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Starz is the best-kept secret in streaming.
Starz and its movie library may be the best-kept secret in streaming. A quick look at the selection on the Starz app shows a library with over 1,000 titles. Starz offers movies across nearly every genre, so there’s always something to catch your eye no matter what you’re in the mood for. It’s not hyperbolic to say that Starz’s selection can contend with the other major streaming sites: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Showtime, and HBO Go. Below is a sampling of some of the best movies on Starz, and it’s just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. And if you’re in the mood for something new, check out our bonus list of the best new movies of 2018 on Starz.
1) Call Me By Your Name
Director Luca Guadagnino has had quite the year with the release of Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria. The former tells the story of Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old American in Italy who befriends Oliver (Armie Hammer), a doctoral student who has come to assist Elio’s father for the summer. As friendship slowly turns to something more, Call Me By Your Name explores burgeoning sexuality and self-doubt, but it also feeds the senses and luxuriates in the tactile. Add in the Armie Hammer dancing scene and there’s something for everyone. —Audra Schroeder
2) A Fantastic Woman
Daniela Vega stars as Marina, a trans woman who is forced into the grieving process after her partner Orlando suddenly dies. On top of that, she must confront the prejudices and suspicions of Orlando’s family, as well as doctors and authorities. Director Sebastián Lelio uses color, memory, and framing in inventive ways, and Vega gives Marina the necessary agency and defiance in the face of humiliation and pain. —A.S.
Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless isn’t an easy watch: 12-year-old Alyosha is caught in the middle of his parents’ toxic divorce, and they’re not coy about the fact that neither of them wants custody. These moments of bitter neglect will get under your skin, but after Alyosha disappears, the film’s tone shifts a bit and opens up a critique of institutions in Russia, both social and political. —A.S.
4) Final Portrait
Stanley Tucci steps into the director role for this dramatic retelling of the relationship between James Lord and Alberto Giacometti. More specifically, it reimagines the story of artist Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) painting a portrait of American writer and friend Lord (Armie Hammer) that is never quite finished, and the subject becomes imprisoned in the artist’s quest for perfection. It’s somewhat maddening, but you get to stare at Armie Hammer’s face for long stretches of time. —A.S.
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5) The Rider
Chloé Zhao’s breakout dramatic film about a rodeo star benefits from taking a naturalistic route: She used real rider Brady Jandreau to tell his true story of suffering a brain injury and being told he could never ride again. Brady’s sister and father star as dramatized versions of themselves, and the cinematography—long shots of amber South Dakota plains, close-ups of the horses Brady longs to ride again—compliments Zhao’s quiet study of a man who has been forever changed by the thing he loves most. The Rider isn’t a hero story; it sets itself apart by showing the connection he has to these creatures, not his power over them. —A.S.
6) Humor Me
Elliott Gould and Jemaine Clement as father and son is already an enticing pairing. Sam Hoffman’s film falls back on the trope of distant father and needy son, but the two performers add some tenderness to the proceedings. More entertaining is his son’s new job at the retirement community, where he befriends a group of women (including Annie Potts) and directs an elderly version of The Mikado. Don’t worry: He learns something about himself! —A.S.
In this dramedy from Brian Crano, Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall are a long-term New York City couple who are trying to keep the magic alive by sleeping with other people. This premise has been tested quite a bit, most recently in Netflix series Wanderlust, but Permission isn’t messing with the boundaries of monogamy as a morality tale or comic relief. It explores straight and gay relationships, doing a scene study of the elasticity of intimacy and partnership instead of labeling an indiscretion as right or wrong. —A.S.
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8) Brigsby Bear (2017)
Kyle Mooney (SNL) stars as James, an adult man who has been living a fabricated life and only knows a TV show called Brigsby Bear. His pretend-parents (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) have created a forever-kid world and there is a darkness at the core of Brigsby Bear, mainly as a result of James’s stunted childhood, but there is also a sweetness when he’s allowed to discover the real world. Greg Kinnear, Andy Samberg, and Claire Danes also star. —Audra Schroeder
9) Happy End (2017)
Director Michael Haneke (Funny Games, Amour) always has an eye on class tension and familial relations, and with Happy End, he winks at the audience as he makes us spend time with an unhappy rich family. Haneke once again teams with Amour‘s Jean-Louis Trintignant, the family’s patriarch, and the incomparable Isabelle Huppert plays his daughter. Everyone has their hangups and fuckups, but this film is a little different than Haneke’s previous in that it’s framed by 13-year-old Eve’s phone, and it includes a wonderful karaoke (sub)version of Sia’s “Chandelier.” —Audra Schroeder
Rebooting the franchise once again, Homecoming had a difficult job. It had to reintroduce a character that audiences were already sick of seeing, and do so in a fresh and entertaining way. It succeeded with aplomb. Tom Holland is hilarious and realistically youthful in a teen comedy that both returns to Spider-Man’s roots and updated the franchise with a diverse cast of contemporary characters. Zendaya won our hearts as Peter Parker’s grungy feminist friend Michelle, and Michael Keaton’s Vulture is one of the MCU’s greatest supervillains to date. The only downside was a rather pedestrian showdown in the final act, undercutting the overall message that Peter Parker should be a team player instead of trying to go it alone. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
The best movies on Starz
Every bit of acclaim heaped upon Wall-E, and particularly the opening 15-20 minutes, still doesn’t do the movie justice. Wall-E is one of the most adorable cartoon characters you’ll ever see, and he’s such a hopeless romantic that he will melt even the coldest of hearts. All of that can also be applied to Eve, the other robot at the heart of the movie. Wall-E is a Pixar movie that takes you into the depths of space just to help you find yourself and get back home.
Of Mel Brooks’ three masterpieces, one could definitely make the argument that Young Frankenstein is the most beloved. It’s not quite as funny as Blazing Saddles, and it doesn’t have quite the legacy of The Producers. But it does have co-writer Gene Wilder at his manic best, and that alone is enough for many to put it over the top. Brooks also really commits to recreating the early horror films he’s spoofing, shooting in beautiful black-and-white, with ornate production design to match. And of course, who could forget the iconic “Puttin’ in the Ritz” number. —Chris Osterndorf
13) The Thing
John Carpenter’s masterpiece, one of them at least, continues to get better with time. This ingenious story about a group of researchers being overtaken by an alien being is a masterclass of paranoia and tension. Anchored by Kurt Russell and awesome practical effects, The Thing earns its reputation as one of the best horror films and sci-fi films of all time.
14) Almost Famous
Cameron Crowe ain’t what he used to be, but it’s important to go back and remind yourself what made him so good in the first place. Almost Famous has it all, from the great performances by Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and everyone else, to catchy music and effortlessly good writing. Based on Crowe’s own experience as a writer for Rolling Stone, the film follows a young writer (Fugit) as he goes on the road with the band Stillwater. Crowe won an Oscar for the film’s screenplay, and no less than Roger Ebert named the movie as one of the best films of the 2000s.
It doesn’t feel right to call this movie overlooked, but it’s rarely the first movie anyone brings up when talking about John Hughes, but this movie is every bit the equal of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and the rest of his filmography. Steve Martin and John Candy is a pairing that should have yielded more collaborations. Fortunately we have this one and it’s an all-timer.
Sometimes, if you want an artistic, cinematic interpretation of how the West was won, you need to watch a movie that was shot in Spain by an Italian director. That director, of course, is the famous Sergio Leone. He did his research, extensively, on the railroad game during the era of the Wild West for Once Upon a Time (and also on the Civil War for the film proceeding it, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), which means that, aside from the dramatic gun duels (and the dramatic, well… everything), the film doubles as both a beautiful slice of Americana art and a history lesson. Yes, the film is an Italian production, but it nails the soul and legend of the Western frontier better than any American production ever has. —Josh Katzowitz
I love Scream so much. It’s hilarious and terrifying (the opening sequence is 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. 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.
18) The Crazies
While it may feel blasphemous to say, The Crazies remake is a significant upgrade on the George Romero (rest is peace) original. Timothy Olyphant stars as the sheriff of a town overtaken by a plague (and zombies). The movie is sleek, surprising, and creative (the car wash sequence is A+ tension). Everything about the movie is well done, and good zombie movies are cause for celebration.
19) Children of Men
Alonso Cuaron’s dystopian masterpiece is one of the great sci-fi movies of the new millennium. Based on P.D. James’s novel, it’s set in a world where women can’t pregnant and humanity is staring down extinction. That is until one pregnant woman is found and a small group, led by Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, have to get her to safety. It’s a smart movie anchored by jaw-dropping action set pieces.
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20) Raid: Redemption
If you’ve been lacking in the badass movie department, Raid: Redemption is the cure for what ails you. Iko Uwais plays S.W.A.T team member trapped in a building filled with drug dealers, murderers, and other criminal scum. Each new floor brings hordes of people to vanquish and, in that regard, it’s almost like a video game, only better. Watching Uwais fight onscreen is one of the most satisfying elements in all of moviedom at the moment.
21) She’s All That
She’s All That is one of the best ‘90s teen movies, and you should consider yourself lucky to cross its path on any streaming service. While the movie—about the most popular guy in school taking a bet in which the goal turn the least likely girl in school into prom queen—hasn’t aged well, its message about respect and the treatment of women rings true. With an all-star cast featuring Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard, Anna Paquin, Paul Walker, and a Culkin sibling (Kieran), She’s All That earns its place in the pantheon of high school movies.
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The movie that introduced Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, LEGO Movie) to audiences is a supremely underrated family movie. Cloudy takes a text that should’ve been impossible to adapt and turns it into a delirious, imaginative, and surprisingly touching film. It’s about a young inventor, Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), who creates a machine that controls the weather and produces culinary precipitation. There’s a talking monkey, a character voiced by Mr. T, and do you really need anything else?
23) Don’t Breathe
Fede Alvarez has quickly established himself as a genre director to watch. With Don’t Breathe, he delivers a white-knuckle home invasion thriller. Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why) and Jane Levy (Evil Dead) are small-time robbers who get more than they bargained for when they break into the house of a blind veteran (Stephen Lang). Alvarez makes tremendous use of the film’s primary location, and the story has enough twists to keep you on your toes.
I rewatched Clueless recently, and one of these times I’m going to stop being surprised by how well it holds up. Despite some bits that wouldn’t fly today, the jokes still have zip and the film has more than enough brains to match the laughs. The movie’s reputation as a comedy classic is deserved. Alicia Silvestone’s performance as Cher is a potent mixture of obliviousness, sincerity, and puppet master; it’s great. Paul Rudd will be wooing audiences for decades and it’s a testament to his likability that his flirtation with his step sister isn’t as creepy as it should be. Clueless is both of its time and timeless.
Eighteen years worth of friendship, romantic, bullying, hormones and everything else associated with high school comes to a head in this glorious ’90s time capsule. At the blowout graduation party Preston Myers (Ethan Embry) is all set to confess his love to Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt), if only fate and his friends would get out of his way. Can’t Hardly Wait is earnest in a way that only teenagers can be. It’s also hilarious. But like most teen comedies you kind of had to be there to maximize your enjoyment. Still, there’s a certain universality to the movie and plenty of silliness for anyone to enjoy.
Grease is a silly movie. It’s got silly songs, silly dancing, silly costumes, silly 40-year-olds playing teenagers. But silly doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Yes, the ending feels a little regressive today. But if the rapturous reception of the 2016 live version is any indication, Grease may still be, if not the best or most important musical ever, perhaps the most popular. And if nothing else, the original film version is worth it for John Travolta’s performance as Danny Zuko alone. —C.O.
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Ben Stiller does dumb-comedy-by-smart-people as well as anyone this side of Mike Judge. In the easily corruptible world of male modeling, Derek Zoolander (Stiller) is an aging star fighting the inevitable as upstart Hansel (he’s so hot right now) comes for the throne. Does anybody really need a parody of the modeling world? No, but now that we have it, I can’t imagine how we made it so long without Zoolander. From walk offs to gasoline fights to funeral crashing to assassination attempts, Zoolander surely has something for everybody.
Jackie Chan can’t kick it like he used to, but the man is a treasure of world cinema. His gifts for blending slapstick with intensely studied martial arts are second to none. His contribution to cinema was recognized with an honorary Oscar in 2016, so this is a great time to honor the man yourself and watch one of his essential films.
Sacha Baron Cohen’s guerrilla comedy makes its bones by giving its subjects the rope and letting them do the rest. In Borat, Cohen sends his fictional Kazakhstan character across America, ostensibly to declare his love for Pamela Anderson. Each stop allows new marks to spew ignorance and provide fodder for cringe-inducing laughs. But there are enough people who show kindness to Borat to keep the film from feeling like its punching down. The element that raises Borat to classic status is the sense of danger running through numerous scenes. It heightens everything and makes the high wire act all the more impressive. This is Cohen’s masterpiece.
Anytime Up comes up it feels like there’s a race to see who will be the first person to mention how the opening sequence, showing the relationship of Carl and Ellie from childhood through old age, left them a weeping mess. But reducing the movie to just that sequence does the film a disservice. That opening functions as an incredibly moving short film, something that feels like a full meal in less than ten minutes. Instead, it sets the emotional stakes, and the sense of adventure, impossibly high, then proceeds to meet and surpass that standard repeatedly for the rest of the runtime. —Eddie Strait
Still not sure what to watch or what service to choose? Here are the 60 best movies on Amazon Prime, 35 best movies on HBO, 50 best movies on Hulu, 105 best movies on Netflix, 15 best movies on Showtime, 25 best movies on Starz, and 45 free movies on YouTube.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
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Eddie Strait is a member of the Austin Film Critic Association. His reviews focus primarily on streaming entertainment, with an emphasis on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other on-demand services.