In the world of streaming subscription services, there's what's become known as the "big three." Netflix is still the biggest kahuna in the game, but Hulu and Amazon Prime are hot on its heels. Each service offers its own large selection of movies, with thousands of titles of various calibers included. Currently, Amazon Prime actually boasts the largest movie library of the three, but it could be argued that quantity isn't nearly as important as quality.
25 of the very best movie titles offered on Amazon Prime can be found below, featuring a mix of blockbuster hits, award-winning critical darlings, hilarious comedies, bone-chilling horror movies, and more. The list below attempts to include something for everyone, and thankfully, Amazon Prime's selection houses quite the robust grouping of worthwhile streaming choices.
Before the list begins proper, there are some important notes to be made. First the movies below are available to stream on Amazon Prime at the time of this writing. As movies expire, the list will be updated, and new great options will be added. Also, the 25 films below, while numbered for convenience, are not ranked. So the movie marked number one is not meant to necessarily be seen as superior to the movie at number 25.
Last updated: June 7, 2019
Once upon a time, Tom Hanks wasn't yet cemented as one of the best dramatic leads in Hollywood history. Instead, he was mostly known for doing comedies, such as Splash and Big. While he'd done some dramatic work beforehand, it was 1993's Philadelphia that really proved just how good Hanks was, winning him his first Oscar. Directed by Jonathan Demme, Philadelphia stars Hanks as Andrew Beckett, a corporate lawyer and gay man who's fired by his firm after being diagnosed with AIDS. Beckett sues his former employer, and is eventually represented by Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), who initially struggles with his own homophobia. A landmark film when it comes to Hollywood's representation of the LGBTQ community, Philadelphia is a sad, but moving Amazon Prime pick.
Most horror films are full of obvious supernatural threats, whether they be vampires, ghosts, demons. or even the occasional sadistic leprechaun. Sometimes though, a horror effort comes along to reinforce that at the end of the day, the fear of losing a loved one is one that audiences can't escape, even after the latest scary movie stops playing. One recent example of that type is 2018's critically lauded (89% on Rotten Tomatoes) Hereditary, directed by Ari Aster, and starring Toni Collette as Annie, an emotionally scarred mom who finds her life spinning more and more out of control following the death of her own mother. Hereditary has become a bit divisive in horror circles, but it's worth watching on Amazon Prime and judging for oneself.
One of the most famous authors in the world, horror master Stephen King has seen his work adapted for both the big and small screens countless times. Carrie (1976) was the very first though, which makes sense, as 1974's Carrie was King's first published novel. Sissy Spacek stars as the titular Carrie White, an outcast teenage girl who finds that the changes to her body brought on by puberty also awaken a powerful telekinetic ability, one capable of striking back at her tormentors, up to and including her religious zealot of a mother.
22 The Game
One of the earlier films to emerge from the endlessly creative mind of director David Fincher, 1997's The Game might not be Fincher's most awarded or money-making effort, but it's still a terrific little thriller in its own right. Michael Douglas stars as Nicholas Van Orton, a successful investment banker that's still haunted by his father's suicide. Nicholas' life gets dangerously interesting when his brother Conrad (Sean Penn) offers him an invitation to play the titular game. Nicholas agrees, but quickly wishes he hadn't, as things get crazy in short order. There's never been a better time for Amazon Prime users to discover this gem.
21 Eighth Grade
The feature writing and directing debut of comedian Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade wowed many in 2018 with its very relatable, and often very frank depiction of what it's like to be transitioning into one's teenage years. Most movies and TV shows tend to depict childhood and young adulthood as this time full of nothing but fun and carefree idealism, but in reality, many people spend their youths battling social awkwardness, dealing with anxiety, and struggling to fit in. Fronted by a great lead performance from Elsie Fisher, and bolstered by one of the best speeches ever given from a parent to their child onscreen, Eighth Grade isn't always easy to sit through, but it's consistently rewarding. Another impressive offering from Amazon Prime.
20 Some Like It Hot
Those looking to watch a classic comedy on Amazon Prime need look no further than 1951's Some Like It Hot, directed by Hollywood icon Billy Wilder, helmer of other golden age hits like Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon star as two Chicago musicians forced to assume female identities to get out of town after witnessing a gangland murder. Both quickly notice the singer of their new all-female band, played by Marilyn Monroe near the height of her stardom. Some Like It Hot includes some moments that are problematic by today's standards, but those willing to view it through a historical lens will still find plenty to enjoy.
19 Major League
For about as long as America has been making movies, movies depicting baseball have been common. After all, there are few things more quintessentially American. Some of those movies are meant to provoke emotion and draw tears, but 1989's Major League goes straight for the funny bone. Centered on a fictional version of the Cleveland Indians, Major League sees an unscrupulous owner try to deliberately put together a terrible team, in order to get attendance low enough to trigger a contract clause allowing them to relocate to Miami. Thankfully, this gathering of misfits won't be defeated so easily. Major League spawned two sequels, but neither are available on Amazon Prime.
18 Shutter Island
Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring his modern muse Leonardo DiCaprio, 2010's Shutter Island centers on U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, who's sent to investigate a mysterious disappearance at a mental hospital on the titular island. Unfortunately for Teddy, nothing is what it seems, and the mystery threatens to swallow him whole. The star-studded cast also includes Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, and Michelle Williams. Those looking for a thriller designed to keep them guessing should definitely stream Shutter Island on Amazon Prime.
17 The Return of the Living Dead
Long before Simon Pegg and Nick Frost combined laughs with flesh-eating zombies in 2004's Shaun of the Dead, director Dan O'Bannon unleashed 1985's The Return of the Living Dead on unsuspecting audiences. Often considered one of the best horror comedies ever, The Return of the Living Dead was set in a world in which events similar to those of George A. Romero's 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead really happened, and the movie was a cover story. Unfortunately, hapless warehouse workers Frank (James Karen) and Freddy (Thom Matthews) soon mistakenly release the Trioxin gas that brings the dead back to life, leading to brain-eating gory deaths and personality-filled talking zombies. A perfect choice for a night of Amazon Prime streaming fun.
16 12 Angry Men
Hollywood loves itself a good courtroom drama, and the movie that solidified just how worthwhile they could be was 1957's 12 Angry Men, ready to stream anytime on Amazon Prime. Directed by Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men's story is simple, yet compelling. A group of jurors, forced to deliberate together for hours in the same room, must come to a unanimous verdict about the guilt or innocence of an 18-year-old accused of murder. Such classic film heavyweights as Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman, E.G. Marshall, and Lee J. Cobb star.
While Marvel Studios' Black Panther might be the first superhero film starring an African-American lead to become a massive blockbuster hit, one shouldn't discount the impact made by Wesley Snipes' Blade in 1998, which definitely paved the way for a black cinematic superhero like T'Challa. Director Stephen Norrington's film wasn't exactly a box office smash (although it did perform quite respectably), but Snipes fit the Blade role so well that many fans still wish he'd play it in the MCU. Blade II - a sequel some believe tops the original - is on Amazon Prime also.
14 The Machinist
While Oscar-winner Christian Bale has become well-known for his ability to transform himself physically for roles in acclaimed films like The Fighter and Vice, one of Bale's earliest transformations occurred for a film that didn't even receive a wide theatrical release. However, that doesn't mean 2004's The Machinist isn't worth watching on Amazon Prime. Directed by Brad Anderson, The Machinist stars Bale as Trevor Reznik, a man whose chronic insomnia issues have caused him to become horrifyingly emaciated. After Trevor causes an accident at work and loses his job, his mental state spirals downward fast. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Ironside also star.
13 Ginger Snaps
The werewolf is one of horror's oldest monsters, dating back to the Universal classic The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney Jr. One of the most creative spins on the werewolf story is 2000's Ginger Snaps, a Canadian indie from director John Fawcett that's gone on to cultivate a large cult fanbase. Goth sisters Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins) are obsessed with death, that is until death comes knocking via an attack by a werewolf on Ginger. Before long, Ginger becomes a murderous beast, and it's ultimately up to Brigitte to try and stop her reign of terror. This coming-of-age horror tale is well worth howling at on Amazon Prime.
12 Angel Heart
For those who love a good neo-noir mystery - and don't mind it being infused with some psychological horror - 1987's Angel Heart could be a great choice to give a spin on Amazon Prime. Director Alan Parker's film stars Mickey Rourke as Harry Angel, a private detective in 1955 tasked by the mysterious Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) with tracking down a man called Johnny Favorite. The search leads to New Orleans, and as things progress, Harry's world spirals downward. Lisa Bonet also stars, in a role that famously got her kicked off The Cosby Show.
11 The Stepfather
While the two sequels - also available on Amazon Prime - quickly degenerated into the realm of campy slashers, 1987's The Stepfather is a movie best not overlooked by those who enjoy a good mix of suspense and horror. Directed by Joseph Ruben, The Stepfather sports a healthy 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, and no doubt a lot of that is due to Terry O'Quinn's (long before Lost made him a household name) terrific lead performance as "Jerry Blake," a man obsessed with achieving the idealized American family life seen on shows like Leave It to Beaver. When Jerry's various attempts inevitably fail, nobody in his path is safe.
10 A Simple Plan
In a career that includes hit franchises like Evil Dead and Spider-Man, A Simple Plan has never been director Sam Raimi's most highly rated work, despite sporting a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. With it now on Amazon Prime, it's a perfect time to discover Raimi's 1998 neo-noir thriller, which was adapted from a novel by Scott B. Smith. Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton star as brothers Hank and Jacob Mitchell, who find a crashed plane with millions of dollars onboard. With Hank's wife Sarah (Bridget Fonda) involved, an attempt is made to cover up what happened and keep their ill-gotten gains. Sadly, things go horribly wrong.
9 The Addams Family
With a new animated Addams Family movie on the horizon, there's never been a better time to revisit director Barry Sonnenfeld's live-action film adaptation from 1991. The titular family was perfectly cast, especially the late Raul Julia as patriarch Gomez and Anjelica Huston as his equally macabre love Morticia. A young Christina Ricci also shines as death-obsessed daughter Wednesday, while Christopher Lloyd completes the family as Uncle Fester. Well, eventually. Sonnenfeld's quite funny 1993 sequel Addams Family Values is also available on Amazon Prime.
8 Leave No Trace
One of the most critically acclaimed films of 2018, director Debra Granik's Leave No Trace is a recent addition to Amazon Prime, and one worth checking out. Leave No Trace is the story of Will (Ben Foster) and his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), who begin the film living inside a public park in Portland, Oregon. The pair spends most of their time isolated, but after they're discovered and arrested by police, Will and Tom are forced to try and adjust to life within normal society. Tom finds herself being won over by the charms of a standard American life, but Will's war-induced PTSD won't allow him to change so easily.
7 The Disaster Artist
Every consummate film fan knows that sometimes a movie can be so bad that it's entertaining. An incredibly inept production can still be a work of art that came from good intentions and a passion for the project, and sometimes that shines through the screen, even if the movie in question objectively stinks. One such film is 2003's The Room, directed by and starring the notoriously eccentric Tommy Wiseau. Tommy is quite a character, so much so that 2017's acclaimed The Disaster Artist turned his story into a genuinely good film, and a great Amazon Prime pick. James Franco stars as Wiseau, and appropriately, directed The Disaster Artist as well.
6 Child's Play
In theory, a killer doll should be an easy villain to defeat. After all, it's tiny, and made of plastic. The wrinkle 1988's Child's Play adds into the mix is that Chucky has been possessed by the spirit of a dead serial killer via voodoo, and is thus supernaturally indestructible. Director Tom Holland's (no, not that one) film earned praise from both critics and audiences, and would go on to spawn a still ongoing franchise starring Chucky, voiced by Brad Dourif. A remake is coming soon, but the original remains a terror tale worth watching on Amazon Prime.
While Chinatown comes with the baggage of being directed by disgraced filmmaker Roman Polanski, any true film buff shouldn't be discouraged from watching it on Amazon Prime, despite that black cloud. Widely considered one of the greatest American films in history, Chinatown is a 1974 neo-noir mystery starring Jack Nicholson as hard-boiled detective Jake "J.J." Gittes, a man who at first believes he's simply been hired by a wife to follow her husband. What unfolds from there is a web of backstabbing and deceit, leaving Jake unsure who to trust. Faye Dunaway and John Huston also star.
4 Bone Tomahawk
Horror crosses over with many other genres, the most common being sci-fi and comedy. Less common is the horror/western mashup, but one of the best example of that combo is 2015's Bone Tomahawk, directed by S. Craig Zahler. Sporting an impressive 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, Bone Tomahawk never got a wide release in theaters, making its streaming run on Amazon Prime the first opportunity many will have had to see it. Like, From Dusk Till Dawn, Bone Tomahawk makes a sharp left turn into horror country, and exactly how it does so is best left unspoiled. The terrific cast includes names like Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, and Richard Jenkins.
3 Mad Max
While 2015's Tom Hardy-fronted Mad Max: Fury Road is now pretty clearly regarded as the height of director George Miller's franchise, Max Rockatansky's story began back in 1979 in the original Mad Max film, played by Mel Gibson. Set in a dystopian future Australia, this Mad Max isn't quite the lonely wanderer he would become, still employed as a cop and still surrounded by his family. Unfortunately, Max's life would only get worse as the film and franchise went on, but his debut is essential viewing for sci-fi/action fans that have Amazon Prime.
2 It's a Wonderful Life
There are certain movies that just about everybody associates with Christmas. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Home Alone. The Santa Clause. For the less jolly out there, Silent Night, Deadly Night. Arguably the most iconic Christmas movie in history though is director Frank Capra's 1946 classic It's a Wonderful Life. Quite possibly the most uplifting film about suicide ever made, It's a Wonderful Life stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose attempted death is foiled by his guardian angel. George is then shown just how much worse the lives of those around him would be if he was never born, a premise that's since been ripped off endlessly. Christmas might be many months away, but it's always a wonderful time to watch It's a Wonderful Life on Amazon Prime.
1 Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Based on a 1954 novel by Jack Finney, 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers presents one of the most enduring alien invasion tales in pop culture history. The film has already been remade three times, and a fourth update is in development. Instead of spaceships and laser guns, Body Snatchers' aliens invade in a much more subtle way, replacing human beings while they sleep with duplicates that are physically identical, but devoid of emotion and the complexities that makes humans human. In addition to director Don Siegel's 1956 classic starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, the 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams is also streamable on Amazon Prime.