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 the Showtime App 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
Lorene Scafaria wrote and directed this crackerjack crime drama about a group of strippers who schemed to separate their high roller clients from their cash. The film stars Constance Wu, Cardi B, and Lizzo, among others, but it’s Jennifer Lopez who absolutely owns the film. She plays Ramona, the queen bee of the group, and channels the talents of the other women into a multimillion dollar racket. The film takes after Lopez’s lead and oozes swagger and cool, it’s everything you could want in a modern crime drama. —Eddie Strait
4) Back to the Future
Few movies have the replay value of Back to the Future, and even less have the same first-viewing impact. Marty, Doc, George, Lorraine, Einstein, and Biff are coming to Showtime, and I don’t know how long it will be there, but I do know that it will be the best movie on the platform for the entirety of its run. Anytime is a good time to go back to the 1950s via 1985 and watch Marty play amateur matchmaker and amateur time traveller. —E.S.
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
6) Boogie Nights
Several Paul Thomas Anderson films from this century (There Will Be Blood, The Master) are so routinely referred to as masterpieces that one can almost forget he had a career before the year 2000. But not only was Anderson as a much a product of the ‘90s indie explosion as fellow auteurs Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson, he debatably made the best film out of all of them with 1997’s Boogie Nights. It’s a sprawling, multifaceted depiction of the porn industry in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The rise and fall (and sort of rise?) of Dirk Diggler proved to be a coming-out moment for star Mark Wahlberg too, not to mention a brief redemption for Oscar-nominated supporting actor Burt Reynolds, working alongside many of Anderson’s usual players, who all give career highlight performances. The music, the setting, the acting, the story: Boogie Nights is an American story unlike any other. —C.O.
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) Panic Room
David Fincher’s Panic Room is propulsive and entertaining. It’s in the realm of movies that I have to stop and watch whenever I come across it on TV. Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart are an awesome mother-daughter duo and Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, and Dwight Yoakam are equally terrifying and dopey as the villains. Fincher flexes his technical skill (per usual), and gets maximum usage out of the house. For a film largely set in one location, it never gets stale or dull. It’s a clever thriller that’s well made: A work for a B movie. —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) Kill Bill vol. 1&2
Quentin Tarantino’s sprawling martial arts revenge epic offers up over four hours of everything audience’s love about Tarantino films. Calling a QT film “sprawling” may be redundant, but he knows how to deliver the goods each time out. Uma Thurman is The Bride, and she’s out to find Bill and kill him. It’s a simple enough pitch, but there is so much more to the story than just revenge. While the mythical “Whole Bloody Affair” version isn’t readily available, streaming the two films back-to-back is a reasonable approximation. —E.S.
Breakdown is a kickass entry in Kurt Russell’s ass-kicking oeuvre. Russell plays a man whose wife goes missing on a road trip, who will stop at nothing to get her back. The movie is filled with mindgames and great reversals as Russell’s character is constantly having victory snatched from him. Breakdown isn’t the flashiest or best known of Russell’s action films. But it’s as entertaining as any of his classics. At a lean 93 minutes, recommendations don’t get much easier than this. —E.S.
Though not quite as flawless as David Fincher’s true-crime masterpiece Zodiac, Se7en is still a major work in the thriller genre from the closest thing this generation has to Hitchcock. The script, from Andrew Kevin Walker, is a perfect execution of a brilliant premise. As Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman attempt to track a killer who’s selecting his victims based on the seven deadly sins, Fincher tightens the screws more and more, before everything explodes in the movie’s unforgettable climax. —C.O.
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.