The 40 Best Movies on HBO Max Right Now

Updated January 2, 2022 • Staff

HBO's new platform is full of excellent movies. In this list, we could down our most recommended movies on HBO Max that we feature on agoodmovietowatch. 

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40.

Desert Hearts (1985)

Contemplative English literature professor Vivian leaves New York for Reno, Nevada, to facilitate her divorce from a lifeless marriage. There she meets Cay, a sculptor and free spirit living relatively uncloseted for the time. What starts as an inspiring friendship soon turns to attraction. It is partly the story of Vivian's sexual awakening, partly a transformative love story persuasively depicted through earnest, unadorned dialogue and love scenes, and vulnerable performances. A heartfelt and tender romance, the scenes are delightfully set to a soundtrack of Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash singles and filmed over the expansive horizons of the Nevada desert.

Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Alex McArthur, Audra Lindley, Dean Butler, Denise Crosby, Gwen Welles, Helen Shaver, James Staley, Jeffrey Tambor, Patricia Charbonneau
Director: Donna Deitch
Go to HBO Max
39.

A Royal Affair (2012)

If you’ve been paying close attention to Royal Families in general, then get a snack and settle in, because A Royal Affair’s got it all for you: the steamy scenes, dirty, affair-laden hands, the corsets, and a stunning backdrop of 18th Century Europe. Quite literally deranged and mentally incapable King Christian of Denmark (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) marries the brave Princess Caroline of Great Britain (Alicia Vikander), only to find out that he isn’t cut out for the wedded life. Enlightenment comes in the form of Dr. Johann Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), a German physician to the infantile King and true-born reformer. Mostly saddened by her unfortunate fate, the now-Queen Caroline finds herself falling in love with the intellectual; thus, beginning a whirlwind of events that shakes up the entire Kingdom.

Genre: Drama, History, Romance
Actor: Alicia Vikander, Bent Mejding, Cyron Melville, Daniel Bambas, David Dencik, Frederik Christian Johansen, Harriet Walter, Ivan G'Vera, Jacob Ulrik Lohmann, Karel Polišenský, Kristian Fjord, Laura Bro, Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Morten Holst, Nikolaj Arcel, Rosalinde Mynster, Søren Malling, Søren Spanning, Thomas W. Gabrielsson, Trine Dyrholm, William Jøhnk Nielsen
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Rating: R
Go to HBO Max
38.

Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)

Things We Lost in the Fire is a touching drama about Audrey (Hall Berry), a married mother-of-two, whose husband Brian (David Duchovny) is killed tragically in a random act of violence. Amidst her grief she comes to connect with Jerry (Benicio Del Toro), Brian’s childhood friend who is living an isolated life as a junkie, and ultimately invites him to live with her and her children. What may sound like a formulaic set-up, with broken souls coming together to find mutual reconciliation, is elevated immeasurably by Susanne Bier’s deft directorial hand. The celebrated director of After the Wedding and In A Better World weaves a poignant narrative about loss and human connectivity, featuring stunningly good performances by both Berry and Del Toro. It’s a film that’s likely to surprise you with its heartfelt tenderness and compassion.

Genre: Drama
Actor: Alexis Llewellyn, Alison Lohman, Benicio Del Toro, David Duchovny, Halle Berry, John Carroll Lynch, Liam James, Micah Berry, Omar Benson Miller, Paula Newsome, Quinn Lord, Robin Weigert, Sarah Dubrovsky
Director: Susanne Bier
Rating: R
Go to HBO Max
37.

Doubt (2008)

The 2008 film Doubt offers a haunting peek into the crisis of pedophilia within the Catholic church. Featuring an all-star cast of Amy Adams,  Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep and Viola Davis, it is more than just a fictional tale. With performances that will make you question your intuition and cast a shadow of doubt on your own instincts, Doubt is a difficult film to grapple with. 

I fell in love with this film very early on into the duration of it because it was so honest and it allowed the characters to navigate the nature of their suspicions. With Doubt, however, comes denial, and Viola Davis’s eight-minute monologue is simply smeared with it. Doubt is a fantastic story that has left me stunned for over a decade. 

Genre: Drama, Mystery
Actor: Alice Drummond, Amy Adams, Audrie Neenan, Bernadette Lords, Carrie Preston, Jack O'Connell, Jennifer Lauren DiBella, John Costelloe, Lydia Jordan, Marylouise Burke, Meryl Streep, Paulie Litt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Susan Blommaert, Suzanne Hevner, Viola Davis
Director: John Patrick Shanley
Rating: PG-13
Go to HBO Max
36.

Maria Full of Grace (2004)

Is courage still courage when you have no choices left? What do you do when you're pressed to the wall and have no way to go? Maria, a pretty, modest and hardworking girl living in a small Colombian town, where the only career choice (thus not being a choice, really) is working in a floral plant, packing and distributing flowers - a dead-end job with killer hours and zero-tolerance boss. Yet, it's money. Until the day Maria gets pregnant and her choices become even more limited. By accident, she makes acquaintance with a guy who turns out to be her way out - and the way is out to become a drug mule, transporting drugs in your stomach across the border to the American soil. A job dangerous in many aspects, illegal and potentially deadly, but also paid well. Maria decides to take the only way out, a way that may be a one-way street. Maria Full of Grace is a gut-wrenching story about survival in a seemingly hopeless situation. It's about taking that one chance that has all the potential to go south, and investing in it all the hope you have left, and all the survival instinct you have in your heart and soul. And when everything that could go bad does, and everything turns from bad to worse beyond imagination, it's about standing strong and not giving up, no matter what. Though technically not a documentary, it's real beyond belief, and you can be sure Colombia is full of Marias - just hoping for a decent life, ready to sacrifice the very life itself to obtain it. It's a masterpiece of its genre and it also boasts one of the best posters in the history of the cinema. Highly recommended.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Actor: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Guilied Lopez, John Álex Toro, Orlando Tobón
Director: Joshua Marston
Rating: R
Go to HBO Max
35.

Rounders (1998)

In Rounders, Matt Damon plays a law student and reformed poker player who is forced back into the game in order to help his newly-paroled best friend (Edward Norton) pay off overwhelming gambling debts. It’s an enjoyable insider’s look into the world of high stakes gambling and of Poker specifically, giving the viewer compelling insights into Poker in terms of strategy as well as human psychology. Damon and Norton are well-cast in their roles — Norton particularly great as the sleazy and manipulative “Worm”. Not-overly-surprising in its storytelling, yet highly enjoyable from beginning to end, this one will appeal to fans of gambling and sports films, as well as those who enjoy modern film noir and pseudo-noir films with a nice dramatic edge.

Genre: Crime, Drama
Actor: Adam LeFevre, Alan Davidson, Allan Havey, Beeson Carroll, Bill Camp, Brian Anthony Wilson, Chris Messina, David Zayas, Edward Norton, Erik LaRay Harvey, Famke Janssen, Goran Visnjic, Gretchen Mol, Jay Boryea, Joe Zaloom, John Di Benedetto, John Gallagher Jr., John Malkovich, John Turturro, Josh Mostel, Josh Pais, Kerry O'Malley, Kohl Sudduth, Lenny Clarke, Lenny Venito, Lisa Gorlitsky, Martin Landau, Matt Damon, Melina Kanakaredes, Michael Lombardi, Michael Rispoli, Murphy Guyer, Nicole Brier, Paul Cicero, Peter Yoshida, Ray Iannicelli, Tom Aldredge
Director: John Dahl
Rating: R
Go to HBO Max
34.

Never Let Me Go (2010)

A dark and sophisticated slow-burning drama, Never Let Me Go is adapted from the highly acclaimed novel of the same name by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield as boarding school raised teenagers eager to explore the outside world when they learn a secret that will threaten their very existence. Anything more is a spoiler, watch it.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Science Fiction
Actor: Andrea Riseborough, Andrew Garfield, Anna Maria Everett, Carey Mulligan, Charlie Rowe, Charlotte Rampling, Damien Thomas, David Sterne, Domhnall Gleeson, Ella Purnell, Huggy Leaver, Isobel Meikle-Small, Izzy Meikle-Small, Kate Bowes Renna, Keira Knightley, Lydia Wilson, Monica Dolan, Nathalie Richard, Sally Hawkins
Director: Mark Romanek
Rating: R
Go to HBO Max
33.

Bad Education (2019)

Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, and Ray Romano star in this true story of a big academic corruption case. Hugh Jackman is (of course) excellent as a successful and dedicated superintendent with a complicated personal life. However, when a curious student with the school journal starts digging around in a project he promotes, she uncovers what will become the largest public school embezzlement in the history of the U.S. 

The performances stretch the story to its full potential, as this movie would be nothing without its incredible cast. It should be watched for the acting. Eventually, it suffers from a problem common to all movies based on newspaper articles: the story can be told in a single article.

Genre: Crime, Drama, History, TV Movie
Actor: Alex Wolff, Allison Janney, Annaleigh Ashford, Brian Sgambati, Catherine Curtin, Dina Pearlman, Finnerty Steeves, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gino Cafarelli, Hari Dhillon, Hugh Jackman, Jeremy Shamos, Jimmy Tatro, John Scurti, Justin Swain, Kathrine Narducci, Kayli Carter, Larry Romano, Pat Healy, Peter Appel, Rafael Casal, Ray Abruzzo, Ray Romano, Robert 'Toshi' Kar Yuen Chan, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Stephen Spinella, Steve Routman, Victor Verhaeghe, Welker White
Director: Cory Finley
Rating: TV-MA
Go to HBO Max
32.

Dating Amber (2020)

This lovely comedy-romance from Ireland is about a closeted gay teen and his lesbian schoolmate who pretend to be in a relationship to avoid being bullied at their school.

This premise makes Dating Amber an original story in a genre in which that's increasingly rare. This is added to the setting, in 1995 rural Ireland, which is executed to gorgeous perfection in everything from the clothes to the music. 

Dating Amber ends up being more coming-of-age than a comedy-romance. It's a tale of friendship and self-acceptance.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Actor: Anastasia Blake, Barry Ward, Eva O'Connor, Fionn O'Shea, Ian O'Reilly, Ian O'Reilly, Lauryn Canny, Lola Petticrew, Peter Campion, Sharon Horgan, Simone Kirby
Director: David Freyne
Go to HBO Max
31.

Wonder Boys (2000)

Michael Douglas plays Grady Tripp, a craggy, lovable English professor struggling to finish the follow-up to a very successful first novel. It has taken him 7 years, and it's an obvious metaphor for his ridiculous life. The character navigates various tragicomic dilemmas with a stellar supporting cast including Frances McDormand, Tobey Maguire, and Katie Holmes. His editor is Robert Downey Jr. and his nemesis is Rip Torn. Bob Dylan wrote the theme song. How do you not love this movie? It's one of those films that feels like a warm, cozy house (despite the fact that it takes place in a Pittsburgh winter), and it's a great blend of humor and drama.

Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Alan Tudyk, Bingo O'Malley, Frances McDormand, George Grizzard, James Ellroy, James Kisicki, Jane Adams, Katie Holmes, Kelly Bishop, Michael Cavadias, Michael Douglas, Philip Bosco, Richard Thomas, Rip Torn, Rob McElhenney, Robert Downey Jr., Tobey Maguire, Yusuf Gatewood
Director: Curtis Hanson
Rating: R
Go to HBO Max

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