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.
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
James Wan’s transformation from Saw sadist to blockbuster filmmaking has been fun to watch? The Conjuring 2 is a marvelously crafted horror movie that plays on the nerves as it plunks paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) in England to ultimately do battle with the Enfield Poltergeist. As in the first go-around, the 2016 sequel scored an R rating strictly for its “terror and horror violence” and not for salty language, nudity (sorry, scary nun fetishists) or gore. It’s good ol’ fashioned scary scares with leads that are all-in for every new freakout.
The Nice Guys (2016)
This action-packed action comedy starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as the titular nice guys on the hunt for clues after a young woman goes missing marinates in late-’70s L.A. sleaze. Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang; Iron Man 3) does the buddy comedy genre right by making the jokes work, knowing how to meld it with exciting shootouts and hitting a home run with the casting of the Angourie Rice (Spider-Man: Homecoming) in the role of Gosling’s much more astute daughter. It’s industrial strength fun.
Do The Right Thing (1989)
Universally recognized as one of the great movies of the 1980s yet every bit as relevant in 2017 as it was in 1989, Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing brings us into a sweltering Bed-Stuy as tensions reach a boiling point. It’s smart, frequently funny, and featuring a remarkably talented ensemble cast, and you will not be able to look at the photos on a pizzeria’s wall the same way ever again.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Mad Max: Fury Road genius George Miller directed a film where a coven made up of Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon encounter a devilish Jack Nicholson. What more could you possibly need to go on to determine if you would like or dislike The Witches of Eastwick? This eccentric female-fronted buddy comedy isn’t afraid to dive into its supernatural element and you get the added bonus of pretending you read the John Updike novel. (The book’s fantastic, I imagine.) Nicholson goes full Nicholson in his performance and it’s beautiful to watch. Many a crush was formed from watching this 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.
A stoner classic so essential you might advocate for it to be shown in schools, the F. Gary Gray directed comedy Friday more than holds up over two decades later. There’s something sort of eternal about a story of smoking a lot of weed and needing money fast. Ice Cube showed off his charm and screenwriting smarts in Friday, an easygoing outing that doesn’t get enough credit for originality, or for inspiring movies that followed. Toss in elite era Chris Tucker, a brilliant soundtrack and loads of welcome faces ranging from Bernie Mac to Nia Long and you’ve got a lovely 91 minutes ahead of you.
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.
The Brothers Bloom (2009)
Often overlooked in Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson’s filmography is this admittedly precious 2009 con comedy. To be fair, existing in-between Brick and Looper will do that to a movie. This warmhearted caper puts two expert con men (Adrian Brody and Mark Ruffalo) into the path of Rachel Weisz’s oddball heiress Penelope. Things escalate as is wont to happen in the confidence game. It’s a warm, gorgeous watch that gives you a tiny bit of Weisz doing kung-fu. What’s not to like?
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
“DEAD BY DAWN!” “DEAD BY DAWN!” Bruce Campbell cemented his cult god status as America’s favorite deadite combatant in this brilliantly disgusting Sam Raimi horror movie. Offering laughs and gasps at a breakneck pace, Evil Dead 2 deserves its mythical status as a cult horror masterclass and you don’t even to revisit the first film to enjoy it. (The sequel’s essentially an update of the original that’s been put into a more gleefully berserk direction.)
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.
Speed Racer (2008)
Misunderstood at the time, the bonkers visual triumph that is Speed Racer is worth giving a square go to roughly a decade later. The Wachowskis turned the cartoon into a gorgeous extended piece of pop art and gave us the blessed visual of mustachioed John Goodman as Pops Racer to boot. It’s like a Saturday morning cartoon because it’s an unapologetic celebration of the Saturday morning cartoon. Emile Hirsch fights a ninja for goodness sake! (Or a “nonja” as Pops declares after he throws the ninja to an unspeakably brutal death.) Speed Racer puts the iconic driver behind the wheel and blazing through a world of intrigue, corruption and readily available stylized neckwear.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Stylish fun based on a true story, Catch Me If You Can is the sort of big Hollywood movie that you want to wrap yourself up in it like a blanket. Leonardo DiCaprio plays con artist extraordinaire Frank Abagnale with a supremely dedicated FBI agent (Tom Hanks) on this trail in this Steven Spielberg-directed offering. (Not to be outdone, Christopher Walken earned an Oscar nomination for his performance here.) With apologies to Christina Ricci and ABC, this was what brought Pan-Am nostalgia back into vogue.
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.
They Live (1988)
Earth is under the thumb of no-good alien d*ckholes and Roddy Piper’s bubble gum deficient drifter is out to fix that in John Carpenter’s uproarious sci-fi satire They Live. The truth about a secret extra-terrestrial regime and their Clio Award-worthy brand of marketing sets Piper’s life-battered drifter on a mission stuffed with extended fist fights and all-star quips with Keith David by his side or swinging at his bread basket. It might also be a touch too real to watch in modern times, so grip your sunglasses accordingly.
Raging Bull (1980)
A masterpiece worth watching for Simpsons references reasons alone, Martin Scorsese’s black-and -hite boxing biopic is an absolute work of art that combines beauty and barbarism. Robert De Niro plays real life Bronx boxer Jake LaMotta with unflinching intensity throughout a career of professional triumphs and rage-plagued lows. “Raging Bull is the most painful and heartrending portrait of jealousy in the cinema–an Othello for our times,” wrote Roger Ebert about the film. That’s as solid gold of an endorsement to see the motion picture as you could ask for.
Scotland’s walled off and things are going to hell in a hurry in the beautifully batsh*t post-apocalyptic fable Doomsday. Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) wrote and directed this extremely silly sci-fi action film that has a virus ravaging 2030s London and sends a team (lead by The Last Ship star Rhona Mitra) in a Scottish hellscape to get the cure. It’s a feat that’d be much easier to achieve if roving maniac future gangs (with a taste for Fine Young Cannibals) and crazy-ass modern medieval knights weren’t staples of the region. Bless Marshall’s heart for packing this thing with such bombast.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Bowling, nihilist Kraftwerk stand-ins and a pissed-on carpet have never matched better than in this Coen brothers cult gem. Jeff Daniels is bath-robed slacker Californian Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski and John Goodman is on-edge Vietnam vet Walter Sobchak in this tale of a soiled rug and all the strange places the quest for compensation takes them. Traveling in its woozy haze, The Big Lebowski is the brand of shaggy dog story that rewards with every strange detour.
Sister Act (1992)
As a Reno lounge singer hiding out from the mob is wont to do, Whoopi Goldberg goes undercover as a nun in the ’90s musical comedy Sister Act. Goldberg showcases her EGOT-certified skill set as Deloris Van-Cartier (or Sister Mary Clarence to those in the convent) and quickly establishing herself as the most unique nun the San Francisco convent of Poor Clares has ever had. Maggie Smith, Harvey Keitel and an array of unmistakably early ’90s touches (howdy C+C Music Factory!) co-star.
American Psycho (2000)
So much more than the movie that permanently bonded Huey Lewis & The News with axe slaughter, American Psycho takes Bret Easton Ellis’s novel that melds murder, torture and go-go ’80s Reaganaut capitalism and gives it a brilliant cinematic adaptation complete with Christian Bale playing a different brand of rich violent maniac. Directed with style and coal black humor by Punk alum Mary Harron, the 2000 film satirizes excess with an acerbic wit. There’s a reason why the business card scene is mentioned as much as any of violence.
The things folks will do for cuteness. Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key are in way over their heads in the hysterical funny Keanu where the duo plays two dorky friends/cousins with zero street smarts attempting to infiltrate a notorious gang to save an adorable kitten. Co-written by Get Out mastermind Peele, there’s room for homages to George Michael to play out while keeping the jokes coming at a rapid pace. Come for the undeniable Key & Peele chemistry, stay for the escalating action-laced comedy stakes. Also, there’s a first ballot Hall of Fame level cameo.