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20 of the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now

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What to watch on Prime Video, from steampunk dark fantasies to cult classic westerns

Photo: Sony Picture Classics

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 Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By the Sea, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, and Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake.

Prime Video is a great service, but there’s a ton of content to sift through. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve looked through the service and cherry-picked 10 of our favorite films currently on the platform to try out. From The City of Lost Children, George P. Cosmatos’ 1993 western Tombstone, and Takashi Miike’s First Love— we’ve got you covered with the good stuff.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 best films to stream on Prime Video right now.


30 Days of Night

A blood drenched vampire leers with fanged teeth in 30 Days of Night Photo: Columbia Pictures

Based on Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s comic series, 30 Days of Night follows the denizens of an Alaskan town as they’re hunted by a ravenous pack of vampires, who luxuriate in a spot plunged into darkness every winter for over a month. With the town’s power cut off and no access to the outside world, the survivors must find a way to fend off their would-be predators until daylight returns. Danny Huston shines as Marlow, the regal and relentless leader of the vampires, as does Josh Hartnett in his starring role as Sheriff Eben Oleson. With brutal tension and cringe-inducing gore, 30 Days of Night is a thrilling fright fest well worth watching. —Toussaint Egan


The City of Lost Children

Photo: Sony Picture Classics

1995’s The City of Lost Children is a macabre fairy tale worthy of comparisons to the films of Guillermo del Toro and Terry Gilliam. Co-directed by Marc Caro (Delicatessen) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie), the film follows the machinations of the deranged mad scientist Krank (Daniel Emilfork) who, having lost his own capacity for dreaming, attempts to siphon the dreams of children instead by kidnapping them to perform fiendish experiments. When his 5 year old adoptive brother is kidnapped by Krank’s cloned henchmen, carnival strongman one (Ron Perlman) and the boy’s friend Miette (Judith Vittet) must work togehter to rescue him. Filled with gorgeously dark and whimsical set pieces and delightfully strange and memorable characters, The City of Lost Children is oft-forgotten but nonetheless mesmerizing feast for the senses. —TE


Deja Vu

Denzel Washington as Special Agent Douglas Carlin viewing a past projection of his dead wife in Deja Vu. Photo: Touchstone Pictures

Long before John David Washington’s leading role in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, his father Denzel Washington starred in his own time-twisting sci-fi action film directed by the late Tony Scott. Washington stars as Doug Carlin, an ATF agent who joins a top-secret government program in the wake of a terrorist attack on a New Orleans ferry that claims the life of his wife. Using cutting-edge technology in the form of an experimental headset, Carlin must peer through the folds of space-time to investigate the events of the fateful day as they are happening in order to discern the identities of those responsible and bring them to justice. Washington’s second collaboration with Scott following 2004 ‘s Man on Fire is an exhilarating whodunnit packed with explosive action, shocking twists, and frenetic pulse-pounding cinematography that’s well worth a revisit. —TE


Drug War

Sun Honglei as police captain Zhang Lei pointing a pistol in Drug War (2012) Photo: Variance Films

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


First Love

Photo: Well Go USA Entertainment

Boasting a filmography of over 100 movies, Takashi Miike is heralded as one of Japan’s most eccentric and idiosyncratic directors working today. Still, his 2019 crime thriller First Love might be his most outlandish; a noir-tinged Yakuza action romp centered on a young boxer (Masataka Kubota) and an unwitting call girl (Sakurako Konishi) who are ensnared in the machinations of an ambitious yakuza member (Kase) that explodes into an all-out feud between warring gangs. Filled with endearing moments of meet-cute tenderness juxtaposed frenetic bouts of pounding gunfire and geysers of blood, First Love has almost everything you could possibly love about a Miike film and then some. —TE


In Bruges

Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in In Bruges. Photo: Universal Studios

If you only know playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonagh from his Oscar-winning drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, it’s time to go back to In Bruges, a hilarious dark comedy and arguably his best film to date. Starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, the film follows Irish hitmen Ken and Ray who are sent by their mobster boss Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) to hide out in the Belgium city of Bruges following a thwarted job back in London. Gleeson and Farrell’s chemistry is impeccable as the pair bicker at one another over the banality of their surroundings and inevitably end up lapsing into trouble out of sheer boredom. In Bruges is a hysterical and deeply compelling film boasting a wealth of supporting performances, including a memorable turn by Jordan Prentice as a volatile actor with a foul mouth. —TE


The Killing

Photo: Criterion Collection

Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing is a heist film par excellence, a labyrinthine drama composed of expert performances interlocking with one another like the tumblers of a lock before culminating in a frantic, engrossing conclusion. Sterling Hayden stars as Johnny Clay, an ex-convict who assembles a gang to pull off a $2 million hold-up of a racecourse. Supported by a cast of performances including Elisha Cook Jr., Joe Sawyer, Jay C. Flippen, and more, The Killing was touted by no less than Kubrick himself as his first mature feature. Today, it’s a film whose influence can be felt and seen in everything from Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs to 2008 The Dark Knight. —TE


The Lighthouse

Thomas (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim (Robert Pattinson) in front of the lighthouse. Photo: A24

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 as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth Photo: Criterion Channel

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


Millennium Actress

Chiyoko stares at a portrait of her younger self among the ruins of a devastated city Photo: Madhouse

Millennium Actress is the second of four features produced by late Japanese director Satoshi Kon, and arguably his greatest work. A love letter to cinema, the film is a magical-realist odyssey experienced from the perspective of Chiyoko Fujiwara, an actress reflecting on her career at the behest of a passionate documentarian working to create a tribute to her life. From references to 1954’s Godzilla and Kurosawa’s 1957 classic Throne of Blood to achingly beautiful and surreal sequences of Chiyoko and co. jumping back and forth through time as she recollects over her past, Millennium Actress is an anime classic, and one of the most beautiful and unique animated films ever produced. —TE


Minority Report

tom cruise looks at a futuristic screen Image: 20th Century Fox

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story introduced audiences to the idea of hand gesture-assisted augmented reality and wall-scaling automobiles. Minority Report stars Tom Cruise as PreCrime Cpt. John Anderton, leader of a police organization dedicated to apprehending criminals before they’ve even committed a crime using a trio of psychics who invasively pore over the unconscious minds of every hapless American in the future. When Anderton himself is preemptively accused of committing a murder, he must flee from the very system he had dedicated his life to uphold and undercover the dark secret behind its origins. —TE


The Parallax View

Photo: The Criterion Collection

Alan J. Pakula’s The Parallax View, the second in the director’s “Paranoia Trilogy” of films bookended by 1971’s Klute and 1976’s All the President’s Men, is celebrated as one of the best conspiracy films ever made. It’s a noir-inflected thriller that taps directly into the political and social anxieties of mid-’70s America in the wake of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film stars Warren Beatty as Lee Carter, a charismatic but troubled television journalist who witnesses the assassination of a popular presidential candidate while atop the Seattle Space Needle. Three years later, a rash of mysterious deaths among those who witnessed the assassination prompts Carter to look closer at the connections, leading him to uncover the assassin’s ties to an intensely clandestine organization known as the Parallax Corporation. —TE


Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Ben Whishaw as Jean Baptiste-Grenouille in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Photo: Paramount Pictures

Based on Patrick Suskind’s novel of the same name, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer stars Ben Whishaw as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a “gifted and abominable” monster in 18th-century Paris — an era and place with no lack of gifted and abominable monsters. An orphan with heightened olfactory senses, Jean-Baptiste is taken under the wing of France’s finest perfumers as an apprentice. As he grows, however, so do his ambitions, and he develops a dark, violent obsession with craft the perfect perfume distilled from the essence and beauty of the women he covets and resents. An extravagant, macabre historical horror fantasy, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a feast for the senses. —TE


Ran

Lord Hidetora Ichimonji walks dejectedly from his burning estate Photo: The Criterion Collection

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


Stop Making Sense

David Byrne performs alongside the Talking Heads in Stop Making Sense Photo: Vivendi Entertainment

Unfortunately for all other movies, cinema doesn’t get better than Stop Making Sense. Take it from me, a man who has never listened to a single Talking Heads album from front to back, when I say that Jonathan Demme’s 1984 concert film is one of the most electrifying, unique, and essential cinematic experiences of the late 20th century. Where else are you going to see David Byrne noodle-dancing in a gigantic oversized suit before belting out infectiously euphoric rock anthems guaranteed to get you out of your seat? Eat your heart out, James Murphy. —TE


Timecrimes

A masked man in a trench coat brandishing a scissor blade. Photo: Magnolia Pictures

Nacho Vigalondo’s time-travel thriller follows the story of Hector (Karra Elejalde), a middle-aged man who moves to a secluded home in the country with his wife Clara. After spying a naked woman in the woods and venturing into the forest after her, Hector discovers not only her corpse, but a mysterious man cloaked in pink bandages who stabs him in the arm. Attempting to flee, Hector runs into a strange scientific facility which houses the extraordinary source of all this trouble: a time machine. If you’re looking for more wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey weirdness in the vein of 2004’s Primer or 2014 Predestination, Timecrimes is well worth a watch. —TE


Tombstone

Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Kurt Russell, and Bill Paxton in Tombstone. Photo: Buena Vista Pictures

Based loosely on the events surrounding the infamous 1881 shootout at the O.K. Corral, George P. Cosmatos’ 1993 western Tombstone follows former lawman Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) who, after successfully cleaning up Dodge City, moves to Arizona in order to retire in wealth and obscurity. After crossing paths with a roving band of outlaws named the Cowboys, led by the Clanton brothers Ike (Stephen Lang) and Billy (Thomas Haden Church), Earp must band with his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott), Morgan (Bill Paxton), and his friend Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) in a last stand to drive the outlaws from Tombstone and restore order. Kilmer’s performance as the erratic and irascible gunfighter Holliday garnered especial praise and attention during the film’s initial release, and film as a whole has gone on to achieve cult favorite status among Western fans in the decades since. —TE


The Vast of Night

Sierra McCormick listens intently to the phone in The Vast of Night Photo: Amazon Studios

Set in the 1950s, The Vast of Night focuses on two teenagers investigating a mysterious radio frequency. Over the course of one night, switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) go on a supernatural scavenger hunt, investigating everything from reels of tape to anonymous phone calls as they attempt to uncover the frequency’s source. From our review,

It’s an intimate movie, interrupted only by an impressively showy one-shot that sends a camera hurtling through the town, establishing the contrast between its open, silent spaces and the busy huddle of the big high-school basketball game. And while cinephiles make this point so often that it’s become tedious even if it’s true, it’s a film designed for a dark room with no interruptions. It’s designed to cast a delicate spell over the audience, but the audience has to participate to make the trick work.


The Wicker Man

Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) raises his arms in front of the wicker man Photo: British Lion Films

One of the eeriest of the British folk horrors, The Wicker Man follows mainland police officer and staunch Christian Sgt. Howie (Edward Woodward) as he arrives on the island of Summerisle. His investigation into the disappearance of a local girl is stymied by the pagan beliefs of the townspeople - that is, if she exists at all.

Unlike its imitators (and Nic Cage remake), The Wicker Man lets its weirdness drip at a satisfyingly slow pace, while never forgetting the mystery at the heart of the plot. Summerisle is a regular, lived in village — a little secluded, but not fundamentally different from any small town. For Howie and for the audience, it’s not immediately obvious how unusual their beliefs are, until it’s much too late. The whole affair is given special dignity by Christopher Lee - who still insisted, even post Lord of the Rings, that this was the best movie he was ever in. As Lord Summerisle, Lee brings the perfect amount of levity and good humor (and bold fashion sense) to contrast Howie’s dour self-righteousness. —Jenna Stoeber


Zodiac

Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac Photo: Paramount Pictures

Based on the book by Robert Graysmith (and starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the author himself), Zodiac recounts the search for the infamous “Zodiac Killer.” The film follows Graysmith as he becomes more and more obsessed with the investigation, and co-stars Mark Ruffalo as proto-Columbo Dave Toschi, and Robert Downey Jr. as the journalist Paul Avery. The real-life case remains unsolved, and the film — mildly spicy take incoming — remains David Fincher’s best film. —TE