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: October 6, 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.
One of the most respected crime thrillers of the 1990s, Seven has style to spare, and was one of the films to first establish David Fincher as a director be reckoned with. Seven stars Brad Pitt as brash young detective David Mills, who partners up with soon to retire detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) in order to try and catch a serial killer who bases his murders on the seven deadly sins. Hauling in over $300 million at the box office on a $33 million budget, Seven was both a critical and commercial smash, and deserves to be revisited on Amazon Prime.
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 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.
18 Thelma & Louise
One of director Ridley Scott's most highly acclaimed films - and that's saying a lot - is 1991's Thelma & Louise, which earned six Oscar nominations and won for Best Original Screenplay. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon star as the titular duo, two bored best friends who set out on a road trip to have some fun. Unfortunately, things go south when an attempt is made to rape Thelma, and Louise ends up shooting her attacker. The two then go on the lamb, all the while being pursued by a not entirely unsympathetic detective (Harvey Keitel). Those who haven't seen this gem owe it to themselves to do so 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 Night of the Living Dead
Directed by late genre master George A. Romero, Night of the Living Dead created and established the zombie sub-genre as fans know it today. Before Romero's film, zombies weren't the recently risen dead, they didn't live to consume human flesh, and they didn't only die by destroying the brain. To put Night Of The Living Dead's influence in perspective, nearly every piece of zombie fiction since has borrowed heavily from it, including AMC juggernaut The Walking Dead. The film is also famous for having a black lead (Duane Jones), in an era where that was almost unheard of. Any zombie fan needs to see this movie, and Amazon Prime is a great way to do so.
One of the most prominent filmmakers in horror today is Mike Flanagan, helmer of Netflix's popular Haunting of Hill House series. Flanagan made his name in recent years by directing films like Oculus, Gerald's Game, and Hush, but his first feature was the emotionally harrowing 2011 indie Absentia. To reveal too much about the plot would be a disservice to new viewers, as the film is best experienced knowing as little as possible. Absentia is a film that seeks to unnerve and unsettle viewers more than startle or gross them out, and is a great under the radar pick on Amazon Prime. Flanagan next directs Stephen King sequel Doctor Sleep.
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 The Silence of the Lambs
While not the first film to adapt author Thomas Harris' cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter for the big screen - that honor goes to 1986's Manhunter - 1991's The Silence of the Lambs is no doubt the most acclaimed, and is now on Amazon Prime. Based on Harris' book of the same name, The Silence of the Lambs focuses on young FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), who's abruptly enlisted to try and persuade an imprisoned Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to help catch a new killer named "Buffalo Bill" (Ted Levine). Directed by the late Jonathan Demme, the film would go on to clean up at the Oscars, and it took until 2013's Hannibal TV series for the character to finally get his proper due again.
11 To Kill a Mockingbird
Often cited as one of the greatest films of all time, director Robert Mulligan's 1962 classic To Kill a Mockingbird is an adaptation of author Harper Lee's equally acclaimed 1960 novel of the same name. Gregory Peck stars as Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch, a principled man who accepts the task of defending Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a black man accused of raping a young white woman. Local racial tensions flare, leading to perhaps the quintessential courtroom drama, although To Kill a Mockingbird offers Amazon Prime viewers much more than just that.
Related: 20 Best Monologues In Movie History
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.
While 1995's Jumanji was never going to be an awards season darling, there's no question that it's an immensely fun watch, and a film that many who came of age in that decade look back on with fondness. The main reason for that is no doubt the late, great Robin Williams, who stars as Alan Parrish, a man whose spent decades trapped inside the titular board game after a turn gone wrong. Directed by Joe Johnston, Jumanji is a game still very much worth playing on Amazon Prime, and also lives on via the current video game-based sequels starring The Rock.
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 not exactly a critical darling, 1986's Highlander is most definitely a cult classic, and has gone on to spawn an enduring franchise of both films and TV shows. In director Russell Mulcahy's original film, Christopher Lambert stars as Connor MacLeod, the titular immortal warrior. Trained to fight by the extravagantly named Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez (Sean Connery), MacLeod knows he'll eventually have to participate in "The Gathering," in which all immortals fight to the death, only being killed by decapitation. Opposing Connor is The Kurgan (Clancy Brown). Boasting a rocking theme song by Queen, Highlander is a great addition to the Amazon Prime library.
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 The Terminator
When director James Cameron made his sci-fi slasher movie The Terminator back in 1984, it's doubtful anyone anticipated it spawning a franchise of soon to be six films, a TV show, video games, comic books, and more. Yet, the tale of Sarah Connor's (Linda Hamilton) attempt to survive the relentless pursuit of the titular cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) remains one of the most compelling pieces of action and suspense to come out of the decade of New Wave music and feathered hair, and is a prime Amazon Prime pick. Michael Biehn also stars as Sarah's human protector, Kyle Reese.
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
There are certain sci-fi stories that never really lose their resonance, and one of the best is Invasion of the Body Snatchers, first told as a classic novel by Jack Finney. Case in point is the 1978 film adaptation of the story by director Philip Kaufman, which is less a remake of the 1956 original movie - which until recently was also available on Amazon Prime - and more an updating of the book for a different generation. Featuring a cast full of heavyweights (Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, and more), 1978's Invasion also boasts fantastic practical special effects, leading to an arguably even more chilling take on the idea of aliens that prey on and replace human beings in their sleep.