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The 50 Best Movies on Starz

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The 50 Best Movies on Starz

Starz  got our attention with the upcoming series American Gods, a delightful and faithful adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s beloved fantasy book. But as we took a closer look, we realized that Starz also has a surprisingly deep movie catalog. We’ve selected our favorites movies streaming on Starz, which is available via your cable operator, via the Starz streaming app or online for an additional $8.99 for Amazon Prime subscribers. Selections include great films from the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese, Fernando Meirelles, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincer, Steve James and Sofia Coppola.

Here are the 50 Best Movies on Starz:

ant-man.jpg 50. Ant-Man
Year: 2015
Director: Peyton Reed
Compared to the two Marvel films that immediately preceded it, Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man provides a welcome respite from extinction-level threats and superhuman bombast. Instead, and in what can only be considered power-set-appropriate, everything feels smaller and more human. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a smart guy whose act of Robin Hood-flavored corporate thievery lands him in prison. Upon his release, he just wants to earn an honest living and be a good dad to his young daughter, but darn if that isn’t difficult to do on the outside. Perhaps one last score? By now, the plotting and expectations of such a setup are practically embedded in a moviegoer’s DNA. But much as the ’70s spy thriller got a boost when injected with some Super Soldier Formula in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so too does the heist genre benefit from prolonged exposure to Pym Particles. In much the same way Guardians of the Galaxy was powered by the charisma and affability of Chris Pratt, Ant-Man is buoyed by the charm of Rudd. The combination of a charismatic lead, a solid supporting cast, and the debut and dramatization of a new (to moviegoers) superpower (or two) has proved a winning formula for Marvel Studios for the last, oh, 10 or so films now, and it’s no different here. —Michael Burgin


step-brothers.jpg 49. Step Brothers
Year: 2008
Director: Adam McKay 
Following the tradition of Dumb and Dumber, Step Brothers’ premise is simple. When an adult couple marries, their two live-at-home middle-age sons end up as step brothers. Equally juvenile, the two begin as enemies but eventually become best friends when they realize that aside from a few surface differences, they’re pretty much the same person. Trouble besets them when, after a particularly goofy fight, their parents force them to search for work and eventually decide to break up due to the difficulty of living with such a deranged family. Really, the plot is just window dressing. You can’t get much simpler than this, and that’s the point. The more complex it is to get from point A in the story to point B, the less you’re paying attention to the characters and the jokes. The comedic timing is impeccable and when the movie is on, it’s really on. Recommending Step Brothers to anyone who’s not already a Ferrell supporter is pointless. It doesn’t offer anything different from before, and even longtime fans may be a bit disappointed with how utterly paper-thin the premise is. But as far as sheer laughs go, Step Brothers is an undeniable success. —Sean Gandert


chasing-amy.jpg 48. Chasing Amy
Year: 1997
Director: Kevin Smith 
Anyone who has listened to enough hours of Kevin Smith’s podcasts or lengthy Q&A sessions knows that, behind his perpetual potty-mouth and flashes of egomania, Smith is a big softie at heart. After two films that reveled in crass slackerdom lifestyles (Clerks and Mallrats), Smith honed his writing voice for his third feature, Chasing Amy. The film stars Ben Affleck as an amateur comic book artist named Holden whose life is thrown awry when he meets a beautiful and vibrant girl named Alyssa (played by Smith’s then-girlfriend Joey Lauren Adams) and instantly falls in love. The problem? Alyssa is a lesbian. Crushed but still determined to spend time with her, Holden develops a close friendship with Alyssa, eventually telling her how he feels with the kind of speech that anyone who has ever experienced a hurtful bout of unrequited love has tossed around in their minds but never found the words to express. —Mark Rozeman


in-bruges.jpg 47. In Bruges
Year: 2008
Director: Martin McDonagh
You know you’ve tripped into the ambiguous realm of Postmodernism when medieval Europe, midget jokes and ultraviolence converge into a seamless whole. Theater auteur Martin McDonagh’s debut feature, In Bruges, thrives on these stylistic clashes with its narrative of two sympathetic hitmen who seek refuge in a European wonderland full of tourists and irony. The ?lm excels, painting its story through the extreme juxtaposition of its subjects, with each contrasting plot element not only understood but felt visually. This technique pits staccato violence against the surreal camera pans of Bruges’ fairy-tale cityscape, projecting the internal con?ict of hired killers Ken and Ray against their new, pacifying environment. The ?lm’s visual appeal complements irreverent and hilarious dialogue—timed brilliantly with the Anglo-Saxon bravado of Fiennes, Farrell and Gleeson—to produce one of this holiday season’s most pleasant dark-horse dramadies. —Sean Edgar


about-a-boy.jpg 46. About a Boy
Year: 2002
Directors: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
No stranger to romantic comedies, Hugh Grant delivered perhaps his best performance ever in About a Boy, a different kind of rom-com. Through his relationship with a young teenager, Grant subtly transforms from notorious womanizer into, well, a man capable of loving the beautiful Rachel Weisz. Grant’s relationship with the boy is tender and thoughtful, much like the film itself. —Jeremy Medina


monty-python-meaning-life.jpg 45. Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life
Year: 1983
Directors: Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam 
Transgressive humor was just one of the tricks that Britain’s iconic comedy troupe had up its sleeve during the heydays of The Flying Circus. But when they made a movie in the early ‘80s, it was the primary card they played, satarizing Catholics, Protestants, consumer culture and anyone or anything else who felt some sort of certainty where life’s deepest questions were concerned. Plus, who can forget the exploding diner? This is Monty Python at its most irreverent and, at times, as funny as ever. —Josh Jackson


sugar-man.jpg 44. Searching for Sugar Man
Year: 2012
Director: Malik Bendjelloul
“The Story of the Forgotten Genius” is such a well-worn formula for music documentaries that it was already being parodied more than three decades ago in This is Spinal Tap. In Searching for Sugar Man, as Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul begins to tell the story of Rodriguez—the Dylanesque folk rocker who released two apparently brilliant albums in the early 1970s, then disappeared—it appears he’s traveling a familiar road. But that road takes a sharp left turn when we learn that bootleg recordings catapulted Rodriguez to stratospheric heights of fame in apartheid-era South Africa. (When a record-store owner is asked if Rodriguez was as big as the Rolling Stones, he matter-of-factly replies “Oh, much bigger than that.”). In fact, his uncensored depictions of sex and drugs were so thrilling to South African musicians that he became the patron saint of the Afrikaner punk movement, which in turn laid the groundwork for the organized anti-apartheid movement that eventually brought the regime down. It’s just a shame that Rodriguez never lived to see it—he burned himself to death onstage in the middle of a show. Or overdosed in prison. Or shot himself alone in his apartment. Or… could he still be alive? Bendjelloul’s film manages to create an aura of mystery and suspense around a search that actually unfolded 14 years ago—a “detective documentary” set in the very recent past. —Michael Dunaway


the-hustler.jpg 43. The Hustler
Year: 1961
Director: Robert Rossen
It’s hard to believe this classic Paul Newman/Jackie Gleason movie about pool shark “Fast Eddie” Felson is over a half-century old. That might be why it was just nudged out of the elite eight of our Best Sports Movies bracket by White Men Can’t Jump. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, but Newman had to wait 25 years to win an Oscar as Felson for the film’s eventual sequel, The Color of Money. —Josh Jackson


1-Patton-best-war-movies-netflix.jpg 42. Patton
Year: 1970
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Watching Patton, Franklin J. Schaffner’s colossal biographical ode to one of World War II’s most renowned and most controversial military figures, you get the sense that George S. Patton would likely dig Schaffner’s work; the film doesn’t apologize for itself or for its subject’s actions and attitudes, much as Patton didn’t make a habit of apologizing for either unless directly ordered to by his superiors. There may be no more appropriate way to honor the man’s memory than that, such as Patton can be narrowly described as an “honor.” The film doesn’t exactly flatter the general, per se, but straddles a line between hero worship and sober representation, letting Patton, and by extension George C. Scott’s commanding and iconic portrait of him, speak for himself without fear of condemnation or reprisal. As Patton is about Patton, so, too, is it about Scott, which makes sense: If you make a movie and name it after its central character, you’re also making it about its central performance, and so it’s good that Scott was up to the task of reincarnating the late general in all his egotistical, violent, callous, and shockingly vulnerable glory. Patton is a war movie, make no mistake, but it uses the war movie blueprint for housing a character study of its protagonist. The results, almost half a century later, remain completely singular in the genre. —Andy Crump


magnificent-seven.jpg 41. The Magnificent Seven
Year: 1960
Director: John Sturge
Although it never entirely reaches the genius of Akira Kurosawa’s three-hour samurai epic Seven Samurai on which it’s based, The Magnificent Seven is no doubt a classic American western in its own right. Boasting an all-star class that offers up Yul Bryner, Eli Wallach, James Coburn and Charles Bronson, John Sturgess’ film does justice to Kurosawa’s story of a group of ragtag samurais who band together to defend a terrorized town, switching out feudal Japan for Mexico and the samurais for rogue cowboys. Though nearly an hour shorter than Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven manages to hit all the proper beats and set pieces. To make things even cooler, it’s all soundtracked brilliantly by Elmer Bernstein, delivering some of the best work of his career. —Mark Rozeman


jerry-maguire.jpg 40. Jerry Maguire
Year: 1996
Director: Cameron Crowe 
Besides acting as the megahit blockbuster of 1996, Jerry Maguire also quickly achieved the status of the modern day romantic-comedy done right. Certainly, between Say Anything and Almost Famous, writer/director Cameron Crowe has never been one to hide his inner softie. Jerry Maguire is no different, featuring career-best performances from Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr. as well as litany of memorable lines still quoted to this day. And, let’s face it, whoever doesn’t get at least a little bit teary-eyed when Renee Zellweger proclaims, “You had me at hello,” is probably a Cylon spy who should be blasted away at once. —Mark Rozeman


thank-you-for-smoking.jpg 39. Thank You For Smoking
Year: 2006
Director: Jason Reitman 
Before Juno and Up In the Air, Jason Reitman’s penchant to revel in small details was on display in his first film, Thank You For Smoking, a witty, biting satire with insight and soul. Based on the novel by Christopher Buckley, the film follows Nick Naylor—head lobbyist for Big Tobacco—and his journeys across America as he spins on behalf of his industry while still trying to be a role model for his 12-year-old son. Supported by a wonderful cast that includes Maria Bello, William H. Macy, Robert Duvall, Adam Brody, Rob Lowe and Sam Elliott, Aaron Eckhart perfectly captures Naylor’s unique combination of cleverness, confidence, moral slickness and persistent likability. —Tim Regan-Porter


the-natural.jpg 38. The Natural
Year: 1984
Director: Barry Levinson
Baseball has inspired more movies than any other sport, but the greatest of them all is The Natural. Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) is a promising, young prospect with a bright career ahead of him in the 1930s when a troubled femme fatale guns him down at age 19. Sixteen years after the fact, he isn’t ready to let go of his love of the game, getting signed to a fictional scrub team called the New York Knights. It’s more than a story about baseball; it’s about a middle-aged man living his dream despite the naysayers. It’s a tale about a guy distracted by the glitzy glamorous babes all famous people gravitate towards, only to discover a happier life with his high-school sweetheart (Glenn Close). But when Hobbs hits the big two home runs—the one that breaks the clock, and the showstopper at the end that kills the lights, literally—and Randy Newman’s beautiful score triumphantly takes over, you know this is the ultimate take on the summer classic. —Joe Shearer


kill-bill.jpg 37. Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
Year: 2003
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino Kill Bill Vol. 1 was both a great movie and a great martial-arts movie that paid homage to a ton of classic martial-arts flicks (both Chinese and Japanese) to make a really visceral, offbeat cinema experience unlike any other (well, at least until Vol. 2 came out). Scenes like the incredibly gory but artistic tea house battle with the Crazy 88 or the intensely claustrophobic kitchen showdown are excellent examples of everything that makes a martial-arts movie great and when combined with Tarantino’s usual hallmarks, the results are truly transcendent. —K. Alexander Smith


gangs-of-new-york.jpg 36. Gangs of New York
Year: 2002
Director: Martin Scorsese 
This one split critics and audiences, but for all the times that the story about Leo and Cameron Diaz’s characters drains momentum from the movie, Daniel Day Lewis’ star turn as William Cutter, also known as the meat cleaver-wielding Billy the Butcher, really ratchets everything up to 11. Every villain deserves a grand entrance. Not many get better than Bill the Butcher’s. Within the opening scene, we are treated with a bloody brawl. From there, the character’s disturbed psychosis only spreads until its reaches one of the greatest climaxes in Martin Scorsese’s career. Oh, also Daniel Day Lewis. Did we mention that? —Paste Staff


close-encounters-3rd.jpg 35. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
The plot may crawl along a little slowly. The visual effects may be a little dated. But Close Encounters of the Third Kind showed the dreamier side of a director who’d broken through with Jaws and helped science fiction move beyond B-movie fare into the mainstream. Made for $18 million, the film grossed more than $300 million, tapping into our collective fascination with life beyond our world. Richard Dreyfus is excellent as a blue-collar worker who’s obsession with UFOs takes a toll on his family but ultimately leads to his own alien encounter. —Josh Jackson


easy-rider.jpg 34. Easy Rider
Year: 1969
Director: Dennis Hopper
Perhaps no movie captures the time of hippies—or at least its darker side—than Easy Rider. Denis Hopper’s gritty and twisted film is about chasing freedom, but it flips that concept on its head into a critique of American culture that doesn’t actually cherish those who are free. With a cast that includes Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and Hopper himself, this is 1969 counterculture incarnate—plentiful drugs, free love, a commune and a cross-country motorcycle ride. Grossing $60 million at the box office, Easy Rider helped establish the New Hollywood movement of the 1970s, influencing a decade of filmmaking. —Josh Jackson


red-river.jpg 33. Red River
Year: 1948
Director: Howard Hawks
Howard Hawks’ first Western pitted seasoned rancher John Wayne against his adopted son Montgomery Clift in what screenwriter Borden Chase described as Mutiny on the Bounty with saddles and stirrups. Wayne’s Tom Dunson is a tortured, stubborn antihero, whose early decision to leave his ladylove results in her death, and a lifetime of regret. He takes a young boy, the sole survivor of the Indian attack that claimed his sweetheart, under his wing and, accompanied by his wagon master, continues on, spending almost 15 years growing a cattle empire in South Texas. Following the Civil War, Dunson figures its time for a thousand-mile drive north—with some 10,000 cattle on what would be known as the Chisholm Trail—but the taskmaster’s grown son (Clift) comes to challenge his authority, to mounting peril. A divisive climax notwithstanding (Chase and Clift hated it), Red River is the quintessential Western, marked by a colonial “tough shit” approach to how Dunson takes his territory and a Shakespearean scope. It’s a grand journey rooted in the most deep-seated of human drama. In his first screen role, Clift exudes an intense, neurotic charisma that pushed Wayne to newfound complexity on screen—the tension between generations, values, notions of masculinity and acting methods is palpable, to the film’s benefit. (For another much-discussed relationship, The Celluloid Closet makes the case for a homoerotic subtext between Clift’s character and John Ireland’s Cherry Valance.) Cinematographer Russell Harlan expertly stages such majestic set pieces as the epic stampede, and Dimitri Tiomkin’s classic score swells. Expansive, enduring filmmaking. —Amanda Schurr


ice-storm.jpg 32. The Ice Storm
Year: 1997
Director: Ang Lee 
In 1997 Ang Lee followed up his Oscar-winning Jane Austen adaptation Sense and Sensibility with yet another literary adaptation—Rick Moody’s acclaimed, if more obscure, 1994 novel, The Ice Storm. Set primarily around Thanksgiving 1973, the film explores the misadventures of a suburban Connecticut family as they attempt to cope with the alienation and confusion of the times through drugs, extramarital affairs and swinging “key parties.” Featuring phenomenal performances from Joan Allen, Kevin Kline and a teenage Christina Ricci—not to mention luminous cinematography courtesy of DP Frederick Elmes— The Ice Storm may very well stand as the greatest film Lee has ever made. —Mark Rozeman


gandhi.jpg 31. Gandhi
Year: 1982
Director: Richard Attenborough
Ben Kingsley gives an amazing performance as the Indian lawyer who became an icon of using non-violent protest to bring about change. Attenborough’s film is appropriately epic in scope to capture the incredible life of Mohandas Gandhi and his struggle for Indian independence. The film earned 11 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director for Attenborough and Best Actor for Kingsley. —Josh Jackson


spaceballs.jpg 30. Spaceballs
Year: 1987
Director: Mel Brooks
Originally perceived as one of writer/director Mel Brooks’ lesser works, this loving send-up of the sci-fi/fantasy genre (specifically, Star Wars) has, over the years, wormed its way into the hearts of a new generation of fans who caught it on video. “May the Schwartz be with you,” “Ludicrous Speed,” “Mawg”—if these are all terms that mean nothing to you then it’s high-time you checked this movie out and see what all the fuss is about. —Mark Rozeman


big.jpg 29. Big
Year: 1988
Director: Penny Marshall
If you ignore the problematic issues inherent in a man with a 13-year-old’s mind entering into a relationship with a thirtyish woman, Big remains as charming as it was at the time of its release. Tom Hanks is an absolute joy to watch as the central boy-man and the iconic scene where he and Robert Loggia perform “Heart and Soul” and “Chopsticks” on a foot-operated keyboard is enough to warm the cockles of even the most cynical viewers’ hearts. —Mark Rozeman


dirty-pretty-things.jpg 28. Dirty Pretty Things
Year: 2002
Director: Stephen Frears
Avoiding familiar common postcard views of London, Stephen Frears makes Dirty Pretty Things a tour through shady dealings and sufferings that could be set in any big city on either side of the Atlantic. It’s a contemporary nightmare. We are drawn into the daily desperation of overworked immigrants—legal and otherwise—who survive by doing the world’s dirty work. Frears, who surprises us with something new every time, cleverly dodges the curse of social dilemma films. Weaving threads of classic thrillers through this gritty realistic context, he satisfies our desire for a good story—for intrigue, suspense, humor, big revelations and a tantalizing possibility of romance—even as he educates us about the evils occurring right under our noses. Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor, stoic and slow-burning) is a Nigerian immigrant—a doctor in his home country—hiding from immigration police while he works several wearying jobs. His tour of hell begins with a David Lynch-ian discovery—a human heart clogging a hotel toilet. Ugly secrets lie at the heart of the matter—passports, blood, betrayal—and Okwe and his beautiful co-worker (Audrey Tatou) get in over their heads. In Frears’ bleak depiction of a compassionless society, no charitable agency rescues the persecuted. No God hears their prayers; they can turn only to each other for fragments of kindness. —Jeffrey Overstreet


the-fifth-element.jpg 27. The Fifth Element
Year: 1997
Director: Luc Besson 
The Fifth Element is the ultimate display of what would happen if someone with the sci-fi enthusiasm of a teenage boy wrote a big-budget Hollywood script, which is exactly the case here. Set in 23rd century New York City, taxi driver Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) gets wrapped up in saving the world with his passenger Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), the fifth and final piece that is needed to protect earth. Entertaining, thrilling, and visually fantastical, The Fifth Element is worth every minute of your time. —Caitlin Colford


3-10-to-yuma.jpg 26. 3:10 to Yuma
Year: 1957
Director: Delmer Daves
Adapted from Elmore Leonard’s iconic short story, 3:10 to Yuma draws heavily on noir and rebellious youth pictures. Glenn Ford’s Ben Wade is one cool and composed outlaw. Sexy and assured, he seduces a local bartender shortly after his gang has robbed a bank stagecoach, killing the driver in the process. His casual dalliance leads to his capture. However, he doesn’t go easy despite his easygoing manner. He’s psychologically astute, steadily probing the weaknesses of the small band of townspeople committed to bringing him to justice by getting him on the 3:10 train to Yuma prison. Wade never wavers in his confidence that his gang will be there to bust him free, and his sure faith in this inevitable outcome slowly undermines the will of almost everyone on the side of justice, exposing underlying motives of self-interest and thinly concealed cowardice. Only rock-solid rancher Dan Evans (Van Heflin) keeps towing the line despite hefty temptations offered up by the charismatic outlaw. A tight screenplay and solid, at times almost overwrought, performances keep the ticking-clock action suspenseful and engaging. The 2007 remake with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale reprising the respective leads is a great modern-day interpretation of the source material and deserves to be seen in its own right. —Joe Pettit Jr.


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