21 Amazing Hidden Gems You Can Stream On HBO Max

Though streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video had a few years’ head-start on HBO Max, there’s no denying the latter service has quickly assembled one of the most impressive catalogs of films currently available.

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Vertigo Films

Yet with every passing week, more and more movies get lost in the sea of content as new additions and high-profile film releases are added to the front page of the service. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of some solid cinematic selections scattered throughout HBO Max’s library that you should go out of your way to watch.

1. The East

Collection Christophel / Scott Free Productions / 20th Century Fox / Alamy

Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling followed up Sound of My Voice with this stunning thriller about a private intelligence agent (Marling) who is tasked with infiltrating an environmental terrorist organization led by a charismatic yet enigmatic figure (Alexander Skarsgård).

2. Kwaidan

Toho / Courtesy Everett Collection

Masaki Kobayashi’s groundbreaking horror anthology from 1965 transforms a number of chilling Japanese folk tales into visually stunning nightmares that you won’t soon shake.

3. SLC Punk!

Sony Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collectio

This cult classic slacker comedy showcases a college graduate (Matthew Lillard) navigating the Salt Lake City punk rock scene while dealing with love, friendships, family, parties, and even hostile rivals from opposing subcultures.

4. Fatale

Prod DB / Hidden Empire Film Group / Alamy

In this over-the-top erotic thriller, a fling turns murderous when a married man’s wife and business partner are killed, prompting an investigation led by his manipulative and troubled one-night-stand.

5. Only Lovers Left Alive

Recorded Picture Company / Alamy

Jim Jarmusch utilizes his trademark slow-burn and trippy style for this acclaimed vampire film starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska, and Jeffrey Wright.

6. Alan Partridge

Magnolia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Steve Coogan reprises his most beloved role as the titular bumbling radio host, who now finds himself haphazardly maneuvering throughout a hostage situation held by a former colleague (Colm Meaney), whose firing was executed at his behest.

7. Ricochet

Prod DB / Silver Pictures / Alamy

Denzel Washington shines as a cop-turned-district attorney whose life is torn apart after he is targeted by a vengeful and ruthless hitman (John Lithgow) in Russell Mulcahy’s ambitious and entertaining action flick.

8. Monsters

Magnet Releasing / Courtesy Everett Collection

Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy headline this low-budget science fiction film from Rogue One director Gareth Edwards that follows a photojournalist (McNairy) who is recruited to bring his boss’s daughter (Able) from Mexico to America after the latter is devastated by an alien invasion.

9. Welcome to Collinwood

Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

Before they were given the keys to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Russo Brothers made a splash with their sophomore film, a charming ensemble heist comedy that accrued a cult audience after it became a mainstay on premium cable channels.

10. Murder by Numbers

Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

This 2002 psychological thriller puts a spotlight on an against-type Sandra Bullock as a traumatized detective who pursues a pair of budding yet clever sociopaths (Michael Pitt and Ryan Gosling) for the murder of a seemingly random woman.

11. The Thirteenth Floor

Prod DB / Centropolis / Alamy

Craig Bierko and Vincent D’Onofrio star in this twisty sci-fi neo-noir movie about a brilliant computer company executive who must clear his name after his mentor is murdered during their development of an immersive virtual reality program that replicates 1937 Los Angeles.

12. Bronson

Vertigo Films / Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

Tom Hardy turned the heads of critics and audiences alike with his manic yet captivating portrayal of notorious British criminal “Charles Bronson” in Nicolas Winding Refn’s surreal and twisted biopic.

13. World’s Greatest Dad

Magnolia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Director Bobcat Goldthwait provided the late, great Robin Williams with one of his best roles as a conflicted and guilt-ridden teacher whose antisocial son’s embarrassing death inspires him to write a phony suicide note that brings him the fame and acclaim as a writer that he had long desired.

14. The Cooler

Lions Gate / Courtesy Everett Collection

The directorial debut of provocative filmmaker Wayne Kramer, The Cooler follows a casino “cooler” (William H. Macy), whose bad luck derails the momentum of winning gamblers, as he finds love and better luck after falling for a cocktail waitress (Maria Bello) on the last week on the job.

15. Mindhunters

Miramax Films / United Archives GmbH / Alamy

With a stellar ensemble cast led by Val Kilmer, Christian Slater, and LL Cool J, Renny Harlin’s wickedly gruesome whodunit follows a group of prospective FBI agents who are sent to an experimental field exercise at a secluded island, only to discover that one of them is a serial killer who has studied their respective vulnerabilities from within.

16. The Wackness

Sony Pictures Releasing / Photo 12 / Alamy

Josh Peck redefined his career in Jonathan Levine’s unique coming-of-age comedy about a pot-dealing teenager (Peck) who sparks up an unlikely kinship with his eccentric psychiatrist (Ben Kingsley) while navigating romance and family troubles in 1994 New York City.

17. Time Bandits

20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

An imaginative child travels throughout time with a group of rambunctious little people in an effort to find riches and witness history firsthand while coming face-to-face with Evil himself in Terry Gilliam’s wonderful and weird cult favorite. 

18. The Grifters

Miramax / Courtesy Everett Collection

A young man (John Cusack) is caught between his estranged mother (Anjelica Huston) and his deceptive girlfriend (Annette Bening) in this brilliant and heartbreaking neo-noir crime film from director Stephen Frears and producer Martin Scorsese.

19. Boogie

Immersive Pictures / Wink Productions / Album / aLAMY

Taylor Takahashi gives an exceptional performance as an East Asian basketball prodigy torn between the seemingly impossible expectations of his parents and his ambitions to become an NBA star in Eddie Huang’s solid coming-of-age drama.

20. Airheads

Island World / 20th Century Fox / Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy

A down-on-their-luck LA rock band (Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler) accidentally take a radio station hostage when attempting to have their music played live on-air in this hilarious ’90s comedy.

21. Beyond the Black Rainbow

Magnolia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Mandy director Panos Cosmatos cemented himself as a filmmaker to watch with the release of his dreamlike and disturbing sci-fi feature film debut following a young woman with psychic powers as she attempts to escape from a neon-soaked compound in which she has been imprisoned.