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The Best Movies to Watch on Amazon Right Now

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

mission impossible fallout
'Mission: Impossible -- Fallout' | Paramount Pictures
'Mission: Impossible -- Fallout' | 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 (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

Ali (2001)

With thrillers like Thief, Heat, and Miami Vice, filmmaker Michael Mann approached the "cops and robbers" genre from an askew angle, packing simple stories with romantic yearning, coded language, and odd tangents. So it's not a surprise that Ali, his version of a "sports movie" and a biopic starring Will Smith as the fighter, is an ambitious, occasionally strange clashing of tonalities. Instead of attempting to tell Ali's life story, Mann burrows into specific conflicts -- tension with religious leaders, a thorny relationship with the media, and a volatile love life -- and creates a fractured portrait of a national hero. If you're looking for a Rocky-like narrative, stay away. But if you're seeking something as complex as the fighter himself, step into the ring.

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.

The Big Sick (2017)

Kumail Nanjiani and his wife 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; one taboo-busting 9/11 joke-for-the-ages had my theater howling. 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

bloodsport
Warner Bros.

Bloodsport (1988)

Jean-Claude Van Damme made a career out of good-not-great fluff. Universal Soldier is serviceable spectacle, Hard Target is a living cartoon, Lionheart is his half-baked take on On the Waterfront. Bloodsport, which owes everything to the legacy of Bruce Lee, edges out his Die Hard riff Sudden Death for his best effort, thanks to muscles-on-top-of-muscles-on-top-of-muscles fighting and Stan Bush's "Fight to Survive." Magic Mike has nothing on Van Damme's chiseled backside in Bloodsport, which flexes its way through a slow-motion karate-chop gauntlet. In his final face-off, Van Damme, blinded by arena dust, rage-screams his way to victory. The amount of adrenaline bursting out of Bloodsport demands a splash zone.

Blue Velvet (1986)

David Lynch's twitchy riff on film noir is the link between our reality and our dreams, each frame zooming in on the drips of suburbia melting into hell. Dennis Hopper deep-breathing into a gas mask doesn't have to make sense, it just does.

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. 
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the commuter movie
Lionsgate

The Commuter (2018)

The previous thriller from the team of Liam Neeson and Jaume Collet-Serra was Non-Stop, a bracing and clever whodunit on an airplane. The pair are back in high-octane Agatha Christie mode with The Commuter, a mystery that begins with Vera Farmiga's chatty passenger Joanna presenting Neeson's haggard ex-cop (and loyal transit-enthusiast of the title) Michael MacCauley with a bizarre hypothetical: If you could perform a seemingly insignificant task that would have disastrous consequences for another commuter in exchange for a generous financial reward, would you do it? What follows is action filmmaking as controlled demolition -- and the best train potboiler since Steven Seagal's Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.

The Conversation (1974)

If you think domestic surveillance is spooky, imagine how it feels for the guy on the other end of the microphone. Starring Gene Hackman in his prime, Francis Ford Coppola's subdued thriller builds paranoia out of an overheard conversation and the lengths to which one private investigator goes to uncover its meaning. Hackman’s Harry Caul can only get so close to his subjects, and Coppola plays by similar rules, making sound as essential to the viewing experience as picture. Wildly influential, this one will have you looking over your shoulder for days.
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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.

eighth grade
A24

Eighth Grade (2018)

Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is, in many ways, a typical teenage outcast: She endlessly scrolls through her carefully maintained social media feeds, desperately wants to be liked by her peers, and physically recoils at every remark from her well-meaning father (Josh Hamilton). The adolescent focus of comedian Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is painfully relatable, and the film that covers her final weeks of middle school feels like a mirror of nearly everybody’s own experience in one way or another -- just tailored to the 21st century. Though a simple story, this film will break and subsequently mend your heart, reminding you that the things we hold dearly at 13 never truly stop mattering to us even as we age.
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Escape From New York (1981)

There are no good guys in John Carpenter’s dystopian rescue movie, and if there were, Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken wouldn’t be one of them. Sure, he offers to save the president of the United States, who crash landed in the futuristic Manhattan mega-prison, from battalions of free-range criminals. Yes, he goes mano a mano with the surliest of the bunch. And yes, his hang-gliding skills are off the charts. But Snake isn’t nice. He’s not fighting for 'Merica. He’s an eyepatch-wearing, gut-toting rebel who looks out for himself as the world drowns in a cesspool of its own making. He sounds like a hero, an even more ruthless Han Solo, because Russell is a pro. Plissken’s first solution to the hostage crisis: "Get a new president!"

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.

fast color movie
Codeblack Films

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.

First Reformed (2018)

With this austere story of a pastor suffering a crisis of faith, writer and director Paul Schrader is back in familiar territory: His most acclaimed work as a screenwriter, 1976's Taxi Driver, was a violent, disturbing portrait of a man consumed with guilt, rage, and indignation at the state of the world. First Reformed, which finds Hawke's troubled man of the cloth Toller advising a young environmental activist and eventually becoming obsessed with his righteous cause, examines ideas Schrader has returned to over and over, but it's shot and edited in a more controlled, restrained stylistic register than his previous movies. He's using the toolkit he first studied as a critic in his book, Transcendental Style in Film, applying the approach of masters like Robert Bresson and Theodor Dreyer to contemporary anxieties, obsessions, and debates. It's a movie that seeks to, in Schrader's own words, "maximize the mystery of existence" and it accomplishes its mission with rigor and, in its final moments, shocking power.
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. 
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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.

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

hereditary
A24

Hereditary (2018)

What makes this movie tick? It's all in the performances: The incredibly versatile Toni Collette, who first stunned horror audiences as the mother in The Sixth Sense, plays Annie, an artist who works from home constructing intricately designed miniatures of her own life. When her elderly mother dies, Annie's family, which includes Gabriel Byrne as her distant husband, Alex Wolff as her aloof son, and Milly Shapiro as her troubled daughter, is thrown into a crisis. For its first 40 minutes or so, the film plays like a strange psychodrama in the vein of Michael Haneke, but then an unspeakable event occurs about halfway through and the tension skyrockets. Annie visits a friendly medium (Ann Dowd of The Leftovers) and begins to communicate with the dead. She sleepwalks and has terrifying nightmares; a supernatural force has descended upon the house. Aster directs the hell out of the movie's harrowing final stretch, which will likely leave some viewers scratching their heads, but Collette is the real MVP, throwing herself into a demanding role with unwavering commitment.
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High Life (2019)

French filmmaker Claire Denis makes movies that claw at the brain and 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, and there are surprising plot twists and shocking violent acts committed here. 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.

Hoosiers (1986)

Many of what are now considered sports movie clichés stem from the beloved '80s classic Hoosiers. It's got it all: A ragtag group of underdogs who need to be whipped into shape; a coach looking for another shot (Gene Hackman); an alcoholic dad struggling to get a handle on his condition (Dennis Hopper); and an all-American setting in a state where high school basketball is life. Riding critical and public accolades, Hoosiers almost instantly flew into the American film canon. Like much pro-America propaganda centered on the 1950s, racial issues are largely ignored in presenting the story of a plucky all-white team that defeats a black team to win the state championship -- but it's worth staring that ugly tendency of American film in the face, rather than ignoring it completely. 

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.
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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.

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. The writer-director'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 discovery of a dirty poetry stash sends the sisters hunting for answers). Like Obvious Child did for cautious millennial daters, Landline surveys and questions the value of steady relationships. 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 with the cool of Woody Allen or Hal Ashby. Landline could be the set-up for a great television show, but as a movie, it's a daring and decadent slice of life.'
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The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)

"Are y'all paying attention?" asks a street preacher in the dazzling opening sequence of this wildly ambitious portrait of a city in an existential crisis. 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, who began raising money for the project through Kickstarter back in 2015, demands your attention and rewards your patience. Gliding down through neighborhoods on his skateboard, 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 (Majors), Jimmie spends much of his time making repairs to the beautiful Victorian house that used to belong 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.

leve no trace
Bleecker Street

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. Though the backstories are kept to a minimum, certain details emerge: Will is a veteran and Thom's mother died a long time ago. They only have each other -- and the forest around them. Eventually Will is arrested for living on public land and the pair are sent to live in a house on a Christmas-tree farm, where Thom grows to like having a roof over her head and befriends a bunny named Chainsaw. Will can't adjust. Soon the pair are on the road again, hitching rides and marching through the cold woods. 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. 
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Logan Lucky (2017)

Steven Soderbergh, the mastermind behind the Ocean's franchise, possesses Danny Ocean's keen sense of operation and attention to detail (no one shoots mundane insert shots quite like him). With Logan Lucky, the filmmaker gifts those of us without bespoke tuxedo collections the heist movie we deserve: a bluesy, Southern-fried, NASCAR-set bank job where pick-ups do the heavy-lifting, gummy bears and cleaning solution make the vaults go boom, and blue collars are worn with pride. No one believes Jimmy and Clyde Logan (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver), known around West Virginia for their bad luck "curse," could rob the Coca-Cola 600 race. How they stick it to the naysayers is one of the most pure-fun times you can have watching a movie.
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.
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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.

mission impossible fallout
Paramount Pictures

Mission: Impossible -- Fallout (2018)

As Tom Cruise's stardom has plateaued in recent years, with recent movies like The Mummy and American Made failing to connect on a broader cultural level, the celebration of the Mission: Impossible franchise has only intensified. It feels like audiences have collectively decided this is how they want their TC: jumping out a plane, running across the roof of a building, or hanging off the side of a cliff. Honestly, fair enough! While Mission: Impossible -- Fallout isn't the best entry in the super-spy series -- my vote goes to Brad Bird's dazzling Ghost Protocol or Brian De Palma's thrilling 1996 original -- it has a keen sense of history, a wry sense of humor, and a handful of breathtaking set-pieces. (The bathroom fight and the helicopter chase share top honors.) McQuarrie, the first director to return for a second M:I adventure after handling 2015's Rogue Nation, is a skilled action craftsman, and, despite a 147-minute runtime, Fallout never loses momentum. It sends you hurtling out of the theater in search of similar highs. Too bad so few modern blockbusters can even breathe at the same altitude.

Panic Room (2002)

Panic Room is a clever and propulsive David Fincher thriller starring Jodie Foster as a divorced Manhattanite surviving a home invasion. The script, written by Jurassic Park screenwriter David Koepp, is packed with effective twists, sharp dialogue, and authentic-seeming details that help complicate the stripped-down premise about a trio of thieves looking for the hidden money of the house's former owner. Foster and a young Kristen Stewart, playing the precocious diabetic daughter, are both gripping in tough, demanding roles, while Forest Whittaker brings a weariness and warmth to his villain role. It's as gripping as it is frighteningly claustrophobic. 

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." Jarmusch's latest, which follows a guy named Paterson (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.
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Pineapple Express (2008)

This movie from David Gordon Green (Eastbound & Down) is the ultimate stoner movie, seeing longtime buddies Seth Rogen and James Franco as an average dude named Dale (Rogen) and his extremely lazy weed dealer Saul (Franco) on the run after witnessing a crime; and their rare strain of tropical, hypnotic Pineapple Express is the sole piece of evidence leading violent criminals back to them. You will laugh constantly, even if these legitimate action sequences are no joke, making it one of this comedy duo's best. Just don’t watch it if you’re feeling too paranoid, because this is a jacked up, over-the-top action adventure in the best way possible. 

A Quiet Place (2018)

The world has been overrun by creatures who are completely blind, but have uncanny hearing and will kill anything they sense nearby. So how does a family with small children survive in a forcibly silent world? Find out in this unexpectedly excellent chiller from John Krasinski in his directorial debut that doesn't need a whole lot of dialogue to deliver tons of suspense, tension, and plain old scariness. See this one with a bunch of friends, and make sure they all stay completely quiet. It's part of the fun.
Watch it now on Amazon

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. 

Roman Holiday (1953)

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck: it doesn't get more classic than that. With its exotic setting, princess-looking-for-something-more narrative, and clever banter, Roman Holiday helped establish the template for the next 50 years of romantic comedies to follow. What do most of the imitators lack? Well, mostly actors as charming, playful, and committed as Hepburn and Peck, who make chemistry look easy. Trust us, this is a vacation you'll want to go on more than once.

the salesman
Filmiran

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.
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A Simple Favor (2018)

A Simple Favor is probably best marketed as "Blake Lively wears a lot of high fashion menswear and drinks martinis" -- and while that would not be wrong, it's important to note that it's also a twisty thriller, like Gone Girl though an Instagram filter. Director Paul Feig, known more for comedies like Bridesmaids and Spy, moves into more of a middle ground that remains funny despite its murderous themes. Lively plays the impossibly glamorous and filterless Emily Nelson who starts hanging out with Anna Kendrick's overachieving YouTube mom Stephanie Smothers after their children demand a playdate. Both women have some significant skeletons in their respective closets, which start to emerge after Emily goes missing.

suspiria
Amazon Studios

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!
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The Terminator (1984)

James Cameron's first major film as director is a lean, brutal vision of machines run amok, dressed up with the complications of time travel. Cameron probably would have had a great story without the bizarre charisma of Arnold Schwarzenegger or the heavy-metal insanity of Stan Winston's robot effects, but with all those elements in place, The Terminator is a "lightning in a bottle" moment that demonstrated just what Cameron could do.

True Grit (2010)

Having flirted with the Western genre in No Country for Old Men and Raising Arizona, it made sense for the Coen Brothers to saddle up for an adaptation of Charles Portis' True Grit, previously made into a 1969 vehicle for John Wayne, who won his only Oscar award in the role. By swapping out Wayne for Jeff Bridges, the Coens signaled that this would be their own type of cowboy movie: darkly funny and loaded with profound melancholy. With a sneaky, standout comic performance from Matt Damon and a star-making turn from Hailee Steinfeld, the movie has more than enough great acting, intense gun battles, and gorgeous vistas to keep you under its old-fashioned spell.
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. 

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.
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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 (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 Giménez 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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