One of the benefits of an Amazon Prime membership is that you get access to its large catalog of free streaming movies. So what should you watch first?
A good place to start is to sort Amazon Prime Video’s movies by their rating on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). It helps that IMDb is a part of Amazon, and it is a decent way to get a trusted list of movies to watch.
If you’ve exhausted the movies you can find online for free, Amazon is a great source to visit next.
In this article, we found some of the best-rated movies on Amazon Prime Video.
Often referenced as the greatest plot twist in cinemas, The Usual Suspects is a classic thriller. The police interrogate a low-level gang member, who slowly spills the beans on a massive crime operation. Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey puts in a masterful performance, while director Bryan Singer is on top of his game. Watch this one even if you’ve seen it already. The twist only gets better when you know what’s coming.
The Indiana Jones franchise brings together two stalwarts of Hollywood, director Steven Spielberg and actor Harrison Ford. As the original tomb raider, Indy goes on wild adventures hunting for treasure, rescuing damsels in distress, meeting sidekicks, and kicking the butt of evil-doers. The best of the series is the first film, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, but you can watch all the sequels on Amazon Prime too:
- Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom
- Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
- Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
3. The Big Sick
Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon turned their real-life story into one of the best recent slice-of-life comedies. Just after they broke up for the first time, Emily got a serious illness, and Kumail had to be a pillar of support for her parents, played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. This is perhaps the best film from Amazon Studios so far.
4. The Kid
Charlie Chaplin is more renowned for his slapstick comedy, but he gets special recognition among filmmakers as a master of the art. In The Kid, Chaplin plays his classic character, The Tramp, who comes across an abandoned boy and takes him in. It’s a movie with more soul than you’d expect if you view Chaplin as just a comic actor. If this film leaves you wanting more, you can watch Chaplin films on YouTube for free, since they are now in the public domain.
When it was released in 2001, Mulholland Drive was critically acclaimed, but few realized it would end up becoming one of the pivotal films of Hollywood. It’s a simple plot of a woman who suffers from amnesia after an accident, and wants to find out who she really is. She teams up with an aspiring actress, and they set off piecing her life back together. Director David Lynch has a knack for bringing out Americana in movies like few others can.
6. Raging Bull
When director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro join forces, you are almost guaranteed a masterpiece. Raging Bull is the story of real-life boxer Jake LaMotta, played by De Niro, and an incredible look at the violence in the lives of boxers, both inside and outside the ring. Admittedly, LaMotta was an extreme case that made for great drama, but you don’t have to look too far among boxers to find similar stories.
Lee, an ill-tempered loner, is faced with the sudden death of his brother, and is named the guardian of his nephew. This is a mess of complications for Lee, who has lost three children to a house fire years ago. Casey Affleck’s performance got panned by the critics when the movie was released, but he eventually earned himself the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Clark Gable as Rhett Butler. Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara. Based on the classic novel, director Victor Fleming takes you through a torrid affair in the American south during the Civil War. Multiple critics and filmmakers call it the best love story they’ve ever seen on screen. Frankly my dear, you should give a damn.
Perhaps the best actor in Hollywood today, Daniel Day Lewis provides a once-in-a-lifetime performance as Daniel Plainview, an oil prospector around the Depression era. Director Paul Thomas Anderson adds even more depth to the movie with his expert use of sound, which is taught in film-making schools today. Watch it for the best acting performance you’ll see in a long time.
10. Paper Moon
Another film set during the Great Depression, Paper Moon is the tale of a con man who has to deliver an ex-lover’s child to her aunt. But there is a chance that the child may actually be his. Real-life father-daughter duo Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal take you along on their journey as they swindle their way across America.
For some time now, Korean cinema has been making movies that seem a few steps ahead of what the rest of the world has. Movies like Oldboy have gotten remade by Hollywood. If you want a taste of Korean cinema, start with Memories of Murder, where three detectives try to find the culprit behind multiple girls showing up raped and murdered. If you aren’t particular about Amazon Prime, then there are some excellent foreign language films on Netflix as well.
12. The Handmaiden
Amazon Studios believes in Korean cinema too, backing director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, In The Mood For Love, Lady Vengeance) for his new film. And he delivered in spades with The Handmaiden. Set in the 1930s, when Japan occupied Korea, it’s the tale of a long con that goes awry when feelings get involved. Saying any more would spoil things.
13. Last Flag Flying
Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne star in Richard Linklater’s buddy film from Amazon Studios. The three served together years ago in the Vietnam War, and now Carell asks them to come along for support while going to retrieve the body of his son who was killed in the Iraq War. What follows is classic Linklater material, with a film that is all about the conversations between people.
There are plenty of different versions of Charles Dickens’ classic story, and this is one of the best. This 1951 film tells the classic tale of a miser who gets visited by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Add it to your watch list, and when you’re feeling festive, stream it over and over.
15. Into The Wild
Christopher McCandless graduated from college, sold all his possessions, and set off on a cross-country trip to go to Alaska and live in the wilderness. Director Sean Penn retraces McCandless’s journey through the natural beauty of America, while Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder provides a soundtrack for the ages. If you’re inspired by it, you can even retrace McCandless’s steps as one of these famous film routes.
Spielberg is one of the biggest directorw in Hollywood for a reason. His filmography reads like a list of must-watch items. Jaws is a classic about three men hunting a great white shark that is attacking people near a beach. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out on perhaps the greatest monster movie of all time. If you’ve seen it already, then you know you should watch it again anyway.
17. High Noon
What’s a “best movies” list without a classic western? And it doesn’t get more classic than Gary Cooper as Marshall Will Kane, setting up a duel with an outlaw and his gang at high noon in an old town. High Noon served as the inspiration for countless westerns, and Cooper is the quintessential example of the current stereotype of the swashbuckling sheriff. The only person to top him is John Wayne (and there are plenty of John Wayne westerns to watch online).
18. Star Trek
You can spend ages debating the merits of Star Trek vs. Star Wars, or you can just watch the latest Trek movie franchise right now. The reboot is fantastic and re-imagines several things about Star Trek, so you don’t need to know everything about Star Trek beforehand. Jump in to the Enterprise with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, and stream what so many have streamed before.
19. The Graduate
Few movies encapsulate the non-hippie, non-political side of 1960s America like The Graduate. It mixes comedy, coming of age, and drama without appearing corny. A lot of the scenes might look cliched if you watch them for the first time now, but let the great critic Roger Ebert explain it: “Is ‘The Graduate’ a bad movie? Not at all. It is a good topical movie whose time has passed, leaving it stranded in an earlier age. I give it three stars out of delight for the material it contains; to watch it today is like opening a time capsule.”
An Amazon Originals movie, director Spike Lee’s Chi-raq isn’t for everyone. It shines an unrelenting spotlight on gun violence in the black community in Chicago, with a dark sense of humor laced throughout. It’s an adaptation of Lysistrata, a classic Greek play in which women withhold sex from their partners till they end the violence.
Amazon Has Much More to Watch
While these movies will get you started, there are plenty of other good movies that didn’t make quite the list. To see what’s available on Amazon Prime, use this Movies Included With Prime shortcut, or read our full guide to finding movies available to stream online.
Of course, Amazon Prime Video isn’t all about movies. You should also check out some of the best TV shows to watch on Amazon Prime!
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