The 42 best things to watch on Amazon Prime Video

Our pick of the streaming service's highlights. Updated for August 2020

We know, we know: there's too much choice these days. You can't just sit down and watch a movie because there are too many to choose from, so you just spend hours scrolling through potential films and then go to bed.

Not now, you don't - everything on this list is worth watching. And we know, because we've watched them all. The lengths we go to keep you guys happy, eh...

Of course to watch the films and TV shows here you'll need an Amazon Prime Video subscription. Come on, you didn't think it was going to be free, did you? 

You're also going to need a player that supports it. Take your pick from any of the following: Roku players, Google Chromecast, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox One and of course Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire Stick. Or maybe you have an Amazon Video app built into your smart TV.

Got Netflix too? Then you'll want to check out our 40 best movies and TV shows on Netflix UK and New on Netflix UK lists.

The Vast of Night

A New Mexico switchboard operator hears a mysterious sound on her headset, sparking off a series of creepily escalating revelations in this retro sci-fi movie from first-time director Andrew Patterson.

From its late 1950s small town America setting to its sound design and music, The Vast of Night gleefully channels classic mystery shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The X-Files, not to mention films like Super 8 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But it’s far from derivative, and its snappy dialogue and stylish camerawork give it a singular, stylish air. The plot might be fairly simple, the cast small and unknown, but Patterson makes the most of every cent of his tiny budget.

Watch The Vast of Night on Amazon Prime Video

Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s star-studded modern-day take on the classic whodunnit is great fun, with Daniel Craig clearly enjoying himself as a Southern gentleman sleuth hired to investigate the death of a wealthy octogenarian crime novelist.

While the writer apparently took his own life, it’s quickly clear that there’s far more to this case. Several members of his family have a motive for murder, while his young nurse seems far more distraught about the death than any of his children. Johnson cleverly flips the genre on its head (don’t worry, no spoilers here), delivering a fast-moving tale of love, hate, lies, subterfuge and blackmail.

Watch Knives Out on Amazon Prime Video

Blade Runner 2049

The sequel to Ridley Scott’s cult cyberpunk thriller has been 30 years coming, but fans will find it well worth the wait: Blade Runner 2049 is among the most visually striking movies ever, with Roger Deakins’ masterful cinematography bringing director Denis Villeneuve’s nightmarish vision of a future Los Angeles to life.

As a whole, the film’s impact doesn’t match its aesthetic grandeur. At nigh-on three hours it’s a little too laborious for its own good, despite retaining the original Blade Runner’s spirit through a mixture of thrilling action sequences, philosophical pondering and memorable characters (including a few familiar faces). It’s all tied together with an involving detective yarn, in which Ryan Gosling’s advanced replicant cop finds himself embroiled in a deadly plot.

Watch Blade Runner 2049 on Amazon Prime Video

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Brad Pitt stars as the notorious frontier outlaw and folk hero here, but it's Casey Affleck who steals the film as his follower Robert Ford. A shifty, twitchy fellow who worships Pitt's bandit leader, he's a modern-day celebrity stalker transposed to the world of the Old West – and as his obsession curdles into hatred of his idol, so director Andrew Dominik deconstructs the myth of the noble anti-hero.

Lyrical, leisurely paced and beautifully shot, this movie is among the finest revisionist Westerns ever made – just don’t go into it expecting epic gunfights, dastardly sheriffs and one-dimensional protagonists.

Watch The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford on Amazon Prime Video

The Shining

The Torrance family takes up residence in an isolated hotel for the winter to cure father Jack of his writer's block. But Jack's son Danny is haunted by disturbing visions, and the hotel's old ghosts worry away at the author's unravelling sanity. Director Stanley Kubrick trims back Stephen King's haunted-house story into a study in ambiguity. Jack Nicholson's Torrance is a mean drunk with a short temper – but is the hotel exerting a malign influence over him, or is his potential for evil there from the outset?

Kubrick's single foray into the horror genre may feel safe and familiar at first, its iconic scenes blunted by a thousand parodies and college bedroom posters, but its unsettling qualities quickly become apparent. The Shining looks like no other horror film: Kubrick dwarfs the characters with his trademark wide, symmetrical shots of architecture, and tracks them through a maze of corridors with lengthy Steadicam shots. The atmosphere is heightened by flashes of disturbing tableaux – a gore-drenched elevator, a beautiful woman transformed into a hag – and it’s these images linger long after the credits roll.

Watch The Shining on Amazon Prime Video

Mad Max: Fury Road

Screeching steel, battered chrome, scorching flames, shattered glass, choking sand, blazing sun and broken bones make up the mood board for veteran director George Miller’s 2015 return to the character he first put on screen back in 1979.

Tom Hardy takes on the title role in what amounts to a two-hour car chase/fight scene interspersed by a few on-foot brawls and some post-apocalyptic musings. As a piece of filmmaking Fury Road is absolutely breath-taking, with the vast majority of its action scenes based on practical effects and stunts rather than CGI. There’s nothing quite like it out there, so buckle up and get on the road.

Watch Mad Max: Fury Road on Amazon Prime Video

The Day Shall Come

Chris Morris’ first film as a director since 2010’s explosive Four Lions proves that the reclusive satirist has lost none of his righteous anger – or his ability to point out the tragic absurdities of the establishment.

Inspired by dozens of post-9/11 terrorism cases, The Day Shall Come looks at how vulnerable Americans are goaded into criminality by law enforcement – a disgraceful waste of time, money and most importantly lives. When an impoverished religious leader is targeted by an FBI team hungry for a win, Morris shows us how the ludicrous machinery of power is arrayed against a hapless, harmless group of eccentrics. If not quite as consistently funny as Four Lions, this brisk black comedy feels similarly biting.

Watch The Day Shall Come on Amazon Prime Video

No Country for Old Men

Cormac McCarthy’s most screen-friendly novel gets the Coen brothers treatment. With such a combination, it would have taken some kind of disaster to stop this movie from becoming an instant classic.

And fear not, because this is fantastic stuff, thanks to not only the source material and its sympathetic treatment by two of America’s finest filmmakers, but the strong performances from Josh Brolin, Kelly Macdonald, Tommy Lee Jones and, most memorably, Javier Bardem as a philosophising, seemingly unstoppable mass murderer. If you like your thrillers as contemplative and lyrical as they are nail-biting, look no further.

Watch No Country for Old Men on Amazon Prime Video

John Wick

Keanu Reeves does his best Keanu Reeves impression as John Wick, who was once a very bad man – a ruthless, hyper-efficient hitman for the nastiest of gangsters and “the guy you send to kill the boogeyman”. But then he found love and hung up his shooting fingers.

Inevitably, his quiet life goes horribly awry, culminating in the untimely demise of the cute puppy left to him by his late wife. Cue vicious, vengeful retaliation in the form of some of the finest gunplay committed to screen in years. They don’t make many action movies like this anymore. Well, they do – but they’re the two John Wick sequels.

Watch John Wick on Amazon Prime Video

Bosch (S1-6)

Based on the novels by James Connelly, Bosch is among Amazon’s most reliable original series. A super-authentic (or at least it feels that way) police procedural set in Los Angeles following the travails of homicide detective Harry Bosch, it’s proof that sometimes sticking to a formula really does work.

Bosch himself sounds like a walking cliché: a grizzled, no-nonsense cop with dark secrets lurking in his past, a love of jazz music and a low tolerance for pen-pushing superiors – but thanks to strong writing and Titus Welliver’s game performance, rooting for him as he navigates political machinations, corrupt colleagues and murderous criminals is never a problem.

Watch Bosch on Amazon Prime Video

Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen brothers’ character study of an underachieving early 1960s Greenwich Village folk singer is beautifully shot, brimming with dry humour, absurdity and pathos – all things you’ve come to expect from these filmmakers – and throws in a side order of evocative music and atmosphere.

Oscar Isaac has never been better as the eponymous balladeer. While possibly one of the most unlikeable protagonists in recent cinema, the rootless Davis’ struggle to find direction is something with which many viewers will identify. The likes of Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver and John Goodman are all memorable in supporting roles.

Watch Inside Llewyn Davis on Amazon Prime Video

Midsommar

A family tragedy leads to young American Dani (Florence Pugh, fantastic as always) accompanying her boyfriend and his mates on a summertime trip to remote rural Sweden. Their destination? A folk festival celebrating the solstice, which Dani sees as an opportunity to fix their relationship troubles. The reality turns out to be far weirder, with director Ari Aster taking the travellers and us viewers alike on a disturbing psychedelic trip into ancient pagan rituals, mental illness and a climax that’s almost impossible to forget.

Watch Midsommar on Amazon Prime Video

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