What movies to watch on Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video stands next to Hulu and Netflix as one of the largest video-on-demand (VOD) streaming services in the world — it currently has over 75 million subscribers. It’s no secret that streaming services are producing Academy Award caliber content, and Amazon Studios has certainly become a top contender. Amazon Prime Video also has one of the largest libraries of licensed content on the market. It even features a nice selection of obscure and niche films — although you might have to pay a rental fee to enjoy some of these options. 

If you’re searching for a list of the best movies on Amazon Prime, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the best movies on Amazon Prime. When it comes to great films, this service provides plenty of choices, including options such as Manchester by the Sea, The Handmaiden, The Neon Demon and Paterson. And Amazon Studios invests in some of the most creative filmmakers on the planet like Jim Jarmusch, Nicolas Winding Refn and Woody Allen. If you’re looking for a more traditional TV alternative, then a service like Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV, or YouTube TV might be a better fit. 

Movies that have won awards

The Big Sick

Inspired by the relationship between stand-up comic Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick follows a couple as they deal with cultural differences and illness. The film received numerous nominations, including Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards. It also won AFI’s Movie of the Year award and several other accolades.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 88%
  • Genre: Comedy, Romance
  • Length: 119 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Featured actors: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher and Matty Cardarople

Manchester by the Sea

Winner of two Oscars, Machester by the Sea, is about a depressed loner who takes in his nephew after his brother passes away. As the two try to process their grief, their relationship endures heartbreaking tests.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 78%
  • Genre: Drama
  • Length: 135 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Featured actors: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Gretchen Mol and Josh Hamilton 

The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden is an award-winning film set in 1930s Japan and Korea. A con artist poses as a handmaiden to defraud an heiress of her fortune, but she unwittingly gets involved with her employer and ends up risking safety for passion. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 91%
  • Genre: Drama, Thriller
  • Length: 145 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Featured actors: Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, Kim Hae-suk, Moon So-ri and Kim Tae-ri

You Were Never Really Here

The fourth film of visionary filmmaker Lynne Ramsay, You Were Never Really Here, was adapted from Jonathan Ames’ novella about a veteran with crippling PTSD who finds missing girls for a living. The protagonist’s past as a soldier haunts him as his most recent case devolves into conspiracy and violence. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 64%
  • Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
  • Length: 89 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Featured actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov, John Doman, Alex Manette and Dante Pereira-Olsen

Documentaries 

Author: The JT LeRoy Story

From the director of The Devil and Daniel Johnston, Author: JT LeRoy Story is an immersive and creatively structured documentary about a talented author who created a deception that quickly escalated tricking the whole world. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 62%
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Length: 110 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Featured actors: Laura Albert, Bruce Benderson and Terrence Owens

One Child Nation

In this personal film about China’s One Child Policy, the filmmaker, who was born and raised in China, explores the impact of the country’s strict family-planning laws.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 83%
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Length: 89 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Featured actors: Nanfu Wang, Zaodi Wang and Zhimei Wang

The Act of Killing 

In this confrontational documentary, film budgets are given to Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact the executions of communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals in which they participated. As they recreate the events, they’re forced to face their past sins, exposing their most inner demons. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 85%
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Length: 116 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Featured actors: Anwar Congo, Herman Koto and Syamsul Arifin

They Shall Not Grow Old

A work of wonder, They Shall Not Grow Old was painstakingly put together by Peter Jackson and his industry-leading special effects team. Taking old British military footage from World War I and restoring it with color, sound and adjusting the pacing, the film effectively transports the viewer to the early 1900s, doing what other coverage of the time can’t — humanizing an age before modern technology. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 91%
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Length: 99 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Featured actors: N/A

Movies that are classics

The Conversation

Written and directed by legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, The Conversation captures the paranoia of post-Watergate America as a sound surveillance expert follows the conversation of a young couple seemingly in danger. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 90%
  • Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
  • Length: 113 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Featured actors: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams and Harrison Ford

The Godfather

One of modern cinema’s most successful and groundbreaking films, The Godfather follows the Corleone family, an organized crime dynasty, during the transfer of power from father to son. The family’s youngest son’s morality disintegrates as he consolidates power. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 98%
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Length: 175 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Featured actors: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall

Aguirre, the Wrath of God

In search of the riches of El Dorado, a Spanish expedition led by Don Lope de Aguirre slowly perishes as Aguirre’s obsession with gold drives him to extremes and the point of madness. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 91%
  • Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Featured actors: Klaus Kinski, Ruy Guerra and Helena Rojo 

Raging Bull

One of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro’s most notable collaborations, Raging Bull is the story of former boxing champion Jake LaMotta and his rage both inside and outside the ring. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 93%
  • Genre: Drama
  • Length: 128 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Featured actors: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty, Frank Vincent and Nicholas Colasanto

The takeaway

Amazon Prime Video is constantly expanding its catalog with original and licensed movies. If you already have an Amazon Prime subscription, then you can start watching movies right this second. If you’re not a member but want to try Amazon Prime, which includes access to perks like Amazon Music and free two-day shipping, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial. Although, if you’d rather pay just for Amazon Prime Video instead of subscribing to a full Amazon Prime membership, you can do so for $9/mo.

Zack Kulm

Zack Kulm is a writer and contributor of soda.com. He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries.