BINGE-R #54: The 50 Best Movies on Stan
THE 50 BEST MOVIES ON STAN
The 50 Best Movies on Netflix feature from a fortnight ago [full list here] was very popular, so in the interests of fairness – and the enjoyment I derive from having noisy debates in my head over what to choose – here is the equivalent compilation for Stan (with a few worthy double-ups). Both streaming services have vast gaps in their film selections, but there are still excellent options to make the most of two hours whatever your taste.
Animal Kingdom (2010, 113 minutes): One of the great Australian movies of the 21st century, David Michod’s debut is a coming of age thriller set in the Melbourne underworld as fear takes hold of a murderous clan.
The Apartment (1960, 125 minutes): A precursor to Mad Men, Billy Wilder’s bittersweet comedy about the romantic entanglement of a corporate drone (Jack Lemmon) and an elevator operator (Shirley MacLaine) layers pathos and cynicism.
Bad Education (2004, 106 minutes): Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, this is a brilliant and fiercely florid study of the past’s crimes from Pedro Almodovar that turns between flashbacks and a filmmaker’s fictional account of cruelled adolescent love.
Blue Velvet (1986, 120 minutes): A small town neo-noir plucked from the subconscious of David Lynch and brought to vivid life by Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, and a nightmarish Dennis Hopper.
Broadway Danny Rose (1984, 84 minutes): Woody Allen stars as the titular talent agent who has to go on the run with the Mafia widow and mistress of one of his clients, Tina (Mia Farrow), whose uncomplicated demeanour challenges his inhibitions.
Bronson (2008, 92 minutes): Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn and star Tom Hardy, in a breakthrough role, turn a grim British criminal biopic into a bloody and inventive dissection of delusion and celebrity.
Capote (2005, 114 minutes): The late Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers a masterful performance as the famous author who invents the true crime genre when he documents a brutal 1959 murder in the American heartland.
Chevalier (2015, 101 minutes): Male competitiveness goes to deadpan extremes in this drily detached comedy from Athina Rachel Tsangari about a group of men on holiday together in what is one of the best films of the Greek Weird Wave.
City of God (2002, 130 minutes): A document of social inequality set in a Rio de Janeiro favela that bears comparison with Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, this is an urgent and unique geographic take on a life of crime that violently spans multiple decades.
Contempt (1963, 103 minutes): Suffused with self-referential musings, rich production design and Brigitte Bardot as the unfulfilled wife of a screenwriter, Jean-Luc Godard delivers one of the finest films about filmmaking and fidelity
The English Patient (1996, 162 minutes): Doomed desire and the desert’s unforgiving beauty are central to Anthony Minghella’s update of the romantic epic, with Kristin Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes as clandestine lovers
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, 108 minutes): When former intimates – Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey – have their memories of each other wiped the result is warped humour and screwball heartbreak.
Fargo (1996, 98 minutes): A morality tale set in very cold blood, as a pregnant small town sheriff (Francis McDormand) unwinds a bungled kidnapping that spirals out of control in a Joel and Ethan Coen masterpiece.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966, 161 minutes): Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti western, with Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as the titular gunslingers, is grisly widescreen elegance.
The Handmaiden (2016, 145 minutes): A comically scabrous and deliriously erotic 1930s crime thriller from Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook about the lies righted by love in an intricate tale of deception.
A History of Violence (2005, 96 minutes): David Cronenberg messes with American archetypes and the revenge thriller in the story of a small town diner owner (Viggo Mortensen) whose heroic actions reveal his past and possibly his true character.
Hunger (2008, 96 minutes): Set in a Northern Ireland prison where IRA members engage in a hunger strike, Steve McQueen’s debut takes confinement from the cell into the body, as Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) approaches the end.
The Hurt Locker (2008, 131 minutes): Made with great empathy and meticulous attention to detail – every set-piece is geographically exact – by Kathryn Bigelow, the focus is a bomb disposal expert (Jeremy Renner) with no limits.
In Bruges (2008, 107 minutes): A pair of Irish hitman (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) hide out in a rustic Belgium city, and their inactivity becomes a personal odyssey as they confront the lives they’ve led.
In the Loop (2009, 105 minutes): The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci takes his Whitehall black comedy across the Atlantic, with a looming war a backdrop to a face-off between Peter Capaldi and James Gandolfini.
Jules et Jim (1962, 105 minutes): Set on either side of World War One, Francois Truffaut’s romantic triangle, enacted with flawed verve by Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, and Henri Serre, remains one of the classics of the French New Wave.
The Long Goodbye (1973, 112 minutes): With a discursive Elliott Gould as famous gumshoe Philip Marlowe, Robert Altman updates detective noir for the counterculture age in a sun without shadows L.A. mystery.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962, 126 minutes): Withdrawn for decades because its nightmarish take on mind control and Presidential assassination freaked people out – including star Frank Sinatra – this remains a paranoid masterpiece with an unforgettable Angela Lansbury performance.
The Matrix (1999, 136 minutes): A better superhero movie than the many which followed it, Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s sci-fi action flick mastered a self-contained world where machines have enslaved humans.
Melancholia (2011, 135 minutes): The idea that depression can be akin to the end of the world is taken to its literal zenith in this brooding melodrama from Danish provocateur Lars von Trier that stars Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg as sisters.
Network (1976, 121 minutes): A savage satire of the media that has gone from exaggerated to exact over four decades, Sidney Lumet charts the resurgence of a newsreader whose furious rants are put to air by his employers.
Nightcrawler (2014, 118 minutes): An icy dive into ambition as a sociopathic trait, Dan Gilroy’s drama about the television freelancers who film L.A.’s crimes features a remarkable Jake Gyllenhaal performance.
No Way Out (1987, 114 minutes): A lean, surprising espionage thriller about a naval officer (Kevin Costner) caught up in a murder investigation he’s secretly linked to. Fans of The Americans definitely need to see this.
Paths of Glory (1957, 88 minutes): An unflinching indictment of the military mindset located in the French trenches during the Great War that’s directed by Stanley Kubrick and stars Kirk Douglas as the officer defending wrongfully condemned soldiers.
Pulp Fiction (1994, 154 minutes): Somehow 23-years-old, Quentin Tarantino’s joyous dive into the mores of L.A. crime, narrative illusion, and conversations between men and women still crackles.
Raging Bull (1980, 129 minutes): One of Martin Scorsese’s greatest movies – champion boxer Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) destroys himself in shuddering scenes that compress his world into the ring, a bedroom, and finally a cell.
Reversal of Fortune (1990, 111 minutes): Accused of putting his wife (Glenn Close) into a coma, the refined and possibly repugnant Claus von Bulow (Jeremy Irons) turns his story and the audience’s sympathy inside out.
River’s Edge (1986, 99 minutes): A grim, hidden counterpoint to the teen movie canon, Tim Hunter’s drama dissects a disaffected group of teens who barely look away when one of their number kills his girlfriend.
Robocop (1987, 102 minutes): The original and definitely the best, Paul Verhoeven’s delight in American excess imagines a near future where crime-ridden streets are cleaned up by a police officer reborn as a cyborg.
Romper Stomper (1992, 94 minutes): A Nazi skinhead gang in a Melbourne squat – memorably commanded by a young Russell Crowe’s Hando – self-destructs amidst violence and unspoken desire.
Samson & Delilah (2009, 100 minutes): Warwick Thornton’s powerful debut charts the budding relationship and destructive horrors that threaten to engulf two teens (Marissa Gibson and Rowan McNamara) who flee an isolated settlement for Alice Springs.
Sicario (2015, 121 minutes): A horror film from Denis Villeneuve about a woman – Emily Blunt’s FBI hard nut – trying to survive in a male world, lodged inside a drug war thriller set on the merciless border between the United States, Mexico, and obliteration.
Snowpiercer (2013, 126 minutes): A riveting action film and the perfect metaphor for inequality, Bong Joon-ho imagines humanity’s remnants trapped on a train where the poor rise up against the rich.
Suspiria (1977, 98 minutes): A foundation stone of the horror genre – rich in terror, technique and a bloody assuagement of the senses – from Italian director Dario Argento that doesn’t need its forthcoming remake.
The Sweet Smell of Success (1957, 96 minutes): One of the top Hollywood movies of the 1950s, a lacerating take on cruelty and power seen through the lens of a publicist (Tony Curtis) serving a powerful newspaper columnist (Burt Lancaster).
The Silence of the Lambs (1991, 118 minutes): A gripping serial killer procedural and somehow a chaste romance between two lonely souls, the late Jonathan Demme’s smash is intricately executed.
Stories We Tell (2012, 109 minutes): Canadian actor turned filmmaker Sarah Polley delves into her parents’ marriage and her own conception in a fascinating shape-shifting documentary whose empathy becomes all-encompassing and enlightening.
The Terminator (1984, 107 minutes): Forget the sequels. James Cameron’s lean, pulsating B-movie, made cheap and propulsive, is still a science-fiction great and the perfect use of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
There Will Be Blood (2007, 158 minutes): Paul Thomas Anderson captures America’s transformation from frontier into industrial powerhouse with the tale of an obsessive oilman (Daniel Day-Lewis) where frame after frame evokes furious wonder.
Thief (181, 102 minutes): Michael Mann announced himself with this Chicago crime procedural, where the grit is matched by expressive set-pieces, about a master criminal (James Caan) struggling with stability.
The Third Man (1949, 104 minutes): The many ghosts of World War II haunt a ruined Vienna in Carol Reed’s film noir about an author (Joseph Cotton) who discovers an old friend (Orson Welles) has broken bad.
Three Kings (1999, 114 minutes): A cavalier heist story set in the days after the Persian Gulf War where American exceptionalism means thievery on a grand scale as George Clooney’s officer leads the way.
Trainspotting (1996, 94 minutes): Scabrous, stinging and sometimes surreal, Danny Boyle’s black comedy about Edinburgh junkies has survived carrying generation-defining weight to resonate.
Wake in Fright (1971, 108 minutes): A scorching vision of the Australian outback as a kind of barbaric purgatory that sends an indentured school teacher (Gary Bond) to the brink and then beyond.
World on a Wire (1973, 205 minutes): Made for German television and restored in 2010, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s mystery set inside digital realms makes his social savagery revelatory about notions of identity.
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