Sebastian Stan is having a moment between the much-talked-about television series Pam & Tommy, the release of the spy thriller The 355, and the rave reviews for his performance in the Sundance film Fresh. But Stan’s career goes back many years, across Marvel blockbusters, indie films, television, and theater.
Below are ten of the best Sebastian Stan movies that you can watch online, either with subscription streaming services or on VOD. I’ve left films like Black Swan, Logan Lucky, and Rachel Getting Married in which he has very small roles off of the list to focus on films in which his character makes more of an impact. I’ve also included some films that aren’t typically considered the best, but contain great or iconic performances from Stan.
1 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Stan has portrayed Bucky Barnes, the best friend of Steve Rogers, over the course of numerous films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Aside from the Disney + series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, in which he had a central role, most of his screen time occurred in the Captain America trilogy. From a self-assured World War II soldier to a brainwashed Hydra asset, Stan’s performance has brought something special to the role, and he has excellent chemistry with both Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie.
We've chosen to specifically single out Captain America: The Winter Soldier because it best showcases Stan’s acting. He has few lines in the film but creates a menacing presence as the Winter Soldier with merely his physicality. It’s a definitive departure from how he played the character pre-Hydra in Captain America: The First Avenger, shocking both the audience and Steve Rogers with who he has become.
2. The Bronze
This 2015 sports comedy, directed by Bryan Buckley, might not have the best reputation, but it’s certainly much-watched amongst fans of Stan’s work. A former Olympic gymnast, who won a bronze medal, Hope coasts on her celebrity status in her hometown since an injury forced her to give up the sport. When her former coach dies, leaving the request that she take over the training of her star pupil Maggie, who has the potential to make it to the Olympics, Hope balks at the thought of the young girl overshadowing her.
However, arrogant Gold Medalist Lance, played by Stan, motivates Hope to take Maggie’s training seriously. He’d rather take over as Maggie’s coach himself and hopes to push Hope out of the scene. He’s an incorrigible flirt, and there’s a rather memorable raunchy scene full of gymnastics. Stan has a history of playing smug bad boys (hello, Carter Baizen on Gossip Girl), and this role reflects that.
3. The Martian
In 2015, Ridley Scott released The Martian based on the book by Andy Weir. It follows an astronaut’s struggle to stay alive on Mars after being left behind and presumed dead while on a mission. It also tracks the rescue efforts of his crew, and NASA at large, to bring him back home once they receive word of his survival.
Matt Damon portrays Mark Watney, but the supporting cast features impressive names, including Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Donald Glover, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Stan plays Dr. Chris Beck, the flight surgeon for the astronaut crew. He has limited screen time, but the film notably marks his first collaboration with Jessica Chastain.
4 – I, Tonya
Craig Gillespie's black comedy biopic of Tonya Harding came out in 2017 to rave reviews. Margot Robbie stars as the titular character, with Allison Janney as Harding’s mother and Stan as her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. Gillespie made the film in a mockumentary style with interviews with the characters, playing around with the idea of unreliable narrators and the questions about what really happened between Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.
Robbie’s performance is the star of the show, but Stan is also fantastic as her husband. The couple’s relationship is tumultuous and eventually turns abusive, but Stan walks the delicate line between portraying the humor in the script and taking the horrible things that Gillooly did seriously. Having studied interviews with Harding’s husband and been outfitted with a mustache to look more like him, Stan does an excellent job of bringing him to life on the screen.
The 2018 crime drama by Karyn Kusama follows an LAPD cop who must reckon with the demons of her past when a case leads her back to the gang that she went undercover to join years before. Nicole Kidman proves her versatility as she’s nearly unrecognizable as the tough, street-wise Erin. Stan plays an FBI agent who infiltrated the gang with Erin and ends up in a romantic relationship with her.
Destroyer is very much Kidman’s show, but the supporting cast, from Tatiana Maslany to Toby Kebbell, also deliver good work. Stan’s character Chris only appears in a series of flashbacks throughout the film, allowing the audience to understand what happened sixteen years before and why Erin has a vendetta still to settle with the gang. It’s a grittier role than Stan is typically cast in, but he absolutely proves that he can play this type of character.
6. We Have Always Lived in the Castle
This is another film somewhat lacking in its own merits but features a fantastic performance from Stan. The 2018 mystery thriller directed by Stacie Passon is based on the 1962 Shirley Jackson novel of the same name. Two sisters, played by Taissa Farmiga and Alexandra Daddario, live in their family’s isolated mansion with their ailing uncle, but the delicate balance of their lives is upset when their cousin Charles descends upon them and they’re forced to reckon with family secrets they’d rather ignore.
Set in 1960s Vermont, it’s one of the few period dramas Stan has ever appeared in. His portrayal of Charles is all old-fashioned smooth-talking, peppered with violent outbursts that are as startling for the audience as they are for the sisters. He does such an excellent job at playing a Gothic villain that it’s surprising he hasn’t booked another period drama since.
7. Endings, Beginnings
Audiences didn't care for Drake Doremus’s Endings, Beginnings when it was released in 2019, but enough clips of it have found their way onto TikTok to cause a resurgence in people watching it over the past couple of years. The story is a classic love triangle as artist Daphne, still recovering from a bad break-up, finds herself drawn to two men with very different personalities (but very similar looks) who also happen to be close friends. Shailene Woodley, Stan, and Jamie Dornan bring enough sizzle to make this watchable, even though the main character is largely annoying.
Stan proves his abilities as a romantic lead, perfectly portraying the charm of adventurous bad boy Frank in contrast to Dornan’s more intellectual, mature Jack. The fact that the film works at all is entirely due to the chemistry between both couples and Stan and Dornan being charismatic enough in their own ways to create a believable dilemma for Daphne.
8. The Last Full Measure
In 2019, Todd Robinson’s war drama depicted the true story of how a Pentagon staffer and a group of veterans worked to get the Medal of Honor awarded to an Air Force Pararescueman who died in action during the Vietnam War. William H. Pitsenbarger helped to save over sixty men, going above and beyond what was expected of him and ultimately sacrificing his life. Most of the film is focused on the battle to get Pitsenbarger the posthumous honor that the men he served alongside and whose lives he saved thought he deserved, but there are also flashbacks to the war itself.
The film, while it has some issues with its script and direction, has an astoundingly star-studded cast, including William Hurt, Ed Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, and Diane Ladd. Notably, it was the last film of both Christopher Plummer and Peter Fonda, each an acting legend in his own right, before their deaths. Stan portrays Scott Huffman, a politician based on William Parker Hayes Jr., who is initially reluctant to take on the investigation, but bonds with the veterans and has a change of heart. Stan has spent much of his career in supporting roles and the role of Scott marks him stepping into a leading role in a mid-budget film.
9. Monday Sebastian Stan
Argyris Papadimitropoulos’s 2020 film Monday follows a pair of American ex-pats in Greece as they fall in love, and as their relationship starts to break apart. With gorgeous scenery as their backdrop, Sebastian Stan and Denise Gough infuse the characters of Mickey and Chloe with empathy but also plenty of flaws. It’s an exploration of how love between two people can crumble under the pressures of everyday life together that also culminates in a wild scene of self-destruction.
Stan is at his most charming, perhaps ever, in Monday. He has the right charisma to portray a character whose immaturity holds him back from being a proper partner, but who has a magnetic pull that makes Chloe want to stay with him. In the final scenes of the film in which the cracks in their relationship come to the light, he allows the emotions to play out on his face so plainly that the audience can practically see his thought process as he decides to abandon himself to a series of bad decisions.
Fresh made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival for its chilling premise and strong performances. Mimi Cave’s directorial debut taps into women’s fears about dating as Noa’s budding relationship with Steve takes a turn for the sinister. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan both give strong, arguably career-best performances, perfectly making the shift from the film’s rom-com first act to a thriller.
Stan has charm in spades, so it’s no surprise that he’s able to pull off the role of an earnest young doctor falling in love with the film’s heroine. What’s a bit more unexpected is how easily he slides into a more camp persona as the film goes on, with a memorable scene of him in the kitchen dancing and singing along to music not long after the dramatic reveal of who he really is. He is once again able to straddle a line between dark comedy and frightening realism so that the audience experiences the same push-and-pull with him that Noa does.
11. Pam & Tommy
The scandal that, in many ways, birthed the modern internet gets the biopic treatment in this limited comedy series. Stan plays rock star Tommy Lee during his tumultuous marriage to Pamela Anderson (Lily James). A group of construction workers, led by Seth Rogan's Rand, steal videotapes of Lee and Anderson's honeymoon, including one of their most intimate moments. Scandal ensues as the couple wades through tabloid misery, putting their relationship to the test.
Stan does some of his best work here, and manages to emulate Tommy Lee both in character and in physicality. Given that Lee had one of the most perfect male bodies on record during the period in which the show takes place, that says something unto itself. Sebastian Stan also snagged an Emmy nomination for his performance.
12. Black Swan
Alright, we admit including Black Swan, director Darren Aronofsky's bonkers story of a ballerina pushing herself to the limit, as part of this roundup is dubious at best. Sebastian Stan has only a brief role. Still, the movie does rank as one of his best, even given his small contribution. Most of the dramatic weight rests on the shoulders of Natalie Portman in the lead (she won an Oscar for her work), as well as that of Mila Kunis, who proves herself an effective dramatic actress. Nina, played by Portman, experiences psychological and emotional distress as she prepares to play the lead in a production of Swan Lake. What do all her hallucinations, evil doubles, dream sequences and dance breaks mean? Watch and decide.