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The 56 best movies on Amazon Prime right now

Just because the weather’s getting better doesn’t mean it’s time for the movie buff in you to start slacking off — you have a reputation to uphold after all. Access to Amazon’s massive library of movie and TV titles is a pretty great part of the Prime membership, but with so many movies to sift through, it can be time-consuming to find something to watch. Luckily, we’re on top of the movies hitting the streaming service every month and have put together this expertly curated roundup of the best and most critically acclaimed movies Amazon Prime Video has to offer, with a focus on films that are free with your Prime membership. We update this list weekly, removing the expired titles and adding new ones as they’re released, so check back often.

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

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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Tom Cruise in Minority Report

Minority Report (2002)

Prolific American sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick penned countless tales of dystopic futures that have been turned into iconic films and TV shows, most famously Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall (We Can Remember It for You Wholesale), and this action gem starring Tom Cruise, adapted from Dick’s 1956 novella The Minority Report. Steven Spielberg brings to life Dick’s tale of a future where a specialized police force of “PreCrime” detectives uses clairvoyant humans known as “precogs” to predict murders and other future crimes in the hopes of apprehending those about to commit them. Cruise plays PreCrime captain John Anderton, who goes on the run when he himself is predicted to kill a man he doesn’t know less than 36 hours in the future. Leading the hunt is Justice Department agent Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell), who’s trying to nab Anderton before he locates the titular “minority report,” which outlines a conflicting alternate future predicted by other precogs, the existence of which could undermine the validity of the entire PreCrime unit. Oh, and of course there’s tons of cool tech, including the famous gesture-controlled holographic screen, autonomous cars, and more.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Action, Crime, Mystery
Stars: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 145 minutes

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Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny

My Cousin Vinny  (1992)

If you find yourself in need of a light, fun, and hilarious way to spend an evening in front of the TV, then stop scrolling now and just watch this. Joe Pesci takes all the gangster clout he earned from his turn as a badass mafioso in Goodfellas two years prior and turns it on its head here as ambulance-chasing small claims lawyer Vinny Gambini (not Gambino), who finds himself in backwater Alabama to defend his cousin Bill (Ralph Macchio) and his friend Stanley (Mitchell Whitfield) on murder charges. They didn’t do it, of course, but Vinny isn’t a trial attorney. He’s never actually won a case, and the cantankerous old judge (Fred Gwynne) keeps finding him in contempt of court. Luckily for Bill and Stan, though, Vinny’s got gusto and a secret weapon — his smoldering hot and whip-smart fiancee, Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei, who won a Best Actress Oscar for the role). My Cousin Vinny is as good a fish-out-of-water story as you’ll ever find, and it’s full of earworm lines you’ll be reciting for weeks.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Genre: Comedy, Crime
Stars: Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Ralph Macchio, Fred Gwynne
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Rating: R
Runtime: 120 minutes

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Kristen Bell and Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

Paul Rudd’s flaky surfer dude Chuck has the best advice for heartbroken Peter (Jason Segel): “When life gives you lemons, just say f*** the lemons and bail.” And in this Segel-penned comedy, that’s exactly what Peter tries to do as he escapes to beautiful Hawaii to attempt to get over his recent breakup with his TV personality ex, Sarah (Kristen Bell), who’s decided that she’s too good for Pete. Only problem is, it turns out that Sarah is at the same resort, shacked up with her pervy rockstar boyfriend, Aldous (Russell Brand). Peter tries to make the best of the awkward situation (while unsuccessfully, and hilariously, trying to avoid Sarah and Aldous), and in the process meets Rachel (Mila Kunis), a concierge at the resort who tries to help Peter get out of his funk. Sparks inevitably fly between Pete and Rachel, and Pete starts to get his mojo and self-respect back. With some funny-as-hell supporting performances from Rudd, Bill Hader, and Jonah Hill, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is not to be missed if you’re a fan of that Judd Apatow (a producer on the film) comedy style.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama
Stars: Kristen Bell, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, Russell Brand, Mila Kunis, Bill Hader
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Rating: R
Runtime: 111 minutes

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Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, and Bruce Willis in Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Before the film’s release in 2012, writer-director Wes Anderson told the New York Times that with creating Moonrise Kingdom, it was “the only time I’ve been consciously trying to capture a sensation, which is that emotion of when you’re a 12-year-old and you fall in love … I remember that being such a powerful feeling, it was almost like going into a fantasy world.” It’s the love story within its fantasy world that makes Moonrise Kingdom so endearing. It follows Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), two lonely young pen-pals, alienated from their families, who fall in love and decide to run away together, albeit on the remote 12-mile-long New England island where they live. Sam’s a seasoned Boy Scout, and the couple navigates their way to their perfect retreat. But with a hurricane on its way, the entire town mobilizes to find them — including Sam’s bickering lawyer parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand); his entire Boy Scout troop and Scout Leader (Edward Norton); and sad-sack local cop (Bruce Willis). Set in 1965, Moonrise Kingdom is full of the brilliant whimsy and quirkiness that Anderson is known for and feels very much like the same universe as The Darjeeling Limited and The Royal Tenenbaums.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars: Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton
Director: Wes Anderson
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 94 minutes

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How To Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Not every DreamWorks animated film is an instant classic, but How to Train Your Dragon lives up to the hype and exceeds it. Based on a book with the same name, How to Train Your Dragon follows a young Viking boy named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) as he realizes that dragons can be partners to humanity instead of their deadly enemies. By a process of experimentation, and several leaps of trust, Hiccup trains and bonds with a small, black dragon named Toothless, which ultimately changes his world forever. The stunning animation still takes our collective breath away a decade after this film came out. It spawned a franchise, but this is still the best movie in the trilogy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Stars: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler
Director: Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois
Rating: PG
Runtime: 99 minutes

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Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception

Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan wrote and directed this mind-bending sci-fi thriller that casts Leonardo DiCaprio as a high-tech thief who steals information from the subconscious minds of his targets. When he’s hired for a different sort of job — to inject a thought into someone’s mind instead of stealing from it — it raises the stakes and traps him in an even more dangerous mission. Along with an endless array of groundbreaking visual effects, the film also features an ensemble cast that includes Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy
Director: Christopher Nolan
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 148 minutes

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Ben Affleck in Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused (1993)

Let’s get this out of the way now, ’cause you know it’s coming: “Alright, alright, alright.” Yes, this beauty of a stoner period piece is where a 25-year-old Matthew McConaughey birthed the iconic catchphrase that still dogs the actor to this day. And we’re all better for it. Director/writer Richard Linklater’s weed- and beer-soaked account of a group of Austin teenagers’ last day of school in 1976 became a cult classic years after its release and launched the careers of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, and McConaughey. While Dazed and Confused is light on plot, it doesn’t need it. It meanders through interconnected lives of a handful of junior, senior, and too-senior-to-be-hanging-with-high-school-kids high school kids, on their first night of freedom from school, as they cruise around town, hit the local pool hall, drink, get high, make out, and wax philosophical about the adolescent condition. It’s a coming-of-age masterpiece.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Comedy, Stoner, Coming-of-age
Stars: Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Adam Goldberg
Director: Richard Linklater
Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes

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Mission: Impossible -- Fallout (2018)

Mission: Impossible — Fallout (2018)

The sixth installment in the long-running Mission: Impossible franchise, Fallout shows that the old series can still outpace younger ones when it comes to frenetic action and jaw-dropping spectacle. The film opens with secret agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), part of the Impossible Missions Force, attempting to secure some stolen plutonium cores. When the mission goes sideways, the cores fall into the hands of a terrorist group, forcing the IMF to hunt its members down. Their failure draws the ire of CIA Director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett), who deploys the assassin August Walker (Henry Cavill) to follow Hunt’s trail. With a gripping plot and some awe-inspiring stunts, Fallout is top-notch espionage action.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Action & Adventure
Stars: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhymes, Simon Pegg
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 147 minutes

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Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise in Rain Man

Rain Man (1988)

Barry Levinson and Dustin Hoffman each took home Oscars for Best Director and Best Actor, respectively, for this touching drama that will have you crying in your popcorn by the time it’s over. Hoffman is Raymond, an autistic man with savant syndrome who lives by a simple routine but could recite every baseball stat in existence, every name in the phone book, or count a pile of spilled toothpicks in an instant. And he’s an excellent driver. Charlie (Tom Cruise) is Ray’s younger brother, which surprises Charlie because he doesn’t have a brother. See, Charlie learns of this fact when his estranged father dies and leaves his fortune to Raymond instead. In an act of desperation, Charlie takes Ray from the assisted living institution he’s been living in with the selfish idea that bringing him home to Los Angeles will grant Charlie access to his dad’s fortune and bail him out of his financial problems. As the brothers travel by car across the country, Charlie gets more than he bargained for when he starts to realize how special his brother really is.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Dustin HoffmanTom CruiseValeria Golino
Director: Barry Levinson
Rating: R
Runtime: 133 minutes

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Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs.

48 Hrs. (1982)

The buddy cop genre owes much to 48 Hrs., the 1980s action-comedy that paved the way for everything from Lethal Weapon to Miami Vice to Bad Boys to Hobbs & Shaw and beyond. The formula was there from the beginning, with tough-guy cop Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) and convicted bank robber on parole Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy in his film debut) teaming up to take down Hammond’s old partner, who’s escaped from prison and has been on a cop-killing rampage. Hammond gets a 48-hour pass under the watchful eye of Cates to help bring the bad guy to justice. You know the drill: As the reluctant partners work together, they go from hating everything about each other to being slightly less annoyed to finding that they’re alike in many ways to being besties by the end of the film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Comedy, Action, Crime
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte,
Director: Walter Hill
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

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The Full Monty

The Full Monty (1997)

In the Northern England town of Sheffield, several of the town’s steel mills have been shut down, leaving many of their workers unemployed. This includes Gaz (Trainspotting‘s Robert Carlyle) and his best friend Dave (Mark Addy, who would go on to play Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones), who have resorted to petty scrap-metal theft to make ends meet. The situation starts getting desperate when Gaz can’t make his child support payments and his ex threatens to file for sole custody of their 12-year-old son, so he does what any man would (in a cheeky British comedy, anyway): He gathers together a group of other men on the dole to put on a Chippendales-like male strip show for the town’s ladies. As the troupe hilariously rehearses and works its way through the awkwardness and skimpy G-strings, they begin to rediscover their confidence and self-respect lost to hard times (no pun intended). The Full Monty is a funny and enduring light comedy well worth its hour-and-a-half runtime.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Addy
Director: Peter Cataneo
Rating: R
Runtime: 91 minutes

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Back to the Future

Back to the Future (1985)

Good news for fans of this, the time-travel movie mold that would spark an entire genre — Back to the Future movies one through three are streaming now on Amazon Prime, so buckle up. The famed trilogy starts, of course, with the O.G. 1995 installment, in which Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is accidentally sent racing back to 1955 in a time-machine DeLorean invented by the wily Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Stuck 40 years in the past, Marty enlists the help of the younger Doc (who has yet to invent time travel) to retrofit the DeLorean and get him back to 1985. But Marty has a few more problems to solve — mainly that his mom (Lea Thompson) has fallen for him instead of his dad (Crispin Glover), a time paradox situation that threatens Marty’s own existence.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Comedy, Sci-fi, Adventure,
Stars: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Crispin Glover, Lea Thompson
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Rating: PG
Runtime: 106 minutes

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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

While it was nominated for nine Academy Awards in the year of its release (including Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Spielberg), this tear-jerker of a classic alien flick would have to settle for only four wins (boo-hoo), mainly for its visual effects, where its achievements were groundbreaking and still hold up today. When a team of extraterrestrial explorers to Earth is forced to leave behind one of its own, the young Elliott (Henry Thomas) and his little sister, Gertie (Drew Barrymore), befriend the scared alien and try to help it contact its people for rescue. Naming the intelligent being E.T., Elliott and Gertie must keep it a secret from the government entity searching for it. But Earth proves to be an inhospitable environment, and as E.T. falls ill, it’s a race against time to get the otherworldly creature home.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure
Stars: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating: PG
Runtime: 115 minutes

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Neil Young: Heart of Gold

Neil Young Heart of Gold (2006)

As a feature filmmaker, Jonathan Demme is more widely known for his huge blockbuster hits, such as Philadelphia and The Silence of the Lambs (for which he won a Best Director Oscar). But Demme’s career is also full of short films and documentaries about a wide range of bands and musicians, ranging from Tom Tom Club and Talking Heads to UB40, New Order, and Bruce Springsteen. In 2006, Demme went at it again, this time documenting legendary Canadian-American musician Neil Young during a two-night stint at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Largely a beautifully-shot concert film in which Young performs some of his greatest hits, like Harvest Moon, Far From Home, and Heart of Gold, the film also mixes in some fascinating interview footage with Young and his band as well as some rare performances.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Music, Documentary
Stars: Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Pegi Young
Director: Jonathan Demme
Rating: PG
Runtime: 103 minutes

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Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

If you’re looking for a much-needed respite from heavy dramas and sappy rom-coms, look no further. Even if you never played the popular Sega video games that this fun, animated action-comedy is based on, you’ll find yourself easily enamored by Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz). He’s a literal ball of lightning-fast energy who finds himself on earth being hunted by the villainous Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who wants to harness that energy to power his evil robots. With a little help from the local sheriff (James Marsden) and his wife, Maddie (Tika Sumpter), the group works to take down Dr. Robotnik and save the world.

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Genre: Comedy, Kids, Action, Video Game
Stars: Ben Schwartz, James MarsdenTika SumpterJim Carrey
Director: Jeff Fowler
Rating: PG
Runtime: 198 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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Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

If you don’t quite remember this Oscar-winning musical extravaganza from 2001, it’s more likely you’ve cut a rug to its de facto theme song, Lady Marmalade, at more than a few weddings. Part of director Baz Luhrmann’s Red Curtain trilogy of theatre-motif films that include Strictly BallroomRomeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!, this final installment focuses on all the dance and drama you can handle at Paris’s famous titular cabaret at the end of the 1800s. Nicole Kidman stars as Satine, the marquee performer at the nightclub, who falls in love with young writer Christian (Ewan McGregor). But like with all good forbidden love stories, beyond the over-the-top song-and-dance numbers (with Luhrmann’s signature contemporary take delivering The Police’s Roxanne as you’ve never heard before), Moulin Rouge‘s story is fraught with tragedy, as Satine struggles to get out from under the thumb of the club’s main backer, The Duke (Richard Roxburgh), who wants her for himself. Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, da-da.

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Genre: Drama, Musical, Romance
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent
Directors: Baz Luhrmann
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 127 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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Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, in Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

The third film in the new, new reboot of the Star Trek motion picture franchise, and the first not helmed by J.J. Abrams (he had since switched focus to the Star Wars films), Star Trek Beyond is considered by some to be the best of the bunch. In this installment, Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), and the rest of the Enterprise crew find themselves stranded on an inhospitable planet after the ship is ripped to shreds by a swarm of tiny alien ships. Idris Elba is menacing as the alien leader Krall, who’s got beef with the Federation and seeks to destroy it with the help of a super-weapon in Kirk’s possession. Beyond has all the eye-candy special effects action of the two previous Trek films, plus the now finely-honed banter between Kirk and crew. But the standout performance goes to relative newcomer Sofia Boutella (Atomic Blond, Hotel Artemis), whose scavenger-warrior Jaylah (with iconic tribal face markings) chews up the fight scenes with impressive acrobatics and martial arts. Popcorn not included.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-fi
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho
Director: Justin Lin
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 122 minutes

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Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragen

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — 4K (2000)

When director Ang Lee’s gorgeous Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon came to theaters 20 years ago, it blew audiences away with its exhilarating martial arts scenes. Like nothing Western audiences had ever seen before, they featured gravity-defying fight sequences that had their participants literally floating across rooftops, running straight up fortress walls, and squaring off in epic sword battles while swaying in the canopy of a bamboo forest — stunts largely performed by the actors themselves. But at the heart of Crouching Tiger is a story of forbidden love and secret desires told during a time when giving in to either could threaten your honor and your life. Chow Yun Fat stars as legendary swordsman Li Mu Bai, who has lived a long life of devoted service at the expense of his own happiness, namely his love for fellow warrior Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh). When Li’s famed sword, the Green Destiny, is stolen by a mysterious masked thief with rare skills that Li recognizes all too well, he and Shu Lien set out to retrieve it and expose the intruder. Also central to the film’s complexities is Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi), the daughter of a prominent governor, who is to be married off against her will. But let’s just say her will is strong.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Action, Adventure, Romance, Martial Arts
Stars: Michelle YeohChow Yun FatZhang Ziyi, Chen Chang, Pei-Pei Cheng
Director: Ang Lee
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 120 minutes

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Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in the original Coming to America

Coming to America (1998)

Eddie Murphy is Prince Akeem Joffer (Murphy), of the fictional African nation of Zamunda, who challenges the tradition of his arranged marriage and heads to the gritty streets of Queens, New York, in search of true love. Coming to America was an instant classic that was praised for its largely Black cast and how it challenged common perceptions of Africa. The fish-out-of-water comedy delivered line after line of quotable gems and some unforgettable performances from both Murphy and co-star Arsenio Hall, who, thanks to some amazing makeup (for which it won an Oscar), gave us iconic characters such as Murphy’s Jewish barbershop customer, Saul, and Jheri-curled Sexual Chocolate singer Randy Watson, as well as Hall’s deep-voiced, frisky female clubgoer. The stacked cast also features James Earl Jones as Akeem’s dad, King Jaffer; John Amos as the owner of McDonald’s knockoff restaurant McDowell’s; and Shari Headley as the object of Akeem’s affection, Lisa. Not to be missed.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Comedy, Romantic Comedy
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Shari Headley
Director: John Landis
Rating: R
Runtime: 116 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: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Clare Dunne, Ruby Rose O’Hara, Molly McCann,
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes

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The Sons of Katie Elder on Amazon Prime

The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)

One of only three movies on this list to hit 100% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes, The Sons of Katie Elder still holds up as a classic, gritty, Western revenge story, and stars the epitome of the genre, John Wayne. The premise is beautiful in its simplicity: The good-for-nothing Elder brothers — John, an infamous gunslinger (Wayne), Tom, a washed-up gambler (Rat Packer Dean Martin), hardware merchant Matt (Earl Halliman), and youngest son Bud (Michael Anderson, Jr.) return after years to their hometown of Clearwater, Texas, to attend their mother’s funeral. But the boys find that the family ranch has been swindled in a dodgy card game by ambitious entrepreneur Morgan Hastings (James Gregory), after which their father was murdered. The Elders set out to find those responsible, but the Hastings own the town, and after a setup sees the boys framed for killing the Sherriff and Matt dead in a bloody ambush, the stage is set for some classic six-shooter payback.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Western, Action, Drama
Stars: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Martha Hyer, Dennis Hopper
Director: Henry Hathaway
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 122 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: Sache Baron CohenMaria Bakalova, Rudy Giuliani
Director: Jason Woliner
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

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Charlize Theron and John Lithgow in Bombshell

Bombshell (2019)

Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie earned Oscar nominations last year for their roles as Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and fictional Fox News employee Kayla Pospisil, respectively, in this riveting drama about the takedown of their sleazy boss, Roger Ailes (John Lithgow). Bombshell tracks the real-life scandal set in motion when former Fox and Friends host Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) files a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, which throws the network into chaos as the minions scramble to take sides. Kelly eventually joins Carlson’s cause, working on the inside to uncover other fellow victims of the media mogul, including the young Pospisil, in an effort to put an end to the network’s misogynistic culture. A corporate thriller of the highest order, Bombshell‘s stacked cast delivers stellar performances across the board.

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Genre: Drama, Suspense
Stars: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robie, John Lithgow
Director: Jay Roach
Rating: R
Runtime: 208 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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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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Funny Girl

Funny Girl — 4K (1968)

Funny Girl is quite literally the movie that made Barbara Streisand a star, It was her feature film debut, and she won an Oscar for Best Actress when she reprised her role from the Broadway original. It’s fitting that Streisand was playing a real Broadway and film star, Fanny Brice, in a story that spanned several years. Omar Sharif co-starred in the film as Nick Arnstein, Fanny’s lover-turned-husband. Funny Girl opts for a nonlinear approach to Fanny and Nick’s tumultuous relationship by starting near the end and going back to the very beginning. Funny Girl nails both its comedic moments and its dramatic scenes with ease. It’s a film that has withstood the test of time, and it still holds up decades after its initial release. “Hello gorgeous,” indeed.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Drama
Stars: Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif, Kay Medford
Director: William Wyler
Rating: G
Runtime: 144 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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I Am Not Your Negro on Amazon Prime

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Genre: Documentary
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Raoul Peck
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 93 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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Rocketman on Amazon Prime

Rocketman (2019)

Part musical fantasy, part biopic of legendary musician Elton John, Rocketman casts Taron Egerton as the inimitable performer and chronicles John’s evolution from a small-town prodigy to an international superstar. Filled with fantastic musical interludes based on some of John’s most popular songs and performed by Egerton, the film also features Jamie Bell as John’s longtime lyricist and writing partner Bernie Taupin, and Richard Madden as John’s first manager, John Reid.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Musical, Drama
Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes

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Cabin in the Woods on Amazon Prime

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

One of the most unexpectedly unique horror films of the last decade, Drew Goddard’s The Cabin the Woods took the typical story of a group of teenagers tormented by sinister forces while staying in a remote cabin in an entirely new direction. Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon toyed with and twisted the conventions of the genre in ways that no one saw coming, and the result was a film that’s as funny as it is terrifying and packed with hidden elements that demand multiple viewings. If you haven’t seen The Cabin in the Woods yet, it’s best that you know as little as possible going into this film — but if you have seen it, there’s a good chance you’ll end up watching it many times over.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Horror
Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins
Director: Drew Goddard
Rating: R
Runtime: 95 minutes

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Fast Color on Amazon Prime

Fast Color (2019)

Three generations of women with powerful abilities come together in this sci-fi thriller that explores racism and generational divides against the backdrop of a thrilling story about a woman pursued by sinister forces due to the power she wields. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, and Saniyya Sidney star in the film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama
Stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, Saniyya Sidney
Director: Julia Hart
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 100 minutes

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The Avengers on Amazon Prime

The Avengers (2012)

It might seem strange given the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there was a time when no one thought a movie like The Avengers was possible. In 2012, Marvel Studios brought together the stars and supporting cast of multiple solo superhero films for a massive team-up that broke just about every box-office record possible and redefined “cinematic universe” for Hollywood. After Asgardian trickster Loki primes Earth for an invasion by an alien armada, it’s up to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye to save the day. More than just an early installment of the MCU, The Avengers was a game-changer for the entire superhero genre.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Fantasy, Action & Adventure
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johanson
Director: Joss Whedon
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 142 minutes

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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Fighting With My Family on Amazon Prime

Fighting With My Family (2019)

A comedy based on the true story of WWE wrestler Paige, Fighting with my Family delivers on the story of a real-life wrestling family. Written and directed by Stephen Merchant, the film stars Florence Pugh alongside a strong cast that includes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Lena Headey, Vince Vaughn, and others. Pugh and her brother (played by Jack Lowden) try out for the WWE and, when only one of them makes the cut, Pugh is forced to face the world of professional wrestling alone. It may have a bit of an underdog storyline that’s often used in sports, but there’s a sincerity and a truth behind this story that makes it special.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Florence Pugh, Lena Headey
Director: Stephen Merchant
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 107 minutes

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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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Midsommar on Amazon Prime

Midsommar (2019)

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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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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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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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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Creed II

Creed II (2018)

Creed II has the difficult task of following the first Creed while also serving as a direct sequel to Rocky IV. Remarkably, it succeeds at both by giving Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) and Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) strong stories and lots of complicated emotions to work through. Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) re-enters their lives while challenging Creed to fight his son, Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu). Rocky’s attempt to protect his new charge is no match for Creed’s desire to avenge his father in the ring. The resulting emotional and physical fallout separates Creed and Rocky before bringing them back together yet again. If you’ve seen one Rocky movie, then you know the formula by now. But Creed II does an excellent job of making the formula work yet again. It also gives Rocky some much-needed closure, if this turns out to be his final film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Genre: Drama, Sports, Action
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 130 minutes

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