The 51 best movies on HBO right now

The rise of HBO Max means that the original HBO just doesn’t get the attention that it used to. And it is true that HBO Max boasts a much larger selection of films that can be streamed on-demand, but for HBO subscribers who aren’t ready to upgrade, there are still joys to be found in premium cable channels. There are multiple versions of HBO in your cable package, so there’s a programming schedule already at your fingertips. And if you want to call your own shots, check out our updated list of the best movies on HBO. You can stream these flicks whenever you like, provided that you have the time.

Looking for more to watch on HBO? We’ve got guides to the best movies on HBO Max, the best HBO series, the best shows on HBO Max, and more.

Recently added to HBO

A Mighty Wind (2003) new

A Mighty Wind
87%
81 %
7.2/10
pg-13 91m
Genre Comedy, Music
Stars Bob Balaban, Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins
Directed by Christopher Guest
A Mighty Wind has a lot in common with This Is Spinal Tap, including director Christopher Guest and several of the main performers. But instead of spoofing heavy metal in a mockumentary format, this film dives into the genre of folk music. After breaking apart decades earlier, The Folksmen —  Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer), Jerry Palter (Michael McKean), and Alan Barrows (Guest) — are reunited for a benefit concert in memory of their late manager. While The Folksmen struggle with their insecurity, another musical duo and former lovers, Mickey Crabbe (Catherine O’Hara) and Mitch Cohen (Eugene Levy), must overcome their personal issues and deliver the performance of a lifetime.

Firestarter (1984) new

Firestarter
37%
50 %
6.1/10
r 114m
Genre Horror, Thriller, Science Fiction
Stars David Keith, Drew Barrymore, Freddie Jones
Directed by Mark L. Lester
At some point in the near future, there’s going to be a remake of Stephen King’s Firestarter, but the original still holds up well decades later. Within the movie, Andrew McGee (David Keith) and his wife Vicky (Heather Locklear), gained low-level psychic abilities during government experiments while they were in college. However, their daughter, Charlie McGee (Drew Barrymore), is an immensely powerful pyrokinetic who can control fire. The black ops organization The Shop murders Vicky in a bid to claim Charlie’s power for themselves. Andrew takes Charlie on the run to avoid that fate, but they can only hide for so long.

Bowfinger (1999) new

Bowfinger
81%
71 %
6.4/10
pg-13 97m
Genre Comedy
Stars Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham
Directed by Frank Oz
Steve Martin may play the title character in Bowfinger, but this is Eddie Murphy’s movie to shine. Murphy has a double role as action star Kit Ramsey and his dorky doppelganger, Jiff. Martin’s Robert “Bobby” K. Bowfinger is a would-be director who simply won’t take no for an answer, so when Kit turns down the leading role in his picture, Bobby uses actors to convince Kit that he’s at the center of an alien invasion. When Kit goes into hiding, Bobby hires the naive Jiff to take his place so he can finish the movie — even if it kills Jiff.

Rosewater (2014) new

Rosewater
76%
67 %
6.6/10
103m
Genre Drama
Stars Gael García Bernal, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jason Jones
Directed by Jon Stewart
Comedian and talk show host Jon Stewart felt so strongly about Rosewater that he took a leave of absence from The Daily Show to write and direct the adaptation of Maziar Bahari’s novel. The real-life Bahari appeared on The Daily Show while covering the Iranian elections in 2009, which earned him some very unwanted attention. The film casts Gael García Bernal as Maziar and follows his subsequent harrowing ordeal at the hands of the Iranian government. While enduring torture for months, a blindfolded Maziar recognizes his main interogator by the rosewater fragrance that he uses. This all too real monster pushes Maziar to his limits in order to extract a false confession.

Collateral (2004)

Collateral
86%
71 %
7.5/10
r 120m
Genre Drama, Crime, Thriller
Stars Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith
Directed by Michael Mann
Tom Cruise really doesn’t play villains that often, but Collateral is a rare exception. In director Michael Mann’s stylish thriller, Cruise plays Vincent, an apparently affluent man who hires a taxi driver, Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx), to take him to several locations in Los Angeles during a single night. But after the first stop, Max learns that Vincent is a deadly contract killer who is using him to get to his intended victims. Physically, Max poses little threat to Vincent, which is why he will have to call upon all of his skills to survive the night and stop Vincent’s rampage. If he can.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park
92%
68 %
8.1/10
pg-13 127m
Genre Adventure, Science Fiction
Stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Jurassic Park is one of the rare blockbusters that holds up decades after its release. In director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel, Dr. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) and his scientists have achieved the impossible. They have successfully cloned and revived several dinosaur species. But Dr. Hammond doesn’t want to be known for his scientific feat, he wants to be Walt Disney and turn the whole thing into a literal theme park. Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are brought in to visit the isolated island park shortly before the inevitable dino mayhem begins.

One Hour Photo (2002)

One Hour Photo
82%
64 %
6.8/10
r 96m
Genre Drama, Thriller
Stars Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan
Directed by Mark Romanek
Writer and director Mark Romanek couldn’t have guessed that One Hour Photo would be so hopelessly dated less than two decades after its release. That said, this movie is worth rewatching for Robin Williams’ quietly terrifying performance as Seymour “Sy” Parrish. On the surface, Sy is a harmless older man who becomes attached to the Yorkin family because he has developed their photos for years. So much so that Sy imagines himself as a member of the family. But when Sy discovers that Will Yorkin (Michael Vartan) is cheating on his wife, Nina (Connie Nielsen), he takes extreme steps to protect “his” family regardless of the consequences.

American Splendor (2003)

American Splendor
94%
90 %
7.4/10
r 101m
Genre Comedy, Drama
Stars Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Judah Friedlander
Directed by Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Get ready for a comic book movie like no other. American Splendor is inspired by the autobiographical comic by Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti), an unassuming file clerk who channeled his unhappiness with his existence into stories that resonate with people from all walks of life. The real Harvey Pekar periodically appears to comment on the story of his life, as Harvey meets his future wife and collaborator, Joyce Barbner (Hope Davis), before they face his cancer diagnosis together. The movie is a true story, and a number of Harvey’s other friends and family appear as themselves in addition to the actors who play them on screen. It’s also a very endearing look at a comic book icon.

Gods and Monsters (1998)

Gods and Monsters
96%
74 %
7.4/10
r 105m
Genre Drama
Stars Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave
Directed by Bill Condon
Gods and Monsters tells the story of James Whale (Ian McKellen), the acclaimed Universal Pictures horror director who helmed Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and more. James is also an openly homosexual man whose star has faded by this time in his life. With his health in decline, James forms an odd friendship with a gardener named Clayton Boone (Brendan Fraser). While Clayton seems to have genuine affection for James, he is staunchly heterosexual and he is unable to give James what he wants. But their emotional bond is the reason why this film is a classic.

The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

The 40 Year Old Virgin
85%
73 %
7.1/10
r 116m
Genre Comedy, Romance
Stars Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd
Directed by Judd Apatow
Who is The 40-Year-Old Virgin? That would be Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell), a very shy guy who has given up on ever finding love or sex after several bad experiences. David (Paul Rudd), Cal (Seth Rogen), and Jay (Romany Malco), take it upon themselves to help Andy solve his relationship problems by finding Andy a suitable woman. However, Andy finds his best prospect is Trish Piedmont (Catherine Keener), a woman who already has three kids and a grandchild. Both Andy and Trish want certain things out of their relationship, even if they can’t always articulate the things that will make them happy.

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
97%
85 %
8.4/10
pg-13 95m
Genre Documentary
Stars Fred Rogers, François Scarborough Clemmons, Yo-Yo Ma
Directed by Morgan Neville
The late Fred Rogers wouldn’t have categorized himself as a saint, but his fans may disagree. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? follows Rogers’ life both behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera as the host of the beloved children’s program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Rogers’ widow, Joane Rogers, and their children: John and Jim Rogers, share their stories about him alongside luminaries like Tom Junod, Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Negri, David Newell, and more. Fred Rogers was a special man who had a unique bond with his viewers. They loved him, and it appears that the feeling was mutual.

It: Chapter One (2017)

It: Chapter One
86%
69 %
7.3/10
r 135m
Genre Horror, Fantasy
Stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer
Directed by Andy Muschietti
When it comes to evil clowns, few can match the malevolent intensity of Pennywise the Clown. Bill Skarsgård is absolutely terrifying as Pennywise in the newest adaptation of Stephen King’s It. Director Andy Muschietti wisely decided to split the novel’s twin narratives into two separate movies, with It: Chapter One tackling the story in 1988. Following the brutal death of his younger brother, Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) realizes that Pennywise is hunting the town’s children. Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard), Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff), Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer), and Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) join Bill in The Losers’ Club as they take it upon themselves to confront Pennywise.

Cinderella Man (2005)

Cinderella Man
80%
69 %
8.0/10
pg-13 144m
Genre Romance, Drama, History
Stars Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti
Directed by Ron Howard
This may come as a surprise, but there really was a Cinderella Man. That was the nickname that the press gave to James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe), a boxer whose fall from the ring and his return to prominence was an inspirational story during the Great Depression. Cinderella Man follows James through the hard years after his first exit from the ring. After his manager, Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti), books James in a last-minute match, his victory propels him on an unlikely winning streak. Much to the horror of James’ wife, Mae Braddock (Renée Zellweger), James’ comeback leads straight to the world champion, Max Baer (Craig Bierko), a brutal man who suggests that Jake will not survive their fight.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises
87%
78 %
8.4/10
pg-13 165m
Genre Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman
Directed by Christopher Nolan
The Dark Knight Rises is not generally considered the best of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. But it’s still a great superhero flick in its own right and the swansong of Christian Bale’s Dark Knight. Eight years after the Joker’s defeat, Batman is gone, and Gotham City is a very different place. However, the arrival of Bane (Tom Hardy) forces Bruce Wayne to come out of retirement, as a sinister plan uses the Wayne family fortune to finance the utter destruction of Gotham itself. And unlike Batman’s previous villains, Bane is a more formidable physical fighter than Bruce is. He’s the only one who can break the Bat. In the aftermath, Bruce has to claw his way back to save Gotham and himself.

Maria Full of Grace (2004)

Maria Full of Grace
97%
87 %
7.4/10
101m
Genre Drama, Thriller, Crime
Stars Catalina Sandino Moreno, Guilied Lopez, Yenny Paola Vega
Directed by Joshua Marston
There’s not much hope for Maria Álvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno) in Maria Full of Grace. Maria is a 17-year old girl living in Colombia who is essentially stuck working in a sweatshop to support her family. When Maria leaves her job and becomes pregnant, she and her friend Bianca (Yenny Paola Vega) become drug mules in order to make their way to the United States. However, both women soon have reason to fear for their lives before fleeing from the drug traffickers. And without the drug money, neither Maria nor Bianca know where to turn.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir Dogs
92%
79 %
8.3/10
r 99m
Genre Crime, Thriller
Stars Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Reservoir Dogs was the movie that made Quentin Tarantino, and he even co-starred in a minor role as Mr. Brown. Local crime boss Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) and his son, Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn), assemble a team of crooks for a jewelry heist. Among the group are Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), and the psychopathic Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen). However, one of their number is an undercover cop who gets in way over his head once the heist goes horribly wrong.

Brubaker (1980)

Brubaker
75%
54 %
7.2/10
r 125m
Genre Crime, Drama
Stars Robert Redford, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Alexander
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Here’s a good rule of thumb for movies: If Robert Redford is starring in a film, it’s usually good. Brubaker is somewhat overlooked, given the strength of Redford’s other movies. But this dramatization of a real story features a powerhouse performance by Redford as Henry Brubaker, the new warden of Wakefield State Prison. Henry even goes undercover in his own prison to get a better look at the rampant abuses and corruption within. Henry is like a force of nature who refuses to look away from the graft and the horrific conditions. Unfortunately for Henry, the men who profit from the prison system have no interest in allowing his reforms to cut into their illicit gains.

The Good Lie (2014)

The Good Lie
87%
65 %
7.4/10
pg-13 110m
Genre Drama
Stars Reese Witherspoon, Corey Stoll, Thad Luckinbill
Directed by Philippe Falardeau
You’re going to have to wait until nearly the end of the movie to discover what “the good lie” is in this film. But The Good Lie isn’t built around that mystery. Instead, it’s the story of Jeremiah (Ger Duany), Mamere (Arnold Oceng), Paul (Emmanuel Jal), Abital (Kuoth Wiel), and Theo (Femi Oguns), a family of siblings who are desperate to survive the Second Sudanese Civil War. Theo is the only one who doesn’t get to escape with his family. The rest attempt to rebuild their lives in the United States with the help of Carrie Davis (Reese Witherspoon). But Mamere won’t be satisfied until Theo is safe as well.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
60%
63 %
6.7/10
pg 109m
Genre Adventure, Comedy, Family, Science Fiction
Stars Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Bill Nighy
Directed by Garth Jennings
The late Douglas Adams co-wrote the adaptation of his amazingly funny sci-fi novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy. In this very underrated flick, Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) narrowly survives the destruction of Earth thanks to his friendship with Ford Prefect (Mos Def), an alien who looks very human. Once out in space, the unlikely duo end up on a quest to find the “Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” alongside President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), as well as Trillian (Zooey Deschanel) and a very depressed android named Marvin (Alan Rickman). This is a joyfully silly story that never takes itself too seriously. And that’s why we love it.

8 Mile (2002)

8 Mile
75%
77 %
7.1/10
r 110m
Genre Music, Drama
Stars Eminem, Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Did you know that Eminem is an Oscar winner for 8 Mile? His original song, “Lose Yourself,” was the winner that year in the 2002 Academy Awards. The film it belongs to is pretty good too. 8 Mile is very loosely based on Eminem’s actual life, but if you’re expecting a biopic full of triumphant moments, this isn’t it. Instead, Eminem plays Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr., a would-be rapper who is desperate to make ends meet after moving back in with his mother, Stephanie (Kim Basinger). Jimmy struggles with his confidence after freezing on stage during a rap battle. Regardless, Jimmy doesn’t give up on his dreams, even when he feels pressure from all aspects of his life.

Adventureland (2009)

Adventureland
89%
76 %
7.8/10
r 107m
Genre Comedy
Stars Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr
Directed by Greg Mottola
Director Greg Mottola beat Disney to the punch by making an Adventureland movie before the corporate giant could. However, the theme park in this movie has nothing to do with Disneyland. Instead, it’s the name of a fictional theme park in the late ‘80s, where James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) is forced to get a job in order to pay his college education. While working at the park, James falls hard for Emily “Em” Lewin (Kristen Stewart). Em returns James’ feelings even though she’s having an affair with another co-worker, Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds). The revelation of that relationship threatens to tear James and Em apart before they can truly explore what they can do together.

The Debt (2010)

The Debt
77%
65 %
6.8/10
r 113m
Genre Drama, Thriller
Stars Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Worthington
Directed by John Madden
The incomparable Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain share the lead role in The Debt as they play Israeli operative Rachel Singer in the ‘90s and in the late ‘60s, respectively. Within the present timeline, Rachel (Mirren) is haunted by the outcome of a mission that she undertook decades earlier. That mission plays out in the past as Rachel (Chastain), David Peretz (Sam Worthington), and Stefan Gold (Tom Wilkinson) hunt for a Nazi war criminal, Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen). They soon discover that Dieter is very elusive prey, and he keeps finding ways to get under their skin even when they close in on him.

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Mississippi Burning
84%
65 %
7.8/10
r 128m
Genre Thriller, Crime, Drama
Stars Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand
Directed by Alan Parker
Mississippi Burning is not directly based on real events, but it does take some of its influence from things that actually happened. After three civil rights workers go missing in Jessup County, FBI agents Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman) and Alan Ward (Willem Dafoe) are sent to unravel the mystery. While the agents quickly determine that the missing men were murdered, they also discover that the town is caught in the grip of the Ku Klux Klan. Even Sheriff Clinton Pell (Brad Dourif) is a part of the racist group. With their investigation at a standstill, Rupert and Alan decide to try some legally questionable tactics to break the conspiracy and expose the murderers.

The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy
61%
48 %
7.0/10
pg-13 124m
Genre Adventure, Action, Fantasy
Stars Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Jonathan Hyde
Directed by Stephen Sommers
It’s hard to reboot The Mummy, as the producers of Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe discovered a few years ago. However, the 1999 incarnation worked really well by borrowing a few things from the Indiana Jones movies, and because it had a very appealing cast. Brendan Fraser stars as Rick O’Connell, an adventurer whose life is saved by Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) and her brother, Jonathan (John Hannah). While on an expedition to a lost Egyptian city, Evelyn accidentally unleashes Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), a high priest who has been reborn as a mummy. To escape Imhotep and his growing power, Rick, Evelyn, and Jonathan must find a way to kill him once again.

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

The Purple Rose of Cairo
92%
75 %
7.7/10
pg 82m
Genre Fantasy, Comedy, Romance
Stars Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello
Directed by Woody Allen
The Purple Rose of Cairo is actually the name of a film within the film. It’s also the favorite escape of Cecilia (Mia Farrow), a woman trapped in a loveless marriage with Monk (Danny Aiello). She is so enamored with the leading man of the film, Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), that he somehow comes to life and escapes from the movie to woo her. Tom even takes Cecilia into the world of the film to experience a romance unlike anything she ever thought possible. However, this soon draws the attention of Gil Shepherd (Daniels), the actor who portrays Tom in the movie. This leaves Cecillia stuck between two versions of the same man: one real, and one a fantasy.

Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Three Days of the Condor
87%
63 %
7.4/10
r 117m
Genre Thriller, Mystery
Stars Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Three Days of the Condor is one of the greatest paranoid thrillers from the ‘70s. Robert Redford stars as Joseph Turner, a CIA analyst with the “Condor” codename. After making a report about a strange novel that has been translated and sold worldwide, Joseph is stunned to discover that his entire department has been slaughtered, and he’s next on the hit list. Even Joseph’s superiors in the CIA appear to want him dead. Without anywhere else to turn, Joseph kidnaps a stranger, Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), and hides in her apartment. But with few other options, Kathy may be the only real ally that Joseph has left.

All Is Lost (2013)

All Is Lost
94%
97 %
6.9/10
pg-13 106m
Genre Action, Adventure, Drama
Stars Robert Redford
Directed by J.C. Chandor
There is only one person on-screen for the vast majority of All Is Lost, and we never learn his name. Robert Redford plays the sailor who discovers that his ship has been badly damaged in a collision. As he tries to repair the ship, the man is thrust into an escalating series of complications that threaten his survival. He battles the elements as well as his own overpowering despair while the odds seem insurmountable. It’s an incredibly gripping story even though there is barely a word spoken in the entire film. Trust us, you won’t be bothered by the relative silence.

Antwone Fisher (2002)

Antwone Fisher
78%
62 %
7.3/10
pg-13 120m
Genre Drama, Romance
Stars Derek Luke, Malcolm David Kelley, Cory Hodges
Directed by Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington moved into the director’s chair for Antowne Fisher, but the script was written by the real Fisher as a biography that explored his troubled life. Derek Luke portrays Antwone in the film, and he suffers from terrible psychological issues stemming from being abandoned by his mother and abused by his foster family. Enlisting in the Navy does little to curb Antowne’s fiery temper, so he is ordered to see Dr. Jerome Davenport (Washington) for treatment. However, this is an inner battle that Antowne must ultimately face alone, even with the emotional support of his girlfriend, Petty Officer Second Class Cheryl Smolley (Joy Bryant).

Beautiful Girls (1996)

Beautiful Girls
79%
64 %
7.1/10
r 112m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Matt Dillon, Noah Emmerich, Annabeth Gish, Lauren Holly, Timothy Hutton, Rosie O'Donnell
Directed by Ted Demme
According to a character in this film, “beautiful girls represent hope and promise.” But it’s not quite that simple in Beautiful Girls. When Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) and his friends return to their hometown for a high school reunion, their respective relationship dramas come to the forefront. While Willie has a girlfriend named Tracy (Annabeth Gish), he also forms a bond with Marty (Natalie Portman), a girl who is way too young for him. Willie and his buddies have a lot of growing up to do because their collective romantic entanglements threaten to disrupt everything good about their lives. And if they aren’t careful, they will lose the women that they truly love.

Broadcast News (1987)

Broadcast News
98%
8 %
r 133m
Genre Comedy, Romance
Stars William Hurt, Albert Brooks, Holly Hunter
Directed by James L. Brooks
Director James L. Brooks deftly mixed romance, drama, and comedy in Broadcast News. Holly Hunter leads the cast as Jane Craig, a gifted and ambitious news producer. Albert Brooks co-stars as Aaron Altman, a reporter who carries a torch for Jane and has on-air ambitions of his own. When sportscaster Tom Grunick (William Hurt) joins the outlet, it creates professional and romantic tension between Jane and Aaron. And although Tom represents everything she dislikes about news as entertainment, her attraction for him is impossible to ignore. And in the newsroom, no relationship is sacred.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
76%
62 %
6.6/10
pg 95m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Lainie Kazan
Directed by Joel Zwick
The inspirational story of how Nia Vardalos wrote and starred in My Big Fat Greek Wedding could make a pretty good movie just by itself. But even two decades after its initial release, the film holds up as a charming romantic comedy. Vardalos plays Fotoula “Toula” Portokalos, a 30-year-old woman who works at her family’s Greek restaurant. After attracting the attention of Ian Miller (John Corbett), Toula is inspired to reinvent herself and pursue her own career and love life. While Toula and Ian decide to get married, the involvement of her Greek family puts some unexpected tension on the wedding plans.

Speed (1994)

Speed
94%
73 %
7.2/10
r 116m
Genre Action, Adventure, Crime
Stars Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper
Directed by Jan de Bont
Pop quiz, hotshot. What high-concept action film made Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock into big-time Hollywood stars? Why, it’s Speed, of course. A madman named Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) issues a ransom demand with a threat that a bomb will soon explode on a bus. Officer Jack Traven (Reeves) manages to get on the bus, but it falls to passenger Annie Porter (Bullock) to keep the bus going over 50 mph or else the bomb will immediately explode. This may sound silly, but it’s a really terrific action flick. The romantic tension between Jack and Annie is also delicious, even in life-or-death situations.

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

The Witches of Eastwick
76%
67 %
6.6/10
r 118m
Genre Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Stars Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon
Directed by George Miller
Jack Nicholson as the devil? Talk about perfect casting! In The Witches of Eastwick, Nicholson plays the demonic Daryl Van Horne, a mysterious man who goes out of his way to seduce three friends: Alexandra Medford (Cher), Jane Spofford (Susan Sarandon), and Sukie Ridgemont (Michelle Pfeiffer). The three women don’t initially realize that they are witches, but they soon come into their power after their encounters with Daryl. However, the price of Daryl’s favor is far too high for any of the women to accept. Fortunately, they still have each other in the battle of their lives.

The Aviator (2004)

The Aviator
86%
77 %
7.5/10
pg-13 170m
Genre Drama
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale
Directed by Martin Scorsese
The real Howard Hughes has been gone for nearly five decades, but he left behind an eclectic legacy as a pilot, an aviation magnate, an engineer, and even a film director. Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator examines two decades in Howard’s life, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. Howard’s whirlwind affair with Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) is chronicled, as is his intimate connection with Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). The film doesn’t shy away from depicting Howard’s severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, which threatens to destroy his empire and his relationships. For better or worse, Howard’s real life was complex and messy. That’s also why his story makes for a very compelling film.

Backdraft (1991)

Backdraft
75%
38 %
6.7/10
r 137m
Genre Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro
Directed by Ron Howard
Backdraft is a special effects marvel, thanks to its masterful depiction of the beautiful and destructive nature of fire. Kurt Russell and William Baldwin star as Stephen “Bull” McCaffrey and his brother, Brian. Bull is the senior firefighter, and he is often at odds with his younger brother. But as a series of deadly fires rock Chicago, Brian and his mentor, Captain Donald “Shadow” Rimgale (Robert De Niro), suspect arson as the cause. More specifically, they come to believe that only a firefighter would have the skill to create the targeted blazes. Brian even briefly suspects that his brother is to blame before the truth surprises them all.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049
88%
81 %
8.0/10
r 164m
Genre Science Fiction, Drama
Stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner wasn’t a huge hit, but it was an incredibly influential sci-fi film. Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, Blade Runner 2049, appears to be on the same trajectory. This visually stunning follow-up takes place a few decades after the original movie, as a Blade Runner known as K (Ryan Gosling) discovers evidence that replicants can biologically reproduce. Because of gaps in his own history, K comes to believe that he is the replicant child in question. To get answers, K takes it upon himself to track down Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the titular Blade Runner from the original film. However, a corrupt executive, Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), wants to catch Rick first and use his knowledge to exploit the replicant secrets for his own gain.

Chasing Amy (1997)

Chasing Amy
87%
71 %
7.2/10
r 114m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee
Directed by Kevin Smith
Chasing Amy remains director Kevin Smith’s best film to date, thanks to its frank depiction of sex, romance, and the ensuing emotional blowback. Ben Affleck stars as comic book illustrator Holden McNeil, a young man who becomes instantly infatuated with Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams). Despite his initial surprise that Alyssa is a lesbian, Holden’s feelings for her continue unabated. When Alyssa begins to reciprocate those feelings, Holden’s friend and partner, Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), is openly threatened by their burgeoning romance. Regardless, Holden proves to be his own worst enemy when his insecurity threatens his emotional bonds to both Alyssa and Banky.

Clueless (1995)

Clueless
81%
68 %
6.9/10
pg-13 97m
Genre Comedy, Romance
Stars Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy
Directed by Amy Heckerling
Clueless is one of the seminal comedies of the ‘90s and the film that solidified Alicia Silverstone as a star. Within the film, Silverstone plays Cher Horowitz, a teenager among the most popular girls in her school. Cher has a somewhat contentious relationship with her step-brother, Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd). According to Josh, Cher has no purpose in her life. To rectify that, Cher commits to performing good deeds and takes an unpopular girl, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy), under her wing. But when Tai competes with her for the affections of the same guy, Cher is once again forced to reassess her life.

Kajillionaire (2020)

Kajillionaire
90%
78 %
6.4/10
r 105m
Genre Crime, Drama, Comedy
Stars Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, Gina Rodriguez
Directed by Miranda July
Despite its strange title, Kajillionaire is not about a ridiculously wealthy family. Instead, it’s about a family of grifters and con artists. Evan Rachel Wood stars as Old Dolio, the daughter of Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa Dyne (Debra Winger). The problem is that Old Dollo’s parents don’t treat her like their child. Instead, she’s simply their convenient accomplice. While trying to run a con, Robert and Theresa recruit Melanie Whitacre (Gina Rodriguez) into their schemes and begin treating her as their daughter. Much to Old Dollo’s surprise, Melanie is the only one who offers her any emotional support. This leads Old Dollo to openly question whether her parents care for her at all.

Rocky (1976)

Rocky
70 %
8.1/10
pg 120m
Genre Drama
Stars Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
Directed by John G. Avildsen
Nobody believed in Rocky Balboa like Sylvester Stallone. In the mid-’70s, Sylvester wrote, directed, and starred in Rocky. Carl Weathers co-starred as Apollo Creed, a world champion boxer. When Apollo needs an opponent for an exhibition match, Rocky gets the shot of a lifetime. Simultaneously, Rocky pursues a very charming romance with Adriana “Adrian” Pennino (Talia Shire). As the day of the big fight approaches, not even Rocky believes that he can win. However, that doesn’t stop Rocky from using everything he has to go the distance. This film was 1976’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture and also the start of a franchise that continues to this day.

The English Patient (1996)

The English Patient
85%
87 %
7.4/10
r 162m
Genre Drama, Romance, War
Stars Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe
Directed by Anthony Minghella
The English Patient made audiences swoon in 1996, thanks to its epic romance set against the backdrop of World War II. Ralph Fiennes stars as Almásy, a badly-burned man facing the end of his life in the war’s final days. While a nurse named Hana (Juliette Binoche) cares for him, Almásy puts together the pieces of his past. That includes Almásy’s torrid affair with Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas), a married woman. Hana has a tentative romance of her own with Kip (Naveen Andrews), a soldier in the British army. Willem Dafoe also stars in the movie as a Canadian intelligence officer named Caravaggio, a man who holds a dangerous grudge against Almásy.

He Got Game (1998)

He Got Game
81%
64 %
6.9/10
r 136m
Genre Drama
Stars Denzel Washington, Ray Allen, Rosario Dawson
Directed by Spike Lee
Spike Lee cast NBA superstar Ray Allen in his film He Got Game. That gave a lot of credibility to Allen’s role as Jesus Shuttlesworth, the top basketball prospect in the nation. Jesus is so highly coveted that the governor temporarily paroles his father, Jacob “Jake” Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington). If Jake can get his son to commit to the governor’s alma mater, then he can go free. However, the lingering hostility between Jesus and Jake means that the son isn’t exactly eager to do his father any favors. Not even a one-on-one basketball game can settle their issues. Instead, the father and son will have to look within for resolution and reconciliation.

Insomnia (2002)

Insomnia
92%
78 %
7.2/10
r 118m
Genre Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank
Directed by Christopher Nolan
For his third feature film, Insomnia, Christopher Nolan turned to a stellar cast for this psychological thriller. Al Pacino stars as Will Dormer, a police detective plagued by guilt and insomnia while on a special case in Alaska. After Will’s partner, Detective Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan), threatens to testify against him to Internal Affairs, Will shoots Hap while in pursuit of a killer, Walter Finch (Robin Williams). Walter takes the opportunity to blackmail Will into helping him escape the charges, while a young detective, Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank), gets closer to the truth.

Life of Pi (2012)

Life of Pi
86%
7.9/10
pg 127m
Genre Adventure, Drama, Action
Stars Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Ayush Tandon
Directed by Ang Lee
Ang Lee’s adaptation of Life of Pi is a visual masterpiece and a modern fairy tale as well. Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel (Suraj Sharma) shares the story of his life, from his younger years to a horrific accident at sea when he was a teenager (Irrfan Khan). Young Pi is trapped on a lifeboat with an intimidating Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. While Richard Parker could easily kill Pi, the teenager finds a way for both of them to co-exist as they fight the elements for their lives.

Pitch Perfect (2012)

Pitch Perfect
80%
66 %
7.1/10
pg-13 112m
Genre Comedy, Music, Romance
Stars Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp
Directed by Jason Moore
Pitch Perfect may be one of the most unlikely franchises of the last two decades, but it won over audiences with its initial installment. Anna Kendrick stars as Beca Mitchell, a young first-year student at Barden University. Beca’s singing ability quickly draws the attention of the Barden Bellas, the university’s female a cappella group. However, Beca butts heads with the Bellas’ leader, Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp), which jeopardizes the group’s national championship hopes.

Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkirk
92%
94 %
7.8/10
pg-13 107m
Genre War, Action, Drama
Stars Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Tom Hardy, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is based on a true World War II story. In the aftermath of the Battle of France, thousands of British soldiers were stranded on Dunkirk as German troops advanced. The film follows the rescue effort by sea and by air. But back in Dunkirk itself, soldiers Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and Alex (Harry Styles) find danger at every turn. The first few rescue attempts are disastrous, and even the rescuers are in danger. Not everyone is going to come home from this mission.

Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day
68%
59 %
7.0/10
pg-13 145m
Genre Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
Stars Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Independence Day is not necessarily great cinema, but it excels as a popcorn action flick that took theaters by storm in 1996. Arguably, it was the film that made Will Smith a movie star, thanks to his turn as ace fighter pilot Captain Steven Hiller. But the real stars of this movie are the aliens themselves and the destruction that they leave in their wake. This is a disaster film dialed up to 11, and we still get goosebumps from President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) as he delivers a speech for the ages.

High Fidelity (2000)

High Fidelity
91%
79 %
7.5/10
r 113m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance, Music
Stars John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black, Tim Robbins
Directed by Stephen Frears
Pop quiz: What are your top five favorite John Cusack movies? Chances are good that High Fidelity is on that list. That’s fitting because Cusack’s Rob Gordon loves making top five lists all throughout the movie. Poor Rob also loves Laura (Iben Hjejle), but not as much as he loves music. With his relationship on the rocks, Rob tries to figure out how he can improve himself. Regardless, the real joy in the movie comes during the moments when Rob just can’t help embracing his inner music geek. The man’s got good taste!

Tour de Pharmacy (2017)

Tour de Pharmacy
90%
71 %
7.1/10
tv-ma
Genre Comedy, TV Movie
Cast Andy Samberg, Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore, John Cena
After the success of 7 Days in Hell, a mockumentary about a legendary tennis match between two fictional idiots, the Andy Samberg-led team earned a second go-round via HBO. The result? Tour de Pharmacy, a story that spoofs the Tour de France by focusing on competitors’ use of performance-enhancing substances in the early 1980s. Samberg returns to play Nigerian rider Marty Hass, while Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore, Daveed Diggs, and John Cena appear as the other made-up competitors. Tour de Pharmacy is filled with classic slapstick comedy, and the concept is bolstered by the inclusion of several veteran actors — we won’t spoil the hilarious surprises here — who play the “modern-day” versions of the film’s protagonists. Lance Armstrong’s cameo doesn’t hurt, either.

Clerks (1994)

Clerks
89%
70 %
7.7/10
r 92m
Genre Comedy
Stars Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes
Directed by Kevin Smith
Clerks was the film that famously launched the career of writer and director Kevin Smith, who also co-stars in the movie as Silent Bob alongside Jason Mewes’ Jay. While Jay and Silent Bob became staples of Smith’s later films, Clerks belongs to Brian O’Halloran’s Dante Hicks and Jeff Anderson’s Randal Graves. Dante and Randal’s banter showed off Smith’s gift for dialogue, but it also allowed them to be more than just Smith’s pop culture sounding board. The duo justifiably have contempt for their dead-end jobs, but they don’t necessarily appreciate the good things they do have. It’s a hard lesson for Dante to learn, but he does get the point in the end.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
79%
60 %
6.1/10
r 109m
Genre Action, Crime
Stars Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Directed by Cathy Yan
Introduced to the role in 2016’s critical bomb, but commercial home run, Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie gets another turn as fan-favorite Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey. Told from Harley’s smart but certifiable point of view, Birds of Prey shows us how Harley goes from being the spurned lover of Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, to forgetting her “puddin'” and becoming her own gun-toting, butt-kicking self. Along the way, she gathers a team of former cops, killers, and super-powered singers to help her face down the endless criminal hordes of Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), aka Black Mask. McGregor is perfect as the brutal Sionis, who’s just as twisted as Harley or her ex-boyfriend, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is another standout as the lethal vigilante Huntress.
Image: https://www.hbo.com/movies/birds-of-prey-and-the-fantabulous-emancipation-of-one-harley-quinn

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