Last Updated: March 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 trashy action thrills to elegant period pieces to star-studded comedies. Here are the 20 best movies on HBO Go/HBO Now that you could and should be watching right now.
Die Hard (1988)
Bless you, streaming services. Now everyday can be (a Die Hard) Christmas! The 1988 John McClane action masterpiece that spawned countless imitators more than holds up thirty years on, which explains Die Hard being tapped for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Bruce Willis is armed with quips and thrilling sequences as one man fighting insurmountable odds in a Los Angeles skyscraper that’s been taken over by Alan Rickman’s genius baddie Hans Gruber. Laughs, gasps and Carl Winslow await. Welcome to the party, pal.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Hitman extraordinaire John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is forced to come out of retirement and that’s lovely news for fans of heart-stopping fight sequences. Miserable news for Wick’s enemies, though. A down and dirty sequel with inventive violence and an adrenaline injection plunged in the viewer’s heart, Chapter 2 amps up all the things that made the original such a welcome surprise. (Except for that dealbreaker dog lovers had with the first go-around.) John Wick: Chapter 2 is pretty to look at, pretty funny and pretty damn brutal.
M. Night Shyamalan’s cinematic batting average isn’t exactly pristine, but he’s been acing the creepy thrill ride lately with The Visit and Split. The latter is a delightfully uncomfortable picture that has James McAvoy as a live wire of a man with more personalities than the Real Housewives roster and Anya Taylor-Joy attempting to escape his clutches. If you enjoy your thrillers taut and with the performers themselves as the special effects, Split should please your twisted little heart.
Hugh Jackman bids goodbye to his furry Canadian alter-ego in this hard-R box office smash that offers up a grizzled late period take on Wolverine with a lovely mix of emotional gravitas and the appeal of a dude clawing up the brains of bad guys and ne’er-do-wells alike. Dafne Keen shines as the mysterious young girl that’s found herself in Logan’s life and Patrick Stewart returns as the least cuddly version of Professor Charles Xavier yet. Critics and fans alike are pretty sweet on this different brand of superhero movie.
Behind The Candelabra (2013)
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.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Embraced by critics and filmgoers alike, Wonder Woman is living, breathing, ass-kicking proof that the DCEU is capable of providing superhero fare that has to lead to shouty arguments over a Rotten Tomatoes score. Gal Gadot stars as Diana Prince (the titular woman of wonder) in Patty Jenkins’ exhilarating comic book motion picture set during World War I. Leaning into charm and fun alongside scenes of villain thumping, Wonder Woman sees our heroine as something too special not to stand out in her surroundings and the film is all the more captivating for it. Factor in a dash of romance and a knack of ol’ timey action and you’ve got the perfect sick on the couch film.
For all the fanfare surrounding Seth Rogen knocking out an R-rated animated comedy about food-f*cking, fellow Apatow pal and comedy filmmaker Nicholas Stoller crafted his own cartoon comedy actually aimed at tots and it was pretty darn good. Stoller, who helmed Neighbors and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, wrote and co-directed this kids comedy that presents a world where storks deliver babies and packages. Andy Samberg voices a stork who’s rising high in the stork delivery, world which should give you an idea of how goofy (in the best possible way) this Warner Bros. animated offering is. A loaded voice cast roster with Katie Crown, Key & Peele, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell and Kelsey Grammar bring the jokes to life.
Mommy Dead And Dearest (2017)
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 Blancharde. It’s an absorbing, strange and disturbing watch that doles out enough jawdropping 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.
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Sometimes in life, you just want to see a humongous ape tear sh*t up. Kong: Skull Island promised an orgy of Kong smashiness and did not disappoint with a finished product that’s more akin to a thrill ride than a movie proper. Come for the outrageous spectacle, stick around for John C. Reilly’s incredible performance as stranded U.S. Army Air Forces lieutenant Hank Marlow.
Temple Grandin (2010)
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.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Theodore Melfi’s 2016 biographical drama focusing on three black women and their essential contributions to the Space Race was an absolute smash at the box office and with leads like Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae it’s not hard to understand why. It’s an unapologetically sentimental film that inspires, especially with a trio as lovable as Henson, Spencer and Monae.
Get Out (2017)
Nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor, Get Out proved a smash with critics and filmgoers alike when Jordan Peele’s filmmaking debut hit theaters in 2017. A horror film with a stellar cast (led by Daniel Kaluuya), razor-sharp social commentary and chills galore, don’t be fooled by the “comedy” category branding of the Golden Globes. Get Out may have its funny bits, but it isn’t here to make you giggle. It’s unflinching art and will also f*ck up your ability to listen to tea being stirred for roughly the next 50 years or so.
Real Women Have Curves (2002)
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.
Back To The Future (1985)
Who knew working overtime to make sure your parents eventually head to the bonezone could be such a treasured family adventure? Robert Zemeckis’ classic sci-fi comedy Back to the Future is still held in high esteem decades on thanks in part to the ever endearing team of plucky everyteen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and delightful lunatic scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). It’s a bit surreal to take in in a Rick and Morty world, but no less entertaining. The sheer joy and adventure packed into this trip to the ‘50s via the ‘80s still resonates today. Your mileage may vary on the sequels which are also cozily nestled into the HBO Go library.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
The Royal Tenenbaums gets oceans full of sh*t for being twee, but don’t let that put you off this stylish Wes Anderson dramedy dealing with an estranged family burdened by unfulfilled potential, raw emotional nerves and return of its brash patriarch. Gene Hackman’s performance as Royal Tenenbaum is cinematic genius and exists alongside a bounty of incredible turns from an all-star cast that also includes Anjelica Huston, Danny Glover, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Owen Wilson.
The Purge: Election Year (2016)
Blessed be the New Founding Fathers for giving us the latest entry into The Purge franchise which manages to feel noticeably less batsh*t crazy by the day in the current political/cultural landscape. This time an anti-Purge senator is on the run during a period of time where all crime (and crazy-ass mask action) is legal for the alleged good of the country. The social commentary is about as subtle as a jackhammer enema and that suits this dystopian action title just fine.
Jackass: The Movie (2002)
Like most films featuring a former circus performer snorting wasabi hot sauce, this Jackass: The Movie is a work of genius. Johnny Knoxville’s band of knuckleheads took loads of abuse with a smile on their face and kickass soundtrack to match. Yes it’s dumb, but it’s a sweeter and savvier brand of dumb than you might expect from chuckling doofuses inflicting papercut torture on themselves. To be fair, you’re more likely to find this level of fluid play and raw American homoeroticism in an arthouse film anyway.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
E.T. isn’t exactly a looker by any stretch, but Steven Spielberg’s candy gobbling extraterrestrial stumbled into our hearts anyway. The universally adored ‘80s blockbuster weaves a tale of a boy and his unlikely alien friend that melds sci-fi wonder and heartfelt childhood feelings into a sweet and endlessly rewatchable story. Even after being parodied to death, iconic scenes like Elliott and E.T.’s flying bike sequence still strike a special nerve. It doesn’t hurt that the film has aged a smidge better than its Universal Studios ride.
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
Every ounce as poignant as when it was released in 2016, Spike Lee’s four-part documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts explores the real human devastation Hurricane Katrina left in its wake as well as what the catastrophe exposed about American societal constructs. It will break your heart, make you mad and once you’ve seen all four hours you’ll never forget them. It’s a difficult watch, but a necessary one.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
If you enjoy your 80s action-horror movies soundtracked by AC/DC and featuring a gakked-out-of-his-mind Stephen King in the director’s chair, Maximum Overdrive has you covered. Emilio Estevez and a gaggle of truck stop folk battle machines that go homicidal, genocidal, but rarely suicidal in this fascinating curiosity. It’s not an elegant masterpiece by any stretch, but Emilio vs. Evil Trucks should be all any sensible person could want.