The Best Movies to Watch on Amazon Right Now
So many options, but here's where to start.
Amazon Prime isn't just for next-day toilet paper anymore: Your subscription includes countless shows and movies to stream, ranging from recent hits to old-school faves, and more are added every month. Here's a slew of options for you to consider, whether you're in the mood for sci-fi, a rom-com, or anything in between—in other words, these are the best of the thousands of movies available to stream as part of your Amazon Prime subscription.
ALSO READ: Our curated guides to the Best Thrillers on Amazon Right Now and Best Amazon Original Series Ever
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.
Denis Villeneuve's "first contact" movie would be quite a trip if it was just a linguistics exchange between humans and aliens, but that’s just a bridge to a high-concept evolution of human existence that might result from our dialogue with a species which perceives life and time very differently than we do. Arrival can be as chilly as it is stimulating, but Amy Adams finds the soul of the story, and connects the elegantly-designed language lesson to something primal, visceral, and moving.
Black Swan (2010)
First and foremost, Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is a terrifying psychological thriller. Itself mirroring the plot of Swan Lake, the film chronicles a New York City Ballet ballerina's (Natalie Portman) trying pursuit of the principle role of the White Swan in an upcoming production, which increasingly makes her go mad when she finds herself up against a new dancer (Mila Kunis), who at first seems like a better fit for the Black Swan. As dark as the film is, pseudo-sexual themes run throughout each movement and the tension between the two leads (which culminates into quite the steamy scene). At large, it's about the intersection of perfectionism and sanity—it'll make your skin crawl, but you'll feel your blood boil a bit, too.
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.
Bull Durham (1988)
Few movies have the same easy-going charm as Ron Shelton's directorial debut Bull Durham, a film that understands the role sports play in the daily lives of athletes. Sometimes it's important, but other times it's just a job or an annoyance -- a thing getting in the way. The dynamic that emerges between minor-league veteran "Crash" Davis (Kevin Costner), wide-eyed newbie "Nuke" LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), and sworn believer in the "Church of Baseball" Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) is trickier and more rewarding than your average love triangle. Shelton's movie is a curveball you can't quite get a handle on.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
André Aciman's acclaimed 2007 romance blooms in an air of hormones, heavy petting, and apricot pulp. Filmmaker Luca Guadagnino is known to make movies set at lavish locations, and this time he turns to an Italian paradise where days consist of poolside lounging, feasting on cured meats, and the occasional archaeological excavation. But Call Me by Your Name is a formal affair, steady and composed so that Timothée Chalamet, a revelation as the studious, sexually blossoming Elio, and Armie Hammer, playing Elio's father's pupil Oliver and the young man's Adonis, can steam up the screen. Restraint doesn't inhibit Guadagnino, who still finds way to gift Michael Stuhlbarg with a bring-you-to-tears monologue on love and Sufjan Stevens songs. What it does is concentrate the fire, ensuring that Call Me by Your Name burns hot from beginning to end.
The seminal teen flick of the mid-'90s, Clueless gave us countless gifts that we've carried into adulthood, courtesy of iconic Beverly Hills heroine Cher Horowitz, with her giant phone, unparalleled bubblegum-pulling skills, Valley Girl slang, and matching plaid. If you've never seen it before, you'll be surprised at how many one-liners still work two decades later, from "It does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty" to "You're a virgin who can't drive." Do we recommend that you skip watching (or rewatching) Clueless? Ugh, as if!
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.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Wes Anderson adapted Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s novel for his first stop-motion feature film. Featuring a sly George Clooney as the voice of the titular character, who's been busy pissing off farmers for stealing their crop, the movie showcases a classic man-versus-woodland-critters conflict. It's exactly what you would want out of an Anderson animated film, starring his typical cast of characters (Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, plus Meryl Streep) as the voices of anthropomorphized creatures. It's also just plain cute.
The Coen brothers' 1996 classic has stood the test of time (and inspired the anthology TV show of the same name) for a reason. Stacked with a star-studded cast and infused with a dark sense of humor, this homespun murder story, about Jerry Lundegaard's (William H. Macy) clumsy crime goof, won't disappoint. It more than deserved the Oscars it received for best screenplay and best actress in a lead role—Frances McDormand, don'tcha know? If you've never seen it, ya gotta.
The Fighter (2010)
David O. Russell’s (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) The Fighter packs a punch. The Oscar-nominated biographical drama stars Mark Wahlberg as underdog boxer Micky Ward alongside Christian Bale, in yet another transformative role as Ward’s older half-brother/trainer Dicky Eklund. Lined with action and grit, the film follows Ward’s unpredictable rise in the ranks in the world of championship welterweight boxing with the contested help of his washed up brother who descended into drug addiction and a life of seedy crime. Tethered to his success is the strength of the destructive closeness of his family, including his mother played by Melissa Leo, and the relationships outside of it, like that of his girlfriend played by a scene-stealing Amy Adams -- meaning The Fighter is a hard knocks lesson in what it means to look out for someone, as well as a masterclass in acting.
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.
Best remembered for the creepy cenobites—and all the absurd sequels they inspired—the original film in Clive Barker's long-running series is more psycho-sexual nail-biter than creature feature. Expertly directed by Barker himself, the movie has more than scares on its mind. It may have birthed Doug Bradley’s iconic Pinhead character, but it's best moments plumb the depths of a broken marriage with all the verve of a great erotic thriller.
House of Gucci (2021)
Ridley Scott's House of Gucci was a moment before a minute of footage was even released. The paparazzi shots of Lady Gaga and Adam Driver on set started an internet phenomenon, and we hadn't even heard Gaga say, "father, son, and House of Gucci" in that truly bananas Italian(?) accent yet. Was there anyway the story of the murder of Maurizio Gucci orchestrated by his wife Patrizia live up to the hype? Honestly, probably not, and House of Gucci is a mixed bag. The screenplay is bloated, and everyone is over-acting, but when it's good, it's wildly entertaining—a testament to what star power can do. You can't take your eyes off Gaga, even when the movie around her lets her down.
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.
Jennifer's Body (2009)
If you've heard any talk recently about director Karyn Kusama and writer Diablo Cody's horror-comedy masterpiece Jennifer's Body, it's probably due to the recent resurgence of praise for the movie, crowning it a feminist cult classic of the modern era, tragically underappreciated in its time. The movie stars Megan Fox as a demonically possessed high school student whose spirit is driving her to murder her male classmates, while her best friend, played by Amanda Seyfried in nerd glasses, tries everything she can to stop her.
Diablo Cody created a new teen language with her screenplay for Juno, which stars Elliot Page as a pregnant teen. But Juno's significance goes beyond phrases like "honest to blog" entering the lexicon. The movie, directed by Jason Reitman, is the sensitive story about a teenager being thrust into an adult world she thinks she can manage because of her smarts. Page's performance is alternately hilarious and devastating, and the movie swings between teen romance and coming of age saga with aplomb.
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.
A League of Their Own (1992)
The movie that famously taught us that there’s no crying in baseball follows a (fictional) season of the (real) Rockford Peaches, who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, founded during World War II when many of the best Major Leaguers were off in the service. With a roster of actresses including Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell, the Peaches try to save their league, win a title, and in their most daunting challenge, turn around their alcoholic jerk of a manager, played by Tom Hanks. (Spoiler: they accomplish two out of three.)
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.
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.
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.
One Night in Miami... (2020)
Regina King, a woman responsible for putting incredible performances onto big and small screens, makes her directorial debut with a movie that features some of the best acting of 2020. King does not appear in One Night in Miami... herself, but she coaxes out marvelous work from her cast as she documents a fictional account of one of the most legendary conversations in history. Adapted from a play by Kemp Powers, the film allows audiences in on the conversation that happened between Cassius Clay (Goree), Malcolm X (Ben-Adir), Jim Brown (Hodge), and Sam Cooke (Odom Jr.) the night in 1964 after Clay beat Sonny Liston. As they celebrate the victory by Clay—soon to be Muhammad Ali—the four luminaries joke, bond, and debate how best to deal with the racism plaguing their country. Sure, at times the film can feel a bit static; it is, after all, mostly about four men sitting in a room and talking often about sweeping philosophical topics. But those concerns fade away when you're mesmerized by Ben-Adir and Odom Jr. going head-to-head, representing two viewpoints in stark opposition.
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 film, 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.
That late director Jonathan Demme treated the AIDS crisis with his typical humanity and close attention to the minor details of personal lives sounds unremarkable now. That he did it in for mainstream audiences 1993, with movie stars like Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, and Antonio Banderas in leading roles, gives you a sense of what made Demme so beloved. Andrew Beckett (Hanks) is a gay, HIV-positive lawyer whose big-time law firm fires him because of his sexual orientation, and Beckett decides to sue for discrimination. The ensuing drama exposes the lengths to which otherwise smart, accomplished people will go to preserve traditional attitudes at the expense of human rights, a contradiction Beckett's homophobic counsel (Washington) must work through for himself if he hopes to win the case.
As both a prequel to Alien and a film existing in its own Alien-adjacent universe, Prometheus has a lot of ground to cover. We're still in the future, but going back in time a few decades in the Alien-verse, to when the milk-androids were only just discovering how to act convincingly human and a creepy corporation sends a team of astronauts to investigate what may or may not be humanity's five-head origins. (Thanks, Engineer.) The droning meditations on the nature of consciousness and free will turned off some viewers who were expecting more of an action-packed thriller — the Xenomorph doesn't even appear until the final act of the movie, and only after Noomi Rapace's truly upsetting self-surgery scene — but it's since gained something of a cult following for its overwhelming balls-to-the-wall weirdness.
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 (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 US policies that spares no one.
The Revenant (2015)
Now you have no excuse to miss Leonardo DiCaprio's Academy Award-winning arsenal of grunts and grimaces. For the uninitiated: Alejandro G. Iñárritu's period adventure-thriller, inspired by true events, sends a frontiersman (DiCaprio) on an 1820s fur-trading expedition on which he must beat a cunning trapper (Tom Hardy), icy elements, and deadly animals. The film plays on the longer side, but it comes with its fair share of awe-inspiring frames (thanks to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) and white-knuckled tussles—bison liver snacks not included.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
This classic psychological horror film stars Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes as a young couple who land a steal of a Manhattan apartment only to find themselves the target of their neighbors' Satanic activity. Without gore or literal ghoulish activity, filmmaker Roman Polanski strikes up a sense of anxiety that crescendos until the movie's final minutes. Everyday household activities—cleaning, cooking, a routine phone call—become Biblical trials. Farrow, with wide-eyed resilience, makes for one hell of an anti-Hitchcock heroine. This one will get in your head and haunt you.
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.
This hilarious (both ironically and non-ironically) DreamWorks film—which we paid tribute to with our 20th anniversary celebration Shrek Week—has exactly what a children’s film needs to be just as palatable to adults: inappropriate humor, pop culture references, and Eddie Murphy voicing a wisecracking donkey. Set in a fantastical enchanted forest, the story features spoofs of all the fairy tale characters everyone knows and loves, along with an ornery ogre named Shrek (Mike Myers) whose lawn they’re encroaching on at the order of the evil Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow), a ruler with an inferiority complex and an impeccable bob. To get the Three Little Pigs and others off his dang property, Shrek sets out on a quest to rescue the princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a particularly lustful lady dragon in order to get his solitude back. Instead of delivering the princess to Farquaad as promised, Shrek breaks a curse caging Fiona, and they all live happily ever after.
Sound of Metal (2020)
It's 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.
With his hair cropped close and his eyes on the road, Keanu Reeves brings the ideal degree of sincerity to this proudly dumb, riotously fun blockbuster about an ill-fated bus rigged to blow up if it goes below 50 miles per hour. As the tension rises with each stunt-heavy set-piece, impeccably staged by Die Hard cinematographer (and future Twister director) Jan de Bont, Reeves keeps his cool. Modifying the more ironic, traditionally macho wise-cracking approach of stars like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the hotshot bomb specialist played by Reeves has a stillness—you might call it... a chillness—that meshes perfectly with the movie's unrelenting commitment to white-knuckle suspense. The put-upon passengers on the bus, including Sandra Bullock's ultra-stressed Annie, learn to trust him. There's no bridge you wouldn't jump for the guy.
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!
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Can you really trust Matt Damon? That's the question driving this tasty soufflé of a psychological thriller adapted from a novel by Patricia Highsmith. The eternally boyish actor was especially innocent and naive here, fresh off the success of Good Will Hunting and Saving Private Ryan, but his Tom Ripley is a monster capable of manipulating Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow with sociopathic ease. Like super-spy Jason Bourne, Ripley is the perfect role for Damon: You never quite know what's lurking under the surface.
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.
Top Gun (1986)
Even with the recent, improved-upon sequel, there is a lot to love about the original Top Gun: Tom Cruise is at his most charming, Kelly McGillis is a worthy romantic counterpart, Val Kilmer snaps his way through all his scenes, late director Tony Scott lends his signature music-video touch, and it's still hard not to cry when Goose dies. It might be manipulative, and "Danger Zone" has certainly inspired a lot of horrific karaoke moments, but over 30 years later, it still has the power to... wait for it... take our breath away. You disagree? Let’s settle this on the volleyball court.
Train to Busan (2016)
When a young father boards a high speed bullet train from Seoul to Busan, he's wholly unprepared to deal with an outbreak of a fast-acting zombie disease that quickly takes hold of the train's passengers. Fast-paced and utterly terrifying, Train to Busan is a Korean horror classic and a gory good time, revitalizing the zombie movie genre and cementing its place in the annals of great midnight horror movies.
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.
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.
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.