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. That’s not even mentioning the fact that Amazon recently acquired the studio MGM, and so currently has
streaming rights to all the Bond films.
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.
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.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
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.
Last Action Hero
Watch Last Action Hero on Amazon Prime
Last Action Hero doesn’t have the rep of some of Arnie’s other action flicks, but it should do. This smart and self-aware caper questions what it means to be a ’90s action hero by bringing a real-world kid into the movie world of Arnie’s Jack Slater – before taking Slater back out to survive in a world where heroes can’t survive explosions unscathed.
You Only Live Twice
Watch You Only Live Twice on Amazon Prime
Consider this a placeholder Bond: my personal (perhaps problematic) fave, to mark the fact that right now every single Bond movie is on Amazon Prime – even the unofficial productions of
Casino Royale and
Never Say Never Again.
Watch them fast though, because while latest entry No Time to Die is sticking around for a year, every other Bond is only streaming for a couple of months.
Dawn of the Dead
Watch Dawn of the Dead on Amazon Prime
Night of the Living Dead may have come first, but Dawn of the Dead is surely Romero’s zombie magnum opus. A darkly comedic attack on consumerism – and its use to placate society – the film as much horror as social commentary, something slightly lost in Zack Snyder’s otherwise fun remake a few decades later.
If you enjoy the movie, you can even watch it all over again – right now Amazon Prime also offers the film’s
extended cut with extra footage, and the
European cut edited by none other than horror legend Dario Argento – who just happened to direct the original Suspiria.
Watch The Terminator on Amazon Prime
A film that really needs no introduction. T2 may be the more fondly remembered, but the original Terminator is a fantastically taut thriller that’s both simpler and scarier than its sequel. Come for Arnie’s introduction, stay for Linda Hamilton’s career-making performance.
West Side Story
Watch West Side Story on Amazon Prime
Recently remade by Steven Spielberg (though that version’s on
Disney+, not Amazon) this 1961 musical classic transposes Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the streets of New York, taking in gang warfare and immigrant life along the way.
Assault on Precinct 13
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.
The Green Knight
Watch The Green Knight on Amazon Prime
The Green Knight may be based on an Arthurian legend, but don’t expect a rollicking adventure. Instead, this is an arthouse take on the tale of a young knight sent out on a doomed quest in the name of honour. Immaculately shot and perfectly cast, this is the round table as you’ve never seen it before.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
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.
The Big Sick
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.
Some Like it Hot
Watch Some Like it Hot on Amazon Prime
Amazon has a surprisingly strong selection of classic movies, and one of the best is the Marilyn Monroe comedy Some Like it Hot.
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon star alongside her as two witnesses to a mob hit who disguise themselves as women in an all-girl jazz band in order to escape. If you think of black-and-white films as stuffy and slow, this fast-paced and campy romp should be enough to change your mind.
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.