When it comes to premium cable, there’s HBO, and everyone else is playing for second. Showtime has a surprisingly solid stable of streaming options accessible through its namesake streaming service and Showtime Anytime platform, a nice blend of current and classic releases. Showtime offers selections that feel more like discoveries, or something you wouldn’t immediately go to. These are the best movies on showtime right now.
The best movies on Showtime
Paul Dano makes an impressive directorial debut with Wildlife, a quiet, domestic drama about a marriage falling apart, as seen through the eyes of the couple’s teenage son. While the story is involving and has a sneaky power to it, it’s the cast that elevates Wildlife. As the husband and wife, Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan deliver some of their finest work, especially Mulligan. And anchoring the film is newcomer Ed Oxenbould, who plays the couple’s son. It’s an actor’s showcase, which isn’t a surprise given Dano’s experience. What is surprising is Dano’s eye for arresting visuals. It all amounts to a film that simmers until it all comes to a boil.
2) The Babadook
In Jennifer Kent’s 2014 film, the mother is supposed to be the protector, but she might be the monster, too. This tangled duality pushes The Babadook, a film that takes the idea of a bogeyman and draws a thick black line to the depths of our subconscious. Essie Davis is wonderful as Amelia, a single mother who’s slogging through life with her troubled, high-strung son. Their relationship starts to shift after a creature in a children’s pop-up book starts appearing outside the pages and becomes a terrifying metaphor for grief and depression. It joins a handful of recent horror films (The Witch, It Follows, Ex Machina) in which women aren’t just prey or victims. —Audra Schroeder
3) School of Rock
Jack Black’s manic energy finds its perfect in Richard Linklater’s music school comedy. Black plays a professional lay about who steals a subbing job from his nebbish roommate (Mike White, who also wrote the script) and ends up teaching a class of young musical prodigies. Of course, the students end up teaching Black as much about life as he teaches them about Led Zeppelin. It’s a crowd-pleaser through and through, with equal amounts of laughs and heart and, most importantly, a great rock show at the end. —Eddie Strait
Spotlight is a drama of the old-school model, bringing into comparison gems such as All the President’s Men. It follows the Boston Globe‘s Spotlight team as it exposes the numerous cases of child abuse and molestation by clergymen covered up by the Catholic church in Boston. The Boston Globe went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for their efforts, and the scandal ran so deep that the Archbishop of Boston was forced to step down. If you care about journalism, it’s a must-watch. —Clara Wang
5) Good Will Hunting
“It’s not your fault.” Ouch, right? Even if you’re tired of looking at the smug face of Matt Damon’s Will Hunting, even if the obnoxious mass of Boston accents has started to get to you, even if the movie’s general earnestness drives you crazy, by the time Good Will Hunting arrives at that one scene, even the hardest and most cynical hearts will also start to melt. Among Good Will Hunting’s considerable powers are Gus Van Sant’s deft but subtle direction and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning script. But it’s Robin Williams’ crushing performance, for which he also received the Academy award, that makes the movie worth revisiting. The late Williams showed he could tone his more over-the-top antics way down in this, his most acclaimed role. The result is breathtaking and the one element of the movie most likely to make you shed a tear or two (or many.) —Chris Osterndorf
Scream is hilarious and terrifying (the opening sequence alone puts it in the horror pantheon). The cast is fun and playful, and director Wes Craven matches their energy behind the camera. Kevin Williamson’s script is sharper than Ghostface’s knife. For anyone watching for the first time, Scream takes place on the year anniversary of Maureen Prescott’s brutal murder. Her daughter, Sidney, finds herself in a new nightmare when her classmates start getting killed off. Scream has extreme rewatch value, and even if the potency of the scares fades over time, everything about the movie picks up the slack. It’s a classic for a reason, and any time is a good time to revisit it. —E.S.
Could this be the best time-travel story ever? Forget about how convoluted the franchise’s mythology became with each successive entry; the original Terminator is so elegant in its core concept, so economically executed, its punches land harder than in any of its sequels. The action is exhilarating, the special effects were state-of-the-art for their time, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s captivating, villainous performance rightfully launched him to movie stardom with one of the most iconic catchphrases in film history: “I’ll be back.” —E.S.
8) Den of Thieves
A lot of movies want to be Heat, but sometimes it’s okay to just be yourself, and Den of Thieves is at its best when it’s being itself. The L.A.-set crime epic pits a crew of robbers, led by Ray (Pablo Schreiber), against Sheriff Nick (Gerard Butler) and his elite team of officers. The biggest star here is director Christian Gudegast, who shoots action well and knows how to construct a scene to maximize tension, best exemplified by the film’s centerpiece heist sequence. Catch up with Den of Thieves now before it fulfills its destiny and becomes a basic cable staple. —E.S.
9) Blood Fest
Rooster Teeth’s Blood Fest is a tribute to horror movies, and it’s hoping you get the references. The film follows Dax (Robbie Kay), who’s had an obsession with horror since his mother was murdered on Halloween night by one of his father’s deranged patients. He’s secured tickets to the titular Blood Fest for himself and his friends, Sam (Seychelle Gabriel) and Krill (Jacob Batalon). Once they arrive at the festival, things quickly start to go wrong, as it’s revealed ringmaster Anthony Walsh (director Owen Egerton) is filming his own horror movie and murdering the attendees for content. —A.S.
10) Blue Valentine
Blue Valentine is the kind of movie that’s so sad, it occasionally feels like it’s trying to rip your heart out through your chest. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as Dean and Cindy, a couple whose relationship we see disintegrate as it cuts back and forth between when they first got together and their older, more damaged selves. Director Derek Cianfrance, who would go on to make The Place Beyond the Pines and The Light Between Oceans shot the flashback scenes in a kind of grainy, Instagram-worthy style that ultimately serves to make them more romantic, while the present-day scenes look sleeker and colder, reflecting a kind of harsh realness. Both performances are heartbreaking (Williams was nominated for an Oscar for hers), probably because the two leads actually spent time living together like a real couple between filming the scenes set in the past and the ones set in the future. By the time their characters had to break up, it feels all too real. —C.O.
11) The Bank Job
The Bank Job is one of the most underrated films in Jason Statham’s filmography. He gives his fists and menacing scowl a break in favor of honest to goodness acting and the result is better than you’d think. Statham leads a team of robbers who take a job that should be a sure thing. But the deposit boxes the crew is after turns out to be more of a Pandora’s Box than a treasure trove. Secrets are revealed that threaten the job as much as any law enforcement, if not moreso. The Bank Job is fun, smart, and has enough to surprises to stay one step ahead of viewers. —E.S.
12) The King’s Speech
Though the Oscar should’ve gone to the more daring The Social Network in 2010, The King’s Speech is still a strong entry in the good ol’ “inspirational true story” genre. The lead performances from Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, and Guy Pearce are top-notch. Tom Hooper’s decision to shoot much of the film in unflattering close-ups works perfectly. And for fans of The Crown or monarchy obsessives in general, The King’s Speech is a great primer. —C.O.
13) Scream 2
This is the last great horror movie the late Wes Craven made. (Red Eye is a blast, but that’s a thriller.) A year removed from the bloodbath in Woodsboro, Sidney (Neve Campbell) is off to college. Like most college freshman, she has some lingering baggage. Unlike most freshman, that baggage literally cannot stop trying to kill her. But her loss is the audience’s gain. Campbell does legitimately great work, and her ability to make Sidney a sympathetic figure is a major reason why this film ranks high in the horror sequel pantheon. The series would lose much of its luster in subsequent sequels (and a TV show), but Scream 2 matches its predecessor laugh for laugh and kill. —E.S.
By far Sam Mendes’ best film, Jarhead is an enthralling and fascinating rumination on the tediousness and psychological stress of war. Jarhead puts you right alongside the soldiers, trained and ready for combat and dying to see some action. The movie does a good job of not being overtly political by keeping tight focus on the soldiers’ experience, which is another way the film draws you in. Jarhead is one of the great underrated war film of recent times.
15) I Feel Pretty
The premise of this film was certainly enough to get people riled up: A woman named Renee (Amy Schumer) struggles with her body image until one day, she takes a spill and wakes up with a newfound, ironclad sense of confidence. It’s a formula that peaked in the ’80s and ’90s to be sure, and critics called out the movie’s message of superficiality over acceptance and self-love, but I Feel Pretty quietly calls out how people treat women who assert that they’re beautiful no matter what. Beyond that premise, I Feel Pretty does have some comedic moments, thanks to fellow standup comedian Rory Scovel as Renee’s love interest and supporting work from Aidy Bryant and Busy Phillips. —A.S.
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Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.