Best Amazon Movies and TV Shows for Prime Subscribers (June 2019)
Subscribing to Amazon Prime confers a lot of benefits (if you're into that kind of thing, anyway), and that includes access to a variety of streaming titles on Amazon Video. While Amazon sells à la carte content, too, a Prime subscription will net you unlimited access to both licensed and original TV and movies, just like you can get with Netflix or Hulu.
Credit: Alessio Bolzoni/Amazon StudiosWith almost 20,000 titles available through Amazon, though, just finding the right programming could take longer than actually watching it. Furthermore, content comes and goes every month. Through careful combing of the Amazon library, we've singled out a handful of movies and TV show sure to please every type of digital palate.
A highly anticipated remake of a classic 1977 Italian horror film, Suspiria stars Dakota Johnson as a young woman who joins a German dance company, only to find out that the whole operation is run by witches. (Don't you just hate it when that happens?) Seeing the supernatural drama unfold is one reason to watch this film; Tilda Swinton represents three others. In Suspiria, you get a triple-dose of Swinton: as a choreographer, a (male) therapist and one more role that might be a bit of a spoiler — but it's worth the buildup. Suspiria is one of those films that people tend to either love or hate, depending on their tolerance for weird gore and an outlandish tone. But it's better to get something unique than something that plays it safe.
Lady Bird (2018)
When pulled off correctly, the comedy-drama is a beautiful thing. Lady Bird, from director Greta Gerwig, strikes the right balance between playfulness and sincerity. In this coming-of-age film, Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is about to graduate high school, and has to square away her relationships with her parents, her friends and her religion before she starts college. That's really all there is to the story; there's no shocking twist or subversive premise. It's a story all about growing up, and how your friendships, family and interests can define you as a young adult. Ronan's spirited performance takes center stage, but Laurie Metcalf as Lady Bird's conflicted mother is also well-worth watching.
The Handmaiden (2016)
One of 2016's darkest, sexiest, most intense films, The Handmaiden tells the story of the devious Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) and the enterprising Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo) during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Fujiwara is a con artist who plans to milk a wealthy Japanese heiress for all that she's worth, while Sook-hee is a pickpocket whom he contracts to pose as, you guessed it, the heiress's handmaiden. But as Sook-hee grows closer and closer to the heiress, alliances shift and double-crosses become inevitable. The film doesn't pull any punches on violence or eroticism, but it doesn't shy away from a gripping story or complex characters, either.
Fargo is either a very funny thriller or a very nihilistic comedy. Either way, it's one of the Coen brothers' most entertaining films. Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is a crooked car salesman with a harebrained scheme to steal some money. To that end, he hires two kidnappers (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to abduct his wife, but the plan goes south almost immediately. Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), a very pregnant police chief, takes the case, and starts to unravel the delightfully weird criminal underworld of Brainerd, Minnesota. Everything about Fargo simply works, from its all-star cast, to its incisive dialogue, to its gorgeous cinematography. If you want a hilarious crime thriller that still takes itself seriously, Fargo is not to be missed.
The Great Escape (1963)
Based on a true story, The Great Escape is one of the most exciting World War II films out there, featuring an elaborate prison break and a motorcycle chase that rivals anything in a modern action film. But the real appeal of The Great Escape is in its large, memorable cast of characters, particularly Steve McQueen as frequent prisoner Hilts, "The Cooler King." As WWII rages outside, Hilts arrives at the Stalag Luft III prison camp, where the most inventive British and U.S. escape artists find themselves stymied. While the Nazis are content to let their prisoners wait out the war in relative comfort, Hilts devises a plan to escape the purportedly inescapable establishment — but it won't be easy.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-Present)
Nicole Rivelli/Amazon StudiosThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is kind of a comedy, kind of a drama, kind of a period piece and kind of delightful — which makes sense, as it's from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. In it, Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) tries her hand at stand-up comedy. That's all well and good, except that she's a young Jewish housewife in 1958 New York City, making her presence in the club scene relatively unprecedented. With a little help from her loving family, her stoic manager and the great Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby), Mrs. Maisel carves out her own niche, all while dealing with her own domestic dramas.
The Expanse (2015-Present)
Fans of space-travel sci-fi were devastated when the Syfy channel canceled the show after three groundbreaking seasons. But Amazon swooped in to save the day and is currently working on a fourth season of the show. Based on a series of novels by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, The Expanse tells the story of an intergalactic conspiracy and a futuristic lawman who just might be able to piece the whole thing together. Thomas Jane stars as Detective Josephus Miller, who finds himself stuck between powerful forces on Earth, Mars and settlements in the solar system's asteroid belt. Fans of Star Trek-style ensemble casts will find a lot to like here.
Doctor Who (2005-Present)
The British time-travel phenomenon has gotten big in the United States, and Amazon lets you catch up with all of the recent seasons. (For "Classic Who," from before 2005's soft reboot, you'll have to buy individual episodes, stock up on DVDs or hunt down inventive bootlegs at your local sci-fi convention.) In case you've never seen the show, the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith or Peter Capaldi, depending on the season) is a nearly immortal alien who explores the universe in a time-traveling blue British police box called the TARDIS. Along the way, he picks up a variety of modern human sidekicks, who help him foil villainous plots in the past, present and future.
The Sopranos (1999-2006)
Widely hailed as one of the best TV shows ever produced, The Sopranos is a gritty crime drama about the life and family of mob boss Tony Soprano (the late, great James Gandolfini). The show was one of the early entries in the current prestige TV boom, featuring heavy continuity between episodes and a willingness to shake up the status quo multiple times per season. Over the course of the series, Tony navigates various personal and professional difficulties, but the twist is that he discusses everything with his psychiatrist, Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). The show is dark, but agreeably so, especially if you were reared on films like The Godfather.
Downton Abbey (2010-2015)
Part period piece, part melodrama, Downton Abbey is a sort of "greatest hits" compilation of early 20th-century history, as seen through the eyes of an upper-class British family and its staff of domestic servants. The titular Downton Abbey is a British manor where the aristocratic Crawley family lives, led by Earl Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) and Countess Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern). As the cultural, social and economic landscape of Great Britain changes drastically, the family experiences (second-hand) everything from the sinking of the Titanic to the Irish War of Independence and the Beer Hall Putsch. If you like costume dramas, this one is an easy sell, but it moves at a brisk enough clip to entertain just about anyone.
Leaving This Month
The Brand New Testament (2016)
One of the oddest films of 2016 is also one of its most delightful. The Brand New Testament is a Belgian film from arthouse director Jaco Van Dormael. In it, God is a nasty shut-in who lives in Brussels, and plans out the whole universe from a rather unassuming PC. His resentful preteen daughter, Ea, decides to get revenge on God by stealing information about when each and every human will die, then sharing it with them via — how else? — text message. From there, she sets out to write a new gospel, complete with a bizarre set of modern apostles. It's worth a watch for the weirdness factor alone.
New This Month
District 9 (2009)
Credit: Columbia TriStarDirector Neill Blomkamp loves telling grungy, morally gray sci-fi stories, and District 9 is probably the best one he's come up with so far. A huge alien ship comes to Earth, but instead of invaders or conquerors, the extraterrestrials are starving refugees. The city of Johannesburg takes them in, but only as second-class citizens, condemned to live in shantytowns and scrape out an existence among abusers and criminals. Sharlto Copley stars as Wikus van de Merwe: a government agent who is theoretically helping the asylum-seekers acclimate, but is actually rather apathetic to their plight. That all changes when he teams up with an alien named Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope) in order to change things for the better.