Original movies on Amazon Prime Video range from major theatrical releases to streaming exclusives. Many are awards and festival favorites, while still appealing to Amazon’s wide audience. Here are 10 of the best original movies on Amazon Prime Video.
Update, 11/19/21: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best movies you can watch on Amazon Prime Video.
The Big Sick
Comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani and writer Emily V. Gordon draw on their real-life relationship for the romantic dramedy The Big Sick. Nanjiani plays a fictionalized version of himself, a struggling comedian who starts dating Emily (Zoe Kazan) just before she’s struck by a mysterious illness and falls into a coma. Kumail has to deal with Emily’s worried parents while also sorting out his own feelings for Emily and handling pressures from his traditional Pakistani family.
Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski created this lush black-and-white romantic drama, partially inspired by his own parents’ relationship. Cold War takes place over the course of many years during the Cold War, as musicians Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and Irena (Joanna Kulig) pursue an on-again, off-again romance across various cities and nations, through political turmoil and repression. Pawlikowski combines swooning romance with smart social commentary and gorgeous imagery.
Korean auteur Park Chan-wook adapted a novel by Welsh author Sarah Waters into The Handmaiden, moving the setting to colonial-era Korea. The elaborate plot involves multiple twists, reversals, and betrayals, set against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation of Korea. An heiress and a thief fall in love while participating in multiple overlapping schemes against and in collaboration with each other. Park delivers a sumptuous erotic thriller with a triumphant revenge story for two women discarded and overlooked by society.
Director Gillian Robespierre and star Jenny Slate followed up their breakthrough film Obvious Child with Landline, a 1990s-set comedy about the romantic travails of the members of a New York City Jewish family. It’s a gentler version of a Woody Allen or Noah Baumbach movie, with sweet, sisterly bonding between the characters played by Slate and Abby Quinn. Edie Falco and John Turturro bring complexity to the roles of the parents for a funny and relatable multi-generational story.
Love & Friendship
Writer-director Whit Stillman turns a lesser-known early Jane Austen novel into a delightfully nasty comedy full of witty put-downs. Love & Friendship stars Kate Beckinsale in one of her best performances as Lady Susan Vernon, a widow who must rely on the generosity of frenemies and relatives to make her way in the world. Lady Susan is conniving, condescending, and fascinating to watch as she manipulates the rigid rules of Regency society to her advantage and pleasure.
Veteran indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch crafts a loving tribute to a sleepy New Jersey town in Paterson. Like the town, the main character (Adam Driver) is also named Paterson, and he’s a city bus driver with the soul (and talent) of a poet. The movie follows a week in Paterson’s life as he drives his passengers, composes some poems, and spends time with his wife (Golshifteh Farahani). It’s a low-key story about a low-key guy who is happy to appreciate the simple things in life.
Selah and the Spades
The stylish teen drama Selah and the Spades marks an impressive debut for writer-director Tayarisha Poe and a breakout performance from Lovie Simone as the title character. The movie mixes hard-boiled noir with typical teen-movie elements for a unique blend of genres. Selah is the queen bee of a fancy private school, which means that she runs a mafia-like underground cartel, but the cartel’s main concern is putting on a great prom.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt nearly performs a one-man show in the thriller 7500 as an airline pilot who contends with a hijacking on a flight from Berlin to Paris. The vast majority of the movie takes place within the plane’s cockpit, where First Officer Tobias Ellis (Gordon-Levitt) is trapped after a group of terrorists take over the plane. Gordon-Levitt and writer-director Patrick Vollrath generate suspense and excitement with just a single character in a small, confined space.
Italian director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name) takes on the work of another Italian master with his remake of Dario Argento’s horror classic Suspiria. The original movie is surreal and impressionistic, and Guadagnino pushes that style even further. He turns Argento’s story about an American dancer (Dakota Johnson) attending a sinister German dance academy into a meditation on identity and generational legacies. It’s as beautiful as it is haunting.
The Vast of Night
A major achievement on a minuscule budget, Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night features elaborate tracking shots and rapid-fire dialogue for a film that almost feels like an illustrated radio play. The movie takes place in a small New Mexico town in the 1950s on a night when extraterrestrials may have arrived. Teenagers Fay (Sierra McCormick), a switchboard operator, and Everett (Jake Horowitz), a radio DJ, crisscross the town as they attempt to find out the truth about the strange local occurrences.