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The future may belong to streaming, but Home Box Office (HBO) has been delivering the best films for decades. HBO is the premier destination for the vast majority of cinema lovers, thanks to its incredible library of titles. Not only does HBO get to draw upon nearly a century of Warner Bros. films, but it also has a fantastic lineup of flicks from other studios as well. If you’re not quite ready to make the jump to HBO Max, then HBO is still the place to be. To make things easier for you, we’ve put together the best movies you can watch on HBO right now.
Additional streaming guides:
Best movies on HBO Max
Best HBO series
Best shows on HBO Max
Best movies on Amazon Prime

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
If you’ve ever wondered why Eddie Murphy became a box office draw, then you should check out Beverly Hills Cop. Murphy’s wildly entertaining turn as Detroit police detective Axel Foley kicked off a franchise with a blockbuster hit. When Axel’s friend, Mikey Tandino (James Russo), is killed, he disobeys orders and pursues the killers to Beverly Hills. Detectives Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton) are assigned to keep Axel out of trouble … and they spectacularly fail to do so. Axel simply won’t back down from any authority, and he always finds a way to make it funny.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%Genre: Comedy, ActionStars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher, Ronny CoxDirector: Martin BrestRating: RRuntime: 105 minutes
Watch on HBO

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
Madonna had her first breakout acting performance in Desperately Seeking Susan, but this movie also belongs to Rosanna Arquette. Within the film, Arquette plays Roberta Glass, a housewife who becomes enamored by the relationship between Susan (Madonna) and Jim Dandy (Robert Joy) as it plays out in the personals section of a newspaper. When Roberta seeks out Susan, she inadvertently loses her memory and comes to believe that she is Susan. Unfortunately for Roberta, this moment comes just as Susan runs afoul of a mobster who wants to kill her. That puts both women in danger before Roberta is forced to take stock of her life and make a few significant changes.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%Genre: Comedy, DramaStars: Rosanna Arquette, Aidan Quinn, Madonna, Robert JoyDirector: Susan SeidelmanRating: PG-13Runtime: 104 minutes
Watch on HBO

The English Patient (1996)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%Genre: Drama, RomanceStars: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Naveen AndrewsDirector: Anthony MinghellaRating: RRuntime: 162 minutes
Watch on HBO

He Got Game (1998)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%Genre: DramaStars: Denzel Washington, Ray Allen, Milla Jovovich, John Turturro, Rosario DawsonDirector: Spike LeeRating: RRuntime: 136 minutes
Watch on HBO

Hot Fuzz (2007)
Picture every buddy cop action movie you’ve ever seen. Hot Fuzz starts there and goes off in its own direction. Shaun of the Dead stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunite with director Edgar Wright for this flick, which takes place in a “quiet” English village. Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a police sergeant who is initially dismayed to be transferred from London to Sandford. Nicholas quickly befriends Police Constable Danny Butterman (Frost), a huge fan of action films. But while Sandford appears idyllic on the surface, a series of murders disguised as accidents force Nicholas and Danny to face the darker elements in town.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%Genre: Comedy, ActionStars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Timothy Dalton, Bill NighyDirector: Edgar WrightRating: RRuntime: 121 minutes
Watch on HBO

Insomnia (1992)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%Genre: ThrillerStars: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Maura Tierney, Martin DonovanDirector: Christopher NolanRating: RRuntime: 119 minutes
Watch on HBO

The Last King of Scotland (2006)
As a title, The Last King of Scotland may be a bit of a misnomer. It’s loosely based on the life of Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker), a brutal Ugandan dictator who had a habit of claiming lofty titles for himself. Within the film, James McAvoy plays Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, a Scottish doctor who becomes close to Idi shortly after he comes to power. Nicholas is soon elevated to the rank of Idi’s personal physician, even while having an affair with Kay Amin (Kerry Washington), one of Idi’s wives. However, Nicholas can only turn a blind eye to Idi’s atrocities for so long. Facing the truth will be even harder.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%Genre: DramaStars: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Simon McBurneyDirector: Kevin MacdonaldRating: RRuntime: 123 minutes
Watch on HBO

Life of Pi (2012)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%Genre: DramaStars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall, Tabu, Adil HussainDirector: Ang LeeRating: PGRuntime: 120 minutes
Watch on HBO

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is one of her all-time great mystery novels. For the 1974 adaptation, director Sidney Lumet put together an amazing cast including Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, and more. But it’s Albert Finney who takes the lead as detective Hercule Poirot. After checking in on the Orient Express, Hercule is approached by a desperate man named Ratchett (Richard Widmark). After Hercule refuses to act as Ratchett’s bodyguard, the man is soon found murdered on the train. Hercule takes the case, but the passengers on the train will do anything to protect their secrets.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%Genre: MysteryStars: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline BissetDirector: Sidney LumetRating: PGRuntime: 128 minutes
Watch on HBO

Ray (2004)
Jamie Foxx won the Academy Award for Best Actor thanks to his riveting performance in Ray as the late musician Ray Charles. The film recounts Ray’s childhood, including the loss of both his brother and his eyesight. On the road, Ray’s talent speaks for itself, and he eventually becomes a star in the music industry. Ray even finds love with Della (Kerry Washington), his future wife. But Ray is also hopelessly addicted to heroin, and fighting that demon takes decades. The film doesn’t shy away from showing Ray Charles’ flaws, but it’s ultimately a triumphant look back at his life.
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%Genre: DramaStars: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, Terrence Howard, Larenz TateDirector: Taylor HackfordRating: PG-13Runtime: 152 minutes
Watch on HBO
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, ThrillerStars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John GoodmanDirector: Ben AffleckRating: PG-13Runtime: 120 minutes
Watch on HBO
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, FamilyStars: James Cromwell, Christine Cavanaugh, Magda SzubanskiDirector: Chris NoonanRating: GRuntime: 92 minutes
Watch on HBO
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, ComedyStars: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Anna Camp, Brittany SnowDirector: Jason MooreRating: PG-13Runtime: 112 minutes
Watch on HBO
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: DramaStars: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry StylesDirector: Christopher NolanRating: PG-13Runtime: 106 minutes
Watch on HBO
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: DramaStars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-LevittDirector: Steven SpielbergRating: PG-13Runtime: 150 minutes
Watch on HBO
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: ComedyStars: John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Danny DeVitoDirector: Barry SonnenfeldRating: RRuntime: 105 minutes
Watch on HBO
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, ThrillerStars: Gary Oldman, Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin FirthDirector: Tomas AlfredsonRating: RRuntime: 127 minutes
Watch on HBO
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, ThrillerStars: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Matt Craven, Danny AielloDirector: Adrian LyneRating: RRuntime: 113 minutes
Watch on HBO
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 ArtsStars: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, David CarradineDirector: Quentin TarantinoRating: RRuntime: 111 minutes
Watch on HBO
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: DramaStars: Demián Bichir, José Julián, Dolores HerediaDirector: Chris WeitzRating: PG-13Runtime: 94 minutes
Watch on HBO
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 AshfieldDirector: Edgar WrightRating: RRuntime: 99 minutes
Watch on HBO
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, ActionStars: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff GoldblumDirector: Roland EmmerichRating: PG-13Runtime: 145 minutes
Watch on HBO
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, ActionStars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee SteinfeldDirector: Joel Coen, Ethan CoenRating: PG-13Runtime: 110 minutes
Watch on HBO
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: DramaStars: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon BernthalDirector: James MangoldRating: PG-13Runtime: 152 minutes
Watch on HBO
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, DramaStars: John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black, Tim RobbinsDirector: Stephen FrearsRating: RRuntime: 113 minutes
Watch on HBO

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, SportsStars: Andy Samberg, Orlando Bloom, Freddie HighmoreDirector: Jake SzymanskiRating: Not RatedRuntime: 50 minutes
Watch on HBO
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: ComedyStars: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason MewesDirector: Kevin SmithRating: RRuntime: 92 minutes
Watch on HBO

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: DramaStars: Oprah Winfrey, Rose ByrneDirector: George C. WolfeRating: Not RatedRuntime: 94 minutes
Watch on HBO

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, crimeStars: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De NiroDirector: Todd PhillipsRating: RRuntime: 122 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: DramaStars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Alison WhelanDirector: Jim SheridanRating: RRuntime: 103 minutes
Watch 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, RomanceStars: Salvatore Cascio, Philippe NoiretDirector: Guiseppe TornatoreRating: RRuntime: 86 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, DramaStars: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Scott BakulaDirector: Steven SoderberghRating: TV-MARuntime: 118 minutes
Watch 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, HorrorStars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard DreyfussDirector: Steven SpielbergRating: PGRuntime: 130 minutes
Watch on HBO
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, CrimeStars: Hugh Jackman, Allison JanneyDirector: Cory FinleyRating: TV-MARuntime: 108 minutes
Watch 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: ActionStars: Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth WinsteadDirector: Cathy YanRating: RRuntime: 109 minutes
Watch 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: DramaStars: Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, Colin FirthDirector: Frank PiersonRating: RRuntime: 96 minutes
Watch 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, ActionStars: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, John AshtonDirector: Martin BrestRating: RRuntime: 126 minutes
Watch on HBO

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