Entertainment

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
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

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.
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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

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

This balletic sci-fi epic is one of two movies Steven Spielberg wrote for himself (the other being A.I., which he took over from Stanley Kubrick -- half counts). And you can tell; his personal obsessions pile up in Close Encounters, which follows scientists preparing for first contact, a mother searching for her abducted son, and a man (Richard Dreyfuss) who sacrifices his family for a taste of the unknown world. The special effects are lush and the drama is heartbreaking, a movie grand enough to wrestle with life's eternal questions.
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. 
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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.
Watch it now on Amazon

days of heaven
Paramount Pictures

Days of Heaven (1978)

Following up his breathtaking 1973 debut Badlands, filmmaker Terrence Malick made this moving portrait of desire, deception, and beautifully shot wheat fields. Richard Gere and Brooke Adams play Bill and Abby, a couple that flees Chicago and finds a home with Sam Shepard's mercurial farmer in Texas, providing the central tragic love triangle. But the film's power comes from the poignant, poetic observations of Bill's younger sister Linda (Linda Manz), who narrates the story and grounds the imagery in vivid, elliptical language. It's the type of movie that reveals new secrets with every viewing. 

The Departed (2006)

Don't let its most annoying fans ruinThe Departed ruin for you -- it's an enormously entertaining crime film. Leonardo DiCaprio's expert slow-boil performance as undercover cop Billy Costigan is a big reason for that and marked a major career step forward; he stood tall against the Martin Scorsese film's many big-name scenery chewers and kept his Boston accent under control. Just try to forgive the little rat at the end. 

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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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 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.
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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 Ethan 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. 
Watch it now on Amazon

four weddings and a funeral
Rank Film Distributors

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

From the '90s golden age of rom-coms, Four Weddings and a Funeral helped make Hugh Grant one of the most swoon-worthy stars in Hollywood, and was the first of Grant's partnership with writer Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually). Like the title suggests, the movie follows Grant's character, Charles, and his friend as the experience changing relationships over the course of four weddings and a funeral. At the first, he meets an American woman (Andie MacDowell) who becomes "the one who got away" -- until they meet again. It's a classic rom-com about young, bumbling 20-somethings with above-average wit, and it still packs a punch a quarter of a century later. 
Watch it now on Amazon

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.

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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The Graduate (1967)

Dustin Hoffmann's early career masterpiece of privileged malaise holds up, because it turns out that America hasn't matured enough to deal in any meaningful sense with the existential angst its productivity-first ethos creates. Today, the one word Benjamin Braddock would hear might be two: "Venture capital" or "data mining" or "fintech startups" but the vast meaningless would be the same. And, of course, we can't forget the iconic Anne Bancroft, whose Mrs. Robinson is one of the most memorable characters in American film. She's got a whole song named for her! 
Watch it now on Amazon

grizzly man
Lionsgate Films

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.
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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 Ari Aster's debut feature 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. 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.
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Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi masterpiece thrusts you into the world of dreams, and leaves you so bewildered that it's difficult to wake up. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a corporate spy who steals secrets by inserting himself in others’ subconscious dream states, the film not only imagines this complex universe, it flips its structure, as DiCaprio’s man on the run is made to plan the perfect heist in order to leave behind his criminal life. Rather than stealing ideas, he’s got to implant one -- that's inception, baby! -- with his team of specialists, resulting in a surrealist, multilayered film.
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.
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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Melding the conformity-fearing Cold War paranoia of the '50s with the self-help-skewering cynicism of the '70s, director Phillip Kaufman's remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers dares to be playful and scary. A cleverly cast Donald Sutherland plays a health department official in San Francisco who finds himself investigating a series of increasingly gross incidents connected to one of his colleagues (Brooke Adams), his poet friend (Jeff Goldblum), and a pop psychology celebrity author (Leonard Nimoy). Part body horror freak-out and part Robert Altman-style hangout, the movie pulls the viewer in different directions before arriving at its terrifying final image of mouth-gaping fear.
Watch it now on Amazon

king of new york
New Line Cinema

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.
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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.

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). 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.'
Watch it now on Amazon

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.
Watch it now on Amazon

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. 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

Lincoln (2012)

Without the nostalgic glow, Steven Spielberg's rowdy, rousing act of political theater stands out as a treasure waiting to be appreciated. Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for portraying our thunderous 16th president, who pulled every string necessary to end the Civil War and abolish slavery in one fell swoop. Spielberg finds comedy and tragedy in the saga, which resonates with a particularly damning pitch in our current stagnant moment. With gorgeous period accoutrements and the sharpest casting of the decade, Lincoln captures the past, speaks to the present, and hopefully inspires the future.
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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.
Watch it now on Amazon

margin call
Lionsgate

Margin Call (2011)

The mathematical headache of the 2008 financial crisis makes for profane drama in this steely debut feature from writer and director J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year). With a cast including Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, and Zachary Quinto, the movie goes for the talky, put-down-filled tone of David Mamet's classic Glengarry Glen Ross, turning a world of spreadsheets, mortgages, and neckties into a verbal bloodbath. Sometimes it plays like comedy. But, mostly, it feels like a horror movie.
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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.
Watch it now on Amazon

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.
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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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Raging Bull (1980)

Boxing movies like Southpaw, Bleed for This, and Hands of Stone have often felt like male actor vanity projects, well-funded attempts to get super swole for the poster and nothing more. In more ways than one, the gravely serious thespians who star in these films are chasing the lead of Robert De Niro in director Martin Scorsese's boxing classic, but they often fail to notice what sets this acclaimed boxing tale apart: Jake LaMotta is not cool. He's pathetic. Ugly. Despicable. A fool. But we keep watching because of the depth of humanity De Niro, Scorsese, and writer Paul Schrader bring to the material. We keep watching because it's impossible to look away.

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. 
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The Rock (1996)

What does the ideal Michael Bay film look like? Pretty much like this: Nicolas Cage frantically chasing green balls of face-melting poisonous gas, Sean Connery crawling through plumes of bright-orange fire, and Ed Harris channelling George C. Scott as the world’s most pissed-off general. Despite the special-effects junky reputation he has from the Transformers series, Bay’s dirty secret is that he’s a skilled director of actors, particularly giant movie stars, allowing them to push the most extreme aspects of their personas to the point of absurdity. In The Rock, Bay's controlled chaos becomes their playpen.

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.
Watch it now on Amazon

royal tenebaums
Buena Vista Pictures

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Nearly 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
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.
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Something's Gotta Give (2003)

Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton bring their boundless charm to this art-imitating-life rom-com from classic genre writer/director Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, The Parent Trap). Nicholson stars as an older playboy who's totally satisfied with his profligate life -- until he is forced to face his aging health head-on when he suffers a heart attack at his young wife's mother's (Keaton) home and has to stay there to recover. As suspected, a confusing love triangle unfolds. The pair's chemistry, a cheeky Meyers script, plus Keaton in knitwear against a Hamptons setting -- and on top of all of that, Keanu Reeves as a hot, young doctor -- it's the perfect recipe for a mature, modern rom-com classic. 
Watch it now on Amazon

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.
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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. 
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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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