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The 44 best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now

July is winding down, but don’t worry, there are still plenty of great movies to hunker down with in the cool air conditioning this month. And for those particularly hot days, stretch that A/C time to the limit with the classic war flick Patton and its three-hour runtime. If that’s not your thing, Prime Video’s library has gotten progressively better over the months and years, offering up award-winning dramas, documentaries, comedies, original movies, and a ton more. But with so much to dig through, it can take some time. Luckily, we’re here to help with our list of the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now. Updated weekly, it can help you cut right to the chase instead of scrolling endlessly for something to watch.

We’ve also put together guides to the best shows on Amazon Prime Video, the best movies on Hulu, the best movies on Netflix, and the best movies on Disney+.

George C. Scott in the movie Patton.

Patton (1970)

The story of World War II’s infamous hero-villain, U.S. General George S. Patton, is on Amazon Prime Video in all its three-hour glory. Sweeping the 1971 Academy Awards with 10 nominations and seven wins, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, Patton was hailed as a revelation in filmmaking. George C. Scott’s portrayal of the controversial military figure is nothing short of jarring, capturing all the unpredictability, ruthlessness, and ego of the General, as the film tracks his storied career, shining a light on his victories and defeats on the battlefield, his intense rivalries with German and fellow Allied generals alike, his relieving of duty and fall from grace, and eventual redemption at the famous Battle of the Bulge. Patton is a classic that still holds up today, with Scott’s performance becoming a mold for future hard-assed military film characters.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Biography, Drama, War
Stars: George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young, Michael Strong
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Rating: PG
Runtime: 172 minutes

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Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White.

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (2011)

For fans of ’90s hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest is required viewing. But even if you’re only vaguely familiar with the group, this directorial debut from actor Michael Rapaport will school you on the world of these iconic artists. Following the trajectory of members Q-Tip (Kamaal Ibn John Fareed), Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor), DJ Producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White from their beginnings in Queens, New York, in the mid-’80s, Beats, Rhymes & Life mixes archival footage with interviews from fellow hip-hop luminaries such as Common, Ludacris, Questlove, and the Beastie Boys to take viewers through the group’s career highs, lows, and conflicts surrounding their controversial and sudden breakup in 1998. Rapaport’s documentary then picks up with the group during their strained reunion for the 2008 Rock the Bells tour, offering faint hope to fans.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Documentary
Stars: LudacrisCommonQ-Tip
Director: Michael Rapaport
Rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes

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Two actors in a scene from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist has two great stars (Scott Pilgrim‘s Michael Cera and WandaVision‘s Kat Dennings) who are genuinely great together. Nick (Cera) is bummed out because his girlfriend, Tris (Alexis Dziena), has dumped him, and when she shows up at his band’s gig in Manhattan with a new guy, he gets even more bummed. That is until he meets Norah (Dennings), who has had a serious crush on Nick because of his cool mix-CDs that he made for Tris. The duo serendipitously end up on an adventure through the East Village in search of a secret show by the mysterious band Where’s Fluffy? that has left clues all around town. As they navigate the city in Nick’s beat-up car, he can’t stop thinking about Tris, while the whole time, the real deal is sitting right next to him.

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Michael CeraKat DenningsAlexis Dziena
Director: Peter Sollett
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 89 minutes

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Ewan McGregor in a scene from Big Fish.

Big Fish (2003)

Edward Bloom (Ambert Finney) is on his death bed. The larger-than-life patriarch has lived what many would say was a fantastical life, filled with circus adventures, giants, witches, and a catfish the size of a whale. Well, only one person would say all that, and that person is Edward himself, who has told these stories and more, over and over to his son, Will (Billy Crudup), who has returned home to be by his estranged dad’s bedside. But what Will wants to know more than anything before his dad shuffles off this mortal coil is whether all his dad’s stories were fact or fiction. Told mostly in visually stunning and dream-like flashbacks of Edward’s tall tales, in the way only Time Burton can, and with the aid of Ewan McGregor as a young Edward, Will makes a last attempt to reconnect with and understand his father.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Adventure, Romance
Stars: Billy Crudup, Hailey Anne Nelson, Ewan McGregor
Director: Tim Burton
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 125 minutes

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Brad Pitt in a boxing ring in a scene from Snatch.

Snatch (2000)

Trying to explain the intricate and scribbling plot of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch is not a wise idea — you kind of just need to buckle up and hang on for the ride. What might be helpful to know about this gritty English crime comedy, though, is that it involves the seemingly random intertwining lives of a diamond thief named Frankie Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro), a psychopathic Russian named Boris the Blade, who is trying to steal Frankie’s priceless stolen diamond, a group of amateur thugs with a dog that has swallowed said diamond, a deadly gangster boss running a boxing racket, and (perhaps the best character in the film) Brad Pitt as a bare-knuckle gypsy boxer with one of the best incomprehensible “pikey” accents in cinema. There are, of course, other larger-than-life characters in the film, but all you need to know is that Snatch is a hilariously dark, connect-the-dots film that’s satisfying for fans of clever Tarantino-style action.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Genre: Crime, Comedy
Stars: Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, Vinnie Jones, Benicio Del Toro
Director: Guy Ritchie
Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes

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Chris Pratt and the cast of The Tomorrow War.

The Tomorrow War (2021)

In what should have brought audiences to the theater in droves, this end-of-the-world action-adventure from one of the guys behind The Lego Movie (Chris McKay) is getting the Amazon Original treatment because of that pandemic thing we’ve all been dealing with. But don’t let that fool you — there’s enough explosive action here to impress even in your living room. The Tomorrow War is kind of a Terminator in reverse, where instead of forces from a future war coming to battle it out in the present, this time, the good guys fighting an alien invasion in 2051 come back in time to recruit soldiers and civilians to join the fight in the future before humankind is wiped out. Chris Pratt stars as Dan Forester, a high school teacher with some serious gun skills who is among the recruits crossing time to save the world.

Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Drama, Comedy, Adventure
Stars: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strzechowski, J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin
Director: Chris McKay
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 78 minutes

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A scene from Vertigo.

Vertigo (1958)

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece is still as spellbinding now as it was more than 60 years ago. James Stewart stars as the tormented John “Scottie” Ferguson, a San Francisco detective forced into early retirement after his debilitating fear of heights and vertigo play a part in the death of a fellow officer. But that’s just the setup. Vertigo is a dizzying, noir love story, and at its center is the enchanting Madeline Elster (Kim Novak), the wife of Scottie’s friend, Gavin (Tom Helmore), who hires Scottie to tail Madeline, who has been acting strangely. As Scottie grows obsessed with Madeline and the two fall in love, tragedy strikes again because of Scottie’s vertigo. Scottie’s reality becomes even more unhinged when he meets and falls for Judy Barton, who is the spitting image of Madeline (or is it really her?), and the disturbing truth of the plot is uncovered in divine Hitchcock fashion.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Suspense, Romance, Horror
Stars: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Rating: PG
Runtime: 70 minutes

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Robin Williams in Awakenings.

Awakenings (1990)

Based on the memoir of the same name by renowned British neurologist Dr.Oliver Sacks, Awakenings tells the remarkable story of Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams), a fictionalized version of Sacks who is hired at a hospital in the Bronx to study several patients who have been catatonic and, for all intents and purposes, lost in time for decades as a result of encephalitis from the 1920s and 1930s. When the discovery of an experimental Parkinson’s drug allows Sayer to “awaken” one 40-year-old patient, Leonard (the mesmerizing Robert De Niro), and later several more of the hospital’s patients, many of whom have been “frozen” since they were children, the result is a gripping and bittersweet reminder of just how precious life is as Leonard and the patients come to terms with the time they’ve lost and the time they have left.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Robert De NiroRobin WilliamsRuth Nelson
Director: Penny Marshall
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 120 minutes

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Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading.

Burn After Reading (2008)

The final film in the Coen brother’s “idiot trilogy” preceded by O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Intolerable CrueltyBurn After Reading isn’t so much about the plot as much as it is the characters insanely screwed up in it. Osborne (John Malkovich) is a disgruntled former CIA agent whose conniving wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton), is cheating on him with Harry (George Clooney), a womanizing U.S. Treasury agent. When a disc containing Osborne’s revealing, unfinished memoir is dropped on the changeroom floor of Katie’s local gym, its moronic employees, Chad and Linda (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand), attempt to use it to blackmail Osborne for some cash so Linda can get the plastic surgery she thinks she needs. Russians get involved, bodies are stuffed in closets, and Pitt’s blonde frosted tips steal the show. Burn After Reading isn’t one of the Coen brothers’ best, but even that’s saying a lot considering their track record leading up to it (Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and No Country for Old Men, to name a few). It’s a fun, screwball comedy, Coen brothers style.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Suspense, Comedy, Drama,
Stars: Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton
Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

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Knives Out on Amazon Prime

Knives Out (2019)

Writer and director Rian Johnson (BrickLooper) gives the classic Agatha Christie-style murder mystery a modern spin in this tale about a famous crime novelist whose unexpected death one night after a family gathering makes everyone a suspect. Daniel Craig portrays the brilliant, debonair detective Benoit Blanc, whose investigation brings the depths of the family’s dysfunction to light and leaves you guessing who will ultimately emerge as the culprit of the film’s heinous crime. The film’s ensemble cast makes a great mystery even better, with memorable performances from every actor involved, resulting in a modern mystery masterpiece.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Mystery
Stars: Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Stanfield, Daniel Craig
Director: Rian Johnson
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 130 minutes

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Pinocchio on Amazon Prime Video

Pinocchio (2019)

Italian author Carlo Collodi’s classic children’s story dates back to 1881, and since then, it’s been reimagined and adapted countless times in print, on television, for the stage, and in film — perhaps most notably in Disney’s 1940 animated movie. With this most recently released feature version, Italian filmmakers Matteo Garrone and Massimo Ceccherini use live-action, stunning CGI, and some pretty fantastic costumes and makeup to once again tell the tale of a lonely carpenter, Gepetto (Roberto Benigni), who creates a wooden boy puppet who magically comes to life. Pinocchio‘s universal themes of perseverance through adversity, honesty, and redemption ring true in Garrone’s adaptation as well, as the boy puppet heads out into the film’s bizarre world of animal tricksters, blue fairies, and gigantic fish to learn the lessons he needs to get back to Gepetto and realize his dream of becoming a real boy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Roberto BenigniFederico IelapiRocco Papaleo
Director: Matteo Garrone
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 125 minutes

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Stop Making Sense on Amazon Prime

Stop Making Sense (1984)

Concert films are not a new phenomenon, but they do seem to be fewer and far between. In 1984, director Jonathan Demme teamed up with the band called Talking Heads for Stop Making Sense, one of the most influential concert films of all-time. Demme filmed the movie over four live performances at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, and Talking Heads put on the show of their lives every night. The band had a great sense of showmanship and stage presence, and Demme captured it all. Stop Making Sense has even pulled off the rare feat of a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. If it’s not a “Once in a Lifetime” experience, it’s close enough.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Concert Film
Stars: Talking Heads
Director: Jonathan Demme
Rating: NR
Runtime: 105 minutes

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Chicken Run on Amazon Prime Video

Chicken Run (2000)

“No chicken escapes from Tweedy’s farrrm!!” From the stop-motion, claymation geniuses behind Wallace & GromitChicken Run is the action-packed, hilarious story of the chickens at Tweedy’s egg farm in Yorkshire, England, who are desperate to escape once they learn that Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy have invented a machine that instantly turns chickens into pies. One chicken, Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha), has tried unsuccessfully to make it off the farm, using all manner of whimsical and cockamamie contraptions and schemes, but it isn’t until the arrival of a cocky American circus rooster — who can fly! — named Rocky (Mel Gibson) that the coop’s plan to escape really starts to, er, hatch.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Comedy, Animation, Kids, Adventure
Stars: Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Phil Daniels, Miranda Richardson
Directors: Peter Lord, Nick Park
Rating: G
Runtime: 84 minutes

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The Vast of Night on Amazon Prime

The Vast of Night (2020)

This nostalgic throwback to classic sci-fi thrillers follows a young switchboard operator and a radio DJ whose discovery of a mysterious audio frequency sets off a series of discoveries that lead them deep into the unknown. The Amazon Studios film is the directorial debut of Andrew Patterson and has earned high praise from critics and streaming audiences alike for its suspenseful, low-budget spin on the genre.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery
Stars: Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz
Director: Andrew Patterson
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 89 minutes

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Signs on Amazon Prime Video

Signs (2002)

M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs was his third in a string of critical and box-office hits, beginning with 1999’s The Sixth Sense (which is also on this list), and it’s his first film to veer from his usual supernatural-based storytelling and scare the hell out of us with aliens instead. Mel Gibson stars as Graham Hess, a former preacher who’s lost his faith since the death of his wife. Now a farmer in rural Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Graham lives a simple life with his two kids, Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin), and his brother, Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), as they all continue to heal from their loss. Signs‘ slow, creeping build is palpable as it becomes clear that the strange crop circle that’s appeared in Graham’s cornfield and the dark figures spotted lurking around their farm (and the rest of Doylestown) aren’t of this world and could be part of a global extra-terrestrial invasion. Put your tinfoil hats on for this one.

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Mystery
Stars: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin
Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 106 minutes

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Nicolas Cage in Adaptation

Adaptation (2002)

Director Spike Jonze’s Oscar-winning Adaptation is hard to describe. It’s a film about the making of a film and a story about real-life rare orchid hunters, murder, and conspiracy — all balancing on the razor-sharp edge of reality and fiction. But one thing we know for sure is that it’s brilliant. Nicolas Cage plays a fictionalized version of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. He’s neurotic, depressed, and struggling to adapt Susan Orlean’s (Meryl Streep) non-fiction book The Orchid Thief, which is about Florida con man and orchid poacher John Laroche (Chris Cooper), into a coherent film. To break his writer’s block, Charlie shadows Orleans, following her to Florida, where he discovers that she is involved in a passionate, drug-fueled affair with Laroche, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep her reputation intact. The film is thrilling, often funny, totally bizarre, and a complete must-watch.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Tilda Swinton
Director: Spike Jonze
Rating: R
Runtime: 115 minutes

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An American Werewolf in London

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

If you had to choose one werewolf movie to watch in your entire life, it’s this one. A horror cult classic, legendary writer-director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Coming to America) used some of the era’s best makeup and special effects artists to bring to life this story of American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), who are traveling the English countryside when they’re attacked by a wolf-like creature in the night. Jack is killed, but David survives, only to discover that he is turning into a vicious lycanthrope that will unleash unspeakable horrors come the next full moon. Jack, who appears to David in visions as a decayed corpse, tells David that he must die to end the werewolf cycle, but David’s fallen in love with Alex (Jenny Agutter) and must find another way to break the curse — and stop killing basically everyone he comes across in London.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Stars: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Joe Belcher, Griffin Dunner
Director: John Landis
Rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes

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Ben Stiller in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

In the immortal words of legendary dodgeball coach Patches O’Houlihan (Rip Torn), “If you’re going to become true dodgeballers, then you’ve got to learn the five D’s of dodgeball: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge! Of course, this wisdom was immediately followed by Patches whipping wrenches at his team, but that’s beside the point. This is the kind of necessary training the losers of Average Joe’s Gymnasium’s dodgeball squad need if they’re going to win the American Dodgeball Association of America’s (ADAA) International Dodgeball Competition. The $50,000 prize is a last-ditch effort by Joe’s owner, Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughan), to keep the megalomaniacal owner of rival Globo Gym, White Goodman (Ben Stiller), from putting him out of business. Teeming with memorable characters and quotable lines (including the origins of “I just threw up in my mouth a little bit”), Dodgeball culminates in one hell of a tournament sequence in which Peter and his misfits battle teams from around the world (and their own demons) toward their eventual showdown with White and his Purple Cobras. Watch for Jason Bateman’s hilarious cameo as spaced-out tournament commentator Pepper Brooks.

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Genre: Comedy, Action, Sports
Stars: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughan, Christine Taylor, Rip Torn, Justin Long, Hank Azaria, Jason Bateman, Alan Tudyk, Chuck Norris
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 92 minutes

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Fight Club on Amazon Prime

Fight Club (1999)

When David Fincher’s Fight Club punched its way into the mainstream at the turn of the millennium, it fed directly into the psyche of post-’90s dudes still raging against the machine and grappling with their life choices to sit in a cubicle for eight hours a day. Edward Norton’s narrator is one such minion, stuck in a dead-end job with a boss he hates and so broken that he becomes a support-group tourist just to treat his unrelenting insomnia. Until he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a slightly-unhinged soap salesman who teaches our unnamed narrator how to break free of the corporate machine, shed his capitalistic belongings, and feel again. How do they achieve this enlightenment? We can’t really talk about it, but it involves angsty men beating each other bloody in the basement of a bar. This organized underground club for fighting that the pair creates spreads like wildfire across the country and quickly spirals out of control as Tyler’s anarchist agenda threatens to go too far.

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Genre: Drama, Suspense, Mystery
Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf
Director: David Fincher
Rating: R
Runtime: 139 minutes

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Gene Hackman in The French Connection

The French Connection (1971)

There’s so much to unpack with The French Connection beyond telling you to just watch it and see, but we’ll try to pique your interest nonetheless. Beyond being recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest films ever made, this nonstop-action flick also won five Oscars in 1971 (with 12 nominations in total), including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director and features one of the greatest — if not the greatest — car chase sequences in history. Based on the 1969 nonfiction book of the same name by Robin Moore, The French Connection follows New York narcotics detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Scheider) as they pursue one of the world’s biggest drug smugglers, Alain Charnier (Fernando Ray), as he attempts to move a shipment of heroin into the U.S. It’s a cat and mouse game of the highest order, with William Friedken’s direction and Owen Roizman’s cinematography pushing and pulling the action right to the edge of your seat.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Action, Drama, Crime
Stars: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey
Director: William Friedken
Rating: R
Runtime: 104 minutes

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Midsommar on Amazon Prime

Midsommar (2019)

What better way to celebrate the summer solstice than by having the crap scared out of you? Called an “operatic breakup movie” by director Ari Aster, Midsommar proves to be exactly that and more in this suspenseful film. It centers around an American couple with serious relationship issues who travel with friends to a midsummer festival. It gets significantly more violent and unsettling from there, with the setting of a remote Swedish village serving as the backdrop for a cult with less-than-admirable intentions, to put it lightly. It was a hit in summer 2019 and, if you’re up for a nearly 2.5-hour movie where the scares consistently and constantly creep up on you, it won’t take long to understand why.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Horror
Stars: Florence Pugh, Liv Mjönes, Jack Reynor
Director: Ari Aster
Rating: R
Runtime: 140 minutes

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Trollhunter

Trollhunter (2011)

Trolls are real! At least that what a group of Volda University student filmmakers (Thomas, Johanna, and cameraman Kalle) discover when they venture into the wilds of Norway to investigate some recent bear poachings. There, they meet the mysterious Hans (Otto Jespersen), who turns out to have a very specific set of skills — he’s a troll hunter, employed by a clandestine Norwegian government agency to hunt down the very real mythical giants and three-headed monsters. Cleverly presented as a Blair Witch-style found footage documentary, the English-subtitled Trollhunter is “pieced together” in a “rough cut” of a film that documents the three filmmakers’ journey. It’s a delightfully scary, and oftentimes funny, horror full of jumpy camera footage, terrifying night vision scenes, and some amazing digitally created creatures.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Stars: Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Nærum
Director: André Øvredal
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 103 minutes

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Kyle Allen and Kathryn Newton in The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (2021)

Heavily in line with the time-loop movies that this cute coming-of-age romantic comedy itself references, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is like Groundhog Day or Edge of Tomorrow (without all the death and aliens) for a new generation. Mark (Kyle Allen) is your typical teenager trying to figure life out, except that he seems to be the only one aware that he’s living the same day over and over again — he argues with his dad over his future, plays video games with his clueless best friend, and, like Bill Murray’s Phil Connors, learns the routine so well he can do little things like rescue folks from their everyday annoyances. Mark seems content in his loop, and then he meets Margaret (Kathryn Newton), who, as if fate planned it, is also stuck in the same unremarkable day. Now with something more to live for, the pair revel in their predicament and, of course, fall for each other. Written by The Magicians author Lev Grossman, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a sweet exploration of youth and the fear that comes with taking that leap of faith to get out of our own ruts and move forward with life.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Young Adult
Stars: Kathryn Newton, Kyle Allen, Jermaine Harris
Director: Ian Samuels
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 98 minutes

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Tessa Thompson in Sylvie's Love

Sylvie’s Love (2020)

Can we all just agree that Tessa Thompson is great in just about everything she’s in? Alright, then. In this dreamy period melodrama by Eugene Ashe, Thompson plays Sylvie, an aspiring television producer in late ’50s-early ’60s New York. While working in her dad’s record shop, Sylvie meets Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha), a talented up-and-coming jazz saxophonist with big dreams of his own. Robert takes a job in the store and the two begin a friendship that blossoms into love, despite Sylvie having a fiancé who is away at war. But as Robert’s career begins to take off and Sylvie is torn between her own ambitions and obligations, the two go their separate ways … for a little while, anyway. The pair eventually meet again, with Sylvie, having overcome many of the struggles of the era’s racism and women’s rights obstacles to become a successful TV producer, and Robert’s career skyrocketing. Is the love still there? Can and will they pick up where they left off? Sylvie’s Love is a refreshing take on the over-done love-conquers-all trope and is a romantic must-watch.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Drama, Romance
Stars: Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Eva Longoria
Director: Eugene Ashe
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 116 minutes

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The Last Black Man in San Francisco

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)

Facing displacement from the home his grandfather built as a result of gentrification in his San Francisco neighborhood, Jimmie and his best friend, Mort, set out on a mission to reclaim the house before it is irreversibly changed. Their odyssey tests their friendship and forces them to question where they belong in the place they’ve always called home. A poignant, often intense journey, this film was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Jimmie Falls, Tichina Arnold, Mike Epps
Director: Joe Talbot
Rating: R
Runtime: 120 minutes

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One Night in Miami in Amazon Prime

One Night in Miami (2021)

In actress Regina King’s excellent directorial debut, she takes Kemp Powers’ screenplay of his own stage play and turns it into a riveting drama. One Night in Miami is a fictionalized ponderance of a real-life meeting that happened in Miami Beach in 1964 in which famous friends Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), who earlier that night just beat Sonny Liston for the world championship, Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben -Adir), singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and football star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) gathered to enjoy each other’s company, debate, and discuss their roles in affecting change in Black America. Each star holds his own portraying such cultural heavyweights, and the film mixes beautifully-shot sequences of their individual lives and achievements with fly-on-the-wall ensemble scenes that give you a sense of what it might have been like being in the room with these icons.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr
Director: Regina King
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

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Herself, movies on Amazon Prime

Herself (2020)

Get ready for a tear-jerker of a drama that’s full of both pain and beautiful redemption in this Amazon Original film that won the Human Rights Film Award at last year’s Dublin International Film Festival. Actress Clare Dunne, who co-wrote the film with Shameless U.K. writer Malcolm Campbell, is Sandra, a mother of two in Dublin who, after escaping her abusive husband, finds herself on the cusp of homelessness. Told with care and often intense reality by The Iron Lady director Phyllida Lloyd, Sandra eschews Ireland’s bureaucratic social housing system and decides to try to build her own house DIY-style — all she needs is a bit of land. As Sandra’s friends and strangers alike pitch in to help rebuild (literally) her life, it’s hard not to get swept up in this touchingly unique story.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Clare Dunne, Ruby Rose O’Hara, Molly McCann,
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes

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Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal, on Amazon Prime Video

Sound of Metal (2020)

Sound of Metal doesn’t mess around, getting straight to the intense and terrifying moments that Ruben (Riz Ahmed), a drummer in a heavy metal duo with his girlfriend (the wonderful Olivia Cooke), starts to lose his hearing. It’s the little things we take for granted that director/screenwriter Darius Marder zeroes in on in the film’s opening minutes — the excruciating silence of a blender, the subtle drip of percolating coffee, or the shushing spray of a showerhead — all gone. But Sound of Metal isn’t about deafness, it’s a story about change and the journey we must take to embrace it, as Ruben enters a facility to help him learn to live with his deafness while also avoiding a relapse into his old life of drug abuse. It’s a beautiful film about life-changing loss and redemption and shouldn’t be missed.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Riz AhmedOlivia CookePaul Raci
Director: Darius Marder
Rating: R
Runtime: 120 minutes

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I'm Your Woman, on Amazon Prime

I’m Your Woman (2020)

Premiering in October at this year’s virtual edition of AFI Fest, this gritty 1970s-era crime drama features Mrs. Maisel as you’ve never seen her before. The marvelous Rachel Brosnahan trades swing dresses and handbags for bellbottoms and handguns in I’m Your Woman, playing Jean, the bored suburban housewife of Eddie (Bill Heck), a hustler and thief with some shady associates. Jean learns just how shady when Eddie shows up one night with an infant, declaring “he’s our baby,” and then disappears a couple of days later, triggering a series of events that has Jean terrified, confused, and on the run from gun-toting henchmen. Jean’s only respite from the madness is Cal (British-Nigerian actor Arinzé Kene), who shepherds Jean and baby to a safe house where his wife, Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake), and father, Art (Frankie Faison), teach her how to navigate her new life on the lam. Dripping with ’70s style, loud wardrobe choices, boat-sized cars, and a groovy Motown soundtrack, I’m Your Woman is a great way to time-warp out of your daily grind.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Crime, Drama
Stars: Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Arinzé Kene
Director: Julia Hart
Rating: R
Runtime: 120 minutes

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Borat Subsequent Moviefilm on Amazon Prime

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

There are very few performers in the world who can switch gears so expertly as Sacha Baron Cohen. Comedian, actor, and activist, in the last two years, Cohen has navigated the roles of famous Israeli spy Eli Cohen in The Spy and American “Yippy” activist Abby Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7 (both on Netflix). But perhaps his greatest role of all is Borat. Cohen’s clueless reporter from Kazakhstan is back for another go at America in this sequel to 2006’s Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. After spending 14 years in prison, Borat is released not only to find that he has a daughter, Tutar (Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova), but that he must return to the U.S. to redeem the reputation of his homeland by gifting the feral Tutar to Mike Pence. Along the way, Cohen, of course, resumes his pranking of Trump-era America, but with his cover mostly blown from the first film, much of the task lands on the brilliant Bakalova, who delivers some bewilderingly-awkward situations and poignant political skewering.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Sacha Baron CohenMaria Bakalova, Rudy Giuliani
Director: Jason Woliner
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

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It's a Wonderful Life on Amazon Prime

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

A classic Christmas movie with an iconic James Stewart performance, It’s a Wonderful Life follows George Bailey (Stewart), a banker in the town of Bedford Falls who is preparing to throw himself off a bridge. An angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) appears to save George, and takes him on a journey through the most important moments in George’s life, showing him all the good things he’s done for other people despite the costs to himself. It’s a Wonderful Life is a charming story about perseverance in the face of an often cruel universe and the value of relationships.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction
Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Director: Frank Capra
Rating: PG
Runtime: 135 minutes

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Chi-Raq on Amazon Prime

Chi-Raq (2015)

Aristophanes’ classic Greek comedy Lysistrata gets a modern update in this 2015 film directed by Spike Lee. The film follows a group of women who decide to withhold sex from their partners until they agree to curb the gang violence plaguing their Chicago neighborhood. Told in a mixture of music and verse, the film stars Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Teyonah Parris, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, John Cusack, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Teyonah Parris, Jennifer Hudson
Director: Spike Lee
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

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Honey Boy on Amazon Prime

Honey Boy (2019)

Shia LaBeouf’s debut script is directed by Alma Har’el and follows the life of child actor Otis Lort as he rises through young success to self-destructive Hollywood star. Navigating fame and his abusive, alcoholic father proves to be next to impossible as their contentious relationship crumbles across the course of a decade. LaBeouf also stars in this semiautobiographical tale that draws from his experience with his father.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges
Director: Alma Har’el
Rating: R
Runtime: 93 minutes

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Juliette Binoche in High Life

High Life (2019)

From award-winning French filmmaker Claire Denis, High Life is described as an erotic sci-fi horror film, but it really defies classification. It’s difficult to explain High Life in just a few words but we’ll try. Juliette Binoche stars as Dr. Dibs, overseer of a damned space mission that is sending criminals to attempt to extract energy from a black hole. Along the way, Dibs performs sexual experiments on the criminals that lead to their deaths. Ultimately, murderer Monte (Robert Pattinson) is left alone with his daughter, trying to survive and thrive as they hurtle toward certain death.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Genre: Science Fiction
Stars: Robert Pattinson, André Benjamin, Mia Goth
Director: Claire Denis
Rating: R
Runtime: 110

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Inside Llewyn Davis on Amazon Prime

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 (although Isaac’s future Star Wars nemesis also has a memorable musical cameo).

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Oscar Isaac, John Goodman, Carey Mulligan
Director: Ethan & Joel Coen
Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes

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The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden (2016)

From Korean director Park Chan-wook, award-winning director of OldboyThe Handmaiden is an intense, pulse-pounding crime drama set in the early 1900s during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The film follows two women — a young Japanese lady on a secluded estate, and the Korean woman who is hired as her new handmaiden. Little does the former know, though, that the latter is conspiring with a con man to defraud the woman out of her inheritance.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong
Director: Park Chan-wook
Rating: NR
Runtime: 145 minutes

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You Were Never Really Here on Amazon Prime

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

This Amazon Original was nominated for four 2019 Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Feature and Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix). Phoenix stars as a traumatized veteran who harnesses his trauma into hunting down missing girls for a living. However, as his nightmares begin to overtake him and he continues to get in over his head, he begins to uncover a conspiracy that threatens to destroy or save him, depending on the paths he takes.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Mystery & Suspense
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, John Doman
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Rating: R
Runtime: 89 minutes

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Cold War

Cold War (2018)

Paweł Pawlikowski’s gorgeous historical drama Cold War follows Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and Zula (Joanna Kulig), a music director and singer respectively, who meet and fall in love in Poland after the end of World War II. As the years drag on and the Soviet grip over Eastern Europe tightens, the two drift across borders, in and out of each other’s lives. Their turbulent romance, set against a backdrop of paranoia and repression, is messy but moving. Filmed in stark black and white, Cold War is a beautiful film full of masterfully composed shots.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Rating: R
Runtime: 89 minutes

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The Big Sick on Amazon Prime

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 that was one of Digital Trends’ favorite movies of 2019 and helped score Nanjiani and Gordon their own Apple TV+ show. The movie begins with Kumail (playing a loosely fictionalized version of 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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%Genre: Romance, Comedy
Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter
Director: Michael Showalter
Rating: R
Runtime: 119 minutes

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The Lighthouse on Amazon Prime

The Lighthouse (2019)

Director Robert Eggers was initially moved to adapt Edgar Allan Poe’s The Light-House as a film, but The Lighthouse ultimately went in its own direction as one of 2019’s most unusual movies. Filmed entirely in black-and-white, The Lighthouse takes place in the late 19th century, as Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) finds himself stationed with the mercurial Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe). Alone and stranded on the remote island, Winslow and Wake battle both each other and the onset of insanity. Pattinson and Dafoe’s confrontations and performances are riveting, but it’s the movie’s surprises that will keep viewers talking long after the film comes to an end.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe
Director: Robert Eggers
Rating: R
Runtime: 109 minutes

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The Farewell on Amazon Prime

The Farewell (2019)

In China, the name of this movie is “Don’t Tell Her.” The Farewell‘s American title doesn’t entirely capture the premise of the movie in the same way, but the core message is similar. Awkwafina stars as Billi Wang, a Chinese-American writer who learns that her grandmother, Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen), is dying from terminal lung cancer in China. To make matters worse, Billi’s parents, Haiyan Wang (Tzi Ma) and Lu Jian (Diana Lin), as well as the rest of the family, forbid Billi from telling Nai Nai that she has only a short time to live. It’s a promise that weighs heavily on Billi, but her connection with her beloved grandmother is beautiful and touching. Nai Nai may not know the truth, but she’s still got something valuable to teach her family.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Awkwafina, Zhao Shuzhen
Director: Lulu Wang
Rating: PG
Runtime: 100 minutes

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The African Queen on Amazon Prime

The African Queen (1951)

One of the joys of Amazon Prime is that it allows viewers of all ages to get acquainted with the films that came out decades before they were born. The African Queen is one of director John Huston’s most beloved films, thanks in no small part to the pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn as the leads. The story is set in World War I, as a missionary named Rose Sayer (Hepburn) and the captain of a riverboat, Charlie Allnut (Bogart) join forces against the Germans after their lives are upended. The journey of the African Queen takes Charlie and Rose into countless dangers, as well as an occasionally rocky romance. This is a classic, folks. And everyone should see it at least once.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Adventure
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley
Director: John Huston
Rating: PG
Runtime: 105 minutes

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Blow the Man Down on Amazon Prime

Blow the Man Down (2020)

Blow the Man Down is a dark comedy and a hidden gem that arrived on Amazon Prime under the radar earlier this year. Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe co-headline the film as feuding sisters Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly, respectively. When Mary Beth kills a man who tried to harm her, Priscilla decides that blood is thicker than water and she helps her sister cover up the evidence. Unfortunately for the Connolly sisters, secrets are hard to keep in a small town, and they never quite know who they can trust. Margo Martindale also has a terrific supporting turn as Enid Nora Devlin, a local brothel owner who may know too much.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Stars: Morgan Saylor, Sophie Lowe, Margo Martindale
Director: Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy
Rating: R
Runtime: 91 minutes

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Paterson on Amazon Prime

Paterson (2016)

The stakes aren’t particularly high for Paterson the film. But for Paterson himself, they’re everything. Adam Driver stars as the title character, a man who works as a bus driver. But in reality, Paterson is a poet who hasn’t learned to fully accept that aspect of himself. The entire movie takes place over the course of a week, and we see the daily routine of both Paterson and his wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). But when the pattern breaks and misfortune strikes, it will take a minor miracle to get Paterson back on the right track.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

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