Best movies on HBO Max

HBO Max is a recent addition to the growing online streaming space. The service launched in May 2020, bringing subscribers a new place to stream all of HBO’s award-winning programming plus movies and TV shows.

The latest HBO streaming service is home to more than 1,500 films, so we explored its library to pick out the top 10 best movies on HBO Max. For more information about the streaming service, read our review on HBO Max.

How we rate HBO Max movies

Our list of the top 10 best movies on HBO Max is predominantly based on the Tomatometer scores on movie rating site Rotten Tomatoes. However, HBO Max is home to 25 movies that attract a 100% Tomatometer score from film critics, most of which were made before 1960. So we also provided a range of classic and modern films, a variety of genres, and factored in movies’ general popularity based on the Audience Score provided by Rotten Tomatoes users.

Top 10 HBO Max movies

Alien (1979)

  • Average Tomatometer: 98% 
  • Average Audience Score: 94% 
  • Notable cast members: Ian Holm, John Hurt, Sigourney Weaver

This classic sci-fi movie from Ridley Scott sees a space crew woken from hibernation by a distress signal from a nearby planet. A rescue team goes to investigate only to be attacked by an alien creature, which makes its way on board the ship to wreak terrifying horror upon the crew.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

  • Average Tomatometer: 98% 
  • Average Audience Score: 94% 
  • Notable cast members: Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne, Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall

One of the all-time classic war movies, a troop of US Army officers in the Vietnam War is sent to assassinate a Colonel who is conducting hit-and-run missions in Cambodia. As the mission takes the men deeper into the jungle, it becomes increasingly darker and more intense. And the men sent to take down the rogue Colonel become more like him as they encounter the horrors of war.

Citizen Kane (1941)

  • Average Tomatometer: 100% 
  • Average Audience Score: 90% 
  • Notable cast members: Dorothy Comingore, Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles

Reporters scramble to capture the final words of millionaire newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane. The movie tells the story of Kane’s life, his rise to fame, then his fall from the top with varying accounts of his scandalous activities.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

  • Average Tomatometer: 100% 
  • Average Audience Score: 95% 
  • Notable cast members: Dennis Hopper, George Kennedy, J.D. Cannon, Paul Newman

Luke Jackson is sent to a rural prison after being arrested for drunkenly taking out parking meters but refuses to play by the rules. He uses his smarts to win at poker and help the men get their work done in half the usual time. Then a couple of attempted escapes and subsequent recaptures see him become a symbol of hope, resilience, and rebelliousness to other inmates who the guards vow to stamp out. 

Jaws (1975)

  • Average Tomatometer: 98% 
  • Average Audience Score: 90% 
  • Notable cast members: Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider

After a killer shark unleashes havoc on a beach community, a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and a seasoned old seafarer team up to hunt the beast. The Steven Spielberg movie begins with a skinny dipper being dragged below the surface and her remains washing up the shore. The shark feasts on a few more victims before the trio go in search of the formidable Great White Shark.

Seven Samurai (Shichinin No Samurai) (1954)

  • Average Tomatometer: 100% 
  • Average Audience Score: 90% 
  • Notable cast members: Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Yoshio Inaba

An epic action movie from Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, the film focuses on the importance of duty and honor during a time when traditional order breaks down. A veteran master Samurai agrees to protect a group of farmers from bandits. He teaches people from local villages to defend themselves and recruits a lethal group of seven samurais to repel a series of raids, then compete in a giant battle that concludes the movie.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

  • Average Tomatometer: 93% 
  • Average Audience Score: 95% 
  • Notable cast members: Barry Pepper, Matt Damon, Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore

Steven Spielberg’s movie follows a true story from the D-Day invasion and its immediate aftermath during World War II. It follows the story of Captain John Miller and his troops approaching Omaha Beach to face German artillery fire. They then get the assignment to locate Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in action, and bring him back to the US. To do so, they have to navigate areas dominated by Nazis, and the group begins to question the logic of risking multiple lives to save one man.

Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

  • Average Tomatometer: 100% 
  • Average Audience Score: 95% 
  • Notable cast members: Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Gene Kelly

One of the greatest musical films of all time, Singin’ In The Rain is filled with memorable songs and Gene Kelly’s iconic dancing and singing in the rain scene. It focuses on Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, who shot to fame in Hollywood’s silent-movie era. But their partnership is threatened when sound is introduced to their movies, as Lina doesn’t have the voice for it and an aspiring young actress is hired to record over her.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

  • Average Tomatometer: 95% 
  • Average Audience Score: 95% 
  • Notable cast members: Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen

HBO Max is home to the entire Lord of the Rings franchise, but the highest rated is the second installment in the series. Hobbits Frodo and Sam press on with their mission to Mordor with the devious Gollum insisting on leading the way. The fellowship suffers more divides but make a stand against Saruman and his huge army of Isengard.

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

  • Average Tomatometer: 100% 
  • Average Audience Score: 93% 
  • Notable cast members: Cary Grant, James Stewart, Katherine Hepburn

This classic comedy focuses on Philadelphia socialites Tracy Lord and C.K. Dexter Haven, who married impulsively then divorced due to Dexter’s excessive drinking. Two years later, Tracy is remarrying, only for Dexter and a charming reporter to reappear on the eve of her big day, and she has to decide which of the three men she truly loves.

*Current as of August 2020

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