When Amazon debuted Amazon Prime more than a decade ago, CEO Jeff Bezos and company simply wanted to give their loyal customers a chance to save some money on shipping costs. As the service gained a massive subscription base, the company continued adding a slew of incredible perks, such as access to Prime Pantry, same-day delivery, and Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Now, anyone with an Amazon Prime subscription has easy access to thousands of hit movies and TV shows, all with the simple click of a mouse. To help subscribers sift through Amazon’s sizable library, we’ve taken up the task of finding the best movies currently available on the service.
So pop some popcorn, find your favorite spot on the couch, and throw on an excellent film, courtesy of our list. (Note: Some titles might not be available until later in the month.)
Action and adventure
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 heist film pre-dated Pulp Fiction, but is widely considered one of the greatest indie films ever made. It also served as the directorial debut for the two-time Academy Award winner, and established many of the signature elements that would become hallmarks of his films. The movie follows a group of criminals recruited for a diamond heist that ends up going disastrously wrong, forcing them to flee and confront their own loyalties in the aftermath. The all-star cast features Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Chris Penn, among other familiar faces and Tarantino regulars.
A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Clint Eastwood makes his debut as The Man With No Name in this 1964 film directed by Sergio Leone. The Western drama was Eastwood’s first leading role, and it went on to spawn a trilogy of films featuring the character — a lone gunslinger in a harsh frontier filled with bandits and criminals. An unofficial remake of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai classic Yojimbo, the film has Eastwood’s character playing rival gangs against each other in the little town of San Miguel, only to find himself forced to play the hero when his machinations put innocent people in danger.
Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)
Although it sounds like a pulpy action movie, Brawl in Cell Block 99 takes a while to build up to its titular melee, unwinding slowly as its lead character gets deeper into trouble. The film follows Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn), who loses his job only to come home and discover that his wife, Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter), is cheating on him. After smashing her car with his bare hands, Bradley decides to work on their marriage, the first sign that this is a film that doesn’t fit into easy categorization. Bradley also turns to crime in order to pay the bills, and that decision leads him down a dark and violent path. Brawl in Cell Block 99 treads a narrow line between highbrow and low; Bradley is a fascinating character, and the movie explores his complicated mindset, but there is also violence aplenty for those who want to see some action.
Horror and thrillers
A Quiet Place (2018)
Directed, co-written, and co-starring John Krasinski, A Quiet Place follows a family trying to survive after a race of alien creatures with hypersensitive hearing have eliminated much of humanity. Their efforts to live a normal life amid the ever-present threat of terrifying predators who can hear the slightest sound ratchets up the tension to nail-biting levels, and you’re likely to find yourself stifling your own screams in keeping with the film’s theme. Krasinski’s wife, Emily Blunt, co-stars in the film and received significant acclaim for her performance, including a Screen Actors Guild Award.
It Comes at Night (2017)
It Comes at Night begins with a familiar horror premise: An outbreak has ravaged humanity, and the survivors must scavenge for supplies among the ruins of society. Paul (Joel Edgerton), Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), and their son, Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), live in a house in the woods, cut off from the world at large. The world intrudes on their lives in the form of Will (Christopher Abbott), who stumbles upon their house and offers food in exchange for shelter for himself and his family. Will, his wife, Kim (Riley Keough), and their young son, Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner), move in, and the two families maintain a cautious peace. As the nights pass and strange occurrences plague the house, problems arise. It Comes at Night is a tense film in which the ordinary humans are as scary as whatever lurks outside their door.
Tim Burton directed this 1988 supernatural comedy about a young couple whose love for their home persists even after their death, ass they find themselves haunting their old house in order to convince its new occupants to move out. Their unsuccessful attempts at scaring the new residents away lead them to recruit the assistance of Beetlejuice, a raunchy, obnoxious demon memorably portrayed by Michael Keaton. The film’s impressive cast also includes Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as the deceased young couple who hire Beetlejuice, as well as Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones, and Winona Ryder as the family who moves into the house.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
John Landis directed this 1980 musical comedy based on characters originated by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live. The duo plays a pair of ex-convict musicians who embark on a quest to save the Catholic orphanage where they were raised by getting their old R&B band back together and raising enough money to pay for the orphanage’s tax bill. While that task alone proves to be a tough one, their mission is complicated by a mystery woman out to kill them, a group of angry neo-Nazis, and a country band out to pummel them. The film is set in and around Chicago, and features a long list of cameos and musical performances from celebrated R&B artists, including John Lee Hooker, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Ray Charles, and Cab Calloway. Carrie Fisher and John Candy play supporting roles in the film.
Lady Bird (2017)
Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age comedy exploded into one of 2017’s biggest hits, thanks to widespread acclaim for the performances of Saoirse Ronan (as rebellious teen Christine McPherson) and Laurie Metcalf (as her mother). Christine, who has decided that she only wants to be called “Lady Bird,” is trying to navigate the academic difficulties of high school — at a Catholic school, no less — while finding herself in various stages of love with two very different boys (rising stars Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet). At the same time, Mom is working overtime to compensate for the layoff of her husband (Tracy Letts) and battling with instincts that are tanking her relationship with Christine. Gerwig draws heavily on personal experience for Lady Bird, crafting a thoughtful and relatable look at adolescence.
The Big Sick (2017)
Comedian Kumail Nanjiani and comedy writer Emily V. Gordon adapted their real-life love story for film in The Big Sick, a charming romantic comedy with a realistic tone. The movie begins with Kumail (playing himself) struggling to build a stand-up career, mining his Pakistani background for material. After a run-in with a heckler named Emily (Zoe Kazan) turns into a one-night-stand and eventually a relationship, the two start to run into troubles. For starters, Kumail’s parents want him to settle down with a Pakistani woman, leading them to break up. Making things even more complicated, an infection leaves Emily in a coma. While visiting Emily in the hospital, Kumail meets her parents, Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter), learning more about them and Emily as he processes his own feelings.
20th Century Women (2016)
It’s 1979, the final chapter in a turbulent decade, and the attitude in America is so distraught that even the president felt the need to address the malaise, the lack of spiritual fulfillment in the country. It’s in this year, this context that Mike Mills sets 20th Century Women, which focuses on a mother, her son, and the people she wants to help him transition to adulthood. It’s largely a coming-of-age story for Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), who lives with his mother, Dorothea (Annette Bening), in the boarding house she runs. Not sure how to raise her son in an era of dwindling values, she turns to Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a tenant and artist, and Julie (Elle Fanning), Jamie’s very platonic best friend, for help. The three women — with a little help from William (Billy Crudup), a mechanic who also lives in the boarding house — share their experiences with Jamie. 20th Century Women is a warm, inviting film, built around an incredible performance from Bening.
The Disaster Artist (2017)
James Franco’s track record as a director is spotty at best, but The Disaster Artist is a masterful stroke of comedy, in which the Hollywood heavyweight tells about the making of The Room, an infamously bad movie from oddball auteur Tommy Wiseau. Franco plays Wiseau himself, mimicking his weird mannerisms and speech to a T, while his brother Dave plays Wiseau’s best friend, Greg Sestero (author of the memoir upon which the film is based). The odd meta-movie setup works perfectly for Franco’s performance, and he pulls in enough supporting talent — Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver — to bring everything together in idiotic harmony.
Drama and romance
A Ghost Story (2017)
David Lowery’s A Ghost Story takes a simple — some might even say silly — premise as its foundation, and builds atop it a beautiful, mournful film about death and the passage of time. The film begins with a man, C (Casey Affleck), and a woman, M (Rooney Mara). C dies in a car crash early on, but his soul continues to wander, draped in a hospital sheet under which he spends the rest of the film. C returns to the house he shared with M, watching as she grieves and eventually moves on. He remains, watching as the house changes hands, and the world changes entirely. A Ghost Story is light on plot and even dialogue, with Lowery using thoughtful shots and beautiful scene compositions to convey emotion.
An adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Fences is a fascinating study of a man in slow collapse. Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) was an accomplished baseball player in the Negro Leagues, whose career ended before Major League Baseball integrated. By the time the film begins in the 1950s, he works as a garbageman in Pittsburgh, living with his wife, Rose (Viola Davis); and son, Cory (Jovan Adepo). Troy seethes at the world, and the story is focused on the ways in which he chips away at his relationships with everyone in his life, cheating on his wife and grinding down his son’s ambitions. It’s a powerful story, and Washington (who also directed) gives it a skillful treatment.
Set in 17th-century Japan, Martin Scorsese’s Silence (an adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s novel of the same name) follows a pair of Jesuit priests on a mission to find their missing mentor, Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who renounced his faith following torture at the hands of the shogunate, which has outlawed Christianity. The priests, Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), sneak into Japan, taking refuge among the remaining Japanese Christians. During their search for Ferreira, Rodrigues and Garupe witness terrible atrocities, and find themselves in a moral quandary that drives them to the brink. At times beautiful, at others horrifying, Silence is a deeply spiritual film, reflecting on the nature of faith, and whether God cares about the suffering of his servants.
Manchester by the Sea (2o16)
This bleak drama, directed by playwright Kenneth Lonergan, is set in the titular town of Manchester, a town Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) would prefer never to return to. Chandler lives out his days working as a janitor in Quincy, away from any connections to his past. Tragedy brings him home; his brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), dies, leaving behind a teenage son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), and a will asking Lee to take care of him. Manchester by the Sea is a deeply personal drama, examining the ways tragedy can wear away at a person’s soul, and whether it is possible to come back from the brink. Despite the premise, the movie is not gloomy from start to end; the script allows for plenty of humor and warmth throughout, making for a film that captures the complexity of life.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
In the soft shadows of The Gaslight Cafe, folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) croons that he “wouldn’t mind the hanging.” Leave it to the Coen Brothers to oblige him. Two of America’s most mercurial filmmakers, the Coens have approached both grim tragedy and madcap comedy in their films, sometimes at the same time. Inside Llewyn Davis falls on the bleaker end of the spectrum, following Davis as he attempts to get his music career on track in the wake of his musical partner’s suicide. His finances are not the only part of his life falling apart; his former lover, Jean (Carey Mulligan), pregnant with a child that is likely his, wants nothing to do with him. Davis’ struggle, set against the frost-glazed backdrop of New York, is a tragic one, but the film is not without humor, black though it may be. The characters surrounding Llewyn are as vibrant as he is cold … particularly Justin Timberlake as Jane’s new boyfriend.
I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
James Baldwin was one of the most influential writers of the late 20th century, penning numerous essays and acclaimed novels addressing issues of race at a time when racial friction seemed to be boiling over in America. Working from an unfinished Baldwin manuscript, director Raoul Peck has created I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary examining Baldwin’s views and how they apply not only to the tumults of the ’60s, but to modern America as well. Samuel L. Jackson narrates, infusing the material with a husky weariness. I Am Not Your Negro leaves one with the impression that Baldwin’s work has never been finished, and never been more important.
Gimme Danger (2016)
Although not as famous as many acts of the ‘60s, the Stooges proved to be a hugely influential rock band, with raw sound and avant-garde songwriting that laid the foundation for early punk and metal bands. It’s only fitting that no less a cinematic renegade than Jim Jarmusch would be the one to direct Gimme Danger, a documentary that tells the story of the Stooges through the words of its members, including Jim Osterberg (aka Iggy Pop). Fans of the band will appreciate the many anecdotes and insights into the philosophy of the band, while newcomers may quickly develop a taste for the music, which sounds as lively as anything released today.
This documentary from director Penny Lane examines the fascinating and terrifyingly prescient story of John R. Brinkley, an unlicensed doctor who, in the 1920s, became one of the most successful doctors in America, thanks to a truly bizarre operation he invented. At the behest of a man suffering from impotence, Brinkley implanted a pair of testicular glands from a goat into the patient’s scrotum. Although the procedure had no actual medical benefits (indeed, many subsequent patients would die from the operation), his patient was convinced it worked, and Brinkley soon had men and women coming to him in droves for miracle cures. Brinkley amassed a fortune, and he soon sought more power, establishing a successful radio station to broadcast his medical “wisdom,” and even running for governor of Kansas. Nuts! tells the story through interviews with historians, as well as charming animated reenactments.
A condiment perhaps more widely used than ketchup or mustard, the spicy Sriracha “rooster sauce” takes center stage in this award-winning, short documentary. To help get the flick off the ground, director Griffin Hammond took to the popular crowdfunding website Kickstarter in 2013, successfully raising over $20k in pledges to just a $5k goal. Hammond’s knack for interesting storytelling allows this 30-minute documentary to properly celebrate one of food’s most beloved and popular sidekicks.
The Invisible War (2012)
This documentary from award-winning director Kirby Dick explores the ever-increasing incidence of violent sexual assault within the U.S. military. The Invisible War features interviews with veterans from multiple branches of the United States Armed Forces, who recount the events surrounding their sexual assaults. Their stories express the lack of recourse in the justice system, and the absence of emotional and physical care for the survivors. The survivors call for a change in the way military handles sexual assault and hope for a shift to a more honest conversation.