In addition to being America's most trusted source of Carnivale episodes, HBO Go/HBO Now has a lovely collection of movies available ranging from trashy action thrills to elegant period pieces to star-studded comedies. Here is a ranking of the 30 best movies on HBO Go/HBO Now that you could and should be watching right now.
HBO managed to pull off the seemingly impossible with this follow-up movie based on a series that left us too soon. Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, and the rest of the residents of the camp are back to celebrate the South Dakota's statehood in the only way this dusty drama knows how — with reignited rivalries, betrayals, bloodshed, and lots of swearin.' The show became a fan favorite thanks to its gritty performances and nuanced storytelling, and the movie continues the tradition, investigating the lives of these pioneers who've endured plenty of hardship for their piece of the American dream.
2. Won't You Be My Neighbor? 2018
Run Time: 94 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Everyone's favorite friendly neighbor gets the documentary treatment with this expose on the beloved TV icon. Fred Rogers left his mark on the world through his show, one that sought to bridge cultural, religious, and racial divides by teaching children the importance of kindness, acceptance, and compassion. He taught us all how to be better human beings, but the doc dives further, exploring the man behind the TV personality, a guy who fought Congress for funding for the arts and who left a legacy worth celebrating. Bring tissues for this one, folks.
3. BlacKkKlansman 2018
Run Time: 135 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Spike Lee does some of the best work of his long, impressive career with this true story about the first Black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, an African-American cop struggling to balance his duties on the job with his personal life and his involvement in the Black Panther movement. Stallworth is able to pass as a white man over the phone and soon launches an undercover operation, infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan and befriending its leader, David Duke a brilliant Topher Grace. When Stallworth is forced to meet members of the Klan face-to-face, his partner, Flip Zimmerman Adam Driver assumes his undercover identity, and both men lead an investigation that exposes the sinister core of the local KKK chapter.
John Chu's Asian-led rom-com became a breakout hit last year, so it's only right that HBO let us binge-watch it whenever we choose. Constance Wu plays Rachel, an economics professor at NYU who travels to Singapore with her long-term boyfriend Nick Henry Golding and discovers he's been less-than-honest with her about just how many zeroes reside in his bank account. Faced with a wehy family who refuses to accept her American roots, Rachel goes to extreme lengths to impress Nick's mother and learns a valuable lesson about family and heritage in the process. Awkwafina and Michelle Yeoh are highlights here, but it's Wu who carries this flick and elevates it beyond just a two-hour laugh riot.
Emma Stone, Olivia Colman, and Rachel Weisz star in this surrealist period comedy from the imaginative mind of Yorgos Lanthimos. The film tells the story of Queen Anne's tenuous reign in 18th century England. Anne Colman is seen as a frail, fragile woman who's lost nearly everything her children, her husband and relies on the companionship of her childhood friend, Lady Sarah Weisz. Lady Sarah takes advantage of this co-dependence to further her own goals but she seems to truly care for Anne, unlike Stone's Abigail, a new servant who catches the queen's eye. Lesbian love affairs, court intrigue, jealousy, and grabs for power follow as the two battle it out for Anne's affection but it's Colman who steals the show here, playing as capricious monarch suffering, often in silence.
Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star in this psychological thriller about a talented ballerina who begins to unravel when she lands the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's “Swan Lake.” Portman plays Nina, a disciplined dancer whose hard work pays off when she's cast as the Swan Queen by her demanding choreographer but her mind quickly deteriorates under the pressure of the spotlight as another ballerina, Lilly Kunis comes for her crown.
7. Boy Erased 2018
Run Time: 115 min | IMDb: 7/10
Nicole Kidman, Lucas Hedges, and Joel Edgerton star in this queer drama directed by Edgerton based off the memoir of author Garrad Conley. The film follows the son of a Baptist preacher Hedges who is outed to his strictly religious family and forced to undergo his church's gay conversion therapy camp. There, he's abused mentally and physically because of his queerness and his bonds with his family are tested.
Drew Goddard's crime drama is a rain-soaked thriller featuring a gyrating Chris Hemsworth, a bespectacled Jon Hamm, and an ordained Jeff Bridges. If you need to know more in order to give this thing a watch, you might spoil the mind-bending plot, but here's a tease: the film follows several strangers who meet by chance at a run-down hotel in Lake Tahoe in 1969. They're each running from something, and no one can be trusted, a fact each of the A-listers that also include Dakota Johnson, Cynthia Ervo, and Nick Offerman play with a kind of gleeful malice that hooks you until the end.
9. The Tale 2018
Run Time: 114 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Laura Dern gives a hauntingly beautiful performance in Jennifer Fox's autobiographical drama, The Tale. The film recounts Fox's own history of sexual abuse at the hands of a riding instructor who was three times her age. Dern plays a grown-up version of Fox, a woman struggling to recall illicit memories of her past, to reconcile the relationship she thought she had as a teenager with a man old enough to be her father with what actually happened — years of grooming, mental, and physical abuse at the hands of adults she had put her trust in. It's a brutal but necessary watch.
Rarely does a sequel match, let alone surpass, the original, but the follow-up adventure of Paddington, the marmalade-loving bear with a penchant for causing chaos, does just that. That's partly due to the cast, particularly the addition of Hugh Grant as a maniacal villain with an extensive costume collection, but mostly, this film is a joy because of its heart. Paddington is still the same loveable goof from the original, trying his best to do good and making a mess of things. This time, he lands himself in prison after being falsely accused a thief, eventually befriending his fellow inmates and giving us all a lesson in kindness and compassion. If this movie doesn't make you smile, we worry for your soul.
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.
Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy star in Damien Chazelle's follow-up to La La Land, which would've gotten more love at the Oscars if critics hadn't loved Green Book so much. The film follows the complicated life of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, highlighting the build-up to that legendary space mission and the toll it took on his family, particularly his wife, Janet Foy. Gosling is magnetic as the heroic astronaut and Foy carries the emotional burden of the story with ease, but it's Chazelle's vision of space that makes watching the film such a memorable experience.
A fresh-faced Jake Gyllenhaal and Laura Dern star in this biographical drama about Homer Hickam, the son of a coal miner who has dreams of reaching outer space. Gyllenhaal plays Hickam, a brilliant young engineer who dreams of building rockets after the Sputnik launch but battles against the small-mindedness of his hometown and his father, a s-of-the-earth type who wants his son to follow in his mining footsteps. With help from his science teacher, Mrs. Riley Dern, Hickam is able to overcome adversity, win a national science competition, and achieve his dreams of working for NASA. It's a heartwarming film with a feel-good ending that's all the more rewarding because it's true.
Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston star in this darker re-imagining of the famous fairy tale. Barrymore plays the pseudo-Cinderella, a young woman named Danielle who is orphaned and put to work at her family's estate by her evil stepmother, Rodmilla Huston. She battles stepsisters, creepy suitors, and a growing attraction to a young prince the swoon-worthy Dougray Scott while also entertaining Leonardo DaVinci, oddly enough. Despite Barrymore's questionable English accent, she manages to humanize the story's heroine, and her back-and-forth with Huston is electric.
16. Mommy Dead And Dearest 2017
Run Time: 82 min IMDb: 7.4/10
Erin Lee Carr's spellbinding crime doc Mommy Dead and Dearest plunges into the bizarre and absorbing true story surrounding the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard. It's an absorbing, strange and disturbing watch that doles out enough jaw-dropping moments in 83 minutes to put full seasons of TV to shame. Sundance hopefuls would have a field day with the visuals in this documentary if they were to try and adapt this stranger-than-fiction tale of manipulation, murder, and motherhood.
17. Amelie 2001
Run Time: 122 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Audrey Tatou stars in this quirky French rom-com about a naive young woman who decides to help her Parisian neighbors and ends up finding love for herself. Amelie is a shy waitress struggling with her own sense of loneliness who decides to help the customers who frequent her cafe. As she returns lost treasures, makes matches between her friends, and pushes her father to travel the world, Amelie also finds love with an eccentric man named Nino. It's a mischievous, light-hearted comedy that absolutely delights the imagination.
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant carry this drama based on the confessional memoir from Lee Israel. McCarthy plays the author in question, a down-and-out writer who begins forging letters from famous figures in history to make a quick buck. She partners with her friend and sometimes drug dealer Jack Grant as the two carry on their scheme before the FBI gets wind. McCarthy is spectacular in this role, reminding us all that she's good for more than just laughs and Grant gives an awards-worthy performance as her friend in on the con.
Baz Luhrmann's bohemian rhapsody set in 1900s France follows the tale of a struggling writer who falls for a beautiful courtesan. Ewan McGregor plays Christian, a poet with grand ideas on love who move to the Montmarte district to write a novel and truly experience life. A trip to a pleasure theater called the Moulin Rouge introduces him to Satine Nicole Kidman, a gorgeous performer who's also caught the eye of a rich duke. Torn between her love for Christian and the trappings of her luxurious life, the pair embark on a forbidden romance that has disastrous consequences for everyone.
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.
Bradley Cooper's directorial debut racked up plenty of awards earlier this year, and now you can finally find out why if you haven't seen it in theaters like pretty much everyone else already has. Cooper plays a washed-up musician who finds inspiration in a talented singer played by Lady Gaga. The two have a whirlwind romance sprinkled with fame, mentions of addiction and mental illness, but ultimately, it ends in tragedy. Still, the soundtrack is a banger.
Emilio Estevez stars in this family-favorite film, playing a self-centered lawyer from Minnesota who's sentenced to community service coaching a youth hockey team. Gordon Bombay Estevez gets pulled for drunk-driving and must suffer his penance by returning to the sport of his youth, one that doesn't hold nice memories. He ends up bonding with the rag-tag group of youngsters on his team, inspiring them to be better as they teach him something about not giving up and facing your demons. It's a feel-good exercise in nostalgia.
Weddings are often riotous affairs but when you add the traditions and expectations of culture into the mix, they become the perfect fodder for a romantic comedy. Nia Vardalos knows this which is why she wrote and starred in this movie about a middle-aged Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek beau and must convince her family he's worthy of her hand in marriage. There are all kinds of sly digs and nods to Vardalos' heritage here, but it's her character's extended family members that get the best one-liners.
24. Behind The Candelabra 2013
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 7/10
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.
Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Kiera Knightley, and a host of other famous faces star in this beloved holiday rom-com. The film follows a few different storylines, all connected by six degrees of separation that converge around Christmas. Knightley plays a recently-married woman who discovers her husband's best friend is in love with her. Neeson plays a widower trying to care for his young son. Firth plays a writer scorned by love and given a second chance when he retreats abroad to finish his book. And Grant plays the newly-elected Prime Minister who falls for a member of his staff. There are more love stories in here, but really, just watch it if you're that curious.
Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore star in this HBO remake of the 1975 documentary of the same name. Lange plays “Big Eddie,” aunt to former First Lady Jackie Kennedy, while Barrymore plays “Little Edie,” Kennedy's first cousin. The two women became famous when it was revealed that their estate, Grey Gardens, was in ruin and they'd been living there in squalor for years. The film chronicles their journey to destitution, following “Little Edie” as she tries and fails to make a name for herself away from her mother while “Big Eddie” tries to prevent the end of her marriage. It's a gripping, tragic tale, one made more visceral thanks to some stellar performances by Lange and Barrymore.
27. Brexit 2019
Run Time: 92 min | IMDb: 7/10
Benedict Cumberbatch plays political strategist Dominic Cummings, the man largely responsible for Britain's Brexit mess. The guy spearheaded the campaign for the U.K. to separate from the European Union in 2015 but managed to skirt most of the bad press by ducking out after the vote passed. instead, he left it to the Prime Minister and party leaders to figure out what's next. Cumberbatch plays the mastermind, a socially awkward, data-driven genius who seems to delight in the destruction of his own government, with a certain reserved glee that feels even more chilling than the boisterous nationalism his colleagues are known for.
Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie star in this period drama that didn't get much love from the Academy last year. Nevertheless, the performances are mesmerizing with Ronan playing the Scottish royal and Robbie playing Elizabeth I. The two women wield unheard of power with their feud fueling wars and political betrayal for years, but it's their more personal relationship, and an unlikely comradery between them, that this movie seems to explore.
29. Fahrenheit 451 2018
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 4.9/10
Critics didn't seem to love Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon's interpretation of a literary classic, but that doesn't mean it's not worth a watch. The film imagines a terrifying future in which the written word is viewed as something to be feared. To that end, Jordan plays Guy Montag, a fireman whose job is to literally burn every book he comes across, but when Montag meets a woman who makes him question the very nature of his world and work, life begins to spiral out of control for Montag. Gloomy dystopian dramas are hard to watch right now but they are necessary if only to remind us of how bad we don't want things to get. Plus, Michael B Jordan wielding a flamethrower? Yes, please.
Ross Lynch and Alex Wolff star in this biographical drama about the notoriousserial killer's teenage years. Lynch plays Dahmer, a young man struggling to fit in with his high school peers. Wolff plays Derf, an aspiring graphic artist who befriends Dahmer and pushes him to be more socially active. The two share a superficial friendship, given that Derf has no idea about Dahmer's fixation with men, rape fantasies, and killing animals. Even if he did, the movie argues that Dahmer's predilections coupled with his strained familial situation — his father abandoned him, and his mother suffered from her own mental illness — meant that the young man was always destined for darker things.
The Wire, created by David Simon, examines the Baltimore drug scene from the perspective of both the police and the drug dealers, providing flawed but deeply human, sympathetic faces to both sides of the drug war. It confronts the inner-city drug problem from every perspective, from the politicians elected to stamp out drugs to the distribution channels that bring in the drugs to a flawed education system that produces drug dealers to the gang warfare that ensues and the journalists assigned to cover the drug trade from all angles. It's an incredibly detailed series that defies expectations at every turn as it provides viewers with riveting, addictive, glimpse into a world that most of us have never understood beyond newspaper headlines. Spanning five seasons, The Wire is like a series of intricate, interconnected crime novels, a one-of-a-kind series that is not only entertaining, thoughtful, and insightful, but also necessary viewing.
2. The Sopranos
6 seasons, 86 episodes | IMDb: 9.2/10
The godfather of prestige dramas, The Sopranos is about New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano. He's running a crime syndicate; putting hits out on his enemies, and he's got rivals — and the FBI — closing in on him. But he's also got a suburban family he has to protect, kids he has to raise, and a marriage he has to nurture. With all that pressure, Tony begins to seek therapy to help with the panic attacks, to cope with the anxiety that balancing his family life and a career in crime produces. Creator David Chase takes a villain who knows he's a villain and finds ways to make us relate to and sympathize with him. The series, which kicked off the Golden Age of Television, may be the best-written and most well-acted series of all time, and it's certainly one of the most awarded, earning 21 Emmy Awards with 111 nominations three of those wins and eight of those nominations went to James Gandolfini. Notable for being one of television's most groundbreaking series, The Sopranos is a stunning, surprisingly affecting, often funny family drama punctured with moments of devastating violence, and it also boasts one of television's most polarizing, heavily debated series finales ever.
3. Game of Thrones
8 seasons, 73 episodes | IMDb: 9.4/10
The series, based on George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire book series, is an intricately woven fantasy drama that's more about political gamesmanship dragons and war. Although it's about that, too. The series sees dozens of characters representing the seven kingdoms of Westeros vying for the Iron Throne, but there's also a supernatural outside force — an army of the dead — threatening to topple them all. Game of Thrones works for both those who love fantasy and those who don't because the universe is so impeccably built, the characters so vividly drawn, the relationship drama is so complex, and the plot twists so shocking. The sex and violence can be gratuitous at times, the storylines can occasionally drag, and the motivations of the characters can veer into the perverse, but that's all part of Game of Thrones package. It's more than just a show; it's a provocative, immersive, unpredictable weekly television event.
4. The Larry Sanders Show
6 seasons, 90 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
The kings of comedy over the last decade — Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Judd Apatow, Ricky Gervais — and many of the best comedies of the last 20 years Arrested Development, 30 Rock, The Office Curb Your Enthusiasm — owe a huge debt to The Larry Sanders Show, which established the kind of single-camera, character-based comedies that are the norm today. The Larry Sanders Show is dark comedy perfection, a sitcom about a neurotic late-night talk show host in the heat of the late-night wars between Letterman and Leno, who are frequently mentioned. Long talked about as a possible late night star, Gary Shandling plays the host and Jeffrey Tambor co-stars as his sidekick, the boob, the sad sack, the butt of the joke in what's still the role of Tambor's career no small feat considering his part in Arrested Development, Transparent, and even Three's Company. Those who want to know the root of cringe comedy need look no further than Tambor's Hank Kingsley. Celebrities play both the public and private versions of themselves, putting on their celebrity personas during the talk-show segments of Larry Sanders, but playing parodies of themselves backstage or during commercial breaks. David Duchovny, who develops an uncomfortably strong man crush on Larry Sanders, is a particular stand-out. The Larry Sanders Show is not just groundbreaking, however; it's in the running for best comedy of all time, a show — like Arrested Development — that actually gets better the more times it is watched.
5. The Leftovers
3 seasons, 28 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Damon Lindelof's series — based on the Tom Perrotta novel of the same name — is a dark drama, a mystery, a meditation on grief, and often a religious experience in and of itself. Set in a universe where two percent of the entire world's population mysteriously vanishes, The Leftovers plays with questions of faith, death, the supernatural, rebirth and the afterlife, all the while featuring some of the decade's best performances from Carrie Coon, Regina King, Christopher Eccleston, and Justin Theroux. The first season is bleaker than it needs to be and can occasionally be a slog, but the second and third seasons are as close to perfect as television gets — excellently written, emotionally powerful, masterfully crafted spiritual journeys with layers of mystery, literary and pop-culture allusions, humor, and heart. It is confounding, and heartbreaking, and magical. With the pitch-perfect, beautifully executed finale, Damon Lindelof also atones for whatever sins he committed in the Lost finale.
6. Six Feet Under
5 seasons, 63 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Six Feet Under, Alan Ball screenwriter, American Beauty set out to make a family drama that focused equally on the Fisher family and their grief after the family patriarch succumbs to the business end of a city bus, and stories about the bodies they bury each week as funeral parlor owners and the loved ones to whom they sell coffins. Each episode begins with a death starting with Nathaniel Fisher, Sr. in the pilot, and the rest of the episode explores its repercussions, how it affects the survivors, and how, thematically, the expiration of that life plays into the lives of the Fisher family. It also explores death as an industry, the cold business of dying — the financial exploitation, the detached corporate franchising, and the cookie-cutter, assembly-line processing of corpses. Ultimately, Six Feet Under is the best examination of death ever put on the small screen, but it's also a hopeful series for the way it uses the loss of life to prove a point about living. It also features one of television's all-time greatest series finale, a ten-minute montage that will leave viewers sobbing.
7 seasons, 66 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Creator Armando Iannucci's political satire boasts the best ensemble comedy on television it has a whopping 67 Emmy nominations and 14 wins, arguably the best comedy writers, and easily the most withering insults on the small screen. The series follows Selina Meyer Julia Louis-Dreyfus as she navigates the office of Vice President, the most pointless, powerless position in the executive branch. This is not West Wing — there are no political heroics in Veep — nor is it even Parks and Recreation. There's not an ounce of heart in the series. These are cynical soulless characters engaging in cynical soulless activities with no other end in mind aside from political victories, of which there are few, all of which Meyer and her staff stumble into backwards. It contains more jokes per minute than any other show on television, and the putdowns are a form of bloodsport. It's as vicious as it is funny, but it wouldn't work as well as it does unless it didn't have a ring of truth to it.
8. Curb Your Enthusiasm
9 seasons, 90 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Curb Your Enthusiasm is basically what would happen if the George Costanza character was teased out of Seinfeld, relocated to Los Angeles, and the cringe humor dialed up to 11. The fantastically funny show from Larry David who inspired Costanza is improvised, and like Seinfeld, it's often about nothing. But David takes it to darker, more awkward places, and he's never afraid to depict himself as an entitled, self-indulgent, morally bankrupt, and decidedly unlovable man. It's a must-watch series for anyone that can stomach David's twisted comedy of discomfort, and for fans of Seinfeld, 2009's seventh season also offers a reunion of Seinfeld within the series.
9. Big Little Lies
2 seasons, 14 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
On paper, HBO's Big Little Lies, an adaptation of Liane Moriarty about a group of housewives hiding a dark secret, seems like your standard melodramatic fare. There's cheating spouses, family squabbles, catfights, and murder with a classic whodunnit twist, but the show benefits from some truly brilliant performances and the kind of subtle, stylish direction only Jean-Marc Vallee — who's responsible for another series on this list — can deliver. Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley star in this sordid tale about secrets and betrayal in a quiet, affluent seaside town, but it's Nicole Kidman who swallows up the screen, playing an abused wife and mother grappling with the consequences of her husband's nefarious deeds.
10. The Young Pope
1 season, 10 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10
The Young Pope is the kind of batsh*t crazy show that only HBO could pull off. The series is a masterclass in excess — each frame is filled with decadent costumes, outrageous characters, bizarre action, and memeable dialogue. It's a gif-giving treasure trove of melodrama, and its star is Jude Law, who plays the titular guy. This is a pope who smokes, schemes, and sashays his way through the Vatican, decked out in immaculate robes and dripping in dramatic flair. Conflict arises as he tries to enact a decidedly conservative regime, resulting in scandal, violence, and chaos amongst his cardinals. If you need any more incentive to watch, you may consult our own Brian Grubb's flawless Popedown coverage — a breakdown of all of the insane action that happens on this show.
2 seasons, 22 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Before Game of Thrones and Westworld, there was Rome. This sprawling historical drama made all kinds of noise and won its fair share of awards when it first premiered and rightfully so. With a large and talented cast, the series took on some of history's most notable characters — think Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Brutus, and the like — while also managing to craft a narrative around the struggles of two low-level Roman soldiers. The real draw of this series though, aside from some superb acting and an intriguing narrative, is its sheer scope. If you thought GoT battle scenes were ambitiously planned, wait until you watch this show.
3 seasons, 36 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
In television's greatest all-time Western series, David Milch creates a brilliantly distinctive universe peopled with characters who speak their own language, a pungent mix of Shakespeare, profanity, and gunslinger lingo all rolled into one. Set in 1870s South Dakota, Deadwood charts the growth of Deadwood from a small camp into a town, basing many of the characters on real-life historical figures like Al Swearengen, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp, and George Hearst. It also stars an incredible collection of talent — Timothy Olyphant, Anna Gunn, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, John Hawkins, Kim Dickens, and John Hawkes, among many others — who bring the town alive with all its danger, corruption, and family struggles. Fans of profanity should also take note: There are 1.58 f-bombs per minute in the series, which unfortunately was cancelled after three seasons, leaving several storylines unresolved. However, a Deadwood movie currently in development could eventually tie up those loose ends.
13. Sharp Objects
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
The second Jean-Marc Vallee entry on this list marks yet another series about complicated, flawed women. Amy Adams plays Camille Preaker, a reporter running from her past who's forced to return to her Southern roots for a story. Her homecoming is fraught with family tension, courtesy of an abusive mother played by a devilishly sinister Patricia Clarkson and a rebellious younger sister newcomer Eliza Scanlen. Camille is an alcoholic with suicidal tendencies, suffering from PTSD after another sibling's death and her mother's involvement in it, and Adams plays her to perfection, giving us a look at a woman intent on self-destruction, one who's searching for a shred of humanity in her sleepy, Southern town.
14. Silicon Valley
6 seasons, 51 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
Created by Mike Judge Idiocracy, Beavis and Butthead, Silicon Valley is essentially Office Space for the tech worker of the 2010s. Instead of a traditional office, it's set in a modern workplace — the inside of a house — and instead of bosses, there are investors. Judge and co-creators John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, however, approach the tech industry with the same biting, satirical edge that Judge took to Office Space. Nominated for 22 Emmys winning two, the HBO series follows the ups and mostly downs of a group of six friends trying to get a start-up off the ground. It works as both a scathing takedown of the tech industry as well as a traditional comedy. Through four seasons, it's also remained one of the most consistently funny comedies on television to both the code monkeys who understand the intricacies of Silicon Valley and laypeople who appreciate smart writing and indelible characters who are fun to hang out with — think better, smarter Entourage with ambitious tech geeks and incredibly sophisticated dick jokes.
2 seasons, 22 episodes | IMDb: 8.8/10
With an intriguing storyline, an A-list cast, and roots in the beloved sci-fi genre, it was clear early on that HBO was banking on Westworld to fill the hole that would be left when Game of Thrones eventually ended. It looks like the powers that be made the right bet. Not only does this show offer a plot full of twists, turns, strange mythologies, and moral dilemmas, it's got a talented cast of colorful characters and it's premise — a robot uprising at an amusement park where adults can indulge in their basest desires free of consequence — is the kind of stuff great TV series are made of.
16. Boardwalk Empire
5 seasons, 56 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
Nominated for 57 Emmys winning 20, Boardwalk Empire takes a simmering novelistic approach to its storytelling. Brilliantly acted and meticulously plotted, Boardwalk Empire can be a slow burn while the audience waits for the pieces to come together, but they always do with near-perfect execution. With a sprawling cast spread out geographically and numerous plotlines flowing away from the series' main character, Nucky Thompson Steve Buscemi, the Terence Winter-created series is historical fiction at its best. Loosely based on the life of Nucky Johnson, Boardwalk Empire examines the bootlegging industry in Atlantic City during Prohibition, and it brings in a host of familiar names including Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and Arnold Rothstein. However, it's often the series-created characters played by Michael Pitt, Jack Huston, Charlie Cox, Michael Shannon, Michael K. Williams, and Kelly Macdonald that prove most riveting. It's a fascinating series from a historical standpoint it tracks the rise of the modern mafia, absorbing as a work of storytelling, and a remarkable acting showcase. There are no weak seasons here; it's an incredible series from start to finish and, if anything, it's only gotten better as it's aged.
17. Band of Brothers / The Pacific
2 miniseries, 20 episodes | IMDb: 9.5/10 and 8.3/10
The adaptation of Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 non-fiction book of the same name, brought to HBO by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, follows the “Easy” Company from training through its participation in several major battles in World War II up until the Japanese surrendered and the war ended. Meticulously researched with consultants who were actually in Easy Company, Band of Brothers is the best fictional account of World War II ever recorded. It's an extraordinary series that captures the violence of war, as well as the heroism — and flaws — of its characters. Nothing else comes close, really, to capturing the true sense of sacrifice of these men, nor documenting the slog and banality of war — long stretches of boredom punctuated by extreme violence. It's a harrowing series, and it's hard not to come away with a better appreciation of the men who served in that war. The Pacific, meanwhile, is a similar mini-series, offering an account of the United States Marine Corps' actions in the Pacific Theater of Operations. It's worth noting, too, that Band of Brothers and Pacific feature more than a dozen actors who would become famous after their roles in the miniseries.
18. My Brilliant Friend
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
HBO is taking a big step in its global programming plan with the premiere of its first non-English series. Adapted from Elena Ferrante's best-selling book series, My Brilliant Friend follows the story of two young women, growing up in 1950s, post-war Italy. The series begins with the girls as children, one outspoken and rebellious, the other mourning her childhood before it's even over. Over the course of this first season, the series explores the bonds of female friendship amidst a male chauvinistic backdrop. It's beautifully wrought, benefiting from an eager and inexperienced cast and a script filled with nuance, heartbreak, and hope.
2 seasons, 16 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Bill Hader brings more of his signature brand of humor to this dark comedy series about a Midwestern hitman who travels to Los Angeles for work and ends up immersing himself in the local arts scene. Watching Hader do anything is guaranteed fun but he somehow manages to make this down on his luck gun for hire a sympathetic anti-hero of sorts. Of course, the real gem of this show is Henry Winkler, who plays a tough-as-nails acting coach determined to make a thespian out of Hader's hitman.
20. Sex and the City
6 seasons, 94 episodes | IMDb: 7.1/10
Based on Candace Bushnell's 1997 book of the same name, Sex and the City put HBO original comedy on the map in the same way that The Sopranos did for HBO dramas. Following the lives of four New York City women, the series reveled in decadent fashion, relationship drama, and of course, sex. It was a fashion magazine come to life. Lasting six seasons and 94 episodes, the series peaked in season 4, but would still go on to spawn a bad Sex and the City movie and an even worse sequel. In the years since Sex and the City debuted, it's had a number of imitators — some better, some worse — which may have the effect of making the original seem dated. The '90s pop-cultural references don't help. Still, the groundbreaking series is essential viewing because of the way it changed the conversation about women and sex, even if some of those themes are ultimately neutralized by the materialism and the self-absorption of its lead character, played Sarah Jessica Parker.
21. Big Love
5 seasons, 53 episodes | IMDb: 7.5/10
Running for 5 seasons, Big Love tells the story of a Utah businessman and later Congressman Bill Henrickson Bill Paxton, a practicing polygamist with three wives Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin and a set of children with each. Inspired by the real-life Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it sees Bill navigate the complications involved in providing for three families, keeping those three wives happy in their own marriages as well as their relationships with each other. The premise is risky, as it asks the viewer to sympathize with a polygamist, but it works thanks to the marvelous performances of its ensemble, the original situations, the complex relationship drama and a bizarrely loving family dynamic. It wavers some in the middle seasons, but Big Love successfully rebounds in its final season.
2 seasons, 20 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
Succession is a show steeped in commentary about corporate greed, the dark side of capitalism, and the elite. It's a show about men and women behaving badly, siblings squabbling over questions of inheritance, aging kings refusing to give up their withering empires. It's a show about four siblings who wrestle for control of their family's media conglomerate when their father's health begins to fail which may not sound too interesting — we don't need another series about rich, white-people-problems — but its the performances that make this series stand out.
6 seasons, 62 episodes | IMDb: 7.3/10
A daring, smart and polarizing comedy, Lena Dunham's Girls is an observant and well-acted show about privileged, self-absorbed and often unlikable characters dealing with their relationships and their fledgling careers in New York City. It's funny, it's awkward, it's frequently provocative, and it's aggravating as hell. However, it's also undeniably honest, unflinching, and original, and there's an undercurrent of sweetness beneath the often inscrutable actions of the characters, who behave as flailing 20-somethings do while trying to figure out their lives. Viewers may alternate between empathizing with the real struggles of the characters, and loathing their choices, but it's impossible not to feel something for these lovable and impossibly annoying people. In six seasons and 62 episodes, Girls never loses a step — it's as compelling, funny, and obnoxious in the first season as it is in the last.
24. True Detective
3 seasons, 24 episodes | IMDb: 9/10
The first season of the Nic Pizzolatto-written series is a truly exceptional season of television that combines ambitious writing with the bold, atmospheric direction of Cary Fukanaga and two of the best television performances of the decade in Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson's depiction of Detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart. Set in 2012, the first season sees Cohle and Hart questioned about a 1995 murder investigation they were involved in after new evidence surfaces and ultimately reunites the estranged partners. It's a riveting immersive season of noir, an enthralling and masterfully crafted murder mystery layered with literary allusions and unexpected twists. Unfortunately, the second season of the anthology series, which takes up a new case and features all new characters, is every bit as disappointing as the first season is great. Season one is must-see television, the second season should be avoided. The third season is a bit of a mixed bag but is definitely worth watching for the obviously great Mahershala Ali and the surprisingly great Stephen Dorff.
25. True Blood
7 seasons, 80 episodes | IMDb: 7.9/10
Part gothic romance and part vampire story, True Blood — based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris — is set in a Louisiana town where vampires live among humans thanks to the invention of a synthetic blood. It's generally well acted although the accents can be occasionally bothersome; features a great ensemble notably led by Anna Paquin, Bill Moyers, and Alexander Skarsgård; and contains a lot of wry, dishy humor that it blends with social commentary. At its core, however, True Blood is a biting, erotically-charged soap opera, and the more it leans into that, the better the series is. Warning: There is a precipitous drop off in quality in the final two seasons after showrunner and creator Alan Ball leaves.
4 seasons, 36 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
David Simon's follow-up to The Wire, Treme shares much in common with jazz, one of the major subjects of the series: It's dense, meandering, and occasionally discordant, but it's frequently moving when it's not overly self-indulgent. Set in New Orleans three months after Hurricane Katrina, Treme sees its residents attempt to rebuild their lives in the wake of the devastation. Over the course of four seasons and 36 episodes, Treme tracks the successes, the setbacks, and the heartbreaks of musicians, chefs, lawyers, and developers, among others, and while it's often glacially paced and can get bogged down in extended musical interludes, it's as honest a depiction of the aftermath of Katrina as we're likely to see, warts and all. Treme is not for everyone; it's filled with big beautiful moments and great music, but it offers no easy answers or satisfying conclusions. After four seasons, Treme doesn't end so much as it trails off, leaving the characters facing the same uncertainty that the residents of New Orleans faced in the years after Katrina.
6 seasons, 56 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Groundbreaking because it was the first original drama created by HBO ultimately paving the way for The Sopranos and the golden age of television, Oz can still stand on its own as a brutal, unflinching Shakespearean prison drama. It's set in Emerald City, an experimental unit within a prison with a carefully managed population designed to encourage rehabilitation and conflict resolution. Yet the inmates nevertheless continue to struggle to survive as each faction fights for power. It's a harsh, sadistic series, grim and often unpleasant to watch because it is so often gruesome in its depiction of violence. It does, however, rely too often on stereotypes, and the writing can be both overcooked and pretentious especially Harold Perreneau's monologues. However, Oz is remarkable not just for pushing the boundaries of premium cable at the time, but for helping to launch the careers of so many talented character actors J.K. Simmons, Lance Reddick, Dean Winter, Christopher Meloni, and Bobby Cannavale, among them.
2 seasons, 24 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10
Set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, Carnivàle pits an 18-year-old carny with magical healing powers against an evangelical preacher who has his own supernatural abilities to bend people to his will. Each episode takes place in a distinctive carnival setting where an ongoing battle between good and evil is raging. The series was originally envisioned as a trilogy of stories, each part told in two seasons. Unfortunately, due to the expense of the series, only the first part of the trilogy was completed, which left a few storylines unresolved. Over a decade later, however, Carnivàle remains rich and singularly original series, a compelling if often frustrating combination of Twin Peaks, John Steinbeck, and Lost.
29. The Night Of
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
An eight-part miniseries based on the British series The Criminal, The Night Of follows a legal case from the night of a murder through the arrest and trial of the lead suspect Riz Ahmed. From novelist Richard Price Clockers and Steven Zaillian Moneyball, who wrote and directed the series, The Night Of works on a number of levels: It's a compelling murder mystery, it's a tour de force of acting thanks to Ahmed and John Turturro and it's a scathing indictment of the American criminal justice system. The series illustrates, best of all, that a conviction isn't even necessary to ruin a mans' life, especially if he's a person of color. Suspicion is all it takes.
3 seasons, 24 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10
Grown out of Issa Rae's web series Awkward Black Girl, Insecure takes us through the romantic and career travails of an insecure twenty-something black woman in a way that makes it clear that many of the experiences of the characters are rooted in reality. There's nothing particularly original about its premise — it's a relationship comedy — but its approach is uniquely bold, honest, and witty. It's very funny, but it also hits a lot of dramatic notes well and features one of the most remarkably authentic friendships on television.
31. Flight of the Conchords
2 seasons, 22 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
Created by James Bobin, Jemaine Clement, and Bret McKenzie, Flight of the Conchords follows the day-to-day lives of two clueless shepherds-turned-musicians, Jemaine Clemaine and Bret McClegnie playing fictionalized versions of themselves who have moved from New Zealand to New York City in an attempt to make a career out of being folk musicians. In each episode, the characters also break into song, delivering irresistible, infectious pop-song parodies. It's hard to describe exactly what kind of show Flight of the Conchords is, but its humor is dry and sardonic. It's a lightweight comedy — it often feels like sketch comedy — but it's hilarious and infinitely clever.
32. Eastbound and Down
4 seasons, 29 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Danny McBride plays Kenny Powers, a brash, profane washed-up major league relief pitcher who returns his North Carolina hometown and ends up living with his brother and teaching P.E. at the local middle school. The show, like Kenny Powers, is loud, obnoxious, and grating, and yet still capable of delivering some of the funniest lines on television. It's completely absurd, but it works because of how far Danny McBride is willing to take it. The show only seems to have one joke, but Eastbound and Down manages to find new ways to poke and prod that joke into life. In fact, the series gets better as it progresses through its fourth season, especially after it figures out how to combine emotional heft with the crude, bombastic humor.
2 seasons, 18 episodes | IMDb: 7.5/10
Laura Dern has starred in two fantastic series for HBO but her best work remains as Amy Jellicoe, a middle-aged woman going through a nervous breakthrough on Enlightened. The dramedy follows Amy as she recovers from a mental break that happened after being fired by the shady company she'd been working for — to be fair, her heavy drinking and the affair she was having with her married boss didn't scream longevity. After a two-month rehab stint and a bipolar diagnosis, Amy tries to get her life back on track and ends up uncovering a damning secret about the people she works for. Dern in anything is worthy of a watch but when the actress plays messy, “unlikeable” female characters intent on self-destruction, she's truly at her best.
5 seasons, 45 episodes | IMDb: 7.6/10
There's a reason Senator Elizabeth Warren stans this sports dramedy series starring Dwayne Johnson. Not only is the action star at his comedic best playing Spencer Strasmore, a former NFL player who embarks on a new career as a financial manager to pro athletes in the show's premiere, but the whole vibe of this show is Entourage on steroids. In other words, get ready to laugh your a** off at some raunchy, physical humor and witty one-liners while ogling expensive suits, fast cars, million-dollar mansions, and a yacht or two.
2 seasons, 16 episodes | IMDb: 7.5/10
The Duplass brothers comedy-drama series about a family trying to rediscover their joy for life remains some of the brotherly duo's best work. Starring Mark Duplass as a 40-something sound designer going through a mid-life crises and Melanie Lynskey as his wife Michelle, a woman looking to reinvent herself, the show follows the couple as they try to inject a bit of spark back into their marriage with the help of an out-of-work actor friend and Michelle's sister, a bouncy castle entrepreneur.
Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror. In this edition: Horror icon Freddy Krueger clawed his way out of a nightmare and into the pop culture pantheon in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Thirty-five years ago, the theatrical release of A Nightmare on Elm Street solidified director Wes Craven as a definitive voice in horror, launched a major horror franchise, and introduced an iconic movie monster in Freddy Krueger. Delivering his supernatural take on the slasher, Craven created a horrifically scarred killer whose favored slaying grounds is a place that should offer the most safety, in the nestled comfort of your dreams. Dreamscapes bleed into harrowing reality, often literally, and the only way to evade Freddy’s clutches is to stay awake. But no one can stay awake forever.
Craven demonstrates the high-stakes in this slasher right away with one of the most seminal horror scenes of the ‘80s. The blurred lines between waking life and imagination disorient as Craven goes straight for the jugular, offing a major character in the grisliest fashion after setting her up to be the lead character. This vital scene didn’t just set the tone for the rest of the film; it left an enduring, indelible mark on the genre.
Written and directed by Craven, who was inspired by a series of newspaper articles about Southeast Asian refugees that died in their sleep after suffering severe nightmares, A Nightmare on Elm Street follows the thread of what if dreams had the power to kill. High school teens Nancy Thompson Heather Langenkamp, Tina Gray Amanda Wyss, Glen Lantz Johnny Depp, and Rod Lane Jsu Garcia discover they’ve been having nightmares about the same man. A horrifically scarred figure with a red and green striped sweater and a glove with razor blades attached to the fingers. Though it at first seems like a strange coincidence, it’s revealed to be the spirit of slain child murderer Fred Krueger Robert Englund that seeks revenge by invading the dreams of his murderers’ children. He’s out for blood.
The Story So Far
After waking from a horrific nightmare that leaves her with four slashes across her nightgown upon waking, a shaken Tina is hesitant to fall asleep the following night. She enlists her best friend Nancy and Nancy’s boyfriend Glen to sleep over for comfort and support. As Tina shares details about her dreams, Nancy recalls the same figure has started appearing in her dreams as well. The coincidence is interrupted when Tina’s tumultuous lover Rod crashes the sleepover. The foursome separates in different corners of the Gray household to settle in for sleep. Terror, of course, ensues.
Tina wakes in the middle of the night from rocks pelted at her window and eerie whispers of her name. When she goes outside to investigate, she’s tormented and chased by Freddy Krueger in the alley until he catches her just outside her backdoor. As she tries to fight him off, it’s revealed to be a nightmare; Rod wakes in fright to see Tina struggling with an unseen foe. One that tears her open and drags her across the walls and ceiling. Her corpse drops onto the bed, splattering the pool of blood everywhere.
From the opening title sequence, Craven is setting up minor misdirection. The entire focus is on Tina. Her foreboding travels through the boiler room in her nightmares, the relationships established with her friends and boyfriend. Her fears. Yet, at only 13-minutes into the runtime, Craven pulls the rug out from under the viewer with a disturbing nightmare that results in Tina’s gruesome demise. This scene works two-fold; it gives the viewer their first real glimpse of the horrific boogeyman, Freddy Krueger, and it shows just how gory it can be to die in your dreams. Craven is making a bold declaration that there will be no gentle death by natural causes in these nightmares turned reality.
Bringing this scene to life required the most complex special effects of the low budget production. How do you go about having a character thrash about a room and get slaughtered by an unseen presence while another looks on helpless and confused? For it, Craven turned to mechanical special effects designer Jim Doyle, who also played the uncredited face of Freddy in the wall above Nancy’s bed just before this classic scene. Craven showed Doyle a scene from Royal Wedding, which saw Fred Astaire dancing up the walls, to give an idea of the revolving room he envisioned. It took Doyle a month to build the framework and the inner revolving room on axles. Four crew members spun the room by hand.
Everything inside the room was bolted down, from the furniture to the camera crew and actor Garcia. All except Wyss, who had to crawl around the bottom of the room as it rotated. The constant change of perspective gave Wyss a case of vertigo from the first spin, making her on-screen terror real. Craven had to tell her which direction was up and down between takes to keep her spatial awareness grounded.
When Tina drops from the ceiling and lands on the bed, it’s a stuntwoman. Two crew members held her in place and released on “action!” That splash of blood from her landing ruffled some feathers with the MPAA, who insisted the blood splatter not exceed beyond two frames.
The revolving room was the most expensive and complicated special effect of the film. Production reused it again when filming Glen’s death – Craven’s homage to The Shining – and Doyle kept it to rent out in later films like Larry Cohen’s The Stuff to recoup some of the costs he put into building it. It’s a shining example of how the film’s low budget proved to be a source of inspiration and innovation, rather than a shackle of limitation.
A Nightmare on Elm Street, even 35 years later, is a classic that bears no shortage of standout moments that elicits chills. Yet it’s the early demise of Tina that showcases just how well Craven had his finger on the pulse of horror. A brutal slaying of who was initially set up to be the film’s lead shook audiences to their core. Craven was and always will be a horror master, and this scene nails why.
When it comes to beloved animated films, Disney's had the market cornered for quite some time. The Mouse House consistently churns out beautifully-rendered art and expertly-crafted storytelling, which is why the studio has been at the forefront of animation and computer generation in the world of film. From classics once locked up in that metaphorical vault to modern offerings that combine cutting-edge tech with truly inspiring stories, Disney+ is now home to the best animated features its parent company has to offer.
So of course, we've rounded up the ones worth watching first.
Run Time: 105 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Disney continued its trend of spotlighting underserved communities and lesser-known cultures with Coco, a Pixar project that follows a young boy learning the importance of family during a traditional Mexican celebration, “Dia de Los Muertos.” The Day of the Dead is probably a holiday you've heard of before, but the film adds a rich history and vibrancy to a time held sacred by so many. Coco has dreams of becoming a singer, but when he finds himself amongst the dead, he must rely on his courage and his ancestors to help him return to the living. Bring your tissues for this one.
Robin Hood 1973
Run Time: 83 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
There are too many Robin Hoods on film to count at this point, but there's something special about this take on the masked outlaw, who's imagined here as a sly fox while the rest of the key players take on other humanoid animal forms. He's charming, gallant, and just heroic enough to make us root for him, plus he's responsible for many a sexual awakening, so Disney must've done something right.
Toy Story 1995
Run Time: 81 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Another animated flick that revolutionized the genre when it landed in theaters in the mid-1990s is this beloved story about a group of anthropomorphic toys who come to life when their human, a little boy named Andy, and his family aren't around. The group is led by a cowboy named Woody Tom Hanks, who becomes jealous when Andy receives a new action figure for his birthday, a space ranger named Buzz Lightyear Tim Allen, who believes he's an actual ranger, not a toy. The two battle for Andy's attention, resulting in misadventures that land them in all kinds of danger. It's Pixar's first feature film, the first computer-animated movie, and its screenplay was penned by the likes of Joss Whedon and Andrew Stanton. So yeah, it's worth a watch.
The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993
Run Time: 76 min | IMDb: 8/10
There are inventively animated children's stories and then there's whatever Tim Burton decides to do next. The director never fails to bring something wholly-original and cutting edge to whatever genre he tackles but his greatest triumph might be this '90s fantasy classic that manages to make even Christmas just a bit dark.
Oliver and Company 1988
Run Time: 74 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Occasionally, Disney displayed moments of true ingenuity in its storytelling aspirations, digging for interesting angles in the oddest of places, reinventing classics, and reimagining worn-out tropes. Oliver and Company is one of those moments. A canine spin on Charles Dickens' classic Oliver Twist, this film follows an orphaned kitten named Oliver who joins up with some street-savvy mutts led by a mongrel named Dodger Billy Joel in all his savoir-faire and begins pulling jobs to help them pay off a debt to a vicious loan shark and his Dobermen henchmen. But when Oliver draws the attention of a little rich girl who decides to adopt him, the crew must rescue them both from the opportunistic thug. The music, the voice cast, the emotions this film draws out — who gave Disney permission to be so good?
The Emperor's New Groove 2000
Run Time: 78 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Here's an over-reaching statement that we will defend until the end of time: The Emperor's New Groove is one of the greatest animated films of our generation. The film follows a spoiled king voiced by David Spade, who is accidentally turned into a llama and goes on the run from his evil adviser Yzma Eartha freaking Kitt people. He's befriended by a lovable llama herder named Pacha John Goodman, who helps him take back his thrown. Llamas don't get enough screen time, to be honest, and they make for hilarious heroes, but the real star of this show is Kronk Partick Warburton, Yzma's dim-witted, kind-hearted sidekick who can talk to squirrels and was so entertaining, he got his own spin-off.
The Aristocats 1970
Run Time: 78 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Look, Disney usually banks on cute canines to sell movies, but cat people will always have this animated classic about a reckless alley cat who must save a family of Parisian felines set to inherit their owner's fortune when an evil butler takes matters into his own hands. Jazz-loving cats? Who knew?
Walt Disney Entertainment
Beauty and the Beast 1991
Run Time: 84 min | IMDb: 8/10
Sure, the story of Beauty and the Beast is more than a bit problematic. A bookish young woman sacrifices her freedom to save her father's life and becomes the prisoner of a churlish prince cursed to live life as a beast unless he can win her affections. It may have taught children some strange lessons about the power of Stockholm Syndrome, but look, the soundtrack slaps and any time Lumiere and Cogsworth are on screen, they're comedy gold.
Run Time: 102 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Disney switched up its formulaic princess model with this icy musical about two orphaned sisters who must work together to protect their kingdom from evil forces. Kristen Bell plays Anna, the perky protagonist and younger sibling to Queen Elsa Idina Menzel, a young woman with extraordinary abilities who must hide her powers from the world. The songs are terrific, the animation is superb, and you can't tell us that you don't love Josh Gad as a talking snowman.
Inside Out 2015
Run Time: 95 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
Warning: watching this animated flick that personifies the inner emotions of a preteen girl going through the turmoil of a cross-country move will bring out all the feels. Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, and Mindy Kaling lead the stellar voice cast for this on-brand story that follows Poehler's Joy as she navigates the little girl's mind space with Sadness Phyllis Smith in tow. It's beautifully-realized with plenty of humor and heart, but please, don't talk to us about Bing Bong. It's still too soon.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996
Run Time: 91 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Demi Moore, Jason Alexander, and Kevin Kline lend their voices to this colorful tale of a deformed bell ringer who must fight his guardian, an evil government minister, to help his gypsy friend. There's talking gargoyles, some great musical numbers, and the animation is breathtaking, but the heart of this story — which examines how we treat those who veer from what society deems as “the norm” — is sophisticated stuff that feels relevant, even decades later.
Run Time: 107 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Moana made waves when it landed in theaters a few years ago thanks to its thoughtful coming-of-age story rooted in South Pacific folklore, a fun performance from Dwayne Johnson, and its earworm-y songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Opetaia. The film is filled with insightful storytelling and beautifully-rendered artwork, and it also gave kids a heroine they could really root for and relate to. Watching it never gets old — and neither does listening to its soundtrack.
Run Time: 88 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Another animated classic, the story of Mulan might be getting a live-action version in 2020, but this animated rendition of a young woman who poses as a man to prevent her father from serving in the Emperor's army and defeats the greatest threat to China's dynasty is still the standard by which all other animated movies are measured.
Run Time: 96 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
Somehow, Disney knew that audiences would get choked up by lonely boomers, balloon houses, and dim-witted golden retrievers, so they threw all three into this flick that follows an elderly man named Carl, who decides to fly his house to Paradise Falls following the death of his wife. He gets an unexpected travel buddy in Russell, a young “Wilderness Explorer” hoping to earn his final merit badge by helping Carl. The two journey to the Falls where they encounter an exotic beast that Russell names Kevin. It's quirky and exciting and just sentimental enough to warrant some tissues.
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 8/10
Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, and Ginnifer Goodwin lend their voices to this adventure comedy about a city of anthropomorphic animals and a rookie bunny cop with dreams of making it on the force. Goodwin plays Judy Hopps, a young hare with big goals who leaves her farming family behind to live in Zootopia. She encounters a slick criminal in fox Nick Wilde who gives her more than a bit of trouble but also helps her uncover a bigger conspiracy when some of the less-predatory animals begin disappearing. The humor is elevated above normal Disney far as is the underlying message of acceptance and tolerance but, if nothing else, you can just enjoy a delightful Jenny Slate voicing a sheep named Bellwether.
Run Time: 98 min | IMDb: 8.4/10
Another unique, expertly-crafted Disney offering is this animated space adventure flick about a waste-collecting robot named Wall-E, who falls in love with another robot named EVE and follows her across the galaxy. Set years into the future, Wall-E is responsible for cleaning up an uninhabitable Earth while its residents coast through space on a luxury cruiser. EVE is a probe sent to assess Earth's viability, which is when she strikes up a friendship with Wall-E. The two eventually go on a mission to convince humans to return to Earth, a wild ride that touches on everything from eco-conservatism to consumerism and the bonds of friendship.
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 8/10
Sorry to Will Smith, but there's a superior Genie in our book. He's big, blue, animated, and voiced by Robin Williams. Come for the musical numbers, stay for Williams' outlandish comedy and the gorgeous artwork in this classic that imagines a world in which a regular street rat can become a prince — if he can manage to outwit an evil sorcerer and his meddlesome parrot.
The Lion King 1994
Run Time: 88 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Yeah, Beyonce's version will eventually land on Disney+, but no offense to Queen Bey, there's just no beating the original, which tells the tale of a lion cub destined for greatness who must overcome tragedy and a scheming uncle to rule the Pride Lands. The Elton John-created soundtrack, the Shakespearean story, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, and Jeremy Irons as a sassy Scar. What's not to love about this classic?
The Little Mermaid 1989
Run Time: 83 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
This Disney classic about a mermaid princess who strikes a terrible bargain with a sea witch in exchange for the chance to walk on land and find her prince makes for such an interesting re-watch as an adult. It's still filled with the same breathtaking imagery and banging musical numbers you remember, but Ariel's journey and Ursula's position as the film's villain might need to be reexamined. You tell us.
James and the Giant Peach 1996
Run Time: 79 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Based on a children's story from Roald Dahl, this imaginative tale of an orphan who befriends a group of anthropomorphic bugs living inside a giant peach marked a breakthrough in animation when it was first released. James, a good-natured boy abused by his guardians, finds a new family inside a magical fruit that he takes on grand adventures to the North Pole and New York City. It's deliciously weird and fun, and it's got Tim Burton all over it.
There was a time when tales of aliens, space travel, and robots were believed to be the strict province of four-eyed basement dwellers, but the truth is that everybody can find something to enjoy in the weird world of science fiction. The best sci-fi works in both universal truths and hyperspecific detail, using fantastical yet fully-realized worlds to tell stories about our own.
Netflix's selection of good sci fi movies isn't exhaustive, but there's still plenty worth exploring nestled among the sequels and paycheck-generators. Keep on scrolling for 10 of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix streaming to watch right now, all taking you from the moon, the farthest reaches of space, and to the outer fringes of reality itself.
1. The Matrix 1999
Run Time: 136 min | IMDb: 8.7/10
The Wachowskis created one of the greatest sci-fi films in cinematic history with their mind-bending Matrix trilogy, but the original is hard to top. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a young man unplugged from the matrix — a kind of alternate reality that keeps humans docile, so machines can harvest their life energy. He teams up with a band of rebels fighting the machines Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity and faces off against a henchman named Agent Smith Hugo Weaving. The real draw of this trilogy, besides its inventive storyline, is the CGI display. The movie also sports some of the most imaginative fight sequences you'll ever see on the big screen.
2. Ex Machina 2014
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Alex Garland's sci-fi thriller breathed new life into the tired A.I. trope when it landed in theaters a few years ago. The film focuses on a naïve young programmer Domhnall Gleeson who's selected amongst a pool of applicants to evaluate a new A.I. lifeform. The poor kid is whisked away to a remote villa to spend time with the eerily-human-looking robot, Ava Alicia Vikander and her eccentric, often cruel creator Nathan Oscar Isaac, a genius with an ego to match his talent. The film takes some twists you don't expect, and Isaac gives cinema one of its greatest dance sequences, in case you needed more reason to watch.
3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi 2017
Run Time: 152 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
There's always going to be backlash when a studio decides to revive a beloved franchise and take it in a new direction but The Last Jedi continues to anger space fanboys everywhere and honestly, we're not sure what their gripe is. Rian Johnson gave us a masterclass in how to take something old and make it new again with his interpretation, injecting a bit of fun and fantasy into the age-old story. Mindblowing Jedi fights, Force connections, Porg, and Arctic Foxes, the movie has something for everyone and it challenges both old and new characters alike with interesting arcs and climactic moments. Plus, did we mention Porgs?
Warner Bros. Pictures
4. Her 2013
Run Time: 126 mins | IMDb: 8/10
Spike Jonze imagines a world in which Artificial Intelligence can become something more than just a personal assistant program. Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a depressed introvert going through a divorce who starts up a relationship with an OS named Samantha. Things get serious before Theodore begins to realize that romance with an A.I. is more complicated than he thought. What follows is a thoughtful exploration of love, relationships, and the ways human beings find connection in a plugged-in world.
5. V for Vendetta 2005
Run Time: 132 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving star in this sci-fi action flick about a dystopian world ruled by tyranny and fascism. Portman plays Evey, a frightened young woman thrust into a world of cloaked rebellion after a meeting with the mysterious V Weaving, a man who wears a Guy Fawkes mask and plans to blow up Parliament in one year. The British government has utilized a military state to purge itself of “undesirables,” homosexuals, free-thinkers, those of a different race and religious background than they deem worthy. V seeks to correct this by punishing the government, slashing up police, burning down buildings, and inciting others, including Evey, to riot. It's an action-filled romp that packs a philosophical punch.
6. Okja 2017
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Bong Joon-Ho's send-up of corporate farming and environmental abuses isn't subtle. Tilda Swinton goes all-out as the CEO of an evil corporation only to be outdone by Jake Gyllenhaal's broad turn as an unstable TV host. But its tale of an endearing, genetically modified “super pig” and the girl who loves him is effective and contains both some terrific action set pieces and the most affecting child/strange beast relationship this side of E.T.
7. Snowpiercer 2013
Run Time: 126 min, IMDb: 7.1/10
Chris Evans stars in this sci-fi thriller from auteur Bong Joon-ho. The film, set years into the future following a devastating ice age caused by mankind, follows Evans' Curtis who lives in poverty on a train that continuously circles the Earth and contains all that remains of human life. Curtis is part of the “scum” the people relegated to the back of the train while the “elite” enjoy the privilege of wealth and status that comes with living in the front. Curtis sparks a rebellion that ends in bloodshed and a devastating reveal when he makes it to the train's engine room and discovers just how the elite have been fueling their operation. It's a dark, grimy action piece that should give fans a new appreciation for Evans' talent.
8. Equilibrium 2002
Run Time: 107 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Christian Bale and Sean Bean star in this sci-fi drama set in an oppressive future where all forms of emotion are outlawed. Bale plays a man named John Preston, who's charged with enforcing the law, but when he accidentally forgets to take a dose of the medicine that suppresses feelings and artistic expression, he begins to question the system he upholds and, eventually, leads an uprising.
9. April And The Extraordinary World 2015
Run Time: 105 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
In an alternate version of 1941 where France has been led by a line of Napoleons and leading scientists mysteriously disappear, young April, her talking cat Darwin, and the shady Julius go searching for April's missing parents. It's an interesting take on a history where technological advancement isn't a thing, where “steampunk” is reality and TVs and cars don't exist. April's journey starts in the dreary, stuck-out-of-time France but leads her to fantastical advancements that still make sense in the world we're presented with. The heart of the film lies in the love that plucky, stubborn April has for those she cares about, and the film's driven by charming animation and a genuinely interesting concept. It's enjoyable action that's just out-there enough for adults while being accessible for the young and young at heart.
10. Under The Skin 2007
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
Scarlett Johansson stars in this sci-fi thriller about an other-worldly woman with a dark agenda. The film sees Johansson using her sex appeal to lure unsuspecting men to their watery doom while beginning to contemplate her own existence with every new partner she seduces. It's a subtle reverse of rape culture, with themes of race and immigration mixed in, but if all of that goes over your head, you'll at least enjoy seeing Johansson off a bunch of frat bros and rapists.
Recent Changes Through November 2019:Removed: AdvantageousAdded: The Matrix
As CGI found its footing in the '90s, the masses flocked to big-budget spectacles like Titanic and Jurassic Park. But another revolution was unfolding on a smaller scale. We also saw the first films from some of the best indie directors, from Wes Anderson to Quentin Tarantino. Below are 10 of the best '90s movies on Netflix right now, ranked. They range from the '90s-est '90s movies that every millennial grew up watching to the influential award winners that are worth discovering or revisiting.
Related: The Best '80s Movies On Netflix Right Now
1. The Matrix 1999
Run Time: 136 min | IMDb: 8.7/10
The Wachowskis created one of the greatest sci-fi films in cinematic history with their mind-bending Matrix trilogy, but the original is hard to top. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a young man unplugged from the matrix — a kind of alternate reality that keeps humans docile, so machines can harvest their life energy. He teams up with a band of rebels fighting the machines Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity and faces off against a henchman named Agent Smith Hugo Weaving. The real draw of this trilogy, besides its inventive storyline, is the CGI display. The movie also sports some of the most imaginative fight sequences you'll ever see on the big screen.
2. Schindler's List 1993
Run Time: 195 min | IMDb: 8.9/10
It took decades in the industry for Steven Spielberg to finally earn an Oscar for one of his movies, but his win for Schindler's List is well deserved. The film focuses on wealthy businessman Oskar Schindler, who spends his fortune and risks his life to save the lives of 1,100 Jewish men and women after taking in the horrors of WWII and the concentration camps. Between the three hour running time, the cold, unrelenting cruelty of Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of Amon Goeth, and its realistic style, it's a bleak film. But there's hope to be found in the grim black and white images. It's an important story told movingly by a filmmaker at the of his powers.
3. Pulp Fiction 1994
Run Time: 154 min | IMDb: 8.9/10
Possibly the most famous of Quentin Tarantino's masterpieces, Pulp Fiction stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and Uma Thurman spitting out punchy dialogue, pop culture references, and committing some pretty violent crimes along the way. Tarantino's love of non-linear storytelling is on full display here with three separate plots, all entwined in some way, take shape over the course of the film. Travolta plays Vincent, a hitman for a mob boss who, along with his partner Jules Jackson, survives a couple of shootouts in the film as the two contemplate their life of crime, escort mob wives across town, help fix boxing matches, and dispose of dead bodies.
4. Trainspotting 1996
Run Time: 93 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Danny Boyle's black comedy crime film has become a cult classic and made it on plenty “best movies” lists over the years. Ewan McGregor plays Mark Renton, an unemployed heroin addict who shares a flat with his equally unimpressive friends, Spud, Sick Boy, Franco, and Tommy. The group parties together constantly, doing drugs, getting into fights, and committing petty crimes before Renton attempts to get clean only to return home to make a drug deal that could set him up with a clean slate. It's darkly comedic, with some ridiculous twists thrown in, but the core of the story is surprisingly emotional.
5. Jackie Brown 1997
Run Time: 154 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
After earning acclaim with Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino made his subtlest feature with Jackie Brown, an Elmore Leonard adaptation that the director still makes very much his own. After middle-aged stewardess Jackie Brown Pam Grier is picked up by the FBI, she's pulled between her arms-dealing boss Samuel L. Jackson, the feds that are after him, and saving her own skin. With an all-star ensemble that includes Robert De Niro and Robert Forster who earned an Oscar nomination, Jackie Brown is a throwback to the blaxploitation genre, which started in the '70s, of which Grier was a big part of. It's a tense, sexy, and desperate story with a wonderful soundtrack to boot.
New Line Cinema
6. American History X 1998
Run Time: 119 | IMDb: 8.5/10
Edward Norton stars in this politically-charged drama about a reformed neo-nazi skinhead hoping to prevent his brother from following in his footsteps. Norton plays Derek, a man who's anger over his father's death fuels him to start up a violent racist gang and recruit his brother, Danny, to film their exploits. When Derek goes to prison for killing a man, he changes his ways, enduring violence at the hands of his Aryan brothers while befriending a Black inmate who he works with. Once Derek is free, he goes against his former friends and mentor to get his brother out of the life, a decision that puts his life and his family at risk. It's a tough watch, one that feels even more relevant now than it did in the '90s, but Norton is fantastic in it.
7. Men In Black 1997
Run Time: 98 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
We should all hail the casting genius who threw Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones together in this sci-fi action flick about a police officer who joins a secret government organization in charge of monitoring extraterrestrial activity on Earth. That's because the two bros — Smith, the wise-cracking rookie, and Jones, the seasoned veteran — have an almost otherworldly kind of chemistry on screen. Watching them bicker like an old married couple is almost more fun than witnessing them take down alien monsters intent on subjugating our planet.
8. Four Weddings And A Funeral 1994
Run Time: 117 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
A Hugh Grant-starring rom-com, this one sees the witty British playboy wrestle with the unwelcome realization that he may have finally found love over the course of five social occasions. The epiphany upends his comfortable bachelorhood and amuses his family and friends, but Grant's character fights the inevitable at every turn, giving us plenty of humor and sexual tension to keep things interesting.
9. Now and Then 1995
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Christina Ricci, Gaby Hoffman, Thora Birch, and Ashleigh Aston Moore play younger versions of stars Rosie O'Donnell, Demi Moore, Melanie Griffith, and Rita Wilson in this quintessentially 90s tale of a group of young girls who form a friendship that carries them into their adult lives. The girls spend a life-changing summer together, investigating a mysterious death and learning more about themselves in the process before reuniting years later where they confront past mistakes. It's a heartwarming ode to friendship supported by a truly talented group of young actresses.
10. The Waterboy 1998
Run Time: 89 min | IMDb: 6.1/10
Remember when we used to like Adam Sandler? Sure, his comedies were never high art, but you still find yourself quoting them to this very day. The Waterboy is the classic example of this comfortable familiarity. Sandler mugs his way through his performance as a football team's waterboy who gets a shot at playing due to his ability to channel his rage into unexpected prowess on the field, and you'll find yourself cocooned in the welcoming embrace of '90s nostalgia.
Recent Changes Through November 2019:Removed: Scream, The Sixth Sense, Empire Records, As Good As It Gets, Groundhog DayAdded: Men In Black, The Matrix, American History X, Now And Then, Trainspotting