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 HBO 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.

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

Broadcast News

Director/Writer: James L. Brooks

Cast: Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks, William Hurt, Joan Cusack, Jack Nicholson

Filmmaker James L. Brooks’ 1987 romantic comedy Broadcast News remains one of the most endearing movies of all time. Holly Hunter plays a talented TV news producer who works alongside a gifted writer and reporter played by Albert Brooks, who is none too pleased when William Hurt’s “good on camera, dumb off camera” anchor gets handed a prime gig. A romantic triangle ensues, but Brooks’ script and these performances flesh these characters out so thoroughly that you find your affection wavering from one character to the next. On top of this, the film tackles issues of media ethics that seem quaint in hindsight, but add a layer of tension and conflict to the proceedings. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, and with a Holly Hunter performance that will make you fall in love, Broadcast News is a must-watch. – Adam Chitwood

A Bigger Splash

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Writer: David Kajganich

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts

Luca Guadagnino’s 2015 film A Bigger Splash is bold, sexy, surprising, and wildly fun. It’s worth a watch for Ralph Fiennes’ dance scene alone, but the entire film is compelling and richly crafted. Fiennes plays a brash music promoter on vacation in Italy with his daughter, played by Dakota Johnson, who crashes what was supposed to be a secluded getaway for Tilda Swinton’s world famous rock singer and her filmmaker lover, played by Matthias Schoenaerts. Swinton’s character is on vocal rest, and thus Swinton gives her performance almost entirely without speaking, which is a thing of beauty. Tensions rise as the past comes back to haunt these various characters during their jaunt, and it’s all gorgeously chronicled by Guadagnino’s assured direction. – Adam Chitwood

The Brothers Bloom

Director/Writer: Rian Johnson

Cast: Adrian Brody, Rachel Weisz, Mark Ruffalo, Rinko Kikuchi, Robbie Coltrane, and Maximilian Schell

While Rian Johnson gets a lot of attention for his searing neo-noir debut Brick and his ingenious sci-fi Looper, his second feature, The Brothers Bloom, tends to get lost in between, which is a shame because it’s absolutely brilliant. The con man story follows brothers Bloom (Brody) and Stephen (Ruffalo) as they try to con a wealthy heiress Penelope (Weisz) only to have Bloom fall for Penelope. It’s a sly film about the power of stories, trying to appeal to your audience, and what audiences want from stories. Made with plenty of flourishes and astonishing performances from the entire cast, The Brothers Bloom is bursting with life, and even if you’re not a fan of con man movies, you’ll fall hard for this one. – Matt Goldberg

Defending Your Life

Director/Writer: Albert Brooks

Cast: Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, Rip Torn, Lee Grant, Buck Henry

Albert Brooks has made a number of movies as a writer and director, but his 1991 effort Defending Your Life remains one of the best. This fantasy film stars Brooks as an advertising executive who dies on his 39th birthday and is sent to the Purgatory-like Judgment City, where he begins the process of having his life on Earth judged by a panel who then decides where he goes next. While in wait, he meets and falls in love with a seemingly perfect woman played by Meryl Streep, and the quest ot end up in the same place begins. This is a sweet and thoughtful meditation on death and life, complete with Brooks’ signature wit but also a really strong heart. A lot of that is due to Streep’s warm performance, but Brooks isn’t shabby here either, and this remains one of the best films ever made about life after death. – Adam Chitwood

Crimson Tide

Director: Tony Scott

Writer: Michael Schiffer

Cast: Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Viggo Mortensen, George Dzunda, and James Gandolfini

If you love submarine movies, you’ve probably already seen Crimson Tide. The good news is that it’s infinitely re-watchable since you’re pitting two acting titans against each other with Washington and Hackman. The story takes place on a nuclear sub where the crew has been called into action under the belief that a Russian ultra-nationalist may have control of the nuclear arsenal. When the sub has communication cut off from command, it has Hackman’s captain turning against his executive officer (Washington) as they argue over whether an incomplete command is worth following. Mutinies and betrayals follow in a tense, riveting thriller that’s easily among Scott’s best. – Matt Goldberg

Her

Director/Writer: Spike Jonze

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pratt

Spike Jonze doesn’t make a lot of movies, but when he does, boy are they worth the wait. 2013’s Her follows a quiet, lonely man in near future Los Angeles who begins a relationship and falls in love with his OS, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. It’s a premise that in the wrong hands could have been silly, dumb, gross, or all three, but in the hands of Jonze is profoundly human. The filmmaker explores what it means to make connections in life, what happens when relationships end, and our relation to humanity in general. On top of that, he presents a sci-fi world unlike any we’ve ever seen before, photographed gorgeously by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema. Her is one of the most human films ever made about a guy falling in love with a robot. – Adam Chitwood

The Dark Knight

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine

Yes, you’ve probably already seen The Dark Knight. The good news is that it doesn’t get old. For a two-and-half hour movie that’s about the War on Terror, we sometimes forget how damn entertaining Nolan’s superhero sequel is. Yes, Ledger steals the show as the Joker, but even when he’s not on screen, you’re absolutely hooked by the action as Batman (Bale) is pushed to the brink and Harvey Dent (Eckhart) emerges as the tragic center of the picture. There’s a reason people keep coming back to this movie, and if you’ve got a lazy night open, there’s nothing wrong with firing this film up again. – Matt Goldberg

Interview with the Vampire

Director: Neil Jordan

Writer: Anne Rice

Cast: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Slater, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea

Interview with the Vampire is a sprawling gothic horror tale, and boy is it entertaining. Based on Anne Rice’s book series, Interview finds Brad Pitt’s Louis recounting to a journalist in modern day San Francisco how he was turned into a vampire in the late 1700s, chronicling the twists and turns that led him to where he is today. This includes Tom Cruise as the alluring Lestat and Kirsten Dunst as the fiercest child vampire you’ve ever met, but it’s all chronicled by director Neil Jordan in a way that’s neither campy nor cheesy. You buy into this story completely, and Cruise gives one of the most interesting performances of his career. – Adam Chitwood

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Director: Brian Henson

Writer: Jerry Juhl

Cast: Michael Caine, Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz, Frank Oz, and Jerry Nelson

This is the first feature-length Muppet movie without Jim Henson, who died during pre-production in 1990, but his son Brian did his pioneering father proud with his charming adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Caine is perfectly cast as Scrooge, and while the story is filled with muppets being wacky, it never loses any of its heart. It’s a delicate balancing act, but filled with lovely songs and the unique mix of emotion/irreverence we’ve come to expect from the muppets, this should be a staple of your holiday season. – Matt Goldberg

Panic Room

Director: David Fincher

Writer: David Koepp

Cast: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, and Dwight Yoakam

Panic Room usually gets written off as “minor Fincher”, which would be a mistake. The director set out to make a prime example of the “Friday Night Movie”, and he knocked it out of the park with this tight little thriller that follows a mother (Foster) and daughter (Stewart) who try to fend off three home intruders (Whitaker, Leto, and Yoakam) that want a treasure hidden in the house. The way Fincher snakes the camera through the home is stunning, and he really makes terrific use of the confined space, ratcheting up the tension throughout the story. It’s also one of the rare films where you actually enjoy the presence of Leto rather than just enduring him. – Matt Goldberg

Shakespeare in Love

Director: John Madden

Writers: Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard

Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck, and Judi Dench

While infamous for shocking everyone and taking Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan, there’s plenty to love about Shakespeare in Love. It’s a delightful film with a delightful story and a delightful cast, offering a romantic fan-fiction-style take on the creation of William Shakespeare’s most famous play. While a bit slight, there’s something about this movie that makes it feel like a warm blanket. It’s comforting and sweeping in its crafting of the central romance between Shakespeare and the daughter of a wealthy merchant, and Ben Affleck makes for a pretty hilarious self-absorbed actor. Should it have won Best Picture? Probably not. But boy is Shakespeare in Love charming. – Adam Chitwood

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