An Amazon Prime membership’s benefits go way beyond giving you super-speedy deliveries for free – there’s also a fantastic streaming video service included, offering up loads of movies and TV shows for instant viewing.
Like Netflix, Amazon is constantly adding fresh eyeball fodder to its streaming library, so much so that it can be difficult to keep up with all the new stuff. So, as we do with Netflix each month, we’ve decided to dedicate a regularly-updated article to what’s new – as long as we deem it worth watching, of course.
Looking for the latest thing to stream? Read on, and allow us to guide you through all the best recent additions.
And why not check all these out with a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime Video here.
Note: the newest stuff is at the top of the list, with material getting progressively older as you scroll down.
A Brit horror romp that melds psychological twistedness with more traditional there’s-something-lurking-in-the-woods terror, The Ritual follows a group of old university friends who get together for a hiking holiday in the rain-sodden uplands of Sweden. When an attempted shortcut leaves them lost in a creepy forest, it seems that someone – or something – is stalking them through the pines, dredging up past trauma as well as opening new wounds…
Michael Mann’s 1995 action-thriller is perhaps best known for putting Robert De Niro and Al Pacino on screen together for the first time but, even leaving aside this impressive feat of casting, it’s a belting, influential movie that deserves watching.
De Niro plays a master thief planning the perfect pre-retirement robbery, while Pacino plays the veteran cop trying to stop him. It’s a simple setup, but the two legendary leads’ performances, the grudging respect between their characters and the film’s exceptional heist scenes add depth aplenty.
The buddy cop movie that spawned several sequels, dozens of imitators and propelled Mel Gibson into international superstardom (only for Mel’s off-camera behaviour to bring him back down to earth with a bump a couple of decades later), Lethal Weapon is a highly potent mix of snappy dialogue, slick action and extremely late 80s music and haircuts.
When Danny Glover’s curmudgeonly detective is forced to partner up with Gibson’s reckless live wire loose cannon, it’s clear that sparks are going to fly – but if one thing can keep the pair from each other’s throats, it’s the group of highly-trained drug smugglers currently turning Los Angeles into a war zone. The prickly dynamic between the two leads elevates Lethal Weapon beyond many of its imitators, and means it’s still a diverting watch 30 years after its release.
While traditional Westerns celebrated the derring-do of their sixgun-toting, Stetson-wearing heroes, Unforgiven was one of the first to explore darker themes. Its own protagonist, Clint Eastwood’s William Munny, is a former gunslinger with a horrifically violent past: “That’s right, I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed just about everything that walked or crawled at one time or another.”
Munny, now a widowed pig farmer with two young children, is hired by a group of prostitutes after one of their number has been disfigured by a pair of cowboys. He and his companions’ job is to dispense Old West justice to the miscreants, but there are two obstacles in his way: his reluctance to return to a life of murder; and local lawman Little Bill Dagget (Gene Hackman), another former gunfighter who takes an extremely dim view of assassins.
If you haven’t watched this classic before, now’s the perfect time.
Considered by many to be the best horror film of all time (and according to Mark Kermode, the best film of all time bar none), The Exorcist’s graphic depiction of a young girl’s demonic possession made it an instant cult classic upon its 1974 release.
In fact, when it came to home video in the UK in the 1980s, the BBFC considered it too robust to even grant an 18 certificate. It’s a decision that’ll seem laughable to modern audiences, and today its content comes across as tame compared even to 15-rated horror films.
That’s not to say The Exorcist lacks bite – it’s a deliciously creepy movie with a great cast, brilliantly directed by William Friedkin and dripping in occult atmosphere (and fake bodily fluids). If you’ve yet to experience the events surrounding Regan McNeil’s possession, we suggest you add this to your watchlist post-haste. And you should save it for a dark, quiet night, of course…
Full Metal Jacket
Notorious for Gunnery Sergeant Hartman's unrelenting beasting of Private Pyle, Stanley Kubrick’s musing on war follows a bunch of green recruits through training and onto the Vietnam battlefield.
Essentially a two-volume film, it’s an inspired examination of how the military takes men, strips their humanity away and moulds them into killing machines, and how all the training in the world can’t truly prepare them for the carnage and chaos of a guerrilla war.
Sneaky Pete (S2)
If you’ve yet to check out this Amazon Original series, don’t be deterred by the seeming lack of marketing fervour from its creators: Sneaky Pete is something of a hidden gem, with Giovanni Ribisi perfectly cast as Marius, a highly-skilled conman caught up in the longest, most complicated scam of his life.
Co-created by Bryan Cranston (who also appears in the first season), the series is deft at ratcheting up the same sense of nigh-unbearable tension as Cranston’s most famous show Breaking Bad, as Marius relies on his trickster wiles to extricate himself and his friends from all manner of deadly situations.
The entire second season of Sneaky Pete has just dropped onto Amazon Prime Video, presented (like the first) in impressive Ultra HD and HDR for those with the requisite TV.
By 1999, the ambitious Boogie Nights had already identified young writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson as a filmmaker to watch – and Magnolia, his second major picture, is a similarly sprawling Los Angeles-set epic with a star-studded ensemble cast (Tom Cruise is excellent playing against type as a skeevy pick-up artist), eye-catching camerawork, flamboyant editing and a script rich in pathos, comedy and raw emotion.
Magnolia doesn’t always work: despite a bum-numbing runtime of over three hours, some plot lines aren’t fully tied up; some of the stories engender a “so what?” response; there’s a sequence where various characters break into song that’ll divide viewers, and a memorable ending sequence that’s perhaps even more bizarre.
But there are signs too of the Anderson that has since become one of the world’s most celebrated directors. In terms of scope, ambition and bravura direction, Magnolia can’t be found wanting – and fans of great filmmaking who missed it first time around should catch it now on Amazon Prime.
Of the many serial killer movies that were released in the 90s and noughties, Seven stands apart. First, there’s a clever, taught and tight screenplay concerning a killer punishing what he sees as society’s “sins” in a unnamed, rain-soaked American metropolis. And second, there are the fine performances from Morgan Freeman (no surprises there) and hitherto pretty boy Brad Pitt, flexing his serious actor muscles for perhaps the first time.
Then there’s the aesthetic: director David Fincher’s trademark desaturated colours and clever camerawork give the movie an unforgettable look that contributes to the overall feeling of bleakness. And the final, gut-wrenching twist? It’s simply to die for.
When you’re a career bank robber, it’s not recommended to become romantically involved with the manager of the last place you cleaned out – but luckily for us, that’s the plot of this gritty crime caper, in which Ben Affleck (who also directs) falls for Rebecca Hall and risks losing not only his heart but his freedom.
With Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Jon Hamm, Chris Cooper and the late Pete Postlethwaite all shining in supporting roles, The Town is an enjoyably taut thriller with some fine Heat-esque heist scenes.