Last Updated: January 21st
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: 7.5/10
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: 8.4/10
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. Us (2018)
Run Time: 116min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Jordan Peele’s nightmarish follow-up to Get Out cements the director’s status as a master of horror. This twisted tale follows an African-American family on vacation who encounter evil doppelgangers of themselves that hint at an even darker conspiracy. Lupita Nyong’o, and Winston Duke play a married couple, Adelaide and Gabe Wilson, who must protect their family from beings known as the “Tethered,” clones of themselves who have been trapped underground for decades and who are ready to take over on the surface. Peele takes fans on a thrilling ride, causing us to constantly question what’s real and who’s who but you probably won’t get a good night’s sleep after watching this thing.
4. Blindspotting (2018)
Run Time: 95 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Hamilton alum Daveed Diggs writes and stars in this crime drama that’s as funny as it is critical of our current justice system. Diggs plays Collin, a man with three days left on a probation sentence who’s trying to stay out of trouble on the streets of Oakland. His best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), is also an Oakland native, but he’s white and the difference in how the two are treated when they too catch the attention of police makes up the bulk of the message here, as does Miles’ struggle to contend with a devastating choice he’s forced to make early on in the film. There’s humor, some emotional monologues performed as rap lyrics by Diggs, and beautiful cinematography to go along with it.
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: 7.8/10
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. Shutter Island (2010)
Run Time: 138 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
DiCaprio and Scorsese team up again, this time for a dramatic thriller that feels different from their normal fare but still just as intense. DiCaprio plays a detective drawn to a mysterious island that houses a psychiatric facility for the criminally insane. He’s investigating the case of an escaped convict, but a conveniently-timed storm, a hostile staff, and some strange happenings lead him down a rather dark and dangerous rabbit hole. There’s a twist ending here worthy of its build-up, and DiCaprio shares the screen with some notable talents including Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Emily Mortimer.
15. Alien (1979)
Run Time: 117 min | IMDb: 8.4/10
Ridley Scott basically invented sci-fi horror with this alien thriller about a crew on a commercial space tug who must battle a violent extraterrestrial being that’s infiltrated their ship. Sigourney Weaver plays Ripley, an officer aboard the Nostromo, who’s forced to face down the titular Alien, an aggressive lifeform intent on killing the ship’s human crew. Most of the action revolves around Weaver’s attempts to destroy the creature and save her shipmates but it’s Scott’s direction behind the camera that creates the suspense and terror this film has become known for.
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. Big Trouble In Little China (1986)
Run Time: 99 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
It’s hard to think of cheesy ’80s action without thinking of Big Trouble In Little China. Kurt Russell adds another entry to his ever-evolving hairstyle history with Jack Burton, fish-out-of-water truck driver just out to help his friend (who’s the real hero of the film). They’re thrust into a mystical battle filled with spells, curses, and flying sorcerers flinging electricity, all the while trying to save their respective green-eyed love interests. Like any good cult favorite, Big Trouble bombed upon its release, misunderstood as a stereotype-filled mess. But over the ensuing 30 years, it has been celebrated as an endlessly entertaining and quotable midnight movie.
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. Big (1988)
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Tom Hanks stars in this 80s comedy from legendary director Penny Marshall about a young boy who makes a wish that comes true and the hilarious journey he goes on after it’s granted. Josh Baskin wishes to be “big” and wakes up the next morning in the body of a full-grown adult (Tom Hanks). When he realizes he can’t go back to his old life until the machine he used to make his wish resurfaces, he commits to adulting, taking a job at an advertising agency for toys and beginning a relationship with his co-worker. But being a grown-up is hard and Josh ultimately decides he wants to return to his childhood. Of course, the fun of this film is in watching him figure out how. Hanks is perfect in the role, bringing humor and heart to his character, making us almost forget how weird it is that a pre-teen is hooking up with a middle-aged woman.
30. Bridesmaids (2011)
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph star in this raunchy comedy about a woman on the brink of marriage and her best friend who’s struggling through a series of failures in her life. Wiig plays Annie, a woman who lost her bakery and relationship in one fell swoop right before her friend Lillian (Rudolph) gets engaged. To make matters worse, there’s competition for the maid of honor spot when Lillian finds a new friend in the wife of her fiancé’s boss (played by the excellent Rose Byrne). Ruined bachelorette parties, Parisian wedding showers, and quite possibly the funniest, most disgusting poop explosion to ever happen on screen, quickly follow.
Recent Changes Through January 2020:
Removed: Ever After, October Sky, My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Added: Alien, Shutter Island, Big Trouble In Little China