What to Watch prime:
Free two-day shipping is nice, sure, but have you seen all the movies your Amazon Prime subscription gives you access to? As if all the original content produced by Amazon Studios was not enough, the streamer also boasts one of the most impressive and varied catalogs of other movies available for your viewing pleasure. (For starters, they actually have more than a handful of titles made before the year 2000.) You can both brush up on some classics from Hollywood’s studio era or watch a recent under-the-radar indie sensation. They have plenty of recent crowd-pleasing hits with familiar names as well as a plentiful supply of foreign films should you be looking to do some cinematic tourism.
Rather than waste time scouring that extensive catalog for your next watch, let Decider guide you toward the service’s top offerings. Whether it’s catching up with an old favorite or discovering a new one, we’ve found and updated the 50 Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now (updated for January 2022). Whatever movie-watching mood you’re in, Amazon Prime almost certainly has a title
‘The Lighthouse’ (2019)
DIRECTOR: Robert Eggers
STARS: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe
Putting two men alone together on a remote island to keep a lighthouse is a recipe for chaos under even the best of circumstances. When those two men are Willem Dafoe’s Thomas Wake, a crank who’s a jealous guardian of the light, and Robert Pattinson’s Ephraim Winslow, a covetous young go-getter with daddy issues and a big secret, it’s magnificently mysterious madness. Spanning the gamut from horrifying to suspenseful to hilarious and even a bit horny, Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse outshines the garden-variety claustrophobic thriller. This wet, wild mystery box is a raucous ride exploring everything from masculinity to mermaids.
DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson
STARS: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams
Wes Anderson came into full bloom with Rushmore, his 1998 breakthrough hit, but just because he’s gone on to expand his trademark aesthetic does not mean that this film has lost any luster. The story of precocious high schooler Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) and his outsized extracurricular ambitions are a perfect match of story and to heightened style. If anything feels outsized in the film, it’s because Anderson wants us to be able to feel those same sentiments with the raw passion of a teenager lacking perspective.
DIRECTOR: Jim Jarmusch
STARS: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, William Jackson Harper
Want to wrap yourself in a warm blanket of a movie? Look no further than Paterson, starring Adam Driver as a modest New Jersey bus driver with a passion for writing poetry. There’s no artificial conflict, no cliched struggling artist tropes — just a thoughtful and earnest look at how people can carve out space for artistic fulfillment in the midst of mundanity.
DIRECTOR: Lynne Ramsay
STARS: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly
A decade out, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin only grows in relevance. Our society continues to struggle in reckoning with the “mother of a monster” figure given the plague of disaffected young men committing acts of unspeakable violence. Ramsay never gets preachy or didactic in her exploration of the nature vs. nurture debate, instead of letting her propulsive visuals pull us deep into the tortured psyche of Tilda Swinton’s Eva Khatchadourian. Don’t expect easy answers from the film, but Ramsay’s challenges and provocations will undoubtedly deepen your emotional understanding of this new cultural archetype.
‘The Big Sick’ (2017)
DIRECTOR: Michael Showalter
STARS: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter
If it weren’t based on a true story, the concept of The Big Sick might sound too ridiculous to believe. A couple in the throes of puppy love breaks up, and a guy decides to stay by that ex-girlfriend in the hospital as she falls into a coma from an unexplained illness? Not a usual stop on the way to “happily ever after,” but the unconventional love story of Kumail Nanjiani (playing himself) and Emily V. Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan) is all the stronger for leaning into the unconventional and unique. The alchemic mix of humor and heart is perfectly calibrated for an exuberant watching experience.
‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ (2011)
DIRECTOR: Joel Coen
STARS: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi
It’s entirely debatable which of about five movies by Joel and Ethan Coen is the brothers’ best. But it’s pretty easy to identify which would serve as their calling card: Fargo. This chilly crime comedy features unforgettable characters and wild (but believable) tonal swings as it charts a tale of greed gone wrong. It’s “Minnesota nice” in a nutshell, especially as epitomized by the sweet yet steely sheriff Marge Gunderson (the inimitable Frances McDormand).
‘Sleepless in Seattle’ (1993)-watch prime
DIRECTOR: Nora Ephron
STARS: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Rosie O’Donnell
Movies always require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. But few stretch those boundaries quite like Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle. This analog romance asks us to believe any number of implausible occurrences between Meg Ryan’s lovelorn (but also engaged) reporter Annie and Tom Hanks’ widowed architect Sam after she hears his story on a radio call-in show. Credit to Ephron for rooting the film in such sincerity and emotionality so we buy in and swoon anyways.
DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen
STARS: Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, Micheal Ward, Shaniqua Kwok
Is it a movie, or is it TV? Let’s just leave that Twitter debate aside for now and say one thing is certain. Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology, a collection of five feature-length films, is absolutely outstanding. If you only have time for one piece of his chronicle memorializing London’s. West Indian community as it pushed back against discrimination, make it Lovers Rock. This slender volume documents an unheralded form of resistance: collective joy. Here, that bliss all takes place on the dance floor where Black Britons congregate defiantly in a space all of their own.
‘The Thin Red Line’ (1998)-watch prime
DIRECTOR: Terrence Malick
STARS: Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Adrien Brody
Terrence Malick’s poetic The Thin Red Line is a war film for people who don’t like war films. The philosophical director is focused far less on the battle and far more on the existential conflict that war causes in those who fight it. This is a film focused on something bigger than the immediate conflict. Keeping a wide lens on war to ponder what brings men to a point where they are so out of sync with the harmony of nature.
‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ (2013)- watch prime
DIRECTORS: Joel and Ethan Coen
STARS: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake
The universe in a meticulously crafted Coen Brothers movie is often cruel and nihilistic. But few of their visions prove as enjoyable as Inside Llewyn Davis. A fable-like tale of how Oscar Isaac’s titular folk singer always teeters on the precipice of success in the industry only to have it tragicomically elude him. Come for the great tunes from Isaac, Marcus Mumford, Carey Mulligan, and Justin Timberlake; stay for the most entertaining riff on eternal recurrence you’re likely to find.
‘You Were Never Really Here (2018) (watch prime)
DIRECTOR: Lynne Ramsay
STARS: Joaquin Phoenix, Alessandro Nivola, Ekaterina Samsonov
Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here plays out almost like the response to an unspoken prompt. How much can you strip away from a revenge movie and still have it satisfied as an action flick? Her minimalistic response is chillingly sparse. Look at how a tortured soul busts up a ring of sex traffickers and nearly loses himself in the process. This role is the brooding ball of anger that should have won Joaquin Phoenix his Oscar.
‘Napoleon Dynamite’ (2004)
DIRECTOR: Jared Hess
STARS: Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, Jon Gries
No film went from cult Sundance hit to mainstream merchandising machine quite like Napoleon Dynamite. (Is there any more emblematic mid-aughts uniform quite like a “Vote for Pedro” shirt?) Even if the taglines and jokes might have worn out their welcome a decade ago. Jared Hess’ film itself still delights as an offbeat delight. His unexpected comic rhythms must be witnessed to be believed.
‘Time’ (2020) (watch prime)
DIRECTOR: Garrett Bradley
STARS: Fox Rich, Rob Rich II
Many documentaries can make us understand the cruel realities of the American prison system. But few manage to translate the way the institution can seep into every facet of a person’s life quite as Garrett Bradley does in Time, her documentary chronicle of Fox Rich’s decades-long crusade to be reunited with her incarcerated husband. The film smothers you in the purest form of love as it champions the virtues of fair justice and just mercy.