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The 30 best movies to stream on Amazon Prime UK

Amazon has summer blockbusters, Oscar winners and indie darlings... and they’re free for subscribers

Matthew Singer
Written by
Andy Kryza
Contributor
Matthew Singer
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Netflix has become the Kleenex of the streaming world, but while the company behind Stranger Things is the dominant force in online entertainment, Amazon has become a haven for film geeks thanks to its massive array of old favorites and new gems. 

In a way, Amazon is like a video store, one where you can choose to rent a movie or own it outright. And for Prime members a huge chunk of the library is available to stream for free. To save you a little browsing time, we've cobbled together the best movies on Prime UK right now, including Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning Parasite, both Paddingtons and more than a few blockbusters of summer past. 

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The best films on Amazon Prime Video

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Cast: Song Kang-ho, Cho Yeo-jeong, Lee Sun-kyun

South Korean wunderkind Bong's deliciously dark, Oscar-dominating social satire more than lives up to its reputation thanks to its engaging cast, meticulous design, pointed humor and its ability to play both sides of its eat-the-rich narrative with a balance of sympathy and disdain. It's a class comedy turned heist film with no tangible loot involved, a heartbreaking family drama that suddenly descends into a chaotic hellscape without losing its traction for a second. Fire up the ram-don and settle in for a masterclass.

Buy, rent or watch Parasite.

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Regina King

Cast: Leslie Odom Jr, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Kingsley Ben-Adir

Oscar-winner Regina King's strong directorial debut feature is an instant classic of the "what if" genre in which Cassius Clay (Goree), Jim Brown (Hodge), Malcolm X (Ben-Adir) and Sam Cooke (Oscar nominee Odom) spend an electric night together amid the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement they each impacted in a very different way. 

Buy, rent or watch One Night In Miami…

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The Big Sick (2017)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Director: Michael Showalter

Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano

Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, the real-life couple who penned this film, give us a Pakistani-American culture-shock romance that isn’t awash with clichés. We meet Emily (Zoe Kazan plays Gordon’s on-screen surrogate) and Kumail (Nanjiani plays a version of himself) just before Emily falls into a coma. Suddenly for Kumail, there’s heartache, hospitals and parents to deal with.

Buy, rent or watch The Big Sick

  • Film
  • Thrillers

Director: Sergio Leone

Cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Elizabeth McGovern, Danny Aiello, James Woods

Spaghetti western auteur Segio Leone's 1900s-set New York crime epic was once considered completely inaccessible due to its four-hour length, staggered chronology, dense cast and abrasive and violent content. In the age of prestige TV, that all sounds like a whimsical mid-afternoon watch. 

Buy, rent or watch Once Upon a Time in America.

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  • Film
  • Animation

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Voice cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld 

Even if you’re disinterested and/or exhausted by comic-book movies, make time for this one. Animated with true visual pow, it’s the Spider-Man movie everyone can find some joy in, and which swung open the door to the ‘multiverse’ concept currently sweeping through the MCU. 

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: John Sturges

Cast: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough

Steve McQueen joins a group of Allied chaps in a daring break from a German prison during World War II. With a lean script and heist movie plotting – each prisoner possesses a different, valuable skill – the film was dismissed in its time, but has come to be viewed as a thrilling, must-see classic. Boy’s own stuff, what?

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The Wailing (2016)
  • Film
  • Horror

Director: Na Hong-jin

Cast: Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Kwak Do-won

A police officer (Do-won) scrambles to find a cure for a mysterious illness ravaging a small Korean town before it can claim his daughter. At nearly three hours, The Wailing scans as a formidable watch, and it moves slowly enough that it will cause the impatient to fidget. But give yourself over to its trancelike pace, and you’ll realise why the film has been hailed as a masterpiece of atmospheric horror.

  • Film
  • Fantasy

Director: David Lowery

Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton

Although it was snubbed during award season, this artful retelling of the Arthurian legend was one of the standout films of 2021. It’s the sort of imaginative, large-scale cinematic adventure that plays equally well for literature nerds and mass audiences. (Too bad it came out when the theatres were still closed due to Covid.) Patel is excellent as Sir Gawain, impetuous nephew of King Arthur, who decides to test his mettle against a formidable knight with supernatural powers.. 

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  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth

In which Quentin Tarantino rewrites World War II to avenge the Holocaust in bloody, explosive fashion – you’re welcome, history. Sure, the implication is audacious, but when is Tarantino ever not? Besides, this is where QT does some of his best pure filmmaking. The opening scene, featuring the excellently evil Christoph Waltz and a family of French Jews hidden under a farmhouse’s floorboards, is breathlessly tense.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie

Like the last 20 minutes of Goodfellas stretched into an entire movie, Martin Scorsese’s dramatisation of the life and crimes of corrupt douchebag stockbroker Jordan Belfort maintains an appropriately coked-up energy that’s at turns funny, enraging and exhausting. It’s among Scorsese’s more polarising films, but there’s no denying DiCaprio nails the lead role – the scene in which Belfort, practically paralysed by Quaaludes, attempts to drag himself across down a set of stairs, across a driveway and into a Lamborghini, is the most inspired bit of physical comedy since Jim Carrey’s heyday.

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  • Film
  • Thrillers

Director: Jonathan Demme

Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn

Anthony Hopkins’ turn as the gentleman cannibal Hannibal Lecter is a monster on par with Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers, even though he spends most of the movie in prison. Subsequent sequels would up the gore, and Lambs contains plenty of shocks of its own, but Hopkins is at his most frightening when all he’s doing is talking, probing the mind of Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) from behind thick bulletproof glass.

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Director: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi

Cast: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh

Vampires: they’re just like us. In this hilarious mockumentary – later spun off into an equally hilarious TV series – a group of New Zealand-based bloodsuckers open the door to their decrepit Wellington house to show that the undead lifestyle isn’t nearly as glamorous as Anne Rice made it out to be. Special shout out to Flight of the Conchords’ Rhys Darby as the leader of a rival werewolf gang, soon to get their own spinoff.

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Dawn of the Dead (1979)
  • Film
  • Horror

Director: George A Romero

Cast: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H Reiniger

George A Romero invented the modern zombie movie with Night of the Living Dead, then reinvented it ten years later. Where the first film used the undead as an allegory for the American racial strife of the late 1960s, its sequel, set in a Philadelphia shopping mall, tackles consumer culture, with more (ahem) biting humour and advanced levels of gore courtesy of splatter master Tom Savini. 

In Bruges (2008)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Director: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes

As sad as it is hilarious, this dark crime comedy centres on two hitmen (Farrell and Gleeson) hiding out in the ancient Belgian city of the title after a job gone wrong. Its collision of brutal violence and small-town quaintness is remiscent of Fargo, fitted with British-Irish playwright McDonagh’s distinctive, foul-mouthed sensibility.

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  • Film
  • Comedy

Directors: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale

Cast: Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

No matter how many times you’ve seen it, the sheer, unalloyed fun of this era-defining blockbuster never degrades – just don’t think about the mechanics too much, nor the whole subplot of the future Mrs McFly having the hots for her own son.

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Lorene Scafaria

Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Constane Wu, Julia Stiles

This film could easily have been another vehicle for JLo to push her celebrity. Instead, as Ramona, a veteran stripper with a heart of gold, she gave us the performance of her career and a pole dance to Fiona Apple’s ‘Criminal’. Writer-director Lorene Scafaria draws out the humanity from a stellar cast, while weaving in implications of power, exploitation, materialism and corruption. The film inspires both pathos and horror at the misadventures of a group of women pushed to extremes in a world that worships the bottom line.

Buy, rent or watch Hustlers

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Palm Springs (2020)
Photograph: Neon

17. Palm Springs (2020)

Director: Max Barbakow

Cast: Andy Samberg, Christin Milioti, JK Simmons

This hipster take on Groundhog Day arrived at the exact moment most of us felt trapped in an infinite, inescapable time loop. Turns out its delirious, inventive and endearing tale of disaffected thirtysomethings forced to relive a destination wedding over and over was exactly what we all needed. 

Buy, rent or watch Palm Springs.

Buy, rent or watch Saint Maud.

Attack the Block (2011)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Director: Joe Cornish

Cast: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost 

We knew the moment we clapped eyes on Moses, the young anti-hero of this ferocious Brixton-set alien-invasion comedy, that the young actor who played him meant serious business. Now, with a Star Wars trilogy and a Steve McQueen film under his belt, John Boyega is officially returning to the Block in a sequel that hopes to capture the Amblin-meets-John-Carpenter charms of the original. If it's half as good as this sci-fi stunner, we're all in. 

Buy, rent or watch Attack the Block

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I Care A Lot (2020)
Photograph: Black Bear Pictures

19. I Care A Lot (2020)

Director: J Blakeson

Cast: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Diane Wiest

For the first time since Gone Girl, Rosamund Pike breaks bad — really, really bad — in this hyper-stylized black comedy with ice coursing through its veins. Pike stars as a lioness of a con-woman who oversees court-appointed conservatorships (sound familiar?), only to bilk the elderly for all they're worth. Unfortunately for her — and fortunately for us — her latest mark has ties to a particularly violent gangster, pitting the rotten-to-the-core Pike in a game of cunning against all manner of sharks. 

Buy, rent or watch I Care A Lot.

Heat (1995)
  • Film
  • Thrillers

Director: Michal Mann

Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer

Mann's slick, sprawling LA crime odyssey is a marvel of narrative juggling, with every character getting his or her due, from De Niro's noble thief and Pacino's jittery detective to Natalie Portman in a bit part as Pacino's disturbed stepchild. The film is best remembered for the explosive bank robbery at the center, and rightfully so: It's inarguably one of the best heist sequence put to film. And because even the smallest characters are fully fleshed out and lived-in, once the bodies start falling, every single casualty is its own tragedy. 

Buy, rent or watch Heat.

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  • Film

Director: Rose Glass

Cast: Morfyyd Clark, Jennifer Ehle

Glass' long-delayed, A24-backed debut finally released earlier this year, and for fans of religious horror, it was more than worth the wait. Eerie, deliberately paced and featuring a deeply committed performance by Clark, the tale of a disturbingly pious nurse caring for a hedonistic terminal patient turns its screws at a nearly torturously slow pace, and while plenty of shocks are present, this is a movie whose dread is intended to be marinated in over the course of its runtime.

Buy, rent or watch Saint Maud.

Paddington 1 + 2 (2014 & 2017)
  • Film
  • Family and kids

Director: Paul King

Cast: Ben Whishaw, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville

However cynical a pose you try to maintain, Paddington Bear will find the chinks in your armour. Voiced with perfect innocence by Ben Whishaw and gorgeously animated by Framestore, this profoundly likeable bear consistently toes the line of maximum charm without slipping into schmaltz. Miraculously, that’s also as true of this sequel as it was of his first big-screen outing, as the film goes bigger and darker without losing focus on the small acts of kindness that make its ursine hero great. Bring on part 3!

Buy, rent or watch Paddington 2

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Suspiria (1977)
  • Film
  • Fantasy

Director: Dario Argento

Cast: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini

Giallo master Argento's best-known work remains a marvel, taking a incomprehensible story about a ballet school lorded over by a murderous witch and turning it into the most vivid fever dream of its era. Guided by an iconic score by Italian prog rock outfit Goblin, the film is delirious and unforgettable, packed with bold colors and boundary-pushing kills that liven up its acid-trip fairytale intensity. Amazon's Luca Guadagnino-directed 2018 reimagining is worth a look too, but Argento's vision remains essential viewing. 

Buy, rent or watch Suspiria

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Lopez

A girl on the cusp of adolescence is inducted into a threatening fantasy world where she discovers her own power. It’s a familiar story well suited to the dreamlike parallel reality of cinema: Alice, Wendy and Dorothy all embarked on similar journeys. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is another version of the tale, but an unusual one in that it isn’t suitable for children. Not only is it violent, but its lessons – in the inadequacy of fantasy as a countermeasure to repression – might have sensitive youngsters chucking in the towel.

Buy, rent or watch 'Pan's Labyrinth'

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A Hard Day's Night (1964)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Director: Richard Lester

Cast: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison

Peter Jackson's upcoming Beatles docuseries seeks to rewrite the narrative surrounding the Fab Four's fraught final years and reframe them as happier times. But you'll never see the Liverpoolian boy band happier, goofier or more dryly funny than in their madcap debut film in which they poke fun at Beatlemania on the streets of London in between performances. 

Buy, rent or watch A Hard Day's Night.

Sound of Metal (2020)
  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Darius Marder

Cast: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci

The great Riz Ahmed gives a revelatory, career-best performance in this somber, touching drama about a heavy-metal drummer coming to terms with the fact that his hearing is deteriorating at a rapid pace. With its landmark sound design and stunning central performances, the film is an absolute stunner, at once heartbreaking and uplifting. 

Buy, rent or watch Sound of Metal.

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Fight Club (1999)
  • Film

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter

David Fincher’s cult classic stars Edward Norton as an unfulfilled, disenfranchised and emasculated automobile-recall specialist who, with the help of his new friend Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), starts an illicit street fighting club and an anarchist group is a film about Gen X’s anxieties. But is it about rejecting rampant consumerism, or is it, as the screenwriter Jim Uhls has it, actually a romcom?

Buy, rent or watch Fight Club

Manchester by the Sea (2017)
  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams

American director and playwright Kenneth Lonergan's film isn't about rebounding as much as coping. That’s what makes it so dark and courageous; it says that, for some people, there won’t be any moving on from grief. Moveover, Casey Affleck burns the screen in the early scenes, building up a portrait of a solitary existence. It's a film of almost unbearable honesty.

Buy, rent or watch Manchester by the Sea

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