We’ve all been there: Flipping through Amazon Prime Video’s movie offerings, but stuck wondering Uh, what’s good? The commercial giant’s streaming service has quietly collected a giant archive of films, and since 2006, has released a number of acclaimed films under the Amazon Studios banner, like Sound of Metal, Manchester By the Sea, Selah and the Spades, Paterson, and Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake.
But along with originals, there are tons of back catalogue picks just waiting to be discovered in the platform’s, let’s say, challenging UX. So we’ve looked through the service and cherry-picked some of our favorite films currently on the platform to try out. Without further ado, here are the top 20 best films to stream on Prime Video right now.
Blade of the Immortal
Based on Hiroaki Samura’s historical martial arts fantasy manga series of the same name, 2017’s Blade of the Immortal stars Takuya Kimura as Manji, a ruthless swordsman who wanders the countryside of feudal Japan on a quest to kill enough “evil” men in order to undo the curse that renders him immortal yet still susceptible to injury and pain. Enlisted by Rin Asano (Hana Sugisaki), an orphaned teenager whose family was slaughtered by a villainous band of sword fighters to be her bodyguard, Manji swears to protect her on her own quest for vengeance with the hopes that her vendetta will eventually set him free. Takashi Miike (13 Assassins, Ichi the Killer) is the perfect director to tackle this material, rendering Manji’s many mutilations at the hands of his opponents with gleeful physical humor, gory detail, and stylish grace as he and Rin cut a swath through their adversaries. —Toussaint Egan
Lee Chang-dong’s Burning easily ranks as one of the most engrossing psychological thrillers of the 2010s. Based on a 1992 short story by The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle author Haruki Murakami, the film focuses on the story of Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), an aspiring writer who reunites with his childhood friend Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo) after years apart … or does he? Soon after Jong-su meets Ben (Steven Yeun), a “friend” of Hae-mi’s whose extravagant lifestyle, vague occupation, and seemingly iron-clad hold over Hae-mi conjures feelings of suspicion and jealousy within Jong-su. When Hae-mi suddenly disappears one day, Jong-su’s desperate search to find her unearths a web of implications that shake him to his core. Burning is a mystery-thriller that thrives on insinuations conveyed through a triumvirate of masterful performances between Yoo, Lee, and especially Yeun, whose portrayal as Ben sincerely ranks as one of the most unsettling on-screen antagonists in recent memory. —TE
Children of Men
Alfonso Cuarón’s dystopian sci-fi drama Children of Men has been hailed in recent years as a shockingly prescient depiction of contemporary global strife and conflict since its premiere in theaters back in 2006. Set in 2027, almost two decades after the last human child due to inexplicable worldwide infertility, Cuarón’s follows bureaucrat Theo Faron (Clive Owen) who is unexpectedly entrusted with ensuring the safe passage of Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), an asylum seeker and the first woman to become pregnant in over 18 years. Children of Men is a engrossing, bleak, and thoroughly convincing depiction of a future in which there seems to be no future, a drama in which the last glimmer of hope for humanity rests in the hands of man who has all but lost faith in it. —TE
Writer-director James Ward Byrkit’s 2013 sci-fi thriller Coherence is a taut puzzle box of multidimensional weirdness and fraught existential terror. Holding it all together are strong performances led by Emily Baldoni, Homeland’s Maury Sterling, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendon. If you’re hungry for an intriguing blend of mumblecore cinema and sci-fi horror, Coherence is it. —TE
Though Johnnie To might go unrecognized by a majority of Western filmgoers, he’s one of the most prolific Hong Kong directors of his generations, renowned for his tense action crime thrillers and gangster dramas. Drug War, To’s first feature produced in mainland China, is as excellent an introduction to his work as any. It’s a tightly wound cat-and-mouse game focusing on Zhang Lei (Sun Honglei), a relentless police captain trying to topple an illicit drug cartel, and Timmy Choi (Louis Koo), a mid-level drug smuggler who agrees to cooperate with police in order to escape the death penalty for his offenses. If you’re looking for a taut, pulse-pounding crime film with blistering action and dark twists, Drug War is a must-see. —TE
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Based on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book, Wes Anderson’s 2009 stop-motion animated comedy Fantastic Mr. Fox follows a sophisticated Fox (George Clooney) who, resorting to his former thieves ways, incurs the wrath of three villainous farmers who will stop at nothing to punish the Fox and his family. Filled with beautiful intricate animation, whimsical dance numbers, and Anderson’s idiosyncratic humor and style, Fantastic Mr. Fox is regularly hailed as one of the best animated films of the early aughts and must-see for fans of children’s films and highly-crafted cinema alike. —TE
David Fincher’s Fight Club embodied the zeitgeist of turn-of-the-century modernity back when it released in 1999, with The New York Times going so far as to dub it the “defining cult movie of our time” on the 10th anniversary of the film’s release. Edward Norton stars as a disgruntled automobile recall specialist who, dissatisfied with the course of his life and career, develops a case of chronic insomnia. After crossing paths with a charismatic soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), the two strike up a fast friendship which eventually inspires them to create an underground fight club in order to let off their pent-up aggression. The fight club takes on a life of its own, escalating into a nation-wide phenomenon that threatens to upend not only the main character’s life, but the future of American society as we know it. By now you probably know the twist; after all, the film has been a nigh-ubiquitous touchstone of popular culture for over two decades now. But just in case you haven’t, you absolutely must. —TE
Oldboy director Park Chan-Wook’s elegant and elaborate erotic thriller set in 1930s Korea was released to near-unanimous acclaim back in 2016, leaving audiences and critics clamoring for Park’s next turn at the director’s chair. Based on Sarah Waters’ 2002 novel Fingersmith, the film follows Nam Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri), a woman hired to work as a maid to a Japanese heiress (Kim Min-hee) in a sinister plot to despoil her inheritance. Things quickly take several dozen turns however, escalating into an intricate web of seduction and deception as Sook-hee and the heiress are brought ever closer together. Whether you’ve seen it before or not, now’s as perfect time as any to see what all the fuss is about while Park begins filming his upcoming his romantic murder mystery Decision to Leave this year. —TE
House on Haunted Hill
Director William Castle was the king of the gimmick. Though he went on to produce bona fide classics like Rosemary’s Baby, he spent his early days pitching genre pictures to mass audiences through the promise of enhanced, terror-inducing viewing experiences. His film The Tingler screened with “Percepto” buzzer enhancements, which jolted viewers whenever the titular creature popped up. A ticket to 1960’s 13 Ghosts came with Illusion-O Glasses, which revealed hidden specters in the picture.
The twist on 1959’s House on Haunted Hill would be a little bit harder to replicate at home today — during the haunted house movie’s finale, a skeleton swooped over the audience on a zip line. But the truth is, Castle’s fun-forward horror flicks hold up just as well without the accoutrement. With a cast led by Vincent Price, House on Haunted Hill finds a macabre millionaire inviting a number of unsuspecting, money-hungry guests for a night at his haunted mansion rental. If anyone can last the night, they get $10,000. But it’s haunted! Or is it? Castle’s funhouse tricky weaves its way into both plot and execution.
The fun here is all the sight gags on screen. There are ghosts, skeletons, violent hands brandishing weapons, and a basement with its own acid death pit. The old fashioned rat-a-tat dialogue and goofy setups keep House on Haunted Hill as blissfully silly as any straight-faced remake (and, seriously, the remake of this one is bad). It’s also a joy to see Price in action, reminding viewers with each scene why he’s one of the key voices of classic horror. Castle had to hustle to get butts in seats back in the day, but this one’s a no-brainer for any crowd with varying degrees of horror tolerance. —Matt Patches
Director Robert Eggers and his brother Max conceived of The Lighthouse as a ghost movie, but it plays more like an abstract vampire film. In the two-hander, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe play the attendants of a lighthouse on a diminutive island off the coast of New England in the 1890s. The two men — both named Thomas — have no companionship but each other and the light of the lighthouse. The Fresnel lens that casts light across the sea becomes a point of fixation, an immortal beacon that saps the men of their very will. Eggers and his film are part of the recent push of critically lauded horror films. If you enjoy The Lighthouse, you should also try Eggers’ debut, The Witch. —Chris Plante
The Man Who Fell to Earth
David Bowie embodies the role of Thomas Jerome Newton, an extraterrestrial who disguises himself as a human in order to save his dying planet in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth. Based on Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel, the film has been championed as a cult classic in the years since its release, due to its surreal imagery, esoteric plot with analogies to the ravages of fame and human excess, and Bowie’s inimitable performance as a wayward alien who descends into a spiral of alcoholism and self-destruction. It’s a beautiful, bewildering film that will stick with you long after it’s over, as only the best films do. —TE
Murder on the Orient Express
Adapted from Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel of the same name, Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express stars Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, a famous mustachioed detective travelling aboard a transcontinental luxury train to London that ends up stranded in a snowdrift. When one of the passengers, Lanfranco Cassetti, is murdered in the dead of night while the passengers wait for help, it falls to Poirot to solve the mystery and see that justice is done. Lumet’s film expertly captures the ingenuity of Christie’s original premise with deft editing, memorable performances, and an iconic climax that ranks among the best ever put to screen. —TE
Akira Kurosawa’s action drama Ran (the Japanese word for “chaos”) is considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever produced by inarguably the most iconic and critically acclaimed Japanese director in the history of cinema. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s King Lear and the apocryphal legends of the 16th-century daimyo Mōri Motonari, the 1985 epic stars the legendary Tatsuya Nakadai (Harakiri, The Sword of Doom) as an elderly warlord in Medieval Japan who, upon his retirement, bequeaths his kingdom to the care of his three sons. Order soon subsumes chaos however, as Nakadai’s Lord Ichimonji is forced to watch helplessly as the harmonious accomplishments of his reign quickly spiral into a cacophonous din of horror and bloodshed. Heralded as Kurosawa’s last great masterpiece, Ran is a must-watch classic. —TE
Talk to Her
Pedro Almodóvar 2002 drama Talk to Her follows the story of Benigno (Javier Cámara) and Marco (Darío Grandinetti), two men who by fate meet at a private clinic following a chance encounter at a theater months prior. United by tragedy, the two diligently care for the women they love who are both in a coma. While Benigno and Marco share this inexplicable circumstance in common, the differences in their respective views on life, love, and relationships will divert the course of these men’s lives along starkly different trajectories. With achingly tender performances, whimsically bizarre imagery, a beautiful score by composer Alberto Iglesias, and a heart wrenching and memorable finale, Talk to Her is a phenomenal movie on the meaning and perseverance of love in all its forms. —TE
Compiled from hundreds of hours of video tape recorded over nearly 20 years, Garrett Bradley’s documentary Time is a profound examination of the American penal system that concentrates on the souls affected by it from start to finish. Bradley’s subject, Sibil Richradson, is a mother, wife, entrepreneur, educator, and fighter. But when life left her and her husband Robert hopeless, but in charge of a roost of small children, the married couple resorted to armed robbery, which ultimately ended in Robert being locked up with a 60-year prison sentence. After serving three years before being granted clemency, Sibil exits prison and immediately begins the juggling act of caring for her children, keeping the family afloat, and taking every measure to reunite with her husband, who she believes deserves a second chance at life.
Throughout her journey, Sibil keeps a camera rolling, and it’s a gift — she is bursting with joy, even in the gravest moments of reality. Bradley stitches together the found footage with a clockmaker’s touch, relying on the 60-year-old jazz tunes of Ethiopian nun Emahoy Tsegu Maryam Gubrou to create a temporal ebb and flow. Whatever your politics, whatever your taste for nonfiction film, Time is a genuine masterpiece that Amazon wisely picked up for its growing Originals catalogue. —MP
Train to Busan
Imagine if, instead of eating cockroaches and warding off ax-wielding thugs on their way to the one-percenter front carriage, the passengers aboard the Snowpiercer train warded off zombies. OK, OK, stop imagining: Train to Busan is better than anything you’ll come up with. Propulsive, bloody and glimmering with the dark whimsy particular to Korean cinema, animator-turned-live-action-director Yeon Sang-ho’s take on the zombie apocalypse wears its heart on its sleeve … until the flesh-eating undead tear the heart to shreds. It’s a father-daughter story. It’s a husband-wife story. It’s a who-deserves-to-live-and-die survivor narrative. It’s a people story trapped in a high-speed rail train, where the only hope of escape is a well-timed leap into the baggage shelf. It’s a hell of a movie. —MP
Somehow, a movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, made by Judd Apatow and Wet Hot American Summer and Role Models director David Wain, completely bombed in 2012, then immediately fell into obscurity. What happened? It’s really impossible to say when movies as random and anonymous Horrible Bosses and We’re the Millers popped during the same window in Aniston’s career. Maybe the problem was that this one was for adults?
Specifically, adult weirdos. Bringing the same oddball personality of Wet Hot to a traditional rom-com template, the movie follows a couple forced to retreat from New York City after financial disaster only to find solace in a New Age commune — ahem, sorry, intentional community — called Elysium. Justin Theroux plays the leader Seth, Jordan Peele is a resident stoner, Kathryn Hahn is a militant vegan, Alan Alda scoots around as the elder founder, and Brooklyn 99’s Joe Lo Truglio shows up as a nudist winemaker/novelist wearing what I assume is a giant fake penis prosthetic but if not congratulations to Jo Lo Truglio. Their dream life off the grid, and the big questions we ask ourselves about what to make of our lives, are ripe for Wain’s precision comedy and reflective storytelling. And the movie is riotous. Wanderlust can find sly commentary by staging scenes in McMansions where every wall is covered with TV, or bring blunt-force dopiness, like a scene where Rudd spends a minute practicing the worst dirty talk in human history. Like a good swig of Ayahuasca tea, the movie is a bizarre trip with a significant destination. No one saw it back in 2012, but it’s a rare movie I’ll watch over and over again: quotable, silly, poignant, and skillfully made. —MP
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Robert Zemeckis’ hybrid-animated comedy mystery Who Framed Roger Rabbit remains as impressive of a technical and creative accomplishment now as it was back in 1988. Bob Hoskins stars as Eddie Valiant, a private eye with an axe to grind against “toons” — living cartoons that live and work side by side with humans in an alternate 1947 Los Angeles. When Roger Rabbit, one of the most prominent toon stars in town, is implicated in the murder of the owner of the powerful Acme Corporation, Valiant finds himself swept up in the mess and propelled on a mission to clear both Roger’s name and his own. Boasting an impressive assemblage of animated on-screen characters fluidly and hilariously interacting with real-life actors, impressive visual effects, and a cameo from just about every iconic golden age cartoon star, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a bonafide masterpiece of American cinema. —TE
You Were Never Really Here
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) delivers an unsettling and soulful performance as Joe, a traumatized veteran-turned-hired fixer in Lynne Ramsay’s 2017 psychological thriller You Were Never Really Here. When Joe is hired to rescue Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov), the kidnapped daughter of a notable New York Senator, he descends into the criminal underbelly of the city on a brutal, blood-drenched mission for personal redemption. Troubled by suicidal ideation and a history of abuse, Joaquin’s rendition of Joe is emphatically sympathetic even at his most barbaric; a wounded soul searching for absolution and the will to go on in a world teeming with adversarial uncertainty and death. —TE
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’s Gene Wilder stars in Mel Brooks’ cult comedy horror spoof film Young Frankenstein as the mad scientist Frankenstein (er, Fronk-en-steen) in his dogged pursuit to reanimate his misbegotten creation (Peter Boyle) from the dead. if you’re looking for a throwback horror movie —but maybe actually want to watch a riotous comedy — this one holds up like few other of Brooks’ era-specific work. —TE