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The 54 best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now

The first month of the new year is almost done, and while there’s not much in the way of new movies added to Amazon Prime Video at this point, save for the last installment of Sony’s animated Hotel Transylvania franchise, Transformania, there’s never a shortage of movies to watch. The problem, as it turns out, is actually choosing from the streaming service’s library of thousands, which is exactly why we update this list of the best movies on Amazon Prime every week, each ranked using a combination of our own expertise as well as critical ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and IMDb. Have a scroll, save some time.

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

Recently added to Amazon Prime Video

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (2022) new

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania
56%
45 %
6.1/10
pg 88m
Genre Animation, Family, Fantasy, Comedy, Adventure
Stars Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kathryn Hahn
Directed by Derek Drymon, Jennifer Kluska
If your kids are fans of the first three of Sony’s hugely popular Hotel Transylvania animated movies, then they’ll find this final installment, which has so far received mixed reviews, just as cute and fun as its predecessors. Originally set for a theatrical release in October of last year, Sony pulled the plug amidst rising COVID-19 cases and sold the distribution rights to Amazon. True to its pedigree of colorful animation, a thumping soundtrack, and punny monster sight gags, Transformania sees its main character, Drac (previously voiced by Adam Sandler, but here taken over by Brian Hull who does a solid impersonation), about to retire and leave the hotel to his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her human hubby Johnny (Andy Samberg). Things go haywire when Johnny is transformed into a fire-breathing monster while Drac is zapped into human form, and the two must journey into the jungles of South America to find a special crystal to turn them back. As viewers have come to expect from the franchise, Transformania is laced with themes of acceptance and forgiveness in its world where monsters and humans live together despite their differences.

Predator (1987) new

Predator
82%
45 %
7.8/10
r 107m
Genre Science Fiction, Action, Adventure, Thriller
Stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo
Directed by John McTiernan
This is it, the film that spawned a franchise that includes three sequels and an upcoming prequel, Prey, as well as two crossover films with those aliens from Alien. But never mind the franchise (none of them are that great anyway), it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (and his biceps’) turn as Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, a Vietnam veteran and soldier of fortune, that drove the original Predator to its cult status. The premise is simple: Dutch and his ragtag military rescue team — which includes Mac (Bille Duke), Poncho (Richard Chaves), and Blain (Jesse Ventura), as well as the CIA’s Al Dillon (Carl Weathers), who is sent to keep an eye on things — are sent to Guatemala to retrieve a group of politicians whose helicopter has gone down in the jungle. But the situation gets gruesome when they’re being stalked by some kind of stealthy and advanced extraterrestrial who is hunting them for sport. 

Crazy Heart (2009) new

Crazy Heart
90%
83 %
7.2/10
r 112m
Genre Drama, Music, Romance
Stars Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed by Scott Cooper
Jeff Bridges snagged his one and only Oscar win (among seven noms) for his performance in this 2009 drama as Otis “Bad” Blake, a washed-up country music star in the twilight of his life living at the bottom of a bottle. When a young music journalist named Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) arrives on the scene to interview Blake, it begins a romance that inspires him to clean up his act and start writing music again. Colin Farrell is also impressive as Tommy Sweet, a country singer and former pupil of Blake’s, whose star is on the rise and who gives Blake chance to write for him. But old habits die hard for the weathered troubadour, in this booze- and ballad-soaked tear-jerker of a film about the hard road to redemption. 

127 Hours (2010) new

127 Hours
93%
82 %
7.5/10
r 94m
Genre Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Stars James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn
Directed by Danny Boyle
The one-hour and thirty-seven-minute runtime of Danny Boyle’s Oscar-nominated 2003 adventure thriller is a pittance compared to what real-life mountaineer Aaron Ralston went through, but the film does a remarkable job at giving viewers a glimpse of the harrowing experience. Based on Ralston’s own memoir, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, 127 Hours is the horrific story of the 127 hours he spent trapped and alone, with his arm pinned under a boulder, in a slot canyon in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Starring James Franco, who earned a best actor Oscar nomination, the film explores Ralston’s reflections on his life and his intense will to survive and escape, at any cost. Beware, 127 Hours is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re a fan of intense action dramas, you’re in for the ride of your life.    

Saving Private Ryan (1998) new

Saving Private Ryan
93%
91 %
8.6/10
r 169m
Genre Drama, History, War
Stars Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns
Directed by Steven Spielberg
There’s a moment in the brutal opening sequence in Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic Saving Private Ryan that always gets me. As U.S. Army Rangers Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) lands on Omaha Beach during the Allies’ Normandy invasion, the assault on them is nothing short of savage, and soon a shell explodes mere feet from Miller. The impact rocks the Captain, deafening him and the audience — momentarily — as we watch, in eerie silence, the carnage happening around him. It’s a hell of a way to start a hell of a film, but it’s only the beginning. Once off the beach, Miller is given the unenviable task of leading a small detachment of soldiers into German-occupied France to retrieve one Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), who has recently become the sole-surviving Ryan brother in his family and is to be sent home. As can be expected, the task is easier said than done, as the squad (which includes actors Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies) encounters one intense obstacle after another to reach Ryan. It’s a must-see.

The Prestige (2006) new

The Prestige
76%
66 %
8.5/10
pg-13 130m
Genre Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction
Stars Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman star in this fantasy drama of two dueling stage magicians in late 1800s England, but in true Christopher Nolan fashion, this film pulls more than a few rabbits out of its metaphorical hat. Robert Angier (Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Bale) have a bitter personal rivalry and want nothing more than to outdo one another with their elaborate illusions, often resorting to sabotage to do it. When Borden develops the ultimate trick, The Transported Man, in which the magician seemingly teleports across the stage from one wardrobe to another, Angier becomes obsessed with learning its secret, in the process developing his own version with Nikola Tesla that opens a Pandora’s box of mystical side effects that will affect their lives forever.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Beasts of the Southern Wild
86%
86 %
7.3/10
pg-13 93m
Genre Drama
Stars Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly
Directed by Benh Zeitlin
In this four-time Oscar-nominated adventure drama from writer/director Benh Zeitlin and co-writer Lucy Alibar, adapted from Alibar’s one-act play Juicy and Delicious, a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) struggles to survive in the flood-ravaged Louisiana bayou region known as The Bathtub. Her father Wink’s (Dwight Henry) health is ailing and he must teach Hushpuppy how to take care of herself as her overactive imagination leads her to believe that the universe is coming apart and that mythical creatures called aurochs are coming to terrorize them. As a vicious storm approaches and the levees are threatened, Hushpuppy tries to restore the balance between nature and the universe, as well as save her father and her home. Wallis is a wunderkind in the role, and it earned her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination, making her the youngest to do so in history.

Fargo (1996)

Fargo
94%
85 %
8.1/10
r 98m
Genre Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi
Directed by Joel Coen
In this Coen Brother’s masterpiece that spawned a whole franchise of critically-acclaimed TV seasons, Jerry Lundergaard (William H. Macy) is a sad and miserable car salesman in rural Minnesota who gets the not-so-bright idea of having his wife kidnapped so he can collect the ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. Jerry learns all-too-quickly that the henchmen he enlists — the scheming Carl (Steve Buscemi) and sociopathic Gaear (Peter Stormare) — are complete idiots, and when the plan takes a disastrous turn, Jerry spirals out of control as the sharp-as-a-tack (and pregnant) local police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) zeroes in.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Do the Right Thing
93%
93 %
8.0/10
r 120m
Genre Drama
Stars Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee
Directed by Spike Lee
Lauded as one of the best films of all time and a stark reflection of American race relations that’s as poignant today as it was during its release, Do the Right Thing is an intense and thought-provoking drama written, directed, produced, and starring Spike Lee. During a sweltering heatwave in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford–Stuyvesant, young Mookie (Lee) works as a delivery boy for a local pizzeria owned by Italian-American Sal (Danny Aiello), who has run the shop in the predominantly African-American area for more than two decades. After a racially charged incident in the shop erupts into violence one night, the police are called, and one of the locals, Raheem (Bill Nunn), is killed by Officer Long (Rick Aiello). The situation escalates, Sal’s pizzeria is destroyed, a mob fills the streets, and the neighborhood is rocked by the events forever. Aiello deservedly received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, while Lee also got a nod for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, but Do the Right Thing‘s impact is lasting well beyond the accolades and is a must-see.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society
85%
79 %
8.1/10
pg 128m
Genre Drama
Stars Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard
Directed by Peter Weir
One of the most emotionally powerful films of the late ’80s, Dead Poets Society has since made its way to the favorite films of all-time lists of many a lad growing up in the era. The Peter Weir-helmed, Oscar-winning film follows the lives of a group of young men at Welton Academy, an elite private boys’ school in Vermont, where the pillars of tradition, honor, excellence, and discipline are strictly followed. It’s 1959, and the boys — most notably Neil (Robert Sean Leonard), Todd (Ethan Hawke), and Knox (Josh Charles) — are inspired to carpe diem and think for themselves by their liberal new English teacher, Mr. Keating (Robin Williams). With budding self-confidence, the boys form a secret club called the Dead Poets Society and meet to read poetry and explore their individual self-expression. Things come to a head when Neil, who defies his overbearing father’s wishes by joining the cast of a school play, breaks under the pressure and commits suicide. The final scene is perhaps one of the most moving in film history.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Napoleon Dynamite
72%
64 %
6.9/10
pg 95m
Genre Comedy
Stars Jon Heder, Haylie Duff, Aaron Ruell
Directed by Jared Hess
An indie darling of the early 2000s, this quirky comedy written and directed by Jared Hess (Nacho Libre, The Last Man on Earth) stars Jon Heder as the titular Napoleon, an awkward, mouth-breathing teenager living with his grandmother in rural Idaho dealing with all the usual trials and tribulations of high school life … but way weirder. After his grandma is injured in a quad bike accident, Napolean and his chat-room stalking 32-year-old brother Chip (Aaron Ruell) are left to fend for themselves at home until their loser uncle, Rico (Jon Gries) shows up to keep an eye on them. Napolean starts to find his people when he befriends a Mexican transfer student, Pedro (Efren Ramirez), and the entrepreneurial Deb (Tina Majorino), and the trio work towards helping Pedro run for class president against the school’s popular girl, Summer (Haylie Duff), whom Napolean has a crush on. How far will Napoolean go to help people vote for Pedro? Cue the music.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
93%
73 %
7.4/10
pg-13 133m
Genre Action, Thriller, Adventure
Stars Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg
Directed by Brad Bird
The first four movies in Tom Cruise’s action-packed Mission: Impossible franchise are streaming on Amazon Prime this month, and while you should set aside some time to watch them all from the beginning, 2011’s Brad Bird-directed installment, Ghost Protocol, is a cut above the rest. Ethan Hunt’s (Cruise) trusty Impossible Mission Force team — which includes Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Benji (Simon Pegg), and Jane (Paula Patton) — find themselves blamed for a mission gone wrong and blacklisted, left to their own devices to clear their name. Oh, and they still have to track down and stop a dangerous figure known as Cobalt, who is hellbent on starting a nuclear war. 

Being the Ricardos (2021)

Being the Ricardos
69%
60 %
6.8/10
r 132m
Genre Drama, History
Stars Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons
Directed by Aaron Sorkin
Lucille Ball remains one of the greatest comediennes of all time. Her sitcom, I Love Lucy, which she created and starred in with her husband Desi Arnaz, aired from 1951 to 1957 and is considered to be one of the most groundbreaking television shows to have ever aired, pioneering production and format techniques still in use today. But I Love Lucy wasn’t all grape-crushing, chocolate-eating gags and fun. In Aaron Sorkin’s week-in-the-life dramatized biopic, we go behind the scenes with Lucy (Nicole Kidman) and Desi (Javier Bardem), on set and in their personal lives, during the production week of an episode of the iconic sitcom as the couple’s personal and professional lives are put to the test, in front of a live studio audience.  

The Theory of Everything (2014)

The Theory of Everything
80%
71 %
7.7/10
123m
Genre Drama, Romance
Stars Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox
Directed by James Marsh
Stephen Hawking was a giant of theoretical physics, who spent his life studying the origins and mysteries of the universe. But The Theory of Everything is about something even more enormous, that of the love and understanding shared between him and his wife, Jane Wilde, and the struggles they endured as Hawking emerged as a star in his field while also being diagnosed with motor neuron disease, a.k.a. amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Adapted from Jane Hawking’s own 2007 memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, the James Marsh-helmed film stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones who are stunning as Stephen and Jane (Redmayne took home the Oscar for Best Actor for the role). The film delves deep into Stephen’s worsening physical abilities and the effects it had on his marriage and children, as well as the enormity of the discoveries he was making.

The Usual Suspects (1995)

The Usual Suspects
88%
77 %
8.5/10
r 106m
Genre Drama, Crime, Thriller
Stars Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Spacey
Directed by Bryan Singer
A film with one of the most compelling twists of all time, director Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects is the story of a group of hardened criminals, Hungarian mobsters, and a ghostly mastermind known as Keyser Soze, who may or may not exist. After a docked ship mysteriously explodes in San Pedro Bay killing 27 bad people, one of only two survivors, con artist Roger “Verbal” Kint (Kevin Spacey), recounts the entire story to U.S. Customs agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) in an LA police station. Told in flashbacks, Verbal’s story is tall, involves drugs and jewels, and includes his crew of five, including Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Fenster (Benicio Del Toro), and Hockney (Kevin Pollak). “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist,” Verbal tells Kujan. But who is Keyser Soze? Is he the Devil? The Usual Suspects will have you asking the same questions.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Sleepless in Seattle
75%
72 %
6.8/10
105m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Ross Malinger
Directed by Nora Ephron
Before every rom-com starred Jennifer Aniston, they starred Meg Ryan, who is her usual adorable self in this Nora Ephron-directed (You’ve Got Mail, Julie & Julia) classic from 1993. But almost as equally adorable is America’s Dad, Tom Hanks, who plays recently-widowed Chicago architect Sam Baldwin who, after his wife dies from cancer, moves to Seattle with his young son Jonah to start a new life. When Jonah calls up a national radio show and drags his dad on the phone to tell his story, women across the country begin sending letters (remember letters?!) to Sam, including Annie (Meg Ryan), a reporter for the Baltimore Sun who, although being engaged, is drawn to Sam’s story and writes a letter suggesting that they meet on Valentine’s Day at the top of the Empire State Building. She doesn’t mail the letter, but her friend Becky (Rosie O’Donnell) does, setting in motion a string of destiny-driven events and comedic circumstances that just might bring the pair together.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The Royal Tenenbaums
81%
76 %
7.6/10
r 110m
Genre Comedy, Drama
Stars Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller
Directed by Wes Anderson
If you were cool and in your twenties or thirties when this Wes Anderson masterpiece came out in the early 2000s, there’s a one-thousand percent chance that you went to a Halloween party as one of its characters. Co-written by Anderson and Owen Wilson this Oscar-nominated (best writing, screenplay) comedy-drama tells the story of the Tenebaum family, whose three gifted children, the business genius Chas (Ben Stiller), tennis prodigy Richie (Luke Wilson), and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), are all grown up but have crashed and burned after their father, Royal (Gene Hackman), abandoned them and their mother (Anjelica Huston) as adolescents. The years go by and when Royal returns faking a cancer diagnosis to get back in the family’s good graces, the children, each with their own baggage, lovers, children, secrets, neuroses, and emotional damage, return to their family home to hash it all out in the most Wes Anderson way possible.   

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021)

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
69%
63 %
6.8/10
pg-13 111m
Genre Drama, History
Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough
Directed by Will Sharpe
Based on the true story of turn-of-the-century English artist Louis Wain, whose paintings and illustrations of cats depicted our feline friends with psychedelic colors and imagery that no one had ever seen in the early 1900s, prompting many to believe that Wain suffered from schizophrenia. Benedict Cumberbatch depicts the eccentric artist with power and control, but by his side as Wain descends slowly into madness is the equally-powerful Claire Foy (The Crown) as Wain’s wife Emily. It’s their deep love for one another that helps keep Wain above water during a dark time in Wain’s, and the country’s, life. “How you’ve managed to conjure images of such delight in such a dark time, I don’t know,” Wain’s boss (Toby Jones) at the Illustrated London News tells him. While not a critical darling, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain will definitely add some color to your movie night.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

It's a Wonderful Life
94%
8.6/10
pg 130m
Genre Drama, Family, Fantasy
Stars James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Directed by Frank Capra
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.

Rushmore (1998)

Rushmore
90%
86 %
7.7/10
r 93m
Genre Comedy, Drama
Stars Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams
Directed by Wes Anderson
Jason Schwartzman made his acting debut in this Wes Anderson coming-of-age story as 15-year-old eccentric prep school student Max Fischer, a kid whose laundry-list of extracurricular activities (among them, he’s the VP of the Stamp & Coin Club, lacrosse team manager, and the founder of both the Trap & Skeet Club and the Max Fischer Players theater club) is threatening his enrollment in the private Rushmore Academy. When Max meets Herman Blume (Bill Murray), the wealthy father of another student, the pair develop a close friendship. That is until Herman moves in on Max’s crush, the much older first-grade teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), whom Max has fallen hard for. From then on, the gloves come off as Max and Herman engage in an all-out revenge war of pranks, slander, and sabotage to win Rosemary’s favor, but at what cost?   

Blade of the Immortal (2017)

Blade of the Immortal
86%
72 %
6.8/10
r 140m
Genre Action, Drama, Fantasy
Stars Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi
Directed by Takashi Miike
Legendary Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike (13 AssassinsIchi the Killer) was the perfect choice to adapt this popular manga series of the same name into the live-action masterpiece it is because Miike’s films are often as visually intense, bizarrely violent, and physics-defying as manga can be. Manji (Takuya Kimura) is an elite samurai who is cursed with immortality after killing an entire group of ronin who murdered his sister. Fifty years later, the un-aged Manji is called upon by a young girl, Rin Asano (Hana Sugisaki), who implores Manji to help her avenge her father’s death at the hands of yet another society of samurai assassins. Seeing a chance to redeem himself and save his soul, Manji complies and all hell breaks loose. Blade of the Immortal is 140 minutes of high-flying, sword-swinging, and blood-splattering samurai insanity that makes Kill Bill look like an episode of Paw Patrol.

Burning (2018)

Burning
95%
90 %
7.5/10
148m
Genre Mystery, Drama, Thriller
Stars Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo
Directed by Lee Chang-dong
Getting its premiere in 2018 at the Cannes Film Festival where it won the prestigious FIPRESCI International Critics’ Prize, this South Korean psychological thriller received wide critical acclaim and might be one of the best films you’ve never seen. Jong-soo (Yoo Ah-in) is a struggling writer working as a delivery man, and after reconnecting with childhood friend Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), Jong-soo begins to fall for her and agrees to take care of her cat while she takes a trip to Africa. Hae-mi returns, but she’s not alone; she’s brought a new friend with her, Ben (The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yuen), whom she met at the airport. But there’s something off about Ben. He’s rich, drives a Porsche, and likes to burn abandoned greenhouses to the ground for some reason. And Jong-soo is totally jealous of him, which is when things get intense after Hae-mi disappears. Burning is spellbinding with cold pacing that hints at something beneath, but you just can’t figure out what.

Alien (1979)

Alien
98%
89 %
8.4/10
r 117m
Genre Horror, Science Fiction
Stars Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
Directed by Ridley Scott
This is it, the one that started it all. The OG alien horror film that made a star out of Sigourney Weaver and spawned an empire of sequels, crossovers, and prequels, including these, which are also currently streaming on Prime Video: Alien 3, Alien Ressurection, Alien vs. Predator, and Prometheus. You know the premise — a commercial deep-space vessel is on its way home to Earth when it stops to answer a distress call from a distant moon. There, the crew finds an abandoned alien ship filled with mysterious eggs, one of which shoots out a freaky crab-like creature that attaches itself to a crewmember’s face, infecting him with alien spawn that escapes and starts hunting everyone. It’s up to warrant officer Ellen Ripley (Weaver) and her crew of military, science, and engineering personnel — and an android named Ash played by Ian Holm (The Hobbit‘s Bilbo Baggins) — to make it off the moon alive. Directed by Ridley Scott, Alien is a must-see if you’re into sci-fi horror.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
56%
62 %
7.3/10
r 119m
Genre Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Stars Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett
Directed by Wes Anderson
What better way to kick off the weekend than with a Wes Anderson flick starring Bill Murray in a cute red hat? Murray is a delight as the titular, and internationally renowned, oceanographer adventurer Steve Zissou, who returns to sea with his motley band of seafarers to hunt down a shark that made lunch out of one of his crew. Among those joining Steve on his mighty research vessel, the Belafonte, is his ex-wife Eleanor (Anjelica Huston), first mate Klaus Daimler (Willem Dafoe), a journalist (Cate Blanchett), a documentary film crew, and a man who believes Steve is his dad (Owen Wilson). Critics didn’t really love it, but The Life Aquatic is a silly, Murray-led dive with a fantastic soundtrack led by Brazillian singer-songwriter Seu Jorge (who also plays safety expert Pelé dos Santos), whose acoustic covers of classic David Bowie songs sung in Portuguese throughout the film are not to be missed.

My Name Is Pauli Murray (2021)

My Name Is Pauli Murray
95%
73 %
6.0/10
pg-13 91m
Genre Documentary
Stars Patricia Bell-Scott, Dolores Chandler, Brittney Cooper, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Directed by Julie Cohen, Betsy West
From the same directing team behind 2018’s Oscar-nominated RBGMy Name Is Pauli Murray is the long-overdue telling of the life and influence of pioneering lawyer, civil and women’s rights activist, poet, and priest Pauli Murray. The film is a tribute to the largely unsung hero, the struggles they faced as a non-binary African American, and the legal contributions they made arguing for gender and race equality, most notably with the passing of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment in 1968, which outlawed discrimination based on sex. Murray’s influence on the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is highlighted throughout the documentary, which, like RGB, is destined for Oscar greatness.

The Bad News Bears (1976)

The Bad News Bears
97%
84 %
7.3/10
pg 102m
Genre Family, Comedy
Stars Walter Matthau, Tatum O'Neal, Ben Piazza
Directed by Michael Ritchie
They swear, they drink, they smoke, and they can’t play baseball worth a damn. They’re a team of misfits in the Southern California Youth Baseball League, coached by an alcoholic former minor-league pitcher. They’re the Bears and, yep, they’re bad news. Lauded as one of the best adult-child comedies ever, The Bad News Bears stars Walter Matthau as the washed-up coach in question, Morris Buttermaker, who, as a result of a lawsuit against the league, agrees to coach a team of oddball players no one else wants. After a series of appalling losses, Morris does the unthinkable — he brings in a girl, 11-year-old Amanda Wurlitzer (Tatum O’Neal), to pitch. Amanda is a cannon on the mound, and soon the team starts to get their act together. The Bad News Bears is definitely rough around the edges with some cringy late-’70s humor (don’t watch this one with the kids), but at its core is a losers-to-heroes story worth watching.

The Mad Women's Ball (2021)

The Mad Women's Ball
86%
72 %
6.6/10
121m
Genre Drama, Thriller
Stars Lou de Laâge, Mélanie Laurent, Emmanuelle Bercot
Directed by Mélanie Laurent
The perfect dark and disturbing psychodrama thriller for the coming weather, The Mad Women’s Ball was adapted for the screen by French actress and director Mélanie Laurent, who most will remember as Shoshana, who takes her glorious revenge on the Nazis is Quentin Tarantino’s brilliant Inglorious Basterds. Based on Victoria Mas’s 1977 novel Le bal des folles, the film follows Eugénie (Lou de Laâge), a young woman who is committed to Paris’ Salpêtrière psychiatric hospital in the late 1800s because she can talk to the dead. Laurent plays Geneviève, the Salpêtrière’s head nurse, who bears witness to the dark and often barbaric “treatments” administered by head neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (Grégoire Bonnet), which include parading the asylum’s female patients out in front of the public in a grotesque “ball.” Luckily for Eugénie and the other “mad women,” Geneviève has different plans. Not for the faint of heart, The Mad Women’s Ball is a chilling but satisfying watch.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie (2021)

Everybody's Talking About Jamie
79%
62 %
6.2/10
pg-13 115m
Genre Music, Drama, Comedy
Stars Max Harwood, Sarah Lancashire, Lauren Patel
Directed by Jonathan Butterell
If you’re in need of a fun, fabulous, feel-good movie this weekend, this West End stage play-turned-feature film will likely have you not just off the couch, but setting up a runway in your living room. Originally based on Jenny Popplewell’s popular TV movie, Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, this Amazon Original Movie is an adaptation of the stage musical from the same team – director James Butterell, composer Dan Gillespie, and lyricist Tom McRae. Sixteen-year-old Sheffield high schooler Jamie New (Max Harwood) has big dreams of becoming a drag queen. And while his chosen path is unconventional and even frowned upon by his classmates, his own father (Ralph Ineson), and the locals, Jamie gets nothing but support from his loving mum (Sarah Lancashire), best friend, Pritti (Lauren Patel), and old drag legend Miss Loco Chanelle (Richard E. Grant), who agrees to teach Jamie all he knows about drag. Full of big, bold, and colorful musical numbers (there’s a lot of dancing on desks going on), if Everybody’s Talking About Jamie doesn’t help you shake off the fall funk, you may want to check your pulse.

Annette (2021)

Annette
71%
67 %
6.4/10
r 140m
Genre Drama, Romance, Music
Stars Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg
Directed by Leos Carax
If you’re among the multitude of people whining that everything’s been done before or that remakes and re-imaginings are all anyone does anymore, then for that reason alone, Annette is worth a try. We’re not saying you’re going to like it. The critics seem to be pretty divided on this one, with many praising it for its originality, while others call it too odd for its own good. But risky performances from two Hollywood greats, Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard and the twice-nominated Adam Driver, make Annette already worth the price of your Prime membership. With a story and original music (yes, it’s a rock opera with lots of singing, so buckle up) written by Ron and Russell Mael of the quirky ’80s pop band Sparks (who are kind of having a moment right now with the Edgar Wright documentary about them, The Sparks Brothers), Annette follows the love journey of a most unlikely couple, Henry (Driver), a harsh stand-up comedian, and Ann (Cotillard), a beautiful and world-famous opera singer, whose lives in the spotlight are rocked with the arrival of their daughter, Annette, who has mysterious abilities. Intrigued?
Image: https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B093K9VTV5/ref=atv_dp_share_cu_r

Val (2021)

Val
93%
73 %
7.7/10
r 109m
Genre Documentary
Stars Val Kilmer, Jack Kilmer, Mercedes Kilmer
Directed by Leo Scott, Ting Poo
Whether the Val Kilmer in your mind’s eye is him in some of his iconic roles like Top Gun‘s Iceman, The Doors‘ Jim Morrison, or Batman Forever‘s caped crusader, or you kept up with the ’80s heartthrob into his later, quieter career for films such as Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang and beyond, one thing is for sure — you’ve never seen Val Kilmer like this. Fascinating and often heart-wrenching, Val is an Amazon Original autobiographical documentary assembled by the actor and directors Leo Scott and Ting Poo from more than 40 years of home video recordings Kilmer obsessively took throughout his life and career — including behind-the-scenes footage with Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and more. Now in his ’60s and recovering from throat cancer surgery that has left him with the need to speak through a voice box on his trachea, Kilmer’s doc is a deep look inward at his life, his rise and fall from fame, his personal triumphs and failures, and, ultimately, his coming to terms with all of it.

The Tomorrow War (2021)

The Tomorrow War
52%
45 %
6.6/10
pg-13 138m
Genre Action, Science Fiction, Adventure
Stars Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons
Directed by Chris McKay
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.

Knives Out (2019)

Knives Out
97%
82 %
7.9/10
pg-13 131m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Crime, Mystery
Stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas
Directed by Rian Johnson
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.

Pinocchio (2019)

Pinocchio
83%
6 %
6.2/10
pg-13 125m
Genre Fantasy, Adventure, Drama
Stars Federico Ielapi, Roberto Benigni, Marine Vacth
Directed by Matteo Garrone
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.

Stop Making Sense (1984)

Stop Making Sense
100%
89 %
8.6/10
88m
Genre Music, Documentary
Stars David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz
Directed by Jonathan Demme
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.

The Vast of Night (2019)

The Vast of Night
92%
84 %
6.7/10
pg-13 91m
Genre Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller
Stars Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Bruce Davis
Directed by Andrew Patterson
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.

Midsommar (2019)

Midsommar
83%
72 %
7.1/10
r 148m
Genre Horror, Drama, Mystery
Stars Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
Directed by Ari Aster
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.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (2021)

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things
76%
61 %
6.8/10
pg-13 99m
Genre Fantasy, Romance
Stars Kathryn Newton, Kyle Allen, Jermaine Harris
Directed by Ian Samuels
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.

Sylvie's Love (2020)

Sylvie's Love
93%
74 %
6.8/10
pg-13 114m
Genre Drama, Romance
Stars Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Aja Naomi King
Directed by Eugene Ashe
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.

One Night in Miami... (2020)

One Night in Miami...
98%
83 %
7.1/10
r 114m
Genre Drama
Stars Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge
Directed by Regina King
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.

Herself (2020)

Herself
93%
70 %
7.0/10
r 97m
Genre Drama
Stars Clare Dunne, Molly McCann, Ruby Rose O'Hara
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
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.

Sound of Metal (2020)

Sound of Metal
97%
82 %
7.8/10
r 121m
Genre Drama, Music
Stars Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci
Directed by Darius Marder
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.

I'm Your Woman (2020)

I'm Your Woman
80%
63 %
6.2/10
r 120m
Genre Drama, Crime
Stars Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Arinzé Kene
Directed by Julia Hart
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.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
85%
68 %
6.6/10
r 96m
Genre Comedy
Stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova, Tom Hanks
Directed by Jason Woliner
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.

Chi-Raq (2015)

Chi-Raq
82%
77 %
5.8/10
r 127m
Genre Drama, Crime, Comedy
Stars Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes
Directed by Spike Lee
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.

Honey Boy (2019)

Honey Boy
94%
73 %
7.3/10
r 94m
Genre Drama
Stars Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe
Directed by Alma Har'el
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.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis
92%
93 %
7.5/10
r 104m
Genre Drama, Music
Stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman
Directed by Ethan & Joel Coen
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).

The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden
95%
84 %
8.1/10
145m
Genre Thriller, Drama, Romance
Stars Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo
Directed by Park Chan-wook
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.

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

You Were Never Really Here
89%
84 %
6.8/10
r 89m
Genre Thriller, Drama
Stars Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
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.

Cold War (2018)

Cold War
92%
90 %
7.6/10
r 89m
Genre Drama
Stars Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
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.

The Big Sick (2017)

The Big Sick
98%
86 %
7.5/10
r 120m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter
Directed by Michael Showalter
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.

The Lighthouse (2019)

The Lighthouse
90%
83 %
7.5/10
r 109m
Genre Drama, Fantasy, Thriller, Horror
Stars Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman
Directed by Robert Eggers
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.

The Farewell (2019)

The Farewell
97%
89 %
7.6/10
pg 100m
Genre Comedy, Drama
Stars Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin
Directed by Lulu Wang
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.

Blow the Man Down (2019)

Blow the Man Down
98%
72 %
6.4/10
r 90m
Genre Drama, Mystery, Comedy
Stars Morgan Saylor, Sophie Lowe, Margo Martindale
Directed by Danielle Krudy, Bridget Savage Cole
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.

Paterson (2016)

Paterson
96%
90 %
7.4/10
r 118m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
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.

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