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.
If you thought Australian cinema peaked with Strictly Ballroom, brace yourself for two dark, tense hours with the Cody family – Melbourne’s answer to the Sopranos. The Codys’ crime of choice is armed robbery (with a spot of drug trafficking and good old-fashioned murder on the side) but things get complicated when 17-year-old relative J comes to stay in the wake of his mother’s heroin overdose.
With a memorable, Oscar-nominated performance by Jacki Weaver as mob matriarch Smurf and Ben Mendelsohn creepily shining as sociopathic eldest son Pope, Animal Kingdom is probably the best organised crime movie since The Departed.
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.
The Expanse (S1-3)
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 also committed to financing a fourth season in the near future, which was a relief for the millions of fans left howling following its premature cancellation by original producer SyFy.
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.
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.
Comfortably the finest horror film of 2018 (although there’s nothing “comfortable” about the film itself), Hereditary starts out like a family drama with some piquant supernatural seasoning but swiftly changes direction and ends as… well, that risks ruining a ride filled with more gut-wrenching twists than a runaway rollercoaster.
When her secretive and abrasive mother dies, Toni Collette’s Annie is forced to examine the ways in which her behaviour had affected and shaped her family – not just herself, but her son Peter and daughter Charlie, both of whom seem troubled by unspoken issues. When these troubles come to the fore, they result in tragedy, panic and eventually a full-blown nightmare. If you’re looking for a clever, thought-provoking film that retains the power to shock – a modern movie that’s very much in the same mould as the likes of The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby or Don’t Look Now – look no further. Hereditary is a worthy successor to those classics, and we suspect a future cult classic itself.
Man on Wire
This feature-length documentary is the second highest-rated movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes, and rightfully regarded as one of the finest, most interesting films of the 21st century.
Telling the thrilling tale of wire-walker Philippe Petit and the most perilous, death-defying and life-affirming feat of his career – the crossing, sans safety gear, of a thin cable strung between the twin towers of New York’s 450m high World Trade Center – Man on Wire is a cross between a biopic, a heist film and a sports movie; a fantastic watch guaranteed to leave you with sweaty palms.
Ben Affleck plays a high-functioning autistic accountant who cooks the books for some of the world’s worst criminals in this action-thriller, which is a lot more exciting than it might sound on paper. This accountant, you see, is also a highly-trained former special forces operative, just as handy with a .50 calibre sniper rifle as he is with a calculator and a copy of Excel. And when he’s targeted for assassination by a particularly crooked client looking to cover his tracks, it’s his practical skills that come to the fore.
The Devil’s Backbone
Set at an orphanage during the final few days of the Spanish Civil War, this superior gothic horror movie concerns an unexploded bomb and a missing child. Revealing any more might spoil the creepy allure of this spine-tingling film, whose historical time and place is integral to its message.
Only a filmmaker of Guillermo del Toro’s talents could pull off a cerebral foreign language horror movie that appeals to English-speaking audiences – and if there’s one movie on Amazon that the most ardent subtitle-hater should sit through, it’s this one.
The Grand Tour (S3)
Here’s a fact: either you adore the vehicular antics and laddish banter of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, or you’d rather coat your eyes in bleach than play along with this trio of ageing, ill-dressed man-boys.
The third season of Amazon’s mega-budget Top Gear-killer has just landed on the streaming service, and while it won’t convert non-believers neither will it disappoint fans: it’s well made and looks lush (in super-sharp 4K, if you have a UHD telly). For those that like their petrolhead action fix served alongside a glut of gags, this third helping is likely to be the TV highlight of 2019.
Made on a budget that would barely buy you a Skoda and running with the ‘found footage’ angle that was already long in the tooth by its release in 2009, Paranormal Activity nonetheless has the chops to put the willies up all but the hardiest viewer.
The story centres around a couple, one of whom claims to have been haunted by some kind of presence since her childhood. A psychic warns the pair not to try communicating with said presence, which turns out to be good advice, given that it then torments everyone throughout the remainder of the film. Cue: minor creepy occurrences captured on grainy video that gradually ramp up to the point that you’ll be sleeping with the lights on.