The Best Movies on HBO Right Now

For all intents and purposes, HBO is now a streaming service. While it started out as a premium cable channel and is still available for cable subscribers, they recognized the changing landscape and decided to make their programming available separate from a cable package via HBO Now. However, if you still get the channel through your cable provider, you’ll have access to HBO Go. Either way, you have access to their entire catalog of movies at any time, which means you can create a watchlist of films you want to check out.

To help you out in this endeavor, we’ve provided a list of the best movies currently available on HBO. We’ll continue to update this list as new movies are added and removed from their catalog.

Alien

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Dan O’Bannon

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto, and Ian Holm

Despite almost 40 years of distance and some lackluster sequels, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror movie remains as potent as ever. Going with the concept of a haunted house in space, Alien follows the crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo, who are diverted to a planet to investigate a mysterious transmission. When one member of the crew is infected with a biological organism, that organism then proceeds to attack the remaining crew members. It’s a simple premise played to maximum efficiency by Scott as he takes reasonably competent people and puts them up against a perfect killing machine. Featuring one of the best performances of Sigourney Weaver’s illustrious career, Alien is still as intimidating and thrilling as ever. – Matt Goldberg

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Image via Universal Pictures

Director: Edgar Wright

Writers: Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright

Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, and Jason Schwartzman.

Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s outstanding comic didn’t find much of an audience upon its release, but over the years it has grown into a cult classic. The movie follows Scott Pilgrim (Cera), a sweet if slightly selfish and misguided young man who falls for delivery girl Ramona Flowers (Winstead). He can only continue to date her if he defeats her seven evil exes. Scott’s comfortable with the video game framework, but the film is really about two people discovering they have to get over their own baggage if they’re going to find new love. Wright decorates the whole picture with video game tropes and fun little nods, but never loses sight of the core romantic story. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is funny, effervescent, and only gets better on repeat viewings. – Matt Goldberg

Down with Love

Director: Peyton Reed

Writers: Eve Ahlert & Dennis Drake

Cast: Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Sarah Paulson, and David Hyde Pierce

Peyton Reed’s winning homage to the old Rock Hudson/Doris Day comedies, Down with Love follows author Barbara Novak (Renée Zellweger) who has published a best-selling book advocating that women don’t need love, and can approach relationships the same way as men. Successful journalist and cad Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) seeks to disprove Novak’s claim by posing as an astronaut and proving that she does love him. It’s totally screwball, relishing its 1960s setting while still pursuing modern ideas. It’s delightfully clever, painfully funny, and absolutely lovely. – Matt Goldberg

Constantine

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Francis Lawrence

Writers: Kevin Brodbin and Frank A. Cappello

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gavin Rossdale, Tilda Swinton, and Peter Stormare

If you go into the adaptation of Hellblazer looking for a straight adaptation of the comic, you’re going to be disappointed. Keanu Reeves is pretty far from the British John Constantine, but on its own terms, director Francis Lawrence (who went on to direct the Hunger Games sequels) still creates an exciting paranormal thriller. Reeves plays the title role of an exorcist who investigates a woman’s death that eventually lands him in the middle of a battle between God and Lucifer. The plot takes on a lot, but Lawrence handles it all with an abundance of fun and style. It may not be the comics, but Constantine is still a blast. – Matt Goldberg

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Director: David Yates

Writer: J.K. Rowling

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogel, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller

While plenty of folks were wary about Warner Bros. mining the Harry Potter universe for more films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an excellent foundation for a brand new franchise that maintains the heart of the Potter franchise while branching out into a new direction. For one, Fantastic Beasts follows adult witches and wizards, and thus the conflicts that arise have far more serious stakes than the early Potter films. But the 1920s setting also gives Fantastic Beasts a refreshing new backdrop, and the prospect of delving into the history of Grindelwald is intriguing. The key to Fantastic Beasts, however, is the same thing that made Potter so special and that’s the characters. Here Rowling has introduced us to a new crew of lovable and diverse witches, a wizard, and a No-Maj with a heart of gold. That’s enough to make Fantastic Beasts an endearing and engaging watch. – Adam Chitwood

Nocturnal Animals

Director/Writer: Tom Ford

Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Armie Hammer, Michael Sheen, and Laura Linney

You may find the opening credits off-putting, but stick with it. Tom Ford’s lurid second feature is a glorious blend of pulp and punishment as it follows a disaffected gallery owner (Adams) who receives a manuscript from her ex-husband (Gyllenhaal) that tells the story of a man (also Gyllenhaal) who goes on the hunt for revenge with the help of a dying lawman (Shannon). While not as lyrical as Ford’s debut, A Single Man, it will absolutely hook you as it looks as the sins that can’t be forgiven and the lies we tell ourselves about who we are and what we want. An ugly premise never looked so good. ­– Matt Goldberg

Back to the Future

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writers: Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale

Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, and Thomas F. Wilson

While the full Back to the Future trilogy is currently on HBO, the best of the three still remains the original. Robert Zemeckis’ movie is a marvel of storytelling, always bringing in the most information in the most efficient way possible while still remaining fun and entertaining (just think about how much you learn about Doc and Marty before the opening credits are finished). Although some aspects of the story look weirder in hindsight (comedian John Mulaney has a great bit on what the pitch for Back to the Future must have been), the movie still holds together perfectly. It’s an imaginative, fun, good-natured adventure that works on every level. – Matt Goldberg

Harry Potter

Directors: Various

Writers: Various

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, and Julie Walters

All eight Harry Potter movies now live exclusively on HBO, and so while we must bid a fond farewell to their time on ABC Family/Freeform, we can now have them anytime and without commercial interruption. Rather than picking one that stands out heads and shoulders above the rest, what’s great about the Harry Potter franchise is you can drop into any installment and find something to appreciate. Want something fiercely loyal to the source material? Go with Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. Want the biggest shakeup? Tune in to Prisoner of Azkaban. Want the most visually daring of the series? Take a look at Half-Blood Prince. You really can’t go wrong with any of these movies, and they’re perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. – Matt Goldberg

How to Train Your Dragon

Directors: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders

Writers: William Davies, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders

Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, and Kristen Wiig

AKA “The Good DreamWorks Animation Movie”, How to Train Your Dragon remains a towering achievement in a studio that’s better known for churning out animated movies where the main character arches his eyebrow in place of a personality. How to Train Your Dragon, which follows young Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his unlikely friendship a dragon despite the creatures being the sworn enemy of his clan, isn’t just a great DWA movie, but a great movie period. The film is funny, exhilarating, heartfelt, and gorgeous. It’s a movie that takes big chances that reap even bigger rewards without sacrificing any humor or warmth in the process. – Matt Goldberg

The Informant!

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Scott Z. Burns

Cast: Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale, Ann Dowd, and Allan Havey

Featuring one of the finest performances of Matt Damon’s career, The Informant! tells the true story of whistleblower Marc Whitacre (Damon), a quirky, overweight VP in the agro-business who clues the government into a price-fixing scheme, but whose own dirty deeds start becoming the focus of the investigation. Although the case itself seems rather dry or perhaps something that requires more gravitas, Soderbergh takes a surprising approach by putting the movie more on a comedic wavelength where everything is a comedy of errors and misperceptions, none more so than what Marc rambles on about in his hilarious voice-over. Sly and entirely unexpected, The Informant! is a delight and one of Soderbergh’s better features. – Matt Goldberg

Role Models

Director: David Wain

Writers: Paul Rudd, David Wain, & Ken Marino and Timothy Dowling

Cast: Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb’e J. Thompson, Elizabeth Banks, and Jane Lynch

It may not be a landmark comedy, but there’s something to be said for funny people getting together and being funny. Role Models R-rated comedy follows two guys (Rudd and Scott) forced to become big-brother type figures to Mintz-Plasse and Thompson’s characters, respectively. It may not get as weird as some of Wain’s other work (there’s no extended scene of Rudd saying “Get on my dick,” like he does in Wanderlust), but it’s still incredibly funny with Rudd and Scott making the most of their roles. However, the true MVP here is Jane Lynch who owns every scene playing the former-junkie-turned-head-of-a-charitable-organization. – Matt Goldberg

Three Kings

Director/Writer: David O. Russell

Cast: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Cliff Curtis, and Nora Dunn

Before David O. Russell ran to the safety of crowdpleasers like Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, he spent the 90s creating exciting and dangerous pictures like Three Kings. The film takes place during the first Iraq War and follows four soldiers who decide to use the confusion of war to heist gold bullion from Saddam’s palace, but instead end up getting sucked into the warfare they hoped to escape. Featuring outstanding performances from the cast (including a scene-stealing turn from acclaimed director Spike Jonze), Three Kings expertly walks the line between comedy and drama, often finding they’re able to coincide in the same scene like when one character is being tortured but his torturer is asking why the United States made Michael Jackson change his skin color. Three Kings is a gloriously off-kilter picture that never ceases to be captivating. – Matt Goldberg

Get Out

Director/Writer: Jordan Peele

Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, and LilRey Howery

I’m reluctant to call a movie a “classic” when it opens, and usually like to wait at least ten years to see if it holds up. And yet if anyone wants to label Get Out as a classic today, I’m hard-pressed to disagree. I believe this is a film that we’ll still be watching decades from now, and it’s a movie that will inspire other filmmakers to create their own “social thrillers”, biting critiques couched in comforting genres that manage to excite as well as create thoughtful conversations. They may not do it as well as writer-director Jordan Peele, but to be fair, he has set a very high bar.

As political pundits started screaming at the election of Trump, “How did we miss this?!” Get Out was already in the can and getting ready to premiere at Sundance. With his outstanding movie, Peele shows that his finger wasn’t just on the pulse of White America’s racism, but also on how that racism behaves and what it demands. In the world of Get Out, white people aren’t trying to erase black people, but blackness. The black body has it uses, and as long as black people are useful and inoffensive to white people, they can continue to exist. The premise of Get Out’s argument is dark, twisted, terrifying, and yet undeniable. – Matt Goldberg

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Director/Writer: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Seth MacFarlane, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, and Jeffrey Tambor

This feels like the film Hellboy was always supposed to be with the big red guy front-and-center and a more colorful cast surrounding him. It fully indulges del Toro’s love of big, weird monsters without losing any of the humor of the first movie. The movie got lost a bit in the superhero shuffle of 2008 (getting released the same summer as The Dark Knight and Iron Man will do that), but it’s a film that’s absolutely worth revisiting even if it will seriously bum you out that we’ll never see Hellboy III.

What makes Hellboy II: The Golden Army work so well is that beneath the comic book stuff, you have a film that’s seriously considering the place of the supernatural in this world. While the first movie had to explain that the guy named “Hellboy” is on our side against people who would use the supernatural against humanity, in The Golden Army, the conflict is far more complicated. We can’t totally hate Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) even if he’s the antagonist, and the stakes come not just from if the heroes lose, but what could happen if they win. It’s a richer, more thoughtful film that never loses sight of its terrific characters. – Matt Goldberg

La La Land

Director/Writer: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, and J.K. Simmons

Perhaps the best thing that ever happened to La La Land is losing Best Picture. Outside the weight of an Oscar race, Damien Chazelle’s musical is a delightful, bittersweet romance between an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and frustrated jazz musician (Ryan Gosling), but in the harsh light of an awards race, it was required to be more and every fault, from Gosling’s love of jazz to the sunnier side of Hollywood became a damning fault. Now almost a year removed from all of that, it’s much easier to appreciate La La Land on its own merits and luxuriate in the stunning movie. It may not be the “Best Picture” of 2016, but its craft and heart are undeniable. – Matt Goldberg

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