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31 Best Movies On Starz [May 2022]

Alongside HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax in the pantheon of classic premium cable networks — the ones that were highly sought after and attractive on a package deal because they cost a little bit extra each month — was Starz. Arriving in the 1990s, Starz offered an alternative to the increasingly original-series driven competition, programming a slate consisting almost entirely of movies, be they recent hits, all-time blockbusters, or enduring cult classics across all genres. In recent years, Starz has adapted to the changing climate of content delivery by supplementing its availability on cable company line-ups with a standalone service deliverable to smart TVs and other enabled devices.

At any given time, Starz has tons of movies up for instant streaming, from comedies to dramas to family films to little-known hidden gems. And in order to help Starz viewers and subscribers figure out what to watch next, here are all the best and most compelling choices currently available for your viewing pleasure.

Updated on May 2, 2022: Starz frequently adds (and deletes) films from its online library of content, so check back here each month to see what's new.

The Abyss

One of the most claustrophobic and quietly terrifying movies of all time, "The Abyss" is a slow-burning sci-fi masterpiece, set in the deepest and spookiest spots in the ocean. As is usually the formula for filmmaker James Cameron ("Titanic," "Avatar," "The Terminator"), "The Abyss" is one big and expensive set piece after another and a landmark in CGI history, and it's all justified through a story about the intersection of humanity and technology. 

Bud is an oceanic oil rig worker and his estranged wife, Lindsey, is an engineer, and they wind up working together when a Navy SEAL unit needs to make use of Bud's moveable oil platform to locate a very sunken vessel (designed by Lindsey) carrying a payload of dangerous nuclear missiles. Not only will they traverse thousands of miles below sea level, they'll dive into the darkest aspects of human nature.

  • Starring: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn
  • Director: James Cameron
  • Year: 1989
  • Runtime: 139 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

American Hustle

Movies that are based on true events are almost always serious dramas, but once in a while, real life is an absurd comedy of errors, and the films based on almost unbelievable debacles demand to be comedies. David O. Russell — filmmaker behind such smart, brainy comedies as "I Heart Huckabees" — takes on one such story with "American Hustle." 

Set in the 1970s, the film tells the tale of Irving Rosenfeld, a high-level con artist, who, with his partner Sydney Prosser, attracts the ire of FBI operative Richie DiMaso. The fed soon forces the pair into working for him, infiltrating the world of white-collar crime and New Jersey politics. Irving and Sydney's relationship with one another, and Richie, only gets more confusing, complicated, and hard to manage when a low-level politician and Irving's wife involve themselves in the already tenuous hush-hush scheme that somehow extends to British aristocrats and Middle Eastern oil markets.

  • Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams
  • Director: David O. Russell
  • Year: 2013
  • Runtime: 138 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Babe

"Babe" is an underdog story — or rather, an underpig story — so sweet, disarming, and unabashedly delightful that it was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, an accomplishment befitting of Babe the pig, undeterred by limitations, traditions, and angry whispers about the way things ought to be done. 

Quiet Farmer Hoggett wins a piglet at a fair, intending to serve him up for Christmas dinner, but he winds up being too charmed by the adorable animal to slaughter it. Meanwhile, Babe grows up on the farm — populated by animals who talk with the aid of CGI — looked after by a maternal border collie. And this is how Babe discovers he's got a prize-winning talent for shepherding, getting the sheep to go where he wants to just by being nice and politely asking them. It's a skill that leads to one of the most inspirational endings ever put to film.

Better Luck Tomorrow

This empathetic, cautionary drama focuses on good teens who go bad after a taste of the wayward life. It's also one of the few films of this subgenre to focus on a group of predominantly Asian-American characters. Ben, a high-achieving high schooler, is bristling under intense parental pressure. After he becomes obsessed with a young woman who has little interest in him and starts hanging out with a petty criminal, he starts to drift from his studies and resume-building extracurriculars. Soon enough, Ben's bad decisions and small crimes ramp up. A little bit of danger and fun soon turns into a gigantic problem that could undo everything Ben has built.

  • Starring: Parry Shen, Jason Tobin, John Cho
  • Director: Justin Lin
  • Year: 2002
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Big

Amidst a slew of magical body-swap movies in the late 1980s — "Like Father Like Son," "Vice Versa" — came "Big," a more thoughtful and dramatic take on the concept, offering up a lot of ideas on what it means to be an adult and how to keep the zest of childhood alive in a world that can easily crush one's spirit. Tom Hanks earned his first of many Academy Award nominations for his role as the adult Josh Baskin, a 12-year-old boy, who, tired of the inconveniences and humiliation of being young and short, makes a wish on a carnival machine to be "big." He wakes up as an adult, makes his way to New York City, and lands a job as a toy tester thanks to his big heart and childlike enthusiasm, earning the attentions and varying affections from his boss and a lady coworker. However, Josh quickly realizes that being big isn't all it's cracked up to be and desperately tries to become a kid again, literally.

Boyz n the Hood

Writer-director John Singleton was nominated for two Oscars for "Boyz n the Hood," and it isn't hard to see why. A tender and visceral look at life in South Central Los Angeles, this film follows Tre, a young boy who's sent to live in the Crenshaw neighborhood with his strict father. As he grows up, he encounters racism, romance, gang violence, and deep friendship. Life lessons are hard-won here — but even they can't protect Tre and his loved ones from the ravages of an unjust world.

  • Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr.
  • Director: John Singleton
  • Year: 1991
  • Runtime: 112 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Captain Fantastic

The Cash family lives way off the grid in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. Father Ben and mother Leslie want to raise their six children as self-sufficient, well-rounded, can-do individuals, all without modern conveniences. But everything falls apart when Leslie dies. To give her the funeral she would have wanted, rather than the one her cruel father envisions, Ben and the kids must venture into civilization and navigate its bewildering  ways. Beyond that, Ben faces a fight to maintain custody of his children and seismic changes in said kids' worldviews. Can this rugged clan weather such a storm of grief?

  • Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn
  • Director: Matt Ross
  • Year: 2016
  • Runtime: 119 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Cat Ballou

By the mid-1960s, Western movie tropes were well-worn and familiar. This allowed for a winking, twist-laden take on the genre like "Cat Ballou." Tough guy actor Lee Marvin won an Academy Award for portraying gun-for-hire Tim Strawn, who kills a rancher and puts himself into all kinds of trouble. The rancher's daughter, Cat Ballou, devotes herself to exacting revenge on Strawn, employing the aid of another hired gun named Kid Shelleen (also played by Marvin) and a charming bandit. Along the way, Cat's revenge plot extends to Strawn's handlers and somehow includes jaunty songs performed in-character by jazz great Nat King Cole.

  • Starring: Lee Marvin, Jane Fonda, Michael Callan
  • Director: Elliot Silverstein
  • Year: 1965
  • Runtime: 96 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

The Climb

An endearing, insightful indie dramedy about a complicated friendship, "The Climb" follows Kyle and Mike over a period of many years. Their bond endures a number of obstacles, including death, public embarrassment, betrayal, and injury. Sometimes they weather the storm together, and sometimes it rips them apart — but the love and frustration they feel for each other remains constant. This clever, affecting film offers no easy answers, but it is full of emotional truth.

  • Starring: Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino, Gayle Rankin
  • Director: Michael Angelo Covino
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

A visually arresting and emotionally profound fable about love and the nature of fate, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" centers around — of all things — brain surgery. Vivacious Clementine's split with dour Joel is so painful, she submits to an experimental procedure by some fly-by-night scientists who erase all memories of her ex from her mind. Joel, enormously hurt by this, also gets the procedure. From there, this film becomes a playful, bittersweet journey of reminiscence inside two minds.

The Father

Anthony Hopkins won an Academy Award for his devastating performance as the titular character in "The Father," an aging man consumed by the progressing effects of dementia. He has moments of clarity, in which he tries to come to grips with how his very essence and concept of reality are slowly slipping away — but he stubbornly refuses to give up any independence. He is assisted — against his will — by his adult daughter, who struggles to find the patience and emotional fortitude necessary for the job.

Gangs of New York

Throughout his impressive body of work, filmmaker Martin Scorsese has frequently explored the history of organized crime in New York. For example, take "Gangs of New York," a realistic and grim look at life for the Irish immigrant community in the not-yet-Big Apple of the 1860s. Relatively recent emigre Amsterdam Vallon (a scrappy Leonardo DiCaprio) is sprung from prison, and he immediately heads for the busy and crime-centric Five Points neighborhood, with a steely focus on avenging the death of his father at the hands of William Cutting, aka Bill the Butcher, a powerful crime lord who shows off his might by slaughtering immigrants. In order to get close enough to Bill (a frightening and over-the-top Daniel Day-Lewis), Amsterdam has to talk his way into the boss' trusted inner circle of thieves and thugs.

Half Nelson

Inspirational teacher movies are numerous and all pretty similar, but "Half Nelson" sticks out because it doesn't paint the caring, crusading instructor as a faultless hero, choosing instead to explore the potentially fatal failings of the protagonist. An extremely understated Ryan Gosling plays Dan Dunne, a kind and effective Brooklyn history teacher who leads a double life of drinking and drug addiction. One of his students, Drey, spots him in the midst of a bender, and an unlikely bond forms — she offers him friendship and an ear, and he offers her guidance and support in the wake of her brother going to prison on drug charges.

  • Starring: Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Shareeka Epps
  • Director: Ryan Fleck
  • Year: 2006
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

The Ides of March

A political thriller full of twists and duplicitous operatives, "The Ides of March" is a smart, grown-up drama reminiscent of '70s-era genre entries like "All the President's Men." George Clooney plays an Ohio governor, not long from locking in his party's nomination to run for re-election, with a campaign co-managed by his idealistic and totally on board press secretary, Ryan Gosling's Stephen Meyers. However, after learning some things from the opposition's campaign manager, as well as during a troubling fling with an intern, Meyers' faith in his boss may be gone, along with the governor's political future.

In America

"In America" tells the deeply personal and moving story of a family of Irish immigrants struggling to make a better life for themselves in New York City. Parents Johnny and Sarah try to stay even-keeled and keep up appearances for the sake of their plucky children, but they're haunted by a lack of career success, underpaid jobs, and the memory of their deceased child, Frankie. All the while, daughter Christy preserves the family's unique lives by recording everything on a video camera.

  • Starring: Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton, Djimon Hounsou
  • Director: Jim Sheridan
  • Year: 2002
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

The Kid Detective

Children's literature is full of young, precocious, enterprising sleuths investigating big mysteries. "The Kid Detective" explores what might happen if such a mystery-solver operated in the real world, and then grew up ... but couldn't move beyond his spectacular youth. Abe Applebaum is that kid detective, except now he's on the wrong side of 30. He's still solving insignificant crimes for young clients (and also drinking way too much), but the glamour is long gone. His depressive status bursts when he gets his first mature case — the mystery of who murdered a teenager's boyfriend. But this case is closer to home than he realizes.

  • Starring: Adam Brody, Sophie Nelisse, Sarah Sutherland
  • Director: Evan Morgan
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 99 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

The King's Speech

"The King's Speech" humanizes an English king by depicting his agonizing and inspiring struggle to find his voice — literally. Bertie, aka the Duke of York (father of Queen Elizabeth II), becomes King George VI upon his brother's abdication, just before the outbreak of World War II. He must lead with confidence and strength, but his severe stuttering interferes with his ability to be a rock for his country. When his wife nudges him towards a bubbly, profanity-utilizing speech therapist, however, things begin to change, one syllable at a time.

  • Starring: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush
  • Director: Tom Hooper
  • Year: 2010
  • Runtime: 118 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Matilda

Roald Dahl picked up the proverbial baton from fellow English novelist Charles Dickens, writing many classic novels about abused, neglected, and traumatized children who rise up with the power of pluck — and in Dahl's case, usually some kind of magic — to defeat their adult tormentors. That's a pretty powerful metaphor for Dahl's worldview about the evils of the British class system, but it fueled wonderful, fantastical stories like "Matilda" adapted to film in 1996. The delightful Mara Wilson plays the title character, ignored by her crass parents, who dives into books and personal development. Along the way, she makes herself telekinetic, which she uses (along with the love of kind teacher Miss Honey) to thwart her insidious family and schoolmaster.

  • Starring: Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito, Embeth Davidtz
  • Director: Danny DeVito
  • Year: 1996
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

The Original Kings of Comedy

A stand-up comedy special can be so much more than training a couple of cameras on someone telling jokes on a stage. "The Original Kings of Comedy" elevates the form to high art via the filmmaking techniques of master director Spike Lee, who oversaw a production that's gorgeously shot and captures the intangible magic of the collective joy of a comedy concert. It certainly doesn't hurt that Lee's subjects are four of the most dynamic and charismatic stage comedians of all time: Bernie Mac, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Steve Harvey. In front of an army of adoring and delighted fans, the kings offer hilarious commentary on American life and Black American life and then pal around and just act naturally funny with one another off-stage too.

  • Starring: Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey
  • Director: Spike Lee
  • Year: 2000
  • Runtime: 115 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Pan's Labyrinth

From genre visionary Guillermo del Toro comes the truly frightening and visually ambitious "Pan's Labyrinth," which manages to be a war movie, fairy tale, and horror flick. Set in Francoist Spain circa 1944, this saga follows young Ofelia, whose life has been irrevocably changed by the arrival of her violent new stepfather. An amoral army captain, he's in charge of a battalion sent to root out rebels in the forest. Seeking an escape from the horrible things she witnesses, Ofelia finds herself wandering a darkly fantastical realm ruled by hideous monsters and magical creatures. Is she truly the reincarnation of Princess Moanna, its rightful ruler? The truth is complex, dazzling, and unforgettable.

The People vs. Larry Flynt

Half courtroom thriller and half biopic, "The People vs. Larry Flynt" is a rollicking story of a funny, no-nonsense, accused purveyor of filth who's transformed into a free speech crusader. Larry Flynt was a public figure for decades, the hands-on publisher of "Hustler" magazine. And in this film, his many legal fights against decency and obscenity laws are dramatized, handled by his comically overwhelmed attorney, Alan Isaacman. Flynt's life takes an unexpected turn when a sworn opponent shoots him and leaves him with injuries so severe he can never walk again, but he'll soon be back to taking on his would-be silencers with the law and his former sex worker girlfriend on his side.

Rachel Getting Married

An absolutely grueling and occasionally upsetting drama, "Rachel Getting Married" realistically captures the mood and vibes of a complicated family reunion-type situation, particularly when it's framed by tragedy and seething tension. Kym receives a furlough from her stay in a drug rehabilitation facility to attend the wedding (and numerous related events) of her sister, Rachel. Few of her close relatives seem to want to have Kym present, what with her nasty and self-absorbed attitude and how the death of a sibling — which hangs over the wedding and is commemorated throughout the weekend — was her fault. Eventually, "Rachel Getting Married" depicts a race — will the wedding or the complete breakdown of a family happen first?

  • Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin
  • Director: Jonathan Demme
  • Year: 2008
  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

A Shot in the Dark

This is the second "Pink Panther" movie from filmmaker Blake Edwards and comic chameleon Peter Sellers. Sellers plays Inspector Jacques Clouseau, the world's most self-assured detective ... who is also the most woefully incompetent. He's a collection of silly tics, ideas, and mannerisms, which all come out as he attempts to deduce who murdered a historic British country estate's driver. There's a solid chance it's the home's charming and lovely chambermaid, in whom Clouseau takes great interest — people around her do keep winding up dead. But could the truth be more complicated than it appears?

  • Starring: Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer, George Sanders
  • Director: Blake Edwards
  • Year: 1964
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Spider-Man: Homecoming

In this, the first chapter in the third modern-day movie series starring your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, web-slinging teen Peter Parker tries to live an ordinary life. That's a tall order, however, given he's a local superhero who's still reeling from having fought beside the Avengers and his mentorship by Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Stark doesn't think he's ready for primetime, but Peter is positively raring to go when a villain called the Vulture starts wrecking havoc around the city. It's up to Spider-Man to save the day and prove his heroic mettle once and for all — and make sure he's not late to the big school dance.

  • Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Michael Keaton
  • Director: Jon Watts
  • Year: 2017
  • Runtime: 133 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Stan and Ollie

Fans of film history may be well-served by "Stan and Ollie," a movie about one of the most famous and important screen comedy duos of all time — legends who are becoming increasingly more obscure as the years pass. This biopic of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, aka Laurel and Hardy — particularly their later, scraping-by years — is a look at the entertainment industry of yore with a lot to say about the toll a creative life can take on its practitioners. "Stan and Ollie" is set in the early 1950s, many years after Laurel and Hardy dominated movie comedies with their silly shorts featuring them as their popular characters, dimwitted and perpetually angry, respectively. As Hardy falls ill, they have to reckon with their friendship, as well as their age-old professional resentments.

  • Starring: Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson
  • Director: Jon S. Baird
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 97 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Sunshine Cleaning

This understated indie rides the line between full-on dark comedy and emotional drama. Sisters Rose and Norah have a strained relationship. Both are stuck at home and suffering from arrested development: Rose, a single mom, is still reliving her high school glory days, while Norah parties way too often. They decide to jumpstart their lives and repair their bond by going into business as crime scene clean-up technicians — basically, the people who tidy up the blood and guts of gruesome murder scenes. Complex family drama, wicked humor, and a whole lot of viscera ensue.

  • Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin
  • Director: Christine Jeffs
  • Year: 2008
  • Runtime: 91 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Thank You for Smoking

Based on the dark, wickedly funny, and deeply cynical novel by Christopher Buckley, "Thank You for Smoking" takes viewers into the world of D.C. lobbyists — mercenary advocates paid exorbitant sums to bend the will of lawmakers to benefit their corporate benefactors. In this case, Nick Naylor is a rogue expert in lobbying for big tobacco companies, trying to make his bosses happy by convincing Congress to pass laws to their advantage, even after public opinion about cigarette manufacturers has strongly shifted to the negative and smoking is substantially less tolerated. His job gets harder every day, and that's especially true now that a left-wing senator has launched a convincing anti-tobacco campaign.

  • Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Adam Brody
  • Director: Jason Reitman
  • Year: 2005
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

That Thing You Do!

Tom Hanks, universally liked actor and chronicler of 20th-century phenomena like space flight and World War II, made his directorial debut with "That Thing You Do!" — a fast-paced, loving, and very funny tribute to 1960s Beatle-esque rock. Hanks plays a minor role as Mr. White, a Svengali-type who turns a goofy small-town garage band called the Oneders into the Wonders, a brief pop sensation on the strength of their one hit, the supremely catchy "That Thing You Do." The film is told primarily through the eyes of replacement drummer Guy, a jazzman at heart who soaks in the band's quick rise and even faster fall while tumbling head over heels for the lead singer's girlfriend. ("That Thing You Do!" will hit Starz on March 18.)

  • Starring: Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Jonathon Schaech
  • Director: Tom Hanks
  • Year: 1996
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%

Trading Places

An iconic film from an era in which "Saturday Night Live" stars dominated the world of movie comedy, "Trading Places" teams up giants Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd for a very '80s tale of crafty-underdog-defeats-the-evil-rich-dudes. Randolph and Mortimer Duke are extremely wealthy and nasty investors who, as a social experiment and subject of a $1 bet, pluck con artist and street criminal Billy Ray Valentine off the streets of Philadelphia and into the life of their nephew, snooty and entitled investor Louis Winthrope III. They instantly make Billy Ray into a financial star and actively ruin Louis' life ... until the subjects of this cruel switcheroo find out what's going on and pull a switcheroo of their own involving a futures report, designed to exact revenge and make them both wealthy in the process.

Wild Indian

A dark indie thriller about abandonment and the ramifications of covering up a murder, "Wild Indian" is full of enthralling dread. In the film's 1980s-set scenes, Makwa and Teddo are two young Ojibwe boys growing up on a reservation. Makwa, with little provocation, kills a school friend, and Teddo helps him hide the crime. Life proceeds to move on: Teddo goes to prison for a long time, and Makwa attempts to put together a solid life for himself. No matter how entirely he ignores his crimes and erases his Ojibwe identity from his life, however, Makwa will eventually have to address his past — especially after he reconnects with a troubled Teddo in the present day.

  • Starring: Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, Kate Bosworth
  • Director: Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Working Girl

Let's all take a trip back in time to the unique, high-stakes, and high-energy corporate culture of 1980s New York City with "Working Girl," where the idea of women in the workplace was apparently still new and novel, particularly in positions of power. In this movie that's a little bit love-triangle story and little bit tale of business espionage, Melanie Griffith plays the confident and strident receptionist Tess. Striving to climb the corporate ladder, she hands off a winning idea to her calculating boss, Katharine, who passes off the tip as her own creation. When the wicked boss is laid out in the hospital, Tess uses the moment to plot her revenge, posing as Katharine and negotiating a big, possibly ill-advised deal with an investment banker, which threatens the work status of at least three people.