The 36 best movies on HBO right now

Every cable network and streaming service has its own brand. For HBO, that brand is quality. Thanks to a film library that stretches back several decades, HBO has some of the greatest films ever made. If you love films at all, this is a gift. The only things you need now are a list of the best movies on HBO and the time to watch them. We can help you out with the former, but you’re going to need to make your own schedule.

Additional streaming guides:

Argo

Argo (2012)

Ben Affleck’s career comeback was firmly secured with Argo. He directed the film and starred as CIA extraction expert Tony Mendez. It’s based on a real story that took place after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. With six U.S. Embassy employees trapped in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran, Tony comes up with a novel idea to extract them. He and his colleagues develop a fake sci-fi movie and pretend to be Canadian filmmakers in a ruse to smuggle out the Americans as part of the crew. Certain embellishments were made for the big screen, but it’s still very entertaining.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman
Director: Ben Affleck
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 120 minutes

Watch on HBO

Babe

Babe (1995)

There aren’t many critically acclaimed movies with talking pigs, but Babe is a charmer. Plus, this is the movie that revitalized James Cromwell’s career. In the film, Cromwell plays a farmer named Arthur Hoggett, who adds a young pig named Babe (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh) to his farm. Eager to earn his keep, Babe develops a knack for sheepherding with the full cooperation of the sheep. But Babe’s faith in Arthur’s affection is shaken when he learns that humans eat pigs.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Comedy, Family
Stars: James Cromwell, Christine Cavanaugh, Magda Szubanski
Director: Chris Noonan
Rating: G
Runtime: 92 minutes

Watch on HBO

Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect (2012)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Genre: Musical, Comedy
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow
Director: Jason Moore
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 112 minutes

Watch on HBO

Dunkirk

Dunkirk (2012)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles
Director: Christopher Nolan
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 106 minutes

Watch on HBO

Lincoln

Lincoln (2012)

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln biopic takes a look at the last few months of President Abraham Lincoln’s life. Daniel Day-Lewis gives an outstanding performance as Lincoln, and the story follows the president as he tries to bring the Union back together while maintaining the emancipation of the former slaves. It’s not an easy task for Lincoln, thanks to the politics of his era. But the portrait that emerges is not a mythical figure from history. Instead, Lincoln is shown as a man who tried to do right by his family and his country.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 150 minutes

Watch on HBO

Get Shorty

Get Shorty (1995)

It’s hard to go wrong with an Elmore Leonard novel as the source material, and Get Shorty keeps that tradition alive. John Travolta stars as Chili Palmer, a Miami mobster who gets seduced by an even bigger scam: the dream of making it big in Hollywood. While collecting a debt from producer Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), Chili pitches his own story in the hopes of getting it made into a film. And while pursuing Martin Weir (Danny DeVito) to star in the movie, Chili finds himself drawn to Martin’s ex-wife, Karen (Rene Russo).

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Danny DeVito
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes

Watch on HBO

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

John le Carré’s Cold War thriller novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, was brilliantly adapted by director Tomas Alfredson. Gary Oldman stars as George Smiley, a British intelligence officer in the early ’70s. After a botched operation sends George into early retirement, an apparent Soviet mole inside MI6 changes the game. George is recruited to help expose the spy from outside the agency, as he re-enters a world of danger and intrigue.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: Gary Oldman, Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Rating: R
Runtime: 127 minutes

Watch on HBO

Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

Jacob’s Ladder is an unusually challenging horror film that keeps its viewers guessing about what is real and what’s not. Tim Robbins plays Jacob Singer, a Vietnam veteran haunted by his near-death experience during the war, as well as the death of his son. Years after coming home from Vietnam, Jacob begins experiencing horrific hallucinations. Jacob soon suspects that he and his fellow soldiers may have been subjected to experimental drugs. But the truth is far more disturbing than Jacob suspects.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Stars: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Matt Craven, Danny Aiello
Director: Adrian Lyne
Rating: R
Runtime: 113 minutes

Watch on HBO

Kill Bill Vol. 1

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

Quentin Tarantino’s revenge epic Kill Bill was famously split into two movies. But soon, you’ll be able to watch both films back-to-back on HBO Max. Of the two, we’re partial to Kill Bill Vol. 1, which introduces the Bride (Uma Thurman). After her ex-boyfriend, Bill (David Carradine), orders a hit on her during her wedding, the Bride awakens from a coma to avenge her loss. The Bride’s first two targets are Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), and both battles were stylish and instantly iconic. It’s one of Tarantino’s best, even after nearly two decades since its release.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Action, Martial Arts
Stars: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, David Carradine
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Rating: R
Runtime: 111 minutes

Watch on HBO

A Better Life

A Better Life (2011)

Director Chris Weitz’s A Better Life offers viewers a glimpse of a world rarely seen on screen. Demián Bichir stars as Carlos Galindo, an undocumented gardener living in Los Angeles with his son, Luis (José Julián). Unlike his father, Luis is dismissive of their shared Mexican culture and is lashing out. However, the father and son duo are forced to unite when someone steals Carlos’ truck. Their journey through the streets of LA feels real and authentic, and even minor success has its price in this story.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Demián Bichir, José Julián, Dolores Heredia
Director: Chris Weitz
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 94 minutes

Watch on HBO

Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

A zombie-infused romantic comedy seems like it should be a fever dream, but Edgar Wright made it happen in Shaun of the Dead. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost had breakout roles as Shaun and Ed, two friends who find themselves in the middle of a zombie pandemic. Although Shaun’s simplistic plan to reunite with his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), is played for laughs, the film does take a few sharp turns into horror. Shaun has a lot of growing up to do and not a lot of time to do it. And when this movie goes for the jugular, it’s not always a metaphor.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Romance,
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield
Director: Edgar Wright
Rating: R
Runtime: 99 minutes

Watch on HBO

Independence Day

Independence Day (1996)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Genre: Sci-fi, Action
Stars: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
Director: Roland Emmerich
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 145 minutes

Watch on HBO

True Grit

True Grit (2010)

The Coen brothers don’t make a habit out of remaking Hollywood classics, but they hit it out of the park with a modern take on True Grit. In the old west, 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) demands justice when Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) murders her father. Mattie hires Deputy U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to bring Tom in, and she insists upon accompanying him. Their strained relationship is further tested by the arrival of Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a man who wants Tom to hang for crimes he committed in Texas. But under these circumstances, even rivals can be allies against a common foe.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Western, Action
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 110 minutes

Watch on HBO

Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Racing films don’t always appeal to non-racing fans, but Ford v Ferrari captures the period and the drama of Ford Motor Company’s bitter rivalry with Scuderia Ferrari in the mid-60s. Former race car driver turned automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) recruits his best friend, Ken Miles (Christian Bale), to help him create the Ford GT40 to compete in the prestigious Le Mans race with Ken as the driver. Together, they strike fear in the heart of Ferrari even as rivals within Ford attempt to push Ken out. It’s an inspiring story that doesn’t shy away from the darker elements that emerge. That’s why it’s such a compelling journey.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal
Director: James Mangold
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 152 minutes

Watch on HBO

High Fidelity, best movies on HBO right now

High Fidelity (2000)

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!

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama
Stars: John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black, Tim Robbins
Director: Stephen Frears
Rating: R
Runtime: 113 minutes

Watch on HBO

John Cena in Tour de Pharmacy

Tour de Pharmacy (2017)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Comedy, Sports
Stars: Andy Samberg, Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore
Director: Jake Szymanski
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 50 minutes

Watch on HBO

Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man (2020)

One of the best movies of 2020 is a modern update of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. This loose adaptation follows Elisabeth Moss’ Cecilia Kass, a woman desperate to escape an abusive relationship with Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Even Adrian’s apparent death isn’t enough to free Cecilia from his shadow, especially when she’s plagued by an unseen assailant. The Invisible Man has several moments of sheer suspense and terror as Cecilia’s tormentor finds new ways to get under her skin. It’s genuinely terrifying at times, but the best thing about it is Cecilia’s refusal to be a victim. Cecilia fights to save herself, and it’s a riveting conflict all the way to the end.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror
Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid
Director: Leigh Whannell
Rating: R
Runtime: 124 minutes

Watch on HBO

Clerks on HBO Max

Clerks (1994)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes
Director: Kevin Smith
Rating: R
Runtime: 92 minutes

Watch on HBO

Oprah Winfrey in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017)

Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman whose cancer cells, biopsied during treatment for cervical cancer in 1951, became one of the most important cell lines in medical research. Lacks’ family was not made aware of her unwitting contributions to modern medicine, however, until 1975. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is based on the nonfiction book of the same name, which documents the story of Lacks (Renee Elise Goldsberry) as told by author Rebecca Skloot (portrayed by Rose Byrne in the film) and Lacks’ daughter, Deborah Lacks (Oprah Winfrey). The HBO film was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for an Outstanding Television Movie, and Winfrey went on to be nominated for multiple awards for her role in the film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Oprah Winfrey, Rose Byrne
Director: George C. Wolfe
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 94 minutes

Watch on HBO

Denzel Washington and Ray Allen in He Got Game

He Got Game (1998)

NBA star Ray Allen turns in a surprisingly compelling performance in Spike Lee’s classic about a star high school basketball player left to find for himself after his father is sent away to prison. Jake Shuttleworth (Denzel Washington) spent the last six years in prison after accidentally killing his wife during a violent domestic dispute and, in that time, his son Jesus has blossomed into one of the most highly-touted basketball prospects in the nation — so highly-touted that the governor offers Jake a week of parole in order to convince Jesus to attend the governor’s alma mater. If he succeeds, Jake will receive a shortened sentence.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Denzel Washington, Ray Allen
Director: Spike Lee
Rating: R
Runtime: 138 minutes

Watch on HBO

Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

You thought catching augmented reality Pokémon with your smartphone in your backyard was cool? The fictional world of Rhyme City will blow your mind. In Detective Pikachu, Rhyme City is a place where humans and Pokémon are united, bonded to one another sort of like a dog and its human. They work together to fight crime, put out fires, and govern their world. There’s a beautiful harmony. However, when ace detective Harry Goldman goes mysteriously missing, his amnesiac Pokémon partner, Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), discovers Harry’s son, Tim, can actually understand him. Together, they set out to discover what really happened to Harry and, in the process, uncover a deep, dark conspiracy that threatens to unravel the balance between humans and Pokémon forever. With realistic-looking CGI-generated Pokémon in nearly every shot, this movie is a visual delight, and the story holds water enough for fans of all ages.

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Kids & Family
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton
Director: Rob Letterman
Rating: PG
Runtime: 104 minutes

Watch on HBO

Joker on HBO Max

Joker (2019)

One of the most acclaimed and discussed films from the past year, 2019’s Joker isn’t for the faint of heart. There are moments that would disturb even the most hardened sensibilities within people. That being said, Joaquin Phoenix’s interpretation of the iconic villain is impossible to look away from, as there’s something surprisingly human about Arthur Fleck’s descent into madness and as he becomes the Joker. Fleck’s inability to control his laughter creates a maniacal character rooted in deep sadness, one who can’t get out of his own way despite often having good intentions. There’s a reason Joker ascended the usual bias against comic book films, earning 11 Oscar nominations and a Best Actor win for Phoenix.

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Genre: Drama, crime
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro
Director: Todd Phillips
Rating: R
Runtime: 122 minutes

Watch on HBO

Alien (1979)

Regardless of how you feel about its many sequels and prequels, 1979’s Alien — the sci-fi film that started it all — is a wonderfully crafted tale of horror and paranoia in the void of space. The crew of the Nostromo is ordered to investigate a signal from a nearby planet, but one of them brings back an unexpected passenger attached to his face. The shrinking crew find themselves acting as prey to a perfect alien killing machine while at the same time dealing with the ship’s artificial intelligence that’s willing to sacrifice everyone on board to get this new specimen back to Earth. Terrifying and suspenseful, Alien is a great watch for fans of horror and science fiction.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
Director: Ridley Scott
Rating: R
Runtime: 117 minutes

Watch on HBO

My Left Foot (1989)

The Oscar-winning drama My Left Foot is a large part of what made Daniel Day-Lewis a household name. The film is based on the autobiography of writer and painter Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy and could only write, type, or paint with his left foot. Day-Lewis’ immersion into the character is complete, showing you Brown’s personality flaws along with his physical limitations. My Left Foot is inspiring and upbeat despite Brown’s often difficult journey, and is absolutely a film everyone should see at least once.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Alison Whelan
Director: Jim Sheridan
Rating: R
Runtime: 103 minutes

Watch on HBO

Jojo Rabbit on HBO

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

A 2020 nominee for Best Picture, Jojo Rabbit is likely the most light-hearted film you’ll ever see about Nazi Germany. This World War II satire follows a young German boy, Jojo, who is extremely passionate about his involvement in the Hitler Youth. His imaginary friend is even Adolf Hitler himself! But when he discovers his mother is harboring a Jewish girl in their home, his entire world is turned upside down. Everything he’s learned about the Jewish people appears to be utterly false, and Jojo is forced to confront his blind nationalism as the Nazi party gets increasingly, dangerously desperate around him.

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson
Director: Taika Waititi
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 108 minutes

Watch on HBO

Richard Jewell on HBO

Richard Jewell (2019)

In 1996, security guard Richard Jewell was the first person to report finding the device at the Atlanta bombing. His report makes him a hero whose swift actions saved lives. However, he soon becomes the FBI’s number one suspect, becoming the subject of the wrath of the press and public alike as suspicions are reported as truth. With the help of anti-establishment attorney Watson Bryant, Jewell staunchly proclaims his innocence while Bryant is completely overwhelmed by the combined might of the FBI, GBI, and APD, and struggles mightily to keep Richard from trusting the people who are trying to destroy him.

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Paul Walter Hauser, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm
Director: Clint Eastwood
Rating: R
Runtime: 129 minutes

Watch on HBO

Cast Away (2000)

In 2000’s Cast Away, FedEx systems analyst Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is forced to slow down. Noland is traveling the globe, getting FedEx offices in other countries to manage their time better, when his plane goes down over the Pacific Ocean. Noland goes from making the fast modern world even faster to struggling to survive on an island where his only companion is Wilson — a volleyball that washes ashore and that Noland talks to in his isolation. While Helen Hunt plays his longtime partner Kelly back in civilization, Hanks carries the movie almost completely on his own, showing us what we’re capable of when things get primal.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Stars: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 143 minutes

Watch on HBO

Cinema Paradiso on HBO

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Unless you’re fluent in Italian, you’ll need the subtitles for 1988’s Cinema Paradiso, but the drama is worth the extra work. We follow Salvatore from childhood when he spends every free moment in the local theater, learning to run the projector from Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), to his adulthood when he becomes an acclaimed film director. An epic drama stretching from the end of World War II to the late ’80s, Cinema Paradiso is a touching and powerful movie about film, love, and making peace with your younger days.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars: Salvatore Cascio, Philippe Noiret
Director: Guiseppe Tornatore
Rating: R
Runtime: 86 minutes

Watch on HBO

Die Hard (1988)

Regardless of how you feel about the franchise it spawned (including future entries) or where you land in the ceaseless debate about whether or not it’s a Christmas movie, 1988’s Die Hard is still one of the best 80s action movies out there. In an era when actors with bodybuilder physiques like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone cornered the market on the action genre, Bruce Willis — who was still largely seen as a comic actor because of his work on the ABC dramedy Moonlighting — gave audiences a more flawed and believable hero in the form of unlucky New York cop John McClane. Not to mention the film gives us the devilishly fun villain Hans Gruber, played by the late Alan Rickman. It may not have as much fancy CGI as more contemporary action flicks, but Die Hard still holds up as one of the best.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Action, Suspense
Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman
Director: John McTiernan
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

Watch on HBO

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Liberace is unmasked like never before in this HBO original film from 2013. The movie doesn’t give the full picture of the famous singer and pianist, but instead chooses to focus on the last decade of his life. Liberace (Michael Douglas) is introduced to animal trainer Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), who becomes an employee of Liberace and, eventually, one of his last great loves. The film is a haunting portrayal of celebrity isolation as well as the effects that homophobia and the AIDS crisis had on the world in the ’70s and ’80s. Douglas and Damon were both nominated for Emmy Awards, with Douglas winning.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Romance, Drama
Stars: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Scott Bakula
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 118 minutes

Watch on HBO

Jaws on HBO

Jaws (1975)

For fans of classic monster flicks, it doesn’t get much better than Jaws, a film about a ragtag group of individuals hell-bent on tracking down the man-eating great white plaguing a small resort town. Frankly, however, Jaws is less about the plot and more about how visceral and frightening a shark attack can be. Although rare in real life, the image remains seared in our minds by a movie nearly 50 years old, likely owing to the film’s score and penchant for delivering terror even when there’s no shark to be found. Needless to say, Steven Spielberg set a high bar for himself and all horror films to follow.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating: PG
Runtime: 130 minutes

Watch on HBO

School of Rock (2003)

If you want to be a teacher’s pet, watching School of Rock is probably a good place to start. Outside of gifting the world with one of the best original songs of the century so far, the film is iconic among a generation of people who grew up alongside Nickelodeon. Centered on Dewey Finn (Jack Black) and his quest to win the all-important Battle of the Bands, the film chronicles his formation of a new band, one that happens to revolve around students at the private school where he serves as a substitute teacher. Black perfectly embodies the rock ‘n’ roll spirit of Finn, while a young Miranda Cosgrove makes her film debut as Summer, a character who would go on to share plenty of similarities with her Drake & Josh character in the succeeding years.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Comedy, Music
Stars: Jack Black, Joan Cusack
Director: Richard Linklater
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 109 minutes

Watch on HBO

Hugh Jackman in Bad Education

Bad Education (2013)

The inner workings of the school system of a typical Long Island town may not sound like the most exciting backdrop for the dramatizing of a real-life event. Then again, it doesn’t get any more exciting than the biggest public school embezzlement in American history. In Bad Education, Hugh Jackman stars as Dr. Frank Tassone, a superintendent who can seemingly do no wrong in getting the Roslyn School District on the map. There are dark layers to Tassone, however, which start to unravel when assistant superintendent Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) is exposed for stealing money from the district. From there, things only get worse as student journalist Rachel (Geraldine Viswanathan) works to discover the truth behind the district’s disappearing money.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Crime
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney
Director: Cory Finley
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 108 minutes

Watch on HBO

Birds of Prey on HBO

Birds of Prey (2020)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Action
Stars: Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Director: Cathy Yan
Rating: R
Runtime: 109 minutes

Watch on HBO

Conspiracy on HBO

Conspiracy (2001)

There are few films that you could find on HBO, or any other streaming service, more disturbing than Conspiracy — a dramatic retelling of the 1942 Wannsee Conference, during which high-ranking German officials met to ensure the cooperation of all the Reich’s departments over the so-called “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” Using the only surviving transcript from the meeting, Conspiracy brings into focus the obscenely casual inhumanity of the various players, as well as the political rivalries within the Reich. Kenneth Branagh is brilliant as the skillfully manipulative Reinhard Heydrich, and Stanley Tucci is utterly chilling as the officiously cruel Adolf Eichmann.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, Colin Firth
Director: Frank Pierson
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

Watch on HBO

Midnight Run on HBO

Midnight Run (1988)

You don’t get a more unlikely pair than Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, and the combination is hilarious. De Niro plays Jack Walsh, a burnt-out bounty hunter looking to retire, and his target is Jonathan Mardukas (Grodin), an accountant wanted for stealing from a dangerous mob boss. What should be a cakewalk is complicated by a rival bounty hunter, the mob, and the FBI, who all follow Walsh and Mardukas across the country. You could call it Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with guns, as Walsh and his prisoner are forced to take every form of transportation you can think of to make it to Los Angeles. Grodin is perfect as the accountant who nags Walsh about his nutrition and smoking, in between begging to be set free, while De Niro plays his role straight as a nail. The combination is pure comedy gold.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Comedy, Action
Stars: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, John Ashton
Director: Martin Brest
Rating: R
Runtime: 126 minutes

Watch on HBO