The 30 Best Movies on Xfinity Streampix

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Comcast recently launched a competitor to Netflix Instant, Amazon Prime Instant Streaming and Hulu Plus called Xfinity Streampix. We wanted to see what the $4.99/month service had to offer. While it’s light on new releases and documentaries, we found a nice selection of classic films—many of which aren’t offered by its competitors. It’s got a ways to go before it’s seen as a replacement for Netflix, but it’s biggest advantage is that you don’t need any device beyond your cable box to watch it on your TV (and you can still watch on the go on your laptop). When considering Xfinity Streampix movies, here’s the best of what you’ll get.

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30. The Blues Brothers


Year: 1981
Director: John Landis
They don’t call him “Joliet Jake” for nothing: when we first meet John Belushi’s character in The Blues Brothers, he’s being released from Joliet Prison and picked up in an old cop car by his brother Elwood, who promptly informs him of his plans to get the band back together. A mission from God, one of the best chase scenes in movie history, and a final performance of “Jailhouse Rock”—with a little help from James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway and Ray Charles—makes this one of our favorite fictional bands of all time.—Bonnie Stiernberg

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29. Empire Records


Year: 1995
Director: Allan Moyle
Before High Fidelity’s Rob Gordon, there was the staff of Empire Records, the coolest record store in movieland, even on Rex Manning Day. The staff may be ‘90s-era slackers, but they give a shit about real music and they care about their store, which is due to be turned into a soulless chain, and they’ll go to extravagant lengths (okay, Atlantic City) to save it. Viva independence.—Josh Jackson

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28. Elizabeth


Year: 1998
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Cate Blanchett is scary good as the daughter of Anne Boleyn and the Queen responsible for England’s glorious “Golden Age.” Blanchett plays the young queen in the time just before she claims her crown and in her early years on the throne, when she must win over (or, do away with) bishops and men in power who wish her dead. “But how can I change your minds?” she asks coyly in one meeting. “I’m just a woman!”—Shannon M. Houston

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27. Best in Show


Year: 2000
Director: Christopher Guest
Fred Willard is one of Christopher Guest’s favorite actors, always portraying the raunchy, inappropriate, fun-loving foil to other more conservative characters. This contrast is the starkest in Best in Show, which sees Willard playing Buck Laughlin, a sports commentator dreadfully out of place at the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. Next to him is a straight-laced and serious dog analyst, who has a hard time hiding his annoyance at Laughlin’s buffoonery. It’s just one of many wonderful pairings in this classic from the mockumentary king.—Ryan Bort

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26. Senna


Year: 2010
Director: Asif Kapadia
Kapadia was already a BAFTA-award-winning narrative director, but there are plenty of narrative directors who haven’t made the transition to documentaries effectively. He doubled the degree of difficulty by deciding to use all period footage of his subject, ’80s and ’90s Gran Prix legend Aryton Senna. He pulled it off in spades, and Senna is one of the greatest sports documentaries of all time.—Michael Dunaway

25. Serenity

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Year: 2005
Director: Joss Whedon
We may have never gotten a Season 2 of Firefly, the much beloved alien-free space-travel show from Joss Whedon. But at least we got a movie. In Serenity, River Tam (Summer Glau) got to really stretch her legs, kicking the asses of all kinds of Alliance baddies. And Browncoats everywhere rejoiced.—Josh Jackson

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24. The Constant Gardener


Year: 2005
Director: Fernando Meirelles
In The Constant Gardener, diplomacy is overstepped by both those with corrupt intentions and those who see it as a bureaucratic divide to human charity. Combining the oft-convoluted storytelling of novelist John Le Carré and the violently dazzling visuals of Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles (City of God), its message is emboldened by the failure of its well-intentioned characters to intervene in the robbed lives of others.—Cameron Bird

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23. Slap Shot


Year: 1977
Director: George Roy Hill
Believe it or not, there was a time before sports movies were required to be bland monoliths preaching banal virtues and imparting a moral lesson. Slap Shot, starring Paul Newman as a washed-up player-coach on a minor league hockey team, makes no effort to be anything but gritty and funny. The Charlestown Chiefs stink, and they’re in a depressed town where a closing mill is about to put 10,000 people out of work. When the Hanson Brothers arrive, Reggie Dunlop (Newman) discovers that he can win games, sell tickets, and unite the town by embracing a thug mentality that puts violence above sportsmanship. This is the opposite of the cliched, feel-good story we’re used to from sports movies, and it never stops being hilarious.

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22. Ben Hur


Year: 1959
Director: William Wyler
Based on the 1880 book Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ by Lew Wallace, William Wyler’s version with Charlton Heston was a remake of a 1925 silent film from MGM. It became a phenomenal hit, scoring a record 11 Academy Awards. The movie centers on the blood feud between Judah Ben-Hur and Messala. Growing up as friends in the Roman Empire, the two experience a rift after Judah encounters Jesus Christ and decides to change his ways. Messala eventual arranges so that Judah is sold into slavery on a Roman warship while his mother and sister are thrown into jail. Escaping captivity, Judah returns to seek revenge on Messala. Their personal war culminates in the film’s famous chariot race sequence.—Mark Rozeman

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21. Brokeback Mountain


Year: 2005
Director: Ang Lee
While his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight certainly deserves the acclaim it’s been given, Heath Ledger’s true tour de force was his understated work in Brokeback Mountain. Ledger brought a driving force to the movie which complimented its contemplative tone and showed a true, classical brilliance in acting that left you convinced that his character was real.—Sean Gandert

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20. All the President’s Men


Based on the true story of The Washington Post reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal, All the President’s Men paints a portrait of the great lengths to which Woodward (Robert Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) went to expose Nixon—including risking their jobs, their reputations and their lives.—Caitlin Peterkin

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19. 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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18. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


Year: 1958
Director: Richard Brooks
In a film version of Tennessee, Williams’s play sanitized by the Hayes code, it was up to Paul Newman to channel the deep secrets and sorrows of Brick Pollitt (alongside Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie the Cat) without the benefit of the play’s full dramatic thrust. His quiet, restrained intensity earned him his first Oscar nomination.—Jeffrey Bloomer

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17. Fletch


Year: 1985
Director: Michael Ritchie
A comedy that borrows heavily from film noir, Michael Ritchie’s Fletch offered Chevy Chase a chance to show his comic range. Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher is an investigative reporter who assumed several wonderfully ridiculous disguises from John Coctotostan (“Can I borrow your towel? My car just hit a water buffalo.”) to Harry S. Truman (“My parents were big fans of the former president”). Relentlessly quotable and filled with memorable scenes (like his colonoscopy—”Mooooon River…You ever serve time, Doc?...Using the whole fist, Doc?”)—this is a comedy that only gets better with age.—Josh Jackson

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16. The Breakfast Club


Year: 1985
Director: John Hughes
We shouldn’t have to tell you what makes The Breakfast Club an all-time classic. There’s not a single weak link in the film’s ensemble cast, and Ringwald holds her own as Claire, the princess forced to spend her Saturday in detention with a brain, a basket case, a jock and a criminal. She gives a richly layered performance, turning what could easily be a one-dimensional character into someone we pity, empathize with and root for—which, if you haven’t seen the movie, is kind of the whole point.—Bonnie Stiernberg

Comcast recently launched a competitor to Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Streaming and Hulu Plus called Xfinity Streampix. We wanted to see what the $4.99/month service had to offer. While it’s light on new releases and documentaries, we found a nice selection of classic films—many of which aren’t offered by its competitors. When considering Xfinity Streampix movies, here’s the best of what you’ll get.

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15. Scarface


Year: 1983
Director: Brian De Palma
Brian Depalma’s Scarface may be overrated, but it’s a cult classic with, perhaps, the most famous quote from any gangster film: “Say hello to my little friend.” In other words, the film—particularly Al Pacino—is completely over the top, which is both awful and awesome.—David Roark

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14. Casablanca


Year: 1942
Director: Michael Curtiz
What else can be said about one of the finest romances in film history starring golden-age legends Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman? Sam can play it again whenever he damn well pleases.

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13. The Color Purple


Year: 1985
Director: Steven Spielberg
In 1985 came the release of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple, with Whoopi Goldberg occupying the role of Celie, the story’s centerpiece. Beautifully conveying the turmoil of a woman desperate to be appreciated in early 1900s America, Goldberg turns in a fine performance that breaks away from her traditional entertainment appeal.—Brian Tremml

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12. Billy Elliot


Year: 2000
Director: Stephen Daldry
On the surface, Billy Elliot appears to be the archetypal tale of an outsider who is driven to follow his own path at all costs. But this story of a boy from depressed, working-class England who mortifyingly discovers that ballet is his life’s ambition, is saved from cliché by Stephen Daldry’s slightly quirky, at times witty, and deeply sympathetic portrayal of the pain of finding one’s voice in adolescence. The tearjerker caused such an impact worldwide, it was made into a Tony award-winning musical scored by none other than Elton John.—Emily Riemer

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11. Doctor Zhivago


Year: 1965
Director: David Lean
In the second half of the 20th Century, British filmmaker David Lean had an impressive run of epic pictures from The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962) to his final film A Passage to India (1984). In the middle of that, he filmed an adaptation of Boris’ Pasternak’s novel about the affair of a married Russian physician and the wife of a political activist during the Bolshevik Revolution, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie.—Josh Jackson

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10. The Player


Year: 1992
Director: Robert Altman
Robert Altman’s films are all epic in the interplay between characters, but he’s adept enough at the small moments to make you care about every little twist and turn. Gosford Park and Short Cuts are as suspenseful and engaging as The Player, but neither of his other great films are also this funny. Gleefully biting the hand that fed him, he satirized the movie business in a way that even the slickest agent would enjoy.—Josh Jackson

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9. Amadeus


Year: 1984
Director: Milos Forman
The fine line between genius and insanity is the subject of this big-budget costume drama that proved just how hip classical musicians can be. Milos Foreman tickles the vulgar underbelly of the sublime and the result is Thomas Hulce’s braying, chittering laugh as the wild-child prodigy, Wolfgang Mozart. F. Murray Abraham’s portrayal of Antonio Salieri’s descent into madness fueled by jealousy is the perfect foil. Lust, envy, greed—all of the deadly sins are here, set to some of the greatest music ever written.—Joan Radell

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8. Being John Malkovich


Year: 1999
Director: Spike Jonze
Spike Jonze’s true gift is creating moments of the truly unexpected. Just as he did in music videos like Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” and the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” where he got his start, Jonze proves that the true essence of wit is to never go for the obvious. And Charlie Kaufman’s screenplays follow that same mind-bending motto.—Tim Sheridan

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7. Field of Dreams


Year: 1989
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
A uniquely American fantasy, Field of Dreams solidified Kevin Costner’s status as a rugged Everyman, A-list actor, and perhaps the only man allowed to star in baseball films that make money. And though “If you build it, he will come” quickly raced up the charts of “Most Clichéd Phrasing,” it’s also true that the film’s ending is among the best opportunities to see grown men cry. —Michael Burgin

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6. Three Kings


Year: 1999
Director: David O. Russell
Armed with invention, flare and an unflinching point of view, indie filmmaker David O. Russell charged into Hollywood and made an absolutely stunning war film—honest and unapologetic in its depiction of the Gulf War. George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube and Spike Jonze play American soldiers who witness the collateral damage of the war as they attempt to smuggle some of Saddam Hussein’s gold out of Iraq. The film mixes political commentary, wartime character studies and madcap surrealism, emphasized by Newton Thomas Sigel’s gritty, vibrant experimental cinematography. The audience must follow the characters on their journey and witness their discoveries, their failures and their desperation. The film also helped establish Clooney as a leading man willing to take on thoughtful, difficult content.—Jeremy Mathews

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5. Before Sunset


Year: 2004
Director: Richard Linklater
Two people meet on a train and spend a romantic night together in Vienna—talking, walking, philosophizing and falling in love. Ten years later they meet again by happenstance. That’s the premise for Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, a lovely tone poem that stands as a bookend to 1994’s Before Sunrise. Actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have a tremendous rapport together, and imbue their characters with just the right mix of cynicism and hurt, but also passion and longing. Sign us up for a third film in 2014.—Jeremy Medina

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4. The Mission


Year: 1986
Director: Roland Joffé
An unforgettable setting, powerful performances, and a soaring soundtrack by Ennio Morricone all help make The Mission much more than an involving, historically based drama. Instead, Roland Joffé’s film serves as a “choose your own path” morality tale as viewers can’t help but identify with Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) or Mendzoa (Robert De Niro) as the two are caught between faith and a hard place. If anything, since its release The Mission’s moral relevance has only increased as a meditation on the distinction between what is truly inevitable and what, instead, we merely make so.—Michael Burgin

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3. Do the Right Thing


Year: 1989
Director: Spike Lee
Not only the film that earned Spike Lee his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, it’s also the one that perhaps best shows that, despite the decades of racially incendiary interviews since (and heckling at Madison Square Garden), Lee is a bit of glass-half-full guy deep down. The violence of Right Thing erupts as an extension of literal and metaphorical long-simmering neighborhood temperatures, and finally boils over as something of a catharsis while never coming off as mawkish, or giving audiences the ability to escape conversation after the credits roll. A remarkable cast sells the complicated relationship with their Brooklyn neighborhood flawlessly.—Scott Wold

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2. The Big Lebowski


Year: 1998
Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
If you truly loved your kidnapped trophy wife, would you really ask a guy like Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski to deliver ransom money to her captors? Sure, he’s got plenty of time on his hands—enough to while away the days chasing down a stolen rug, at least—but he can hardly get himself dressed in the morning, chugs White Russians like it’s his job (incidentally, he doesn’t have a real one) and hangs around with a bunch of emotionally unstable bowling enthusiasts. Any mission you set him off on seems bound to fail. And yet that’s the great joy, and the great triumph, of the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski and its consummate slacker-hero. The Dude is a knight in rumpled PJ pants, a bathrobe his chainmail, a Ford Torino his white horse. Strikes and gutters, ups and downs, he takes life in ambling, unshaven stride—and more than dashing good looks and unparalleled strengths, isn’t that something we should all aspire to?

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1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest


Year: 1975
Director: Milos Forman
There’s a reason this film swept the Oscars with Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher anchor a dynamic cast in Forman’s New Hollywood masterpiece about a state mental hospital.—Josh Jackson

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