Amazon Prime is easily Netflix’s biggest streaming rival in the UK, but many people don’t realise that when it comes to movies, Amazon has the big N beat hands-down.
Amazon’s library is bigger but also better, with a wide array of blockbusters bolstered by Oscar favourites and a genuinely fantastic line-up of indie and arthouse fare too – some of the best films of the last few years have boasted an Amazon Original logo.
Every single one of the films we’ve picked out here is currently included for free as part of the Prime subscription service, but if you’re not a subscriber then you can always rent or buy a digital copy directly from Amazon too.
If you’re looking for more inspiration you might also want to consider subscribing to one of the Amazon Prime Channels: these are add-on subscriptions for your Prime account that give you access to films from rival apps like Mubi or BFI Player, along with other films selected from distributors like Arrow Entertainment or MGM, which you can then watch from within the Amazon Prime interface and apps.
Got a favourite we didn’t include? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll be updating this piece regularly as the Amazon Prime film library changes. Amazon recently acquired the studio MGM, and so will eventually even have streaming rights to the Bond films.
Don’t have Prime? Take a look at our complete guide to Amazon Prime to find out more about the service and how to sign up.
Watch Parasite on Amazon Prime
2020’s Best Picture winner is an almost-perfect thriller. As surreal as it is twisty, this Korean-language flick skewers the class divide in modern Seoul in a story that’s distinctly local in flavour, but absolutely universal in its themes. Plus, once you’ve seen it you’ll be able to get on the ram-don noodle trend like everybody else.
Watch Fantastic Mr. Fox on Amazon Prime
This stop-motion animation is Wes Anderson’s take on a family film: anarchic, oddball, but consistently charming. George Clooney is the smooth-talking Mr. Fox, joined by a cast of Anderson regulars in a film that loosely adapts the classic Roald Dahl book. This is no Disney cartoon, but it’s a beautiful film no matter your age.
Watch Heat on Amazon Prime
Michael Mann’s action opus is a classic for good reason – and not only for infamously pairing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, who in reality share mere minutes of screen time. Instead it’s the sheer tension running through Heat that makes it unforgettable, as De Niro’s crook and Pacino’s cop dance around each other in the run up to the final act, uncertainty balanced delicately with inevitability as you try not to think about how this is likely to play out.
Watch Suspiria on Amazon Prime
After the runaway success of Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino could have made almost any film he wanted – so he did an about turn from that sweet, hesitant romance and straight into abject horror. His remake of ’70s giallo classic Suspiria is nothing like the original – which is also on Amazon right now – but is a moody, meditative horror that uses a hypnotic Thom Yorke soundtrack to lull you into an almost trance-like state – before jolting you out with some striking moments of violence.
Watch Point Break on Amazon Prime
An action classic that’s earned its reputation – and Hot Fuzz reference – Point Break sees Keanu Reeves play against type as a straight-laced fed who has to pretend to be a surfer dude to catch bank robber cum thrillseeker Patrick Swayze. Genuinely thoughtful, a phenomenal skydiving finale, and probably the best foot-chase in Hollywood history.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Watch Borat Subsequent Moviefilm on Amazon Prime
Amazon probably spent a lot to secure exclusive rights to Borat 2, released just ahead of the 2020 US presidential election as Sacha Baron-Cohen’s not-exactly-Kazakh reporter Borat returns to the States to explore life in the time of coronavirus. It’s not quite up there with the original, but it’s damn close, and more cutting in its politics than ever before.
Look out for the follow-up mini-series, Borat Supplemental Reportings Retrieved From Floor of Stable Containing Editing Machine, containing outtakes and deleted scenes from the film.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy on Amazon Prime
John le Carré’s most famous spy novel is brought to the big screen in impeccable form in this adaptation, which condenses the labyrinthine plot without losing any of its vital intricacy. It helps that the cast is phenomenal, from Gary Oldman as the central spook George Smiley through to the likes of John Hurt, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, and more.
Watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on Amazon Prime
At the time of writing Amazon Prime UK has all four Indiana Jones movies, but it’s the first that pips it for us – with The Last Crusade a close second for Connery alone. Harrison Ford is at his weary best in this first adventure, with Nazis to fight, myths to uncover, and snakes to studiously avoid.
Watch Room on Amazon Prime
A film about a abducted teenage girl living her life out in a garden shed was never likely to be a cheery affair, so the fact that Room is ultimately uplifting is a testament to the film. Brie Larson is the girl who’s lived the last few years in captivity, raising her son to believe that ‘Room’ is the entire world. Larson’s great, Jacob Tremblay is phenomenal as the kid, and the result is one of the most powerful films in years.
Watch Attack the Block on Amazon Prime
Who do you want watching your back in an alien invasion? The police? The military? How about the resident teenagers of a London housing estate? Joe Cornish’s brilliant sci-fi/horror/comedy thing pits south London’s finest up against glow-in-the-dark alien nasties in a battle for the block. There’s a great sense of humour – though it never looks down on the locals – and some of the coolest looking extraterrestrials in years.
Watch Color Out of Space on Amazon Prime
Nicolas Cage meets HP Lovecraft in the match-up we can’t really believe didn’t come sooner. This off-beat adaptation of one of the horror icon’s lesser-known stories pitches Cage as an alpaca farmer (bear with us) whose idyllic family love is disrupted when an asteroid crashes into his yard. From there, things get…weird. Don’t expect a lot of plot, do expect Nic Cage in full unhinged mode. One to watch with your eyes covered.
Watch Assault on Precinct 13 on Amazon Prime
Skip the iffy Ethan Hawke 2005 remake – though it’s on Netflix UK right now if you really insist – and instead head to Amazon for John Carpenter’s moody ’70s classic. Cops, criminals, and civilians find themselves under siege together in a near-abandoned precinct, and things understandably get a little heated.
Like most early Carpenter, the score is worth the price of admission alone, but fine performances and tense plotting make it a must-watch.
Watch Free Fire on Amazon Prime
Director Ben Wheatley is best known for dark, twisted thrillers, but here turns his hand to another genre entirely: the ’70s action blowout. A gun deal gone wrong leaves two groups of crooks trapped in a warehouse together with bullets flying every which way. Funny, anarchic, and constantly creative, this is probably the director’s best film yet.
Watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Amazon Prime
Yes, this is a documentary about sushi making, but bear with me – it’s worth it. Jiro is the proprietor-chef of one of Tokyo’s most acclaimed sushi restaurants, the kind you have to book months ahead – and that was before he shot to worldwide fame thanks to this film. Here he outlines the philosophy and art behind his food, and the exacting approach that’s made him a master – and strained his relationship with his sons.
Watch The Big Sick on Amazon Prime
Kumail Nanjiani stars in this rom-com adapted from his own life, which sees a relationship in its early stages shaken by serious illness. You just have to look at Nanjiani’s real-life marriage to know the film has a happy ending, but along the way it’s a smart comedy that’s refreshingly honest and free from the standard Hollywood cliches.
Watch Hustlers on Amazon Prime
Hustlers came out of nowhere to become a massive hit. Based on a true story, Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu are two New York strippers who find their income plummeting in the wake of the 2008 crash, and decide to make up for it by swindling the bankers that came out of the financial crisis unscathed.
Watch Macbeth on Amazon Prime
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star in this striking Shakespeare adaption from director Justin Kurzel. This is no modern reinvention of the bard, but takes the text at face value while still finding the space to assert a larger role for Cotillard’s Lady M and throw down some of the decade’s most striking cinematography.
Watch Palm Springs on Amazon Prime
Groundhog Day has had a lot of imitators over the years, but Palm Springs is almost certainly the best of them. Andy Samberg (Brooklyn 99) is a wedding guest stuck in a timeloop who accidentally drags the bride’s sister – Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother) – into the same mess.
Palm Springs is very silly, impressively clever, and surprisingly heartfelt.
Watch Saint Maud on Amazon Prime
Morfydd Clark’s Maud is a young live-in nurse assigned to a new patient, a former dancer who still lives a gregarious life even when home-bound. But Maud seems to have gone to Sunday school with Carrie, and her extreme religious views set her on a collision course with the woman in her care – and that’s all before we start to discover what’s in her past. This is sinister, scary, and very, very smart.
Watch The Wailing on Amazon Prime
If you like straightforward scares and thrills from your horror, then The Wailing might not be up your street. After a string of murders rock a small town, some suspicions turn to the recently arrived Japanese stranger, while others turn to superstition to explain the violence. This Korean thriller is dense with ambiguity to the bitter end, denying the audience any easy answers or comforting resolution, but once it grabs your attention it refuses to let go.
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