In a vast landscape of streaming, Amazon Prime Video may very well have the best selection of movies around, and there are some great movies on the service right now. Prime Video is a go-to streaming service, with movie lovers placing it high on their list. Prime Video offers a broad expanse of movies that viewers can rent for just a few bucks, but with an Amazon Prime account, virtually all of their movie selections are completely free. It’s certainly one of the reasons that Amazon Prime Video has surpassed Netflix as the top streamer in the United States.
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With a library that extensive, it can be hard to find the right movie to watch. Prime Video offers something for everyone, so no matter what mood someone is in or their tastes in film, they’re bound to find something to dive into on the streamer. Still, it can be hard to narrow down the catalog when Amazon Prime Video, ad-free or not, offers so much from which to choose. Here are the 10 best movies that are currently available on Amazon Prime Video.
10 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Run Time: 1 hr 37 min Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71% (Critics) / 69% (Audience)
Cast: Julia Stiles (Katarina “Kat” Stratford), Heath Ledger (Patrick Verona), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Cameron James), Larisa Oleynik (Bianca Stratford), Larry Miller (Walter Stratford), Andrew Keegan (Joey Donner), David Krumholtz (Michael Eckman), Gabrielle Union (Chastity Church), Daryl Mitchell (Mr. Morgan), Allison Janney (Ms. Perky), David Leisure (Mr. Chapin)
Teen rom-coms are rarely known for their staying power, and at first glance, a 71% critics score may not seem good enough to make a “best of” list. But Gil Junger’s 10 Things I Hate About You, a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, has withstood the test of time to become a true classic of the late ’90s. The script is unexpectedly clever and far smarter than one might expect of a teen movie. It also served up breakthrough roles for Stiles, Ledger, and Gordon-Levitt, who had previously been only known for his TV work. The chemistry between the cast, and the charm they show, especially the work of Stiles and Ledger, is genuinely delightful, making the Prime Video offering well worth a watch.
9 The Prestige (2006)
Run Time: 2 hr 10 min Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77% (Critics) / 92% (Audience)
Cast: Hugh Jackman (Robert “The Great Danton” Angier / Lord Caldlow), Christian Bale (Alfred “The Professor” Borden / Bernard Fallon), Michael Caine (John Cutter), Scarlett Johansson (Olivia Wenscombe), Piper Perabo (Julia McCullough), Rebecca Hall (Sarah Borden), David Bowie (Nikola Tesla), Andy Serkis (Mr. Alley), Ricky Jay (Milton the Magician)
Writer-director Christopher Nolan has arguably never had a bad movie, so it’s easy for a great movie like The Prestige to get lost in the flashier titles in the director’s library. Still, the psychological thriller currently on Prime Video is one of the strongest on his résumé, with one of Nolan’s typical all-star casts putting in some all-star work. It’s crafted in Nolan’s cerebral way, with a narrative that is full of twists and turns that keep the audience guessing, to the point that Christopher Priest, the author of the original novel on which the movie is based, praised Nolan for the clever twists he added. It’s all aided by the lush setting of London in the 1890s. While The Prestige isn’t quite as bombastic or as much of a spectacle piece as some of Nolan’s other films, the tense unfolding of a bitter rivalry grown out of initial friendship is still as gripping as ever.
8 12 Angry Men (1957)
Run Time: 1 hr 36 min Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% (Critics) / 97% (Audience)
Cast: Martin Balsam (Juror 1), John Fiedler (Juror 2), Lee J. Cobb (Juror 3), E.G. Marshall (Juror 4), Jack Klugman (Juror 5), Edward Binns (Juror 6), Jack Warden (Juror 7), Henry Fonda (Juror 8), Joseph Sweeney (Juror 9), Ed Begley (Juror 10), George Voskovec (Juror 11), Robert Webber (Juror 12), Rudy Bond (The Judge)
Sidney Lumet is recognized as one of the greatest ever directors, and 12 Angry Men is considered one of his masterpieces – the 100% critics score isn’t by accident. The movie acts as a counterargument to the Cold War paranoia of the McCarthy era, a direct rebuttal to the hysterical mob mentality that ran rampant through the country during that time. One-setting movies are always a challenge; the character work has to be well-executed and the story has to remain compelling without external dynamics to propel them. The brilliance of 12 Angry Men’s jury room setting is that it organically allows the tension to develop from within as the men – all white men of a certain era who might be assumed to hold the same general views – clash and fault lines begin to appear as the camera angle slowly grows closer. What follows is a master class in how to build dramatic tension.
7 The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Run Time: 1 hr 32 min Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93% (Critics) / 90% (Audience)
Cast: Robert Mitchum (Reverend Harry Powell), Shelley Winters (Willa Harper), Lillian Gish (Rachel Cooper), Billy Chapin (John Harper), Sally Jane Bruce (Pearl Harper), James Gleason (Uncle “Birdie” Steptoe), Evelyn Varden (Icey Spoon), Don Beddoe (Walt Spoon), Peter Graves (Ben Harper)
At the time of its release, Charles Laughton’s noir thriller The Night of the Hunter was a complete and utter flop, both with critics and with audiences. Its expressionistic style, so different from the films of that era, was too odd and too much a throwback to the silent film era with mid-century audiences to resonate. Since then, however, The Night of the Hunter has been reevaluated and is today considered an undeniably complex and daring film. In particular, Mitchum’s portrayal of drifter and serial killer Powell is a performance for the ages, as chilling as any modern villain or human monster. Laughton’s film is both unsettling and beautiful, and its influence has been seen in media from Do the Right Thing to Better Call Saul. The Night of the Hunter was too far ahead of its time to be appreciated in its own time, but it now holds its rightful place as an influential classic.
6 Gladiator (2000)
Run Time: 2 hr 34 min Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80% (Critics) / 87% (Audiences)
Cast: Russell Crowe (Maximus Decimus Meridius), Joaquin Phoenix (Commodus), Connie Nielsen (Lucilla), Oliver Reed (Antonius Proximo), Derek Jacobi (Senator Gracchus), Djimon Hounsou (Juba), Richard Harris (Marcus Aurelius), Ralf Möller (Hagen), Tommy Flanagan (Cicero), David Schofield (Senator Falco), John Shrapnel (Senator Gaius), Tomas Arana (Quintus), Spencer Treat Clark (Lucius Verus), David Hemmings (Cassius), Sven-Ole Thorsen (Tigris of Gaul), Giannina Facio (Maximus’ wife), Giorgio Cantarini (Maximus’ son)
Director Ridley Scott has had a long and storied career in filmmaking, and few are able to boast the same number of masterpieces he has under his belt. Among those is Amazon Prime historical dramaGladiator, a movie that was an instantly iconic film the moment it hit screens. As a simple revenge tale, Gladiator is great, but as a broader story about the struggle of the powerless to oppose the boots of those in power standing on their necks, its themes are timeless. Its power is undeniable, and it helped make Russell Crowe a household name, not to mention gained him an Oscar for Best Actor. It’s still one of the great action movies and historical epics, and Scott’s directorial choices in the movie have only gotten better over time.
5 Amadeus (Director’s Cut) (1984)
Run Time: 3 hr 00 min Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89% (Critics) / 95% (Audience)
Cast: F. Murray Abraham (Antonio Salieri), Tom Hulce (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Elizabeth Berridge (Constanze Mozart), Roy Dotrice (Leopold Mozart), Simon Callow (Emanuel Schikaneder), Christine Ebersole (Caterina Cavalieri), Jeffrey Jones (Emperor Joseph II), Charles Kay (Count Orsini-Rosenberg), Richard Frank (Father Vogler)
Miloš Forman’s Amadeus takes some definite liberties with the era; those looking for an accurate historical depiction of the time are not likely to find it in Amadeus. Still, it’s a fantastic and daring work from Forman, earning it 11 Academy Awards the year after its release. Forman’s approach, which is at times racy and soaring thanks to Mozart’s music, allows the jealousies of Salieri to be even more exposed as he watches his rival, Mozart, soar to the unparalleled success he will never reach. As a faithful historical biography, Amadeus completely fails. As a vibrant study of the tumultuous gap between the heights of one’s desires and the painful reality of their mediocrity, of the stark contrast between a creative with true genius and another with mere ambition, however, Amadeus is unparalleled.
4 Batman (1989)
Run Time: 2 hr 6 min Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76% (Critics) / 84% (Audience)
Cast: Michael Keaton (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Jack Nicholson (Joker), Kim Basinger (Vicki Vale), Pat Hingle (Commissioner Gordon), Billy Dee Williams (Harvey Dent), Michael Gough (Alfred Pennyworth), Jack Palance (Carl Grissom), Jerry Hall (Alicia Hunt), Lee Wallace (Mayor Borg), David Baxt (Thomas Wayne), Sharon Holm (Martha Wayne), Tracey Walter (Bob the Goon), William Hootkins (Lt. Max Eckhardt), Robert Wuhl (Alexander Knox)
Tim Burton’s Batman is unquestionably the blueprint upon which all modern-day superhero films are built. Its release in 1989 completely changed the way movies are marketed, as well as how a movie’s opening weekend box office is evaluated. None of that would have happened, however, without Batman sweeping over audiences who were hungry for something completely new. Now, “dark” comic book movies are common, but Burton’s daring reimaging of Gotham City as a gothic Art Deco hellscape full of nightmare circus villains, all punctuated by a poppy Prince soundtrack, showed audiences that the comic book genre could be both serious and camp at the same time. The cat-and-mouse dynamic between Keaton’s Batman and Nicholson’s Joker is still as compelling as ever, an on-screen pairing that has rarely been matched before or since.
3 Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Run Time: 2 hr 49 min Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94% (Critics) / 95% (Audience)
Cast: Tom Hanks (John H. Miller), Edward Burns (Richard Reiben), Tom Sizemore (Mike Horvath), Jeremy Davies (Timothy Upham), Vin Diesel (Adrian Carpazo), Adam Goldberg (Stanley “Fish” Mellish), Barry Pepper (Daniel Jackson), Giovanni Ribisi (Irwin Wade), Matt Damon (Pvt. James Francis Ryan), Dennis Farina (Walter Anderson), Ted Danson (Fred Hamill), Harve Presnell (George C. Marshall), Bryan Cranston (Mac), David Wohl (T.E. Sanders), Nathan Fillion (James Frederick Ryan), Paul Giamatti (William Hill), Joerg Stadler (Steamboat Willie)
There are countless war movies, and Saving Private Ryan is one of the greatest ever made, if not arguably the greatest. Stephen Spielberg’s film about war is as harrowingly realistic as they come. Unlike most WWII movies up to that point, which tended to gloss over the complexities of war with easy good vs. evil binaries, Spielberg’s depiction was unflinchingly honest. While there are moments of quiet heroism from the characters, much of the movie deals with the gray morality into which war forces good men, and the way it takes a piece of every soldier’s soul. The first-act Normandy invasion scene is a painstakingly faithful recreation of the hell on earth that was D-Day, serving as a brutal reminder of what The Greatest Generation sacrificed. It’s not an easy watch, but Saving Private Ryan is a necessary one, especially in a modern era in which those who lived through WWII have passed on.
2 Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Run Time: 1 hr 28 min Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85% (Critics) / 85% (Audience)
Cast: Alan Tudyk (Tucker), Tyler Labine (Dale), Katrina Bowden (Allison), Jesse Moss (Chad), Chelan Simmons (Chloe), Philip Granger (Sheriff Gurr), Brandon Jay McLaren (Jason), Christie Laing (Naomi), Travis Nelson (Chuck), Alex Arsenault (Todd)
Compared to the rest of the movies on this list, Eli Craig’s Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is far from a classic. It is, however, an unabashed cult classic, and it has earned a fervent following for a reason. Craig’s blackly comedic horror movie flips the “murderous backwoods rednecks” trope upside-down in a scenario in which the college students are the antagonists and the rednecks are just two nice guys trying to survive what was supposed to be a relaxing fishing trip. It is diabolically gleeful with its kills – characters are killed off in increasingly ridiculous, gore-splattered ways – as the horror-comedy of errors escalates. Along the way, it even manages to squeeze in a romantic storyline that feels earned, a miraculous feat to execute in a movie with a cast to body count ratio as low as Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.
1 The Truman Show (1998)
Run Time: 1 hr 42 min Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94% (Critics) / 89% (Audience)
Cast: Jim Carrey (Truman Burbank), Ed Harris (Christof), Laura Linney (Hannah Gill/Meryl Burbank), Noah Emmerich (Louis Coltrane/Marlon), Natascha McElhone (Sylvia/Lauren Garland), Holland Taylor (Alanis/Angela Montclair), Brian Delate (Walter Moore/Kirk Burbank), Paul Giamatti (Simeon), Una Damon (Chloe), Peter Krause (Laurence), Harry Shearer (Mike Michaelson), Philip Baker Hall (Network Executive)
It’s always a bit magical when an actor best known for being a comedian lands his or her first big dramatic role and nails it. For Jim Carrey, that was The Truman Show. Peter Weir strikes the right balance between heartfelt drama, comedy, and searing satire; The Truman Show in many ways predicted the modern obsession with voyeurism and reality TV. It’s Carrey’s work as Truman, at times both comedic and compelling, that holds the entire movie together. Truman’s dawning realization that his entire life has been a carefully constructed lie is genuinely heartbreaking, but still injected with the strains of dark comedy that are threaded throughout. It’s particularly resonant in an era in which unreality has become truth, and what’s “real” can be manufactured at the click of a button.