It’s hard to believe that we no longer have to traipse down to the video store on a cold, dreary night to find a film to watch. Today, we can find something from the safety of the couch, and besides, the best movies on Amazon Prime Video offer just as much enjoyment as strolling the stacks at Blockbuster, anyway. But I know, I know, there is still the issue of figuring out which film is best suited for your evening’s viewing.
Luckily for you I used to a) work in a video store, so I can provide a hint of the clerk vibe and b) I’m a streaming nerd, so I can also offer top recommendations. Trust me, there are loads of brilliant films on this service. When it comes to the absolute best movies on Amazon Prime, you need this list. Carefully curated to include a wide array of flicks from each genre and updated weekly to ensure every single title is available, this is your best bet before hunkering down for the night. What are you waiting for?
25. Dog Soldiers (2002)
The movie: Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers takes place in the Scottish Highlands, a location that boasts plenty of natural beauty, yet in this instance they’re also home to something else. Something with teeth. A group of British soldiers tasked with a nighttime training exercise against a Special Ops team in the Highlands quickly discover their training has been derailed when only one person remains of the Special Ops crew. The rest, ripped apart by unseen beasts. Luckily, there’s a farmhouse nearby where they can wait out the full moon.
Why it’s worth a watch: Vampires had a major resurgence in the last 20 years. Werewolf movies? Not so much. Dog Soldiers remedies that, playing like a fantastic ‘80s genre flick loaded with gross-out, bloodied action and one-liners galore. A glorious mash of horror, thriller and action, you can’t go wrong with this R-rated gem.
24. Coherence (2013)
The movie: Proof that you don’t need a million dollars to create suspense and genuine character interactions, writer-director James Ward Byrkit delivers one of the best low-budget genre movies of the last decade. Eight friends meet for a dinner party on the same night that a comet passes through Earth’s atmosphere. On an ordinary evening, that might provide a conversational spark, but on this night all bets are off, as the group start to experience some seriously strange occurrences. Side effects of the celestial event, or, is there something else at play?
Why it’s worth a watch: It’s hard to say why you should see Coherence without utterly spoiling it. Like The Invitation, another superb dinner party movie that changes course, this movie is best watched with very little knowledge of what’s about to happen. This is glorious filmmaking, proof that a shoestring budget and no script can lead to excellence.
23. Total Recall (1990)
The movie: Blood, guts, and Arnie in another role where his stiff acting skills actually stand him in good stead. Paul Verhoeven’s ‘90s sci-fi actioner adapts Philip K. Dick’s story, We Can Remember it for You Wholesale. Arnie stars as Douglas Quaid, a construction worker in 2084, who dreams of going to Mars. To assuage his desires, he visits Rekall, a company that implants fake memories into people’s heads so they can experience life on Mars without the hefty price tag. Things go downhill when it’s revealed that Quaid’s entire life is one big false memory. Cue a trip to bizarro world...
Why it’s worth a watch: There is so much to love about this R-rated actioner, that likely wouldn’t be made in the same way today. Verhoeven’s '90s output is heavy on the sex and violence and mixed in with the sci-fi setting, this is simply put, a riotously fun genre mash. Works well in a double bill with Starship Troopers.
22. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
The movie: Even the best franchises need a breather. Ghost Protocol is the fourth in the Mission: Impossible series, following a 5-year break, presumably during which Tom Cruise spent time figuring out how to best give the studio palpitations. Yep, Ethan Hunt returns to scale heights and throw caution to the wind - typically at the same time - with his IMF crew in tow. This time the gang are in hot water after being framed for blowing up the Kremlin.
Why it’s worth a watch: Let’s get this out of the way now - no-one watches the Mission: Impossible series for its strict adherence to reality. No. We watch for the bombastic stunts and seemingly, ahem, impossible feats of action bravura. Cruise and co. blow the entire franchise wide open by cranking things up to 11 and re-establishing the series as arguably the best ongoing action franchise.
21. Eighth Grade (2018)
The movie: At last, a movie that approaches early adolescence with a certain degree of seriousness. That’s not to say Eighth Grade isn’t funny, because it is packed with humour and charm, most of which hails from newcomer Elsie Fisher who unveils her mastery of awkwardness as Kayla Day. Even whilst suffering through her own social anxieties, Kayla attempts to better herself and her peers by offering advice through her vlog, and even taking her own pointers in order to get more friends and make it through the school year.
Why it’s worth a watch: Writer-director Bo Burnham taps into the reality of what it means to be a 13-year old today in the current culture of sharing every detail of our lives on social media. Really, it’s Fisher’s performance that makes Eighth Grade such a winning watch. She truly illuminates the struggle of adolescence, from the very first scene through to the last, letting us witness up-close those battles that seem life-or-death when you’re a kid.
20. Logan Lucky (2017)
Region: UK, US
The movie: With the Ocean’s trilogy Steven Soderbergh established that he’s got the skills to pull off numerous heist movies. Logan Lucky finds him in similar territory, albeit with a polar opposite cast of characters, led by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan. Hardly the brightest of the bunch, the pair make a desperate grab for a better life by plotting to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Why it’s worth a watch: The script, from newcomer Rebecca Blunt, could easily have been worked over by the Coens and moulded into their quirky oeuvre, yet instead Soderbergh keeps things simple. It’s an entertaining action comedy from start to finish, proving yet again that Tatum and Driver are equally as riveting when playing dolts as they are playing brooding leading men.
19. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
The movie: Steve Martin and Michael Caine are in their element as a couple of con men fleecing the rich. Caine plays Lawrence Jamieson, whose lifestyle of conning susceptible women on the French Riviera is thrown into turmoil when another grifter shows up on the scene. Enter Freddy Benson (Martin), a less sophisticated con artist, whose shoddier skills threaten Lawrence’s livelihood, leading the pair to enter into a wager. Whomever manages to successfully win over their next target gets to stay in town, while the other must leave. Neither suspects that Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly) is no ordinary mark. A comedy with twists.
Why it’s worth a watch: Ahead of the Anne Hathaway/Rebel Wilson remake The Hustle that’s due to hit cinemas this spring, it’s a grand idea to scope out the original. This is one comedy that’s only grown more amusing with age. The dinner scene alone is enough of a reason to revisit this classic, as Martin dons an eyepatch and pretends to be Caine’s simpleton brother Ruprecht.
18. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Region: UK, US
The movie: Michael, Freddy, Jason. You’ve heard the names and you know the drill; they’re slasher icons with a thirst for blood. And now you can add Leslie Vernon to that list of frightful horror villains. This mockumentary follows a film crew led by reporter Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) as they chronicle the day-to-day life of slasher baddie wannabe, Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel). Cutting from “shakey cam” found footage when the crew are larking about with Leslie to slick, traditional horror visuals when he’s enacting his kills, you haven’t seen a slasher like this before.
Why it’s worth a watch: You think you know meta, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Behind the Mask takes place inside the world where horror movie legends exist for real. To Leslie, Freddy and Jason aren’t imaginary - they’re actual serial killers whom he idolizes. And while that in itself is a killer concept, this creative horror has way more up its sleeve for the final act.
17. Looper (2012)
The movie: Ponder, if you will, what life might be like if you found out that in thirty years you become Bruce Willis. Whether that’s good or bad depends on your fondness for the man, but nevertheless, that is but one of the intriguing questions plaguing Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character Joe. He's a "looper", a hitman working for the mob who utilize a fancy way of ensuring bodies don't pop up: they use time travel. People are sent back in time, where Joe is waiting to take 'em out. That is until his future self appears before him.
Why it's worth a watch: Did you dig Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Fantastic. Well, this superb time travel thriller is directed by the same filmmaker Rian Johnson, who takes a great concept ("looping") then weaves in a vengeance plot AND a killer twist. Emily Blunt also shines in a supporting role as a mother who takes in Joe when he’s on the run. If that’s not enough for ya here’s an added bonus: you get to see JGL in prosthetics.
16. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Region: UK, US
The movie: Ever wondered what it might really be like as a vampire? Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement's mockumentary peels back the years of ridiculous posturing to reveal an altogether more, ahem, realistic view. Forget your moping twinkly-skinned bloodsuckers. This bunch are as normal as they come. Well sort of. While paying rent is one of their biggest dilemmas, steering clear of sunlight is their chief concern which makes adapting to modern life a tad tricky.
Why it's worth a watch: There's no other film quite like What We Do in the Shadows. Horror comedies can tend to steer in a similar direction, and yet this mockumentary takes its own path, mixing up some genuine scares with gut-busting laughs. Waititi and Clement clearly had a riot riffing on the mythology while penning the script, and the cast is just dynamite bringing it to life.