The 30 best movies on Amazon Prime Video (May 2019)

20. Fight Club (1999)

Region: UK

The movie:  Another ‘90s Fincher flick that aims to disrupt what you think you know is happening on screen. Based on Chuck Palahniuk’s neo-noir tome, Fight Club takes the behaviours of angry young men and spins them into a story that deviates into ever more nihilistic turns. Edward Norton’s unnamed narrator meets Brad Pitt’s effortlessly cool Tyler Durden on a plane, where the two become acquaintances of a sort, bonding over their desire to feel something. That need swells into a movement that unites men from all over to join them in a series of underground fight clubs.

Why it’s worth a watch: The story is more relevant now perhaps than at the time of release, with its emphasis on young white men struggling to handle their future. Cinematically, this is all about the gorgeous visuals, the at-times kaleidoscopic cinematography, and of course, that mind-boggling twist. Keep your eyes peeled for the outstanding opening credits sequence that is *chef’s kiss*.

19. Groundhog Day (1993)

Region: UK

The movie: What would you do if you had to live the same day over and over? Harold Ramis' 1993 classic takes that concept and places it within the world of grumpy weatherman Phil Connors. Sick of covering news that he deems unimportant, Connors begrudgingly follows his producer Rita and cameraman Larry to the small town of Punxsutawney to shoot a segment on groundhog day. The next morning he discovers that he's living the same 24 hours on a loop. 

Why it's worth a watch: Arguably Bill Murray's finest comedic role is as the constantly disgruntled Phil Connors. The amusement lies in the montages wherein Phil experiments with the same scenarios again and again and again. The Ned Ryerson segment in particular is divine.  Groundhog Day simply wouldn't have its classic status without Murray’s spot-on performance, that wrings laughter and poignancy out of his predicament.

18. Ginger Snaps (2000)

Region: US

The movie: The best film to share a title with a biscuit, Ginger Snaps isn't as sweet as the snack. This riotous 2000s horror is a grisly, unapologetic affair. It jumps on the back of Carrie’s ‘bloodletting as a sign of something monstrous’ and then dials things up several notches. Sisters Ginger (Katherine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins) live in the small town of Bailey Downs, where nothing ever happens, until a string of dog killings begin. Shortly thereafter Ginger is attacked by a beast, supposedly the one slaying the town’s pets, and begins to undergo some significant changes. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Ginger Snaps is that rare beast (ahem) of a werewolf flick that continues to better with age. Much like Carrie, a movie that clearly serves as some inspiration, it never shies away from the horror of the situation, diving head on into Ginger’s transformation. The effects and the performances are top notch.

Read more: The 30 best horror movies that will haunt you long after the credits roll

17. Looper (2012)

Region: UK

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.

Read more: The 25 best sci-fi movies in the galaxy

16. What We Do in the Shadows (2014) 

Region: 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.

15. Leave No Trace (2018)

Region: US

The movie: Currently riding at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s no surprise that director Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace is one of the best movies on Amazon Prime. Living off the grid is normal for Iraq war veteran Will (Ben Foster) and his 13-year-old daughter, Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), having cultivated a beautiful, simple lifestyle in a sprawling urban park outside of Portland, Oregon. Their idyllic existence is sent off-kilter when a tiny slip in judgement puts them on the authorities radar, who, yank them from their dwelling and provide them with housing on a Christmas tree farm. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Imagine Captain Fantastic without the overt quirkiness and Into the Wild without the earnestness and you’re somewhere in the realm of Leave No Trace. A low-key dive into similar territory, it steers away from obvious sentimentalism and instead hones in on the relationship between a father and daughter and their shared experience living in a way that’s alien to most of the world. Beautiful, tender, and shot with an eye for the small moments in life. One of the 2019’s major Oscar snubs. 

14. Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1978)

Region: US

The movie: Arguably the finest take on the 'bodysnatcher' trope, its success is down to the unsettling mood that blankets this 1978 classic like the fog settling over the San Francisco bay. Donald Sutherland stars as a public health inspector who suspects something's amiss when the city's residents start acting strangely. When his friend (Brooke Adams) confides that her husband is also displaying unusual behaviour, the par dig deeper into the mystery of why citizens are acting as if, well, like their bodies have been snatched. 

Why it's worth a watch: The last shot alone. Seriously, that one still is an iconic slice of terror which is enough to give you nightmares. On top of that, the rest of the supporting cast, including a young Jeff Goldblum and Alien’s Veronica Cartwright, do their bit to make plants seem proper scary. Forget about Mark Wahlberg waffling to a yucca in The Happening. This is the real deal.

13. Source Code (2011)

Region: UK

The movie: A U.S. Army pilot (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes on a commuter train, with no idea of how he got there or why, when he looks in the mirror, he appears to be someone else. He happily chats away with a woman (Michelle Monaghan) in his carriage, and just when he senses a spark, exactly eight minutes from the time he awoke, the train explodes. He wakes in the confines of a cockpit where it's revealed by his superior (Vera Farmiga) he's actually inside an alternate timeline (the "source code") where it's up to him to identify the bomber. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Aside from having a slick premise, there's a lot to get your head around once the credits start to roll. A breathless, assured sci-fi actioner, it’s only once you’ve let it marinate for a while, that you find yourself reaching for the remote, hitting play, and attempting to see if you can figure out that finale's genius little twist. 

12. The Handmaiden (2016)

(Image: © The Jokers Films)

Region: UK, US

The movie: Very loosely based on the Sarah Waters novel Fingersmith, Park Chan-wook relocates the story from Victorian England to Korea under Japanese colonial rule. That is but one of the many unique choices made by Chan-wook that propels this movie from good to great, as its three parts chart the dubious plottings of a conman, the self-dubbed Count Fujiwara, who aims to marry wealthy heiress Lady Hideko then steal her riches and dump her. He can’t carry out his plan alone, so Fujiwara hires a pickpocket to work as the Lady’s handmaiden with the hopes the young woman will convince Hideko to wed Fujiwara. 

Why it’s worth a watch: So. Many. Reasons. Is it the operatic feeling of the plot? The sensuous visuals that mesmerize? You’ll be at a loss for words once the credits roll. This is lavish and decadent filmmaking, with thrills galore that unravel through sublime character development. Basically, it’s brilliant. 

11. John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

Region: UK

The movie: I know. How can you better perfection? Whether the second chapter in Wick’s stomp-’em-all journey is better than the first is up for debate, however, it’s just as much fun. Wick’s path to redemption is once again furnished with bullet-ridden bodies, when his attempt to live the quiet life once more is quashed by a blast from the past. Forced out of retirement by an Italian mobster, who brings evidence of Wick’s commitment to paying old debts, Wick begrudgingly agrees to one last job in Italy. 

Why it’s worth a watch: This picks up the pace from the original and then some. Chapter 2 boasts a kinetic frenzy of action sequences that never seem to stop. Bullets fly, punches land, and blood is shed. A rare instance of a franchise middle chapter that doesn’t even remotely dawdle. 

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