- MAGA rappers are dropping beats for Trump Today 6:30 AM
- How to stream Patriots vs. Jets on Monday Night Football Today 6:00 AM
- How to stream Arsenal vs. Sheffield United Today 1:00 AM
- If you have doubts about HBO’s ‘Watchmen,’ give it more time Sunday 9:00 PM
- Video shows moment coach disarmed student of shotgun, then hugged him Sunday 7:38 PM
- Jared Leto reportedly tried to stop ‘Joker’ from happening Sunday 4:12 PM
- People are grossed out by cow insemination-themed pregnancy announcement Sunday 3:13 PM
- Major protests in Lebanon triggered by plan to tax WhatsApp calls Sunday 1:38 PM
- Frank Ocean’s $60 HIV prevention drug-themed shirts called tone-deaf Sunday 12:49 PM
- ‘Joker’ stairs latest Instagram spot; locals joke about potential robberies Sunday 10:30 AM
- PewDiePie banned in China after reacting to Winnie the Pooh memes Sunday 8:46 AM
- How to stream Cowboys vs. Eagles on Sunday Night Football Sunday 7:00 AM
- How to stream Chargers vs. Titans in Week 7 Sunday 6:00 AM
- 13 spooky romance games for adults Sunday 6:00 AM
- How to stream ‘Power’ season 6, episode 9 Sunday 5:00 AM
We’ve been shelling out for a subscription to HBO (or its streaming counterpart, HBO Now) to get our legal fix of Game of Thrones, True Detective, Veep, and Silicon Valley for years, but you’re not getting your money’s worth unless you’re watching the best movies on HBO too.
Before streaming became our medium of choice, HBO offered a wide variety of premium content for subscribers. New films debuted on HBO every Saturday night, offering a variety of popular and prestigious movies months after they left movie theaters. Add in the slew of original programming, primetime boxing, and sports talk shows, and HBO’s status as a powerhouse was cemented even further.
The introduction of HBO Go and NOW brought its great original content to the streaming forefront. While there are many TV shows, miniseries, and documentaries on HBO to choose from, there are just as many movies worth watching. We’ve picked out the best movies on HBO to kickstart your binge-watching session. (* Original HBO Films are marked with an asterisk.)
The best movies on HBO Go and HBO Now
Jean-Pierre Jeunet 2001 film made Audrey Tautou a star, and it’s easy to see why. As the title character, she finds joy in bringing joy to others, quietly pulling strings around Paris to brighten the lives of strangers. She’s not a matchmaker; Amélie’s goal is something bigger. But then she stumbles upon Nino, a man with a similar goal. —Audra Schroeder
2) Upgrade (available 10/5)
A couple is ambushed, leaving a woman dead and the man a quadriplegic. That man, Grey, has no reason to live until he’s offered a chance for revenge if he’ll allow himself to have an experimental chip implanted in his head. That technology, named STEM takes over Grey’s body, allowing him to walk, think, and fight with brutal efficiency. But revenge comes with a price and soon Grey is caught up in a rapidly deteriorating lose-lose situation. Upgrade has a renegade spirit to it, and it’s the rare movie you wish were longer just so you can watch more of STEM and Grey in action.
3) Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom picks up where 2015’s Jurassic World left off, with Isla Nublar overrun by dinosaurs and greedy corporate big wigs looking to make a killing. Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to help save the dinosaurs before a massive volcano eruption forces them off the island. The film shifts gears in its second half to become a pseudo haunted house film, with dinosaurs locked up (including the Indoraptor, an ultra predator) and waiting for a chance to break loose. As with all Jurassic movies, there’s a level of silliness you have to just roll with. If you can do that, Fallen Kingdom is pretty entertaining and features a few spectacular setpieces. -E.S.
Based on Kevin Kwan’s novel of the same name, Crazy Rich Asians tells the story of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a smart, young economics professor at New York University who is dating Nick Young (Henry Golding), a man she later learns is essentially the Asian Prince Harry. It’s a charming film that manages to strike the perfect balance of romance, comedy, drama, and absurdity to show viewers that stories with non-white actors are just as funny, beautiful, and heart-wrenching. Forget being an Asian American film or a rom-com—it’s just a good film. —Kristina Nguyen
5) All the Way
All the Way depicts President Lyndon B. Johnson’s push to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed through Congress while seeking the support of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. It was already a critically acclaimed play on Broadway before its television debut in May. Bryan Cranston, who won a Tony for his portrayal of Johnson on Broadway, reprised his role for the film (he’s likely a top contender for the Emmy) and is joined by Anthony Mackie, Melissa Leo, and Frank Langella. —Michelle Jaworski
A black man infiltrating the KKK is the kind of story so outlandish that it could only be based on real life, and it could only be a Spike Lee joint. John David Washington stars as Ron Stallworth, the first black officer in the Colorado Spring force, who snakes his way into the KKK’s good graces via phone calls. Adam Driver plays Stallworth’s partner Flip Zimmerman, who handles face-gto-face meetings with the Klan. BlacKkKlansman is a fiery satire, both hilarious and terrifying, with a timeliness and vitality that marks Spike’s best films.
7) The Tale *
Laura Dern headlines The Tale as Jennifer Fox, a documentary filmmaker who begins to reckon with the sexual abuse she suffered as a child for the first time after her mother (Ellen Burstyn) finds a short story she wrote at 13. As Jennifer revisits the relationships she had with her childhood riding instructor, Mrs. G. (Elizabeth Debicki), and running coach, Bill (Jason Ritter), the film cuts back and forth between Jennifer’s present in past, using her story as a bridge between the two. Eventually, her journey leads her to present-day Mrs. G. (Frances Conroy) and Bill (John Heard), and the movie culminates in an unforgettable confrontation that Jennifer has been building to her whole life. —C.O.
8) Bessie *
Queen Latifah, Mo’Nique, Khandi Alexander, and Michael Kenneth Williams star in the HBO biopic about American blues singer Bessie Smith. Ambitious and complex, it paints an extensive picture of the singer from struggling in the early days of her career to becoming “The Empress of the Blues.” —M.J.
9) Hail, Caesar!
The Coen Brothers rightly get a large amount of acclaim as some of the very best American filmmakers, but outside of a few examples too many of their films don’t find the appreciation they deserve until years later. Hail, Caesar! is another example. It’s a screwball farce on its face and so much more underneath it’s A-list veneer. Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a Hollywood fixer, working for the studio to cuts deals and sweep problems under the rug. He’s a classic Coen’s Job like character and he’s put through the ringer over the course of a manic day. The cast features George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, a show-stopping song and dance number for Channing Tatum, a star making turn by the next Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich, and so much more. To put it in the film’s lingo, the picture has worth. —E.S.
Michael Myers goes back to Haddonfield for one final showdown with Laurie Strode in director David Gordon Green’s sequel. After escaping from a mental institution, Myers slices and dices his way back home. Laurie’s waited decades for this inevitable moment, and she’s ready to end the terror that started back in John Carpenter’s original film. Rather than delivering just another slasher sequel, Green and co-writer Danny McBride dig deep into the psychological toll the last 40 years have taken on Laurie and her family. Halloween delivers plenty of scares and insight from a series that had all but run its course.
11) Paddington 2
Paddington Bear is back for more adventures in a sequel that is somehow more charming than its predecessor. This time out, Paddington has a plan to work and save money for a birthday present for his Aunt Lucy, but when the gift is stolen, Paddington finds himself as the prime suspect. Paddington 2 is such a delightfully good-hearted film that it’s impossible to imagine someone not enjoying it. Ben Whishaw’s voicework for Paddington is truly great, and the supporting cast, including Brendan Gleeson and Hugh Grant, is strong across the board. Paddington 2 is a cinematic hug you need to embrace.
- Here’s what’s new on HBO Go
- The 105 best movies on Netflix
- 15 great classic movies to rent on YouTube right now
12) Game Change *
The stories that emerged from the 2008 presidential election after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate feel like a much simpler time given the current political landscape. With Julianne Moore taking on Palin, it’s a more nuanced portrayal than Tina Fey gives on Saturday Night Live, but is every bit as scathing. —M.J.
13) War of the Worlds
Steven Spielberg’s take on H.G. Wells’ classic story is one of his most underrated great films. The story is so simple, aliens come to Earth and we follow one family’s struggle to survive the chaos, that it allows Spielberg to focus on the spectacle of it all. And what a spectacle it is. The setpieces here, be they huge like the initial alien attack, or as small scale as the basement scene, are uniformly thrilling. While most of the movie is unimpeachable entertainment, Spielberg delivers one of his patented schmaltzy endings that still draws mockery. But after staring down the end of the world and surviving, Spielberg is entitled to that indulgence.
14) The Normal Heart *
Glee creator Ryan Murphy directs an all-star cast in The Normal Heart, which started out as a play and focuses on the early days of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s as a group of people come together and create an organization calling for research on the disease that’s killing their friends. —M.J.
15) Out of Sight
Elmore Leonard and Steven Soderberg go together as well as George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. That one movie can contain all four and still have room for Don Cheadle and a stellar supporting cast is patently unfair. Soderbergh is a master of easy coolness, which this movie exudes. Between the bursts of violence and the chemistry between Clooney and Lopez it’s hard to not get lured into Out of Sight whenever it’s on. —E.S.
16) Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury’s classic novel about society that has outlawed books, and essentially knowledge, gets a 21st-century adaptation courtesy of HBO and writer-director Ramin Bahrani. Michael B. Jordan plays Guy, a “fireman” who has a change of heart and helps spark a rebellion. That pits him against Michael Shannon’s Captain Beatty. HBO’s Fahrenheit 451 doesn’t quite live up to the novel’s reputation, but with strong performances from Jordan and Shannon, it’ll do the job until the definitive adaptation comes along.
How was Widows not a huge hit? A superbly crafted thriller from an acclaimed director (Steve McQueen), an acclaimed writer (Gillian Flynn), with an unbelievably stacked cast (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Daniel Kaluuya, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson) should have been catnip for audiences. After a botched robbery leaves a whole crew dead, a group of women come together to finished what their deceased paramours started. The premise is juicy enough, but this Chicago set story has more on its mind than just genre thrills, which elevates Widows to must-see territory. If you missed it, now is your chance to rectify that wrong. –E.S.
18) Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky’s ballerina drama is a Grade-A mindgame. Natalie Portman (who won an Oscar for her performance) stars as Nina, a fiercely competitive dancer who is set to play the Swan Queen in the “Swan Lake.” The intensity of Nina’s preparation, combined with the presence of her rival and friend Lily (Mila Kunis), messes with Nina’s psyche. Calling an Aronofsky movie intense is a bit redundant, but Aronofsky’s style of filmmaking is too skilled and engaging to shy away. Between Aronofsky, Portman, and Clint Mansell’s excellent score, Black Swan is a potent psychological thriller.
19) The Old Man & the Gun
Robert Redford’s alleged swan song from acting is a calming, warm hug of a movie. Redford plays famed bank robber, and prison escape artist, Forrest Tucker. The movie tells the story of Tucker’s one last job and he prepares to ride off into the sunset. Director David Lowery keeps the tone feather-light, and the movie’s relative lack of dramatic tension creates an easy, go-with-the-flow. Old Man is an exceedingly pleasant film that serves as nice send off for one of cinema’s most iconic leading men. -E.S.
20) Happy Death Day
College student Tree (Jessica Rothe) gets murdered on her birthday…only to wake up and have to relive the day over and over until she solves her own murder. Happy Death Day is an energetic and highly entertaining horror thriller, anchored by a killer performance from Rothe. The script is pretty clever, and has plenty of fun with countless horror and time travel tropes (of course Groundhog Day gets a shout out). Happy Death Day is the kind of horror movie more intent on delivering a good time than nightmares, which makes it light, breezy fun that you’ll want to revisit.
- What’s the difference between HBO Go and HBO Now
- The best HBO documentaries
- The scariest movies of all time—and how to stream them
21) The Hate U Give
This adaptation of Angie Thomas’s best-selling novel tackles hot-button topics in a respectful, urgent way. It’s about a young woman, Starr (Amandla Stenberg in a breakout performance), whose life changes in an instant when her best friend is shot and killed by a police officer during a routine stop. Caught between her lower-income, predominantly black neighborhood and affluent, predominantly white school, Starr must decide what she wants to stand for. The Hate U Give is an emotionally draining film, and one that is worth that kind of investment. –E.S.
22) Confirmation *
Kerry Washington stars in the film adaptation of Anita Hill courtroom battle against Clarence Thomas, who was then nominated to join the Supreme Court, sexually harassed her. It’s harrowing and highlights the importance of the hearings for those who were too young to remember Hill’s sexual assault allegations, which had real-life ramifications—even if Thomas ultimately did get confirmed. —M.J.
23) Bad Times at the El Royale
Writer-director Drew Goddard, of Cabin in the Woods fame, certainly delivers on the promise of this movie’s title. He brings a rogue’s gallery of characters to the El Royale, hotel situated on the border of Nevada and California, and puts them through an exceedingly rough night. The goods news is that it’s great fun for the audience. Bad Times is the kind of movie where no one is what they appear to be and the script is constantly upending audience expectations.—E.S.
24) Paterno *
Barry Levinson’s controversial film highlights two fateful weeks of the renowned Penn State head coach’s life, in which willful ignorance and institutional hubris around the Sandusky scandal eventually come to a head for Joe Paterno. Al Pacino, vital as ever, remains grounded in his portrayal of Paterno as a national hero turned pariah. Penn State fans may hate this movie, but you can’t say it doesn’t strike some core, unsettling truths about power and complicity. —Kahron Spearman
Holes, the novel by Louis Sachar, is one of the great youth novels of the last 20 years, and Holes, the movie, is one of the best family-friendly films of the 2000s. Stanley Yelnats IV ends up at a juvenile camp where he’s forced to dig holes as part of a court-ordered rehabilitation. There he meets Zero, Armpit, Zig Zag, X-Ray, and the rest of the Camp Green Lake crew, a lovable, eclectic bunch. The camaraderie between the boys is infectious. The adult villains (played by Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, and Tim Blake Nelson) are threatening without being scary. Holes is funny and adventurous. It aims for the 8-12 crowd, and it has just about everything you could want in a family movie.
- The best documentaries of 2018 you can stream right now
- The best serial killer movies of all time
- PlayStation Vue channels: The complete list for every live TV package
Borat will always be Sacha Baron Cohen’s masterpiece, but Brüno has its fair share of highlights. While Cohen’s brand of character-driven trickery can lose its charm quickly, the one thing that doesn’t get old is the sense of danger in his films. There is still a palpable sense that Cohen is always just seconds away from getting his ass kicked, and that commitment gives the film an undeniable energy. As the flamboyantly gay Brüno, Cohen takes his act across the country, terrorizing and satirizing unsuspecting targets along the way. It all builds to one of Cohen’s greatest stunts, which features two men making out in a cage at a UFC event while “My Heart Will Go On” plays in the background.
27) Tokyo Project
Tokyo Project is a short film by Richard Shepard (who worked on HBO’s Girls, among his other credits) that follows two strangers, Sebastian (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Claire (Elizabeth Moss) who keep running into each other in Tokyo. The movie jumps back and forth in time and their relationship but is anchored by the emotional truths it gets at. Tokyo Project runs less than 40 minutes, so the time investment is minimal, and the movie is easily worth it.
28) Déjà Vu
Of Denzel Washington’s 2000s run of middling action fare, Déjà Vu is the one most overlooked. It’s a twisty story about an A.T.F. agent (Washington) using a wild new technique to solve a ferry bombing by going back in time to look for the bomber. It’s directed by Tony Scott, so you already know there’s going to be visual flair. But his frenetic style pairs perfectly with the script, and the acting is strong (particularly by Washington and Paula Patton). Give me this over Man on Fire, Out of Time, or John Q.
30) A Star is Born
Despite being the fourth film version of this story, Bradley Cooper’s Star soars on the strength of the chemistry between himself and Lady Gaga. Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a musician on the down slope of his career. A chance meeting with Gaga’s Aly revitalizes Jackson and launches Aly to pop music stardom. The first hour of Star is particularly great, and shows what Cooper (who also directs and co-wrote the script) is capable of doing. The second half doesn’t quite hold up, but it still works. –E.S.
- The cheapest way to watch HBO online
- The best movie streaming sites of 2018
- How to cut the cord and stream like a pro
31) The Meg
Jason Statham versus a prehistoric shark? Sign us up for this one and at least three sequels. The movie starts slowly, but once the action kicks in, The Meg lives up to the glorious goofiness of its premise. Statham plays Jonas Taylor, a rescue diver who gets more than he bargained for when a 70-foot mega-shark emerges from the depths of the sea. This one is meant to be seen with friends to maximize enjoyment, but you’ll be plenty entertained if you go for a solo dive.
32) Glass (available 10/19)
Glass closes out the superhero trilogy M Night Shyamalan started back with 2000’s Unbreakable. He brings together Unbreakable’s David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) and Split’s Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy). While the three men at the center of the story are formidable, they find a capable adversary in Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), a psychiatrist who works with the men after they all end up in a mental hospital. Glass isn’t up to Unbreakable’s standard, but Shyamalan knows how to work an audience and keep viewers engaged.
33) Body Heat
Local lawyer Ned (William Hurt), handsome and bad at his job, strikes up an affair with Matty (Kathleen Turner), the wife of a very wealthy man. What starts as a passionate rendezvous for Ned soon becomes an all-consuming infatuation with Matty as the two scheme to run off with Matty’s husband’s money. With the off the charts chemistry between Hurt and Turner combined with a stifling Florida heat wave, Body Heat is an electric thriller with a sharp script and alluring cast.
34) First Man
Writer-director Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling reteam after their success on La La Land for this story about Neil Armstrong and the space mission that took him to the Moon. First Man eschews the bombast of Chazelle’s previous films in favor of understated drama. Gosling plays Armstrong as a stoic man both fueled and haunted by the death of his toddler daughter. First Man mixes strong performances from Gosling and Claire Foy with a few bravura sequences, including the stunning Moon landing.—E.S.
35) The Favourite
Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos brings his trademark dark sense of humor to this period piece about the power struggle between two women angling to get close to Queen Anne. While the humor is the first thing that stands out about The Favourite, there is a sneaky emotional depth that gives the film its real power. With Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone doing career best work (all three received Oscar nominations with Colman winning Best Actress), The Favourite is a savagely funny delight.
Need something else to watch? Here are the best HBO documentaries, the sexiest movies streaming on HBO, and what’s new on HBO Go this month. Plus, check out the cheapest way to watch HBO online and how to watch HBO on Hulu.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
The Daily Dot may receive a payment in connection with purchases of products or services featured in this article. Click here to learn more.
Eddie Strait is a member of the Austin Film Critic Association. His reviews focus primarily on streaming entertainment, with an emphasis on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other on-demand services.
Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and the resident Game of Thrones expert at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has brought her knowledge to conventions like Con of Thrones. She is based in New Jersey.