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Wondering what to watch on HBO Max as you scroll through what feels like endless options? This guide takes the work out of it for you, highlighting the best shows and movies across a number of genres, making your life easier when the urge to scroll takes you away from actually, well, watching something.
Read more: Everything you need to know about HBO Max
So, read on for our complete guide of what to watch on HBO Max, including streaming originals, library titles, and great film and TV titles from third parties. And if you’re not already a subscriber, hit the link below to sign up.
A pitch-black comedy-drama — though it truly defies categorization — I May Destroy You is essential viewing on HBO Max. Arabella has to reassess her relationships in the wake of her sexual assault at a nightclub, an event she only partially remembers, in this HBO and BBC co-production. Tackling difficult subject matter with intelligence, grace, and humor, I May Destroy you is one of the best shows on HBO Max.
The adult children of a celebrity televangelist consider their futures within the Church following the death of their beloved mother. Patriarch Eli Gemstone is getting older, and the children have their own ideas about how the family business ought to be run. The RIghteous Gemstones is among the best and most hilarious comedies of the last decade, and it’s an easy choice if you’re wondering what to watch on HBO Max.
Christopher Guest continues to delight in the tradition of his earlier Waiting for Guffman with Best in Show. Like Guffman, Best in Show is largely improvisational, with some of the most talented comedians working today ad-libbing their way through this mockumentary about the odd assortment of characters competing in a dog show with their beloved show dogs.
Steven Soderbergh’s remake of the 1960 Rat Pack classic remains one of the best heist movies of all time, and it’s a sharp buddy comedy too. Recently paroled convict (and lifelong conman) Danny Ocean has a plan to rob three casinos at once. He’s putting together a team of the best thieves in the business. What he hasn’t told them is that they’re stealing from his ex-wife’s new husband. If you’re thinking of what to watch on HBO Max, this one’s an easy crowd-pleaser.
Expectations and skepticism were both sky-high when HBO announced this adaptation of the classic Alan Moore comic. Zack Snyder had already made a film out of the property, and that Watchmen had a pretty mixed legacy. Whether you love or hate the 2009 film, though, the series went its own route. It takes place decades after the events of the book and imagines a present-day where “heroes” live among us, but the lines between good guys, bad guys, superheroes, and cops are murky and have deep ties to white supremacy and a new rise of fascism in America.
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn revisits sis 2021 The Suicide Squad fan-favorite character Peacemaker in the larger-than-life hero’s own series. Peacemaker is a jingoistic cartoon of a man, fighting for peace with little regard for the irony of his own incredibly violent ways. A hit as soon as it launched in 2022, Peacemaker is a great choice for superhero fans looking for what to watch on HBO Max.
A classic of sci-fi cinema, The Matrix remains a brilliant film over two decades after its release. What if you were given a choice: continue living your life, content but oblivious to the true nature of reality, or wake up and realize that we’re all living in a simulation, farmed to produce energy for the machines who control our fates. Hacker Neo is given such a choice and wakes up into a grim reality where he may be the prophesied chosen one who will free humanity. The Matrix redefined science-fiction for a generation and pioneered stunning new visual effects that keep inspiring filmmakers today.
George Miller wowed audiences and critics when he returned to his Mad Max franchise in 2015, giving us his boldest vision yet. In a bleak, dystopian future, the warrior Imperator Furiosa frees the enslaved “wives” of a vicious ruler. Drifter Max Rockatansky is in the wrong place at the wrong time and tags along for a chase for survival that is visually incredible. Don’t sleep on Mad Max: Fury Road if you’re looking for excitement and what to watch on HBO Max.
A blend of high-stakes drama and dark comedy, Succession has been one of HBO’s buzziest shows of the last few years, and you can watch it all on HBO Max. The Roy children are all potential replacements for their father as he shows signs of ill health and aging, leaving his media empire vulnerable. The series follows the Roys through petty squabbles and existential crises in this amazing show about awful, rich people behaving badly.
HBO’s flagship show, The Sopranos, is a beloved classic for a reason. Mobster Tony Soprano feels like something is missing in his life as he succumbs to depression. Now regularly seeing a therapist, we watch his rise through the ranks of his crime family — balancing work, his marriage, and childrearing — through his own personal development in therapy.
Rebel Without a Cause is one of the best teen films of all time, capturing the post-war period when teens were finally being recognized as distinct from their younger peers despite not yet having reached adulthood. Troubled (and trouble-making) teen Jim is having problems relating to his parents at home. Now the new kid at school, he finds solidarity in new friends, outsiders like him, but also can’t avoid getting on the wrong side of some local toughs.
A gorgeous film, among Wong Kar-wai’s best, In the Mood for Love follows a man and woman, both married, as they fall in love, slowly realizing their spouses are cheating on them and that they could potentially have a future together. With gorgeous cinematography and knockout performances by Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, it’s a sure bet for anyone who likes arthouse films.
HBO Max’s original miniseries Station Eleven is based on the award-winning novel by Emily St. John Mandel. It follows the survivors of a mysterious pandemic as they live on, finding beauty in the world that remains through art. Jumping back and forth in time between the developing pandemic and a future one generation later, the series is among the best on the service.
A global phenomenon, Game of Thrones remains one of the best and most ambitious shows on HBO Max. Watch the struggle over the throne of the fictional Seven Kingdoms in this iconic, dark, and violent fantasy series based on the novels of George R. R. Martin.
Blade Runner remains one of the best science-fiction films of all time. Ridley Scott’s bold vision of a grimy, noir future, where androids are decommissioned by police “blade runners,” is a philosophically dense and rewarding classic. Watch the 2007 Final Cut, overseen by Scott, on HBO Max.
For decades, J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was thought unfilmable. Peter Jackson proved any naysayers wrong with his genre-defining trilogy in the early 2000s. Despite The Return of the King winning a record-tying 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, The Fellowship of the Ring really stands out as the best. When the Dark Lord Sauron rises, the Hobbit Frodo Baggins sets out to destroy the Ring of Power that Sauron craves, aided by a fellowship of allies.
Produced by science-fiction and horror icon Ridley Scott, who even directed the premiere, Raised by Wolves draws on Scott’s own Alien and Blade Runner to tell a compelling tale of space colonization and an ongoing battle between humans and machines. When two life-like androids land on a faraway planet to raise human children, they have to protect their wards from a new human threat. Blending sci-fi with some chilling body horror, Raised by Wolves is a great HBO Max original series.
While some felt that True Blood got a bit carried away in later seasons, the vampire melodrama is a very fun time. In the near future, when vampires have made themselves known to humanity, vampire-human relations are the political lightning rod of the day. One young waitress who can read people’s thoughts falls for a vampire who’s new in town. Now, she’s suddenly exposed to a dark world that includes a lot of other beasties humans still don’t know about.
A classic horror film that launched the zombie genre as we know it today, Night of the Living Dead still feels as relevant today as when it came out. A low-budget indie, the film follows a group of survivors taking refuge in a house together when the dead start coming back to life and attacking the living. A parable about everything from the Vietnam War to the Civil Rights movement, Night of the Living Dead is a testament to the power of horror.
A campy bit of horror filmmaking, Saw and The Conjuring director James Wan’s Malignant was one of the most exciting films of 2021. When a woman has visions of gruesome killings, she begins to uncover dark secrets about her past that might hold the key to finding the killer. Malignant is over-the-top in all the best ways and a perfect choice for horror fans wondering what to watch on HBO Max.
This HBO Max original series follows a flight attendant’s chaotic journey after waking up next to a murder victim following a one-night stand. With no memory of what happened, Cassie tries to figure out who’s behind this while staying a step ahead of the police — not to mention whoever’s out for blood.
Based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, Sharp Objects is a tense, disturbing HBO miniseries about a town where girls are being killed. Reporter Camille Preaker returns to her hometown to investigate a disappearance and a murder but gets caught up in ancient history and family conflicts, threatening the case and her mental health.
Steven Soderbergh directed this Hitcockian mystery, one of the best movies on HBO Max. A tech worker hears what sounds like a woman being attacked on a smart home recording, but she can’t get anyone to take it seriously. She has to overcome her agoraphobia, brought on by COVID-19 and lockdowns, to find out what’s happening and who’s trying to keep it quiet amid workers’ strikes and the ongoing pandemic in Seattle.
Possibly Afled Hitchcock’s finest film — which is really saying something — North By Northwest sees the legendary filmmaker in top form, telling a playful and gripping story. When New York City ad executive Roger Thornhill is mistaken for a government agent, he goes on the run to avoid being killed by spies. A classic whodunnit based on mistaken identity, North By Northwest is irresistible fun.
One of HBO’s first breakout hits, Sex and the City was a defining millennial series. The show follows sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw and her three best friends — Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda — as they navigate their careers, friendships, and most famously Manhattan’s dating scene. You can also check out the Sex and the City reunion series And Just Like That… on HBO Max.
Not your typical love story, Big Love follows what seems to be a completely normal Suburban family. Or rather, three completely normal suburban families. What they all have in common is the same husband and father. Bill Henrickson is a Mormon, and he has three wives. In Big Love, we see how their family dynamics play out as he juggles his business, political aspirations, and the fundamentalist community he left behind.
If you’re a rom-com fan considering what to watch on HBO Max, You’ve Got Mail is a classic from one of the defining directors of the genre. A struggling indie bookstore owner and the man opening a big-box bookstore just around the corner loathe one another. They couldn’t be more different. And yet, they’ve fallen in love, anonymously, online. Can they make it work in the real world?
A smart and hilarious updating of Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless reimagines the 19th-century heroine as a 90s valley girl. Cher Horowitz is something of a match-maker, finding true love for her peers and even her teachers. But what about her own love life? Could the man of her dreams be right under her nose? This infectiously quotable film is a delightful comedy and one of the best movies on HBO Max right now.
One of the most beautiful and devastating series of the last few years, The Leftovers should shoot to the top of your list of what to watch on HBO Max. A cop and his community are left reeling after 2% of the world’s population mysteriously vanish all at once. Years later, no one knows why they left, or why some were spared, but the event had massive ripple effects on society.
Idris Elba plays Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, a morally gray London detective in one of the best cop shows of the 21st century. Follow Luther through five seasons of investigations into various high-profile crimes, as well as his own chaotic personal life.
Pop quiz, hotshot! There’s a classic 90s action thriller about a bomb on a bus, and you can watch it on HBO Max: what do you do? Revisit this brilliantly simple high-concept thriller starring Keanu Reeves as an LAPD cop who gets dropped into a deadly situation by a madman. There’s a bomb on a bus that will detonate if the bus slows down. Now, he has to work with the passengers to find a way to save everyone.
The Coen brothers made a huge mark right out the gate with their first feature, Blood Simple, a perfect choice for noir fans wondering what to watch on HBO Max. When a small-town bar-owner finds his wife cheating on him with one of his own employees, he hires a shady private eye to kill them both. Things quickly spin out of control from there in this tense, dark, and funny thriller.
Easily one of the best shows of all time, Deadwood certainly tops the list of best westerns on HBO Max. Follow the settling of Deadwood, South Dakota, in the 1870s. Seth Bullock wants to leave his law enforcement past behind and start fresh but soon accepts the role of Sherriff in the largely lawless town, surrounded by shifty saloon owners, gold prospectors, sex workers, and all kinds of people fighting for their piece of civilization on the frontier.
An uneven series, to be sure, Westworld’s bold genre-mixing and disturbing themes make it a standout on HBO Max. The series chronicles a theme park where rich people are immersed in an old west environment, surrounded by life-like androids who cater to their generic needs — no matter how grim or depraved. But when the machines become self-aware, the moral underpinnings of the theme park fall apart.
John Ford is among the most revered western filmmakers of all time, and The Searchers may be his best, most conflicting film. Civil War veteran Ethan Edwards goes on a years-long quest looking for his niece, kidnapped in a raid by a Comanche tribe. While the film sets its protagonist against Native American villains, it pushes us to question Edwards at every turn. A deeply violent man whose anger makes him unfit for society, Edwards is not the typical hero in a white hat of earlier westerns, and the colonial racism of the genre is laid bare.
Jim Jarmusch puts his own spin on this psychedelic western about an accountant on the run and wanted for murder. William Blake is injured and wandering through the wilderness when he meets Nobody, a Native American man who nurses him back to health and agrees to shepherd Blake into the spirit world. Will a killer original score by Neil Young and plenty of terrific guest performances, Dead Man is a great selection for western fans scrolling through what to watch on HBO Max.
A feel-good, inclusive, and incredibly charming show, Steven Universe has been a huge hit with audiences, and it’s one of the best family shows on HBO Max. Steven is half-human, half-Gem, which means he’s an honorary member of the Crystal Gems, magical beings who protect the universe from various threats. Steven’s not quite as strong or talented as the other Gems, but he’s working hard to earn his spot among them.
One of the best takes on the Dark Knight, Batman: The Animated Series is a terrific superhero show. Relive your favorite memories of Saturday morning cartoon watching, or introduce a new generation of kids to the show’s charms. You can also watch almost every Batman movie on the platform – see our Batman movie rankings here.
One of master animator Hayao Miyazaki’s best films, and winner of the Academy Award for best animated film, Spirited Away is a must for anyone looking for what to watch on HBO Max with kids — or even just adults. A 10-year-old girl and her parents are trapped in an amusement park, where supernatural beings make her work to earn back her freedom in this fantastical and gorgeous fable.
A classic of family filmmaking, The Iron Giant is a stunning story about an alien robot who crash lands on Earth during the Cold War. Forming a friendship with a child and a beatnik, the iron giant must prove he’s not here to harm anyone before the American government destroys him.
Hopefully you’ll find something among these 40 titles to keep you occupied and getting the most out of your streaming subscription. Once you’re done, there’s an incredible catalog of classic films like Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, and more to watch, or classic shows like Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Six Feet Under, The Wire, and others. Or if you want newer titles, HBO Max shows include Harley Quinn, Girls, Euphoria, Veep, Minx, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and you can always find tons of new movies too.
There’s plenty to watch on HBO Max, after all, but it can be helpful to get a bit of direction sometimes.