Today is a sad day for cinephiles, as the streaming service FilmStruck officially shuts down after two years. It was a true treasure trove of films, highlighting little-known and hard-to-find movies alongside more popular titles. What made this service so special was the curated themes that really let users explore and discover instead of letting an algorithm do the work. It also boasted some great special features with many of its titles such as film introductions.
During FilmStruck’s brief run, I watched a good chunk of movies (you can see all I watched on my Letterboxd here). Where else would I have been able to watch a little-seen film directed by a woman like Christmas in the Clouds? Or a Russian adaptation of Cinderella? Or a rare Irene Dunne pre-code like The Silver Cord? Those are just a handful of titles I likely would have never seen if not for FilmStruck. The service also allowed me the luxury of revisiting some of my favorite movies with ease, like all ten movies Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made together, and all the iterations of A Star Is Born.
If you couldn’t already tell, I really loved everything about FilmStruck and am really mourning this loss. So to say farewell to this cinematic haven, I’m highlighting just a dozen of my favorite discoveries.
The Grifters was the very first movie I watched on FilmStruck, so it’ll always be special to me for that reason. The streaming service launched in November 2016, and just in time for Noirvember, they had a theme dedicated to neo-noir with introductions by Eddie Muller. This crime drama was such a great way to kick off my time with FilmStruck.
In the Mood for Love was a movie that had been on my watchlist for a long time. I decided to watch this immediately after seeing Moonlight, as Barry Jenkins often speaks fondly about Wong Kar-wai films and how they have influenced him. It made for a really terrific double feature.
Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni are truly one of the best on-screen pairings, and A Special Day is one of the best films they did together, if not the very best. This also features one of Mastroianni’s Oscar-nominated performances; it’s probably my favorite of his dramatic work.
Pedro Almodóvar’s breakthrough film, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, was such a fun watch. I especially enjoyed this melodramatic comedy during a not-at-all-great time considering what was happening at the time in January 2017. It was with movies such as this that proved how valuable FilmStruck was.
FilmStruck was so great at putting a spotlight on small films, including ones directed by women like Antonia’s Line. I really hadn’t heard of this movie until I came across it on the streaming service. It deservedly won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
Muriel’s Wedding was a featured title in a special theme dedicated to the underrated Toni Collette. This movie is a pure delight, with a terrific breakout performance from the actress. And any movie that includes some ABBA songs is an automatic win for me.
If I had to pick only one favorite movie I discovered on FilmStruck it would have to be Paris, Texas. It doesn’t happen too often where a movie really exceeds my expectations, especially in this case where I was already expecting excellence. I can’t quite put into words how this movie affected me as I was watching, but I was completely transfixed the whole time I was watching. One of my favorite discoveries in general in recent years.
Desert Hearts is a really beautiful romance film, with some especially gorgeous cinematography alongside a great soundtrack. It’s another fantastic movie I discovered on FilmStruck that’s also made by a female filmmaker.
I have yet to see a David Lean film I didn’t like, and The Passionate Friends is no exception. This title popped up a lot online around the time Phantom Thread was released, as Paul Thomas Anderson said it was one of the movies that inspired him during filming. Fortunately, FilmStruck had this readily available before I went and saw Anderson’s latest release.
Westward the Women was one of the dozens of movies I watched following the announcement of FilmStruck’s shutdown. It’s an atypical western being so women-oriented compared to others in the genre, making this such a gem of a discovery. It’s a movie I was not at all familiar with until I saw some mentions of it being one to check out before the streaming service closed up shop.
Enchantment is another classic Hollywood-era film I wasn’t aware of until I saw it streaming on FilmStruck. David Niven and Teresa Wright are so charming in this heartbreaking wartime drama.
Akira Kurosawa’s historical epic Ran ended up being my penultimate new-to-me viewing on FilmStruck, and what a way to go near the end of my time with this beloved service. Like Throne of Blood, this shows how great Kurosawa was at adapting William Shakespeare’s plays and completely making the stories his own. This was also the only time in which he earned an Oscar nomination, but I’m glad he at least finally got that sort of Academy recognition for one of his best films.
In a bit of good news, the Criterion Channel will be back on its own next year. It won’t quite fill the void that FilmStruck will leave behind, but I’m hopeful for what the service will have to offer. And of course, we still have our beloved TCM. In the meantime, it’s been a wonderful couple of years of film discoveries on this streaming service. Thank you, FilmStruck, for all the movie memories.