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The 20 best Amazon Prime Video movies to watch now (July 2021)

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We’ve all been there: Flipping through Amazon Prime Video’s movie offerings, but stuck wondering Uh, what’s good? The commercial giant’s streaming service has quietly collected a giant archive of films, and since 2006, has released a number of acclaimed films under the Amazon Studios banner, like Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By the Sea, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, and Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake.

Prime Video is a great service, but there’s a ton of content to sift through. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve looked through the service and cherry-picked 10 of our favorite films currently on the platform to try out. Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, and Johnnie To’s blistering crime thriller Drug War— we’ve got you covered with the good stuff.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 best films to stream on Prime Video right now.

An American Werewolf in London

Photo: Universal Pictures

John Landis’ shaggy horror comedy stars David Naughton and Griffin Dunne as David and Jack, two college students whose chance encounter with a lycanthrope changes one of their lives, and ends the other. In visitations from beyond the grave, Jack begs David to off himself so he won’t attack other people, but David may have a thing going with the woman who nurses him back to health. This oddball ticking-clock movie is bolstered by prosthetic effects by the legendary Rick Baker, which are every bit as agonizing and mesmerizing as they were in 1981. —Matt Patches

Burn After Reading

Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading.

Photo: Focus Features

This may be the Coen brothers’ meanest film, and it feels more uncomfortably topical in 2021 than ever before. When a draft of a memoir by a disgruntled former CIA analyst (John Malkovich) accidentally falls into the hands of two gym employees (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt), chaos ensues, involving spies, Russians, and utter cluelessness on the part of the government. Stressful though the increasingly deadly hijinks are, the film is worth watching at least for Pitt’s perfectly pitched comic performance. —TE

Chicken Run

Photo: DreamWorks Animation

Last year, it was announced that a sequel to Chicken Run, the 2000 stop-motion animated comedy directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park, was slated to release on Netflix in the near future. Starring the voices of Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Tony Haygarth, Miranda Richardson, and more, the original film follows a band of chickens who attempt to escape from their Yorkshire farm after the arrival of a dashing American rooster named Rocky. Releasing to critical acclaim, Chicken Run remains the highest-grossing stop-motion-animated film ever released, and an irrefutable classic of the medium. —TE

Drug War

Sun Honglei as police captain Zhang Lei pointing a pistol in Drug War (2012)

Photo: Variance Films

Though Johnnie To might go unrecognized by a majority of Western filmgoers, he’s one of the most prolific Hong Kong directors of his generations, renowned for his tense action crime thrillers and gangster dramas. Drug War, To’s first feature produced in mainland China, is as excellent an introduction to his work as any. It’s a tightly wound cat-and-mouse game focusing on Zhang Lei (Sun Honglei), a relentless police captain trying to topple an illicit drug cartel, and Timmy Choi (Louis Koo), a mid-level drug smuggler who agrees to cooperate with police in order to escape the death penalty for his offenses. If you’re looking for a taut, pulse-pounding crime film with blistering action and dark twists, Drug War is a must-see. —TE

The Elephant Man

John Hurt as Merrick in The Elephant Man

Photo: Criterion Channel

Set in Victorian London, David Lynch’s The Elephant Man taps into the real-life story of Joseph “John” Merrick (John Hurt), a severely disfigured man who works as a sideshow oddity before being taken in by Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins), a physician with a particular fascination and sympathy for Merrick’s condition. Though initially thought mute, Merrick is revealed to be an especially kind and intelligent sophisticate who quickly becomes popular among the city’s upper class, all while hounded by his former owner Bytes (Freddie Jones). Lynch, who had only directed Eraserhead until that point, was chosen by producer Mel Brooks to direct the film; he took the young director under his wing and gave him the support to further his career. The Elephant Man was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and though it didn’t win any, it’s celebrated as a pivotal work in Lynch’s oeuvre. —TE

Fight Club

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

David Fincher’s Fight Club embodied the zeitgeist of turn-of-the-century modernity back when it released in 1999, with The New York Times going so far as to dub it the “defining cult movie of our time” on the 10th anniversary of the film’s release. Edward Norton stars as a disgruntled automobile recall specialist who, dissatisfied with the course of his life and career, develops a case of chronic insomnia. After he crosses paths with a charismatic soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), the two strike up a fast friendship which eventually inspires them to create an underground fight club in order to channel their pent-up aggression. The fight club takes on a life of its own, escalating into a nationwide phenomenon that threatens to upend not only the main character’s life, but the future of American society as we know it. By now you probably know the twist; after all, the film has been a nigh-ubiquitous touchstone of popular culture for over two decades now. But just in case you haven’t, you absolutely must see it without spoilers. —TE

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander stands in the foreground while a car burns in the background in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Photo: Columbia Pictures

David Fincher’s take on Stieg Larsson’s massive international bestseller feels a lot colder and more aggressive than the earlier Scandinavian co-production starring Noomi Rapace in the lead role as uncompromising punk hacker Lisbeth Salander. This 2011 version, with Rooney Mara as Lisbeth and Daniel Craig as crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist, is more obviously reaching for blockbuster status, which it didn’t quite achieve — it was a minor box-office disappointment, coming just after Larsson-mania peaked. It’s worth watching, though, to see exactly what took the world by storm in 2005, when the book version of Dragon Tattoo first came out: a grim and exploitative thriller-procedural, with Mikael and Lisbeth separately pursuing a series of horrific predatory men, and bringing them to grotesque forms of justice. —Tasha Robinson


Ron Perlman, dressed in red, as Hellboy.

Photo: Columbia Pictures

No one has made or may ever make a better Hellboy movie than Guillermo del Toro. Based on Mike Mignola’s cult success comic series, Ron Perlman stars as the eponymous paranormal investigator from Hell, who defends humanity from the forces of darkness. With several notable performances, including John Hurt as Hellboy’s adoptive father Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm, and frequent del Toro collaborator Doug Jones as the amphibious Abe Sapien, Hellboy stands apart from other superhero action movies of its ilk as a film that’s emotionally effective as well as gorgeous. —TE

I, Robot

Will Smith in I, Robot

Photo: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Even though this movie shares a name with Isaac Asimov’s 1950 short-story anthology, Alex Proyas’ 2004 sci-fi action film I, Robot was only named as such late in its production — it’s actually based on an original short story by screenwriter Jeff Vintar. Will Smith stars as Del Spooner, a technophobic homicide detective in a version of 2035 populated with mass-produced synthetic androids. When Spooner is brought in to investigate the murder of Alfred Lanning, a renowned robotics scientist, his immediate impulse is to accuse Sonny— Lanning’s unique personal model android. As the case unfolds, however, detective Spooner discovers a multifaceted conspiracy whose endgame could radically reshape the course of human and robot-kind’s existence. —TE

The Lighthouse

Thomas (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim (Robert Pattinson) in front of the lighthouse.

Photo: A24

Director Robert Eggers and his brother Max conceived of The Lighthouse as a ghost movie, but it plays more like an abstract vampire film. In the two-hander, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe play the attendants of a lighthouse on a diminutive island off the coast of New England in the 1890s. The two men — both named Thomas — have no companionship but each other and the light of the lighthouse. The Fresnel lens that casts light across the sea becomes a point of fixation, an immortal beacon that saps the men of their very will. Eggers and his film are part of the recent push of critically lauded horror films. If you enjoy The Lighthouse, you should also try Eggers’ debut, The Witch. —Chris Plante

The Manchurian Candidate

Denzel Washington and Liev Schreiber in The Manchurian Candidate

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Jonathan Demme’s 2004 remake of John Frankenheimer’s 1962 The Manchurian Candidate is a profoundly unsettling movie. The film updates the original’s Korean War backdrop to the Gulf War, as veteran Bennet Marco is plagued by frightening dreams concerning his deployment alongside Sergeant First Class Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), now a New York Congressman and vice presidential hopeful. As Marco works to uncover the truth behind his disturbing visions, he inadvertently stumbles upon a vast, insidious conspiracy of mind-boggling scope, and its potential orchestrators — the mysterious Manchurian corporation and their inscrutable benefactors. Throw this one on if you’re primed and ready to be freaked the fuck out. —TE

The Man Who Fell to Earth

David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth

Photo: Criterion Channel

David Bowie embodies the role of Thomas Jerome Newton, an extraterrestrial who disguises himself as a human in order to save his dying planet in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth. Based on Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel, the film has been championed as a cult classic in the years since its release, due to its surreal imagery, esoteric plot with analogies to the ravages of fame and human excess, and Bowie’s inimitable performance as a wayward alien who descends into a spiral of alcoholism and self-destruction. It’s a beautiful, bewildering film that will stick with you long after it’s over, as only the best films do. —TE

Millennium Actress

Chiyoko stares at a portrait of her younger self among the ruins of a devastated city

Photo: Madhouse

Millennium Actress is the second of four features produced by late Japanese director Satoshi Kon, and arguably his greatest work. A love letter to cinema, the film is a magical-realist odyssey experienced from the perspective of Chiyoko Fujiwara, an actress reflecting on her career at the behest of a passionate documentarian working to create a tribute to her life. From references to 1954’s Godzilla and Kurosawa’s 1957 classic Throne of Blood to achingly beautiful and surreal sequences of Chiyoko and co. jumping back and forth through time as she recollects over her past, Millennium Actress is an anime classic, and one of the most beautiful and unique animated films ever produced. —TE

Only Lovers Left Alive

Tom Hiddelston and Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive

Photo: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

One of the few non-Marvel projects Tom Hiddleston’s made time for since rising to fame in the Thor series, Jim Jarmusch’s vampire flick is another movie that defines cool. Adam (Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are two bloodsucking ex-lovers who reconnect after years apart. Adam is in Detroit. Eve is Tangier, Morocco. As they draw closer together, Jarmusch sinks his teeth into every form of culture, from lavish clothes to pristine soundtrack curation. It’s style as substance, through the worldview of two supernatural beings who’ve been around for centuries. Don’t expect too much plot — this is all about luxuriating in the picture, and sucking down every ounce of blood Jarmusch has drawn from his obsessions. —MP

The Parallax View

Photo: The Criterion Collection

Alan J. Pakula’s The Parallax View, the second in the director’s “Paranoia Trilogy” of films bookended by 1971’s Klute and 1976’s All the President’s Men, is celebrated as one of the best conspiracy films ever made. It’s a noir-inflected thriller that taps directly into the political and social anxieties of mid-’70s America in the wake of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film stars Warren Beatty as Lee Carter, a charismatic but troubled television journalist who witnesses the assassination of a popular presidential candidate while atop the Seattle Space Needle. Three years later, a rash of mysterious deaths among those who witnessed the assassination prompts Carter to look closer at the connections, leading him to uncover the assassin’s ties to an intensely clandestine organization known as the Parallax Corporation. —TE

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Ben Whishaw as Jean Baptiste-Grenouille in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Based on Patrick Suskind’s novel of the same name, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer stars Ben Whishaw as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a “gifted and abominable” monster in 18th-century Paris — an era and place with no lack of gifted and abominable monsters. An orphan with heightened olfactory senses, Jean-Baptiste is taken under the wing of France’s finest perfumers as an apprentice. As he grows, however, so do his ambitions, and he develops a dark, violent obsession with craft the perfect perfume distilled from the essence and beauty of the women he covets and resents. An extravagant, macabre historical horror fantasy, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a feast for the senses. —TE


Photo: Miramax

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 2001 Japanese horror classic Pulse is absolutely terrifying. Set near the turn of the century, Kurosawa’s film follows a group of Japanese teenagers who, in the wake of their friend’s inexplicable suicide, begin to experience strange visions and unsettling encounters linked to a mysterious floppy disk their friend was investigating. Pulse is widely championed as one of the definitive works in the canon of Japanese horror, with several critics and fans citing it as the definitive internet horror film of the 21st century. Be sure to have all the lights off for this one… and something to cover your eyes when you get too freaked out. You will. —TE

Stop Making Sense

David Byrne performs alongside the Talking Heads in Stop Making Sense

Photo: Vivendi Entertainment

Unfortunately for all other movies, cinema doesn’t get better than Stop Making Sense. Take it from me, a man who has never listened to a single Talking Heads album from front to back, when I say that Jonathan Demme’s 1984 concert film is one of the most electrifying, unique, and essential cinematic experiences of the late 20th century. Where else are you going to see David Byrne noodle-dancing in a gigantic oversized suit before belting out infectiously euphoric rock anthems guaranteed to get you out of your seat? Eat your heart out, James Murphy. —TE


Daniel Craig as James Bond (007) on a motorbike in Skyfall

Photo: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Sam Mendes’ 2012 turn at the venerable spy action franchise is a scintillating, melancholic turn for the series, probing at the interiority of James Bond’s history and allegiances in a way that no previous installment (save for maybe On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) has done before. Skyfall follows Daniel Craig as he reprises his role as everyone’s favorite MI6 operative, going toe-to-toe with former agent Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) as he mounts a globe-spanning plot to bring the organization to its knees and enact vengeance on Bond’s handler M (Judi Dench) for abandoning him years ago. —TE


A masked man in a trench coat brandishing a scissor blade.

Photo: Magnolia Pictures

Nacho Vigalondo’s time-travel thriller follows the story of Hector (Karra Elejalde), a middle-aged man who moves to a secluded home in the country with his wife Clara. After spying a naked woman in the woods and venturing into the forest after her, Hector discovers not only her corpse, but a mysterious man cloaked in pink bandages who stabs him in the arm. Attempting to flee, Hector runs into a strange scientific facility which houses the extraordinary source of all this trouble: a time machine. If you’re looking for more wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey weirdness in the vein of 2004’s Primer or 2014 Predestination, Timecrimes is well worth a watch. —TE

The Vast of Night

Sierra McCormick listens intently to the phone in The Vast of Night

Photo: Amazon Studios

Set in the 1950s, The Vast of Night focuses on two teenagers investigating a mysterious radio frequency. Over the course of one night, switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) go on a supernatural scavenger hunt, investigating everything from reels of tape to anonymous phone calls as they attempt to uncover the frequency’s source. From our review,

It’s an intimate movie, interrupted only by an impressively showy one-shot that sends a camera hurtling through the town, establishing the contrast between its open, silent spaces and the busy huddle of the big high-school basketball game. And while cinephiles make this point so often that it’s become tedious even if it’s true, it’s a film designed for a dark room with no interruptions. It’s designed to cast a delicate spell over the audience, but the audience has to participate to make the trick work.

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