Amazon Prime’s movie selection keeps getting better and better. While it’s rival Netflix focuses on original content, newer movies and TV shows (something that Amazon does admirably at too), Amazon does a good job of keeping its movie streaming catalogue loaded up with classics and award-winning flicks.
Having said that, there are lots of films in its library that are boring, mediocre and really, really rubbish. The cream is there, but there’s a lot to dig through first.
That’s why we’ve done all the hard work for you. We’ve scoured all of the movies on offer for anything and everything that’s worth watching on Amazon Prime.
We’ve collected together more than 100 movies that you can stream on Amazon Video (that’s the movies and TV streaming section of Amazon Prime) right now. Expect a mixture of recent releases and timeless classics, as well as films that are suitable for the whole family.
[Update: This week Amazon Prime adds The Wrestler, Darren Aronofsky’s touching and heart-breaking movie about a wrestler (played by Mickey Rourke) who despite being too old and ill for the ring tries to cling onto the success he had decades before.]
We all know that streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video can turn an occasional movie-watching hobby into hours (and hours and hours) of endlessly flicking through film options. It’s also worth bearing in mind that for every award-winning work of art on Amazon Video, there’s lots of B-movie trash that isn’t even worth putting on to ease away a Sunday morning hangover.
Although we do love the odd guilty pleasure now and again, in this list we’ve created you’ll only find the best picks. So let’s dive straight in.
This touching and (and at times heart-breaking) movie from Darren Aronofsky is about a wrestler (played by Mickey Rourke) who despite being too old and ill for the ring tries to cling onto the success he had decades before while trying to rebuild his relationship with his daughter.
New Entry: The Mummy
Sure Tom Cruise and co. tried to remake the 1999 version of The Mummy, but it just didn’t have the cheesy charm of this original. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s a fun and at times actually quite creepy, classic adventure tale about awakening an ancient Egyptian mummy. Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser are kooky and lovable as the lead characters and the sequel, The Mummy 2, isn’t half bad either.
New Entry: The Theory of Everything
Managing to be both beautifully heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time, this biographical movie follows the early life of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. It’s been adapted from the book Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen, written by Hawking’s ex-wife Jane. It particularly focuses on his time at Cambridge University, his relationship with Jane and his ALS diagnosis.
New Entry: True Romance
It’s not your standard love story, but True Romance stands up as one of the greatest in Hollywood history. Take two unlikely lovers, a bunch of crooks, drugs, guns and arguably the best script Quentin Tarantino has ever worked on, and you’ve got a cult classic if ever there was one.
When comic book nerd Elvis falls in love with Alabama, the beau of a big time drug dealing pimp, the two have to race across country in an attempt to avoid the mob from whom they’ve accidentally stolen a suitcase of cocaine from. With violence around every corner, will they ever be free to just enjoy each other’s company?
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Brothers Jimmy, played by Channing Tatum, and Clyde, played by Adam Driver, plan to carry out an elaborate robbery during the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s an action-packed comedy with a stellar cast, alongside Driver and Tatum, Daniel Craig, Hilary Swank, Katie Holmes and Sebastian Stan all star. Steven Soderbergh reportedly came out of retirement in order to direct and distribute Logan Lucky, if you wanted anymore proof it’s definitely worth a watch.
The Last Stand
Arnie plays a small town sheriff on a border town who has to go head-to-head with a fugitive on the run from the FBI. It’s not the best movie on offer, but if you like action, one liners and edge-of-yer-seat thrillers then it’s one for you.
The Hurt Locker
Kathryn Bigelow is one of the best action directors around, so it’s no surprise that The Hurt Locker won her the Best Director award at the Oscars – the first time a women won the accolade. What is surprising, though, is just how nuanced the film is. Given it’s about disposing of bombs, the tension is in the quiet moments, rather than when the explosions start.
Full Metal Jacket
Stanley Kubrick’s classic take on the Vietnam War follows the journey of Private Joker Davis, from his gruelling training regime all the way to marine status. It looks at the ups, downs, horrors and psychological damage of war.
Set in Boston in the late ’70s, Free Fire is a fantastic, inventive film that mostly takes place in a warehouse. Because of the limited scenario, it’s thanks to Ben Wheatley’s effortless and stylish direction and the superb ensemble cast – and lots and lots of gun play – that Free Fire never becomes boring.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E
The Man From U.N.C.L.E is by no means a faithful adaptation of the TV show of the same name (the characters remain but everything else has changed) but it is a super-stylish crime caper from Guy Ritchie. It looks great, thanks to its ’60s setting, and the cast are superb. Henry Cavill (a Brit playing an American CIA agent) finally shows the world the charisma he lacks as Superman, while Armie Hammer (an American playing a Russian) is fantastic as Cavill’s KGB opposite. Alicia Vikander (a swede playing a German) shows off her funny side, while Elizabeth Debicki (a french woman playing someone who is not French) is great as the villain of the piece. It’s a tad overlong and convoluted but a great, underrated watch.
Heat is widely regarded as Michael Mann’s best film. And it also has the classic combo of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino at the height of their acting powers.
De Niro’s Neil McCauley is planning one last heist before retirement and Pacino’s Lieutenant Hanna has to stop him. A story of two flawed alpha males on each side of the law, their relationship is one of both enmity and respect. This isn’t your average by-the-numbers crime thriller.
End of Watch
Before David Ayer was assembling a Suicide Squad and creating one of the most abysmal comic-book movies ever, he made this highly original film that’s shot documentary style and focuses on a couple of cops whose job it is to patrol South Central LA and keep the peace. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña are superb as the pair who risk life and limb to do their job. Given Ayer grew up on streets not dissimilar to what’s being portrayed in the movie, End of Watch is a searing and honest portrayal of an area of America few would dare venture.
Norway isn’t renowned for its disaster movies, but with The Wave and Troll Hunter it is making a decent name for itself. The Wave is about a tsunami that hits the country when a Norwegian fjord collapses. Given the relatively low budget, not much disaster is actually seen. Instead we are let to deal with the individuals who are trying to survive the wave. As disaster movies go, this is one of the more interesting to watch.
Tobey Maguire plays American chess legend Bobby Fischer in this dramatic biographical film. It follows the true story of the 1972 World Chess Championship when the troubled genius Fischer battled Soviet Grandmaster Boris Spassky, played by Liev Schreiber. Perfect if you’re looking for a gripping Cold War drama.
There Will Be Blood
Award-winning US drama There Will Be Blood tells the compelling, chilling and at times very, very emotional tale of a silver miner-turned-oilman desperate to make a fortune during California’s oil boom in the late 19th century. Critics loved the movie and Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays the lead role, landed himself a BAFTA, Oscar, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, NYFCC and IFTA Best Actor award for his performance. Wowee!
Last Flag Flying
Based on Darryl Ponicsan’s book of the same name, Last Flag Flying is Richard Linklater’s latest movie starring Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne. That stellar line-up play three veterans who reunite after one of their sons is killed in the Iraq War.
The Florida Project
Indie critical hit The Florida Project is one of the newer films on Amazon Video. It follows a summer in the life of six year-old Moonee, a joy-filled child who lives in a motel just outside Disney World. And the struggles of her mother as she tries to makes ends meet. The film is directed by Sean Baker, one of today’s most interesting indie film-makers. He also made 2015’s Tangerine, a low-budget hit shot entirely using iPhone 5 phones.
Borg Vs McEnroe
Perhaps one of the most iconic tennis matches of all time has been immortalized in this drama from director Janus Metz Pedersen starring Sverrir Gudnason as Björn Borg and Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe. This isn’t just about the tennis though, as the drama follows how the legendary duel at Wimbledon affected the men’s lives too.
A Clockwork Orange
We could argue all day about which of Stanley Kubrick’s films is the best. But A Clockwork Orange is up there with 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr Strangelove and The Shining, no doubt.
It’s an adaptation of Stanley Burgess’s novel of the same name. A Clockwork Orange follows Malcolm McDowell’s Alex and his gang of Droogs. They stalk the streets, committing acts of “ultra-violence” and talking in an affected argot. A description like this doesn’t uncover the unsettling and weird appeal of this 1971 classic, though. You’ll have to watch it.
William Foster is a man falling apart. He’s divorced, fired from his job, a middle-aged white man who feels like a victim of the world. So he takes to the streets with an uzi, terrorising ordinary people.
Falling Down was a powerful film in 1993. The current issues of US gun policy and racial division make the movie seem as vital as ever. Michael Douglas plays the lead role, and some consider it to be the best performance of his career.
You’ll need to set an evening aside for this one. Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 Magnolia is a sprawling three-hour epic of the interconnecting lives of disparate people living in the San Fernando valley, Calfornia.
Some criticise it for being overlong and melodramatic. But if you can submit to this film you’ll find it powerful and moving, an insight into human nature. “Do not expect subdued taste and restraint, but instead a kind of operatic ecstasy,” said movie reviewing legend Roger Ebert.
An unalloyed classic among gangster films, Goodfellas isn’t to be missed. Ray Liotta is Henry Hill, a young man who idolises the gangster lifestyle and rises up through the ranks under the guidance of De Niro’s menacing but charismatic James “The Gent” Conway.
There are guns, drugs and the downfall of powerful figures. It’s all laced with black comedy, and director Martin Scorsese’s masterful movie-making doesn’t waste any of Goodfella’s two and a half hour run time.
Dial M for Murder
We’re sure you’ve heard of this one. Dial M for Murder is a Hitchcock classic starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly. Milland plays a man who suspects that his wife (Grace Kelly) is having an affair and blackmails an old friend to murder her. What follows is a thrilling crime drama that’s a true classic.
The Lost City of Z
Largely overlooked upon its release, The Lost City of Z is in fact a fascinating tale, with Charlie Hunnam playing real-life British explorer Percy Fawcett. At the turn of the 20th century he ventured into the heart of the Amazon, and discovered an unknown, advanced civilisation. It become a great passion, understanding this culture, with Fawcett returning multiple times to demystify a people previously considered “savages”, before Fawcett himself mysteriously disappeared. If you’re adverse to films starring Robert Pattinson (co-starring here) after his Twilight days, don’t let that stop you from giving this wonderful film a go.
Jackie is all about Natalie Portman. Her portrayal of Jackie Kennedy, days after the assassination of her husband and president of the United States John F Kennedy, is a masterclass of acting. She has studied footage of Jackie and got her mannerisms and speech imprint spot on. The film is a stark and intimate look and the former First Lady and is a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s endlessly watchable and it’s all because of Portman who earned (and subsequently missed out on) a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar nomination.
Martin Scorsese has been in the movie business long enough to do whatever he wants. Silence is his him at his most uncompromising. A difficult sell after the fleeting fun that was Wolf of Wall Street, Silence is a meditative, hard-to-watch movie about pilgrimage. Starring Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as two monks who go on a journey to find a place where Christians are put to extremes to prove their love for god. It’s a trying movie and one that takes the utmost concentration. It’s not quite the masterpiece Scorsese was seeking, given he’s been mulling the story for decades but it’s a worthy, if meandering watch.
Moonlight is stunning film. Split into three parts, the movie charts the life of Chiron, a black man growing up in Miami. It’s heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure and just so happens to be the lowest-ever budgeted movie that has won the Best Picture Oscar. While the acting is superb in all three of the sections – it’s the storytelling that really shines and shimmers here. It’s captivating, brooding stuff.
Manchester By The Sea
It’s hard not to write about Manchester By The Sea without stepping into spoiler territory so here’s the broad strokes: Casey Affleck stars as a Boston janitor who has to take care of his brother’s son after his brother dies. What ensues is a heartbreaking movie. Its backdrop is a snowy Manchester in Massachusetts, something that echoes the characters in the movie. This isn’t a film that wraps up neatly in a bow in the end – it’s much more closer to fractured, complicated business that is real life.
Lion sounds like a movie that’s been manufactured for awards season but it’s much cleverer than that. It’s based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, a child from India separated from his family when he was just five years old and adopted by a couple from Tasmania. The story follows Saroo in his younger years then flips to him as an adult on the lookout for his real parents. Dev Patel is brilliant as the adult who goes on a journey to find out his true heritage. While it all sounds a little melodramatic, it really isn’t – director Garth Davis of Top Of The Lake fame manages to make a movie that’s not too overly dramatic but really rather moving.
I, Daniel Blake
Some 40 films into his career, you would expect director Ken Loach’s talents to be on the wane but I, Daniel Blake may well be his masterpiece. It’s a superb study of the class system in the UK, and what happens when someone tries to be a better person despite bureaucracy stopping them from doing just that. Yes, it’s political but Loach doesn’t play this part of it up – it just naturally seeps through because of the frustrations the film presents. Essential stuff.
The Impossible is what Tom Holland was doing before he became Spider-Man, starring in a true tale about the devastating tsunami in Thailand. He is one of three sons of Naomi Watts and Ewen McGregor’s characters and part of a compelling character study of what happens to people with natural disasters strike. Director JA Bayona proved he is a talent to look out for with The Impossible. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which he is helming in 2018, should cement that fact.
Brie Larson stars in this heartfelt study of human endurance. Larson is Ma. She has been imprisoned in a small shed for years, having to bring up her little boy Jack (a great Jacob Tremblay) in isolation. The film follows their story to the bittersweet end. For a film that’s mostly shot within the confines of a small room, director Lenny Abrahamson manages to eek out pathos in the mundane but it’s the acting of the two leads that’s the real reason to watch the heart-rending movie.
Apocalypse Now is a rare gem of a movie. Born out of chaos, where leading actors had to be replaced, medical problems blighted the shoot and Marlon Brando went somewhat off piste, it’s a miracle there was any film at all to show for the shoot, let alone one of the greatest movies ever made. Based loosely on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, the film follows a soldier’s descent into hell as he tries to track down the elusive Colonel Kurtz, a decorated war veteran who has seemingly gone mad. From the amazing visuals, to the sweeping score, to the acting chops of the main cast, Apocalypse Now is a terrifying masterclass in filmmaking.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
John LeCarre’s superb spy novel is given a decent adaptation, thanks to Let Me In director Tomas Alfredson’s measured, careful take on the source material. Gary Oldman is superb as George Smiley, the veteran spy catcher brought out of retirement to find an Russian mole in the ranks of the MI6. Even if you know who the mole is, the way the film unfurls this information is utterly captivating.
A deserved winner of the Best Film Oscar, Spotlight is a searing look at investigative journalism at its finest – trying to uncover the truth of child abuse within the Catholic church. The film is a true testament to real journalism and throws shade at online clickbait and its erosion of proper investigative news gathering. Oh.
The King’s Speech
Another Oscar winner seemingly grown in a petri dish for the sole purpose to win awards, The King’s Speech is one man’s struggle to get over a speech impediment and subsequent fear of public speech – it just so happens this man is also the king of England. For all its faults, it tugs on the right strings and is very watchable.
The Deer Hunter
The Russian roulette scene may be what most people think of when someone chats about Deer Hunter but the movie has so much more to offer. It shows the horrors of war during and after the Vietnam conflict, shining a light on what a situation like that does to a person and their relationships. It’s a gruelling but sometimes beautiful watch.
What started off as a failed TV pilot ended up being one of David Lynch’s most accomplished films. As with any Lynch movie describing the plot won’t do Mulholland Drive justice. What starts off as a portrayal of a woman seeking fame in Hollywood ends up being a nightmarish look at the duality of personality and what happens when reality turns into a fever dream.
It’s great to see Viggo Mortensen back as a leading man and Captain Fantastic suits his eclectic sensibilities down to the ground. It’s a film about a family of homeschooled children who have lived off-grid with their eccentric parents. When their mother dies, they come back to civilisation with a bump. Mortensen is superb as the grizzled patriarch and the casting of the kids is spot on. In a film full of surprises, perhaps the most surprising thing about Captain Fantastic is its writer-director Matt Ross. He plays Gavin Belson in Silicon Valley!
Even when Christopher Nolan missteps, he still manages to hide the stumble with a highly orchestrated dance routine. Interstellar is overblown and weighed down by its own importance but, boy, is it an epic watch. Matthew McConaughey stars as Cooper, a farmer and former test pilot who helps on a mission to save the people of Earth, which is ravaged by lack of land resource. The mission involves going to space and entering a wormhole and exploring a new planet that may have the means for sustaining human life. The film falls in on itself as it nears its conclusion but it’s a bold, measured ride into the unknown with some of the best visuals Nolan has created. Just don’t go expecting a masterpiece, however.
The Island may not be new, but it’s new to Amazon Prime Video and it’s a sci-fi action movie with a fairly smart, interesting plot. Directed and co-produced by Michael Bay, it follows the story of Lincoln Six Echo (played by Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (played by Scarlett Johansson), who are trapped on an island for pretty dark and scary reasons. As you can guess, they escape and try to figure out the nature of their existence and why they’re been kept captive.
Fancy something a bit offbeat and wacky to watch today? This Anne Hathaway-starring film features an unemployed young writer who finds out she’s the reason a giant monster is causing havoc on the other side of the planet. The film also stars Jason Sudeikis and Dan Stevens, and it’s ready to watch on Amazon Prime now.
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
It’s the movie that started two decades of Gollum impressions and Gandalf quotes. The Fellowship of the Ring is the first third of the Lord of the Rings saga, starting in the Shire. It dramatises all the delicious backstory that makes fantasy epics seem so grand.
We only get the standard theatrical cut of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring on Amazon Video, and neither of the two films that followed. But this three-hour cut is worth revisiting. While visual effects have improved a lot since this film’s release, its grand vistas filmed in New Zealand are still quite something to witness.
A dream with a dream within a dream. When Inception arrived it did so with a similar impact as The Matrix, a decade earlier. It made you think, but was wrapped around a blockbuster shell that demanded to be seen on the big screen. But, hey, lots of us have big screens in our living rooms these days.
Leonardo DiCaprio is a thief who enters people’s subconscious to plant ideas in their minds. But when the border between the dream world and reality has been broken, how can you tell which you’re in? Inception had all the makings of a high-concept hokey mess on paper but Christopher Nolan turned it into one of the best action films of recent decades.
We know you know Gremlins. This is the film that tells the story of a young man who receives a Furby-like creature as a pet and fails to follow every instruction with regards to its care. What results is an army of destructive, evil Gremlins set on destroying a small town at Christmas. It’s a festive classic.
Like aliens and whiteboards? Get you a movie that can do both. Arrival was an astonishing science fiction film, released towards the end of 2016, and making its way to Amazon Prime Video before it’s even landed on cable or satellite TV in the UK.
Based on the novella ‘Stories of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang, and directed by Sicario director Denis Villeneuve (whose next task will be the long-awaited sequel to Blade Runner), it’s a fantastic film exploring love, loss, communication and the lengths we should all be prepared to go to in order to understand, accept and value the differences between us.
If you bypassed this sci-fi movie from J.J. Abrams when it was first released in 2011, it’s definitely worth watching now. It’ll especially appeal to those who really got into Stranger Things, as well as those with a soft spot for classic coming-of-age adventure movies, like E.T. and The Goonies. There’s a lot of great character development, mystery, action, sci-fi and, of course, lots of lens flare because it’s a J. J. Abrams movie after all.
One of the more interesting sci-fi movies of the past decade and a huge reason why director Rian Johnson got the Star Wars: Episode VIII gig. Looper focuses on the timey wimey tale of a bunch of hitmen, whose job it is to send people from the future into the past to kill them. Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are superb in the film, which manages to take complex ideas and boil them down into an entertaining popcorn thriller.
Attack The Block
Star Wars alumni John Boyega got his first break on this great UK indie, as did newly instated Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker. Attack The Block is the first movie by Joe Cornish – of Adam and Joe fame – and it’s an absolute corker. Aliens have come to earth to wreak havoc and it’s down to a South London gang to make sure their neighbourhood doesn’t become a disaster zone. Full of warm wit and fantastic humour – not to mention some startling special effects – the movie mashes together a number of genres together and has a whole lot of fun doing it.
You wait years for a sci-fi movie that’s influenced by Groundhog Day to come along and then two appear at once. Yes, Source Code has a similar time-repeating plot to Edge of Tomorrow but it’s less bombastic and more thoughtful in its approach. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the soldier who only has eight minutes to stop a bomber on a busy train, before time resets and he has to do the whole thing again. Duncan Jones does well in the director seat, managing to make a plot device that could grow old rather quick really work.
It’s by no means a perfect movie, but Legend has two fantastic central performances… both played by Tom Hardy. Hardy is both Ronald and Reggie Kray, the notorious twins that ruled half of London’s underworld in the Sixties. Legend is about their rise and subsequent fall, shot through the lens of Reggie’s relationship with Frances Shea, the ever-brilliant Emily Browning. While Legend doesn’t offer anything different to the, er, legend of the Krays it’s still a brutal and occasionally funny watch.
Quentin Tarantino’s 1987 crime thriller is about a stewardess called Jackie Brown who smuggles money from Mexico to L.A. for a big arms dealer. She gets caught, but strikes a deal with the agents to help them bring down her boss in exchange for her going free. Of course there are other plans afoot and a dramatic thriller unfolds about crime, deceit and corruption. It’s got all the twists and turns of a Tarantino flick with some stellar acting from Pam Grier, who plays Jackie Brown, as well as Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton.
This slick and stylish thriller is about a mystery man who hires a hacker to steal billions from a government bank account. An FBI computer crime specialist is one step ahead and gets involved in the action too. It’s got a stellar cast with John Travolta and Hugh Jackman in the lead roles supported by Halle Berry. It’s fast-paced, thrilling and full of plenty of twists and turns.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos or The Lobster and Dogtooth fame, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is an intense psychological horror movie based on the Greek play Iphigenia at Aulis by Euripides. It follows the story of a successful cardiac surgeon (played by Colin Farrell) who befriends a mysterious teen. As you’d expect from a psychological horror from Lanthimos, this is hardly an easy Sunday afternoon watch. You’ve been warned.
Describe a movie as erotic and it usually conjures up something that’s utterly not sexy like 50 Shades of Grey or the Lego Movie. The Handmaiden, though, is erotic and shimmers as a result. Directed by South Korean’s finest, Park Chan-wook, the movie is masterful in its suspense and when sex is shown – and it’s a lot of the time – it’s used to bolster the characters and the story, rather than for pure titillation. The Handmaiden is yet another new release that’s headed to Amazon Prime Video – we’re not sure why it keeps getting all these ‘just released on Blu-ray’ movies but we’re happy that it’s happening.
Nothing is as it seems in Martin Scorsese’s chilling Shutter Island. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a marshal who investigates the disappearance of a patient at Boston’s Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. The hospital is one renowned for bizarre experiments on its inmates which ups the freaky ante somewhat. Then things get really scary and a lot more obscure when a hurricane cuts the island off from the mainland. This is definitely a film you will want to watch again, probably straight after you watch it the first time.
Steven Spielberg ratchets up the tension to near breaking point in Munich – a wonderful movies that charts the Black September aftermath. The movie follows the assassin’s whose job it was to rid the world of those who created the atrocities that saw a number of Israeli athletes killed at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Girl On The Train
It’s difficult to talk about Girl On The Train without giving a twisty plot point or two away. So, let’s just say that Emma Blunt is great in this tense thriller that does justice to the hugely successful book. The only issue we have is the whole plot has been transposed to an American town. We prefer the distinctly British setting. Other than that, prepared to be both shocked and entertained.
Hell Or High Water
Taylor Sheridan is a man of many talents. Not only has he starred in hit shows such as Sons of Anarchy and Veronica Mars, he’s also penned some of the finest thrillers in recent years. First there was the superb Sicario and now Hell Or High Water, for which he was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar. It’s easy to see why, this is a taut, tense film about two brothers who turn to bank robbery to help their family. Starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges, the film is a fast-paced modern take on the Western.
Director Atom Egoyan is not one to take the conventional route when telling his tales – and Chloe is no different. Starring Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson, it’s about a seemingly normal couple who resort to using a sex worker to test the trust in their relationship. This turns out to be a very bad decision. The film is a remake of the superior French drama Nathalie but it’s a decent thriller that manages to walk the line between gratuity and maturity well.
This is a devastating film. Based on the true events of what is still a recent economic disaster in the US, 99 Homes is about Andrew Garfield’s Dennis Nash, someone whose home faces foreclosure. To make ends meet he starts working for the real estate company – and the villainous Michael Shannon – that caused him and his family to lose his home. It’s a convoluted but brazen look at what can happen to a person when they are on the brink of losing everything.
Andrea Arnold’s second movie was the one that cemented her as one of the UK’s best filmmakers. Fish Tank stars Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender as a teenager and the boyfriend of her mother. An uneasy relationship is struck between them both that goes from bad to worse. This is one of Fassbender’s first starring roles and watching it back, it’s easy to see why he’s such a big star now.
The Place Beyond The Pines
This is most definitely a movie of two halves – in that something significant happens midway through that changes both the pace and tone of the movie considerably. For some, the shift is too much but it really does work. Ryan Gosling plays Luke, a fantastic stunt motorcyclist turned bank robber who’s trying to do the best for his family. Eva Mendes is his estranged partner, while Bradley Cooper crops up as Avery, a good cop that’s trying to make the best out of some terrible situations. Brilliantly acted and expertly told, The Place Beyond The Pines is a powerful movie watching experience.
Richard Ayoade has proved over two feature films that he is a director to watch. While The Double was a fascinating Gilliam-esque comedy thriller, his first movie was much more in keeping with the French New Wave, despite being set in the depths of Wales. It’s set in 1980s Swansea and focuses on the relationship between a teenage loner and a girl who seems to share his passion for doom and gloom. Craig Roberts is fantastic as the loner – a role that won him plaudits and the starring role in Amazon Prime’s fantastic TV show Red Oaks.
Is this the perfect film? You wouldn’t notice from Clueless’s bubblegum sheen, but its plot and characters are based on those of Emma by Jane Austen.
This is no period piece, mind, but one of the best romantic comedies of all time. Alicia Silverstone is Cher, a pampered teen who gives the new girl in school, Tai, a makeover. She thinks it’s Tai that’s “clueless”, but finds it’s her who needs to re-think her life. That’s the cheesy movie poster version anyway.
As usual, Paul Rudd oozes charm, playing Cher’s half brother. And the script is razor-sharp. Few movies hold up to repeat viewings over the years as well as Clueless.
Not every film on your must-see list needs to be from the IMDb top 250. Anchorman is a deeply silly Will Ferrel vehicle from 2004. He plays chauvinist, incompetent TV anchor Ron Burgundy who starts to fall apart when a female anchor joins his team.
On first sight it seems the pairing of comedy greats Steve Carrell, Ferrel, David Koechner and Paul Rudd that makes Anchorman work. However, just as Spinal Tap skewers something real, elements of Anchorman’s setting in the world of local news TV ring true.
Starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock as two witch sisters who use their magical powers in a quest to break a curse and find love. A pretty standard romantic comedy elevated by an excellent cast, this is one worth watching if you’re in the mood for something light-hearted.
Addams Family Values
While the first Addams Family was a fun but flawed reboot of the old TV show, Addams Family Values is a subversive gem. Comedy sequels are rarely better than the first movie but what Barry Sonnenfeld did with Values was make it far more twisted than anyone expecting. Whether it’s cooking strippers alive (Lurch), various attempts by Wednesday and Pugsley to kill their newly born brethren or the constant references to Morticia and Gomez’s sex life it’s a whole lot of ooky fun.
A once-famous actor in the ’80s tries to resurrect his career in Mindhorn, a superb pastiche of cop shows of old. Julian Barrett is on top form as the titular Mindhorn, whose desperate attempt to become relevant again means he unwittingly finds himself in a murder investigation on the Richard Thorncroft.
As underrated movies go, Goon is pretty much on top of the list. Wrongly brushed aside as another farcical American Pie style movie, because it’s got Seann William Scott in it, Goon is much more than that. It’s funny, yes, but it’s also an affectionate look at the underdog, filled with some pretty big scenes of violence and a number of tender moments too. There’s a sequel in the works, which is fantastic news, as Goon is a little-watched gem.
The School Of Rock
This shouldn’t work. Jack Black as a high school teacher teaching kids to play music sounds like it has ‘straight to video’ written all over it but School of Rock is a whole lot of fun. Director Richard Linklater and writer Mike White take most of the sickly sweet moments out of the movie and leave a fun, riotous movie that is a brilliant showcase of Jack Black’s talents. The film has been a big hit since its launch and has recently been turned into a stage production, sans Jack Black though – he’s still raking it in through his movies.
This is a superb movie. It’s so good that a US remake has already been announced. Toni Erdmann is about an estranged father trying to reconnect with his daughter in a rather bizarre way: by pretending to be her boss’s life coach. It’s a surreal movie, packed with embarrassing moments and some surprising empathy.
Ted shouldn’t work. It’s a comedy about a man and his childhood toy, which just happens to be alive. That man is the normally dour Mark Whalberg, the toy is voiced by Seth MacFarlane and sounds strangely like Peter Griffin in Family Guy. But it does work – it’s occasionally laugh out loud, funny throughout and proves that Whalberg does comedy best when he’s just playing a more earnest version of himself. Unfortunately all of this come untangled in its disappointing sequel, but the original Ted is well worth a watch.
It’s a shame that Chris Morris doesn’t do more stuff as when his new projects come along they always change the game in some way. Four Lions finds humour in one of the most serious subjects: terrorism. For a film shot in 2010, it’s still surprisingly current. It follows docu-style British jihadists who are trying to conjure up a terror plot. The problem is, they’re idiots. Starring, among others, Riz Ahmed, Four Lions is funny, frank and endlessly controversial. But it’s done in such a way that you can’t help but admire the movie.
Wes Anderson’s style is so unique that he’s following some of his director heroes – David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick etc – and becoming an adjective. If a film is Wes-like, then it’s filled with childhood wonder, symmetry and quirk. Moonrise Kingdom is packed with all of this and is about two children who escape from a town in the US, only to be tracked down by a search party. It’s a wonderfully innocent movie drenched in melancholy but funny with it. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Bill Murray all star but its real stars are the children – played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.
In The Loop
It’s a shame that The Thick Of It never hit the big screen. What with Brexit madness and the UK government a mess of contradictions, a movie starring Malcolm Tucker swearing them all into shape is sorely needed. In The Loop is the closest thing we’ve got. It’s a strange movie as it takes strands from The Thick Of It and ports it to the US. This means the film is a hybrid of The Thick of It and the US show Veep. What we do get though is Malcolm Tucker (a never-bettered Peter Capaldi), full of vim and vigor, spinning his way through the choppy waters that is US politics. It’s not perfect, but as satires go it’s one of the most searing.
Where the Wild Things Are
We tend to feel protective when movie producers get their hands on texts from our childhoods. However, Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are captures the wonder and adventure of Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, on which it is based.
Max is a young boy who finds himself in the land of the Wild Things. They’re the big furry creatures you’ll have seen if you’ve ever walked down the children’s lit aisle at a bookshop. Max becomes their leader, and the film follows their adventures. Where the Wild Things Are is a little darker than you might expect, earning a PG rating. However, it is also a useful exploration of anger, with greater depth than many a family film.
When Gore Verbinski set sail for The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise everyone thought we would never see him make an indie film again but then came Rango. A brilliant, subversive animation, Rango is an LSD-tinged Western where all the characters are animals or lizards. Johnny Depp plays Rango, a chameleon who leaves his family home and ends up in the strange town of Dirt. Brilliantly, nutty stuff.
A surprise 2016 hit that saw a rare mainstream overseas success for Japanese anime, Your Name is a supernatural high-school-romance-come-body-swap disaster movie. Yep – there’s a lot going on here, as a teenage boy and girl find themselves inhabiting each other’s bodies, slowly unravelling the mystery surrounding their condition – and that of an awful disaster. J J Abrams of Lost and Star Wars fame is said to be looking into making a live-action version, such was the success of the animation – but it’ll take something to top the magnificent original.
The Red Turtle
Will the magic ever dim at Studio Ghibli? The lyrical animation powerhouse delivers yet again with The Red Turtle, the story of a man shipwrecked on a remote island, inhabited just by turtles, crabs and other critters. What appears a simple story slowly peels back to reveal hidden depths, with Studio Ghibli’s inimitable attention to detail in animation remaining the industry benchmark.
Batman Beyond – Return of the Joker
Everyone loves it when Batman meets the Joker but this movie does it with a twist. The Batman that meets the joker here is Terry McGinnis, a new Batman mentored by an ageing Bruce Wayne. McGinnis is equipped with new-fangled tech to make sure the Joker and his gang don’t end up running the city, but it also takes some old-school advice from Bruce Wayne to save the day.
Superman – Doomsday
Based on the controversial Death of Superman storyline, this animated movie is all about Doomsday – the hideous creature that puts an end to Superman. Although it’s faithful to the comic-book series from which it is adapted, it is all a little rushed. But great animation and voice talent – Adam Baldwin is superb as Supes and James Marsters is menacing as Lex Luthor – make this film a must watch, especially if you are annoyed with the treatment of Superman in the recent DC movie universe.
Batman – Mask of the Phantasm
When people argue about the best Batman, Kevin Conroy’s name never comes up. But it really really should. He’s been voice acting as Batman for a number of years and one of the best ways to hear his dark, dulcet tones is by watching Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. This animated movie pitched Batman against another masked vigilante – one that wants to bring Gotham City to justice. If that wasn’t enough, The Joker makes an appearance too. The film is a must for those who grew up on Burton’s Batman and had their faith restored with Chris Nolan’s interpretation. If it wasn’t animated, Mask of the Phantasm would be hailed as one of the best Batman movies. It’s certainly the best Batman animated movie.
Bridge to Terabithia
This isn’t the film that was advertised but it is still a great children’s movie. When it was promoted back in 2007, you would be forgiven that this is a fantasy epic. While there are those elements, they only make for a section of the movie. The rest is a sad, gripping tale about the relationship between two school friends who deal with the darkness in their lives by creating the imaginary world of Terabithia.
Son of Rambow
One of the most endearing coming-of-age movies you are likely to see, Son of Rambow is about two children growing up in the ’80s who are obsessed with Rambo. So much, they decide to make their own version of the movie with the help of their friends. What ensues is a fun, inventive film about the magic of childhood friendship and imagination. Directed by music video supremo Garth Jennings, Son of Rambow is a trio of love letters: one to the Eighties, one to home videos and the other to the cartoon violence that was born out of an era where Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis ruled the box office.
Lost In Translation
Lost in Translation is a superb, dreamlike movie that wonderfully captures feeling of alienation and loneliness you can feel in a city you don’t belong in. The city in question is Tokyo, the lonely people are Bill Murray as an ageing actor and Scarlett Johansson as a college graduate left to her own devices by her photographer husband. The chemistry between Murray and Johansson is electric, both endearing and hilarious, as is the soundtrack and the way the film slowly creeps up on you in an wonderful way.
Gone with the Wind
Today your best chances of seeing a film that pushes past the three hour mark are from Bollywood epics or ultra-slow art house films. But 1939’s Gone With the Wind is a four hour romance story. When Harry Met Sally this is not.
Our lead is Scarlett O’Hara, a name so famous you’d swear it was the actor (Vivien Leigh), not the character. Gone with the Wind follows her life, around the time of the US civil war, on a plantation in Georgia. And, supplying the romance, her knotted affairs with Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). Its portrayal of slavery and the deep south may jar for the modern viewer, but this remains a classic watch.
Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise is a simple, beautiful romantic movie about an American man who meets a French woman and they spent the whole night walking around the city together. Because they both don’t think they’ll see each other again, they end up sharing a lot about their lives, their fears and everything in-between. But it turns out they do see each other again (erm, spoiler alert?) because Linklater followed the movie up with two others, Before Sunset and Before Midnight.
The Big Sick
Loosely based of the real lives of the film’s stars, Emily V Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani play an interracial couple who have to deal with Emily becoming ill and how cultural differences affect the couple. The film has been nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards 2018, but it’s already on Amazon Prime ahead of this year’s big ceremony.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Woody Allen managed to assemble a cracking ensemble for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The film is a fun look at friends Vicky Cristina (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) as they travel to Barcelona and meet a mysterious artist, played by Javier Bardem. It’s all sex and sultriness until his unhinged ex-wife appears. She’s played by Penelope Cruz with such magnetism that you are drawn to her and kind of forget the rest of the characters. It’s not Allen at his best but even his ‘good enough’ films are a cut above most.
There’s a deep, maddening love portrayed in Blue Valentine that is so powerful it ends up being destructive. With that in mind, this isn’t the movie to put on if you don’t want you and your loved one to question your own relationship. It’s a brutal, raw movie that focuses on the relationship between married couple Dean and Cindy, played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams respectively. They are two people in love, pushed apart by circumstance. The story flits back and forth in time, so with each tender moment you get anguish. Powerful stuff.
Todd Haynes is one of the world’s most fascinating directors, who loves to mine different eras for inspiration. While he courted the ’70s with Velvet Goldmine and I’m Not There, it is perhaps the ’50s where he has managed to use the tensions of the era to create superb character dramas. Carol is just that, a romantic tale between two women – Rooney Mara is the clerk that falls in love with Cate Blanchett’s character who is unhappy in a marriage of convenience. The anxieties and problems Haynes highlights in his earlier movie Safe are back with Carol. In this movie, though, everything has been given a more sumptuous sheen.
Knight of Cups
Thank goodness we live in an era where Terrence Malick is back and making movies on a regular basis. Knight of Cups is as dreamlike and fractured as you have come to expect from the revered director. As with all his movies, it’s clear he shot way more footage and didn’t decide on what film he was making until he hit the edit suite, but that’s part of its charm. Here we see Christian Bale as Rick, a writer who flits between Vegas and LA with six different women. Vegas is perfect Territory for Malick, a desert of neon suits his filmmaking style. While the supporting cast Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Freida Pinto all add gravitas to the film.
Writer-director John Carney’s debut is a low-budget joy that’s since been turned into a very successful play. The plot is slight: a busker and immigrant spend a week in Dublin falling in love and making music together. But it’s the songs that make the movie. Each one is a gem, sprinkled throughout the movie to give it a musical quality. Carney’s latest Sing Street is well worth a watch, too.
The Amy documentary is a hard watch, one that will have you fighting back tears. The talent on show is blighted by the talent that is thrown away. The doc showcases Amy Winehouse in her early years, using archive footage of the star that shows just how much of a talent she was. There are talking heads with her family – including her husband – as well as good friends of hers.
This documentary may have gained prominence thanks to its DJ Shadow soundtrack, but it’s the subject matter that makes Dark Days such a must watch. Shot and directed by Marc Singer, Dark Days shines a light on those who live in underground tunnels under New York. Criminally, this was Singer’s only foray into documentary filmmaking but at least he created a classic.
Jim Jarmusch uses music in his movies to fine effect, so it makes complete sense that he is the one to helm a documentary about The Stooges and their enigmatic frontman, Iggy Pop. The Stooges may not have hit the heights of, say, The Rolling Stones but they’re an important piece of the rock puzzle. This doc does well to uncover what made the band tick, complete with recent talking heads with members of the band.
The Beatles: Eight Days A Week
A-list director Ron Howard took a break from feature-filmmaking to direct this documentary about the most famous band ever. It’s a slick production, meshing old interviews, archive footage and new interviews with the surviving members together to create a vivid look at a band in their pomp to their rather sour end.
Man on Wire
Forget the rather disappointing 3D movie and instead focus on this riveting documentary about a French high-wire artist who decides to one day scale one of the towers World Trade Center and walk across to the other one using just a tightrope. It’s utterly absorbing Man on Wire features an in-depth interview with the person that did the stunt, Philippe Petit. The way he tells the story of how he got past security to walk the Twin Towers is as engrossing as any heist movie.
Bob Marley’s music is as strong today as when it was released back in the ‘70s. His politics are as strong as they are now, his protest songs have lost none of their vibrancy. Which is why Marley is such a brilliant watch. It tells the tale of how Marley brought his music to the masses, his love of football and his life living in both London and Jamaica – all of which are brought brilliantly to life by interviews with friends and family and archive footage.
Director Ben Wheatley adds the right amount of realism and menace to Kill List – a film that is never quite what it seems. On the face of it, it’s a kitchen sink drama about a hitman and his latest assignment to kill three people but as the story unravels so does the hitman’s life (played in earnest by the brilliant Neil Maskell). It flirts at being a family drama, teases you that it’s a crime saga then hits you with the most relentless horror that you’ll be watching the end behind your hands. Great stuff.
This teen horror flick comes straight from the minds of the Scream and Scream 2 creators, so expect nerds, jocks and lots of teen drama with plenty of gore and frights thrown in for good measure. But in our books there’s something a bit different about The Faculty that makes it a not-so-guilty guilty pleasure. Whether it’s the compelling cast (with Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett and Famke Janssen), dark yet ridiculous tone or parasitic creatures from another planet, it’s a fun flick for the weekend.
You can rarely go wrong with an action horror starring Keanu Reeves and Constantine is one such movie. Reeves takes up the role of John Constantine, a man who can see half-breed angels and demons who stalk the Earth disguised as humans. Driven to attempt suicide by his visions, Constantine is returned to the land of the living and must use his gift to protect humanity an earn his place in Heaven.
We know what you’re thinking. Why has The Shining only just arrived on Amazon Prime Video? Well, worry not. Stanley Kubrick’s classic movie about family, isolation and plenty of unnerving, bloody horror is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.
The film is a true classic for a whole host of reasons, from Kubrick’s ambitious film-making to spectacular performances from the cast and a score that makes your skin tingle. It’s always worthy of a re-watch, just go and check all the doors and windows are locked first before you really get stuck in.
Train To Busan
South Korea has slowly but surely marked itself out as a country that’s producing some fantastic filmmakers. Interestingly, two of the best movies from South Korean directors of recent times have been based on trains – Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer (which criminally never got a UK release) and Sang-ho Yeon’s Train To Busan.
Train To Busan is a brilliant zombie horror movie. By having most of the action take place on a train, we see what it’s like when a zombie epidemic takes hold in close confines, complete with cloying claustrophobia. It’s part action movie, part love story, all character study, showing that a situation such as a freaking zombie outbreak can bring out the best and the very worst in people.
Hell House LLC
Well this was unexpected. The name Hell House LLC doesn’t exactly scream ‘must watch’ but despite its rather Grindhouse-esque title, this is a brilliant slice of horror. The plot is simple: a group of friends who create haunted house experiences for Halloween find a house to convert that’s seemingly filled with real-life ghosts. The movie is their footage spliced together, with police reports and the like. The found footage genre is rather stagnant now but Hell House manages to breathe new life into it, mustering up some genuine scares that will have even the most hardened horror fans watching from behind their fingers. Its final scenes don’t quite match what went before it (or make much sense) but this is one of the best horror films to come out in years.
Sinister is that rare horror film: it has brains, A-listers and is still really scary. Ethan Hawke is a true crime writer. After finding a box of what he thinks is footage of murders committed by a serial killer, things start to go very bad in his life. Director Scott Derrickson may have recently made the more family friendly Doctor Strange, but with Sinister he proves that he is just as adept at garnering scares as he is guiding the Marvel universe.
A low-budget chiller that takes place in a small town in Ontario, Canada (bet you can’t guess its name) and follows the exploits of a talk radio team who are reporting on strange goings on in the town. It’s essentially a movie about zombies but distilled through the eyes of a small, yet vocal, group of people. Its budget may well be small but its ambition is big and that’s what makes Pontypool such a fun watch.
I Saw the Devil
This serial killer cat-and-mouse movie is one of the most visceral around. Starring Old Boy’s Min-Sik Choy as the killer, the film is graphic in its content – Its tale of revenge is uncompromising – but is a fantastic watch. It’s also one of the best movies from director Jee-woon Kim who has a platinum line-up of films, including A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life and to a lesser extent his sole US movie, The Last Stand.
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