The Best Movies on HBO Right Now (May 2021)

The top films to watch on HBO

While HBO started in the 1970s as a subscription cable channel, it's expanded to offer streaming services like HBO Max. But no matter how you watch it, it has hundreds of films available from the Golden Age of classic films to modern-day, just-released theatrical movies. To help you make the most of your time, we've rounded up the best movies on HBO right now. 

01
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Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021): Angelina Jolie Battles Forest Fires AND Assassins

Angelina Jolie in 'Those Who Wish Me Dead'

Warner Bros.

IMDb rating: n/a

Genre: Thriller

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Finn Little 

Director: Taylor Sheridan

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: n/a

Those Who Wish Me Dead sees Angelina Jolie take on both assassins and forest fires in Montana. She plays Hannah Faber, a smokejumper who's specially trained to fight remote wildfires. During a mission, she encounters a 12-year-old boy running from two assassins and must get him to safety.

02
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Tenet (2020): Christopher Nolan's Latest Trippy Sci-Fi Flick

John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in 'Tenet'

Warner Bros.

IMDb rating: 7.4/10

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi

Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki 

Director: Christopher Nolan

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Tenet stars John David Washington and Robert Pattinson as secret agents who utilize time travel to prevent an apocalyptic attack. To say more about this trippy sci-fi film would spoil it. Some things you should just experience for yourself. Like director Christopher Nolan's other films, Tenet is visually stunning, but some viewers might also find it a bit confusing.

03
of 20

Mortal Kombat (2021): The Classic Fighting Game Series Gets a Theatrical Reboot

Ludi Lin and Max Huang in 'Mortal Kombat' (2021)

New Line Cinema

IMDb rating: 6.8/10

Genre: Action

Starring: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson

Director: Simon McQuoid

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Based on the popular series of video games, the plot revolves around a young MMA fighter named Cole Young. Outworld has sent Sub-Zero to hunt him down, so he turns to Lord Raiden for answers and gets embroiled in a bloody, interdimensional high-stakes fighting tournament for the soul of the universe.

OK, so the premise is goofy and the Mortal Kombat lore is labyrinthine and practically incomprehensible after eleven titles in the main franchise. But no one's watching this for the story anyway. Enjoy the spectacular set pieces and special effects.

04
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Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018): An Honest Look at a Beloved TV Icon

Portrait Of Mister Rogers
Fotos International / Getty Images

IMDb rating: 8.4/10

Genre: Documentary

Starring: Fred Rogers, Joanne Rogers, John Rogers

Director: Morgan Neville

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

This biographical film documents the life and career of Fred Rogers, beloved TV icon and host of the long-running children's show Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. The film won numerous awards and was praised by critics as a fitting and emotional tribute to the man who entertained most of us during our childhoods.

05
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Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021): It Can't Be Worse Than the Original, Right?

justice league

IMDb rating: 8.3/10

Genre: Action, Adventure

Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot

Director: Zack Snyder

Rating: R

Runtime: 4 hours

Zack Snyder's Justice League, also affectionately known as the Snyder Cut, could potentially save the entire DC comic book movie franchise or be a 4-hour disaster. Snyder had to quiet filming the original Justice League after the death of his daughter. Director Joss Whedon finished it. But, it was a box office bomb. Many fans have since begged Warner Bros. for an alternate cut that's more faithful to Snyder's original vision for the film, and they're finally getting it. This new version has updated visual effects, a new score, and new material.

06
of 20

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971): Best for Watching Bratty Children Get Theirs

Gene Wilder in 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory'

Paramount Pictures

IMDb rating: 7.8/10

Genre: Family, Musical

Starring: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum 

Director: Mel Stuart

Motion Picture Rating: G

Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Do we even need to explain why you should watch this? Willy Wonka wasn't a giant hit when it first released in 1971, but it's since become so culturally significant the Library of Congress preserved it in the United States National Film Registry in 2014. Gene Wilder is at his best in the role of candy maker Willy Wonka, and the film can still enchant both kids and parents decades later with its creative imagery and the moralistic tale of spoiled children touring a fantastical chocolate factory.

07
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When Harry Met Sally (1989): The Gold Standard for Modern Romantic Comedies

When Harry Met Sally

Columbia Pictures/Alamy

 

IMDb rating: 7.6/10

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher 

Director: Rob Reiner

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

This classic romantic comedy stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as the eponymous Harry and Sally, a pair of friends who are obviously made for each other but too afraid to commit because they don't want to ruin their friendship. The film is filled with laughs, smart dialogue, and will-they-won't-they tension. It's arguably one of the best romantic comedies of all time, and worthy of repeat viewing.

08
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Life of Pi (2012): Best Reluctant Friendship Between a Man and a Tiger

Suraj Sharma in Life of Pi (2012)

Twentieth Century Fox

IMDb rating: 7.9/10

Genre: Adventure, Drama

Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain 

Director: Ang Lee

Motion Picture Rating: PG

Running Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes

Based on the Yann Martel novel of the same name, Life of Pi is the exciting tale of a young man who survives a shipwreck and finds himself stranded in a rowboat with a single stowaway—a Bengal tiger. Adrift on the Pacific Ocean with no help in sight, the man struggles to sustain himself while forming a bond with his new boatmate. The film is both emotional and charming, with stunning visuals, and it nabbed director Ang Lee an Oscar the year it debuted.

09
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Dumb & Dumber (1994): Featuring the World's Most Annoying Sound

Screenshot from "Dumb & Dumber" with Jim Carrey and and Jeff Daniels.

 Insomnia Cured Here/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

IMDb rating: 7.3/10

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly

Director: Peter Farrelly

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

This '90s comedy stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as Lloyd and Harry, two friendly, kind-hearted morons who travel across the country to return a briefcase of money to its owner, Mary (Lauren Holly). As the title suggests, the film is gloriously, relentlessly stupid as Lloyd and Harry find themselves in one vulgar and ridiculous situation after the next. Its memorable gags still hold up decades later.

10
of 20

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987): An Iconic Robin Williams Performance

Good Morning Vietnam
Sunset Boulevard / Getty Images

IMDb rating: 7.3/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Starring: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Tom. T. Tran

Director: Barry Levinson

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 2 hours, 1 minute

The film that helped make comedian and actor Robin Williams a household name, Good Morning, Vietnam very loosely chronicles the real-life exploits of Armed Forces Radio Service DJ Adrian Cronauer during the Vietnam War. Rebellious and irreverent, he defies his superiors by playing popular rock music for the troops while simultaneously befriending some of the Vietnamese people his country is at war against. Good Morning, Vietnam introduced an entire generation of moviegoers to Williams' manic energy and humor, and it's still an effective showcase of the late star's incredible talent.

11
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The King's Speech (2010): A Stylish Period Piece with Masterful Performances

Colin Firth in 'The King's Speech'

Momentum Pictures

IMDb rating: 8.0/10

Genre: Biography, Drama

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter 

Director: Tom Hooper

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hour, 58 minutes

King George VI of England (Colin Firth) needs to deliver his first wartime radio broadcast after the country declares war on Germany in 1939, but he suffers from a debilitating stutter. So he secretly hires a speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to help him. Logue's methods are a bit unorthodox, but the two manage to form an unlikely friendship. Firth, Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter were all heavily praised for their work in this film, which won numerous awards the year it released, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay.

12
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Argo (2012): Best Thriller Based on an Unusual True Story

Ben Affleck in 'Argo'

Warner Bros.

IMDb rating: 7.7/10

Genre: Drama

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman

Director: Ben Affleck

Rating: R

Runtime: 2 hours

Ben Affleck directs and stars in this biographical thriller about a CIA agent tasked with rescuing six American hostages in Tehran in 1979. He goes undercover as a Hollywood producer filming a sci-fi flick and tries to smuggle the hostages out of the country as his production crew. Based on a true story, Argo is thrilling, darkly funny, and cathartic. It won three Oscars the year it released, for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.

13
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The King of Staten Island (2020): Another Lovable Slacker Movie From Judd Apatow

Pete Davidson in "The King of Staten Island"

Universal Pictures

IMDb rating: 7.1/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Starring: Pete Davidson, Bel Powley, Ricky Velez 

Director: Judd Apatow

Rating: R

Runtime: 2 hours, 16 minutes

Director Judd Apatow is known for making funny movies about stoners, slackers, and man-children. His latest is The King of Staten Island. Starring Saturday Night Live's Pete Davidson, it's about an aimless loafer who dreams of becoming a tattoo artist. While it perhaps goes on a bit too long, critics call it a sweet coming of age story filled with sincere emotion and humor.

14
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Between The World And Me (2020): A Timely Adaptation of the Best-Selling Book

Artwork from the HBO documentary 'Between the World and Me.'

HBO 

IMDb rating: 7.4/10

Genre: Documentary

Starring: Mahershala Ali, Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance

Director: Kamilah Forbes

Rating: TV-14

Runtime: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Based on the critically-acclaimed best-selling book from Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me is a powerful look at what it's like growing up as a Black man in America. Coates frames his book as a letter to his teenage son, and it's as relevant now as it was when it was first published in 2015. The HBO film is part stage adaptation, part animation, and part documentary. It features appearances by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Mahershala Ali, Angela Bassett, Oprah Winfrey, and many more.

15
of 20

Magic Mike (2012): Best Girls' Night Flick

Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez, and Channing Tatum in 'Magic Mike.'

 Warner Bros.

IMDb rating: 6.1/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Olivia Munn

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Mike (Channing Tatum) is a handyman and roofer by day and a male stripper by night. But he secretly wants to start his own furniture-making business. He takes a 19-year-old kid, Adam (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing at the all-male revue he works for in Tampa, Florida. But, Adam's recklessness soon endangers Mike's ambitions and his relationship with the kid's sister.

OK, it sounds a bit hokey, but Magic Mike is a surprisingly fun film thanks to some spirited performances from its stars. Matthew McConaughey practically steals the picture alone. If you're looking for a good film to watch with your best girlfriends, this is a top choice.

16
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Cats (2019): Best Movie Train Wreck to Enjoy With Friends

Taylor Swift in 'Cats.'

Universal Pictures

 

IMDb rating: 2.8/10

Genre: Musical

Starring: James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo

Director: Tom Hooper

Rating: PG

Runtime: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Yes, the 2019 version of Cats is, by all accounts, a disaster. It swept the Razzies that year, "winning" a total of six awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actor and Actress, Worst On-Screen Combo, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Director. There's allegedly a cut of the film in which all of the singings felines are anatomically correct. But, even a horrible film can be fun with the right attitude. Grab some friends and enjoy the fever dream visuals, unintentional creepiness, and overall outlandishness.

17
of 20

John Lewis: Good Trouble (2020): A Worthy Tribute to an Inspiring Activist

John Lewis
Congressman John Lewis was a Freedom Rider. zflickr.com

IMDb rating: 7.1/10

Genre: Documentary

Starring: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Director: Dawn Porter

Rating: PG

Runtime: 1 hour, 36 minutes

John Lewis, who died in 2020, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia's 5th congressional district for more than 30 years. He was one of the "Big Six" leaders who organized the 1963 March on Washington, and he led the first Selma march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Good Trouble is a worthy tribute to the activist, documenting his life and his struggles for equality.

18
of 20

David Byrne’s American Utopia: Best Musical for '80s Fans

David Byrne performs in 'David Byrne's American Utopia.'

HBO

 

IMDb rating: 8.3/10

Genre: Documentary, Musical

Starring: David Byrne, Chris Giarmo, Jacqueline Acevedo

Director: Spike Lee

Rating: TV-14

Runtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes

American Utopia is an adaptation of the Broadway show and music album of the same name created by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and Brian Eno. The show features songs from this latest album along with older hits like "Once in a Lifetime" and "Burning Down the House." After the Broadway show earned rave reviews, director Spike Lee decided to direct a film version, and it's a brainy, playful expression of art.

19
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Hairspray (2007): A Charming Remake of a Campy Classic

John Travolta and Nikki Blonsky in 'Hairspray.'

 New Line Cinema

IMDb rating: 6.6/10

Genre: Musical

Starring: John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Nikki Blonsky

Director: Adam Shankman

Rating: PG

Runtime: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Hairspray is a star-studded remake of the 1988 John Waters film of the same name (it's also a hit Broadway musical). It chronicles the adventures of an overweight teen named Tracy Turnblad who dreams of being a dancer on a TV show during the 1960s. It's as charmingly campy as its source material, while also tackling serious social issues like segregation. Give this movie a chance if you're looking for a cheerful good time.

20
of 20

Midnight Run (1988): An Underrated Comedy Classic

Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in 'Midnight Run'

 Universal Pictures

IMDb rating: 7.5/10

Genre: Comedy, Action

Starring: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto

Director: Martin Brest

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes

Midnight Run is often overlooked when looking at the best comedies of the 1980s, but it's absolutely worth a watch. Robert De Niro plays burnt out bounty hunter Jack Walsh. Walsh is tasked with retrieving a former Mafia accountant, Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas (Charles Grodin).

What's supposed to be a simple "midnight run" is anything but, as the Mafia, the FBI, and a rival bounty hunter all pursue the pair for their own agendas. As Walsh and Mardukas travel across the country, they even form a strange friendship. The chemistry and wordplay between De Niro and Grodin are wonderful in this film, and they help elevate it above the usual buddy action movie formula.

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