The best movies on Stan for May 2019

Australia's own streaming service Stan has a massive selection of movies to binge so we've picked out the best of the lot.

So Biff hopes to be a film buff? Excellent! Anybody wanting to get up to speed with the best films ever put to celluloid can get an epic leg-up in no time at all, thanks to Stan's streaming service. Be sure to check back with this article soon as we'll periodically update it as the Stanscape changes...

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1. The Death of Stalin

Year: 2018

Cast: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend

When Stalin dies in 1953, a frantic power struggle ensues. Who will take his place as the next Soviet leader? Among the contenders we have Georgy Malenkov, Nikita Khrushchev, and Lavrenti Beria, each ready to back-stab their way to the top. But in the meantime, who exactly is running the government?

A devastatingly funny satire, The Death of Stalin benefits from a tight script and an A+ cast. Also, the movie was banned in Russia, which should make you that much more eager to give it a stream.

2. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Year: 2017

Cast: Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Walters

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is a biopic that follows Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame, who finds romance and happiness with a younger man. Unfortunately, her life changes forever when she is diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1970s.

A romantic drama, the movie offers a brilliant performance from Annette Bening, who shines in the main role. Additionally, it paints a hopeful picture of what it’s like to age, love, and overcome any obstacles that come your way as you do it. We advise you keep some tissues close by, they might come in handy.

3. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Year: 2018

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton

This Star Wars instalment follows a young Han Solo, who finds adventure when he joins forces with a gang of galactic smugglers and a 190-year-old Wookie named Chewbacca. Indebted to a gangster, the crew devises a daring plan, but find themselves in dire need of a ship. Enter Lando Calrissian, the suave owner of the perfect vessel - the Millennium Falcon.

A fast-paced space adventure, Solo is fun for both veteran fans and franchise newbies, offering a backstory we didn’t know we needed. All in all, compelling action scenes and a talented cast make it a worthy entry in the Star Wars universe.

4. Zombieland

Year: 2009

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin

In Zombieland, the action takes place in a future where a virus turns most people into zombies. As a result, the remaining non-infected folks are caught in a never-ending battle with the undead. Four such survivors band together and fight their way to Los Angeles, where they hope to encounter a safe haven.

Hilarious and action-packed, the movie features plenty of gore for genre fans, while also breathing fresh air into the zombie trope. All these years later, it stands the test of time as one of the greatest zombie flicks in history. If you haven’t seen it yet, buckle up.

5. Moneyball

Year: 2011

Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt

Moneyball centres on Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A's, who one day has an epiphany: baseball's conventional wisdom is all wrong. To keep his team going despite a tight budget, Beane joins forces with an Ivy League graduate, taking a fresh approach to scouting and analyzing players.

Based on the book by Michael Lewis, Moneyball takes a niche subject and manages to deliver a sharp and funny story anyone can enjoy, regardless of their baseball knowledge. While the entire cast is exquisite, Brad Pitt is on the top of his game, managing a nuanced and memorable performance as Billy Beane. If you’re into sports movies, this one is definitely a must.

6. Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

Year: 1997

Cast: Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow, Janeane Garofalo

A cult favorite, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion stars Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow, two friends who haven’t exactly accomplished a lot since graduating high school. With their reunion looming closer, they decide to reform themselves in order to show their former classmates exactly how much they’ve changed. Too bad things don’t go exactly as planned.

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion is both silly and heartfelt. If you want a flick that will make you feel good for a couple of hours, you can’t go wrong with this one. After all, the movie highlights the importance of friendship and staying true to yourself. What’s not to love?

7. The Karate Kid

Year: 1984

Cast: Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, Elisabeth Shue, William Zabka

A movie that spanned a franchise, The Karate Kid centers on teenage Daniel, who has to move to California for his mother’s job. He is tormented by bullies, but finds a mentor in Japanese janitor Miyagi, who agrees to teach Daniel how to harness karate for good.

Incredibly satisfying despite its predictability, The Karate Kid delivers an exciting and heart-warming story. Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita are especially great in their unconventional and charming friendship. If you don’t find this movie inspirational, your heart may just be made of stone.

8. Hell or High Water

Year: 2016

Cast: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham

In the mood for a western? You can’t do wrong with this one. Hell or High Water follows two brothers who carry out a string of bank robberies in order to save their family’s land. All goes well until they catch the eye of a Texas Ranger looking for one last grand pursuit on the eve of his retirement.

Hell or High Water is a glorious tale of redemption, loss, and loyalty, with great performances all around and some explosive sequences meant to keep you on the edge of the seat. In other words, it’s the compelling modern western you’ve been waiting for.

9. Loving Vincent

Year: 2017

Cast: Robert Gulaczyk, Jochum ten Haaf (voice), Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Saoirse Ronan

The world’s first fully painted feature film, Loving Vincent is all about the life of Vincent van Gogh, exploring his unusual death and the circumstances that led to it.

The movie is beautiful, with gorgeous animation and dazzling visuals. From a narrative standpoint, Loving Vincent is a pretty by-the-numbers tale, but it’s interesting nonetheless - especially if you view it as an emotional and larger-than-life tribute. To put it simply, the movie is a unique and memorable experience, so you should definitely give it a stream.

10. Black Panther

Year: 2018

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira

Stan added a whole bunch of Disney titles to its library at the end of 2018, including some exquisite Marvel flicks. Black Panther focuses on T'Challa, who returns home to Wakanda after the death of his father. He takes his rightful place as king, but soon finds that a powerful enemy is after his crown, and he might just put the fate of the entire world in jeopardy.

Black Panther is the best kind of superhero movie. Besides great special effects, it offers an absorbing story and several compelling characters you will be rooting for immediately. One of the best entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this powerful movie is not to be missed.

11. Goldfinger

Year: 1964

Cast: Sean Connery, Gert Fröbe, Honor Blackman

James Bond fans, rejoice! The entire collection of Bond flicks is available to stream on Stan, including this memorable 1964 entry in the series. The movie sees Bond, played by Sean Connery, investigating gold smuggling by magnate Auric Goldfinger. Eventually, the spy uncovers Goldfinger's plans to contaminate the US Bullion Depository at Fort Knox and needs to make sure he’ll find a way to stop the villain from moving forward with his nefarious plans.

Goldfinger is phenomenal, featuring some exciting action sequences and a whole bunch of quotes that would later become a quintessential part of the Bond universe. If you’re a fan of spy thrillers, you shouldn’t miss this one.

12. Moonlight

Year: 2016

Cast: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson, Janelle Monáe

Moonlight is a haunting and beautiful drama that takes a look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man. We follow his journey to manhood as he struggles with his sexuality and is guided by the support and kindness of the community.

A powerful coming-of-age film, Moonlight is a moving piece of cinema, showcasing stories in an intimate way that is rarely depicted on screen. It’s visually stunning and benefits from nuanced performances, offering a memorable viewing experience.

13. Boy

Year: 2010

Cast: James Rolleston, Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu, Taika Waititi

Heartfelt and hilarious, this coming-of-age flick centers on Boy, a huge Michael Jackson fan who lives with a bunch of cousins and his Nan. His father, Alamein, is Boy’s hero and subject of many of his fantasies. In reality though, Alamein is "in the can for robbery". When he returns home, Boy has to confront the man he thinks he remembers, while also discovering his own potential along the way.

Boy is a perfect example of happy sad cinema - the movie will make you feel a lot of things, but it manages to be uplifting and hopeful overall. James Rolleston is perfect in the lead role, so much so that would be impossible to picture anyone else taking on the challenge. If you’re in the mood for a charming movie, this is the perfect pick.

14. Arrival

Year: 2016

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

A must-see for sci-fi fans, Arrival centres on a linguistics professor who leads a team of investigators as spaceships touch down all over the world. The team must race against time to figure out a way to communicate with the visitors before a global war will likely lead to all sorts of death and destruction. To find common ground, the professor will have to take a chance that threatens not only her life, but humanity as we know it.

Arrival was a hit upon its release and continues to stand the test of time as a gem of the genre. With a spectacular Amy Adams in the lead role, the movie will mess with your head in the best way possible. Repeat viewings are almost a guarantee.

15. I, Tonya

Year: 2017

Cast: Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Sebastian Stan

Based on unbelievable true events, I, Tonya tells the story of Tonya Harding, a talented figure skater. In 1991, she became the first American woman to complete a triple axel during a competition, only to see her entire world crumbling down three years later, when a bad decision from her ex-husband turned into a scandal that would haunt her for the rest of her life.

Tragic, yet surprisingly humorous, I, Tonya is incredibly entertaining, mainly thanks to some exquisite acting and a delicious script. It will make you laugh and cringe; it will make you angry and confused. Most importantly, it will give you a lot to think about.

16. The Terminator

Year: 1984

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield

Alright, look, the special effects aren't going to blow your mind, but The Terminator is still an edge-of-your seat ride, even 30 years later. It's such a solid thriller concept: a nigh unstoppable, human-mimicking cyborg hunting down a defenceless young woman. It feels no pain, it cannot be reasoned or bargained with and it can ruin a fully-armed police precinct quicker than a free doughnuts promotion. The only thing standing between this assassin and the mother of humanity's future saviour? Kyle Reese, a resourceful but completely under-equipped (and pants-less) future soldier who's a fish-out-of-water in 1984.

This was the first offering from writer/director James Cameron and, quite frankly, it's a brilliant start to what became a brilliant career. Tightly directed, impeccably paced and bearing a thought-provoking tale of AI gone rogue, The Terminator is great cinema. No doubt it will be viewed as a “WTF were they thinking?” comedy by the machines that overthrow us in the next 10 to 20 years...

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17. Ghostbusters

Year: 1984

Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis

If you look past the amazing special effects, at least for its time, and Bill Murray's largely improvisational pranks, Ghostbusters is less supernatural-themed love/ghost story and more propaganda for a free market. Three scientist pals of varying ability recognise there's a business niche no-one's offering. They leave college for the private sector and start a small company, even though they're not sure they have a literal ghost of a chance of turning a profit. A regulation-happy bureaucrat from the EPA does all he can to ensure they don't succeed; and he's not the only bad guy. An inter-dimensional God with a flat-top who can read your worst thoughts and manifest them at Godzilla height, is also on the loose.

Seriously though, this is a near-perfect mix of spookiness and the impeccable comedic timings of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Rick Moranis. If your first foray into Bustin' was the highly-contentious 2016 remake, do yourself a favour and watch the original; it makes everybody feel good.

18. Fargo

Year: 1996

Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Kristin Rudrüd,

Two warnings before you get into this Coen brothers classic: it's not your usual crime thriller, and you find repetition irritating, prepare your ears for the onslaught of around 200 “yahs”. This is to be expected when the characters are a host of perpetually upbeat, salt-of-the-earth-type Minnesotans. That said, despite the overabundance of pleasantness, not everybody is a straight-shooter in this winter wonderland. Prime example: Jerry Lundegaard, a car salesman who hires some disreputable out-of-towners to kidnap his wife in order to extract a ransom from his wealthy father-in-law.

When the plan turns bloody, it attracts the attention of Margie, a cheerful, idealistic and heavily pregnant cop who basically subverts all Hollywood stereotypes. You'll see a lot of that going on here; Fargo is as unpredictable as it is engaging. It's one of the very best works of the quirky Coen brothers; a masterclass in pace, tone and dialogue.

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19. Wake in Fright

Year: 1971

Cast: Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay, Jack Thompson

Prepare to be disturbed by the ultimate Aussie nightmare, cobber, because Wake in Fright is an unflinching look into the dark heart of the outback. The uncompromising story centres on outsider John Grant, a civilised-to-the-point-of-snobbishness schoolteacher who becomes a five-day castaway out Woop Woop, in a mining town called Bundanyabba. In no time at all, Grant falls in step with the dead-eyed locals and tumbles down a rabbit hole of ritualistic boozing, high-stakes gambling, brutality toward nature and toxic masculinity.

Don't let the release date prevent you from viewing. This is a seminal piece of Australian film-making; a disquieting classic that deserved the remastering it received. Watching the devolution of an idealistic soul into the animal side of his own nature is just as powerful now as it was 40-odd years ago. It's a bloody pearler, mate.

20. Good Will Hunting

Year: 1971

Cast: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgard, John Mighton

Not only was this the vehicle that put a young writer/actor Matt Damon on the map, it was arguably the greatest performance that the late Robin Williams ever put to film. The titular Will Hunting is an undiscovered, world-class maths genius who's anything but good, thanks to a South Boston upbringing and a childhood fraught with foster homes and domestic violence. When his latest outburst gets him arrested, an MIT professor offers to keep him out of the clink in return for regular study sessions and weekly psych evaluations from a third-party shrink. The latter quickly becomes sport for the cocky kid, who proceeds to tear the head doctors to shreds.

Enter Sean Maguire (Williams), a fellow Southie expat who knows a thing or two about defence mechanisms and even more about book smarts and brashness versus lived experiences and the best and worst moments of love. Expect powerful performances in this emotionally rich drama.

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21. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Year: 1966

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef

I'm tellin' ya, pardner, they don't make westerns like this anymore. During the American Civil War, a mysterious gunslinger and a Mexican outlaw form an uneasy partnership. The plan: the gunhand turns in the bandit for the reward money, then uses his expert marksmanship to rescue him from hanging just as the trapdoor opens. When things become complicated and the noose-shoot goes awry, the foundations for a blood feud are laid. The only thing preventing a murder is that both men need to team up against a sadistic rival bounty hunter, who's also on the trail of treasure buried in the desert.

The film's runtime is considerable, but Sergio Leone's scope and vision stand the test of time. The lovely griminess of a true spaghetti western is so much more preferable to the squeaky clean Hollywood westerns of the same era. Pull out your remote trigger on this without delay.

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