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The Best Movies to Watch on Amazon Right Now

So many options, but here's where to start.

gemini man
'Gemini Man' | Paramount Pictures
'Gemini Man' | Paramount Pictures

Amazon Prime isn't just for next-day toilet paper anymore: Your subscription includes countless shows (even some of Thrillist's own!) and movies to stream, ranging from recent hits to old-school faves. Here's a slew of options for you, whether you're in the mood for sci-fi, a rom-com, or anything in between—the best Amazon movies out of the thousands of Amazon movies.

the act of killing
Det Danske Filminstitut

The Act of Killing (2012)

Before The Look of Silence, which earned a place on our best movies of 2015 list, documentarian Joshua Oppenheimer investigated the 1965 Indonesian genocide through the eyes of its perpetrators. Anwar Congo, a gangster sanctioned by the government to eliminate "communists," begins by bragging to Oppenheimer about murdering over 1,000 people. His glory transmutes into a meta-atonement when Act of Killing casts Congo in the "movie adaptation" of his own life. It all makes sense when you submit yourself to Oppenheimer’s bizarre, tragic, and eye-opening experiment.
Watch it now on Amazon

Almost Famous (2000)

Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age travelogue and rock hagiography feels, nearly two decades after its release, like the perfect film to cap the 1990s. It views the excess-driven world of 1970s rock-and-roll through a hopeful lens, one in which even the most brutal fights can produce saccharine moments of beauty (see: the "Tiny Dancer" scene), and through all the trials and tribulations aspiring rock journalist William Miller (Patrick Fugit) faces, you always have the sense that things will turn out all right. With a killer soundtrack, a host of career-best performances from the likes of Kate Hudson and Jason Lee, and perfectly placed moments of levity ("I'm gay!"), Almost Famous is like that comfortable old sweatshirt from high school that you can't bear to throw away.
Rent it now on Amazon

big fish
Sony Pictures

Big Fish (2003)

Albert Finney stars as Edward Bloom, a dying fabulist struggling to connect with his estranged son (Billy Crudup), and a grinning Ewan McGregor plays the younger version of Bloom as an earnest and wonderstruck adventurer. A mermaid, a werewolf, and a tender-hearted giant pop up as well. Despite all the wild creatures, Big Fish is perhaps director Tim Burton's simplest and most emotionally direct movie, an old-fashioned tearjerker tricked out with fanciful special effects, quirky performances, and one of Danny Elfman's best scores. It tugs at the heartstrings with studied precision.
Watch it now on Amazon

The Big Sick (2017)

Kumail Nanjiani and writer Emily Gordon adapted their real-life meet cute, and an encounter with illness that landed Emily in the hospital just months afterward, into this moving, melancholy rom-com—like a Terms of Endearment for the Trainwreck era. Fans of the comedian's stand-up or work as Silicon Valley's Dinesh will go nuts for The Big Sick's steady stream of laughs. But when the couple's life takes a turn for the worse, and Kumail's Pakistani heritage pressurizes the situation with demands of arranged marriage, Nanjiani's fans will cling to the jokes like a life preserver. Anchored by his sensitive performance, and bolstered by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily's fretting, foulmouthed parents, The Big Sick is a reminder that fate is fickle, self-determination is fickler, and we all deserve a good laugh-cry once in awhile.
Watch it now on Amazon

cold war
Amazon Studios

Cold War (2018)

From Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War is a stunning portrayal of two star-crossed lovers who meet again and again over the course of a few decades during one of the most volatile periods of European history. The film, which garnered three Oscar nominations and is shot somberly in black and white, follows a couple brought together in a traveling musical troupe and illustrates how the melodrama of politics, fate, and, well, life pulls them apart. As they return to each other repeatedly, even as the world around them is in turmoil and feels like it’s crumbling to dust, this tragically romantic film spotlights the power of love in dark times. 
Watch it now on Amazon

Coming to America (1988)

Where's the best place in America to find a queen for an African king? Queens, New York of course! Eddie Murphy's culture-shock comedy stands up as still-relevant satire of America's contradictory, confused, and hypocritical approach to race and class. It's so relevant, in fact, that a sequel will arrive on Amazon Prime on March 5, so catch up now. 

Crawl (2019)

Stay away from gators. That's the big takeaway from this clever creature-feature about a college swimmer (Kaya Scodelario) driving to her childhood house in Florida to rescue her emotionally withholding father (Barry Pepper) from a Category 5 hurricane that quickly turns into an alligator party where humans serve as the snacks. As hungry as the four-legged reptiles get, the main characters match them with brainy ingenuity. Instead of pumping up its B-movie premise with bloated action, Crawl keeps its suspense set-pieces relatively grounded, making it a worthy successor to the similarly rewarding recent survival thriller The Shallows.
Watch it now on Amazon

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

As you probably know, Ang Lee's beloved period martial arts flick isn't just the gripping story of a sought-after blade. The 2000 release also earned critical acclaim for its panoramic backgrounds, dance-like swordplay, and genre-bending pace. If you have yet to submit yourself to the jaw-dropping experience that is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it's time.
Watch it now on Amazon

Dazed and Confused (1993)

You get older, but this last-day-of-school classic stays the same age. Richard Linklater's seminal '70s stoner flick (a precursor to his college baseball period piece Everybody Wants Some!!) lets you party with the cool kids on the eve of summer vacation -- who don't spare the poor freshmen from getting hazed. Most important, it introduced us to the mustachioed and prophetic Matthew McConaughey we know and love today.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Stand up on your couch, scream "carpe diem!" and finally watch this heartwarming drama about a group of boys studying to become cogs in the machine, and a teacher, played by Robin Williams, who teaches them to be individuals. Williams gets most of the notoriety for his inspirational poetry readings, but it's a young Robert Sean-Leonard (House) who chews on the most complicated material. What appear to be inspirational notes turn darkly serious, giving added depth to a coming-of-age film that stands the test of time. 
Watch it now on Amazon

Election (1999)

Working from Tom Perrotta's acerbic novel, director Alexander Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor craft the perfect showdown between Reese Witherspoon's overachieving Tracy Flick and Matthew Broderick's string-pulling teacher. As the seemingly low-stakes student council race gets closer and closer, everyone involved is forced to ask those always-pertinent moral questions: How far will I go to win, and what's the point of winning if you lose your sense of self?
Watch it now on Amazon

Face/Off (1997)

Capturing Nic Cage and John Travolta at the peak of their late-'90s absurdity, Face/Off has become a modern classic, holding steady over two decades of filmmaking and increasingly implausible Michael Bay explosions. John Woo's action-thriller takes a ridiculous concept—what if two sworn enemies, a cop and a criminal, literally switched faces and tried to outgun/outsmart each other for 140 minutes—to helicopter vs. plane vs. Humvee heights, complete with the requisite pigeon scenes. If you can't let yourself indulge in Cage and Travolta's joyously maniacal performances, in which they play themselves, and each other, in a twisted revenge game, then you need to reevaluate your capacity for pleasure.
Watch it on Amazon

the farewell
Amazon Studios

The Farewell (2019)

Based on a "true lie" that writer-director Lulu Wang previously told on NPR's This American Life, The Farewell is the rare family "dramedy" that doesn't skimp on either side of that always squishy, often lame neologism. The comedy that comes from watching Awkwafina's New York City-dwelling Billi travel to China, where she cares for her cancer-stricken grandmother (Zhao Shuzhen) without revealing the nature of her illness, is just as well-observed as the more conventionally dramatic moments that arrive later in the film as her relatives attempt to untangle the farcical, tragic moral situation they find themselves in. Melancholy without veering into schmaltz and insightful without feeling didactic, The Farewell explores intergenerational family conflict with a deft, mindful touch.
Watch it now on Amazon

Fast Color (2019)

Fast Color is a superhero movie, although it features no characters you've seen in comic books and looks at how power and trauma mixes in one family. Directed and co-written by Julia Hart, it centers on Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who we first meet as she flees captivity. Ruth has seizures that cause seismic shifts, and as she retreats to her childhood home to escape the scientists chasing her, we learn that she's part of a line of women who have extraordinary gifts, including her mother and her daughter. Fast Color is more of a family drama than anything else, but its final moments are infused with a sense of wonder you can only hope to get from some of the bigger budget movies in the same genre.
Watch it now on Amazon

The Firm (1993)

The '90s were a golden era of sleek, movie-star-packed legal thrillers, and they don't get much better than director Sydney Pollack's The Firm. This John Grisham adaptation has a little bit of everything—tax paperwork, sneering mobsters, and Gary Busey, for starters—but there's one reason to watch this movie: the weirdness of Tom Cruise. He does a backflip in this movie. What else do you need to know?
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Gemini Man (2019)

Audiences mostly skipped this Ang Lee directed science-fiction thriller, which failed to light up the box office, but they missed a sturdy, thoughtful star vehicle with a fascinating, expertly calibrated performance from Will Smith. Playing a retired assassin and his younger clone, who hunts him down with deadly accuracy, the former Fresh Prince actor brings sensitivity, wisdom, and humor to bear on a challenging double role that might have felt cheesy in less experienced hands. Confronted with his own capacity to kill, you feel his pain and his bewilderment as his violent past catches up with him. Like he did with 2003's underrated Hulk, Lee finds psychological nuance in cheesy B-movie material, staging bullet-ridden action set-pieces that push technological limits while still reflecting heavier themes about identity, guilt, and the passage of time.
Watch it now on Amazon

generation wealth movie
Amazon Studios

Generation Wealth (2018)

Filmmaker and photographer Lauren Greenfield (The Queen of Versailles) took a long and unflattering look at the cultural milieu of the 1%, and those who really wish they were in the 1%. Culled from interviews and photos going back several decades (a middle-school-aged Kate Hudson shows up, as does 12-year-old Kim Kardashian), Generation Wealth paints a seedy, gut-churning portrait of the money-driven Western world, and what lengths people will go to get in on the action. It's heartbreaking and repellant, but it's also one of the sharpest contemporary commentaries on why the wealthy wield so much power and attract so many people to their lifestyle. 
Watch it now on Amazon

Grizzly Man (2005)

One of Werner Herzog's best feature-length doc is a sort of forensic character study, an exploration into the mind and actions of bear lover Timothy Treadwell through his own footage, leading up to his and his girlfriend's deaths at the hands (paws?) of grizzlies. This stunning multi-tiered work, featuring running voice-over commentary from the director, turns nature documentaries on their head.
Watch it now on Amazon

The Handmaiden (2016)

Some movies splash across the screen, others turn scenes into bold brushstrokes. The Handmaiden, an erotic thriller with twists and turns and thrusts aplenty, is Park Chan-wook's drip painting. Set in 1930s Korea, the movie follows Sook-hee, a pickpocket, who slips undercover into the staff of a sheltered heiress, with hopes of luring the deep-pocketed woman into the romantic grasp of her con-man partner in crime. The problem: Sook-hee falls madly, lustfully in love with her target. In The Handmaiden, single, sensual drops—a prolonged glance, the zipping up of a dress, whispered white lies—fan out through the entire two-and-a-half-hour narrative into the unexpected. You will not see a craftier movie this year.
Watch it now on Amazon

High Life (2019)

French filmmaker Claire Denis makes movies that activate the senses, and with High Life, she crafted a story that's equal parts heady prison thriller, psycho-sexual medical mystery, and bong-rip journey through the cosmos. Bouncing backwards and forwards in chronology, the story tracks quiet inmate Monte (Robert Pattinson) as he raises a baby in a cavernous, dorm-like shuttle in one timeline and attempts to thwart the secretive plans of an oddball scientist (Juliette Binoche) in another thread. Exactly how Monte ends up alone with the baby, playing the role of single parent in the stars, would be the central question of a more conventional sci-fi narrative. But Denis fills the movie with curious images and wild ideas that complicate the dystopian set-up. High Life resists the solutions of puzzle-box filmmaking, choosing instead to explore its own perilous terrain of desire.
Watch it now on Amazon

the hurt locker
Summit Entertainment

The Hurt Locker (2009)

Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to nab Best Director at the Oscars for her Best Picture-winning drama, that today seems all but forgotten. If you didn't catch The Hurt Locker a decade ago (and few did—the movie only made about $17 million at the box office), stream this heart-pounding examination of a explosive disposal specialist (Jeremy Renner) who brushes against death during the Iraq War time and time again, but finds himself drawn to the ecstasy of bomb diffusion, even after being reunited with his family.
Watch it now on Amazon

I'm Your Woman (2020)

The latest from director Julia Hart, who made the underrated Fast Color, is a '70s gangster story that defies all of the tropes of what you expect when you read "'70s gangster story." The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's Rachel Brosnahan plays Jean, a new mother and wife of a mobster. When she's told that her husband in in trouble and she needs to disappear in the middle of the night, Jean is forced into a life of isolation that forces her to reckon with her own ignorance. There's a deliberate slowness to the narrative—an almost carefulness, like someone tiptoeing around a room so as not to be heard—even as it is punctuated by bursts of action.
Watch it now on Amazon

inside llewyn davis
CBS Films

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Sure, if you don't enjoy watching orange tomcats in peril (particularly when employed as cryptic furry metaphors) and you'd rather take a nail to the dome than listen to early Bob Dylan, then Inside Llewyn Davis won't be the film for you. But the Coens' meandering, melancholic musical expertly explores artistic failure and creative longing. Oscar Isaac gives a luminous performance as the title folk singer, a rootless misanthrope (inspired by Dave Van Ronk) on a hallucinatory journey through the snowy streets of New York City and beyond. Between ditties, Llewyn alienates strangers, gains acquaintances, and faces rejection at every turn. Bonus: Poe Dameron can sing like a motherfucker, and the plaintive folk ballads that punctuate the film (written by T Bone Burnett) elevate an already-mesmerizing film into something sublime.
Watch it now on Amazon

King of New York (1990)

Moving across the screen with disarming charm and violent menace as the gangster Frank White, Christopher Walken dominates King of New York, a punchy cops-and-criminals thriller from Bad Lieutenant director Abel Ferrara. Packed with quotable lines, thrilling bursts of action, and wildly expressive supporting performances, the movie vibrates on its own scuzzy frequency, mostly thanks to Walken's dynamic performance and Ferrara's evocative images. Tough-guy lines like "you guys got fat while everybody starved on the street" take on their own peculiar cadence when delivered by Walken, who puts his own distinct spin on the classic mob boss archetype.
Watch it now on Amazon

Knightriders (1981)

After releasing Dawn of the Dead, his genre re-defining zombie sequel, director George Romero turned his eye to a harder to classify but no less fascinating project. Knightriders, a sprawling chronicle of a group of traveling performers who joust on motorcycles for crowds across the country, mixes wry humor, Arthurian legend, and bits of autobiography. With a commanding performance from Ed Harris and gripping scenes of motorcycle combat, Romero's hopeful vision of artistic collaboration remains one of the most winningly idiosyncratic movies of the '80s.
Watch it now on Amazon

landline movie
Amazon Studios

Landline (2017)

This ripe, relationship comedy is set in the 1990s, a time of pay phones, cigarette-friendly bars, floppy disks, and harder-to-keep secrets. Writer-director Gillian Robespierre's characters all have them: a rebellious high school senior (Abby Quinn) flirting with boys and heroin for the first time; her soon-to-be-married sister (Jenny Slate), who questions everything after a hookup with an old flame; their mother (Edie Falco), who works around the clock and takes flak from all involved; and their father (John Turturro), a wannabe playwright who may or not be carrying on a decade-long affair. The sprawling story tests Slate's dramatic chops (while feeding the former SNL player plenty of comedy gold), delivers newcomer Quinn a breakout role, and gives Robespierre the chance to whisk us around New York City.
Watch it now on Amazon

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)

From its opening shot of a young girl facing off against a man in a Hazmat suit to its moving final image, the feature debut from Joe Talbot demands your attention and rewards your patience. Gliding down through neighborhoods on his skateboard, Jimmie (Jimmie Fails, who also shares a writing credit on the film) is a wry, curious presence in the city he calls home. In addition to hanging out with his dapper best friend Montgomery (Jonathan Majors), Jimmie spends much of his time making repairs to the beautiful Victorian house that belonged to his grandfather. Now, it's valued at $4 million and belongs to an older white couple who just want Jimmie to leave them alone. Funny and tender, The Last Black Man in San Francisco takes big swings, but every inch of this oddball epic in miniature is worth exploring.
Watch it now on Amazon

Leave No Trace (2018)

Anyone who read Hatchet or My Side of the Mountain in elementary school probably once dreamed of living off the land. The survivalist impulse, a desire to ditch one's worldly possessions and live a simpler life in the wilderness, is a deeply ingrained American ideal, one that's still taught to children despite the fundamental role technology plays in modern life. Debra Granik's Leave No Trace, her first fictional feature since Winter's Bone, digs deep into the darker side of that fantasy by telling the story of Will (Ben Foster) and Thom (Harcourt McKenzie), a father-daughter duo who live in the mountains near Portland, Oregon. A process-oriented filmmaker, Granik shoots their perilous journey with a combination of awe and skepticism, capturing the beauty of the natural world and the danger of life on the margins. 
Watch it now on Amazon

lost city of z
Amazon Studios

The Lost City of Z (2017)

Director James Gray's account of explorer Percy Fawcett's lush and perilous journey through the Amazon is the rare film to capture and channel nature's bewitching power. Charlie Hunnam, rousing and physical, stars as Percy, a turn-of-the-20th-century military man who embarks to South America to map Bolivia and cleanse his family name of scandal. Months of starvation, illness, piranha-infested waters, and encounters with natives end with the near-discovery of a hidden, advanced civilization. Gray makes room for court scenes, WWI battles, tender family drama, and a musical score that can stand alone. But in the end, the verdant unknown of Amazonia that has its way with Fawcett and our senses, reflecting a profound component of human nature.
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Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Clocking in at three hours, this story of a handyman (Casey Affleck) who returns home to care for his late brother's teenage son (Lucas Hedges) is an epic of intimate proportions. Affleck's character begins the movie shattered by grief. With each scene, be it a haunting memory, a hilarious back-and-forth with his nephew, or sudden silence so well-timed you feel the winter air fill your lungs, the actor reconstructs writer and director Kenneth Lonergan's jagged pieces into a recognizable figure. Manchester by the Sea is like a five-season series squeezed into a movie-length runtime, or better, an experiential microcosm strewn across one coastal Massachusetts town. Your tear ducts will be no match for this one.
Watch it now on Amazon

Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World (2003)

Everyone loves a big sailing epic, especially if it's got Russell Crowe doing lots of grunting and staring off into the horizon. This adaptation of the first novel in writer Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series of sea adventures comes from Australian filmmaker Peter Weir (The Truman Show) and he rightfully emphasizes the human dimension of the story, never getting lost in the exploding cannons and the crashing waves. Don't believe us? Listen to Crowe himself

Meek's Cutoff (2010)

If you spent hours caulking the wagon and floating across the rivers in Oregon Trail, Kelly Reichardt's muted, muddy Western is for you. Following a band of settlers embarked on a journey across the Oregon High Desert, Meek's Cutoff transforms into a kind of down-and-dirty take on The Thing when water runs dry, paranoia poisons the group, and the women of the group seize control of their unhinged male counterparts. Nineteenth-century travel was nothing like a video game.
Watch it now on Amazon

midsommar
A24

Midsommar (2019)

Have you ever found yourself on a vacation trip you immediately regretted? Weird people, freaky food, uncomfortable lodgings, and all you can do is try your best to grin and bear it until you can finally return home? We've all been there, and now there's a supremely creepy new "folk horror" story from horror auteur Ari Aster (Hereditary) that captures that discomfort perfectly. In a nutshell, four college friends, plus one of the group's grieving girlfriends (Florence Pugh), decide to visit an obscure Swedish festival deep in the Scandinavian forest—and things quickly go from odd to uncomfortable to downright horrific. To say much more would ruin the dreadful fun.
Watch it now on Amazon

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! is sugary pop and sexy excess served on a glitzy silver platter. Set at the titular Parisian nightclub in 1899, the film is a now classic jukebox musical about the love story between a struggling bohemian poet (Ewan McGregor) and cabaret performer/courtesan (Nicole Kidman). Considering it's a Luhrmann film, the director obviously doesn't hold back on the production: the corsets, cancan skirts, and boudoir sets take you to the 19th Century even as the cast is singing singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It's really all about the power of love, though, and it never strays from being a genuine, passionate romance. "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, baby!

Paterson (2016)

William Carlos Williams described his epic poem Paterson as an attempt to mirror "the resemblance between the mind of modern man and the city." Jim Jarmusch's latest, which follows a guy named Paterson (Adam Driver) who drives a bus around the city of Paterson, New Jersey, and writes poetry like his hero William Carlos Williams during his breaks, strives for similar observation. Very little happens in Paterson (the movie), though within its trials of everyday life, even the slightest tremble of Earth feels cataclysmic (a broken-down bus prompts many to wonder if it'll blow up into a fireball). Jarmusch finds poetry in the murmurs of a Thursday night bar crowd and the bouncing vistas out a bus window. Paterson (the man) senses it too, though a world urging him to publish, cash in, brand tests his eye. In Paterson, Jarmusch has art on the brain, and he makes some in the process.
Watch it now on Amazon

The Prestige (2006)

Director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception) makes movies that are designed to be puzzled over. The Prestige -- Nolan and his Westworld-co-creating brother Jonathan's adaptation of Christopher Priest's novel of the same name -- might be the enigmatic filmmaker's most emotionally rich and narratively satisfying brain-teaser. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play rival magicians in 19th-century London, and while the idea of Batman facing off against Wolverine in top hats is certainly the draw, you'll keep coming back to marvel at the art direction, the plotting, and the pure joy of getting fooled again.

the report
Amazon Studios

The Report (2019)

When Zero Dark Thirty came out in 2012, controversy erupted whether or not it was accurate in claiming that American torture practices played a role in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Seven years later, The Report is calling bullshit on that aspect of Kathryn Bigelow's film. But the value of The Report is not just cinematic in-fighting. Director Scott Z. Burns has made an enthralling film about Daniel Jones (Adam Driver), who authored the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the inhumanity and inefficiency of the CIA's torture tactics in the wake of 9/11, offering an exacting play-by-play of his work, from its inception to the attempted suppression of the information he uncovered. Though it sometimes slides into book report territory, the level of talent on screen keeps it fascinating. Driver lends Jones sober-minded compassion for his task, while Annette Bening is a dead ringer for Senator Dianne Feinstein. It's a smart, fair indictment of U.S. policies that spares no one. 
Watch it now on Amazon

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Two decades after its release, The Royal Tenenbaums remains director Wes Anderson's most recognizable work, with still-quotable lines, a star-packed ensemble cast, and Anderson's beautiful sets highlighting the wry satire that plays out in a dysfunctional upper-crust family. Always rewatchable.
Watch it now on Amazon

The Salesman (2016)

Acclaimed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi didn't make it to the 2017 Oscars because of Trump's travel restrictions, which was too bad, because The Salesman wound up winning for Best Foreign Language Film. Now's your chance to watch this film of unsettling realism, in which an assault and the desire for revenge transform an average family in unpredictable ways, from one of the best directors currently working.
Watch it now on Amazon

sound of metal
Amazon Studios

Sound of Metal (2020)

It's probably a musician's worst nightmare to suddenly go deaf with zero explanation and no immediate way of getting your hearing back. Riz Ahmed plays Ruben, a tattooed drummer in his girlfriend's (Olivia Cooke) metal band until one day his hearing mysteriously disappears, leaving him with a swiftly deteriorating inner ear and only low vibrations in the place of sound. Unable to play his drums or communicate with his girlfriend, he joins a charitable deaf community, hoping to come to terms with his new reality. Ahmed does Ruben with a simmering, panicked intensity, exploring the pain and despair of losing an entire sense and feeling trapped between two worlds. Director Darius Marder treats the hearing-impaired community with a real reverence and respect (the film is both subtitled and captioned), and deftly folds it all into a heartbreaking case study of addiction.
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Suspiria (2018)

It takes a lot of guts to remake what is arguably the finest horror film of Dario Argento's career—and fans of the original film should be deeply grateful that a new rendition was handed to director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name), who clearly knows and loves the original. What we have here is an epic horror film that follows the quiet but very ominous activities of an elite Berlin dance school faculty, and the unfortunate young women who begin to suspect the truth about the school. Even given the original movie's place in the horror film hall of fame, there's something truly, wildly, indelibly ambitious about this beautifully scary film. And that score by Thom Yorke!
Watch it now on Amazon

The Town (2010)

Before he won an Oscar for directing Argo, Ben Affleck flexed his crime-movie muscles with this pulse-pounding adaptation of Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves, a Boston-set caper that builds to a robbery at Fenway Park. While the premise might sound over-the-top, the execution here is the ideal combination of grit and flash, bouncing between scenes of working-class melodrama and bullet-strewn action. Affleck's no-nonsense, ex-hockey-player thief works with his hot-head best friend (Jeremy Renner) to pull off big scores, but the group finds themselves pursued by a determined FBI agent (Jon Hamm) who tracks them across the city. As far as Heat tributes go, this one is top-notch.
Watch it now on Amazon Prime

The Truman Show (1998)

With each passing year, The Truman Show seems more and more prescient. In the late '90s, the idea of millions of people tuning in to watch a man live remained firmly rooted in science-fiction; two years later, Survivor debuted in the the United States, igniting a reality-television wildfire. The current climate of constant surveillance adds an even more sinister layer to the Andrew Niccol-penned script, which made Jim Carrey (as Truman) the star of a constant, ongoing hit reality show he had no idea existed. When you finish, you might find yourself questioning the nature of your own reality, especially when you get online. 
Watch it now on Amazon

the vast of night
Amazon Studios

The Vast of Night (2020)

Equal parts would-be Twilight Zone episode and old-fashioned sci-fi radio drama, Andrew Patterson's debut feature The Vast of Night takes us back in time to Cayuga, New Mexico in the late 1950s, when technology promised us a future Space Age and the rascally Soviets could be hiding around every corner. Two high school youngsters, switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and late-night radio host Everett (Jake Horowitz), stumble upon a strange interference one night that doesn't seem to be coming from any known source. When Everett asks his listeners to call in if they recognize the sound, the two uncover a global conspiracy involving the military, disappearances, and what some might call alien abduction. The film is such fun to watch, the two leads constantly bickering back and forth in a choppy, mid-'50s cadence, and the mystery at the center of it all is a thrilling, playful return to a cozy, antique way of storytelling when the nighttime was full of endless possibilities. 
Watch it now on Amazon

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

Sofia Coppola's adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides' novel of the same name will put you in a daze; it's a cinematic representation of feeling 16, with all the attendant desire and melodrama. The voyeuristic film tells the story of several young boys' obsession with understanding the mythos behind the sheltered but painfully beautiful Lisbon sisters, who live under the domineering veil of their strict, devout parents. As the tantalizing Lux Lisbon, Kirsten Dunst seduces with a bite, and while the girls gasp for release, Coppola validates their youthful pain in the way that only her unapologetically feminine lens can.
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Wiener-Dog (2016)

Four vignettes—the story of a boy caring for his first pup; Greta Gerwig as a soul-searching, pet-stealing suburbanite; a portrait of a college screenwriting professor; and an elderly dog owner's encounter with the younger generation—comprise this wickedly comical, existentially provocative look at life with pets. Director Todd Solondz can be a cruel and unusual god to his characters, and while Wiener-Dog shocks, the movie has a fanciful side, sporting dancing-dog videos and plenty of aw-gosh cuddling. Owning a pet is a colossal emotional undertaking. Wiener-Dog is the rare movie that treats it like one.
Watch it now on Amazon

young adult
Paramount Pictures

Young Adult (2011)

Mavis Gary, the protagonist of Jason Reitman's acerbic dark comedy Young Adult, is a jerk. She's got a drinking problem, a failed marriage, an unfulfilling career as a ghostwriter, and a tendency to greet every person she meets on a trip back to her hometown with barely concealed contempt. And, yet, Charlize Theron's clever performance and Diablo Cody's sharp script make you understand Mavis' plight without sacrificing the bitterness that makes her such a captivating character. It's a high-wire act that the movie nails in its brisk runtime. By the end, you might not want to hang out with Mavis, but you at least know where she's coming from.
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You Were Never Really Here (2018)

You've seen hitman movies, but you've never seen Lynne Ramsay's hitman movie. The Scottish director, who many first discovered with 2002's elliptical nightlife odyssey Morvern Callar, can take a John Wick-ian premise and invest it with new meaning by reframing it from an askew angle. This crime story, adapted from a novella by Bored to Death writer Jonathan Ames, is about an ex-soldier named Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) who finds himself tasked with recovering a kidnapped girl amidst a sinister political conspiracy involving human trafficking. What makes it so special? Between Phoenix's muted performance, Jonny Greenwood's string-drenched score, and Ramsay's expressive jump-cuts, every image crackles with energy, style, and possibility. It's a death-obsessed movie vibrating with life.
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zama movie
Strand Releasing

Zama (2018)

Based on a 1956 novel by Argentinian writer Antonio di Benedetto, this poetically-rendered 18th century historical drama displays a wry understanding of how colonial power functions. Don Diego de Zama (Daniel GimĂ©nez Cacho) is an administrator for Spain's imperial interests, stationed in Paraguay, but he's always looking for a way out. To where? He's not entirely sure, and director Lucrecia Martel wrings many bone-dry laughs out of his bumbling misadventures, which she frames with a surreal touch. (A shot late in the movie of a boat moving through green water looks like an image from a science-fiction film.) Like Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, Zama uses irony to achieve mysterious (and occasionally maddening) moments of profundity. You don't always have a strong sense of where the story is going; instead, confusion becomes an essential part of the narrative's oddly enchanting, dream-like rhythm.  
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Zodiac (2007)

David Fincher's period drama is for obsessives. In telling the story of the Zodiac Killer, a serial murderer who captured the public imagination by sending letters and puzzles to the Bay Area press, the famously meticulous director zeroes in on the cops, journalists, and amateur code breakers who made identifying the criminal their life's work. With Jake Gyllenhaal's cartoonist-turned-gumshoe Robert Graysmith at the center, and Robert Downey Jr.'s barfly reporter Paul Avery stumbling around the margins, the film stretches across time and space, becoming a rich study of how people search for meaning in life. Zodiac is a procedural thriller that makes digging through old manilla folders feel like a cosmic quest.
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