×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

55 Best Movies On Amazon Prime [May 2022]

Amazon Prime offers its subscribers a bottomless treasure trove of streaming content, from daring and critically acclaimed original movies to Hollywood classics to the kind of international and independent gems that are often easy to miss. The only problem with this kind of immense catalog is that it can be a little intimidating, especially if you don't already have a genre in mind. So we're here to help by offering you a list of their best 55 films you can stream right now.

We've rounded up a little bit of everything — we have broad tastes, and we assume you do too — and narrowing it down was hard work. This is far from everything you might want to watch on Prime, but these are our favorites, and they're a great place to get started. Here's our road map for navigating one of the biggest streaming catalogs around.

Updated on May 2, 2022: We'll keep an eye on what Prime has coming and going, with monthly updates to make sure this stays current.

The Apartment

If you want to climb the corporate ladder, sometimes little things like a spine and a conscience can get in the way. Just look at Bud Baxter, whose path to advancement runs right through his conveniently located apartment. Loaning out his spare key to married executives who want a place to rendezvous with their mistresses gets him a promotion, but it also means coming face-to-face with the consequences of how carelessly his boss treats women. When elevator operator Fran — the woman Bud himself is falling in love with — gets her heart broken, the movie takes a dark turn ... and Bud has to reconsider what he's willing to sacrifice to get ahead. "The Apartment" balances humor, cynicism, and charm, and it comes out feeling unique.

  • Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray

  • Director: Billy Wilder

  • Year: 1960

  • Runtime: 125 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This powerful and stunning film gives us one of the great heroines of magical realism: Hushpuppy, a little girl who lives on a lush bayou island called the Bathtub. A coming flood may drown the Bathtub and end the community there forever, and that's not the only upheaval going on in Hushpuppy's life. Her father, Wink — with whom she has a loving but contentious and troubled relationship — is dying, and he keeps disappearing on her and sending her away. Plus, thawing ice is releasing prehistoric creatures. It's a lot to deal with, but Quvenzhané Wallis infuses Hushpuppy with so much spirit and bravery that she's certainly not outmatched.

  • Starring: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly

  • Director: Benh Zeitlin

  • Year: 2012

  • Runtime: 93 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

The Best Years of Our Lives

World War II is over, and three American servicemen meet on their way back to their shared home. Al Stephenson is a successful banker with a loving wife and two children, but he's hiding a drinking problem. Fred Derry impulsively married a girlfriend he didn't know that well, and he's about to find out that they're not at all suited to each other. Young Homer Parrish now has hooks for hands, and he feels like they make him too grotesque and helpless to be a husband to the girl of his dreams. The three struggle to readjust to civilian life and deal with the strain of the war. "The Best Years of Our Lives" provides a thoughtful, humane, and realistic look at their homecoming, incorporating humor, heartbreak, and romance.

  • Starring: Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews

  • Director: William Wyler

  • Year: 1946

  • Runtime: 170 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

The Big Sick

"The Big Sick" starts out like a cute romantic comedy, but unexpected turns along the way give it additional richness and complexity as well as laughs. Stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani's adorable relationship with his girlfriend, Emily, comes to a messy and abrupt end when he admits that different cultural expectations might always keep them apart: His parents still expect him to marry a Pakistani girl. But when Emily winds up hospitalized and comatose due to a mysterious illness, Kumail realizes he can't stand to lose her. He even starts developing an unusual relationship with her parents as the three of them wait for any sign that Emily's condition is improving.

Black Swan

Timid ballerina Nina Sayers' life is tightly controlled by her mother, who is obsessed with sheltering her daughter and ensuring her advancement. When Nina's company announces a new production of "Swan Lake," Nina stands out as the perfect choice for the demure white swan, Odette — but the director doubts she has what it takes to play the more aggressive and sexual black swan, Odile. She works hard to change his mind, but as the stressful rehearsal period grinds on, Nina's sanity starts to slip. Charged hallucinations and intense ballet sequences give this lush and nervy psychological thriller a distinctly horrifying edge.

  • Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel

  • Director: Darren Aronofsky

  • Year: 2010

  • Runtime: 108 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Blue Valentine

This wrenching romantic drama takes us in and out of one couple's tumultuous relationship. Ambitious Cindy and dreamy-but-aimless Dean have passionate chemistry with each other, but their early affection and good intentions can't stand up to the wearying grind of their lives. Cindy changes more than Dean does (maybe even more than he can), and the same status quo that reassures him is crushing the life out of her. Does she still love him? What decision should they make for their daughter? "Blue Valentine" dissects these weighty questions through raw emotion and powerful performances.

  • Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Faith Wladyka

  • Director: Derek Cianfrance

  • Year: 2010

  • Runtime: 112 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

The Booksellers

This charming, low-key documentary immerses you in the world of rare books until you can practically smell the musty paper. The film takes a look at a handful of small shops specializing in rare and antiquarian books (and vintage advertisements, indie magazines from the early days of hip-hop, maps, kitsch, and more), exploring why the sellers and their customers are so drawn to this business, how you can make a living at it, and how the rare books world has changed over the years. Partly a tour of bookshops you'll long to visit and partly a look at cultural tradition and cultural evolution, "The Booksellers" is both informative and irresistibly likable.

Carrie

High school is absolute misery for Carrie White, whose fanatically religious mother has turned her into a shy, socially awkward girl who gets abused at home and mercilessly bullied at school. When she gets her first period in the gym showers, she doesn't know what's going on — her mother never told her. Her panic, spurred on by the other girls' mockery, awakens a telekinetic power Carrie never knew she had. As her newly discovered gift gets stronger and stronger, prom night approaches. It brings a new chance for Carrie to have some happiness ... and another chance for her to be humiliated. "Carrie" maintains a nervous unease throughout, grounded in great performances, and finishes off with some electrifying horror.

  • Starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving

  • Director: Brian De Palma

  • Year: 1976

  • Runtime: 98 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Cast Away

FedEx employee Chuck is stranded on a deserted island when his plane goes down, and he has to spend years surviving with little more than some washed-up packages — flotsam from the wreckage — and his wits. For years, he carves out a subsistence-level existence on the island. His only company is "Wilson," a volleyball marked by his own bloody handprint (and a drawn-in smiley face), and his only unopened package becomes a kind of grounding force. Finally, Chuck gets an extremely risky chance to make his way back to civilization ... but coming home has its own challenges. "Cast Away" has the distinctive honor of being the only movie to make audiences cry over a volleyball, but even outside of that, it's an exciting and emotional ride.

  • Starring: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy

  • Director: Robert Zemeckis

  • Year: 2000

  • Runtime: 143 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Charade

Reggie Lampert and her husband, Charles, were on the verge of divorce, but then he's murdered — plunging her into a high-stakes mystery. It turns out Charles and his friends stole a fortune during the war, and then Charles made off with it all. Now the remaining men are determined to find the money, and they're convinced Reggie must have it somewhere. She starts relying on — and falling for — the debonair Peter Joshua, who's helping her out ... but he has secrets of his own. "Charade" provides plenty of fun twists and turns while anchoring it all in the sparkling chemistry between Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.

  • Starring: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau

  • Director: Stanley Donen

  • Year: 1963

  • Runtime: 113 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

The Color of Money

At the end of "The Hustler," Fast Eddie Felson had to give up hustling pool, but in this sequel, we find he still has an eye for talent. He immediately spots it in brash, arrogant Vincent Lauria and decides to mentor him — even if it means sometimes manipulating him. The complex three-way relationship between Eddie, Vincent, and Vincent's girlfriend Carmen provides plenty of tension and humanity, and the pool games and tournaments give the movie crisp action and high stakes. It all makes for a movie that's unpredictable and full of strong performances.

  • Starring: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

  • Director: Martin Scorsese

  • Year: 1986

  • Runtime: 119 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Crazy Heart

Jeff Bridges offers a weary, empathetic, and complex portrayal of a broken-down country star in "Crazy Heart." "Bad" Blake's one-time success has faded, leaving him scraping by on small-time gigs. An unexpected connection with music journalist Jean and her young son inspires him to engage more with life, but it's easier to make career changes than it is to deal with the drinking that's slowly wrecking his life. Watching Blake reckon with his past and present and take tentative steps towards a workable future is a deeply poignant experience.

District 9

In "District 9," aliens land on Earth — in Johannesburg, specifically — and no one wants them there or knows what to do with them. The South African government crowds them into District 9, where they spend years attracting mostly hate and disgust from their human neighbors. Then bureaucratic cog Wikus van de Merwe is assigned to start moving the "prawns," and he accidentally stumbles across an alien secret. The revelation comes with a contaminant that starts changing his biology, making him alien himself — and a target for the corrupt and ruthless company he serves. "District 9" balances adrenaline, smart storytelling, and social commentary to craft a creative sci-fi story that packs a real punch.

  • Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James

  • Director: Neill Blomkamp

  • Year: 2009

  • Runtime: 112 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Emma

We never tire of good Jane Austen adaptations, and this 2020 version of "Emma" brings a lot of color, energy, and charm to its familiar story. Emma Woodhouse has everything she wants in life — ostensibly — so she can't resist a little well-intentioned meddling in the lives of the less fortunate, especially her lower-status friend Harriet. Unfortunately, Emma misunderstands several crucial details ... and misses the fact that she has fallen in love with her old friend, Mr. Knightley. Witty and insightful, this new take on "Emma" is excellent fun.

  • Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth

  • Director: Autumn de Wilde

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 124 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Eve's Bayou

A moody and layered Gothic family drama, "Eve's Bayou" is drenched in Southern atmosphere. Young Eve Batiste is growing up in a fairly well-to-do and seemingly happy Black Creole family in the 1960s. But eventually, Eve begins to uncover the rot lurking just beneath the surface of her life. Much of it relates to her father, Louis, whose routine infidelity starts to have an insidious and toxic effect on his family. These tensions are offset and complicated by Eve's growing psychic gifts, which are exciting — but are the magical answers on offer really the ones she wants?

  • Starring: Jurnee Smollett, Debbi Morgan, Samuel L. Jackson

  • Director: Kasi Lemmons

  • Year: 1997

  • Runtime: 109 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Fargo

Police chief Marge Gunderson gets a complex, dark, and darkly funny case in "Fargo." Ineffective Jerry Lundegaard wants to weasel some money out of a father-in-law who feels nothing but contempt for him, so he arranges to have his wife kidnapped. It's supposed to be a simple matter of collecting the ransom from his father-in-law and splitting it with the hired kidnappers, but everything goes wrong, and soon the situation has escalated out of control, drawing in the incredibly pregnant Marge. An indelible sense of snowy place — complete with thick Minnesota accents — combines with the humor and shocking violence to make "Fargo" as distinctive as it is great.

  • Starring: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi

  • Director: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

  • Year: 1996

  • Runtime: 98 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

A Few Good Men

A Marine dies at Guantanamo, and two of his platoon-mates are brought up on murder charges for his death. Despite the best efforts of the idealistic Galloway, a lieutenant commander with JAG, the defense goes to the seemingly indifferent Lt. Kaffee, who may accept a plea bargain for his clients. When Kaffee finds out that's what he's "supposed" to do, however, all bets are off. Now, he's determined to prove Galloway's theory: That the defendants were ordered to harshly discipline their fellow Marine. This trial brings him into a heated conflict with the arrogant Col. Jessup, resulting in a famously electric courtroom scene.

Galaxy Quest

The one-time cast of a cheesy sci-fi show — egotistical Jason Nesmith, frustrated Shakespearean Alexander Dane, perpetually stoned Fred Kwan, and world-weary Gwen DeMarco — now make their living off conventions and fan nostalgia. This is turned on its head when real-life aliens, the guileless Thermians, recruit these unsuspecting actors into their fight against a galactic despot. Can these out-of-work thespians (including overwhelmed former extra Guy) channel their fictional counterparts' heroism in time? Well ... maybe. "Galaxy Quest" is a hilarious spoof of Trekkie mania that combines genuine affection for all things nerdy with highly engaging satire.

  • Starring: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman

  • Director: Dean Parisot

  • Year: 1999

  • Runtime: 102 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander, a hacker and social outsider, teams up with Mikael Blomkvist, a talented but disgraced journalist, to investigate a long-ago disappearance that's really a probable murder. Unearthing the dark history of the wealthy Vanger family means dealing with a legacy of Nazi sympathies, brutality, and the abuse of women — and not all of it is safely in the past. The mystery is grim and complex, the setting is vivid, and Lisbeth in particular immediately feels like an iconic character.

  • Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre

  • Director: Niels Arden Oplev

  • Year: 2009

  • Runtime: 152 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Gone Girl

Nick and Amy Dunne once seemed like the perfect couple, but now Amy is missing — and her husband is the number-one suspect. While Nick deals with both the court of public opinion and the threat of arrest, we find out all the ways that Nick and Amy's marriage might not have been as idyllic as it appeared to be. "Gone Girl" is a dark, twisty suspense thriller with real bite. Its psychological underpinnings and unreliable narrators create a unique matryoshka-style narrative, which slowly approaches the strange and visceral truth of Amy's disappearance. Sleek visuals and note-perfect performances make this unmissable.

  • Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris

  • Director: David Fincher

  • Year: 2014

  • Runtime: 149 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

The Handmaiden

Dark, lush, and gorgeously photographed, "The Handmaiden" is an erotic thriller it's impossible to forget. Petty thief Sook-hee agrees to take part in a terrible con: She'll take a job as maid to the sheltered, wealthy Hideko and nudge her towards marrying a man who secretly plans to have her committed so he can take control of all her money. Sook-hee and Hideko fall into an unexpected, intense relationship, however — and that's not the only complication here. There are twists within twists and plans within plans, making this gothic romance as labyrinthine as it is satisfying.

  • Starring: Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo

  • Director: Park Chan-wook

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 145 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Heathers

High school can be murder. Veronica Sawyer is right at the top of her school's social pyramid, just beneath the tyrannical Heather Chandler and just alongside also-rans Heather McNamara and Heather Duke. Popularity is losing some of its allure, however, and she finds herself drawn to unconventional, loose-cannon bad boy J.D. Dean. She soon finds out that her new boyfriend's plans for pushing back against the high school establishment include murder: He wants to kill all the Heathers and the bullying jocks, making their deaths look like suicides. "Heathers" is a daring and viciously funny black comedy that completely deserves its cult status.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

His Girl Friday

A good reporter can't leave a good story behind. Newspaper editor Walter Burns knows that, and in this witty, lively movie full of rat-a-tat dialogue, he uses this fact to get back together with his ex-wife, newswoman Hildy Johnson. Hildy's supposed to be married in the morning, but — hooked by the irresistible lure of the job — she can't get herself to abandon her investigative reporting to catch her train. (She also can't get herself to love her staid new fiancé more than the charismatic ex she can't stop bickering with.) Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant have unbeatable chemistry, and they put off enough sparks to make this easily one of the best romantic comedies of all time.

  • Starring: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy

  • Director: Howard Hawks

  • Year: 1940

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

Ida

This lustrous black and white film starts with Anna, a Polish orphan raised in a convent and now ready to take her vows. She has one known relative, however — Aunt Wanda, a former prosecutor who fought in the Resistance against the occupying Nazis — and the convent believes she needs to connect with this part of her life before she decides to give it up. When she meets Wanda, she learns that her birth name was actually Ida, she's Jewish, and both her parents and aunt suffered horribly during World War II. Ida has to choose how to reach out to the newly revealed past and to the larger historical understanding of living in the aftermath of mass tragedy.

  • Starring: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik

  • Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

  • Year: 2013

  • Runtime: 82 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

In Bruges

After a job goes disastrously wrong, hitmen Ray — young, impulsive, and openly emotional — and Ken — seasoned, laidback, and courtly — are sent to hide out in Bruges. Ken is happy to play tourist for a while, but Ray doesn't care about Bruges' history or beauty: He's jittery and unhappy, and he wants out. While Ray flits around the city trying to find some kind of distraction to alleviate his inner turmoil, Ken finally gets orders from his boss, Harry ... only to realize he doesn't want to follow them. "In Bruges" is tense, funny, painful, violent, and philosophical, all at once.

  • Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes

  • Director: Martin McDonagh

  • Year: 2008

  • Runtime: 107 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

In a Lonely Place

Hard-drinking, hot-tempered screenwriter Dix Steele brings home a cheerful hat-check girl who promises to summarize the novel he's trying to adapt. He sends her off once she's done — and then she turns up murdered. He's suspected of her death, and Laurel Gray, his neighbor, provides him with at least a partial alibi. The two of them start falling in love, and their connection is real and tender — but as Laurel sees more and more of his temper, she starts to wonder if he's innocent after all. This doomy, romantic film noir is bittersweet, emotionally complex, and perfectly acted.

  • Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy

  • Director: Nicholas Ray

  • Year: 1950

  • Runtime: 93 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Inside Llewyn Davis

Llewyn Davis is a difficult man. He's a talented folk singer, with a great voice and a real ache to his performances ... but talent isn't always enough, especially when you chew people up the way he tends to. Llewyn's lack of professional success is accompanied by the slow fraying — and sometimes outright destruction — of the relationships in his life, as he continues to drive people away. Alternately sorrowful and bleakly comedic, "Inside Llewyn Davis" shines, especially when it comes to its music and Oscar Isaac's rich and bravely hard-to-like performance.

  • Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman

  • Directors: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

  • Year: 2013

  • Runtime: 104 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

The Iron Giant

"The Iron Giant" is the kind of beautifully crafted, heart-wrenching children's movie that's guaranteed to also have a huge emotional impact on adults. Set during the Cold War, this midcentury fable follows a young boy named Hogarth who discovers a huge alien robot — the titular Iron Giant — that has crash-landed on Earth. Hogarth befriends the Giant and protects him from the government agent trying to track him down, and the Giant starts to learn about death, violence, human attachment, and what it means to choose one's own destiny. What results is a smart, well-handled film with real heart.

It's a Wonderful Life

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a Christmas movie masterpiece — heartfelt, perfectly acted, and full of a surprising darkness that makes its essential hopefulness and good cheer resonate even more. The film tells the story of George Bailey, who spends years longing for travel and adventures. However, George's responsibilities to others keep him in a shabby but cozy life in Bedford Falls, as he's the only one who can stand up to Mr. Potter, the town's wealthy, cold-hearted bully. Then one night, George's life comes crashing down around him, making him genuinely think everyone would be better off if he'd never been born. It takes his eccentric guardian angel, Clarence, to prove otherwise.

  • Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

  • Director: Frank Capra

  • Year: 1946

  • Runtime: 125 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Kansas City Confidential

An armored car robbery in Kansas City seems to go off without a hitch, and the robbers — who all wore masks and went by aliases, with their true identities known only to their mysterious employer — meet up in Mexico to split the take. Unbeknownst to them, however, their crime wrecked the innocent Joe Rolfe's life and almost got him arrested. He decides to take on the robbers himself, masquerading as one of them. He's not the only one with a secret, however. The whole robbery had an ulterior motive, one that will complicate Rolfe's life even more. "Kansas City Confidential" is gripping and cleverly constructed noir.

  • Starring: John Payne, Coleen Gray, Preston Foster

  • Director: Phil Karlson

  • Year: 1952

  • Runtime: 99 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Lincoln

Stephen Spielberg's moving biopic of Abraham Lincoln concentrates on one of the last great political struggles of Lincoln's life — passing the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlaws slavery, before the Civil War ends and the Southern states regain the chance to vote against it. "Lincoln" gets into how the sausage is made, revealing how this happened via a combination of passionate idealism, behind-the-scenes deal-brokering, and political gamesmanship. The process is fascinating in its own right, but the biggest draw here is probably Daniel Day-Lewis' breathtakingly good portrayal of Lincoln.

Love and Friendship

This tart Jane Austen adaptation brings us a ruthless, socially savvy Regency-era antiheroine: Lady Susan Vernon, a widow who is willing to lie, manipulate, and cheat her way to a life of her choosing. Her poor daughter, the shy Frederica, is just a pawn in her schemes, as Lady Susan pushes her to marry a wealthy but foolish man she can't respect. Lady Susan schemes her way through her genteel world, casually ensnaring the honorable but naïve Reginald DeCourcy (who's far better-suited to Frederica) but constantly working to get back to her married lover. It's hard to like Lady Susan, but it's impossible not to be entertained by her and the trouble she creates.

  • Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel

  • Director: Whit Stillman

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 93 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Manchester by the Sea

The wrenching "Manchester by the Sea" deals with personal tragedies — some of which the characters can overcome, and some of which may always hang over them. Lee works as a handyman, far away from his hometown, and while we aren't certain why, he seems to be haunted by pain and grief. So when his brother dies and Lee is left as guardian to his teenage nephew, Patrick, Lee doesn't know if he's up for it. Patrick is attached to his hometown and doesn't want to move, but the place looms large and dark in Lee's past. He wants to figure out what's best for Patrick, but he doesn't know if he can ever build a life there again. Powerful performances make this hit especially hard.

  • Starring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams

  • Director: Kenneth Lonergan

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 137 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

The Namesake

Second-generation Indian-American Nikhil "Gogol" Ganguli doesn't really know how he wants to fit into the world. He initially resists his parents' attempts to hold onto their culture, feeling it has nothing to do with him — but later on, he realizes it's not that simple. "The Namesake" combines the touching, quiet love story of Gogol's parents, Ashoke and Ashima, with Gogol's own struggle to find a grounded sense of self. His attempts at fitting into either a fully Westernized life or a more traditional Bengali one eventually take the form of two different relationships, neither of which can really provide all the answers he needs. Beautiful, thoughtful, and exquisitely acted, "The Namesake" is a perfect family drama.

  • Starring: Kal Penn, Tabu, Irrfan Khan

  • Director: Mira Nair

  • Year: 2006

  • Runtime: 121 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

In this off-kilter and comedic retelling of "The Odyssey" set in the rural South, three escaped prisoners — led by the charismatic Ulysses Everett McGill, who's less sharp than he thinks — go on a long, rambling journey together. Ostensibly, they're looking for treasure that will soon be at the bottom of a lake, but the truth is that Ulysses just wants to get back home to save his marriage. The trio's wild episodic adventures take them through encounters with everyone from bewitching singers to the Klan and embroil them in a gubernatorial election. The terrific folk music is the cherry on top of this raucous, eccentric delight.

Office Space

If you've ever had "a case of the Mondays," you'll identify with this sublime comedy, in which put-upon office worker Peter accidentally gets hypnotized into a state of complete relaxation. His breezy lack of concern with the absurd minutiae of company life attracts both a new girlfriend and the unexpected approval of consultants, but that doesn't do anything to help his frustrated — and soon-to-be-fired — friends, Samir and Michael. The three co-workers hatch an audacious scheme to defraud their company ... but when it goes wrong, it puts them in a tight spot. This workplace satire is terrific and relatable, and the cast is stacked with comedic greats.

  • Starring: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole

  • Director: Mike Judge

  • Year: 1999

  • Runtime: 89 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

One Night in Miami...

The intense and electric "One Night in Miami..." takes place on the night Muhammad Ali became the heavyweight champion of the world. Afterwards, Ali joins Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown for a supposed party that turns out to be more of a discursive — and sometimes heated — discussion about Black life and success in America. Political and personal tensions can run high, especially when it comes to the question of how openly to challenge the white establishment, but the night also reveals the respect the men have for each other. This window into the fictionalized history of an actual event is a fantastic actor's showcase for the four outstanding leads.

  • Starring: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge

  • Director: Regina King

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 115 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

On Golden Pond

"On Golden Pond" rounds up an outstanding cast for a nuanced, emotionally rich family drama that tackles aging, weakening memory, problems between parents and their adult children, and healing and forming family bonds. Retired Ethel and Norman Thayer always spend their summers at Golden Pond, but this may be their last year there together: Norman's health and memory are in decline. However, he gets an unexpected chance to mend fences with his daughter, Chelsea — and they get the even-more-unexpected chance to connect with her new stepson.

  • Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda

  • Director: Mark Rydell

  • Year: 1981

  • Runtime: 109 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Paper Moon

An unlikely team-up between a con artist and a tough, precocious little girl is at the heart of "Paper Moon," which is unsentimental but tender. It's the Great Depression, and 9-year-old Addie is an orphan in need of a ride to her aunt's house. Shiftless Moze agrees to take her there, but when he uses it as a chance to get $200 for the task, Addie insists that she deserves the money. Soon after, she proves herself a more-than-capable assistant in Moze's cons, and the two bond — even if they technically shouldn't. Young Tatum O'Neal's performance is incredibly naturalistic, and she makes Addie an unforgettable character.

  • Starring: Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal, Madeline Kahn

  • Director: Peter Bogdanovich

  • Year: 1973

  • Runtime: 102 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Paterson

"Paterson" is a beautiful, tender, and quietly funny slice-of-life film all about creativity, marriage, and the routines of an ordinary week. Paterson is a bus driver and poet who lives in Paterson, New Jersey — the home of William Carlos Williams, his favorite poet. He lives a simple but contented life, drinking in the details of the world around him. He's deeply in love with his wife, Laura, whose own artistic tendencies are less settled but vividly manifested in a signature black and white aesthetic. Eventually, we'll discover that this week does feature a couple of big events for Paterson, but the big events aren't the point. This is all about the peaceful happiness of appreciating your day-to-day life.

  • Starring: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, William Jackson Harper

  • Director: Jim Jarmusch

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 118 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Paths of Glory

In the middle of brutal World War I, three French soldiers are tried for cowardice. The charges are appalling: They're just scapegoats for the failure of a disastrous, unwinnable operation where none of them could have gotten out of their own trench alive. All the facts are on their side, and the honorable Colonel Dax does his best to represent them, bringing all his moral force to bear. None of it matters against the self-interested corruption he's facing, however. "Paths of Glory" is a bleak, heartbreaking, and exquisitely made indictment of war and the way it chews up its rank and file soldiers.

  • Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou

  • Director: Stanley Kubrick

  • Year: 1957

  • Runtime: 87 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Pride

In England in the 1980s, striking miners are attracting a lot of hate and bad publicity. Activist Mark Ashton decides that the gay and lesbian community of the time can relate to what they're facing, and he spearheads an attempt to get support for the miners — many of whom are surprised (and not necessarily thrilled) about where their new influx of donations is coming from. A faction of the miners, however, grow close to their new supporters, and they all form a real bond with each other. "Pride" is a heartwarming slice of real-life history, one with genuine affection for its characters and a sharp understanding of a nation in transition.

  • Starring: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West

  • Director: Matthew Warchus

  • Year: 2014

  • Runtime: 120 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Raging Bull

Jake LaMotta has the chops to make it as a professional boxer, but the same uncontrolled emotions that power him in the ring tear his life apart. He's angry, impulsive, and fanatically jealous, especially of his young wife, Vickie. "Raging Bull," a stylish and cynical biopic, chronicles his rise and fall — and the fall goes all the way down to rock bottom. Robert De Niro is impassioned, fearless, and bravely unlikable as Jake, and his performance makes this an incisive psychological study, as well as a superb boxing movie.

Road to Perdition

The solemn and perfectly cast "Road to Perdition" explores the complex relationships between fathers and sons through a tense story of murder and betrayal. Mob enforcer Michael Sullivan is deeply loyal to his boss, Rooney. Rooney's son, Connor, is jealous of their relationship. Consumed with fear and hatred, Connor tries to wipe out Sullivan's whole family, leaving the enforcer with just his young son, Michael Jr., and a burning desire for revenge. While Sullivan tries to work out how to kill Connor without bringing on a wave of mob retaliation, he struggles to raise his child, for whom he wants a better kind of life.

Rushmore

This strange and singular coming-of-age story features one of cinema's quirkiest love triangles. High school student Max Fischer and wealthy businessman Herman Blume — unlikely but close friends — both love the same woman, teacher Rosemary Cross. Unsurprisingly for us (if not for Max), Rosemary isn't interested in dating a 15-year-old boy ... but when she is interested in Blume, this means war. Max and Blume's one-upmanship might not be the answer to their problem, though. "Rushmore" is a gentle, eccentric comedy that's a perfect example of Wes Anderson's distinctive style.

The Sixth Sense

Young Cole Sear has a (now famous) secret: He sees dead people. They gravitate towards him, sensing that he's the only one who can serve as a witness, provide help, or simply allow them to vent their anger. Their attention has made him a social outcast and even strained his relationship with his mother. When his psychologist, Malcolm Crowe, gradually gets enough evidence to believe Cole's claims, however, Malcolm's guidance changes the game and gives Cole a chance to build a workable life where he can engage with the ghosts without fear. This layered supernatural drama is well-known for a couple of key surprises, but it's well-characterized and unsettling even outside of its twists.

Stagecoach

A long stagecoach journey from Arizona to New Mexico is guaranteed to be uncomfortable, especially when it involves crowding too many people — with too many differences — into a very small space. There's a meek salesman, a drunken doctor, an outcast saloon girl, an Army officer's wife, a homespun stagecoach driver, a friendly outlaw, a marshal, a corrupt banker, and a Southern gambler. "Stagecoach" doesn't just put them all together, it takes them through dangerous territory, as they're unwanted travelers over Apache land. The high stakes make the bonding, comedy, drama, and sweet romance all the more compelling.

  • Starring: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine

  • Director: John Ford

  • Year: 1939

  • Runtime: 95 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Tangerine

Warm, colorful, and empathetic, "Tangerine" takes us through one day in the life of Sin-Dee and Alexandra, a pair of trans sex workers. Alexandra is scheduled to sing at a club that evening, and she'd like to round up a crowd for it. She invites a client, cab driver Razmik, to make an appearance, inadvertently triggering upheaval in his family. Sin-Dee, meanwhile, knows that Chester — her boyfriend and pimp — has been cheating on her, and is determined to track down the other woman. All these stories messily and gloriously intersect, bringing about pain, but also a kind of transcendence.

  • Starring: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, James Ransone

  • Director: Sean Baker

  • Year: 2015

  • Runtime: 88 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

The Terminator

Sarah Connor is just an ordinary waitress — until a nearly unstoppable robot comes back in time to kill her. One day, the machines will rise up and take over, and humanity's one shot at survival is Sarah's son, John. The Terminator wants to kill her before she can even conceive him. Luckily, John has sent someone from the future to protect her: Kyle Reese. He and Sarah quickly fall in love while they work to evade and eliminate the Terminator and save the future. "The Terminator" is lean and exciting, with great sci-fi action and a surprisingly poignant love story.

Thief

Frank is as professional as thieves get: tough, skilled, and independent. He has a couple of legitimate businesses, and he's hoping to someday use them to live an honest life with the woman he loves. When his fence is killed, however, retrieving his latest payoff leads him to the seemingly affable mob boss Leo, who's only too happy to befriend Frank and even help him out with an adoption. He just wants all Frank's precious independence in return, and when Frank balks at giving it to him, Leo's pleasant facade slips. "Thief" is an intense, thoughtful crime drama that looks at what happens when its protagonist is pushed to his limits.

  • Starring: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson

  • Director: Michael Mann

  • Year: 1981

  • Runtime: 123 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Titanic

James Cameron brings a doomed ship to gorgeously dramatic life in "Titanic," which couples the harrowing story of the wreck with the passionate romance between upper-class Rose and penniless artist Jack. Rose is expected to marry the wealthy — and awful — Cal to bring a much-needed influx of cash into the family, but she can't stand the future she's headed towards. Jack offers a way out, and the two quickly fall for each other ... but when the ship collides with the iceberg, their love story becomes a desperate struggle to survive the night.

  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane

  • Director: James Cameron

  • Year: 1997

  • Runtime: 194 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Train to Busan

The propulsive zombie movie "Train to Busan" starts with Seok-woo agreeing to take his young daughter to the titular city so she can celebrate her birthday with her mother, who's been a much more reliable presence in her life than her work-obsessed father. But a zombie outbreak turns their train trip into a nightmare, and the passengers must band together if they want to survive. The movie develops a vivid ensemble cast, makes the most of its confined setting, and never lets up on the gas. It all adds up to an inventive, bloody, and surprisingly heartfelt film.

  • Starring: Gong Yoo, Kim Su-an, Ma Dong-seok

  • Director: Yeon Sang-ho

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 117 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

The Usual Suspects

Agent Kujan has a destroyed ship and 27 dead bodies to explain, and the only man who can give him answers is wily low-level con man Verbal Kint. As Kujan interrogates Verbal, we see what led to that carnage at the docks: Five career criminals are rounded up for a lineup, and they're annoyed by it enough to rip off a corrupt unit with the NYPD. One thing leads to another, and soon, they're working a much grimmer job together — for the legendary crime lord Keyser Söze, everyone's worst nightmare, who may have a hidden purpose for them. "The Usual Suspects" is taut, tense, and cleverly constructed, and it all leads up to one of the best thriller endings ever.

  • Starring: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri

  • Director: Bryan Singer

  • Year: 1995

  • Runtime: 106 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

The Vast of Night

A brilliant little indie film that plays like an episode of "The Twilight Zone," "The Vast of Night" takes place in a 1950s town out in the middle of New Mexico. While most everyone's busy watching the high school basketball game, radio DJ Everett and operator Fay hear strange things over the phone lines and receiving unsettling calls. Soon enough, they get the creeping suspicion that maybe there's something out there in the sky. But as they dig deeper and deeper into the world of UFOs and alien lore, they're faced with a series of unsettling questions. If there really are otherworldly visitors, how long have they been there? What do they want? And what can Everett and Fay do about it? Rich on creepy atmosphere, "The Vast of Night" ratchets up the tension until the truth simply can't be denied.

  • Starring: Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer

  • Director: Andrew Patterson

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 91 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Young Frankenstein

Even if you've never seen a "Frankenstein" adaptation, the story is so famous that you already know all the clichés, and that means you're all set up to burst out laughing while watching Mel Brooks' uproarious "Young Frankenstein." Here, Victor Frankenstein's grandson, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein — sorry, "Fronkensteen," according to him — really wishes people would stop asking him about his grandfather's embarrassing work reviving the dead. Still, when he winds up with the historical Frankenstein castle and its attached lab, he can't resist picking up the Frankenstein legacy. His monster-creating experiment doesn't go according to plan either, but it results in more musical performances and farcical gags than murders.

  • Starring: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman

  • Director: Mel Brooks

  • Year: 1974

  • Runtime: 105 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%