The 39 Best Movies on HBO Right Now (June 2021)

It may be difficult to comprehend, but HBO is not the same as HBO Max. Instead, HBO Max is more of a streaming addition to the traditional Home Box Office lineup. But for fans who haven’t been ready to upgrade to Max, HBO still has a lot to offer via its cable channels, on-demand programming, and even streaming online. HBO also has a few different film options than HBO Max, even though both draw upon the very deep library of flicks from Warner Bros. and a few additional studios. HBO has even made some impressive original flicks that are just as good as any that have opened in theaters. It’s a paradise for film lovers, especially if you know where to look. That’s where we come in. To plan your next movie night, here are the best films you can watch on HBO now.

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The Aviator (2004)

The real Howard Hughes has been gone for nearly five decades, but he left behind an eclectic legacy as a pilot, an aviation magnate, an engineer, and even a film director. Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator examines two decades in Howard’s life, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. Howard’s whirlwind affair with Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) is chronicled, as is his intimate connection with Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). The film doesn’t shy away from depicting Howard’s severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, which threatens to destroy his empire and his relationships. For better or worse, Howard’s real life was complex and messy. That’s also why his story makes for a very compelling film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 170 minutes

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Backdraft

Backdraft (1991)

Backdraft is a special effects marvel, thanks to its masterful depiction of the beautiful and destructive nature of fire. Kurt Russell and William Baldwin star as Stephen “Bull” McCaffrey and his brother, Brian. Bull is the senior firefighter, and he is often at odds with his younger brother. But as a series of deadly fires rock Chicago, Brian and his mentor, Captain Donald “Shadow” Rimgale (Robert De Niro), suspect arson as the cause. More specifically, they come to believe that only a firefighter would have the skill to create the targeted blazes. Brian even briefly suspects that his brother is to blame before the truth surprises them all.

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Genre: Action, Thriller
Stars: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rebecca De Mornay, Donald Sutherland, Robert De Niro
Director: Ron Howard
Rating: R
Runtime: 137 minutes

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Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Back to the Future isn’t the only film that has successfully mixed time travel, sci-fi, and comedy. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure unexpectedly launched a franchise when it introduced fans to Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter), and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves). Together, they are Wyld Stallyns, and they’re also in big trouble if they don’t pass their history presentation. Rufus (George Carlin), a time traveler from the future, arrives in 1988 and gives the duo a phone booth time machine because they have a destiny to fulfill. Naturally, the guys use their new toy to create chaos in time. And they also put together a dream team of historical figures.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Comedy, Sci-fi
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, Robert V. Barron, Terry Camilleri, Clifford David
Director: Stephen Herek
Rating: PG
Runtime: 90 minutes

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Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner wasn’t a huge hit, but it was an incredibly influential sci-fi film. Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, Blade Runner 2049, appears to be on the same trajectory. This visually stunning follow-up takes place a few decades after the original movie, as a Blade Runner known as K (Ryan Gosling) discovers evidence that replicants can biologically reproduce. Because of gaps in his own history, K comes to believe that he is the replicant child in question. To get answers, K takes it upon himself to track down Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the titular Blade Runner from the original film. However, a corrupt executive, Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), wants to catch Rick first and use his knowledge to exploit the replicant secrets for his own gain.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Sci-fi, Action
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Jared Leto, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Rating: R
Runtime: 163 minutes

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Chasing Amy

Chasing Amy (1997)

Chasing Amy remains director Kevin Smith’s best film to date, thanks to its frank depiction of sex, romance, and the ensuing emotional blowback. Ben Affleck stars as comic book illustrator Holden McNeil, a young man who becomes instantly infatuated with Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams). Despite his initial surprise that Alyssa is a lesbian, Holden’s feelings for her continue unabated. When Alyssa begins to reciprocate those feelings, Holden’s friend and partner, Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), is openly threatened by their burgeoning romance. Regardless, Holden proves to be his own worst enemy when his insecurity threatens his emotional bonds to both Alyssa and Banky.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama
Stars: Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee, Dwight Ewell, Jason Mewes
Director: Kevin Smith
Rating: R
Runtime: 113 minutes

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Clueless

Clueless (1995)

Clueless is one of the seminal comedies of the ‘90s and the film that solidified Alicia Silverstone as a star. Within the film, Silverstone plays Cher Horowitz, a teenager among the most popular girls in her school. Cher has a somewhat contentious relationship with her step-brother, Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd). According to Josh, Cher has no purpose in her life. To rectify that, Cher commits to performing good deeds and takes an unpopular girl, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy), under her wing. But when Tai competes with her for the affections of the same guy, Cher is once again forced to reassess her life.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Wallace Shawn
Director: Amy Heckerling
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 97 minutes

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The Hurricane

The Hurricane (1999)

The Hurricane is inspired by the true story of boxer Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter (Denzel Washington). In 1966, Rubin was on the verge of greater stardom when he was wrongfully convicted of a triple homicide. When the film flashes forward to the ‘80s, young Lesra Martin (Vicellous Reon Shannon) is inspired by Rubin’s autobiography to free him from prison. Lesra rallies support for Rubin, and the fight for his freedom returns to the courtroom. The quest for justice takes its toll on both Rubin and Lesra, but their struggle is not in vain.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Denzel Washington, John Hannah, Deborah Kara Unger, Liev Schreiber, Vicellous Reon Shannon, David Paymer
Director: Norman Jewison
Rating: R
Runtime: 146 minutes

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Kajillionaire

Kajillionaire (2020)

Despite its strange title, Kajillionaire is not about a ridiculously wealthy family. Instead, it’s about a family of grifters and con artists. Evan Rachel Wood stars as Old Dolio, the daughter of Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa Dyne (Debra Winger). The problem is that Old Dollo’s parents don’t treat her like their child. Instead, she’s simply their convenient accomplice. While trying to run a con, Robert and Theresa recruit Melanie Whitacre (Gina Rodriguez) into their schemes and begin treating her as their daughter. Much to Old Dollo’s surprise, Melanie is the only one who offers her any emotional support. This leads Old Dollo to openly question whether her parents care for her at all.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins
Director: Miranda July
Rating: R
Runtime: 106 minutes

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Oslo

Oslo (2021)

One of HBO Films’ latest projects is Oslo, a dramatization of the historic 1993 peace talks between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israel. Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul (Ruth Wilson) and her husband, Terje Rød-Larsen (Andrew Scott), both play key roles in bringing the two sides together. Talks continue even when the diplomatic channels are revealed in the press. The tragedy of Oslo is that the peace agreement proved to be short-lived. Yet, that doesn’t diminish the efforts of those who fought so hard to make it happen.

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Itzik Cohen, Salim Daw, Sasson Gabai
Director: Bartlett Sher
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 118 minutes

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Rocky

Rocky (1976)

Nobody believed in Rocky Balboa like Sylvester Stallone. In the mid-’70s, Sylvester wrote, directed, and starred in Rocky. Carl Weathers co-starred as Apollo Creed, a world champion boxer. When Apollo needs an opponent for an exhibition match, Rocky gets the shot of a lifetime. Simultaneously, Rocky pursues a very charming romance with Adriana “Adrian” Pennino (Talia Shire). As the day of the big fight approaches, not even Rocky believes that he can win. However, that doesn’t stop Rocky from using everything he has to go the distance. This film was 1976’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture and also the start of a franchise that continues to this day.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Rating: PG
Runtime: 120 minutes

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Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

If you’ve ever wondered why Eddie Murphy became a box office draw, then you should check out Beverly Hills Cop. Murphy’s wildly entertaining turn as Detroit police detective Axel Foley kicked off a franchise with a blockbuster hit. When Axel’s friend, Mikey Tandino (James Russo), is killed, he disobeys orders and pursues the killers to Beverly Hills. Detectives Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton) are assigned to keep Axel out of trouble … and they spectacularly fail to do so. Axel simply won’t back down from any authority, and he always finds a way to make it funny.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Comedy, Action
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher, Ronny Cox
Director: Martin Brest
Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes

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Desperately Seeking Susan

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

Madonna had her first breakout acting performance in Desperately Seeking Susan, but this movie also belongs to Rosanna Arquette. Within the film, Arquette plays Roberta Glass, a housewife who becomes enamored by the relationship between Susan (Madonna) and Jim Dandy (Robert Joy) as it plays out in the personals section of a newspaper. When Roberta seeks out Susan, she inadvertently loses her memory and comes to believe that she is Susan. Unfortunately for Roberta, this moment comes just as Susan runs afoul of a mobster who wants to kill her. That puts both women in danger before Roberta is forced to take stock of her life and make a few significant changes.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Rosanna Arquette, Aidan Quinn, Madonna, Robert Joy
Director: Susan Seidelman
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 104 minutes

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The English Patient

The English Patient (1996)

The English Patient made audiences swoon in 1996, thanks to its epic romance set against the backdrop of World War II. Ralph Fiennes stars as Almásy, a badly-burned man facing the end of his life in the war’s final days. While a nurse named Hana (Juliette Binoche) cares for him, Almásy puts together the pieces of his past. That includes Almásy’s torrid affair with Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas), a married woman. Hana has a tentative romance of her own with Kip (Naveen Andrews), a soldier in the British army. Willem Dafoe also stars in the movie as a Canadian intelligence officer named Caravaggio, a man who holds a dangerous grudge against Almásy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Drama, Romance
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Naveen Andrews
Director: Anthony Minghella
Rating: R
Runtime: 162 minutes

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Denzel Washington and Ray Allen in He Got Game

He Got Game (1998)

Spike Lee cast NBA superstar Ray Allen in his film He Got Game. That gave a lot of credibility to Allen’s role as Jesus Shuttlesworth, the top basketball prospect in the nation. Jesus is so highly coveted that the governor temporarily paroles his father, Jacob “Jake” Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington). If Jake can get his son to commit to the governor’s alma mater, then he can go free. However, the lingering hostility between Jesus and Jake means that the son isn’t exactly eager to do his father any favors. Not even a one-on-one basketball game can settle their issues. Instead, the father and son will have to look within for resolution and reconciliation.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Denzel Washington, Ray Allen, Milla Jovovich, John Turturro, Rosario Dawson
Director: Spike Lee
Rating: R
Runtime: 136 minutes

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Insomnia

Insomnia (1992)

For his third feature film, Insomnia, Christopher Nolan turned to a stellar cast for this psychological thriller. Al Pacino stars as Will Dormer, a police detective plagued by guilt and insomnia while on a special case in Alaska. After Will’s partner, Detective Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan), threatens to testify against him to Internal Affairs, Will shoots Hap while in pursuit of a killer, Walter Finch (Robin Williams). Walter takes the opportunity to blackmail Will into helping him escape the charges, while a young detective, Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank), gets closer to the truth.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Thriller
Stars: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Maura Tierney, Martin Donovan
Director: Christopher Nolan
Rating: R
Runtime: 119 minutes

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Life of Pi

Life of Pi (2012)

Ang Lee’s adaptation of Life of Pi is a visual masterpiece and a modern fairy tale as well. Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel (Suraj Sharma) shares the story of his life, from his younger years to a horrific accident at sea when he was a teenager (Irrfan Khan). Young Pi is trapped on a lifeboat with an intimidating Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. While Richard Parker could easily kill Pi, the teenager finds a way for both of them to co-exist as they fight the elements for their lives.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall, Tabu, Adil Hussain
Director: Ang Lee
Rating: PG
Runtime: 120 minutes

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Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is one of her all-time great mystery novels. For the 1974 adaptation, director Sidney Lumet put together an amazing cast including Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, and more. But it’s Albert Finney who takes the lead as detective Hercule Poirot. After checking in on the Orient Express, Hercule is approached by a desperate man named Ratchett (Richard Widmark). After Hercule refuses to act as Ratchett’s bodyguard, the man is soon found murdered on the train. Hercule takes the case, but the passengers on the train will do anything to protect their secrets.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Mystery
Stars: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset
Director: Sidney Lumet
Rating: PG
Runtime: 128 minutes

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Argo

Argo (2012)

Ben Affleck’s career comeback was firmly secured with Argo. He directed the film and starred as CIA extraction expert Tony Mendez. It’s based on a real story that took place after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. With six U.S. Embassy employees trapped in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran, Tony comes up with a novel idea to extract them. He and his colleagues develop a fake sci-fi movie and pretend to be Canadian filmmakers in a ruse to smuggle out the Americans as part of the crew. Certain embellishments were made for the big screen, but it’s still very entertaining.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman
Director: Ben Affleck
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 120 minutes

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Babe

Babe (1995)

There aren’t many critically acclaimed movies with talking pigs, but Babe is a charmer. Plus, this is the movie that revitalized James Cromwell’s career. In the film, Cromwell plays a farmer named Arthur Hoggett, who adds a young pig named Babe (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh) to his farm. Eager to earn his keep, Babe develops a knack for sheepherding with the full cooperation of the sheep. But Babe’s faith in Arthur’s affection is shaken when he learns that humans eat pigs.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Comedy, Family
Stars: James Cromwell, Christine Cavanaugh, Magda Szubanski
Director: Chris Noonan
Rating: G
Runtime: 92 minutes

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Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect (2012)

Pitch Perfect may be one of the most unlikely franchises of the last two decades, but it won over audiences with its initial installment. Anna Kendrick stars as Beca Mitchell, a young first-year student at Barden University. Beca’s singing ability quickly draws the attention of the Barden Bellas, the university’s female a cappella group. However, Beca butts heads with the Bellas’ leader, Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp), which jeopardizes the group’s national championship hopes.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Genre: Musical, Comedy
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow
Director: Jason Moore
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 112 minutes

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Dunkirk

Dunkirk (2012)

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is based on a true World War II story. In the aftermath of the Battle of France, thousands of British soldiers were stranded on Dunkirk as German troops advanced. The film follows the rescue effort by sea and by air. But back in Dunkirk itself, soldiers Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and Alex (Harry Styles) find danger at every turn. The first few rescue attempts are disastrous, and even the rescuers are in danger. Not everyone is going to come home from this mission.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles
Director: Christopher Nolan
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 106 minutes

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Lincoln

Lincoln (2012)

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln biopic takes a look at the last few months of President Abraham Lincoln’s life. Daniel Day-Lewis gives an outstanding performance as Lincoln, and the story follows the president as he tries to bring the Union back together while maintaining the emancipation of the former slaves. It’s not an easy task for Lincoln, thanks to the politics of his era. But the portrait that emerges is not a mythical figure from history. Instead, Lincoln is shown as a man who tried to do right by his family and his country.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 150 minutes

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Get Shorty

Get Shorty (1995)

It’s hard to go wrong with an Elmore Leonard novel as the source material, and Get Shorty keeps that tradition alive. John Travolta stars as Chili Palmer, a Miami mobster who gets seduced by an even bigger scam: the dream of making it big in Hollywood. While collecting a debt from producer Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), Chili pitches his own story in the hopes of getting it made into a film. And while pursuing Martin Weir (Danny DeVito) to star in the movie, Chili finds himself drawn to Martin’s ex-wife, Karen (Rene Russo).

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Danny DeVito
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

John le Carré’s Cold War thriller novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, was brilliantly adapted by director Tomas Alfredson. Gary Oldman stars as George Smiley, a British intelligence officer in the early ’70s. After a botched operation sends George into early retirement, an apparent Soviet mole inside MI6 changes the game. George is recruited to help expose the spy from outside the agency, as he re-enters a world of danger and intrigue.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: Gary Oldman, Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Rating: R
Runtime: 127 minutes

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Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

Jacob’s Ladder is an unusually challenging horror film that keeps its viewers guessing about what is real and what’s not. Tim Robbins plays Jacob Singer, a Vietnam veteran haunted by his near-death experience during the war, as well as the death of his son. Years after coming home from Vietnam, Jacob begins experiencing horrific hallucinations. Jacob soon suspects that he and his fellow soldiers may have been subjected to experimental drugs. But the truth is far more disturbing than Jacob suspects.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Stars: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Matt Craven, Danny Aiello
Director: Adrian Lyne
Rating: R
Runtime: 113 minutes

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Kill Bill Vol. 1

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

Quentin Tarantino’s revenge epic Kill Bill was famously split into two movies. But soon, you’ll be able to watch both films back-to-back on HBO Max. Of the two, we’re partial to Kill Bill Vol. 1, which introduces the Bride (Uma Thurman). After her ex-boyfriend, Bill (David Carradine), orders a hit on her during her wedding, the Bride awakens from a coma to avenge her loss. The Bride’s first two targets are Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), and both battles were stylish and instantly iconic. It’s one of Tarantino’s best, even after nearly two decades since its release.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Action, Martial Arts
Stars: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, David Carradine
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Rating: R
Runtime: 111 minutes

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A Better Life

A Better Life (2011)

Director Chris Weitz’s A Better Life offers viewers a glimpse of a world rarely seen on screen. Demián Bichir stars as Carlos Galindo, an undocumented gardener living in Los Angeles with his son, Luis (José Julián). Unlike his father, Luis is dismissive of their shared Mexican culture and is lashing out. However, the father and son duo are forced to unite when someone steals Carlos’ truck. Their journey through the streets of LA feels real and authentic, and even minor success has its price in this story.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Demián Bichir, José Julián, Dolores Heredia
Director: Chris Weitz
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 94 minutes

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Independence Day

Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day is not necessarily great cinema, but it excels as a popcorn action flick that took theaters by storm in 1996. Arguably, it was the film that made Will Smith a movie star, thanks to his turn as ace fighter pilot Captain Steven Hiller. But the real stars of this movie are the aliens themselves and the destruction that they leave in their wake. This is a disaster film dialed up to 11, and we still get goosebumps from President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) as he delivers a speech for the ages.

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Genre: Sci-fi, Action
Stars: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
Director: Roland Emmerich
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 145 minutes

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Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Racing films don’t always appeal to non-racing fans, but Ford v Ferrari captures the period and the drama of Ford Motor Company’s bitter rivalry with Scuderia Ferrari in the mid-60s. Former race car driver turned automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) recruits his best friend, Ken Miles (Christian Bale), to help him create the Ford GT40 to compete in the prestigious Le Mans race with Ken as the driver. Together, they strike fear in the heart of Ferrari even as rivals within Ford attempt to push Ken out. It’s an inspiring story that doesn’t shy away from the darker elements that emerge. That’s why it’s such a compelling journey.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal
Director: James Mangold
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 152 minutes

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High Fidelity, best movies on HBO right now

High Fidelity (2000)

Pop quiz: What are your top five favorite John Cusack movies? Chances are good that High Fidelity is on that list. That’s fitting because Cusack’s Rob Gordon loves making top five lists all throughout the movie. Poor Rob also loves Laura (Iben Hjejle), but not as much as he loves music. With his relationship on the rocks, Rob tries to figure out how he can improve himself. Regardless, the real joy in the movie comes during the moments when Rob just can’t help embracing his inner music geek. The man’s got good taste!

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama
Stars: John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black, Tim Robbins
Director: Stephen Frears
Rating: R
Runtime: 113 minutes

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John Cena in Tour de Pharmacy

Tour de Pharmacy (2017)

After the success of 7 Days in Hell, a mockumentary about a legendary tennis match between two fictional idiots, the Andy Samberg-led team earned a second go-round via HBO. The result? Tour de Pharmacy, a story that spoofs the Tour de France by focusing on competitors’ use of performance-enhancing substances in the early 1980s. Samberg returns to play Nigerian rider Marty Hass, while Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore, Daveed Diggs, and John Cena appear as the other made-up competitors. Tour de Pharmacy is filled with classic slapstick comedy, and the concept is bolstered by the inclusion of several veteran actors — we won’t spoil the hilarious surprises here — who play the “modern-day” versions of the film’s protagonists. Lance Armstrong’s cameo doesn’t hurt, either.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Comedy, Sports
Stars: Andy Samberg, Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore
Director: Jake Szymanski
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 50 minutes

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Clerks on HBO Max

Clerks (1994)

Clerks was the film that famously launched the career of writer and director Kevin Smith, who also co-stars in the movie as Silent Bob alongside Jason Mewes’ Jay. While Jay and Silent Bob became staples of Smith’s later films, Clerks belongs to Brian O’Halloran’s Dante Hicks and Jeff Anderson’s Randal Graves. Dante and Randal’s banter showed off Smith’s gift for dialogue, but it also allowed them to be more than just Smith’s pop culture sounding board. The duo justifiably have contempt for their dead-end jobs, but they don’t necessarily appreciate the good things they do have. It’s a hard lesson for Dante to learn, but he does get the point in the end.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes
Director: Kevin Smith
Rating: R
Runtime: 92 minutes

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Oprah Winfrey in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017)

Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman whose cancer cells, biopsied during treatment for cervical cancer in 1951, became one of the most important cell lines in medical research. Lacks’ family was not made aware of her unwitting contributions to modern medicine, however, until 1975. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is based on the nonfiction book of the same name, which documents the story of Lacks (Renee Elise Goldsberry) as told by author Rebecca Skloot (portrayed by Rose Byrne in the film) and Lacks’ daughter, Deborah Lacks (Oprah Winfrey). The HBO film was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for an Outstanding Television Movie, and Winfrey went on to be nominated for multiple awards for her role in the film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Oprah Winfrey, Rose Byrne
Director: George C. Wolfe
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 94 minutes

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Joker on HBO Max

Joker (2019)

One of the most acclaimed and discussed films from the past year, 2019’s Joker isn’t for the faint of heart. There are moments that would disturb even the most hardened sensibilities within people. That being said, Joaquin Phoenix’s interpretation of the iconic villain is impossible to look away from, as there’s something surprisingly human about Arthur Fleck’s descent into madness and as he becomes the Joker. Fleck’s inability to control his laughter creates a maniacal character rooted in deep sadness, one who can’t get out of his own way despite often having good intentions. There’s a reason Joker ascended the usual bias against comic book films, earning 11 Oscar nominations and a Best Actor win for Phoenix.

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Genre: Drama, crime
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro
Director: Todd Phillips
Rating: R
Runtime: 122 minutes

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My Left Foot (1989)

The Oscar-winning drama My Left Foot is a large part of what made Daniel Day-Lewis a household name. The film is based on the autobiography of writer and painter Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy and could only write, type, or paint with his left foot. Day-Lewis’ immersion into the character is complete, showing you Brown’s personality flaws along with his physical limitations. My Left Foot is inspiring and upbeat despite Brown’s often difficult journey, and is absolutely a film everyone should see at least once.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Alison Whelan
Director: Jim Sheridan
Rating: R
Runtime: 103 minutes

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Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Liberace is unmasked like never before in this HBO original film from 2013. The movie doesn’t give the full picture of the famous singer and pianist, but instead chooses to focus on the last decade of his life. Liberace (Michael Douglas) is introduced to animal trainer Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), who becomes an employee of Liberace and, eventually, one of his last great loves. The film is a haunting portrayal of celebrity isolation as well as the effects that homophobia and the AIDS crisis had on the world in the ’70s and ’80s. Douglas and Damon were both nominated for Emmy Awards, with Douglas winning.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Romance, Drama
Stars: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Scott Bakula
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 118 minutes

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Hugh Jackman in Bad Education

Bad Education (2013)

The inner workings of the school system of a typical Long Island town may not sound like the most exciting backdrop for the dramatizing of a real-life event. Then again, it doesn’t get any more exciting than the biggest public school embezzlement in American history. In Bad Education, Hugh Jackman stars as Dr. Frank Tassone, a superintendent who can seemingly do no wrong in getting the Roslyn School District on the map. There are dark layers to Tassone, however, which start to unravel when assistant superintendent Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) is exposed for stealing money from the district. From there, things only get worse as student journalist Rachel (Geraldine Viswanathan) works to discover the truth behind the district’s disappearing money.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Crime
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney
Director: Cory Finley
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 108 minutes

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Birds of Prey on HBO

Birds of Prey (2020)

Introduced to the role in 2016’s critical bomb, but commercial home run, Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie gets another turn as fan-favorite Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey. Told from Harley’s smart but certifiable point of view, Birds of Prey shows us how Harley goes from being the spurned lover of Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, to forgetting her “puddin’” and becoming her own gun-toting, butt-kicking self. Along the way, she gathers a team of former cops, killers, and super-powered singers to help her face down the endless criminal hordes of Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), aka Black Mask. McGregor is perfect as the brutal Sionis, who’s just as twisted as Harley or her ex-boyfriend, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is another standout as the lethal vigilante Huntress.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Action
Stars: Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Director: Cathy Yan
Rating: R
Runtime: 109 minutes

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Conspiracy on HBO

Conspiracy (2001)

There are few films that you could find on HBO, or any other streaming service, more disturbing than Conspiracy — a dramatic retelling of the 1942 Wannsee Conference, during which high-ranking German officials met to ensure the cooperation of all the Reich’s departments over the so-called “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” Using the only surviving transcript from the meeting, Conspiracy brings into focus the obscenely casual inhumanity of the various players, as well as the political rivalries within the Reich. Kenneth Branagh is brilliant as the skillfully manipulative Reinhard Heydrich, and Stanley Tucci is utterly chilling as the officiously cruel Adolf Eichmann.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, Colin Firth
Director: Frank Pierson
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

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