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: March 6, 2019
Just one of many terrific films directed by modern master Christopher Nolan, 2010's mind-bending sci-fi action blockbuster Inception started off its decade with a bang, earning raves from both critics and audiences. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Dom Cobb, a highly skilled professional thief that steals secrets from his targets by entering their dreams without permission. Cobb is offered the chance to escape his criminal past, provided he can successfully plant an idea into a particular person's subconscious mind. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, and Cillian Murphy also star in this prime HBO film pick.
14. The Bourne Identity
An adaptation of the novel of the same name by author Robert Ludlum, 2002's The Bourne Identity turned Matt Damon into a certified action star and also proved that he could lead a franchise. Directed by Doug Liman, The Bourne Identity stars Damon as Jason Bourne, a man suffering from severe memory loss that eventually discovers he's a badass assassin formerly employed by a clandestine group called Treadstone. Bourne would reprise the title role for three further sequels, the first of which is also available to watch on HBO.
Tom Cruise has made a career out of playing likable romantic leads and/or dashing action heroes, but in 2004's Collateral, he got to indulge in his inner villain for a change. Cruise plays Vincent, a charming but brutally cold hitman who forces cab driver Max (Jamie Foxx) to provide him transport as he takes out various targets. Max goes along for his safety, but eventually reaches his breaking point, leading to a deadly game of cat and mouse between the two men. Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, and Javier Bardem also star in the Michael Mann-directed thriller, which remains worth a watch on HBO.
12. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Arguably one of the most quotable comedies of all time, 2004's Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy presents perhaps Will Ferrell's greatest cinematic creation. The titular newsman is a rather terrible guy in some ways, although the rampant sexist behavior he displays was par for the course back in the 1970s. What makes Ron so likable is that he really doesn't seem out to hurt anyone, at least for the most part, and does show a capacity for personal growth by the end. Also, he's hilarious, as are Ferrell's co-stars Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner. Director Adam McKay's film remains a laugh riot on HBO.
11. Dawn of the Dead
While he has his share of both fans and detractors, Zack Snyder's films rarely fail to elicit some type of strong reaction. This began all the way back in 2004 with his first directorial effort, a remake of George A. Romero's classic 1978 zombie epic Dawn of the Dead. Many horror lovers were lukewarm to the idea of a remake, but Snyder smartly chose to only keep the basic premise of the original - a group of people try to survive a zombie apocalypse inside a shopping mall - and craft an entirely new movie around it. Snyder's Dawn of the Dead isn't Romero-level, but it's still a blast, full of action and suspense, and well worth streaming on HBO.
Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland, 2007's Sunshine doesn't always get the credit it deserves when it comes to being a quality sci-fi film, despite it receiving predominately good reviews at the time of release. A lot of that is likely due to it bombing at the box office, but that's one of the great things about streaming services like HBO Now, films that didn't soar out of the gate can find a new audience. In the year 2056, Sunshine sends a crew of astronauts up to try and reignite the dying sun with a nuclear bomb. Unfortunately, things go wildly awry. The all-star cast includes Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, and Mark Strong.
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9. 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.
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.