Stan has forged itself a great reputation as a source for quality TV shows, in many cases with episodes fast-tracked in HD the same day as the US sees them.
But alongside their wealth of TV content old and new, Stan’s also built a solid library of feature films, covering everything from blockbusters to indies, as well as a large collection of world movies. There’s a ton of great films waiting there to be discovered; here’s what we think are ten of the best.
1. Under The Skin
If you’ve ever seen a Radiohead video, you’ve probably seen director Jonathan Glazer’s work – but nothing will prepare you for the outright weirdness of this film based on the book of the same name. Scarlett Johansson plays a woman without a name, who roams around Scotland seducing men and trapping them inside a liquid prison. We’re aware early on that she’s not from this planet – but what she’s actually doing here is largely left to the viewer to figure out. Possibly the first film about Earth seen entirely from an alien’s perspective, it’s one that rewards patience.
2. The Imitation Game
The marvellously-named Benedict Cumberbatch plays World War 2 era mathematician Alan Turing in this story of how math helped win the war. The encrypted messages that the Germans are sending have been impossible for the Allies to decode, but Turing, alongside the Bletchley Park cryptography team, manage to find a way to crack it. It sounds dry and uninteresting on paper, but this is a brilliant mystery-solving story that’s been made in exquisite detail (though there are some glaring historical inaccuracies).
3. The Castle
This is arguably one of the greatest Australian films of all time – and it was made on a shoestring budget on 16mm film by a bunch of people who’d never made a feature film before. At the time best known for The Late Show, the Working Dog team came up with this story about a man fighting to keep his home, and managed to make it laugh-out-loud funny, endearing and moving all at the same time. Stan’s version will let many see this one in HD for the first time.
With a cast of only two people (on screen, anyway), Gravity is a space survival story that puts a whole lot of faith in the acting abilities of Sandra Bullock, with huge success. She plays scientist Ryan Stone, who is in the middle of a spacewalk servicing the Hubble telescope when a sudden, catastrophic accident happens, and she is cast off into space with only her pressure suit to keep her alive. Probably not the film for you if you suffer from claustrophobia, but totally gripping from start to finish (and at 90 minutes, no longer than it needs to be).
5. These Final Hours
We all love a good apocalyptic thriller – and there’s certainly no shortage of them around these days – but this Australian effort, filmed in Perth on a minuscule budget, is absolutely stunning. Beginning just after a meteor has crashed into the earth in the Northern hemisphere, we meet characters that are keenly aware they have only hours left to live until the firestorm set off by the impact reaches them. Having that definite end looming gives the drama here plenty of weight.
6. Mulholland Drive
There are several David Lynch movies on Stan – including the wonderful Lost Highway – but this one is a masterpiece. Originally filmed as a pilot episode for a TV series that was never made, it’s the story of naïve, trusting young actress Betty Elms, who arrives in Hollywood hoping to become a star. And then strange things start happening. What initially appears to be a sort-of thriller turns into something else entirely in the latter half of the film; it’s very much open to interpretation, and rewards repeat viewings. Lynch was nominated for a Best Director Oscar for this one.
7. Begin Again
It didn’t get much attention on release, but this low-budget (but beautifully made) film from director John Carney is close to perfect. Mark Ruffalo plays the washed-up, burned-out record company exec Dan Mulligan, fired from his job and getting blind drunk in a bar when he sees Gretta (Keira Knightley) singing at an open mic night, and is captivated. She’s just broken up with her songwriter boyfriend – but don’t think this story’s going to go down the expected clichéd romantic path. It’s feel-good film that may also make you cry a little – in a good way!
8. Annie Hall
Among the numerous movies that Woody Allen has written and directed over the past few decades, this 1977 classic – available on Stan in an impeccably remastered HD version – is easily his best. Allen plays Alvy Singer, a comedian (like most Allen roles, he’s playing a version of himself) whose relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) begins, grows and ends in the space of the 90-minute story. An early scene at the cinema will be appreciated warmly by anyone who likes to watch the credits!
9. Charlie Countryman
This one was one of those unexpected surprises you can run across just by pressing “play” on a movie that looks vaguely interesting. Shia LeBeouf is superb as the title character, who has a vision of his mother after her death telling him to go to Bucharest, Romania. Why? A devastated Charlie doesn’t ask, and jumps on a plane where, before he even lands, things start getting seriously weird. Soon he’s being hunted down by vengeful mobsters. Sounds simple, but this is a very smart, deliciously unpredictable film.
10. Mad Max: Fury Road
When director George Miller finally returned to the Mad Max series after nearly 20 years trying to get there, nobody expected the impact that the resulting film would have. Fury Road is Mad Max on adrenaline – spectacular, exciting, visually stunning and relentless. Considered by some critics to be one of the greatest action movies ever made, it’s perfect escapist entertainment for a night in – especially if you’ve got a 5.1 sound system you can crank up to eleven!Stan does movies with just as much diversity as it does TV shows – these are just ten of the hundreds of films available for your ten bucks a month, and a good starting point if you’re looking for something new (and in some cases, very different) to watch.