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, Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero, Leos Carax’s Annette, The Vast of Night, and Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake.
But along with originals, there are tons of back catalog 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. Our latest update added Bound, Enemy of the State, and Wrath of Man. Without further ado, here are 20 of our favorite movies to stream on Prime Video right now.
Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi returns with another stunner, painting a beautiful, nuanced picture of a man in crisis. Amir Jadidi is phenomenal as Rahim, a charming man who simply cannot get his life together no matter how much his friends and family love him. When his girlfriend finds an abandoned handbag with gold coins inside, Rahim considers using the money to pay off his debt while out on a brief furlough from debtor’s prison. But after a series of events leads him to return the bag and money to a woman who says she’s the original owner, he becomes the subject of a local media frenzy for his charitable act.
A moving, challenging story about the difficulties of trying to do the right thing in an unjust world, A Hero is also a study of how difficult it is to pin down clear motives or objective truth, especially when facing a story filtered through layers of personal and organizational agendas. Even the truth about your own actions and motivations can be difficult to sort through. And if you do actually find it, is it actually for navigating the world? A Hero is a stirring, unforgettable work that should not be missed. —Pete Volk
Update (April 14): Farhadi has been accused of plagiarizing the idea of A Hero by a former student.
The Wachowskis made their mark with their debut feature, a scintillating erotic thriller about two women drawn to each other while trying to pull off a small-scale heist. Violet (Jennifer Tilly) is dating a skeevy gangster named Caesar (Joe Pantoliano). When she meets ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon), who is fixing up the apartment building Violet and Caesar are staying in, sparks fly and the two pursue each other and the $2 million of mob money Caesar is holding on to.
The result is an unforgettable crime drama that is one of the sexiest movies produced in modern American cinema. The Wachowskis hired renowned sex educator Susie Bright as a consultant to choreograph the sex scenes, and the movie oozes with sensuality even outside of those (quite explicit) scenes. Gershon and Tilly are fantastic in their respective lead roles (and had an absolute blast filming it, as they are delighted to share), and Pantoliano’s pre-Matrix collaboration with the directors shows why they were so keen to bring him back. —PV
Lee Chang-dong’s Burning easily ranks as one of the most engrossing psychological thrillers of the 2010s. Based on a 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 ironclad 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, Jeon, and especially Yeun, whose portrayal as Ben sincerely ranks as one of the most unsettling on-screen antagonists in recent memory. —Toussaint Egan
The heist at the center of Charade was successful years prior to the movie, and without realizing it, Reggie (Audrey Hepburn) has been living off the profits from her husband’s crime. When he is suddenly murdered, she realizes she didn’t really know anything about him — or, for that matter, the new man in her life, Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). To make matters worse, the remaining money is missing, and a lot of terrible people think Reggie knows where it is. As more people are pulled into the orbit of the money, it becomes less clear who, if anyone, Reggie can trust.
Hepburn and Grant, two famously talented and charming stars, are at their most charming and talented in Charade. In the span of a single scene, Hepburn might move from pragmatic to seductive to fearful with believable ease. Grant’s initial discomfort with their age gap — 25 years, a still-not-uncommon chasm in Hollywood — resulted in rewrites to the script to make clear that Reggie was pursuing him; it remains one of the few movies in which the gap is acknowledged and dealt with believably, rather than taken for granted. Their chemistry is immediate and undeniable; it’s key in carrying off the film’s snappy dialogue and mixture of flirtatious comedy, captivating mystery, and genuine thriller. It’s His Girl Friday by way of Hitchcock. —Jenna Stoeber
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
Dhoom 2, the follow-up to 2004 smash hit Dhoom, is one of the most exciting cinematic experiences to which you could treat yourself. Breaking Bollywood box office records upon release, it is a motorcycle-centric heist movie with terrific action set pieces, jaw-dropping musical numbers, astonishing motorcycle stunts, and a little something for everybody.
A taste: The movie opens with a train heist, as Mr. A (Hrithik Roshan, impossibly attractive and charming as ever), disguises himself as Queen Elizabeth to rob the Queen’s crown in the middle of the Namib desert. Dhoom 2 then immediately moves to one of the most electric musical numbers of this century, with Roshan showing off why he is one of the great movie stars and dancers of his generation. —PV
Though Johnnie To might go unrecognized by a majority of Western filmgoers, he’s one of the most prolific Hong Kong directors of his generation, 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
Enemy of the State
Nearly three years before the passing of the Patriot Act, Tony Scott tapped into the American zeitgeist of domestic-surveillance anxiety as fuel for his 1998 political action thriller Enemy of State. Will Smith stars as Robert “Bobby” Dean, a labor lawyer who finds himself inadvertently in the crosshairs of a rogue group of NSA agents conspiring to cover the brutal murder of a congressman. With the dragnet of operatives closing in and his options dwindling, Bobby is forced to rely on the mysterious Brill (Gene Hackman), an ingenious surveillance specialist, in order to clear his name and bring the real culprits to justice.
Smith is in his prime here: charismatic, sharp-witted, and adept at adapting to and overcoming dicey situations on the fly. Hackman is also unsurprisingly terrific, playing a surly no-nonsense foil to Bobby’s more ebullient presence. Enemy of the State isn’t just an engrossing and well-made action thriller, it’s a clarion call whose message in regard to the temptations and dangers of overzealous surveillance becomes more sobering with each passing day. —TE
The Coen brothers’ black comedy crime film Fargo stars Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson, a pregnant police chief investigating the murder of a state trooper and inadvertently set on the trail of an attempted kidnapping orchestrated by a hapless insurance salesman (William H. Macy). Deftly weaving between hilarious tragicomic awkwardness and grisly, true crime-adjacent thrills, Fargo is an essential work in the Coens’ long and illustrious oeuvre that’s as entertaining now as it was back in 1996. —TE
Fist of Fury
Bruce Lee followed up his first action movie, The Big Boss, with Fist of Fury, which saw Lee take over as action choreographer as well as in the leading role. Lee plays Chen Zhen, a martial arts student looking to defend the honor of his school from a Japanese dojo that has been harassing and bullying them after the death of Chen’s teacher.
Probably the most famous scene from this movie comes when Chen visits the dojo and pummels every student, and the teacher, one by one. This movie has been remade many times (Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen all played Chen Zhen early on in their careers, and Chan briefly appears in this one), and the movie and character both earn their major legacy in the history of Hong Kong cinema and action cinema. —PV
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. —TE
Clive Barker’s 1987 directorial debut adapts his 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart to tell the story of Larry (Andrew Robinson) and Julia Cotton (Clare Higgins). The Cottons are a married couple who move into the home of Larry’s recently deceased brother, Frank (Sean Chapman), with whom Julia had a previous affair. After inadvertently being resurrected by a drop of blood spilled by Larry on the floor of the house’s attic, Frank seduces Julia into luring new men to the house so that he can drain their life force and fully regain his mortal form. Surrounding this core narrative is the the story of the Lament Configuration, a puzzle box Frank acquired before his untimely death. When solved, it conjures hellish beings known as Cenobites to the mortal plane of existence, which indulge in hellish exercises of sadomasochistic mutilation. Easily the best and most enduring of the Hellraiser movie series, Barker’s 1987 original is a must-watch for horror fans. —TE
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Coen brothers’ touching story of one week in the life of a struggling New York folk musician and his adorable cat stars Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis (and three different feline actors as the cat). Loosely based on folk singer Dave Van Ronk’s autobiography, the movie features plenty of excellent folk music sung and recorded live by Isaac and other cast members, including Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, and Adam Driver. A strong entry to the Coen bros.’ extensive work of outstanding dark comedy, the movie earned Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing. —PV
Karnan (Dhanush) is a young, temperamental man from a village in southern Tamil Nadu who wants to set the world right all on his own. His village is prevented from getting its own bus stop, causing great strife for people of all generations — their lack of mobility to the city prevents children from going to good schools, adults from getting good jobs, and simply makes life difficult for the villagers. Karnan fights and fights and fights to make things right, taking on opponents as varied as police officers, people from another local village, friends and family who simply want to help, and his own demons.
This Tamil-language drama from director Mari Selvaraj is influenced by a real-life incident where hundreds of police attacked a village in Tamil Nadu. One of the highest-grossing Tamil films of 2021, it is Selvaraj’s follow-up to the award-winning Pariyerum Perumal.
Karnan is a beautiful film with powerful visuals, a terrific soundtrack filled with folk genre songs from local Tamil Nadu musicians, strong leading performances, and a palpable righteous anger at unjustness in the world. —PV
Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Lyon, a French Foreign Legionnaire who abandons his post to see his dying brother in the hospital. When he’s pulled into an underground street fighting ring, Lyon impresses the organizers with his superb fighting skills. Directed by Bloodsport writer Sheldon Lettich and co-written by Van Damme, Lionheart is one of the better entries in the prolific Belgian action star’s filmography. —PV
Love & Friendship
After the death of her husband, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is looking for new husbands, plural — one for herself, and one for her only daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark). Lady Susan is an audacious flirt and a calculating schemer, and Beckinsale absolutely excels in the layered role, delivering a bold and unforgettable lead performance in an uproarious film. While writer-director Whit Stillman is known for modern day comedies of manners like Metropolitan and Barcelona, his 2016 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan is still firmly in his creative wheelhouse and stands as one of the funniest comedies in recent memory. —PV
Lars von Trier’s Melancholia stars Kirsten Dunst (Marie Antoinette) as Justine, a young bride who experiences a depressive episode on the eve of her wedding. When a rogue planet known as Melancholia appears hurtling towards Earth on a crash-collision course, Justine’s sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), struggles to maintain composure in the face of imminent disaster, while Justine navigates a strange euphoric resignation that washes over her in the planet’s last days. Melancholia is an achingly beautiful, somber, and harrowing journey through depression and ennui and one of von Trier’s finest films to date. —TE
SPL II: A Time for Consequences
A hard-hitting martial arts film that doubles as a crime thriller with hints of medical drama, SPL II: A Time for Consequences is one of the high marks of recent Hong Kong action films. The unbelievably talented cast features action superstars Tony Jaa, Wu Jing, and Max Zhang, all delivering top-notch physical and emotional performances.
Kit (Wu) is a cop who has gone undercover to infiltrate a crime syndicate that is running a sinister kidnapping-for-organ-harvesting scheme. When Kit’s cover is blown, he is sent to a prison in Thailand, whose warden (Zhang) is in league with the syndicate. The prison portion of the movie includes multiple jaw-dropping fights between Kit, the warden, and prison guard Chatchai (Jaa).
Barely a sequel to the 2005 film SPL: Sha Po Lang, you can safely watch SPL II without seeing the first one. —PV
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
We can all kind of agree musician biopics are a little played out, right? Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story certainly agrees. One of the funniest movies of the early 2000s, this satirical music biopic skewers all the narrative conventions of the genre, especially the (often) misguided attempt to capture an entire life in one movie. A box office bomb at the time, Walk Hard has grown into a cult hit over time, led by a stellar lead performance by John C. Reilly as rock star Dewey Cox, a hilarious supporting turn by Tim Meadows as Dewey’s drummer, and a nonstop avalanche of gags as silly as they are astute (highlighted by an extended sequence where Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, and Jason Schwartzman goof off as The Beatles). —PV
Wrath of Man
Guy Ritchie’s first collaboration with Jason Statham since 2005’s Revolver is a quieter, more restrained version of your typical Ritchie-Statham movie. Sure, it delivers on the action, and there are wise-cracking characters with names like “Boy Sweat” that you will only find in Ritchie movies. But Statham’s protagonist is a soft-spoken man of action, which differentiates him from many of the talkative-to-the-point-of-being-annoying Ritchie protagonists of movies past.
The action sequences hit hard and make great use of the geography — both the city streets of Los Angeles and a large depot where the climactic major heist is attempted. It’s also yet another example in a series of strong recent action movies about disgruntled veterans who turn to heists after being left behind by the government that sent them to fight. —PV