Whata are the Best movies on Amazon Prime? Amazon Prime offers a vast library of some of the most esoteric films of the last 80 years. Though selecting good choices can be difficult because of the sometimes overwhelming glut of weirdly terrible titles buried in its depths. There’s also the counterintuitive, migraine-inducing browsing and the service’s tendency to drop a title unexpectedly only to reappear under a different link. How would anyone know what’s going on with that?
1. ‘Man on Wire’ (2008)
A “thorough, understated, and altogether enthralling documentary” by James Marsh. It tells the incredible story of French daredevil Philippe Petit and his friends and accomplices who sneaked into the World Trade Center. One night in 1974 so Petit could make his tightrope walk between the Twin Towers in the early morning hours. Marsh cleverly combines archival footage and contemporary interviews with re-enactments, framing Petit’s daring feat as a heist movie with the possibility of death as the payoff.
2. ‘One Night in Miami’ (2021)
According to a barebones summary of One Night in Miami, this looks like a dude’s delight movie: four men out on the town, no attachments holding them back, and a limit on their evening revelry that extends up into the sky. The four men in the story are Sam Cooke, Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, and most importantly, Malcolm X; the city is actually the Magic City; and the particular evening is February 25, 1964, when heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston crossed gloves with Clay and lost his title in a shocking upset.
3. ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991)
Dr. Hannibal Lecter, played by an Oscar-winning Anthony Hopkins in Jonathan Demme’s 1991 adaptation of the Thomas Harris best seller. It is also one of the most enduring fictional characters in popular culture. Other awards included best picture, best director, best screenplay, and best actress. Clarice Starling is played by Jodie Foster with a sharp combination of small-town naiveté and quick wits.
4. ‘Johnny Guitar’ (1954)
Johnny Guitar is a strange and rare fifties Western that barely holds onto its genre trappings. The films of Nicholas Ray always featured borderline-hysterical, hyper-magnified psychological drama. Against wrathful rival Mercedes McCambridge, he pits tough saloon keeper Vienna (played by Joan Crawford). Vienna’s love interest Sterling Hayden appears as the catalyst for the witch hunt in the film, but he’s not the film’s focus.
5. ‘The Social Network’ (2010)
As one of the most financially successful and problematic institutions of the 21st century, the Social Network charts its evolution. In the film, Rooney Mara plays Erica, a young woman with no social skills, who breaks up with Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). In a literal, machine-like translation of her every word, Zuckerberg sometimes throws in a sarcastic witticism to confuse Erica. As the film progresses, this sort of wordplay ebbs and flows.
6. ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ (1993)
He delivers a searching monologue on a radio show, and Meg Ryan becomes so enchanted by his words that she travels across the country to track him down. In this feather-light romantic comedy from Nora Ephron. The writer and director pays homage to the classic tear-jerker “An Affair to Remember” by meeting at the top of the Empire State Building in a climactic scene.
7. ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ (2001)
This lovingly eccentric comedy-drama from director Wes Anderson stars Gene Hackman as the estranged father of a brood of famous children. As adults, the Tenenbaum offspring are reunited with their father (portrayed by Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Luke Wilson). Their father is pretending to be terminally ill. “Tenenbaums” is one of Anderson’s most heartfelt and moving films, and its closing scenes are especially moving.
8. ‘Little Women’ (1994)
Film versions of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel “Little Women” aren’t new; older versions date back to the silent era. But director Gillian Armstrong (“My Brilliant Career”)’s 1994 take pitches the film adroitly to modern audiences without condescending to its old-fashioned sentimentality. Beautifully staged and wonderfully performed, this is a superb introduction to one of the greatest works of young adult literature.
9. ‘The Thin Red Line’ (1998)
Adapting James Jones’ novel (with elements of his other novel, “From Here to Eternity”), Terence Malick’s first film in two decades was described as “hauntingly majestic”. With this film, Malick departed from the straightforward narrative inclinations of “Badlands.” He was more interested in cinematic poetry than prose and fashioned images and voice-overs that captured a mood more than plot points. This probably sounds anathema to a war story, but Malick pulls it off with an illustrious cast (including Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, Jared Leto, and others). Malick creates a film that is intoxicated by the possibility that beauty and bloodshed can coexist.
10. ‘Beginners’ (2011)
This serious heartfelt-comic drama from writer and director Mike Mills. It explores a young man’s complicated memories of his father and his own present. A gay man named Hal (an Oscar-winning Christopher Plummer) came out late in life to Oliver’s father (Ewan McGregor).