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.
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.
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.
The second of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright “Cornetto Trilogy”, Hot Fuzz takes on the action blockbuster genre in the same way as Shaun of the Dead took on zombie movies – by making them into a comedy movie packed to the gills with the genre’s tropes and traits.
Not only is Hot Fuzz – in which Pegg’s superhero police officer is shipped off to a sleepy rural village for making the rest of the Met look bad in comparison – hilarious, it’s also a brilliantly edited and warm homage to the likes of Point Break, Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys, albeit a very English one. In short, it excels as an action movie and a comedy, and has aged surprisingly well.
The Shawshank Redemption
Banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sent down for two life sentences for a crime he didn’t commit - and in the grim confines of Shawshank Penitentiary, he’d be forgiven for giving in to despair. But a series of small victories against the soul-crushing bureaucracy, the mentorship of old lag Red (a never-better Morgan Freeman) and his interest in geology help to chip away at the walls that threaten to engulf him.
Frank Darabont’s adaptation of a lesser-known Stephen King short story failed to set the box office alight on its initial release, but - appropriately, given its theme of persevering against the odds - it’s since found a strong following on home video. Its story of hope in the face of impossible odds - and a slow-burning style that recalls the classics of the ‘30s and ‘40s - has won it a place at the top of countless best films lists. You owe it to yourself to watch this one.
Not to be confused with the anthology series (an also-excellent spiritual spin-off), this multiple Oscar-winning thriller stars Frances McDormand as the heavily pregnant police chief of a small Minnesota town where nothing much happens – until it does. When a kidnap plot goes horrifically awry and bodies start turning up in the snowy landscapes (beautifully filmed by cinematographer Roger Deakins), McDormand’s no-nonsense approach to law enforcement is put to the test.
If Fargo sounds like a typical noir, it isn’t. The Coens (who grew up in Minnesota) wring something uniquely comic from each and every one of their characters, from William H Macy’s pathetic car salesman to Peter Stormare’s laconic bleach blond criminal. Their keenly-observed portrayal of what’s known as “Minnesota nice” is particularly funny, and somehow even more so when it’s playing out against the film’s backdrop of violence, betrayal and moral rot.
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.
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.