If you're stuck inside and searching for a good movie to pass the time, you can't go wrong with the best movies on Amazon Prime. With something from every genre, no matter what mood you're in, you're bound to find something you'll enjoy. This March, Coming 2 America, the new Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall comedy, lands on the streamer, and then there's also the original Coming to America to catch up with as well.
There's also awards frontrunner One Night in Miami, or if you're in the mood for a truly disturbing horror, check out Midsommar starring Florence Pugh. For a wild comedy, there's Borat 2, and there's Rian Johnson's excellent and all-star murder mystery Knives Out for something to keep you guessing throughout the runtime. Plus, everything on the list below is available in the UK and US, so you can take your pick of the best movies on Amazon Prime and settle in for a movie marathon without worrying whether the film will be available or not. Enjoy!
Coming to America
Eddie Murphy's iconic comedy sees the actor play Akeem Joffer, the crown prince of the (fictional) African nation of Zamunda. Not wanting to marry the woman his parents have arranged, Akeem – along with best friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall) – flee to America to find a woman who will love Akeem's personality, not wealth. Murphy's excellent in this hilarious riches to rags story – and it's well worth watching before the sequel, Coming 2 America, reaches Amazon in March.
One Night in Miami
Taking its lead from the Peter Morgan school of speculative bio-fiction, Kemp Powers’ play-turned-film imagines what was said on the night activist Malcolm X (played by Kingsley Ben-Adir), singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and NFL star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) met in a hotel room with Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) to celebrate the latter becoming heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
It’s a dazzling, once-in-a-lifetime gathering of Black icons – though neither Powers nor director Regina King are content just to bask in their reflected glory. Instead, they set them in thrilling opposition, with Malcolm’s insistence they use their celebrity for the greater good of their race acting as the touch-paper for passionate, provocative and sometimes incendiary debate. The shifting power dynamics that ensue require our full attention, as well as an acceptance the action will rarely venture outside Malcolm’s claustrophobic motel suite.
"Life’s too short to waste time on things you don’t absolutely love,” says Nnamdi Asomugha’s saxophonist to Tessa Thompson’s wannabe TV producer in Eugene Ashe’s second feature, itself a love-letter to classic Hollywood romances.
Despite the unpromising title, this is certainly no time-waster – the two leads share a magnetic chemistry that overcomes the sometimes schematic plotting, with Declan Quinn’s handsome cinematography and a pitch-perfect soundtrack casting an irresistible spell. Submit to its soft-centred charms and it might just sweep you off
Starring WandaVision’s Paul Bettany and It’s Sophia Lillis, Uncle Frank is a road movie about a man confronting his past. Set in 1973, Frank (Bettany) and his niece Beth (Lillis) are set to take a road trip from New York City to South Carolina for a family funeral when they’re unexpectedly joined by Frank’s lover Wally (Peter Macdissi). It’s directed by Alan Ball, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for American Beauty and created the TV shows Six Feet Under and True Blood.
You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsey has only directed a handful of movies, yet she has established herself as one of the UK's premiere filmmakers. You Were Never Really Here, Ramsey's follow up to We Need To Talk About Kevin, is a visceral revenge flick that centres on Joaquin Phoenix's former American military man who's afflicted with PTSD.
The action is brutal, the editing is unlike anything else, and Phoenix's performance is awards worthy – arguably even stronger than his portrayal of the Joker in that controversial supervillain blockbuster. Come for the Oscar-winning actor, stay for the thrilling direction.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
"Very niiiiiice!" If you didn't say that in the voice of Khazakstan's most famous news reporter Borat, then this one may not be for you. Sacha Baron Coan returns as the eponymous Borat to cause more mischieve in America. This time, he's joined by his daughter, played by Maria Bakalova, who frankly steals the show. The cojones on these two performers to do some of the stuff they do...
The movie starts with Borat attempting to make peace with America by offering Kazakstan's head of culture, a monkey named Jimmy, as a gift to Vice President Mike Pense. The monkey gets eaten en-route, and Borat improvises by offering his daughter to Pense. Yes, it gets worse – so much worse – from there.
Midsommar marks the sophomore feature from writer/director Ari Aster, coming after his disturbing horror Hereditary. That movie wasn’t just an arresting and confident debut, it was also one of the best (and scariest) horror films of the decade. Tense and stylish, with rounded performances and a tragic twist, Midsommar delivers a confident follow-up that's just as terrifying and unnerving.
Aster showcases a unique visual style, that feels like a distinct and fully formed trademark after just two features. From striking cuts, formal compositions, and carefully etched background clues, he’s a devil when it comes to detail. It’s a bold move to set a horror film mostly in daylight, and green fields and flower garlands are made to seem impressively ominous. And once again, there are a couple of shockingly gruesome moments that puncture the pastoral idyll.
Suspiria doesn't so much nail the Bechdel test as set fire to it and then do a naked victory dance around the flames. This is a film entirely about women and their bodies and their relationships – but that's not why you should get streaming this immediately.
You should see Suspiria because it's one of the most shocking horror movies in recent memory. Every second is calibrated to keep you rigid with suspense, tugging you further and further into its world of dance and the occult so skillfully that you reach the spectacular climax in what feels like mere minutes, despite the two hours and 30 minutes running time. Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton are excellent in this timely remake.
There's foul play afoot! On the morning after his 85th birthday party, mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey is found dead in his study. For Lieutenant Elliot this is an open and shut case of suicide – that is until Private Eye Benoit Blanc arrives on the scene. Suspects? The entire Thrombey family. And what a horrible bunch of backstabbers they are... or are they? You never know in Knives Out.
Rian Johnson’s whip-smart who-dunnit is spectacular fun. Knives Out takes on tricky subjects such as privilege, class, and immigration with bounds of wit and perfect precision. Johnson’s movie is filled with a fantastic ensemble cast and so many twists and turns it will leave your head spinning. Knives Out is a must-see.
The Big Sick
Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani writes and stars in this comedy based on his own marriage. The trials of cross-cultural romance come under scrutiny as stand-up comic Kumail falls for an American student at one of his shows. Not exactly the life his Muslim parents had in mind for him, but that’s the least of his concerns; shortly after they start dating, Emily falls into a coma, leaving Kumail to have to deal with her parents.
Billed as a traditional romantic comedy, The Big Sick has a lot more heart and edge than the posters and trailers would have you believe. The chemistry between Nanjiani and Holly Hunter and Ray Romano - as Emily’s parents - provides most of the real grit. Realistic, and proof that there is still a lot of originality left in the genre, The Big Sick is one of the best movies on Amazon Prime Video.
Written by Shia LaBeouf himself, Honey Boy tackles the actors own relationship with his father and growing up in the spotlight. Directed by Alma Har’el in her narrative feature debut, the movie stars LaBeouf as his own father, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, and FKA Twigs. It’s a heart-wrenching exploration of forgiveness, as LaBeouf wrote the script as a form of therapy whilst in rehab. At a tight 90 minutes, it’s well worth your time this weekend to watch this moving portrayal of adolescence and a career-making performance from, well, everyone.
Based on Mindy Kaling's own experiences in the industry, Late Night focuses on a struggling late-night show that's experiencing a lag in the ratings. Emma Thompson plays the host of the show and, desperate to change things up, spotlights a new assistant – played by Kaling – and recruits her to become the driving force behind changing her image. With two great leading performances, Late Night is an easy-going comedy that's earnest, funny, and not afraid to occasionally show its teeth.
Brittany Runs a Marathon
Showcasing a breakout turn from Jillian Bell (Eastbound & Down, 22 Jump Street), this Sundance award-winner from playwright-turned-director Paul Downs Colaizzo ploughs a familiar furrow with honesty, hilarity, and heart. Inspired by a friend who made her own journey from couch potato to long-distance runner, Colaizzo’s film surrounds its hero, played by Bell, with an amusing selection of characters that range from a vacuous Instagram wannabe (Alice Lee) to new bestie Seth (Micah Stock). In the end, it’s Bell who makes Brittany a ringing success.
Tasked by Senator Dianne Feinstein (a coolly commanding Annette Bening) with leaving no stone unturned, Senate staffer Daniel Jones – infused here with simmering indignation by a driven Adam Driver – systematically details the brutalities inflicted on all of the Agency’s 119 detainees. Having assembled his torture dossier, though, Jones faces another uphill struggle to get it published. As Matthew Rhys’ reporter ruefully observes, “they sent you off to build a boat they had no intention of sailing.”
As vessels go, The Report is one so overloaded with names, dates, flashbacks, and acronyms it’s a wonder it stays afloat. That it does should be attributed not just to the dogged conviction Driver exudes as its righteous hero but also to the film’s unshakeable belief that the ugly truth will ultimately out. Burns’ film is not an easy watch, not least when it depicts what took place in Langley’s infamous “black sites”. Like the harrowing data that inspired it, though, it defies redaction.
Polish-British writer-director Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War is full of dazzling monochrome compositions. The movie spans the entirety of the '50s and digs into Poland’s past, beginning with Zula (Joanna Kulig) auditioning for a folk troupe mentored by pianist Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), and then following its co-option by the state to pipe out Communist propaganda.
At 84 minutes and with a decade covered, each new chapter quickly immerses the viewer back into the fast-forwarded action. It doesn’t linger – and somehow has that bewitching quality of feeling like it was made at the time and only now unearthed to be pored over with relish. Not one to miss.
Steve Carell plays David Sheff, a newspaper writer whose son, portrayed by Timothée Chalamet, disappears for two days. Upon his return, there are obvious signs of drug use, and Chalamet's Nic is taken to rehab. What follows is a heartbreaking story of a father-son bond that struggles as Nic relapses and goes in and out of medical facilities. With two powerhouse performances at its centre, Beautiful Boy showcases what these actors are capable of.
Manchester by the Sea
Boston janitor Lee (Casey Affleck) returns to the titular town in Massachusetts when his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies of a heart attack. A morose, taciturn loner given to communicating with his fists after too many beers, Lee is horrified to find that he has been named legal guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges), whose ties to Manchester-by-the-Sea – hockey team, rock band, two girlfriends – mean Lee will need to stick around his hometown for a good while to come.
Under grey skies clogged with pellets of snow, the drama inches along, with flashbacks revealing that Lee was once married to Randi (Michelle Williams), who still lives in the area. True, withholding the source of Lee’s emotional shutdown for a late reveal is something you expect from a thriller rather than a sombre character study. But such is the authenticity on display elsewhere, it doesn’t feel schematic. If it’s thrills or cheer you’re after, you’re in the wrong place. Yet Manchester by the Sea offers its own particular joys, going places that few movies dare to consider these days.
Hiro Murai (Atlanta) makes his directorial debut with this beautiful, musical tale from Donald Glover. The Lando Calrissian actor portrays Demi, a man who wants to hold a great musical festival but is mugged in the run-up to the event. Glover's joined by Rihanna, who plays his musical inspiration and partner, and Letitia Wright. At just 56 minutes, Guava Island is a brisk sun-kissed slice of escapism.
Mike Leigh's grandest movie to date, Peterloo tells of the build-up to the horrendous Peterloo massacre in Manchester, UK. As with many of the director's films, this one's filled with righteous fury – anger that echoes today as much as it did in the early 1800s. It's an energising, difficult watch that occasionally leans too hard into the message. However, make your way through the 154-minute runtime, and you'll feel greatly rewarded.
The Vast of Night
Now for something a little different. The Vast of Night is an obscure '50s set science-fiction flick that centres on a DJ and switchboard operator who discover a strange radio frequency – one caused by extraterrestrial beings. We won't say anything more, for the mystery is half the fun. The other half is the eery atmosphere and brilliant central performances from Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz. There's also a fantastic tracking shot that has put director Andrew Patterson on the map.
Chadwick Boseman stars as Andre Davis, an NYPD detective known for hunting down cop killers. His speciality proves unfortunately handy when two robbers (Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch) raid a high-end wine store that’s actually a front for a massive drug-dealing operation. In the back room is 300 kilos of cocaine – far more than these two chancers were expecting. Before they know it, cops are everywhere, but Kitsch’s expert gunman shoots his way out, slaughtering eight boys in blue.
The narrative gusto of the cops tightening a cordon around their suspects provides excitement and there’s some zingy, slang-heavy dialogue from Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan (brother to director Joe). The corruption-filled final act helps elevate the film from being just another American cop movie.
Marie Curie is a name known by many. Yet, her story is still relatively unexplored on screen. Rosamund Pike brings the famous radiologist to life in Radioactive, a movie that rests entirely upon the actor's shoulders. Told through flashback, Radioactive starts after Curie has an accident and as she reflects on her life – and what a life it is, filled with drama by personal and work-related. Pike is phenomenal.
Spike Lee doesn’t do subtle, but then he’s hardly cracking nuts. Chi-Raq, set in Englewood, Chicago, is a state-of-the-union address on America’s hot issues of gangs and guns. Full of righteous anger packaged in signature swagger, it’s as purposeful and provocative as any Spike Lee joint.
Updating Greek play Lysistrata to the windy city (where more Americans have been killed in the last 15 years than in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts combined), Chi-Raq sees rival gangs the Spartans and Trojans trading bullets. With no end in sight, Lysistrata (a terrific Teyonah Parris), the girlfriend of the Spartans’ leader, persuades womenfolk on both sides of the divide to take control of the situation. “No peace, no pussy,” goes their slogan, with the ladies modelling bling-tastic chastity belts until all weapons are discarded.
With its rhyming couplets, bursts of rap, swathes of broad humour, rampant machismo and a garishly suited Samuel L. Jackson serving as a one-man Greek chorus, this throbs with the kind of passion and (people) politics that so energised Do the Right Thing.
Felicity Jones plays the fictional balloonist Amelia Wren in The Aeronauts, co-starring Eddie Redmayne, who appears as scientist James Glaisher. Interestingly, the character of Amelia is a fictional character based loosely on elements of Amelia Earhart's life, whereas Glaisher was indeed a real man. While this movie Tom Harper may play loosely with history, it's a high-thrills adventure up into the skies that's captivating and heart-pounding.