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The best new movies on HBO from 2018

These are the best new movies to watch on HBO right now.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Dec 3, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 12:19 am CDT

If you’re looking for some of the best movies released in 2018, HBO has you covered.

In addition to picking up some Oscar favorites, HBO also released some of its own original movies this year and offers a well-rounded mix of dramas, comedies, and documentaries. Here are the best new movies on HBO that came out this year (with a couple from 2017).

The best new movies on HBO: 2018 new releases

1) 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 and 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, which Jennifer has been building to her whole life. —Chris Osterndorf

2) Game Night

When it was released in early 2018, Game Night might have confused some people. The comedy boasts Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as a couple obsessed with game nights and yet another night-gone-wrong premise. But once you’re inside, Game Night messes with all the familiar genre tropes. Co-directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (who also wrote the less well-received Horrible Bosses), the film’s ensemble cast is essential (Sharon Horgan and Jesse Plemons steal show), its jokes genuinely funny, and its plot twists aren’t dumbed down. Audra Schroeder

3) Phantom Thread

This Paul Thomas Anderson film—and its protagonist Reynolds Woodcock—are obsessed with details. The story of a dressmaker (Daniel Day-Lewis as Woodcock) in early ‘50s London and the women who endure his tantrums and mood swings (Lesley Manville as sister Cyril and Vicky Krieps as lover Alma) is a sumptuous affair, detailing the intricate lines and shapes of his creations as much as his eventual unraveling. It also produced some memes thanks to its memorable dialogue and scenes. Audra Schroeder


4) The Post

A film that was most assuredly produced to procure on Oscar, Steven Spielberg’s The Post tells the story of Washington Post owner Katharine Graham (a poised Meryl Streep) and the decision to publish the Pentagon Papers (after The New York Times was barred from doing so). Tom Hanks is her sparring partner as editor Ben Bradlee, and the chemistry between them lights every scene together. The Post also shows us the mechanics of the newspaper business in the ‘70s, and what Graham had to endure as the only woman in the room. Audra Schroeder

5) Andre the Giant

Andre the Giant was larger than life. He was one of pro wrestling’s biggest stars—literally and figuratively—and though he died in 1993, his presence still looms over the industry. But Andre the Giant’s life, in many ways, was a tragedy. His body produced too much growth hormone, resulting in a condition called acromegaly. He had a daughter he knew he couldn’t effectively raise, and his feelings were constantly hurt because people couldn’t stop gawking at him. This documentary might not break much new ground about one of the most famous wrestlers in history—though the fact that director Jason Hehir tracked down the doorman of the Paris hotel where Andre the Giant died was impressive—but the insight provided by his famous peers is captivating. —Josh Katzowitz  

6) Love, Simon

Director Greg Berlanti pivoted from his recent stretch of superhero TV to something a little more grounded with Love, Simon. An adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s 2015 YA novel, the film stars Nick Robinson as Simon, a closeted high schooler who starts up an anonymous email correspondence with another gay student. Their letters are just one part of the film; we also see Simon’s relationship with his friends and supportive family, and though Love, Simon doesn’t dig too deep into the physical and emotional trenches of coming out, it does leave us with a smart and funny coming-of-age tale. Audra Schroeder


7) Paddington 2

Paddington 2 was… good? That seems to be the sentiment around this sequel, at least according to its 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. In this installment, the sweet brown bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is now living with the Browns (Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville) and making friends everywhere he goes, but Hugh Grant plays Paddington’s nemesis with gusto. Even when Paddington ends up in jail after being framed for theft (yes, this is a family-friendly movie) the vibe stays positive. Paddington is our guiding light in a dark world, apparently. Audra Schroeder

8) Isle of Dogs (Dec. 22)

Do you love dogs? Of course you do, and Wes Anderson knows it, and he’s gonna break your heart. This stop-animation tale about dogs exiled to a place called Trash Island digs deep into our bond with canines, but it also boasts an incredible voice cast: Bill Murray, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Yoko Ono, Greta Gerwig, and more. Audra Schroeder

9) The Shape of Water (2017)

Congratulations to The Shape of Water for making boiled eggs seem romantic. Beyond that, congratulations to Guillermo del Toro for getting this film made in the first place. In a career of stubbornly idiosyncratic work, it’s a masterpiece on par with Pan’s Labyrinth, without a hint of creative interference from outside forces. Del Toro delivered exactly what he wanted: a sumptuous romance with powerful political themes, starring a wordless amphibian as a thrilling object of desire. Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

10) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Frances McDormand won an Oscar for her portrayal of Mildred Hayes, a grieving mother who’s frustrated that the investigation into her daughter’s rape and murder has stalled out. She installs three billboards that taunt local police, specifically Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). This brings out some of the sexist and racist elements in the town, namely Sam Rockwell’s Officer Dixon (his character’s arc drew quite a bit of criticism). The film is not easy to watch and no character is that likable, but Mildred’s fuck-it attitude and layers of rage and sorrow give it weight. Audra Schroeder

Still not sure what to watch on HBO? Here are the best movies on HBO, the best HBO documentaries, and what’s new on HBO Go this month.

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*First Published: Dec 3, 2018, 6:30 am CST