- First Man was directed by Damien Chazelle and takes a look at the price astronauts had to pay during the Space Race.
- Ambulance was directed by Transformer director Michael Bay and tells the tale of a robbery gone awry.
- An impressively successful manga to movie adaptation, Alita: Battle Angel is colorful with excellent sound quality.
So, you’ve finally got your home theater set up. Now, the first thing you’re likely to do is put on something that can show off your new system. From your 4K smart TV or projector and brand new surround sound system to your comfortable new seating and ambient theater lighting, there’s no better way to demonstrate what your home theater is capable of than to put on a great movie.
Not just any movie will do, however. It’s important to choose ones with 4K UHD visuals and with HDR or Dolby Atmos surround sound (or something close to it, at least). For this exact purpose, we’ve compiled a list of ten of the best home theater movies available.
Stretching across various different genres, filmmakers, and leading actors, these ten films will do an excellent job of showing off everything your new home theater system is capable of. Gather your friends and family, rent or purchase any one of the ten films below, and enjoy what are undoubtedly the best home theater movies around.
#10: First Man (2018)
Director Damien Chazelle followed up the success of his movie emLa La Land/em (2016) with something completely different; an atmospheric, emotional take on astronaut Neil Armstrong’s mission to walk on the moon. Starring La La Land leading man Ryan Gosling as Armstrong, emFirst Man/em examines the physical and emotional toll that the Space Race had on its astronauts.
Featuring Claire Foy as Armstrong’s wife Janet, Chazelle’s film is equal parts visually stunning and profoundly moving. Cinematographer Linus Sandgren and composer Justin Hurwitz only amplify this fact with their work.
Available to rent, First Man is presented in 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR10. That’s the greatest possible quality in the best feasible HDR available to consumers today. The same goes for the film’s 4K UHD Blu-ray disc, which also includes a standard Blu-ray and a digital copy of the film. First Man‘s sound is just as top-rate, optimized for Dolby Atmos but available in Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those with non-Atmos systems. Considering the film’s technical quality, as well as its visual excellence, there’s no question why this is one of the best home theater movies.
#9: Ford v Ferrari (2019)
While director James Mangold is likely known best for his work on emThe Wolverine/em(2013) and emLogan/em (2017), he’s much more than just a mutant movie guy. As a matter of fact, his best work lies outside of his comic book movies. Take emFord v Ferrari/em; a pulse-pounding underdog story about engineer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles as they attempt to help the Ford Motor Company defeat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
Its thrilling race sequences and gorgeous car-building montages make for one of the best home theater movies imaginable. You can find Ford v Ferrari on 4K UHD Blu-ray from major retailers such as Best Buy or Amazon. Presented in 4K UHD with HDR10 and Dolby Atmos surround sound, your home theater system will practically make it look and feel like you’re right there at Le Mans. Cinematography by Phedon Papamicheal, as well as a score by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders further amplify this audio-visual experience.
#8: Gemini Man (2019)
emGemini Man/em — released in 120fps 4K UHD HDR 3D — was instantly one of the most visually stunning films on a technical level. While some critics took issue with the sheer magnitude of these unprecedented technical specs, others marveled at the experience of seeing the movie how it was meant to be seen. Now, audiences can replicate that experience at home.
While it’s technically not possible to see the film in 3D from your home theater (seeing as 3D TVs and 3D Blu-rays have more or less been abandoned), Gemini Man‘s 4K UHD Blu-ray successfully replicates the film’s high frame rate and ultra high-definition for at-home viewers.
When you purchase Gemini Man on a 4K UHD disc, you can choose to experience the film in native 4K in Dolby Vision HDR10 at 60fps with Dolby Atmos surround sound. This unrivaled viewing experience is what makes Gemini Man one of the best home theater movies around.
#7: Tenet (2020)
You wouldn’t be wrong for missing emTenet/em in theaters. Even though Christopher Nolan’s films are usually enough to bring the masses out to the movies, his 2020 film was released at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, many missed it for personal safety reasons.
Thankfully, the theatrical experience can be recreated at home with Tenet on a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc. Also available to rent from most major platforms, Tenet and its spectacular visuals and sound design are one of the best home theater movies available today.
It follows the mind-bending adventures of a secret agent and his equally mysterious partner as they travel forward and backward through time in an attempt to stop World War III from happening. Starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson alongside Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh, the sheer size and scope of Tenet are sure to leave home theater viewers speechless. And not just because you’ll struggle to find words to describe the plot, either.
#6: Dune (2021)
Even though David Lynch’s Dune (1984) has its fair share of supporters, most seem to be in agreement that Denis Villeneuve’s modern adaptation of Frank Hebert’s seminal ’60s sci-fi novel is the superior version. Greig Fraser’s glorious cinematography, Hans Zimmer’s impeccable score, and a whole team of visual effects artists and sound designers come together under Villeneuve’s direction to make one of the best home theater movies on the market today.
Plus, best of all, HBO Max subscribers can stream the movie in 4K UHD and Dolby Vision HDR for free. Telling the epic story of the Atreides family and the battle for control that unfolds between Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) and Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), Dune eventually becomes a tale of survival against all odds as Paul Atreides (Tomothée Chalamet) and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) attempt to walk a new, prophesied path to victory against the evil Harkonnens. Home theater viewers won’t regret any second of the movie.
#5: Ambulance (2022)
Michael Bay has spent much of the last 15 years directing the Transformers movies. Now, he’s officially done. His second film of the so-called Baynaissance? emAmbulance/em, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Eiza González in an exhilarating action-thriller about a bank robbery gone wrong.
With shades of Michael Mann’s emHeat/em (1995), Ambulance was an instant heist movie classic upon its release. Its magnificent drone cinematography, its score from Lorne Balfe, and its guaranteed Michael Bay explosions make it one of the best home theater movies you can find.
Ambulance is currently streaming in 4K on Amazon Prime Video and can be rented from all the major platforms. Additionally, Ambulance can be purchased on 4K UHD Blu-ray. This format will also get you Dolby Vision HDR10 and Dolby Atmos surround sound. Forget what you think you know about Michael Bay. Ambulance proves that all that criticism surrounding the Transformers movies had no bearing on Bay’s true talents. He’s one of our best blockbuster filmmakers, and Ambulance certifies this status.
#4: Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Manga readers the world over will tell you just how tricky it is to make a good page-to-screen adaptation. Robert Rodriguez’s film emAlita: Battle Angel/em seems to be an exception to the rule, however. Based on the series Gunnm (also known as Battle Angel Alita to English readers), Rodriguez’s film checks all the right boxes for Manga readers and casual viewers alike.
Alita has a story faithful to the manga, some impeccable character design, and convincing performances across the board. Plus, it looks fantastic when streamed in 4K or seen on a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc. As one of the best home theater movies, Alita has more going for it than just these high-definition visuals. Its surround sound is equally notable. Science fiction films never fail to deliver superb sound design.
Alita is no exception. Executive producer James Cameron probably deserves a fair share of thanks for making the film so successful, since Alita: Battle Angel was a passion project of his. In fact, he personally picked Robert Rodriguez to take the reins from him. It’s a sci-fi masterwork, a perfect manga adaptation, and one of the best home theater movies all in one.
#3: West Side Story (2021)
Those who claim the remake is never quite as good as the original must not have seen Steven Spielberg’s emWest Side Story/em. Based on the 1957 Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim musical of the same name, Spielberg’s take on the classic Romeo and Juliet scenario is a total knockout.
Combining an Old Hollywood feel with 21st-century visuals, this new West Side Story is one that shouldn’t be missed. Following the age-old showdown between the Sharks and the Jets (and the love story that unites the young couple caught in the middle), West Side Story looks and sounds unbelievably good.
Spielberg’s direction, trusted cinematographer Janusz Kaminski’s camerawork, and amazing set design and special effects make it a modern musical in a timeless framework, and one of the very best home theater movies out there. The visuals, the sound, the performances, and the direction will have you appreciating your setup that much more.
#2: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Would it really be a list of the best home theater movies without a Star Wars film? Probably not. As we’ve touched on already, science fiction makes for one of the most impactful and effective ways to demonstrate the strengths of a home theater setup. That’s where Star Wars comes in. Specifically, emStar Wars: Revenge of the Sith/em.
It is likely the most modern, emotional, and profound entry in the entire franchise. Likewise, Revenge of the Sith has everything you need to show off all the strengths of your home theater setup. Simultaneously concluding the Prequel Trilogy while setting up the Original Trilogy, Revenge of the Sith is like the midpoint of the six pre-Disney films. What’s more, it’s also the final entry helmed by George Lucas. He really gives it his all, too.
The film’s breathtaking sights and immersive sound make it an unmatched experience. Plus, it’s newly upgraded to 4K on both Disney Plus and 4K UHD Blu-ray. With this, you can experience 4K UHD HDR video with Dolby Atmos sound from home. Revenge of the Sith is one of the best home theater movies and one of the best Star Wars installments to boot.
#1: Avatar (2009)
Lastly, there’s emAvatar/em. Considered by many to be James Cameron’s masterpiece, Avatar remains the highest-grossing movie of all time. Hence, it only makes sense that it would also top the list of the best home theater movies. That’s not the only reason why Avatar gets the top spot, however. Newly remastered in 4K UHD for theaters, the film is available in HD on both VOD and Blu-ray discs. There’s sure to be a 4K UHD upgrade coming to home video, as well.
Demonstrating a level of world-building that remains unmatched before or since its release, Avatar is truly one-of-a-kind. It’s visually enveloping and completely hypnotic; and its sound design is unbelievably advanced, too. Cinematographer Mauro Fiore pulls out all the stops to deliver something that feels unlike anything else available to watch from home.
With a 4K UHD TV, a surround sound system, and a comfy sofa, you can feel, see, and hear the unfathomable amount of work that went into the film. James Cameron’s Avatar is the rightful champion of this best theater movies list.