Amazon Prime Video has quietly been expanding and improving the quality of their movie and television streaming selection for quite some time, swallowing up what Netflix either can’t get or drops completely. It’s a tactic that’s been working for them too. They went from a service that almost exclusively offered vampire B-movies from the late 1930s to a formidable binging option with Oscar winners and contenders, cult hits, and strong examples from every genre. That’s why we wanted to bring you a list of the best movies on Amazon Prime.

We’re going to keep updating this list as selections changes and/or expands, so check back every once in awhile to see what we’re watching now.


What We Do In the Shadows

Any time we get to watch the guys from Flight of the Conchords do anything, we’re on board. That core group of Kiwis (Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Rhys Darby, those guys) is one of the funniest groups of people on the planet. In What We Do In the Shadows they managed to take a premise that sounds like what a bunch of “funny” goth kids would dream up—a mockumentary about vampire roommates living together in New Zealand—and turn it into one of most creative comedies we’ve seen in any comedic subgenre. They navigate relationships (both romantic and friendly), household chores, and mythical rivalries, the whole time being followed by a camera crew whose safety is ostensibly guaranteed, though never quite solidified. This is one of those movies you could easily watch every six months and not get bored. Watch



Ex Machina

Artificial Intelligence is a terrifying concept, if only because humanity would be the species to be making it, and we don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to using our intelligence. If mankind is wiped out by vengeful robots, it won’t be because the robots had a glitch. It’ll be because we programmed them to be like us (ooh, Hot Take). That seems to be the core issue of Ex Machina. Where exactly do robots learn from and what would an AI make up on its own? It also tackles the classic questions of ethics and morality around creating artificial life, as well as getting into the consequences of doing so, all with a healthy dose of the psychological thriller genre and a little bit of Oscar Isaac’s bizarre dancing. Watch



Gangs of New York

We’re thinking the Ancient Order of Hibernians owes Martin Scorsese the title of “Honorary Irish American.” Scorsese treats the Irish struggle in 19th Century America with more respect and intelligence than most Irish Americans working in the same industry. Gangs of New York stitches a few decades of immigration conflict into a piece of pseudo-historical fiction. Most of the places and more than a handful of the characters actually existed, just not quite the way the movie portrays. But this is another one of those stories where the core truth of history is better approached through fiction, because even if the events didn’t happen beat for beat, you can bet a famished Irishman from 1840-1870 stepped off a boat and into a New York that looked mostly like this one. Watch



There Will Be Blood

At least part of the major attraction to this movie is the partnering of Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis, both guys who are known for the high quality of the work they produce. It feels like Anderson is one of the few people left in the business who are allowed to experiment with films that aren’t planned for small indie releases and Daniel Day Lewis has gone beyond celebrity and become what pretty much amounts to a cinematic demigod. If the two of them are making a movie together, the only way it’s going to be bad is if both of them exclusively eat Peyote and drink bourbon for a straight week, and even then the product will at least be interesting. Add on the inherent American quality of the movie (businessman gets carried away by his own power and greed) and you have a classic on your hands. Watch



Inside Llewyn Davis

Even in terms of Coen brothers movies, Inside Llewyn Davis is a bleak movie. Llewyn’s life seems to get worse no matter what he does, which makes for a great movie if not a great life. He’s given plenty of opportunities to improve his lot in life, he just seems to have an aversion to advancement in career or personality. That’s the plot in really general terms. Besides the excellent story, the soundtrack of this movie is easily one of our favorites. And when you see Oscar Isaac start singing, that’s actually him singing, as the Coens wanted to get as authentic a sound as they possibly could. Watch



No Country for Old Men

The Coen brothers are highly capable filmmakers. There’s no debating that. And one of our favorite things about them is their ability to jump genres while retaining their personal style. If you’re watching a Coen brothers movie, you know it. For example, No Country for Old Men and Raising Arizona couldn’t be further from each other in core subject matter. The first is a brutally violent drug story and the other is Nicholas Cage stealing a baby. But they both have that obvious Coen brothers’ style. And besides, you’ve already seen this, so watch it again. Watch



Good Will Hunting

A lot of right things had to happen to make Good Will Hunting a reality, writing, casting, direction, and production wise. The movie doesn’t work without any of its main cast, most importantly the palpable and enviable chemistry between Matt Damon and Robin Williams. So many of the memorable moments of the movie involve only the two of them that we’re almost apt to misunderstand the metaphor and start trying to build two-legged stools. But the Afflecks do a great job of grounding everyone’s character and Minnie Driver perfectly plays the lovable English student, with all of them becoming their own rounded characters while also giving Will Hunting’s otherwise unobservable characteristics some screen time. There’s a lot to learn from this movie no matter how old you are, so if it’s been awhile, or you plain haven’t seen it, queue it up. Watch



Iron Man

Without Iron Man, there is no Marvel Cinematic Universe. That means no Avengers, no Winter Soldier, no Guardians of the Galaxy, none of the movies that dominate our summers and late night talk shows and trailer advertisements. Depending on your preformed opinion, that might sound good to you, but for us, we’d much rather live in a world where Chris Pratt pals around with two off-colored aliens, a tree, and a robot raccoon. All of that is thanks to the gamble Marvel took on one of their smaller name heroes, turning a D-List superhero into the Robert Downey Jr. driving force of the rest of their movies. Watch



Captain Fantastic

There are plenty of outdoorsy family survival movies, but this is the only one with Viggo Mortensen in it, so already this movie gets set apart from the rest. It also does something interesting in that most stories like this one have the main character’s hubris and disdain for modern society directly contribute to their downfall. Instead, Captain Fantastic has them understand there are things they cannot provide themselves just living in the woods. So while conflict does come in the clash of lifestyles, it’s more about trying to find a way for both to coexist than to fully accept one or the other. This is a great twist on an old structure and the movie is far more enjoyable than if Viggo Mortensen’s character had been mindlessly stubborn. Watch



10 Cloverfield Lane

At best, Cloverfield was a found footage film so forgettable no one remembers that T.J. Miller is in it (we didn’t; we looked up the cast and had to adjust our whole memory of Erlich Bachman’s career). Besides early viral hype, there wasn’t anything that stuck out as really well done in it. It’s why we were initially skeptical about this follow-up. We’d rather call it a replacement though, because 10 Cloverfield Lane is what Cloverfield should have learned from. Instead of found footage, it’s a traditionally shot movie, but one that ratchets up the suspense to an almost inhumane level. In a cast of only three, everyone brings all their talent to the screen, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher both expertly conveying their unease at how they survived whatever happened. John Goodman is a particular standout, if only because of the sort of oddball antagonist the Coen Brothers use him as. Watch



The Indiana Jones Trilogy

If we met someone who’d managed to make it to adulthood without seeing a movie and were looking to change that, we’d show them the original Indiana Jones trilogy. The villains are clear cut, Indiana is the perfect vicarious hero for a man or woman, the stakes are high without being cartoonish, and the plot requires so little suspension of disbelief we’re surprised Venice isn’t overrun with tourists destroying library floors. This is a classic and rewarding good vs. evil story and it’s no wonder they stand the ultimate test of time. Plus, since almost everything was done with practical effects, there’s no CGI to laugh at. This is one of the best aging movie trilogies the world will likely ever see. Raiders of the Lost Ark | Temple of Doom | The Last Crusade



The Lobster

The previews did a terrible job preparing us for The Lobster and we mean that as a compliment. What we thought was going to be an absurd sort of love story ended up being far more complicated than that, with excellent explorations of romantic relationships and manipulation. The Lobster is going to turn into film students’ and psychologists’ favorite movie because of how freely it experiments with conventions and accepted knowledge in both fields. We’re a little conflicted though. We want more from The Lobster’s world, but we also think expansion could risk ruining what we liked so much about the movie in the first place. Best play it safe and just enjoy what we have without demanding more. Watch



Selma

Selma is probably the best way to explore the life of Martin Luther King Jr. It takes a specific instance of his life, in this case, organizing the civil rights march from Montgomery to Selma, and explores the circumstances around it and several levels of society affected. We get to see how President Johnson handles interacting with MLK, as well as how the Governor of Alabama handles the reverend’s actions. But, almost more importantly, we get to see how the public is affected, from MLK down. These are the people most invested in the success (or failure, depending on their politics) of the movement, so there is the most to be learned from their stories. Also, with little to no exaggeration, fact switching, or narrative manipulation (do you really need some?), Selma is about as true a story as Hollywood’s capable of making, so it deserves some attention for that at the bare minimum. Watch



The End of the Tour

For better or for worse, people are going to be talking about David Foster Wallace for a very long time and Infinite Jest is going to inspire emotionally charged conversations whether or not people have read it. Wallace has achieved an almost godlike status, so it’s natural that a movie would be produced in an effort to give us a look into the mind of a man who’s been dead for nearly a decade. Jason Segel does an excellent job channeling Wallace’s depressed nature and Jesse Eisenberg slides easily into the role of journalist. Anyone with strong opinions on Wallace’s life or career, in any direction, should take the time to watch this movie. Watch



Blood Diamond

Why anyone bothers buying diamonds since this movie was released is beyond us. At the very best, you’ve bought an overpriced shiny rock that was most likely mined by an abused child. At the worst, you’ve bought an overpriced shiny rock that was most likely mined by an abused child and Djimon Hounsou is going to murder the shit out of you for it. But beyond its valiant political agenda, Blood Diamond is an excellent movie. The natural setting is beautiful, character relationships are well developed, and there’s a whole mess of motivation to parse out. It gets to the point where, beyond Solomon Vandy’s familial crusade, you don’t know what anyone genuinely wants. It’s a wonder Djimon Hounsou and Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t win Oscars for this movie. Watch



Sicario

The U.S. War on Drugs has got to be the definitive example of something getting worse before it gets better and Sicario knows it. It’s a brutal movie that showcases the random violence of the clash between U.S.-Mexico border forces and drug cartels, as well as the American tactics that feel like they fit more into the black ops of an actively declared war rather than border disagreements. At no point should anyone feel good about what’s happening on screen, except maybe to recognize how good at acting some people can be. Watch



Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The Mission Impossible series, for us, has always been a popcorn flick. We throw them on with much the same attitude as the Fast & Furious franchise. So when Rogue Nation popped up on Rotten Tomatoes with a 93%, it’d be an understatement to say we were surprised. These were not movies we considered on par with Skyfall, Arrival, and Logan (even if two of those came out after it). But as soon as we saw it, we understood why. The action set pieces are excellent and Tom Cruise is at the top of his game. It’s a popcorn movie with something to say, and some of those things are said by Ving Rhames, who’s another actor blessed with an excellent voice. Watch



American Beauty

Let’s get something clear right away. The plastic bag scene of American Beauty should only be viewed as a character building moment. If you meet anyone who agrees with it as art, end the conversation and don’t start another one. That said, the value of American Beauty comes in the form of its detailed depiction of the American suburbs. We’ve been told suburbia was the American ideal since soldiers came back from a newly beaten Nazi Germany. It’s where all the respectable, upstanding people went and had completely average, fulfilling lives. There were no deviants, malcontents, hoodlums, or undesirables of any kind. American Beauty was one of the first of anything to suggest maybe that’s not the case. Watch



Rifftrax Collection

Everyone seems very excited over the return of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s certainly significant if Joel Hodgson is returning to the series, which he is. And trying to follow the history of the MST3K cast and writer changes is headache-inducing to say the least. But it’s surprising we’re reacting to its return like it’s been 20 years since we’ve seen anything like it. Since 1999, mostly everyone involved in every iteration of the series has been riffing, either on Cinematic Titanic (Hodgson’s production, which you can find on Amazon, though not Prime) and Rifftrax (courtesy of MST3K’s second go around). They still cut up B movies, with plenty of back catalog to keep you entertained. And if you want Hollywood production riffing, you can get Just the Jokes, their way of cutting up huge movies without getting skewered by copyright infringement lawsuits. Watch



I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

We’re of the firm opinion that there’s no age limit on enjoying Sesame Street. If you’re a 4-year-old child learning how to read and write or a 70-year-old who likes the songs and funny voices, we hold no judgement against anyone who loves a Muppet production. But as you get older, you start to wonder about the things you watched when you were younger, so a genuine enjoyment of Sesame Street can turn into an academic curiosity about the people behind the production. I Am Big Bird is a documentary that follows the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, a man who’s been there since the very first season of the show. Other Muppet voice actors have come and gone, but in the meantime, Caroll Spinney’s been Big Bird. Watch