Amazon Prime is a streaming treasure trove of some of the most obscure, wonderful, and underseen movies of the past 80 years. It can be hard to find good picks, though, because there are so many weirdly bad movies buried in the back corners of Prime.
And that’s not even mentioning the confusing, headache-inducing browsing or the service’s habit of dropping a title unexpectedly and then putting it back under a different link. Who can keep up with all of this?
Well, we can. We try, at least. Six of these movies left the service in November, with many going to IMDb TV, which is also owned by Amazon or to rent. But don’t worry, there were plenty of great movies ready to take their place.
We just had to fight Amazon’s notoriously bad user interface to find them. Here are the 10 best movies you can watch right now on Amazon Prime:
1. One Night in Miami
Director: Regina King
Stars: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr
One Night in Miami sounds like a movie that men will enjoy based on a brief description of the plot: Four men are out on the town. They don’t have any ties to keep them in line, and their limit for the night is the sky.
But the four men are Sam Cooke, Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, and most of all Malcolm X. The city is actually called “Magic City,” and the night is February 25, 1964, when heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston fought Clay and lost his title.
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Boxing, women, and getting into trouble are all things the characters talk about, but they also talk about more important things like Black American identity, American identity, and how the two relate to each other.
But that doesn’t take away from One Night in Miami’s ability to “delight,” thanks in no small part to the performances of Eli Goree, Leslie Odom Jr., Aldis Hodge, and Kingsley Ben-Adir, and to Regina King’s cool, confident direction in her first feature film.
Her version of Kemp Powers‘ stage play is a historical document written to guess what these men might have talked about when no one was listening. It is a compelling work of fiction based on real events.
It’s also a lot of fun, funny, and full of life. This isn’t a movie about getting drunk for no reason. It’s about having important conversations. —Anthony Crump
2. Raging Bull
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci
The best movie of the 1980s is both one of the best films ever made and one of the best performances ever seen on screen. Raging Bull by Martin Scorsese has earned the fame it has gained in the years since it came out. It makes you feel everything when you watch it.
People have talked a lot over the years about how Robert De Niro put on weight for Raging Bull to really show how boxer Jake LaMotta’s body changed. Even though the pounds are a great sign of his dedication, they don’t even begin to show how deep the character he and Martin Scorsese made is.
The movie shows a man who is weak and insecure and shows his need for love through jealousy, anger, and violence. Scorsese’s shots show how suspiciously LaMotta’s mind works, then pull back to show the terrible violence that follows.
Then there are the parts where they fight. Scorsese deserves all the praise in the world for coming up with such lively and creative ways to show what it’s like inside the ring. But what’s really impressive is that he does more than just make a great sports scene.
Each fight shows something about LaMotta’s personality. The way the camera moves, the quick cuts, and the sudden changes in speed all show his state of mind and his need to hurt himself or others. Rarely has a movie been made with such emotion and feeling. —Michael Burgin
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi
The Coen Brothers made one of the most loved, praised, and often quoted movies of all time when they looked into the bad things that could be said about “Minnesota nice.
“Fargo looks at the tension that comes with polite social norms and how they often hide quiet desperation by setting up awkward scene after awkward scene that will make your skin crawl. Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) and Mike Yanagita (Steve Park).
Don’t show much emotion, but this is just a thin and dishonest cover for their desire for money or companionship. Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), on the other hand, is really that nice, hardworking, and normal.
Under a typical all-American surface, the Coen brothers strike a careful balance between gentleness and a stark gruesomeness. They make you appreciate the art behind postage stamps and cringe at the sound of a wood chipper. —Allie Conti
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones
Steven Spielberg has made some of the best movies ever made in the United States, and he keeps getting better and better as time goes on.
You don’t have to go back decades to see Spielberg’s genius at work, from the amazing 3D action scenes in The Adventures of Tintin to the funny but sad scene of reconciliation in War Horse.
Still, Lincoln shows how good Spielberg is for moviegoers who were either too young to have seen his first ten or so movies or who have seen so many of his movies that they don’t notice his style.
Lincoln is another of Spielberg’s many successes. It has a great cast and a smart story that is rich in history, morals, and politics. —David Roark
5. Train to Busan
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Stars: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Kim Su-an, Kim Eui-sung, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee
Whether you like zombies or hate them, they are still a constant in the horror genre in 2016. You can set your conductor’s watch by them. Even though I’ve probably seen enough independent zombie movies to skip them for the rest of my life, every other year there is still usually at least one great zombie movie.
That was the movie Train to Busan, which came out in 2016. It is now on our list of the 50 Best Zombie Movies of All Time. Train to Busan would have been on the list, there’s no need to guess about that.
This South Korean movie about a father with a career who tries to protect his young daughter from zombies on a train is both suspenseful popcorn entertainment and a touching family drama. It ends with a lot of action that I’ve never seen or even thought of in a zombie movie before.
Whenever you can add something truly new to the walking dead genre, you’re doing something right. With a few memorable, sympathetic side characters and some top-notch makeup FX, you have one of the best zombie movies of the past 10 years. —Jim Vorel
6. Young Frankenstein
Director: Mel Brooks
Stars: Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Danny Goldman, Liam Dunn
Young Frankenstein is a classic of the comedy genre. It is one of the best comedies of all time, and it is one of about 10 movies from which I can quote almost everything. Mel Brooks and his very talented cast made a movie that will last forever.
It is both a parody of classic Universal horror movies and a loving tribute to them. It shows how Dr Frederick Frankenstein (played by Gene Wilder) finally agrees to carry on his grandfather’s experiments.
Peter Boyle’s version of Frankenstein’s monster, which is a classic for all ages, is more fun than scary. After all, it’s hard to imagine a child being scared of a tap-dancing monster, even if he’s “puttin’ on the ritz.” —Mark Rabinowitz
Director: Sean Baker
Stars: Alla Tumanian, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian
Tangerine is one of Sean Baker’s best movies. It’s a story about Christmastime sex workers in Hollywood who are dealing with love and loss. It’s intimate, funny, heartfelt, and just a little bit dirty. This subversive holiday movie was shot entirely on iPhones.
It’s about finding family in places like doughnut shops, laundry mats, and bar bathrooms. It reminds us that sometimes the best gift of all is a friend who will let you borrow their wig while yours is in the wash.
Kitana The film’s emotional and tonal complexity is carried by Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor. Baker’s caring interest in people on the edges of society makes guerilla-style filmmaking seem more loving than exploitative.
Approaching his subjects with empathy and giving them so much room to pull us into their world is very holiday-like, even if a sexual encounter in a car wash might not be as wholesome as something from Jimmy Stewart.
“Merry Christmas Eve, bitch” is all Tangerine needs to say to a certain kind of person and a very specific kind of friend. —Jacob Oller
8. The Terminator
Director: James Cameron
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen
The first Terminator, which was also James Cameron’s second feature, isn’t as much of a popcorn action movie as the sequel, but that makes it even scarier. It’s dark, sad, and has a silent villain who calmly pulls pieces of his damaged face off to better target his victims.
Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) have a seemingly impossible task in front of them. Even with a soldier from the future, going after the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger, duh) with modern weapons is so ineffective that it’s almost funny.
It’s like Schwarzenegger is playing entropy itself, which seems to be a theme of The Terminator series, what with all the time-hopping remakes, reboots, and retreads that have happened since.
You can kill a terminator, but the future (which seems to be set by how much money the movie makes) won’t change. —Jim Vorel
9. Manchester by the Sea
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Stars: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler
Kenneth Lonergan’s first two movies, You Can Count on Me and Margaret, were about loss and grief, as well as the messy, indirect ways people deal with the emotional fallout.
Again, this is true of Manchester by the Sea, which is a powerful, interesting work whose overall effect may be stronger than that of any single scene.
In contrast to You Can Count on Me, which was more like a short story, Manchester by the Sea has the same sprawling ambition as Margaret. Lonergan wraps the story in a tragic grandeur that sometimes clashes with the film’s quiet modesty.
Casey Affleck is quietly captivating as Lee Chandler, a man who can’t say what he wants at a time when he needs to step up and be the father figure. Lucas Hedges and Kyle Chandler are also very good.
Their characters are deeply rooted in the “man’s man” culture of the East Coast towns where the movie takes place. But Michelle Williams is especially great as Lee’s ex-wife. In both Brokeback Mountain and Shutter Island, she played haunted wives.
Here, though, she really hits the heart: Her character never stopped loving Lee, but her brain told her she had to if she was ever going to move on with her life. She is one of the lucky ones in this movie.
Tragedy hits Manchester By the Sea like bombs, and the effects can be felt in every direction. The movie’s ending isn’t exactly happy, but after everything the Chandlers have been through, even the possibility of acceptance can feel like a hard-won victory. —Tim Grierson
10. You Were Never Really Here
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, John Doman, Judith Roberts, Alex Manette, Alessandro Nivola
Lynne Ramsay is known for not giving in to anyone. In the language of the business world, that means she is known for being “difficult.” “Unrelenting” is the word that comes to mind when I think of her. Ramsay is one of the few filmmakers who are so in charge of his style.
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Even rarer are filmmakers who have so much power without showing any sign of ego. If you’ve seen any of the three movies she made between 1999 and 2011 (Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar, or We Need to Talk About Kevin), you’ve seen how dedicated she is to her vision, no matter how scary or weird it is.
She can be both strong and gentle. You Were Never Really Here, her fourth movie, is haunting, scary, and weird all at the same time. It’s probably her best work because it walks the line between violence and tenderness in her other movies.
Calling it a revenge movie doesn’t do it justice. It sounds more like a long scream. The title of You Was Never Really Here is made up of different parts.
The first part describes the composure of her main character, Joe, who is played by Joaquin Phoenix with a beard that would make the Robertsons jealous.
Joe is a military veteran and former federal agent who is as brutally mean as he is proud of himself. Joe jumps back and forth between the past and the present, and between hallucinations and real life.
Even when he is physically in a place, he is still trapped in his head, where he keeps going over and over again the horrible things that happened to him in battle, in the field, and in his childhood. Each of her past movies shows people falling apart in slow motion.
You Never Really Were Here’s a breakdown that was shot in hyperdrive and is lean, economical, completely ruthless, and made with fire. Let’s use these words to describe how well-known she is as one of the best filmmakers working today. —Anthony Crump