauty, joy, and pain that comes with a love of sports.
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