20 Great Movies You Can Watch On Amazon Prime Video: The streaming service giant Amazon Prime Video is the proud owner of a diverse catalog across several languages. And it is continuously expanding. It serves everyone from those looking for casual entertainment to those who call themselves ardent cinephiles. It has classics to modern cinema, to the benefit of speakers of multiple languages. It has as many titles of world cinema as it has of domestic favorites. This is why Amazon Prime Video garners love and attention by people across generations.
Following is a list of twenty great films you can find on Prime video if you are looking forward to experiencing the power of cinema in its glory:
20. Manichitrathazhu (1993)
Fazil’s classic hasn’t lost its charm and probably never will. The film has an astounding strength with which it keeps you held even if you are aware of every single plot point and the eventual climax. There are things in the film that must expire with time. The theories do not sit well with current sensibilities but the nuance with which everything is portrayed makes Manichitrathazhu a classic to cherish. The primary reason to watch this film is to discover the magnificence of Malayalam cinema. Manichitrathazhu has a heritage value. Another equally important reason to watch the film would be Shobhana. The beauty and appeal with which she was able to give two identities to the two different characters she plays is a thing to marvel at.
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Manichitrathazhu is an important horror film and easily one of the finest that I have seen because it attracts with its indigenous identity and a potent story. It stands as a milestone in the Indian horror film scene, and the fact that it has been remade in several languages only proves its malleability.
19. Another Round (2020)
The Best International Feature Film Award winner at 93rd Academy Awards, Another Round finds Thomas Vinterberg sketching a tragically comic portrait of a man striving through a midlife crisis. The film feels like sipping on a smooth cocktail that leaves flavors bursting in your mouth and renders your senses ecstatic. But all is not pleasant, for it explores the lethal effects of monotony on individuality and relationships. Therefore, Another Round is not so much about alcohol as it is about rejuvenation. On a free and cozy afternoon when you wish to rejuvenate your senses, pour yourself a drink and slowly sip on it as you consume this film.
18. Incendies (2010)
Denis Villeneuve has proven himself to be a versatile filmmaker with his experiments across genres. Not only do they explore complex themes of human morality, social isolation and identity, but they also venture into the political space without eschewing the anti-establishment ideological lens.
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In his anti-war thriller Incendies, Villeneuve treads the bleakest of spaces of communal morality. Incendies is shocking and unforgettable. It is often considered the director’s finest film, arguably. Most importantly, it was quite revelatory for me as it lay bare the fact that violence is inherent to humanity and manifests itself in unthinkable acts in moments of crisis.
17. Shutter Island (2010)
It is easier to believe that Scorsese made Hugo than believing he made Shutter Island. This is not to suggest that Scorsese is a genre-specific filmmaker. But Shutter Island has a visual language that is unlike him. Then again, it is nothing less than brilliant. The film is built into a screenplay that creates an atmosphere of belief for the audience along with the protagonist and then turns its upside down to render us in a state of ceaseless ambiguity.
Driven by the powerful performances of its cast, primarily Leonardo Dicaprio and Michelle Willaims, Shutter Island is a treat for all those who have grown up consuming films of Alfred Hitchcock and early Hollywood noirs. Watch it to have your answer to whether it would be worse to live as a monster, or to die as a good man.
16. No Country for Old Men (2007)
Arguably the greatest neo-western and a Coen Brothers’ masterpiece, No Country for Old Men doesn’t need an introduction. The film’s spine chilling antagonist Anton Chigurh was named the most realistic depiction of a psychopath by an independent group of psychologists in the Journal for Forensic Sciences. No Country for Old Men revises several genre conventions and provides a truly horrifying experience in the way it deals with greed, violence and the moral complexities of men slave to the effects and outcomes of both.
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The year 2007 was a great one with There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men going toe to toe against each other. Watch this modern classic to know your choice. And if you have already watched it then No Country for Old Men promises immense rewatch value.
15. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is known better as a Charlie Kaufman film and quite deservingly so. It is a love poem. The most important part of any relationship is its preservation through memories. People either manage to live against all odds with the strength of these memories or lose their ability to live altogether due to the adverse effects of the same memories. Memories, after all, are powerful. They shape personal identities and impersonal images. This film is about the idea of loving someone and the futility of attempting to unlove.
Driven by the mesmerizing performances of Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is essential viewing.
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14. Parasite (2019)
The year 2019 belonged to South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho who took the world by storm with his black comedy thriller film Parasite. The film became the first non-English film to win the Academy Award for the best picture, in addition to winning the top honor at Cannes. While awards indicate the merit of the film, I would personally argue that Parasite is bigger than everything that honors it. It compelled the state to take concrete actions in Seoul for the accommodation of people living in semi-basement dwellings. It is a genre-bending thriller that, when telling the story of the proletariat, provides them with considerable agency and yet manages to lay bare the systemic inefficiencies that perpetuate the status quo.
Parasite is a bleak film but when one looks into its layers, its angst becomes evident.
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13. Kumbalangi Nights (2019)
I don’t remember coming across a more self-aware film in 2019 than Kumbalangi Nights. My unparalleled and almost biased love for Kumbalangi Nights stems from the force this film inherently carries which is capable of affecting the subconsciousness of its viewers in a way that a part of theirs is changed forever, as it happened to me. It is heavily flawed, far from perfect and definitely driven by a couple of plot devices. But flawlessness isn’t an absolute parameter to confirm the greatness of a film.
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Beneath the sweetness of Kumbalangi Nights lies a drama that explores the journey of different aspects of masculinity from dysfunctionality to the unified establishment and one that dissolves toxicity in its course. It rises above creating traditional hero sketches and gently serves meta-references to its audience to make them aware. Be it actively portraying a man asking for mental help or a woman asking her partner to pick the plastic bottle before they leave, avoiding her mood and present circumstance. Many little things add to the lively experience this film serves. And hence, Kumbalangi Nights becomes a film worthy to be spoken about here.
12. The Florida Project (2017)
There is a far-reaching social conflict sketched in The Florida Project which made me uncomfortable with the realization.
One expects social inequality to be a disequilibrium, a failure of the system in which some tread on the margin, almost always struggling to not fall on the other side, while others comfortably live in their cushioned lives. However, The Florida Project brings forth a state of equilibrium, contrary to the expectations.
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The characters you see are happy in their miserable selves. They are not pleading before every next individual they see, for support. You want to believe they are in an artificially created hardship and you root for them to break this vicious circle while they aren’t seen making any active efforts. Then you turn your head to the state, the state that failed the economy. You question their degree of effort. If they have every resource at their disposal, and institutions to give the best to every citizen, why aren’t they doing it? And then you immediately realize that a small notice of awareness will bring the state support at the doors but our subjects do not desire that. So you raise a finger on society only to see the constituents of the community singing in harmony, contributing little but significant to the best of their abilities. You’re perplexed. Who is at fault here? Why do the individual harmonies aggregate into the cacophony of the system? And while you chew on the discomforting bland morsel of reality, you gaze at the little Moonee wishing for a bigger stomach like a pregnant lady that would fit all that you can’t eat.
The Florida Project is an unbelievably moving film that deserves nothing but love.
11. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is about the liberating strength of love. For however long it exists, it has the power to change the course of multiple lives. It is so empowering that all shackles melt and what remains is the individual who now has at least one grand reason to continue living. Portrait of a Lady on fire proves that love is a means and not an end. The eventuality dwarfs before the journey and therefore, even in its unrequited form, it remains alive.
The winner of Queer Palm award at the 2019 Cannes festival, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a tender romance drama that claims a space in your memory.
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10. Moonlight (2016)
The work of Barry Jenkins is transcendental. After completing Moonlight, I wished I could hug the person who made this. I like to define Jenkins’s directorial style to be poetry in motion. It is soft on the senses but all his visuals carry the weight of their thematic virtues which get registered in hindsight. Once they do, a feeling of hopeful sadness is left. Sadness at the present but hope for the future. Moonlight is one of those films that make you believe that you are not alone in this world.
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Moonlight won the Academy Award for the Best Picture for 2016 and continues to be one of the greatest films that the Academy recognized.
9. Amour (2012)
Michael Haneke could be the most important humanist filmmaker to experiment with cinema. It’s just unbelievable to recognize the compassion Haneke has for us, as a society, which is why he finds himself telling the stories of our crises. But the crises he chooses to narrate do not manifest in wars, genocides, disasters and ideologies. He finds himself occupied with our everyday truth and its inherent violence. A truth that occurs and will keep on occurring before us because we have evolved into apathetic beings. So when he chooses to explore love, he wants to show what it can mean to love someone and where do its boundaries lay.
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Amour burnt the heart out of me and left me gasping. It made me wonder that it’s not only life that I need to plan but my death as well. But most importantly, it made me confront a possible truth that I would otherwise never think about.
8. City of God (2002)
Fernando Meirelles’ epic crime drama City of God affirms the fact that gangster dramas have a wide scope for experiments and every time you wonder that it has been exploited to its optimum, there will be a Goodfellas, a City of God and a Gangs of Wasseypur to prove you otherwise. The reason behind it would be the indigenous character of criminal elements that sprout in society from its collective failures.
City of God is inspirational. It has energy seldom felt in films. I am particularly a fan of how the film has been edited. Taking resourceful inspirations from Martin Scorsese, Fernando weaves a tale of the genesis of crime and its eventuality with passion.
7. The Truman Show (1998)
The first time I watched The Truman Show, it was to learn about a new side to Jim Carrey who I previously knew as a comic. The discovery was instrumental. The second time I watched it, with greater political awareness, I could see how horrifyingly prophetic The Truman Show was at the time of its release and how true it has become, figuratively, in our contemporary times. In an era of omnipresent surveillance due to major technological advancement, The Truman Show comes across as a pessimistic narrative. Because even though it has a liberating resolution, we all know that isn’t the reality anymore.
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I personally find this film more important than ever. If you haven’t discovered it yet, this is your opportunity. And if it’s been a while since you watched it, then you must rewatch it now.
6. The Music Room (1958)
It’s one thing to merely witness the downfall of an individual, and it’s entirely another thing to experience it even when you lack any form of empathy and association. What Satyajit Ray does here is unbelievable, especially with the sound. It’s one of the greatest scores I’ve ever listened to in a film. It’s enthralling and absolutely complementary to the narrative which is of a turbulent melancholy that is eating a person from the inside but whose shell of feudal pride and ego is too hard to be penetrated. It’s a person decaying but not visibly because everything at the surface is cosmetic. In Ray’s own words, Jalsaghar sympathizes with the noblemen who were useless people.
5. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The sweet old story of a man’s resilience and grip on hope. The Shawshank Redemption is most often the first film discovered by someone who steps on the journey to become a cinephile. It has taught all of us how hope is a good thing. People discover films, find some to be greater, and yet, The Shawshank Redemption remains unforgettable.
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The Shawshank Redemption also has an immense rewatch value. No matter how popular the story of Andy Dufresne becomes, it will always be fodder for motivation and entertainment. The Shawshank Redemption cuts across language barriers, as it is equally loved by my non-English speaking parents as by me. If you skim through the Amazon Prime catalog, find this great film to let people know that you were here, watching The Shawshank Redemption.
4. Interstellar (2014)
In the universe of cinema, the sci-fi genre stands like a range of peaks. All of which have a unique beauty of its own. Interstellar is undoubtedly one of the highest peaks of this range.
Nolan’s space opera finds its parallel with Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. It has an emotional core surrounded by a grand design that is as magnificent as it is spellbinding. Christopher Nolan has proven his versatility and genius through many modern classics but Interstellar happens to be his most ambitious project.
Highly recommended for everyone who finds themselves mystified by space and its possibilities.
3. Pyaasa (1957)
Guru Dutt’s masterpiece Pyaasa is revered as the greatest Hindi film of all time, arguably. Personally, I don’t differ. And if not that then no one can take the crown of being the finest musical of Hindi language cinema from Pyaasa. This goes of the institution of Bollywood which has produced remarkable musicals and developed its own cultural identity. The stature of Pyaasa is that tall in Bollywood.
In addition to being soulfully tragic, Pyaasa offers a scathing critique of the material society we are a part of. Watching Pyaasa is exposing yourself to an experience of a lifetime.
2. A Separation (2011)
Asghar Farhadi catches humans in their most vulnerable selves and with the most honest of moments, he expresses how humans are overwhelmed with emotions, of all kinds while hinting why they shouldn’t be and must choose to side with truth and rationality. I cannot expresses the spontaneity with which A Separation flows. It mirrors a documentary in its narration but has enough drama imbibed in it to have the soul of a film. Though that doesn’t strip the film from its reality.
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One thing I’ll never be able to thank Farhadi enough for is to deal with mental illness in the most ordinary of life events but for the people who don’t have the luxury or liberty to become aware of it, get diagnosed and invest a part of their life in the treatment. The deprivation of necessities is an assault on the mind. Farhadi makes a comment without villainizing classes in a sense of self-importance. Because above ideologies and institutional designs lie humans and their intrinsic humanity. How can a filmmaker be this empathetic?
The challenge is that he uses emotions as a weapon but he’s not a schemer or manipulator. Even when emotions are weaponized in Farhadi’s screenplays, they don’t lose their softcore which is essential to invoke empathy. For example, Nader lies and acts violently out of prejudice but none of it occurs in isolation. He is never in absolute control of anything he feels or does. No one here is. And since no one is in control, there’s ample room for guilt.
Every single sequence is heartbreaking. Every single sequence is political. There’s nothing about human existence untouched in this film and perhaps that’s why it is rightfully termed a masterpiece.
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1. Pather Panchali (1955)
It has been 65 years since Satyajit Ray debuted with Pather Panchali. And the world could never forget. Pather Panchali changed lives. Through numerous polls, opinion pieces, and critical evaluations, Pather Panchali has established itself as the greatest Indian film. And there’s not much to disagree with. After all, Pather Panchali is one of those films that is an institution in itself. It has not only inspired films but people into becoming filmmakers.
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Pather Panchali feels like (re)living a memory. It has images that help you recollect the images of your childhood, and it’s bittersweet experiences. If you are someone wishing to explore Indian cinema, Pather Panchali is the gate through which you enter.