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On 23 February, Disney+ is set to launch the biggest expansion of its catalogue since it first arrived in the UK when it unveils Star — a platform for more mature content than the family-friendly main streamer. With more than 270 movies and 75 TV shows newly available to users, there is a lot of material to sift through.
There’s an intriguing mix of stuff on offer from Disney, including some of its own classics as well as plenty of material from 20th Century Fox and its various speciality branches. Some of the movies are all-time classics, whereas others are deep-dive catalogue titles that didn’t get the respect they deserved in cinemas.
Here, in alphabetical rather than quality order, are 20 of the best films that will be available to stream via the new Star platform...
Sacha Baron Cohen is nominated for three Golden Globes this year — and two of them are for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. If that seems like a surprise, it shouldn’t, because Cohen actually won the Golden Globe for Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) for the original Borat film in 2006.
Read more: Cohen says he won’t play Borat again
15 years on, the movie is mostly remembered for the set piece in which Cohen and co-star Ken Davitian brawl their way around a hotel in the nude.
Kimberly Peirce’s 1999 dramatisation of the true story of trans man Brandon Teena is almost certainly one of the toughest and hardest-hitting films in the Star catalogue. Featuring a terrific performance by Hilary Swank in the lead role, which earned her an Oscar for Best Actress, it’s a horrifying tale of anti-trans bigotry that still resonates today.
It’s about as historically accurate as a falsely attributed Churchill quote on Twitter, but that doesn’t prevent Mel Gibson’s bloody medieval opus from being one of the most enjoyable historical epics of recent years.
It’ll make you want to put on a historically inaccurate kilt and paint your face with historically inaccurate blue paint. Freedom!
This 80s classic is set, as the title suggests, amid the world of TV news gathering. Directed by James L. Brooks, it stars Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks and William Hurt as reporters and producers jostling for position in the dog-eat-dog world of journalism. It was nominated for seven Oscars and somehow managed to not win any of them.
Sometimes you just need to watch an action movie in which a plane full of criminals crashes into the Las Vegas strip. Simon West’s 1997 masterpiece is an epic of carnage, led by Nicolas Cage and his luxuriant hair, along with a malevolent John Malkovich and one of Steve Buscemi’s most unsettling turns.
It’s popcorn cinema at its brutal finest.
A handful of the Planet of the Apes movies are arriving with Star, but Matt Reeves’s 2014 film really feels like the apotheosis of everything the franchise has to offer. Toby Kebbell’s human-hating ape Koba destroys the fragile equilibrium between people and primates, provoking all-out war.
Read more: Andy Serkis reflects on his Apes trilogy
If nothing else, this movie features an ape riding through flames on a horse while firing a machine gun. What is cinema for, if not that?
Helmed by the Hughes Brothers in 1995, this is a heist movie with a difference. Rather than focusing on George Clooney or another series of fast-talking white men in fancy suits, it focuses on Black veterans of the Vietnam War living in The Bronx in financial peril, having been neglected by the US government since their years of service. It serves as a great companion piece to last year’s Netflix drama Da 5 Bloods.
If you can stomach the suggestion that Anne Hathaway is somehow unappealing, this fashion world comedy from 2006 is a fun watch. Meryl Streep steals the show — of course — as the tyrannical magazine editor Miranda Priestly, who is hostile to Hathaway’s assistant. Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci shine in supporting roles.
One of the most emotionally powerful YA movies of the last decade, The Fault In Our Stars saw Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort break out as a pair of teens who form a romantic bond despite both of their serious cancer diagnoses. The premise is schmaltz personified, but John Green’s book found real heart and New Mutants director Josh Boone managed the same feat on the big screen.
If the culture secretary gets his way and Netflix has to put a historical accuracy disclaimer at the start of The Crown, they’ll probably need to put an essay at the front of Yorgos Lanthimos’s take on the later life of Queen Anne. Olivia Colman won an Oscar for portraying the 18th century monarch in this tale of the love triangle and power struggle involving Anne and advisers Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, and Abigail Hill. It’s smart, surreal and incredibly funny.
In 1986, body horror maestro David Cronenberg took a pulpy sci-fi/horror tale — previously filmed in 1958 — and doused it in his unique special sauce of viscous gore and bodily fluids.
Jeff Goldblum plays the ambitious scientist who unwittingly fuses his DNA with that of a housefly, kick-starting a gradual and hideous transformation. This is not one to watch with your dinner.
There’s a handful of Wes Anderson material lurking amid the Star catalogue, of which the pick is undoubtedly this colourful comedy adventure. Ralph Fiennes is the funniest he has ever been as the eccentric concierge, while Tony Revolori is deadpan brilliance as his new lobby boy.
Anderson’s quirk and visual style stays the right side of annoying throughout and the result is a wildly enjoyable, silly caper.
Blown something of a raspberry by film critics in 2009 and deemed to be a box office disappointment, this feminist horror-comedy has been reappraised in recent years. Helmed by indie darling Karyn Kusama from a script by Diablo Cody, it stars Megan Fox as a demonically possessed high school student slaughtering male classmates.
Since the Me Too movement caught fire, Jennifer’s Body has looked more relevant than ever.
Before she was Marvel’s Wanda Maximoff, Elizabeth Olsen broke out as a woman escaping from an abusive cult in Sean Durkin’s terrific 2011 drama Martha Marcy May Marlene. It’s less about drawing parallels with real-life cults like Jonestown and the Manson Family than it is about exploring the machinations of manipulation. Olsen’s performance is terrific and the movie boasts real, gruelling power.
Robin Williams delivers arguably his darkest ever performance in this chilly, grim drama about a lonely photo technician who becomes obsessed with a family who use his services. Williams’s character discovers that the father of the family is having an affair and begins to intervene in their lives to a horrifying extent.
Music video specialist Mark Romanek’s movie is another tough watch, but it’s a great way of experiencing Williams at his best — with barely a laugh in sight.
One of the most beloved and successful romcoms of the 1990s, Pretty Woman brings together Richard Gere and a then-unproven Julia Roberts. The latter plays a sex worker hired by Gere’s businessman to accompany him to a variety of events.
Read more: Screenwriter reveals Pretty Woman secrets
Originally conceived as a cautionary tale with dark edges, it was retooled as something a little frothier and duly proved to be a runaway success at the box office. Roberts duly went on to be one of the biggest stars of the decade.
Paul Verhoeven certainly can’t be accused of ever playing it safe. That’s as true of RoboCop and Total Recall as it is of his 1997 sci-fi Starship Troopers. A satire of military propaganda and an America sliding into the fascism it once fought against, the film is as savage in its thematic relevance as it is silly in its over-the-top action. Just ignore the direct-to-DVD sequels.
Frances McDormand is likely to be in the Oscars conversation again this year for Nomadland, just a few years after she won her second statuette for playing the role of Mildred Hayes in this fiercely barbed drama from In Bruges director Martin McDonagh.
McDormand’s Hayes is a campaigning mother determined to get justice after the brutal murder of her daughter, butting heads with Woody Harrelson’s exhausted police chief.
Some people are just born to wear a cowboy hat. Just about all of those people congregate in this 1993 Western from George P. Cosmatos. Kurt Russell plays the lawman Wyatt Earp as he attempts to restore order to the titular town, alongside Val Kilmer’s outstanding, flamboyant portrayal of Doc Holliday.
The film’s troubled production has sparked constant intrigue and the movie itself is now considered a cult classic. It’s a dust-flecked cracker.
Steve Carell plays an unlikeable stepdad in this coming-of-age tale, helmed by acclaimed comedy actors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash in their directorial debut. Liam James plays the teenager who spends his summer at a water park to avoid Carell’s character, bonding with a fast-talking park employee played by Sam Rockwell in one of his funniest ever performances.
Under-appreciated on its 2013 release, this is well worth your time.
Get a discounted Disney+ membership
If you join Disney+ before 23 February, you can get 20% off a membership before the price increases in line with all the extra Star programming.
This means you'll be paying just £5.99 a month, or £59.99 a year, instead of £7.99 a month, or £79.99 a year.