Even before staying home made streaming services one of the most important utility-like services in our lives, many of their users were already devotees. Now that shelter in place orders are in effect across the world, it seems like the entire population as a whole has gotten in on the act. Thankfully, the streaming infrastructure, while still in its infancy, already had much of its groundwork laid. This made it easier for people to transition from seeing Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services as leisure activities, to actually the saviors of our days.
The best part about all this is that Amazon and the others occupy themselves in much of the digital world. The people who house, store, curate, and even create the content can actually do all of this while adhering to social distancing guidelines. In fact, I am willing to wager that Amazon Prime and the others were probably working in such a “distanced” capacity, before they were forced to. So, if there is a bright side to being in quarantine, it’s that we have a lot of viewing options. Those opens are rich, deep, and they seem to be getting even more plentiful (and free) during this time. So, sit back, help flatten the curve, and enjoy “The Best Movies on Amazon Prime”.
At a time when the world seems to be going to hell who better to experience that with than Pinhead and the Cenobites. From the brain of Clive Barker (who also directed this film), Hellraiser tells the tale of a sleazy guy named Frank (Oliver Smith) who summoned a group of hellacious demons, lead by Pinhead, using a supernatural box. Well, Pinhead and his crew don’t work for free so they come after Frank after he flees a chillingly, barbaric underworld. Chances are you have already seen Hellraiser. If you haven’t now is as good a time as any. Being at home, cooped up, will only add to this films claustrophobia as the majority it takes place in a house. If you’ve seen it than what better time then during this pandemic to reacquaint yourself?
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
With a run time of 93 minutes, Planes, Trains & Automobiles feels longer than that in the best way. That’s because so much happens to John Candy and Steve Martin as they try and get home for Thanksgiving. They get robbed, stranded, their car catches on fire, and they almost get in multiple accidents on the road. This is just what happens to them! It says nothing of what they do to each other in this grand road trip movie that, if nothing else, will truly allow you to forget your problems for awhile.
This film was the darling of the movie critics circle upon its release in 2017. It tells the story of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) who longs to break from the confines of her tepid, Catholic school existence. Taking place over the course of her senior year, we see Lady Bird come into her own as she navigates first loves, acting in a play, and eventually follows her dream of going to college. This film is a simple tale and offers hope that, despite how life might make you think you’re at a standstill, you are always moving forward even if it’s incrementally.
The Great Escape
Amazon Prime is a great resource because it offers such a wide array of content. In offering The Great Escape, a war movie from 1963, the streaming giant is allowing a whole new audience of cinephiles the chance to discover this fine film. Steve McQueen stars in this tale that is based on a true story. A bunch of escape prone prisoners are placed in a P.O.W. Camp during World War II. This camp is supposed to be inescapable. Well, in what proves to be a highly elaborate scheme, led by McQueen, this band of rebels manages an escape out of occupied Europe using boats, trains, planes, and anything else they can move on in order to pull off The Great Escape!
The Disaster Artist
You needn’t have seen the cult hit The Room to appreciate the fine work that James Franco and his brother Dave have created here. Directed by James Franco, this film follows Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) as he tries to make his way in Hollywood. Along the way he meets the “interesting” (that seems to be the best word for it) Tommy Wiseau, and together they make a film called The Room. If this movie had been a work of fiction it would have been highly entertaining. The fact that it is depicting real life events makes it both entertaining and downright amazing. We’re all under quarantine, we might as well lift our spirits and The Disaster Artist does just that.
A Quiet Place
Sure, a film about confinement in a dystopian society might not be what everybody wishes to see right now. At the same time, there’s comfort in watching a film that shows you that your life isn’t so bad. A Quiet Place follows a family that has to live a silent existence because there’s beasts all around them with crazy powers of hearing. It’s easy to watch a film like this and pick it apart (I know a lot of people wonder why the family just didn’t live by the loud waterfall), but that is doing yourself and your viewing experience a disservice. A Quiet Place works because, at its heart, it’s about a family loving and taking care of one another. This is a lesson we can never get enough of.
Woody has made a lot of films. Some of them gems, some are not, but by the mere fact of continuing to create, he has created brilliance more than once. Annie Hall is one of those brilliant films. With its European sensibility and universal story that is told from an Auteur’s perspective, this tale from nearly 45 years ago still has something to say today. Relationships are tricky, fraught with indecision, and they ultimately can drive us crazy, but they are as necessary as breathing. Whether you love Woody Allen or hate him, it was never his personal views (or life) that made his films great. It was his ability to speak to all of us about some basic truths that made him a master storyteller.
If you like like the Rocky films then you obviously love Rocky IV. If you love that film it’s because Rocky avenges the death of Apollo Creed, and helps the US beat Russia in a film that was made during the height of the Cold War in the mid-80s. How does all this play into Creed II? Well, in this film, Rocky trains Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), when he takes on Viktor Drago, son of Ivan, the man who killed Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. You follow all that? Given the US’s current relationship with Russia, and the present state of boxing in which fighters from the Eastern Bloc play a major role, Creed II is quite evergreen considering it came out over a year ago and is based on material from decades past.
Pretty In Pink
Thank goodness Amazon Prime has made this movie available somewhere. Very few films capture the feel good time of the 1980s, while also going extremely deep, the way that Pretty In Pink has. Flipping the whole person from the wrong side of the tracks story on its ear, Molly Ringwald plays Andie, a girl from an impoverished area. Yet, she has mega-style, a cool, if not awkward best-pal (and wanting suitor) in Duckie (Jon Cryer), and a father (Harry Dean Stanton) who is like a sage. Andie loves Blaine (Andrew McCarthy) who is rich and has a rich friends (James Spader, in yet another great role). They don’t approve of their relationship. Set in high school, this very real film still shows that Cinderella stories can happen.
This 2004 gem has to be one of the more interesting and demanding pictures to win Best Picture. With a non-linear structure that asked a lot of viewers, characters that go from being downright evil to saviors, and in a story that is truly disparate, Crash starts and never really stops. Along the way we see the layered city of Los Angeles that is brought together and separated by class and privilege. This is one of those movies that either works for you or your too cynical to believe it’s possibly. Whatever your position, if you’ve never seen it there’s literally no time like the present.
Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) is known for making interesting films. With a cast that includes Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as brothers, Riley Keough as their sister, and Daniel Craig as a safe-cracker, you know that Logan Lucky is going to be something different. The fact that this team of misfits plans to pull off a caper around NASCAR makes this whole thing that much more enticing. Steven Soderbergh knows this material well. He handled it deftly in Out of Sight. In Logan Lucky, he is very much in his element and we all benefit from seeing him unspool his camera and allow the actors to chew the scenery.
This Amazon Original is a truly spectacular film. With incredible performances from Noah Jupe, Lucas Hedges, Shia LaBeouf and FKA Twigs, Honey Boy is clearly a sleeper hit of 2019. This autobiographical tale of LaBeouf, played by Jupe as his younger self and Hedges as his older self, is hard to turn away from. From the moment it starts until its final frame, this film has you captivated. Oftentimes we imagine that child stars are having the time of their lives. That amidst any pain or suffering that can all be wiped away by a paycheck and big house. Honey Boy shows us that this isn’t the case and it’s honestly one of the best films you will ever see.
The Big Sick
Kumail Nanjiani plays the title character Kumail in this romantic comedy that is part drama, part laugh-fest, but is all uniquely its own thing in The Big Sick. Kumail is in love with Emily (Zoe Kazan) but their relationship takes a turn when she gets sick. Suddenly, Kumail has to deal with her family, his family, and the realities of being in this relationship. What transpires is a truly honest film and another big win for Amazon Studios. Regardless of how you like or don’t like your love stories, it would be difficult for even the hardest heart not to enjoy this one.
You have to give this to director Ari Aster, Midsommar is easily the most interesting horror film to be released last year. This oddly intriguing tale of cultish madness, set along the Swedish countryside, is nothing short of shocking. The story follows some friends who venture to a special festival that only happens every 90 years. While there, drugs are taken, people die, odd foods are eaten, and the bizarre factor keeps going up and up. Midsommar is about as daring as movies come. It isn’t for everybody, but if you’re bored in this quarantine, this will certainly shake that up… a lot. Kudos to Amazon Prime for making this film available to such a large audience. They call themselves a “customer obsessed” company and this film shows their penchant for trying to serve EVERYONE.
We could all use some superheroes right now couldn’t we? What better film could there be as an allegory for our times than The Avengers stopping Loki from trying to keep humanity in chains? Considering that the entire world appears to be locked down, we’re putting a lot of our hopes on scientists and other brilliant thinkers to get us out of this predicament. The best part about The Avengers is that it is actually a really good movie. The characters of Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, The Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and the rest, are equal parts comic book and fully formed characters. There is a smallness to this big movie that allows it to entertain children and adults. A necessary film for a necessary time, stream it is often as you need to.
Harold and Maude
Once again, Amazon Prime shows why it’s exactly that with this Hal Ashby directed gem from 1971. When this movie came out it appalled many. The story of a rich kid named Harold (Bud Cort), who strikes up a very “interesting” relationship with a woman many years older than him named Maude (Ruth Gordon), wasn’t mainstream movie-watching even then. In 2020, this movie is no less controversial, which speaks to how powerful a piece of film this is. Over the years Harol and Maude has become more than a cult classic. We watch a film like The Room because it is a bad film that we can hold at arm’s length and laugh at. Harold and Maude doesn’t allow us to do that. We don’t want to, we fight it, but, ultimately, viewers end up embracing this film and (if you get it) you will as well.
One thing that the success of Knives Out showed us was that people still love a good whodunit. Well, look no further than 1985’s Clue. This scenario pits 6 strangers against each other when they are unwittingly thrown into a murder mystery at a dinner party. Unlike Knives Out this isn’t merely a way to figure out why somebody was killed (that movie makes no bones about why they would want the deceased to die). Clue is a classic mystery told in a style that seems very familiar… yet isn’t. With a cast that includes the iconoclastic Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren (among others), this might be the funnest (and funniest) 94 minutes you spend with Amazon Prime today!
Of all the films in the James Bond series, Goldfinger might be the most well known and iconic. It does have a character named Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman … who recently passed away) for crying out loud! This selection sees Bond (Sean Connery) trying to stop a villain named Goldfinger from bilking Fort Knox and taking over the world’s economy. Bond must get close to this man, avoid being discovered, and foil Goldfinger’s plot in the process. As usual, this Bond film is filled with all the classic Bond moments. We see Bond’s debonair side, his sexy side, his suave side, and his throw-down side. All of this makes for a rich viewing experience, and it’s a testament to this film’s kitsch that Goldfinger has held up so nicely over the years.
Ari Aster makes another appearance here with a two hour plus horror opus that is again not like traditional haunted house movies. This film opens with the loss of a grandparent that will cast a shadow over all the characters. The mother (Toni Collette) finds herself flirting with otherworldly beings. The father (Gabriel Byrne) and son (Alex Wolff) turn inward to handle their loss. The young daughter (Milly Shapiro) seems to be a hybrid of sorts in how she deals with things. This is literally, the first 30-40 minutes of this intricately layered gem. Hereditary is anything but an easy, feel good, enjoy your time at home movie. At the same time, its nice to have a horror movie that isn’t afraid to take familiar tropes (a haunted house, ghosts) and cast them in an entirely new light. Definitely a film that will up your streaming IQ.
Somehow Joel and Ethan Coen managed to take a classic like True Grit (directed by the legendary Henry Hathaway, How the West Was Won) and turn it into a movie all their own. The story is the same as Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) seeks revenge on the person who killed her father. Somehow she gets Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to do the job and does her ever. This film takes on an almost Apocalypse Now-type feel, as Rooster and Mattie descend into the Indian Nations and beyond. Many statements are made about the US, who has rights to what land, and, ultimately, the futility and necessity of revenge. This film is nearly 2 hours of one of the best westerns in recent memory.