The Best Movies on Showtime (2018)

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The Best Movies on Showtime (2018)

Showtime offers more than 500 movies streaming on demand. We’ve gone through the catalog and selected our favorites to recommend. Many of these aren’t available on any of the premium cable channel’s streaming competitors. And Showtime is no longer just available to those with a cable package. You can add a subscription to your Amazon, Hulu or PlayStation accounts or access it via Apple, Android or Roku devices.

For extensive guides to the best movies on other platforms like Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, On Demand, YouTube, Shudder and The Best Movies in Theaters, visit all our Paste Movie Guides.

Here are the 40 best movies available on Showtime right now.

mr-hollands-opus.jpg Mr. Holland’s Opus
Year: 1996
Director: Stephen Herek
Get your Kleenex ready. In a role that seems scientifically designed to tug at audiences’ heartstrings and maybe even get them to stand up an applaud, Richard Dreyfuss received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Glenn Holland, the beloved music teacher of an Oregon high school. The film spans the highs and lows of Mr. Holland’s entire 30-year career, culminating with one last emotional performance before he retires (the opus in question). —Ryan Bort


band-aid.jpg 39. Band Aid
Year: 2017
Director: Zoe Lister-Jones
At a glance, Band Aid sounds way too adorable to be good: splintering married couple turns fighting words into alt-pop gems and in doing so, resuscitates the marriage. (My internal twee alert sounded the alarm when I first read that mawkish title…) Indeed, Band Aid is terribly charming, but it manages to finds a way to be true, too—a tribute to writer-producer-director-star Zoe Lister-Jones, who deftly steers the film into a caustically optimistic tone that befits the marriage of these flawed and heartbroken people … a most imperfect union that discovers, if not a raison d’être, a way to stay together anyway.
—Chris White


the-wood.jpg 38. The Wood
Year: 1999
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
This 1999 classic from the great Rick Famuyiwa is one of the many reasons people cringe at words like “remake” and “sequel.” There will never be another like The Wood, for the following reasons: The scene where young Mike has to fight Stacey, because of the booty-grab fiasco. The scene where his mom catches him dancing in the living room before the big dance. When he finally gets Alicia’s number… from Stacey himself! Great films are great because the list of iconic moments feels endless; such is the case with The Wood. But, without exaggeration, I can say that this is one of the greatest romantic comedies because the film weaves in and out of many beloved sub-genres, effortlessly, as it tells the tale of Mike and Alicia. It has its predictable (but still enjoyable) cheesy rom-com moments, and it has every black character known to frequent the beloved black films of the late ‘90s and early 2000s (Omar Epps, Taye Diggs, Richard T. Jones, Sanaa Lathan—the gang’s all here). And then we have the playground fights and the gangbangers—though presented with some incredible nuance, considering all the other things the film had going on—that gave it the classic hood film vibe. And, perhaps most memorably, the ridiculous, American Pie-esque teen sex scenes, complete with the R&B jams we all wish we’d lost our virginity too. Yeah. I went there. —Shannon M. Houston


10-things.jpg 37. 10 Things I Hate About You
Year: 1999
Director: Gil Junger
Inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, the 1999 teen comedy places Katherina and Petruchio into modern times as feminist Kat and bad boy Patrick, the breakout roles for Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. Patrick is initially paid to charm Kat as a part of an elaborate scheme by Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to take out her younger sister, Bianca. Ledger wins Kat and the majority of the female population over during his marching band-accompanied stadium performance of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Though Kat is angered when finding out about the deal that formed her relationship, the so-called shrew can’t stay mad for too long after receiving a sincere apology and brand new guitar from her Australian beau. With the perfect amount of ‘90s nonsense, the film ends with Letter to Cleo equally perfectly performing Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me” atop the roof of Padua High School. —Stephanie Sharp

rosewater.jpg 36. Rosewater
Year: 2014
Director: Jon Stewart 
It’s no surprise that Rosewater, Jon Stewart’s initial foray into feature filmmaking, is a political drama. The Daily Show host is a master of satire, using sardonic wit and intelligent insight to skewer governments, politicians, bureaucrats and the media during his fake news broadcast. His debut film is based on BBC journalist Maziar Bahari’s best-selling memoir Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival. During Iran’s historic 2009 presidential elections, the Tehran-born Bahari (portrayed by Gael García Bernal) left his London home to secure an interview in Iran with Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the primary contender against incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After Ahmadinejad declared victory in the race hours before the polls even closed, the broadcast journalist captured footage of street riots and general unrest, which he then transmitted to the BBC. Because the footage painted the Iranian government in an unfavorable light, the Revolutionary Guard arrested Bahari, a Canadian citizen, and accused him of spying for the West. He was detained for 118 days and subjected to both physical and psychological torture, conducted by a man whom Bahari nicknamed “Rosewater” (played by Kim Bodnia) for his choice of scents. As a first-time director, Stewart is assured of the message he wants to present to the masses. He dutifully lays bare the evils of political oppression and human rights violations that often go unnoticed. But in his restraint, Rosewater lacks the punch of other politically minded films.—Christine N. Ziemba


tinker-tailor.jpg 35. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Year: 2011
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Steeped in the monochrome color palette and noir soundtrack of 1970s espionage cinema, Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of John le Carré’s classic bestselling spy novel offers smart, nostalgic entertainment for a discerning adult audience. Set in 1973 at the height of the Cold War, the film turns on the suspicion that a double agent has infiltrated Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), a.k.a. MI6. Shortly after a botched operation to ferret out the mole ends his career, Control (John Hurt) dies, leaving his investigation in the hands of retired operative George Smiley (Gary Oldman). With grayed blond hair and owlish glasses, Oldman disappears into his role, not only physically but behaviorally. Smiley is a still man, watching and waiting, while his mind whirs, processing and analyzing years’ worth of data, information and memories. —Annlee Ellingson


operation-odessa.jpg 34. Operation Odessa
Year: 2018
Director: Tiller Russell
Way back—like, way, way, way back, when the ’80s were becoming the ’90s and the bad guys were Colombian and in some cases, for whatever reason, still also Russian, and you had to be the worst DEA agent ever if you couldn’t make a collar in Miami—there was an émigré Russian Jew who called himself “Tarzan.” Tarzan started American life in Brooklyn, where he found bountiful work as an arson-oriented enforcer for the Gambino family. He then became a super class-act strip-club owner in his spiritual home: Miami, Fla. There, he met a grafter, or dealer, or I’m not sure what you call marina owner Juan Almeida. Having been introduced at Tarzan’s ultra-classy establishment, Porky’s, and by Vanilla Ice, no less, the two became entangled in a little funny business with the government. Showtime would like to take you back—way, way back—to when they Tore Down That Wall and the Soviet Union collapsed. Their documentary Operation Odessa tracks Tarzan, Almeida, and a Cuban “businessman” (spy) named Tony Yestor as they maybe possibly attempt to buy a Russian military submarine and sell it to the Cali cartel for $35 million. I know, it sounds like something straight out of Hollywood. The kind of improbable heist caper where you walk out shaking your head and saying, “Who green-lit that?” Operation Odessa is not filmed in the gritty Cops style that was used in The Trade and it also covers an incident that happened 20 years ago and, other than the fact that Yestor remains an international fugitive, it’s in the past. Maybe that accounts for the more lighthearted style, but whatever the case, director Tiller Russell made good choices here. Operation Odessa observes its subjects from a two-decade remove and uses that stance to play up how flat-out crazy the story actually is. It handles its subject matter with a little bit of irony, pacing that plays up the essential absurdity of the situation, and I applaud it for that. Because it is, in fact, a crazy story. —Amy Glynn


american-graffiti.jpg 33. American Graffiti
Year: 1973
Director: George Lucas 
Before George Lucas started telling stories about distant galaxies, he wrote and directed a stellar coming-of-age film that plays beautifully off of the power of nostalgia. Set in the 1950s and chronicling a group of recent high school graduate’s last night in town before leaving for college, the film captures the striking time of a universal life transition nearly all can relate to. With heavyweights such as Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford, this is a must-see for any teenager heading off to college.—Brian Tremml


scarface.jpg 32. Scarface
Year: 1983
Director: Brian De Palma
Brian Depalma’s Scarface wasn’t beloved by critics upon its release, but it’s become a cult classic with, perhaps, the most famous quote from any gangster film: “Say hello to my little friend.” The tale of Cuban ex-con immigrant Tony Montana who builds a fortune distributing cocaine is full of the usual gangster movie themes: betrayal, paranoia and revenge. Scarface—particularly Al Pacino’s performance—is completely over the top, which is both awful and awesome. —David Roark


hunt-for-red-october.jpg 31. The Hunt For Red October
Year: 2012
Director: John McTiernan
Just because Sean Connery had hung up his Walter PPK for good in 1983 didn’t mean he couldn’t keep the action films coming. For once, he got to play for the other team in The Hunt For Red October as a rogue Soviet submarine captain. It was the first and best adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel with Alec Baldwin playing the now-iconic Jack Ryan. It’s a cat-and-mouse game with both the Russians and the Americans seeking Red October and a thrilling undersea adventure.—Josh Jackson


8. Stake land (Custom).jpg 30. Stake Land
Year: 2010
Director: Jim Mickle
Jim Mickle is the best young horror director to get left out of most discussions on the best young horror directors, and I’m not sure why that is. From his debut work Mulberry Street (not on Netflix streaming), he’s been one of the leading auteurs of low-budget horror that still strives for ambitious ideas, and Stake Land is all about ambition rather than exploitation. Lord knows how many cheapo zombie movies have been made in the last decade, but Mickle throws a first wrench into convention by changing up the monster, essentially making a post-apocalypse zombie film, except with vampires. But Stake Land’s greatest achievement is inarguably its wonderful design and evocative landscapes—I’ve never seen a low-budget “post-apocalypse” film that can stand up to more expensive productions the way this one can. It’s a genius work of minimalism, to be able to suggest such a fleshed-out universe, where small pockets of humanity survive in barricaded cities and barter for goods with the teeth of dead vampires. Our characters and story are extremely simple—a veteran hunter and young protege traveling across the wasteland looking for safe refuge—but it’s exactly what the film needs to be. It’s a realistic, sober-minded film that looks great, boasts solid performances and accomplishes so much with so little. —Jim Vorel


titanic.jpg 29. Titanic
Year: 1997
Director: James Cameron 
Almost 20 years after its theatrical debut, James Cameron’s blockbuster epic is still so ubiquitous in the pop culture zeitgeist, its filmmaking marvels are drowned out by young Kate-and-Leo nostalgia and that damned Celine Dion caterwaul (not to mention the now late James Horner’s iconic score). Cameron’s ear for dialogue may be woefully leaden, but he’s a shrewd storyteller, plunking a Romeo-and-Juliet redux aboard the doomed ocean liner and flanking the fictional romance with historical details, groundbreaking special effects and jaw-dropping visuals. The narrative lapses are at times dumbfounding-let’s face it, old Rose, who tosses a priceless artifact into the abyss after waxing ad nauseam about herself, is a thoughtless jerk—and the aforementioned dialogue is awful (to say nothing of Billy Zane doing his best mustache-twirling silent movie villain) but Titanic remains a painstaking testament to the all-in Hollywood spectacle.—Amanda Schurr


the-professional.jpg 28. The Professional
Year: 1994
Director: Luc Besson 
I’m not sure when I’ve seen an action film that’s so touching. It could have been incredibly precious and cloying: cute little girl meets strong-silent type neighbor who turns out to be an assassin. But Luc Besson puts just the right amount of edge into his film (how scary is Gary Oldman?). He coaxes a beautiful performance out of Jean Reno—mournful, weary, resigned, tender. And a young Natalie Portman showed very early on why she was destined for greatness. I challenge you to watch the final scene without getting chills. —Michael Dunaway


killer-inside-me.jpg 27. The Killer Inside Me
Year: 2013
Director: Michael Winterbottom
British director Michael Winterbottom has yet to really break out in the American box office, but that’s probably because he couldn’t care less. His films run the gamut from purposefully difficult (A Cock and Bull Story) to the unhinged (24 Hour Party People) to the pitch dark (The Road to Guantanamo). Set in West Texas, this thriller from the director of is based on Jim Thompson’s 1952 noir-western pulp novel, previously adapted into film in 1976. It debuted at Sundance before getting picked up by IFC. Casey Affleck turned in one of the most chilling performances in recent memory as Lou Ford, who comes across as your average sheriff’s deputy. His turn as a ruthless, sociopathic murderer is hard to watch, but impossible not to admire. —Michael Dunaway


rain-man.jpg 26. Rain Man
Year: 1988
Director: Barry Levinson
In this Oscar-winning Best Picture, Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) embarks on a road trip with his newly discovered brother, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman). It’s not an intentional happy-go-lucky jaunt, though—Charlie is simply trying to get more of his recently deceased father’s $3 million estate, most of which he left to the autistic Raymond. Charlie gets to learn more about his brother and his mental tics like having to stop everything in order to watch Jeopardy! and buying underwear strictly from Kmart. Hoffman is undeniably good, and his performance as a savant earned him a Best Actor in a Leading Role award. But Cruise’s portrayal of a high-strung professional who transforms into a caring brother is also a treasure. The tender moments are just as important as the comical—and the blend of laughter and tears are skillfully spread out in this 1988 classic. —Shawn Christ


chef.jpg 25. Chef
Year: 2015
Director: Jon Favreau 
Jon Favreau took a break between the $163 million dollar Cowboys & Aliens and Disney’s live-action remake of The Jungle Book to write, direct and star in a small indie comedy-drama about a celebrated chef rediscovering his love for food. When the owner of his restaurant (Dustin Hoffman) won’t let him experiment in the kitchen and his social-media ignorance leads to a very public feud with a food critic (Oliver Platt), he quits and buys a food truck. The road-trip that follows is the sweet, earnest heart of the film—reconnecting with his son as he reconnects with a passion for food. There’s not much to the straight-forward plot, but the film’s humor and mouth-watering food porn make it a treat. —Josh Jackson


prince-sign.jpg 24. Prince: Sign O’ the Times
Year: 1987
Director: Prince
Prince’s 1987 concert documentary is one hour and 24 minutes of a generation’s greatest musical performer at the peak of his career (sorry, Boss). With his touring band that included Sheila E. on drums, Miko Weaver on guitar, Levi Seacer Jr. on bass, Eric Leeds on sax, Boni Boyer and Dr. Fink on keyboards, and Cat Glover dancing, the film pulls mostly from his 1987 double-album Sign O’ the Times, with hits like the title track, a piano interlude of “Little Red Corvette” and “U Got the Look.” It was filmed at two European shows, but much of the music was re-recorded later at Paisley Park. Still, it has an urgency that only Prince can deliver, in multiple outfits, of course. Released theatrically in the States, the film received more love after it left theaters. Now it’s one of the best ways to see what the big deal is about a Prince concert. —Josh Jackson


bourne-ultimatum.jpg 23. The Bourne Ultimatum
Year: 2008
Director: Paul Greengrass
Matt Damon returns as the recovering amnesiac and ex-CIA agent Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum, the third film based on Robert Ludlum’s best-selling series following the spy who won’?t die (much to the disappointment of U.S. Intelligence). Although he comes across as an average Joe (albeit a Joe who can easily disable and disarm half a dozen of the agency’s best), Bourne?s ability to out-think, out-maneuver, and just plain out-smart the security of several countries is what makes this series so popular. He is the bizarro James Bond, in that where Bond’s style demands attention, Bourne’s actively avoids it. And where Bond would easily risk his life for his country, Bourne merely wants the nation to leave him be. Damon stays authentic to character, struggling to find his true self while defending his life at the same time. As spy flicks go, The Bourne Ultimatum is the perfect chaser to this successful series. —Tim Basham


a-beautiful-mind.jpg 22. A Beautiful Mind
Year: 2001
Director: Ron Howard 
A Beautiful Mind is Russell Crowe in his prime. John Nash began showing early signs of schizophrenia as he entered graduate school at Princeton and Crowe’s eyes simulate perfectly the isolation and anti-social feelings Nash must have been going through during those times. Ed Harris plays the government agent who recruits Nash to look for patterns in newspapers. Their chemistry is intense and Nash’s frustration and fear of the Soviets brings insight into his character and his mind. —Muriel Vega


traffic.jpg 21. Traffic
Year: 2000
Director: Steven Soderbergh 
Steven Soderbergh’s simulated documentary about modern drug culture twists and glides with a calculation as deep and complex as the cavernous topic it so effectively dissects. Ever the visionary, Soderbergh displays an objective, impartial eye (quite literally—he photographed the film as Peter Andrews), digging into his characters’ explosive trajectories as they reach their tragic and ambiguous ends, and leaving us with more questions than answers.—Sean Edgar


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