Last Updated: November 15th
In addition to being America’s most trusted source of Carnivale episodes, HBO Go/HBO Now has a lovely collection of movies available ranging from trashy action thrills to elegant period pieces to star-studded comedies. Here is a ranking of the 30 best movies on HBO Go/HBO Now that you could and should be watching right now.
1. Deadwood: The Movie (2019)
Run Time: 110 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
HBO managed to pull off the seemingly impossible with this follow-up movie based on a series that left us too soon. Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, and the rest of the residents of the camp are back to celebrate the South Dakota’s statehood in the only way this dusty drama knows how — with reignited rivalries, betrayals, bloodshed, and lots of swearin.’ The show became a fan favorite thanks to its gritty performances and nuanced storytelling, and the movie continues the tradition, investigating the lives of these pioneers who’ve endured plenty of hardship for their piece of the American dream.
2. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018)
Run Time: 94 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Everyone’s favorite friendly neighbor gets the documentary treatment with this expose on the beloved TV icon. Fred Rogers left his mark on the world through his show, one that sought to bridge cultural, religious, and racial divides by teaching children the importance of kindness, acceptance, and compassion. He taught us all how to be better human beings, but the doc dives further, exploring the man behind the TV personality, a guy who fought Congress for funding for the arts and who left a legacy worth celebrating. Bring tissues for this one, folks.
3. BlacKkKlansman (2018)
Run Time: 135 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Spike Lee does some of the best work of his long, impressive career with this true story about the first Black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, an African-American cop struggling to balance his duties on the job with his personal life and his involvement in the Black Panther movement. Stallworth is able to pass as a white man over the phone and soon launches an undercover operation, infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan and befriending its leader, David Duke (a brilliant Topher Grace). When Stallworth is forced to meet members of the Klan face-to-face, his partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) assumes his undercover identity, and both men lead an investigation that exposes the sinister core of the local KKK chapter.
4. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 7/10
John Chu’s Asian-led rom-com became a breakout hit last year, so it’s only right that HBO let us binge-watch it whenever we choose. Constance Wu plays Rachel, an economics professor at NYU who travels to Singapore with her long-term boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) and discovers he’s been less-than-honest with her about just how many zeroes reside in his bank account. Faced with a wealthy family who refuses to accept her American roots, Rachel goes to extreme lengths to impress Nick’s mother and learns a valuable lesson about family and heritage in the process. Awkwafina and Michelle Yeoh are highlights here, but it’s Wu who carries this flick and elevates it beyond just a two-hour laugh riot.
5. The Favourite (2018)
Run Time: 119 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Emma Stone, Olivia Colman, and Rachel Weisz star in this surrealist period comedy from the imaginative mind of Yorgos Lanthimos. The film tells the story of Queen Anne’s tenuous reign in 18th century England. Anne (Colman) is seen as a frail, fragile woman who’s lost nearly everything (her children, her husband) and relies on the companionship of her childhood friend, Lady Sarah (Weisz). Lady Sarah takes advantage of this co-dependence to further her own goals but she seems to truly care for Anne, unlike Stone’s Abigail, a new servant who catches the queen’s eye. Lesbian love affairs, court intrigue, jealousy, and grabs for power follow as the two battle it out for Anne’s affection but it’s Colman who steals the show here, playing as capricious monarch suffering, often in silence.
6. Black Swan (2010)
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 8/10
Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star in this psychological thriller about a talented ballerina who begins to unravel when she lands the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.” Portman plays Nina, a disciplined dancer whose hard work pays off when she’s cast as the Swan Queen by her demanding choreographer but her mind quickly deteriorates under the pressure of the spotlight as another ballerina, Lilly (Kunis) comes for her crown.
7. Boy Erased (2018)
Run Time: 115 min | IMDb: 7/10
Nicole Kidman, Lucas Hedges, and Joel Edgerton star in this queer drama directed by Edgerton based off the memoir of author Garrad Conley. The film follows the son of a Baptist preacher (Hedges) who is outed to his strictly religious family and forced to undergo his church’s gay conversion therapy camp. There, he’s abused mentally and physically because of his queerness and his bonds with his family are tested.
8. Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
Run Time: 121 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Drew Goddard’s crime drama is a rain-soaked thriller featuring a gyrating Chris Hemsworth, a bespectacled Jon Hamm, and an ordained Jeff Bridges. If you need to know more in order to give this thing a watch, you might spoil the mind-bending plot, but here’s a tease: the film follows several strangers who meet by chance at a run-down hotel in Lake Tahoe in 1969. They’re each running from something, and no one can be trusted, a fact each of the A-listers (that also include Dakota Johnson, Cynthia Ervo, and Nick Offerman) play with a kind of gleeful malice that hooks you until the end.
9. The Tale (2018)
Run Time: 114 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Laura Dern gives a hauntingly beautiful performance in Jennifer Fox’s autobiographical drama, The Tale. The film recounts Fox’s own history of sexual abuse at the hands of a riding instructor who was three times her age. Dern plays a grown-up version of Fox, a woman struggling to recall illicit memories of her past, to reconcile the relationship she thought she had as a teenager with a man old enough to be her father with what actually happened — years of grooming, mental, and physical abuse at the hands of adults she had put her trust in. It’s a brutal but necessary watch.
10. Paddington 2 (2017)
Run Time: 103 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
Rarely does a sequel match, let alone surpass, the original, but the follow-up adventure of Paddington, the marmalade-loving bear with a penchant for causing chaos, does just that. That’s partly due to the cast, particularly the addition of Hugh Grant as a maniacal villain with an extensive costume collection, but mostly, this film is a joy because of its heart. Paddington is still the same loveable goof from the original, trying his best to do good and making a mess of things. This time, he lands himself in prison after being falsely accused a thief, eventually befriending his fellow inmates and giving us all a lesson in kindness and compassion. If this movie doesn’t make you smile, we worry for your soul.
11. Temple Grandin (2010)
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Inspirational without being self-congratulatory or condescending, Mick Jackson’s Temple Grandin places Claire Danes in the role of the real-life title character as she develops into a voice in animal science that cannot be ignored. A world that’s unaccommodating to autism and women in the ranching industry does not make things easy for Grandin and Danes portrays her with detail, intelligence and heart. Bonus points awarded for having the courage to include comedy and taking the effort to make something with warmth. You don’t get that too often in movies featuring the inner workings of slaughterhouses.
12. Signs (2002)
Run Time: 106 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix star in M. Night Shyamalan’s alien thriller about a family plagued by supernatural signs sent from space. The buildup is worth more than the reveal with this one, and Gibson, in particular, sells the scared-sh*tless-single-dad trying to parent his children while battling an invading alien race.
13. First Man (2018)
Run Time: 141 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy star in Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to La La Land, which would’ve gotten more love at the Oscars if critics hadn’t loved Green Book so much. The film follows the complicated life of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, highlighting the build-up to that legendary space mission and the toll it took on his family, particularly his wife, Janet (Foy). Gosling is magnetic as the heroic astronaut and Foy carries the emotional burden of the story with ease, but it’s Chazelle’s vision of space that makes watching the film such a memorable experience.
14. October Sky (1999)
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
A fresh-faced Jake Gyllenhaal and Laura Dern star in this biographical drama about Homer Hickam, the son of a coal miner who has dreams of reaching outer space. Gyllenhaal plays Hickam, a brilliant young engineer who dreams of building rockets after the Sputnik launch but battles against the small-mindedness of his hometown and his father, a salt-of-the-earth type who wants his son to follow in his mining footsteps. With help from his science teacher, Mrs. Riley (Dern), Hickam is able to overcome adversity, win a national science competition, and achieve his dreams of working for NASA. It’s a heartwarming film with a feel-good ending that’s all the more rewarding because it’s true.
15. Ever After (1998)
Run Time: 121 min | IMDb: 7/10
Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston star in this darker re-imagining of the famous fairy tale. Barrymore plays the pseudo-Cinderella, a young woman named Danielle who is orphaned and put to work at her family’s estate by her evil stepmother, Rodmilla (Huston). She battles stepsisters, creepy suitors, and a growing attraction to a young prince (the swoon-worthy Dougray Scott) while also entertaining Leonardo DaVinci, oddly enough. Despite Barrymore’s questionable English accent, she manages to humanize the story’s heroine, and her back-and-forth with Huston is electric.
16. Mommy Dead And Dearest (2017)
Run Time: 82 min IMDb: 7.4/10
Erin Lee Carr’s spellbinding crime doc Mommy Dead and Dearest plunges into the bizarre and absorbing true story surrounding the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard. It’s an absorbing, strange and disturbing watch that doles out enough jaw-dropping moments in 83 minutes to put full seasons of TV to shame. Sundance hopefuls would have a field day with the visuals in this documentary if they were to try and adapt this stranger-than-fiction tale of manipulation, murder, and motherhood.
17. Amelie (2001)
Run Time: 122 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Audrey Tatou stars in this quirky French rom-com about a naive young woman who decides to help her Parisian neighbors and ends up finding love for herself. Amelie is a shy waitress struggling with her own sense of loneliness who decides to help the customers who frequent her cafe. As she returns lost treasures, makes matches between her friends, and pushes her father to travel the world, Amelie also finds love with an eccentric man named Nino. It’s a mischievous, light-hearted comedy that absolutely delights the imagination.
18. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
Run Time: 106 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant carry this drama based on the confessional memoir from Lee Israel. McCarthy plays the author in question, a down-and-out writer who begins forging letters from famous figures in history to make a quick buck. She partners with her friend and sometimes drug dealer Jack (Grant) as the two carry on their scheme before the FBI gets wind. McCarthy is spectacular in this role, reminding us all that she’s good for more than just laughs and Grant gives an awards-worthy performance as her friend in on the con.
19. Moulin Rouge (2001)
Run Time: 127 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Baz Luhrmann’s bohemian rhapsody set in 1900s France follows the tale of a struggling writer who falls for a beautiful courtesan. Ewan McGregor plays Christian, a poet with grand ideas on love who move to the Montmarte district to write a novel and truly experience life. A trip to a pleasure theater called the Moulin Rouge introduces him to Satine (Nicole Kidman), a gorgeous performer who’s also caught the eye of a rich duke. Torn between her love for Christian and the trappings of her luxurious life, the pair embark on a forbidden romance that has disastrous consequences for everyone.
20. Real Women Have Curves (2002)
Run Time: 93 min IMDb: 7/10
Living up to the immense hype it earned at Sundance that year, Real Women Have Curves is a coming-of-age tale that balances drama and comedy while shining a spotlight on the acting skills of future Superstore star America Ferrera. (The film marked the actress’s cinematic debut.) Ferrera plays Ana García, a young Mexican-American woman navigating cultural, societal and familial expectations in Los Angeles as she works toward her goal of heading to college. Smart, dignified and occasionally bittersweet, Real Women Have Curves is a movie unafraid of its warmth and humanity.
21. A Star Is Born (2018)
Run Time: 136 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut racked up plenty of awards earlier this year, and now you can finally find out why (if you haven’t seen it in theaters like pretty much everyone else already has). Cooper plays a washed-up musician who finds inspiration in a talented singer played by Lady Gaga. The two have a whirlwind romance sprinkled with fame, mentions of addiction and mental illness, but ultimately, it ends in tragedy. Still, the soundtrack is a banger.
22. The Mighty Ducks (1992)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 6.5/10
Emilio Estevez stars in this family-favorite film, playing a self-centered lawyer from Minnesota who’s sentenced to community service coaching a youth hockey team. Gordon Bombay (Estevez) gets pulled for drunk-driving and must suffer his penance by returning to the sport of his youth, one that doesn’t hold nice memories. He ends up bonding with the rag-tag group of youngsters on his team, inspiring them to be better as they teach him something about not giving up and facing your demons. It’s a feel-good exercise in nostalgia.
23. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
Run Time: 95 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
Weddings are often riotous affairs but when you add the traditions and expectations of culture into the mix, they become the perfect fodder for a romantic comedy. Nia Vardalos knows this which is why she wrote and starred in this movie about a middle-aged Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek beau and must convince her family he’s worthy of her hand in marriage. There are all kinds of sly digs and nods to Vardalos’ heritage here, but it’s her character’s extended family members that get the best one-liners.
24. Behind The Candelabra (2013)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 7/10
It’d be rude for a Liberace-focused film not to be showered in sparkly awards upon release, don’t you think? Steven Soderbergh’s HBO Films take on Scott Thorson’s memoir Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace earned Emmys galore for its blend of effective drama and dark comedy. Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, and Scott Bakula all scored well-deserved praise and trophies for their work in this gripping (and appropriately stylish) drama that will have you scrambling down many a Wikipedia rabbit hole after.
25. Love, Actually (2003)
Run Time: 133 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Kiera Knightley, and a host of other famous faces star in this beloved holiday rom-com. The film follows a few different storylines, all connected by six degrees of separation that converge around Christmas. Knightley plays a recently-married woman who discovers her husband’s best friend is in love with her. Neeson plays a widower trying to care for his young son. Firth plays a writer scorned by love and given a second chance when he retreats abroad to finish his book. And Grant plays the newly-elected Prime Minister who falls for a member of his staff. There are more love stories in here, but really, just watch it if you’re that curious.
26. Grey Gardens (2009)
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore star in this HBO remake of the 1975 documentary of the same name. Lange plays “Big Eddie,” aunt to former First Lady Jackie Kennedy, while Barrymore plays “Little Edie,” Kennedy’s first cousin. The two women became famous when it was revealed that their estate, Grey Gardens, was in ruin and they’d been living there in squalor for years. The film chronicles their journey to destitution, following “Little Edie” as she tries and fails to make a name for herself away from her mother while “Big Eddie” tries to prevent the end of her marriage. It’s a gripping, tragic tale, one made more visceral thanks to some stellar performances by Lange and Barrymore.
27. Brexit (2019)
Run Time: 92 min | IMDb: 7/10
Benedict Cumberbatch plays political strategist Dominic Cummings, the man largely responsible for Britain’s Brexit mess. The guy spearheaded the campaign for the U.K. to separate from the European Union in 2015 but managed to skirt most of the bad press by ducking out after the vote passed. instead, he left it to the Prime Minister and party leaders to figure out what’s next. Cumberbatch plays the mastermind, a socially awkward, data-driven genius who seems to delight in the destruction of his own government, with a certain reserved glee that feels even more chilling than the boisterous nationalism his colleagues are known for.
28. Mary Queen Of Scots (2018)
Run Time: 124 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie star in this period drama that didn’t get much love from the Academy last year. Nevertheless, the performances are mesmerizing with Ronan playing the Scottish royal and Robbie playing Elizabeth I. The two women wield unheard of power with their feud fueling wars and political betrayal for years, but it’s their more personal relationship, and an unlikely comradery between them, that this movie seems to explore.
29. Fahrenheit 451 (2018)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 4.9/10
Critics didn’t seem to love Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon’s interpretation of a literary classic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a watch. The film imagines a terrifying future in which the written word is viewed as something to be feared. To that end, Jordan plays Guy Montag, a fireman whose job is to literally burn every book he comes across, but when Montag meets a woman who makes him question the very nature of his world and work, life begins to spiral out of control for Montag. Gloomy dystopian dramas are hard to watch right now but they are necessary if only to remind us of how bad we don’t want things to get. Plus, Michael B Jordan wielding a flamethrower? Yes, please.
30. My Friend Dahmer (2017)
Run Time: 107 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
Ross Lynch and Alex Wolff star in this biographical drama about the notorious serial killer’s teenage years. Lynch plays Dahmer, a young man struggling to fit in with his high school peers. Wolff plays Derf, an aspiring graphic artist who befriends Dahmer and pushes him to be more socially active. The two share a superficial friendship, given that Derf has no idea about Dahmer’s fixation with men, rape fantasies, and killing animals. Even if he did, the movie argues that Dahmer’s predilections coupled with his strained familial situation — his father abandoned him, and his mother suffered from her own mental illness — meant that the young man was always destined for darker things.
Recent Changes Through November 2019:
Removed: Deadpool 2, Mean Girls, A Nightmare on Elm Street
Added: Black Swan, Moulin Rouge, Mary Queen of Scots