Last Updated: January 12th
In addition to being America’s most trusted source of Succession episodes, HBO has a lovely collection of movies available ranging from trashy action thrills to elegant period pieces to star-studded comedies. With all the recent changes to HBO’s streaming services, though, it can be confusing to know what the heck is on which app. Here is a ranking of the 25 best movies on HBO (previously known as HBO Now) that you could and should be watching right now. We also rounded up the best movies on HBO Max in another guide.
Related: The Best Movies On HBO Max Right Now
1. Jaws (1975)
Run Time: 124 min | IMDb: 8.0/10
With just a few bars on the piano and an oversized mechanical shark, Steven Spielberg terrorized generations of moviegoers with Jaws. The film follows a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer who team up to hunt a great white shark who has a worrisome bloodlust and seems to be targeting a small beach town during the busiest time of the year. Spielberg’s camera work — the lingering, underwater shots, the quick cuts of flesh being torn from bone and rows of teeth flashing to the surface — make this exercise in inciting aquaphobia even more chilling. You’ll never look at a carefree day at the beach the same way again.
2. 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.
3. Winter’s Bone (2010)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
A film noir set in the Ozarks of Missouri, Winter’s Bone was the breakthrough role for Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Ree Dolly, a 17-year-old who looks after her family since her father disappeared. With the looming threat of losing her home, Ree goes in search of her missing father, ending up in a world of distrust and violence. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and though it didn’t take any Oscars home, it did win the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
4. 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.
5. Joker (2019)
Run Time: 122 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
In case you didn’t catch it in theaters, or you just want to revisit the chaos and mayhem of Joaquin Phoenix’s troubled clown, Todd Phillips’ Joker is now on HBO Max. This gritty origin story imagines the DC supervillain as a mentally-ill clown-for-hire named Arthur, who spirals when his stand-up career turns sour, and he discovers some details about his lineage. Really, it doesn’t take much to put this guy over the edge.
6. 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.
7. Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
Visionary director Taika Waititi gives us this World War II-set satirical masterpiece (and Oscar screenplay winner) that follows a young German boy, whose imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler. The kicker is that Waititi plays the genocidal maniac, making him a weak, comedic caricature of the infamous mass murderer, and as Jo Jo (a terrific Roman Griffin Davis) begins to bond with a Jewish girl hiding in his house, his worship of the dictator wanes in hilarious ways. Scarlett Johansson does some of her best work here as Jo Jo’s mother, a woman fighting to help the Jews, and Sam Rockwell steals every scene he’s in, playing a queer Nazi commander. Yet the joy and humor in this belongs to Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, and Archie Yates — the kids who give the film some much needed heart.
8. Fight Club (1999)
Run Time: 139 min | IMDb: 8.8/10
There are timeless classics and then there’s David Fincher’s exercise in understanding modern masculinity (a.k.a. Fight Club). The film has managed to remain relevant over the decades, with fans finding new themes and messages to dig into when it comes to Edward Norton’s depressed, unfulfilled office worker and his machismo friend, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). The two start an underground fight club — with a now-famous set of rules — and wreak havoc on the city as they let loose their aggression and search for the meaning in life. But it’s the film’s surprise, introspective ending that really elevates this bloody drama.
9. Die Hard (1988)
Run Time: 132 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
Bruce Willis stars in this action classic that gave birth to a genre-defining franchise. Willis plays John McClane, an NYPD officer tasked with rescuing his wife and children from a group of German terrorists who hold a Christmas gathering hostage at an LA hotel. Alan Rickman plays the group’s leader, and it’s his bad guy that makes this thing so enjoyable to watch. That, and Willis’ iconic one-liners.
10. 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.
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. Gangs of New York (2002)
Run Time: 167 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonard DiCaprio, and Cameron Diaz star in Martin Scorsese’s historical epic that re-imagines the birth of New York City. DiCaprio plays Amsterdam, an Irish immigrant who returns to the Five Points years following his father’s murder, looking for revenge. To get it, he infiltrates Bill the Butcher’s (Lewis) gang, a group of proud natives tired of the influx of foreigners in their city. Diaz plays a prostitute who forms a relationship with Amsterdam as he befriends Bill, then struggles to follow-through with his plan to kill the man who murdered his father and lead the Five Points in a rebellion against the city’s elite.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. Queen & Slim (2019)
Run Time: 132 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith star in this Bonnie & Clyde remix with a timely narrative twist. Penned by Lena Waithe, the story follows a Black couple whose first date turns deadly after a cop racially profiles Slim. The violent incident forces the two to go on the run, connecting with their pasts in unexpected ways and finding a deeper understanding of each other while fighting the system and trying to make it out alive.
16. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Run Time: 106 min | IMDb: 7/10
Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, and a handful of other embarrassingly talented actors carry this heartwarming family drama about two kids in search of their father. Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska play Laser and Joni, siblings conceived by artificial insemination. Their moms Jules (Moore) and Nic (Bening) each used the same sperm donor to have them and now, as the kids have grown up, they’ve become curious about this mystery paternal figure. Enter Ruffalo who plays a hippie restaurant owner named Paul that seems more interested in hooking up with Jules than getting to know his kids. It’s messy and difficult, but it’s a relatable story about unconventional family dynamics that feels refreshingly original.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. Clerks (1994)
Run Time: 92 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Kevin Smith’s slacker comedy has become a cult classic over the years. The premise of the film is pretty straight-forward: a guy working at a convenience store is called in on his day off and ends up having the shift from hell. Dead girlfriends, rooftop hockey games, attempted robberies, a breakup, and maybe even a life epiphany happen before the credits roll, but the real fun is in watching two dead-beats try their damndest to avoid work by getting into some sticky situations.
20. In Bruges (2007)
Run Time: 107 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
In Bruges was the movie that revealed Colin Farrell could be funny. A character actor stuck in a leading man’s body, Farrell gives arguably the best performance of his career as Ray, a rookie Irish hitman on the run with his partner and mentor, Ken (Brendan Gleeson), after accidentally killing a kid while executing a priest. While that may not sound much like the premise of a comedy, director Martin McDonagh crafted a truly hilarious movie. Farrell and Gleeson play off each other wonderfully all the way to the film’s dark finale. But as great as they are, they’re overshadowed at times by an incredible performance from Ralph Fiennes as their boss, Harry. Fiennes is at once funny and terrifying as a man steadfast in his principles, even when that involves committing murder.
21. Walk The Line (2005)
Run Time: 136 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Joaquin Phoenix completely transformed himself for this biopic about Johnny Cash and his tortured relationship with fame, music, and the love of his life, June. Reese Witherspoon plays June, a woman who gets caught up in Cash’s orbit and changes his life for the better and the two have excellent chemistry, but it’s Phoenix’s inspired turn as the embattled icon that really makes this drama worth a watch.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. Contagion (2011)
Run Time: 106 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
It’s always surreal when life imitates art but watching Steven Soderbergh’s star-studded thriller during the age of Corona feels more like a warning than anything. That’s because Soderbergh approaches the film’s plot — a deadly virus originating in China ravages the planet forcing regular civilians and CDC workers to do the unthinkable in order to survive — with a methodical, scientific formula. There are real stakes, especially when we watch Matt Damon’s character scramble to save what’s left of his family or Laurence Fishburne fail to manage the crisis as a CDC head, but there’s also so much scientific jargon that this could be taught in schools. It probably should.
25. The Invisible Man (2020)
Run Time: 124 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Elisabeth Moss stars in this terrifying tale of the consequences of a toxic relationship. Moss plays Cecilia, a woman haunted by the specter of her abusive ex. Everyone believes the guy took his own life, except Cecilia, who he left his immense fortune to with the caveat that she remain of sound mind. The whole film centers on his goal of driving her insane, torturing her in invisible form as her friends and family slowly question her sense of reality. It’s horrifying simply because it could easily be true. And well, he’s invisible, so the jump scares are also strong here.
Recent Changes Through January 2021:
Added: The Invisible Man