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 best things to watch on Amazon Prime Video 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 and of course Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire Stick. Or maybe you have the Prime Video app built into your smart TV. You’re in a good place to check out the best things to watch on Amazon Prime Video.
Not to be confused with the movie that inspired it – and from which it draws its winning blend of dark deeds, intricate plotting, looming dread and comic “Minnesota nice” dialogue – this is yet another TV series that begs to be binge-watched over a weekend.
Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks and Allison Tolman all deliver fine performances as residents of the snowbound titular town, but it’s Billy Bob Thornton, oozing malevolence and menace as drifter Lorne Malvo, who lingers longest in the memory.
Once that’s out of the way, the fantastic second, third and fourth series are also on Prime for you to devour too – and each features a different story, with a totally different cast, set at a totally different time.
Keanu Reeves is in full Keanu Reeves mode as our hero John Wick, who was once a very bad man: an unstoppable assassin working for the mob, and nothing less than “the guy you send to kill the boogieman”. Then he found love, retired his trigger fingers and
Inevitably his attempts at living the quiet life go horribly awry, culminating in the death of the cute puppy left to him by his late wife. Cue vengeful retaliation in the form of some of the finest gunplay committed to screen since, well, Keanu himself appeared in The Matrix. A truly wonderful action flick.
Nathan For You (S1-4)
This brilliant spoof reality series, in which deadpan Canadian comedian Nathan Fielder swoops in to save ailing businesses with absolutely woeful (but somehow incredibly clever) advice, has largely flown under the radar this side of the pond, but do yourself a favour and give it a shot. Often so surreal, awkward and bizarre that it’s hard to believe Fielding’s unsuspecting clients aren’t in on the joke (they’re not), Nathan For You is a true comedy original.
Mad Men (S1-7)
Mad Men may be among the most painstakingly crafted television series of all time; it’s certainly among the best. Like The Sopranos, it succeeds in skirting the line between entertainment and “high art” brilliantly, all while being funnier than 90% of comedy shows.
On its most basic level, this is a drama series about people who work in advertising in 1960s New York. It succeeds on that front thanks to a brilliantly written cast of characters, an interesting plot and an almost absurd amount of attention to period detail, all of which make it an engaging and entertaining watch.
But just as The Sopranos used its mafia setting to interrogate wider themes about family, psychology and work, Mad Men uses advertising to explore capitalism, happiness and identity. You could probably call it existentialist if you were feeling fancy, and you’d be well within your rights – but it’s devilishly witty, moving and fun with it.
It’s the skeezy, sleazy 1970s, and a group of aspiring moviemakers descend upon a remote Texas farmstead to make an adult film, only to encounter something else that goes bump and grind in the night.
Brimming over with retro charm, Ti West’s movie wears its influences proudly – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre being perhaps the most obvious – but also succeeds in forging its own identity, being as much a treatise on fame, sexuality and aging as it is a gory, suspenseful stalk-and-slash flick. Mia Goth, playing two key roles, establishes herself as a bona fide scream queen here, but also look out for memorable turns from Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi and Wednesday’s Jenna Ortega.
A Quiet Place
This sci-fi thriller poses a simple and terrifying question: what if there were gross-looking alien monsters with super-sensitive hearing that would come and kill you if made the slightest bit of noise? Well, there are.
Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who also co-writes and directs) are excellent as the parents struggling to keep their young family safe from these sonar-wielding freaks. Despite barely a word being uttered in the film (most of the dialogue is signed with subtitles) sound plays a major role in cranking up the fear. A good set of surround speakers goes a long way toward making the viewing experience even more butt-clenchingly stressful, particularly when Blunt’s character goes into labour while the monsters are roaming nearby.
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most fascinating and visionary film directors of the past 30 years, responsible for the likes of The Master, There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread. That makes every new movie he releases something of an event picture – even this relatively low-key comedy drama set in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley (the place Anderson himself grew up) in the 1970s.
A coming-of-age story with two acting newcomers (Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim) in the lead roles and a gently meandering plot about waterbeds, pinball, friendship and first love, Licorice Pizza is shot on vintage lenses to replicate the look of 70s movies, and genuinely feels like a film from a different, simpler era of cinema. It may not go down in the annals of cinema as one of Anderson’s most challenging or complex works, but it’s quietly brilliant in its own way.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1978)
If you’re compiling a list of the top ten most iconic horror movies of all time, Tobe Hooper’s lo-fi 1978 shocker is going to be on there. After an introductory voice-over warns us of the atrocities to come, Hooper rachets up the tension as a group of road-tripping teenagers gets side-tracked on a rural Texas highway. To reveal more would risk ruining the delightful surprises to come, but it’s probably not spoiling anything to say that, yes, some unconventional use of a chainsaw does take place. Great stuff.
Christopher Nolan is sometimes derided as ‘a dumb person’s idea of a smart person’ and watching Tenet, his lavish and bombastic ‘it’s not about time travel, actually’ movie, it’s easy to see why. The tenor is Very Serious – but break it down to its core and this is a silly but enjoyable sci-fi film with some cracking set-pieces, a mind-bending plot and a solid cast headed up by John David Washington and Robert Pattinson. With scenes in which time flows both forwards and backwards at the same time, there’s some visually impressive stuff here – even if you might be wondering what it all means by the end of it.
Tenet is undoubtedly a film built for the big screen, but watching at home has one advantage over the cinema: you might actually be able to understand the words that are coming out of the characters’ mouths. The muffled dialogue issue left many cinemagoers miffed and confused about key plot points, but at home you’ll be able to rewind (no pun intended) at your leisure.
Dumb and Dumber
Starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as the titular simpletons, Dumb and Dumber is a road movie packed with memorable scenes: the boys’ fingernails-down-the-blackboard rendition of Mockingbird, Carrey’s dream sequence of a fantasy life with Lauren Holly, and the assassination of an endangered owl using a champagne cork stand out, as does Daniels’ unfortunately-timed bout of ‘stomach flu’ (never let your friend give you a cup of tea laced with pre-date laxative).
It’s low-brow gross-out stuff, undoubtedly – but it’s so gloriously over the top and packed with gags that you’ll have little choice but to succumb to its wiles. A 1990s classic and no mistaking.
This sci-fi action flick romp pits young, photogenic human space soldiers against a swarming, insectoid alien menace, complete with gallons of CGI gore, huge explosions and valiant heroism.
So far, so generic. But thinly concealed underneath the blockbuster bombast, Starship Troopers is a satire on militarism, nationalism and endless war, with director Paul Verhoeven effectively turning the violence-obsessed Hollywood machine against itself. The fact that you can now watch this on a streaming service owned by a corporate behemoth like Amazon is an irony we’re sure Verhoeven would appreciate – but perhaps the best part about Starship Troopers is that it’s as entertaining as it is clever.
The Boys (S1-3)
What if superheroes were not only real, but as messed up and prone to bad behaviour as the rest of us. That’s the premise behind this superb comic book adaptation, in the world’s most famous costumed crusaders are owned and controlled by Vought, a ruthless corporation that keeps their misdeeds – which range from voyeurism and drug abuse to outright murderous psychopathy – under wraps in order to keep the cash flowing.
When one outrage leaves a young man bereaved and hellbent on revenge, he joins a group of like-minded vigilantes with the aim of bringing down Vought once and for all. Effortlessly blending humour, action and drama, The Boys manages to be Amazon’s best original series in ages.
Lee Childs’ tremendously popular series of novels regularly describe their hero Jack Reacher as a 6’5” man mountain. His size and stature are pretty much the first thing anybody who meets him comments on – so casting the notably non-mountainous Tom Cruise as Reacher in two Hollywood movies always seemed like a misstep. Amazon’s original series remedies this by putting towering hunk Alan Ritchson in Reacher’s boots, but it’s also a brilliantly watchable, breakneck thriller that emulates the novels’ brisk, gripping pace.
Reacher is built like a brick outhouse and only marginally more talkative, but he’s blessed with a keen intelligence, a heart of gold and the ability to absolutely annihilate any lowlife who gets in his way. When he wanders into a small Georgia town and finds himself arrested for murder, all his wits, wiles and muscles are all called into action.
No Time to Die
Amazon has pulled off quite the entertainment coup by adding not only this but every single James Bond movie to Prime Video. While some are great, some merely decent and others absolutely godawful, it’s the first time all the 007 films have been streaming on a single platform.
Anyway, for most viewers No Time to Die will be the most exciting of the bunch owing to its relative freshness. Daniel Craig’s final turn as the spy, this is a technically slick, visually stunning and consistently entertaining end to his tenure on Her Majesty’s secret service, and a reasonably satisfying end to the loose story arc that started with Casino Royale. Is it the best Bond film ever? No, but Casino Royale aside it’s our pick of the Craig-era movies.
The best 4K movies and TV shows – and how to watch them
Got a 4K telly? Then treat your eyes to some eye-popping UHD entertainment. Updated for April 2022
5 April 2022 / 12:19 BST12 December 2022 / 11:34 GMT
4K tellies aren’t nearly as rare as they once were; in fact, there’s a very good chance you’ve already got one. But finding things to watch on it in that lovely 4K resolution (you can call it UHD if you prefer) can still be somewhat tricky. There’s a fair bit out there if you know where to look, though, and the even better news is that we’ve done the looking for you. Here’s our guide to the best 4K movies and TV shows
So with no further ado, here are the 40 very best TV shows and movies that are currently available in 4K. We’ve even included a direct link to buy or stream each one from Amazon, Netflix or Sky. You’re welcome!
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
The most expensive TV show of all time may not have lived up to its grand expectations, but Amazons’ The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power truly impressed with its breathtaking visuals and set pieces. The eight-part series follows a bunch of elves and dwarves across Middle Earth as they try to answer the question, who, or what is Sauron?
The series was largely met with a collective ‘meh’ by audiences, even if Nielsen found that viewers watched the first two episodes for 1.25 billion minutes in its first four days. In our opinion, the plot is sometimes muddy and slow moving, and sometimes ties itself into plot knots. Where The Rings of Power truly shines, though, is in how incredibly beautiful it looks on screen. Battle scenes are hugely and detailed, much more suited to a cinema screen than a living room one. The landscapes of Middle Earth more than live up to those found in Peter Jackson’s original trilogy, too.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s thriller might arguably be a case of style over substance, but when the style – neon-lit noir meets synth-pop soundtrack – is this impressive, who cares? Ryan Gosling simmers as a reticent Hollywood stunt driver who supplements his income by working as a wheelman for a vicious gang of thieves, but soon finds his uncomplicated lifestyle upturned by the arrival of Carey Mulligan’s young single mother.
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The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman brings another of his cult comic books to the screen. This adult animated series tells the story of a teenage superhero coming to terms with his newfound powers – and dealing with the fact that his father is the most powerful and famous masked crusader on the planet.
If that sounds like something you’ve seen a thousand times before in superhero fiction, we urge you to give it a chance anyway: the show throws a shocking curveball early on that is guaranteed to make you pay attention. Stephen Yuen, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Mahershala Ali and Mark Hamill are among the star-studded voice cast.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge writes and stars in this beloved sitcom about a single woman’s attempts to navigate the many pitfalls of modern London life: love, family, work. Even if that sounds like a hackneyed synopsis, or one that could describe something in the region of 10,000 British sitcoms, you should delve into Fleabag anyway; Waller-Bridge’s eyes-open approach – acerbic, unashamed, raw – doesn’t feel unoriginal in the slightest. It’s also extremely funny, which is probably worth mentioning too.
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Dawn of the Dead (1978)
George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is one of the most iconic and influential horror movies of all time. When an outbreak of the undead ushers in the fall of civilization, a quartet of survivors decamp to an abandoned shopping mall in a bid for safety – only to discover that the shambling brain-chomping hordes have also found themselves drawn to this palace of consumerism.
You’d have to be braindead to miss the satire, sure – but there’s so much else going on here that it hardly matters. Zack Snyder’s 21st-century reimagining isn’t a patch on this for atmosphere, and the practical effects and prog-rock synth score give it an eerie atmosphere you simply don’t get with modern horror flicks.
This Australian indie horror movie is likely to stick with you for some time. In addition to all the thrills, spills and chills you’d expect from a standard horror flick, The Babadook has something extra hidden in its basement under the stairs: smarts.
Yes, this film will fray your nerves like wool dragged across a barbed wire fence, but it’s also a meditation on loss and trauma. Can widowed mother Amelia finally lay the repressed memory of her husband to rest and save her son Samuel from the malevolent force stalking them in the process? You’ll just have to watch this modern classic to find out.
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.
What We Do in the Shadows (film)
Taika Waititi’s outstanding mockumentary about a coterie of New Zealand vampires really hits the horror-comedy spot – and doesn’t hang about while doing so. With plenty of laughs mined from the awkwardness of being a neurotic immortal in the modern world, it’s certainly leaning more towards the comic side of the spectrum, but it’s not lacking in genuine moments of creepiness. If you’re a fan of This Is Spinal Tap as well as Interview with the Vampire, this is a perfect movie to sink your teeth into.
Writer-director Rose Glass’s startling debut is presented as a psychological horror movie – but might better be viewed as an exploration of loneliness and its dangers.
Young born-again Christian Maud is a private palliative nurse, assigned to a cancer-stricken former dancer after leaving her previous job under a cloud. As she becomes closer to her new charge, she is told her purpose is not only to ease her pain, but save her immortal soul – but are the voices she hears actually God or something more sinister?
Emerging from a shallow (and somewhat premature) grave, trapper Hugh Glass sets out on the long, icy journey towards revenge, evading marauding Native Americans, foraging for sustenance and performing gruesome self-surgery in a series of incredible sequences. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s direction and the flawless camera work help the viewer feel every moment of Glass’ struggle to survive.
Despite uttering a mere handful of lines during the film’s nigh-on three hours of running time, DiCaprio bagged his first Best Actor Oscar for The Revenant. Seeing what he goes through here, you can see why the Academy was so impressed. As a pure physical performance, it’s remarkable – and it’s just one notable aspect of a movie packed with them.
Sound of Metal
Ruben is a noise-metal drummer, endlessly touring tiny venues with his partner Lou in a beaten-up RV, but the couple’s rootless but contented lifestyle comes to a sickening halt when Ruben begins to experience hearing loss. With the realisation that his career as a musician may be over, tempting him back to his old addict’s ways, Ruben checks himself into a rural deaf community – but he remains fiercely driven by a hope of fixing his affliction, getting back on tour and getting back to Lou.
Riz Ahmed is utterly fantastic in the lead role (Oscar-nominated, no less), but everything about Darius Marder’s debut movie works so well: the sound design that puts you in Ruben’s head; the supporting performances of Paul Raci and Olivia Cooke; and the themes of identity, dependence and acceptance that run through it.
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, strangers who happen to be guests at the same wedding, find themselves stuck in a seemingly infinite time loop in this offbeat romantic comedy. If they fall asleep or die, they simple wake up once again and have to live the entire day through. Trapped together, the pair decide to make the most of their predicament, indulging in wilder and wilder behaviour in the knowledge that, whatever might happen, they’ll be back at square one eventually. Everything, it seems, has become meaningless.
If might sound like something you’ve seen before (“Groundhog Day!” we hear you scream), Palm Springs manages to feel different by dint of focussing on a pair of people rather than just one. The relationship and tensions between the two keep the film nicely involving – and it’s very funny to boot.
I Care A Lot
Proof that it’s possible to make an engaging film even when none of the characters are “good”, noble or particularly likeable, I Care A Lot stars Rosamunde Pike as professional legal guardian Marla Grayson – a ruthless predator who makes a handsome living by exploiting the elderly people she’s supposed to be caring for.
Her latest ward (Dianne Wiest – who doesn’t crop up in films that often these days) looks like a potential goldmine but turns out to be a doorway to trouble, thanks to some unlikely connections with the criminal underworld. Peter Dinklage and Eiza González also star in this viciously black but deliciously enjoyable comedy.
The political thriller sees Adam Driver’s character, Daniel Jones, set an assignment by the Senator Diane Feinstein (Annette Bening) to lead an investigation into the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ methods during the Bush era.
The project engulfs Jones’ life, his relentless determination to complete his report almost jeopardizing his career and sacrificing any social or personal life, but the injustice and corruption at the heart of it are too important to ignore. The Report’s fast-paced narrative and sharp dialogue make it easy enough to follow, but some of the torture-scenes are hard to stomach. The fact it’s based on a true story is frightening.
American Gods (S1-3)
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.
Genres get hacked up as much as the unfortunate characters in S. Craig Zahler’s brutal directorial debut. This film starts out in familiar Western territory, but gradually descends into a nightmarish, schlocky horror flick – albeit one with some tension-shattering comedic dialogue and character moments. There’s an old-school video nasty vibe to Bone Tomahawk that you don’t often see in modern movies, not to mention a refreshing tendency to take its time.
Kurt Russell leads the strong cast (familiar faces Richard Jenkins, Matthew Fox and Patrick Wilson also appear) as a stoic small-town sheriff spurred into action when a group of cave-dwelling Native Americans kidnap two of his townspeople. Resolving to rescue the victims and punish the perpetrators, a small posse ventures out into the dry, rocky wilderness, not realising what awaits them.
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.
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Based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, this six-season series stars Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, a modern-day US Marshal who brings an Old West sensibility to his job. Sent back to his hometown after falling out with his superiors, he’s quickly dragged into a feud with an old friend turned enemy, played with career-defining aplomb by Walton Goggins.
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.
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.
The Expanse (S1-6)
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 and fifth, injecting a bunch of cash into the series and giving the production values (already pretty high) a boost. At least one more season is coming too.
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.
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (S1-4)
Hankering for a grown-up TV show in the vein of Mad Men? One also set in mid-century Manhatten? The Marvelous Mrs Maisel might be the new series for you.
Rachel Brosnahan stars as Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a vivacious, quick-witted upper middle class housewife with what she thought was the perfect 1950s New York lifestyle: husband, kids, beautiful Upper West Side apartment; the works. When things take an unforeseen turn and flip that all upside down, she stumbles into trying out standup comedy – and discovers she has something of a talent for not only making people laugh, but for hitting upon life’s truths and enigmas while doing it.
The first season won three Golden Globes and five Emmys, suggesting this Amazon Original may have an even bigger future ahead than Transparent.
Mr. Robot (S1-4)
An office drone by day, Elliott Alderson (played brilliantly by Rami Malek) is also a morphine-dependent keyboard vigilante who hacks the lives of everyone he meets. That is until he’s lured in by Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) to join the hacktivist group ‘F Society’, whose grand plan is to cancel world debt by attacking ubiquitous conglomerate E Corp (or Evil Corp, as Elliott calls it).
Cue a trip down a rabbit hole that twists through Lynchian dream sequences, episode-long musings about the hackability of human minds, and a mounting sense of paranoia that leaves you suspicious of everything down to Elliott’s malfunctioning radiator.
That Mr. Robot resists Hollywood’s ‘Computers for dummies’ approach to the Internet is just one of the reasons why it’s great. The others are that it’s stylishly shot, unpredictable and offers a new take on cyberpunk, while wearing its influences (The Matrix, Fight Club and American Psycho) as proudly as the badge on its title character’s shirt.
Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all available for binge-watching right now.
Red Oaks (S1-3)
A hidden gem in Amazon’s catalogue, Red Oaks‘ unremarkable premise belies a nuanced show that blends humour and pathos with surprising aplomb.
Set in ’80s New York suburbia, the show (now running to three full seasons) follows the bumbling but tumultuous life of David Myers. From the aloof love interest to parental turmoil at home, all the classic teen drama tropes are covered, with just enough of a twist to sustain your intrigue.
What really elevates this show above the many others that riff off a similar tune is its riotous roster of characters. Sleazy yet feckless tennis coach Nash alone is worth the price of admission.
The Man in the High Castle (S1-4)
What if the Allies had lost the Second World War, and America was currently ruled by Germany in its eastern half and Japan in its western half? Well, you can find out in this big budget Amazon Prime original series, a thriller which zips around a 1960s North America that’s more “Ja wohl!” than “Aw shucks!”.
Dealing with underground resistance groups, various plots and an alternative Cold War (waged between Imperial Japan and the German Reich, now the world’s only superpowers), it’s the kind of series that’ll appeal to history buffs, sci-fi fans and anyone who’s into high concept, high budget television.
This superlative adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel of the same name is a gripping journey into the gloomy, seedy underbelly of 1950s Los Angeles, exploring the spiral of bloody events that occur where Tinseltown, police corruption and the mob crash together.
Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kevin Spacey all deliver fine performances as a trio of LAPD detectives with very different personalities, and L.A. Confidential‘s labyrinthine plot, its beautifully realised recreation of the tarnished dream of post-Golden Age Hollywood, and its sheer attention to detail all work together to make this one of the defining movies of the late 1990s.
The Walking Dead (S1-10)
The zombie apocalypse scenario has now been covered so many times that when the dead do eventually start clawing their way out of the ground in a shambling tide of brain-hungry violence, it’ll hardly be worth mentioning. That’s not to say that it doesn’t make cracking TV, though, and if you’re one of the few people who hasn’t yet seen The Walking Dead, there are a full nine seasons’ worth of horrific violence, bad decisions, cannibalism, baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire and more to enjoy!
Amazon’s been trying to “do a Netflix” by creating its very own blockbusting TV shows for ages now, but this is the first time it’s got it right. For a start, Transparent is really bold – it tells the story of a sixty-something divorcee announcing to his three grown-up kids that he’s always felt different and is now going to live as a woman.
Sounds heavy, and it sort of is, but it’s also darkly funny, with a degree of wit and sharpness that’s still rare even in this golden age of TV. The bickering between the three kids (each of whom is riddled with their own individual problems and peccadillos) is as chucklesome as it is awkward and real. Amazing telly.
This quirky espionage comedy-drama blends deadpan humour, action and a coterie of memorable characters into something that feels truly original. Michael Dorman excels as permanently put-upon CIA operative John Lakeman, who really just wants to be a folk singer – life, needless to say, has other plans for him. The smart plot takes in Iran, nuclear weapons, a single-minded Luxembourger cop and a lot more info about industrial piping than you’d ever need know. Patriot is one of Amazon’s best original series, which is why it’s a true shame that there are (currently) no plans for a third season.