We’ve all been there: Flipping through Amazon Prime’s movie offerings, but stuck wondering uh, what’s good. So what are the best movies to watch on Amazon Prime? The commercial giant’s streaming service has quietly collected a giant archive of films, and since 2006, has released a number of acclaimed films like Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By the Sea, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, and Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake under the Amazon Studios banner.
Prime Video is a great service, but there’s a ton of content to sift through. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve looked through the service and cherry-picked 10 of our favorite films currently on the platform to try out. From Satoshi Kon’s 2001 anime masterpiece Millennium Actress, Pete Travis’ (*whispers* and Alex Garland’s) 2012 sci-fi blockbuster Dredd, to Akira Kurosawa’s Shakespearean epic Ran — we’ve got you covered with the good stuff. Without further ado, here are the top 10 best films to stream on Amazon right now.
If you love Gareth Evans’ 2011 Idonesian action-thriller The Raid and somehow haven’t seen 2012’s Dredd … holy shit, are you in for a great time. Starring Karl Urban (The Boys) as the gravel-voiced authoritarian super-cop, the film follows Dredd and his apprentice partner, Judge Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), as they are forced to bring law and order to a 200-story high-rise block ensnared in the vice grip of resident drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Penned by screenwriter-turned-cerebral-sci-fi-director Alex Garland (and who according to Karl Urban might have had more of a hand in the film’s production previously known), Dredd is an explosive action experience packed with dazzling slo-mo action sequences and charged with a biting satirical undercurrent of dark humor. —Toussaint Egan
Akira Kurosawa’s action drama Ran (the Japanese word for “chaos”) is considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever produced by inarguably the most iconic and critically acclaimed Japanese director in the history of cinema. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s King Lear and the apocryphal legends of the 16th-century daimyo Mōri Motonari, the 1985 epic stars the legendary Tatsuya Nakadai (Harakiri, The Sword of Doom) as an elderly warlord in Medieval Japan who, upon his retirement, bequeaths his kingdom to the care of his three sons. Order soon subsumes chaos however, as Nakadai’s Lord Ichimonji is forced to watch helplessly as the harmonious accomplishments of his reign quickly spiral into a cacophonous din of horror and bloodshed. Heralded as Kurosawa’s last great masterpiece, Ran is a must-watch classic. —TE
Ben Wheatley’s 2015 adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel High-Rise takes aim at the legacy of austerity politics and the history of class warfare throughout Great Britain. The Avengers and Thor: Ragnarok’s Tom Hiddleston plays Robert Laing, a doctor who moves into a new high-rise apartment building built for the wealthy and elite. The tower is a universe unto itself, complete with any amenity or desire one could ask for. Tensions across the fault lines of class and lifestyle soon become stressed however, as drugs, drink, and debauchery devolve into sectarian tribalism, wanton misogyny, and a literal class war waged by wealthy upper-floor residents. It’s a morosely fascinating watch, even if you’re not up on your 1970s British history. —TE
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 2001 Japanese horror classic Pulse is one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever watched. Set near the turn of the century, Kurosawa’s follows a group of Japanese teenagers who, in the wake of their friend’s inexplicable suicide, begin to experience strange visions and unsettling encounters linked to a mysterious floppy disk their friend was investigating prior to his death. Pulse is widely championed as one of the definitive works in the canon of Japanese horror, with several critics and fans citing it as the definitive internet horror film of the 21st century. Be sure to have all the lights off for this one … and something to cover your eyes when you get too freaked out (trust me— you will). —TE
So I Married An Axe Murderer
Mike Myers stars in Thomas Schlamme’s 1993 black comedy as Charlie MacKenzie, a popular San Francisco beat poet with commitment issues who nonetheless falls in love with with a local meat butcher with a heart of gold named Harriet (Harriet! Sweet Harriet!). After the two wed, Charlie’s paranoia quickly begins to settle in when, you guessed it, begins to suspect that he’s new beau is a vicious serial killer with a penchant for marrying her victims before brutally murdering them when they least suspect it. Chock full of hilarious performances, including Mike Myers playing Charlie’s own father Stuart, So I Married An Axe Murderer is a terrific comedy that’s as charmingly cheesy as it is thoroughly entertaining to watch. —TE
Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World
Peter Weir’s 2003 epic nautical war-drama Master And Commander: The Far Side of the World is, as the film’s star Russel Crowe said last month in what some might describe as “the world’s loudest subtweet,” an adult’s movie. The film follows Captain John “Jack” Aubrey, the brash and fearless captain of H.M.S. Surprise and Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) are ordered to hunt down and capture the rogue French privateer ship Acheron. An odyssey spanning over two year and set amidst the height of the Napoleonic War, Weir delivers a welcome alternative to Pirates of the Caribbean and more fantastical seafaring adventures. —TE
John Singleton’s 2000 action crime thriller Shaft (a sequel to the 1971 blaxploitation classic that shouldn’t be confused with the unfortunate 2019 Shaft) is where it’s at. Samuel L. Jackson stars as the NYPD Detective (and nephew of the namesake protagonist of the original) who embarks on a ruthless campaign to bring the sociopathic yuppie son of a powerful real estate tycoon (played perfectly by future American Psycho/The Dark Knight star Christian Bale) to justice in the wake of a horrific racially motivated murder. Westworld star Jeffrey Wright appears as ruthless drug lord Peoples Hernandez alongside Vanessa Williams as Detective Carmen Vasquez and rap legend Busta Rhymes as the fast-talking taxi driver Rasaan. —TE
Millennium Actress is the second of four features produced by late Japanese director Satoshi Kon, and arguably his greatest work. A love letter to cinema, the film is a magical realist odyssey experienced from the perspective of Chiyoko Fujiwara, an actress reflecting on career at the behest of a passionate documentarian working to create a tribute to her life. From references to 1954’s Godzilla to Kurosawa’s 1957 classic Throne of Blood, to achingly beautiful and surreal sequences of Chiyoko and co. jumping back and forth through as she recollects over her past, Millennium Actress is an anime classic and one of the most beautiful and unique animated films ever produced. —TE
The Man From Nowhere
Lee Jeong-beom’s 2010 action thriller The Man From Nowhere feels like a direct spiritual precursor to the John Wick series, albeit less reliant on extravagant gun-fu theatrics and neo-noir comic book aesthetics. Won Bin plays Cha Tae-sik, an ex-special agent-turned-pawnshop keeper who, despite living in self-imposed seclusion, forms an unlikely bond with So-mi (Sae-ron Kim), a young girl who lives in the same apartment complex. When So-mi mother’s steals a package of heroin from a ruthless gang of human traffickers and she and her daughter are abducted in an attempt to recover it, Cha Tae-sik embarks on a bloody conquest to exact revenge on them and rescue So-Mi, all while the South Korean DEA attempts to unravel the mystery of his past and bring both him and the traffickers to justice.
The film is a slow burn that explosively culminates in one of the most breathtaking knife-fight showdowns I’ve ever seen in an action film. Won Bin’s terse, nuanced performance is magnetic in its appeal, drawing the audience in while propelling the action forward. The fact that he has yet to appear in a single film since only adds to the allure and mystique of his presence. Sae-ron Kim is terrific here as well, delivering a speech toward the tail end of the first act that’s beautiful and devastating in its emotional appeal. Considering recent reports that John Wick director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad are currently attached to develop a forthcoming American adaptation, now is the perfect time to check out Lee’s original if you haven’t seen it already. From its stirring performances, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it action sequences, and engrossing score courtesy of Oldboy composer Hyun-jung Shim, The Man From Nowhere is a tremendous and gratifying action movie for anyone hungering for a more emotionally driven thrill ride. —TE
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol the best Mission Impossible movie? That’s debatable. But is it the funniest Mission Impossible movie? No question. The 2011 entry from director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles) finds Tom Cruise’s super spy Ethan Hunt and his IMF colleagues disavowed in the wake of a horrific attack on the Kremlin. Tasked with clearing their names and bringing the true culprits to justice, Hunt and IMF technician-turned-field operative Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) are joined by intelligence analyst William Brandt (Avengers star Jeremy Renner) and handler Jane Carter (Paula Patton) as they globetrot from Moscow to Dubai and Mumbai on the trail of a rogue nuclear terrorist known only as “Cobalt.” The big set-piece scene of Ethan scaling the side of a skyscraper is an exquisitely nail-biting performance of mounting tension and hilarious comedic timing. — TE