What are the best movies to watch on HBO? Subscription streaming services are the fastest growing sector of the entertainment landscape, but before Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu came to dominate that arena, premium cable companies like HBO were offering consumers a way to watch movies and TV shows without commercials for a set monthly fee. Not content to let streaming run away with their market share, HBO also now allows people to subscribe to an entirely online version of their service called HBO Now, after fans begged for such an option for years.
Nowadays, cutting the cable cord is the preferred way to go for many, especially younger pop culture devotees. Cable packages are bloated, full of content very few people want, and contain multiple additional fees. Still, whether one subscribes to HBO through cable or via streaming, the service offers a great selection of movies with which to pass the time, even if the line-up isn't quite as robust as those of the subscription streaming big three.
Before the list of the best movies on HBO begins proper, there are some important notes to be made. First, the movies below are available to watch on HBO and stream on HBO Now at the time of this writing. As movies expire, the list will be updated, and new great options will be added. Also, the 15 films below, while numbered for convenience, are not ranked.
Last updated: October 6, 2019
In 1978, director John Carpenter created one of the most iconic horror villains of all time with Halloween's Michael Myers. Unfortunately, the franchise that followed wasn't exactly great, with few of the sequels doing any type of justice to the original. Thankfully, that trend changed with 2018's Halloween, directed by David Gordon Green, and now available on HBO. A direct sequel to only Carpenter's original - and with Carpenter himself onboard as producer and composer - Halloween (2018) does its best to recapture Michael's glory days, even bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. The result isn't as good as the original, but it's pretty easily the best follow-up.
Director Paul Verhoeven has always been known for peppering his films with subversive messages, and making films that were uniquely his. That very much extended to his more commercially successful fare, such as 1987's Robocop, which proved popular enough to spawn a franchise that's still ongoing (and almost entirely available on HBO), but also overflowed with satirical attacks on consumerism and capitalism as a whole. For Omni Consumer Products, nothing comes before profit, and not even murder is too far to go to make another buck. Thankfully, Robocop ends up disagreeing with his makers.
13. The Lost Boys
Few monsters even approach the level of movies made about the vampire. It's not hard to see why, as vampires' ageless nature and wide-ranging powers often lead to them being seen as both cool and seductive. One of the best depictions of the sheer potential coolness involved with being a member of the undead is 1987's cult classic The Lost Boys, directed by Joel Schumacher. The film's tagline says it all: "Sleep all day. Party all night. It's fun to be a vampire." A cast full of 1980s favorites doesn't hurt things, including Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jami Gertz, Keifer Sutherland, and Alex Winter. The Lost Boys is definitely worth biting into on HBO.
One of the most acclaimed films of 2018, BlacKkKlansman earned six Oscar nominations, including the first ever Best Director nomination for Spike Lee. While Lee didn't win, he did share in the film's Best Adapted Screenplay victory. Based on a true story, BlacKkKlansman stars John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, the first black cop in the history of Colorado Springs. Stallworth struggles to fit in at first, but quickly finds his niche investigating infamous hate group the Ku Klux Klan. Stallworth gains their trust by pretending to be white over the phone, with fellow officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) posing as Stallworth for in person meetings. For those who missed it in theaters last year, BlacKkKlansman is a must-watch HBO selection.
11. The Manchurian Candidate
While not quite the exalted classic its 1962 inspiration is, director Jonathan Demme's 2004 remake of political thriller The Manchurian Candidate is still an enjoyable piece of work. Denzel Washington stars as a war veteran named Ben Marco, who begins to suspect his experiences overseas might not have been what they seemed. Before long, his investigation leads to the revelation that vice presidential candidate Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) might be an unwitting puppet of a dark conspiracy. Meryl Streep, Vera Farmiga, and Jon Voight also star in this prime HBO pick.
10. Thank You for Smoking
The directorial debut of acclaimed filmmaker Jason Reitman, 2005's Thank You for Smoking is a pitch black satire of just how unethical the world of high-powered corporate lobbying can really be. Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor, a good-looking, fast-talking, alpha male-type lobbyist for the tobacco industry. Cigarettes are of course a product that slowly kills its users, making lobbying it for a job best done without moral hangups. Katie Holmes, Maria Bello, David Koechner, William H. Macy, and more fill out the star-studded cast of this top HBO pick.
9. A Time to Kill
Based on a novel by best-selling author John Grisham, 1996's A Time to Kill takes a harsh look at the often racially-biased justice system in the American south, and also asks the question of whether murder can ever be justified. Set in Mississippi, A Time to Kill's plot is put in motion by the brutal rape of a young black girl. Afraid the rapists will go free, the girl's father, powerfully played by Samuel L. Jackson, gets revenge by shooting and killing them on their way to trial. This earns him a murder trial of his own, and it's up to white lawyer Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) and his defense team to try and avoid the death penalty. Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd, Kevin Spacey, and Donald and Keifer Sutherland also star in this prime HBO pick.
8. Won't You Be My Neighbor?
One of the most beloved documentaries in recent memory, many moviegoers were outraged when director Morgan Neville's Won't You Be My Neighbor? was snubbed in the Oscars best documentary category. Despite that sad turn, the film's exploration of the life and career of Fred Rogers - host of legendary kids show Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and lifelong advocate for children - remains utterly compelling, and enough to pierce just about anyone's cynical exterior. HBO subscribers should get acquainted with it as soon as possible.