The 42 best things to watch on Amazon Prime Video

Our pick of the streaming service's highlights. Updated for January 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 Instant 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.

Booksmart

To describe Olivia Wilde’s teen comedy as a female-centric Superbad does it a huge disservice, because it stands up brilliantly on its own. At the same time, it’s impossible not to see the parallels in the two films: both centre around a pair of inseparable friends in the final days of high school who get dragged into a wild night of partying, self-discovery and seemingly hopeless attempts to lose their virginities before heading out into “the real world”.

The parallels are further focussed by the fact that Superbad’s breakout star Jonah Hill’s kid sister Beanie Feldstein stars as one of the central pair; with any luck she’ll go on to enjoy the same level of success as her Oscar-nominated brother. Feldstein and co-star Kaitlyn Dever are charming, moving and hilarious as the academically-obsessed BFFs who realise – possibly too late – that they may have squandered some of the best years of their lives in pursuit of the top grades.

Watch Booksmart on Amazon Prime Video

Heat

Michael Mann decided to remake his own TV movie LA Takedown into a huge, sprawling star-studded action-thriller – and the result is of the best action-thrillers of the 1990s.

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino grab the limelight as a meticulous bank robber and the obsessive cop driven to hunt him down, but there’s so much more to admire here aside from these titans’ (admittedly excellent) performances: the effortless style with which Mann directs everything from diner table conversations to huge shootouts; the supporting cast, packed with some of Hollywood’s finest character actors; the clarity with which its themes manifest themselves on screen.

Nitpickers will say that Pacino is perhaps a little OTT, or that some of Mann’s many subplots would have been better left on the cutting room floor – but you should ignore them and watch this anyway.

Watch Heat on Amazon Prime Video

The Big Lebowski

Louche, lackadaisical and outwardly lightweight, Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1998 follow-up to the multiple award-winning thriller Fargo rewards an astute viewer. It’s packed to the gills with call-backs, references to classic movies and other oh-so-clever touches to pick up on.

It’s also an absolute riot, as Jeff Bridges’ ageing hippy sets out to right a wrong (in a case of mistaken identity, two hoodlums “soiled” his beloved rug) and ends up sucked headlong into a kidnapping case involving German electropop nihilists, ruthless pornographers, a paraplegic philanthropist, a sullen teenage car thief, the police chief of Malibu, possibly hallucinatory cowboys… and bowling.

With an outstanding script and supporting cast including Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro and John Goodman, The Big Lebowski is a rare cinematic gift – one that keeps on giving with each subsequent viewing.

Watch The Big Lebowski on Now TV

Inception

Dominic Cobb specialises in a very odd type of security: subconscious security. At least that's what Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) informs his marks – shortly before he and his crack team of architects, con-men and chemists break into their minds to pilfer valuable information or plant false memories.

Christopher Nolan's reality-bending dream caper almost strays into James Bond territory towards the end, but the visually stunning world he creates is intriguing enough to forgive the plot holes – and trust us, Inception really improves on a repeat viewing.

Watch Inception on Amazon Prime Video

Once Upon a Time in America

Italian director Sergio Leone, best known for spaghetti westerns like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, yearned to make a trilogy set in urban America – but ended up making a single movie instead. An incredibly long one. Clocking in at almost four hours, Once Upon a Time in America requires both a bladder of iron and an extremely comfy sofa to get through in a single sitting, but trust us: it’s totally worth it.

Weaving a tale of Jewish New York gangsters that spans five decades, this movie is Leone’s final film and widely regarded as his masterpiece. Roger Ebert once called it the best film depicting the Prohibition era ever made, but it’s its touching representation of friendship, love and the passage of time that lingers longest in the memory. Just make sure you’re well stocked up on snacks before hitting “play”.

Watch Once Upon a Time in America on Amazon Prime Video

The Lives of Others

Set in 1980s East Germany, this Oscar winning thriller is gripping enough to convert the most ardent of subtitle haters into an avid fan of European indie cinema.

As a zealous secret police agent listens in on the daily lives of a suspected dissident writer and his girlfriend, he slowly starts to question the value and morality of his work and his beliefs – leading to a shattering conclusion. To spoil more of the ins and outs of this tense and ultimately moving film would be to deaden its impact, but suffice to say this is one of the finest foreign language movies of the century so far – and a quiet reminder that we might share more with our enemies than we think…

Watch The Lives of Others on Amazon Prime Video

Zodiac

David Fincher’s true life tale of the Zodiac Killer and the men who tried to unmask and capture him is a quiet masterpiece buoyed along by its tone, acting, editing and camerawork.

Less showy than some of Fincher’s movies and entirely lacking in the sort of hysterical, overly dramatic approach taken by many serial killer films, Zodiac will leave you with more questions than answers – a traditional whodunnit, this ain’t. Looking back years after its release, we think it’s one of the finest films of the noughties and a future classic: creepy, funny and thought-provoking, with impeccable performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo.

Watch Zodiac on Amazon Prime Video

Suspiria

This Amazon-funded reimagining of the Dario Argento classic will divide audiences. Ponderously paced and tottering under the weight of more themes and ideas than it knows what to do with, Suspiria is peak arthouse horror – and many will find the eventual bloodshed too little reward for the investment. Others will appreciate the movie’s strong sense of place (late 1970s Berlin, a city riven with political turmoil) and the way it generates an atmosphere of oppressive discomfort throughout with its use of sound effects, strange camera angles and Thom Yorke’s krautrock-inspired score.

Dakota Johnson stars as an unworldly young dancer joining a prestigious all-female company that just might be a coven of witches, while Tilda Swinton impresses in three separate roles.

Watch Suspiria on Amazon Prime

Good Omens (S1)

Fans of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s 1990s novel have for years been crossing fingers, toes and other body parts in the hopes that one day, somebody would take a chance on a screen adaptation of Good Omens – and that somebody turned out to be Amazon, which produced this star-studded six-part miniseries. Spoiler alert: it does the book justice.

Set in modern day England, it stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen as a demon and an angel whose eons-old friendship faces annihilation (along with the rest of the world) as the Antichrist comes of age and Armageddon looms. Recruiting a supporting cast including Jon Hamm, Jack Whitehall, Miranda Richardson and Michael McKean and splurging a budget capable of bringing the novel to life, Amazon has succeeded in making the best Pratchett screen adaptation so far.

Watch Good Omens on Amazon Prime

What We Do in the Shadows

Outstanding horror-comedies are few and far between – for every Get Out, you’ll have to endure five Scary Movies – but this New Zealand mockumentary (made by Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, who also stars alongside Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement) about a bunch of house-sharing vampires succeeds in hitting the spot.

With plenty of laughs mined from the awkwardness of being a neurotic immortal living in the modern world, it’s certainly leaning more towards the comic side of the spectrum, but it’s not without genuine moments of creepiness. If you’re a fan of This Is Spinal Tap as well as Interview with the Vampire, this is one movie you need to get your teeth into.

Watch What We Do in the Shadows on Amazon Prime

The Expanse (S1-4)

Amazon Prime recently acquired the first three seasons of this beloved space opera series, in which humanity has colonised the solar system amidst a looming conflict between Earth, Mars and the asteroid belt. It then financed and produced a fourth, injecting a bunch of cash into the series and giving the production values (already pretty high) a boost.

But that's not to say that this is a show that lives and dies on its visuals. The Expanse will likely appeal to anyone who appreciates sprawling, critically-acclaimed and morally complex dramas – it’s like Game of Thrones with rail guns and zero-g instead of dragons and Valyrian steel. Better yet, it’s all available to stream in beautiful 4K UHD – provided you have a TV with the prerequisite number of pixels, natch.

Watch The Expanse on Amazon Prime

American Gods (S1-2)

Based on the beloved Neil Gaiman novel, American Gods (exclusive to Amazon Prime currently, and available in 4K Ultra HD) weaves together cords of ancient mythology, modern mythology, Americana and pop culture to create a modern fantasy tale – a tale about immigration, above other things.

The cast includes the classy likes of Ian McShane, Peter Stormare and Gillian Anderson, but British viewers will be shocked to see former Hollyoaks hunk Ricky Whittle in the leading role – and doing a very decent job along with it. After a long wait amidst behind-the-camera turmoil, the second season has arrived too.

Watch American Gods on Amazon Prime Instant Video

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