Are you tired of Netflix and want to fire up Stan instead? If so, you’re in luck, because Stan is home to some of the best TV shows and new movies currently available in Australia. Stan is Australia’s homegrown answer to Netflix, and in many cases has an edge over its US rival:
- It starts at $10 and its top-tier plan is cheaper than Netflix’s top tier plan
- It has hot programs like Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Seinfeld and Friends
- It has a plethora of popular Aussie and UK shows and films
In fact, there’s so much content on Stan that it can be overwhelming and you could easily spend hours trawling through the library deciding what to watch. So we’ve narrowed down some of the best shows and films to cure your boredom and streaming addiction, trying to include something for everyone.
Best TV shows on Stan
Better Call Saul
As of August 7, the latest season is here, and many pundits are calling Saul better than the show it spun off – Breaking Bad. So, catch up on the first few seasons before you see spoilers for the next season.
Fans and addicts of Breaking Bad will rejoice at the fact that Better Call Saul hits Aussie screens through Stan pretty much at the same time as in America. Better Call Saul is a Breaking Bad spinoff prequel series and you don’t even need to have watched Breaking Bad to enjoy it. Better Call Saul follows the life of Saul Goodman… or shall we say ‘Jimmy McGill’. Jimmy was his name before he turned into Saul (a play on the words ‘It’s all good, man’).
Jimmy is played by Bob Odenkirk and details his rise from affable if downtrodden Jimmy to charismatic, slick and slimy Saul – a shopping mall lawyer who will do anything for a buck. After all, you don’t want a criminal lawyer – you need a CRIMINAL lawyer. Better Call Saul is a great show in its own right, but one wonders how long exactly the creators are going to drag it out for to meet the start of the Breaking Bad timeline.
Who Is America?
That guy from Borat and Bruno is back – Sacha Baron Cohen. You would have thought the American populace had have caught on it was him by now, but nope. Cohen stars as various made-up people, interviewing celebrities, politicians and more. It’s a new show but it’s sent shockwaves through the streaming community already. From playing far-right conspiracy theorists to YouTube stars to a billionaire playboy, Cohen can do it all. Each episode is like a mini version of Borat – you’ll be cringing and laughing at the same time. Politicians interviewed include Bernie Sanders, Republican senate candidate Roy Moore, Republican representative from Georgia Jason Spencer and many more. Each episode is under wraps until it airs, so who knows how ridiculous this could get…
If you’re wondering what happened to Nicolas Brody in Homeland, here he is… just kidding. Damien Lewis (Homeland, Band of Brothers) essentially plays rich tosser Robert Axelrod, a billionaire manager of a hedge fund called Axe Capital. Despite being a bit of an ass, publically he is generous and charitable, himself being a survivor of the 9/11 attacks, funding college tuitions of the children of his colleagues who died in the attacks. However, insider trading and bribery in the hedge fund catches up to him. His nemesis is Paul Giamatti, who plays Chuck Rhoades, a US Attorney who essentially makes Axelrod’s life as hard as possible. Billions is a slick and sexy show with intense dialogue, brought to life by Giamatti’s attack dog-esque approach to every character he portrays and the “love to hate” nature of Axe. The new season has just been released to great fanfare so let’s see what all the fuss is about…
Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, 11.22.63 is a date etched in many peoples’ minds as the day that US President John F Kennedy was assassinated. On November 22 1963, at around midday, JFK was riding in an open-top motorcade throughout the streets of Dallas, Texas, when sniper shots rang out, leaving the beloved president dead and some Secret Service agents wounded. It was a watershed moment in American history… and also made future Presidents ride in non-convertible cars.
11.22.63 follows Jake Epping (James Franco), a high school teacher from Maine who learns about a rabbit hole that sends him back in time to the very early 1960s. His mission is to change the course of history forever and prevent the assassination of JFK. Though, saving JFK isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and history doesn’t want to be messed with. It’s a thrilling period piece that doesn’t stray from the nostalgic and sanguine portrayal of life in the 60s, but readers of the book may be a bit disappointed with certain glaring differences in the show. Nevertheless, it’s an easy-to-watch eight-part miniseries with a stellar portrayal of Lee Harvey Oswald by Aussie Daniel Webber that will send chills down your spine. It’s a great blend of Sci-Fi, history and thriller cinema.
A hit TV show straight from the Showtime channel in the US, Ray Donovan is a crime drama detailing the life of you guessed it… Ray Donovan – played by Liev Schreiber. Ray is a ‘fixer’ in Hollywood, meaning he receives large sums of money in return for his knack for making celebrities’ problems disappear. Think murders, affairs, drug scandals – you name it, Ray can fix it. Things are going along smoothly until Ray’s father Mickey (played by Jon Voight) is released from prison and starts turning Ray’s world upside down.
Add to the mix some deep and dysfunctional family issues and you have yourself a gritty crime family drama. It perfectly juxtaposes the glamorous LA lifestyle with the seedy and gritty undertones not often portrayed on TV. Jon Voight absolutely steals the show, too, as does crooked FBI chief Ed Cochran (Hank Azaria – voice of Moe and other characters on the Simpsons). Stan has seasons 1-4 of Ray Donovan, with the fifth no doubt to be added shortly.
So you’re off on the right foot with shows to watch on Stan, but what about movies? Keep reading to whet your appetite.
Best movies on Stan
If you want your dose of ‘Murca’, this could be it, but Deepwater Horizon is also a lot more than that. The film details the true events of the explosion of the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, labelled ‘Deepwater Horizon’, in 2010. Mark Wahlberg is the central good guy in this film, with some characters portraying various BP Executives tabled as the bad – or ignorant – guys. Look, this rig is gonna blow, and it’s gonna blow fast; let’s make sure Marky Mark gets everyone off safely.
Deepwater Horizon is listed as a disaster film, and is probably best watched with a good TV, good speakers and popcorn in hand. It’s not the most thought-provoking of films, but does shed a light on a literal dark stain in the drilling industry and the consequences that followed it. It’s just under two hours of fire-soaked mayhem and big Ford F150 trucks, and is suitable for a Friday night in with the kids put to bed and you want to shut your brain off for a while.
With a distinctly different feeling to Deepwater Horizon, Precious is a movie about a girl in deepwater. Precious lives in Harlem, and long story short she’s had a pretty unfortunate home life and upbringing. Precious is just 16 and already has two kids, but she can’t read or write and hasn’t completed school. With a nice surprise appearance from Mariah Carey as Precious’ social worker, this film is depressing and uplifting all at once. It’s 110 minutes of gritty and stark depictions of life in America’s deepest ghettoes and it makes for an interesting Friday night film in.
If Deepwater Horizon is the film to shut your brain off for, you may want your brain back for this one. Again, it’s based on a true story surrounding the findings of Dr Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist largely credited with discovering the long-term effects of bashing heads against each other in the NFL. The phenomena has been called ‘Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy’ or CTE for short. CTE is a condition that stems from years of trauma to the brain, and you don’t even need repeated concussions to get it – repeating thousands of tackles in the NFL will do that for you. CTE can trigger memory loss, mood swings, violence and has even driven some players to suicide.
Dr Omalu wants to make this public, and naturally the NFL doesn’t like it, so they blackball him. CTE is an ongoing issue in the NFL, with lots of man hours dedicated to trying to help minimise it, fixing helmets and fixing the ‘man up’ culture the surrounds the sport. Other football codes aren’t immune from it either, and this is just the beginning. It’s an eye-opening movie, even if it is a bit preachy and holier-than-thou at times. Oh and it also stars Will Smith and Alec Baldwin, which is cool.
The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker is a slow-burning Iraq War thriller starring Jeremy Renner. Rather than just violence and war itself, the Hurt Locker explores the psychological nature and mental toughness needed to survive in a war zone. In a topic that is considered taboo – especially among military circles – PTSD is explored heavily. Will James (Renner) is the new squad leader of an Iraq War bomb squad, and the film details not only the precise and tense nature of dismantling bombs, but the odd relationships they form with Iraqi locals as well as how the bomb squad deals with disaster and death.
In 2010, the Hurt Locker was an underdog for the Academy Awards Best Picture accolade, up against strong competition that included James Cameron’s Avatar – with Cameron the ex-husband of Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow. In fact, the Hurt Locker was the lowest-grossing film adjusted for inflation to ever win Best Picture, and the film’s understated nature is what wins hearts and minds of viewers.
The Ides of March
If you’ve just come out of watching a news report about the US election and US politics and you’re thinking ‘WTF’ then you’d be forgiven… it’s confusing and convoluted compared to Australian politics. The Ides of March details just this, with factional Democrats feuding and backstabbing, and let’s not even mention those other guys – the Republicans. If you know a bit about the Roman ‘Ides of March’ you’ll know that it’s the story of the assassination of Julius Caesar, and the modern-day film starring George Clooney and Ryan Gosling is an allegory to the Roman original.
Clooney plays Mike Morris, a Democrat running for president, while Gosling stars as Stephen Meyers, the junior campaign manager. There’s a sexual scandal, a suicide and a whole lot of political talk, but it’s every bit as thrilling as any old murder mystery. Paul Giamatti is perhaps the most compelling actor featured, who plays Tom Duffy – the opposing campaign manager in the Democratic Primary election. This is a film that proves that politics is a dirty sport, and it’s not just the other party you have to watch out for. Often, friendly fire is what kills an entire campaign, and the Ides of March is a slow-burning film that’s dialog-rich and one that will have you thinking about it for days afterward.
Are you ready to binge on Stan?
Don’t just stop at these 10 shows and movies listed above. Stan has a pretty wide range of both shows and movies, and particularly stands out for its Australian content. If you’re tired of scrolling through Stan’s huge library then we hope we’ve sparked some interest with this list. In any case, these lists are always heavily subjective, so the next time you’re ready for a Stan binge, make sure to rate stuff you like and add things to your list so Stan helps you find other things you may want to watch. Grab the popcorn, your pyjamas and blanket, and set yourself up for a night in.