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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video (January 2021)

Great movies you can stream on Amazon Prime Video now.

Best movies on Amazon Prime Video (January 2021)
Andrew Williams
22 January 2021

One of the best things about Amazon Prime Video: many people don't realise they have it at first. You get access with Prime subscription, so when the penny drops it feels like you get a Netflix-a-like for free - as this best movies on Amazon Prime Video list proves.

UPDATED: A number of our best movies on Prime Video are disappearing soon, so we've updated our list with a whole host of films that have recent landed on Amazon's service. These include: Heat, Once Upon Time In America and the fantastic Widows.

It's not a perfect service. Spend long enough browsing and you'll find the equivalent of a VHS collection sat in the backroom of a charity shop for 10 years. E.T. rip-off Extraterrestrial Visitors and Hot Wax Zombies on Wheels are unlikely to feature on many must-watch lists.

However, Amazon Prime is home to hundreds of great films worth watching. We've picked out a few handfuls of our favourites, ones we think you should stream as soon as you get a free hour or two.

Upvote the movies you like, downvotes the ones you don't. Any if you think we've missed off an Amazon Prime Video essential movie, submit it to our team at the bottom.

Remember, new members can try Prime for 30 days for free.

Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

Haven’t seen Paddington or Paddington 2 yet? That kind of behaviour deserves a hard stare. But you can see both movies on Amazon Prime. This is a rare case where the sequel is of the same quality as the original. Many prefer it.

These 2014 and 2017 films are exemplars of family film-making done right. Kids will fall in love with Paddington, and there’s enough meat to the characters and story to lure in adults.

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A woman is held captive in a room below a suburban home. She is sexually assaulted by her captor, and gives birth to his son. Room doesn’t sound like the rosiest watch. But this is not just the story of incarceration, but also how the pair cope with the real world after they escape.

Room won Brie Larson a Best Actress Oscar in 2016. The novel on which it is based, also called Room, is not based on a true story. But it was inspired by the 2008 Joseph Fritzl case.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

3. The Big Sick

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Kumail Nanjiani is currently famed across the internet as the nerd who got "swole". But The Big Sick was a highlight of his pre-muscle days.

It was written by Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, and is based on their own experiences of an interracial relationship and their struggles with Gordon’s health issues. It is real, relatable and dances effortlessly between its funny and serious sides.

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Horror films that deserve a spot on genre-agnostic “best” lists are rare. Midsommar is one of them.

A group of friends are invited to a trip to a tiny community living in the middle of nowhere in Sweden. What starts off as a bit of culture porn tourism rapidly goes downhill in disturbing and engrossing fashion.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

5. Stan & Ollie

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Younger readers may not know Laurel and Hardy at all. And even the older millennials may only recall them from childhood with a faint whiff of embarrassment.

Stan & Ollie fleshes out these once titanic figures by first drenching them in pathos. We see Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) in the twilight years of their careers, searching for relevance and a pay cheque in a world that appears to have fallen out of love with their schtick. There are laughs here, but Stan & Ollie is at its best when it makes you go a little misty-eyed.

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21 Bridges may lean heavily on its Avengers connections (Black Panther's Chadwick Boseman stars and it's produced by Anthony and Joe Russo. But it's a great movie in its own right, about a manhunt for some cop killers that essentially locks down New York City.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

7. The Aeronauts

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This escapist fantasy is unlikely to feature on many top 10 all-time film lists. But it is an absolute must-see in 2020, when we can all do with a break from the real world.

A pilot (Felicity Jones) and nerdy meteorologist (Eddie Redmayne) are an unlikely team in a record-breaking hot air balloon trip into the sky. Tune your brain into The Aeronauts frequency and you’re in for one of the most charming live action family movies in years. There are sofa-clenching sections too.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

8. Vast of the Night

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A really nice ultra low budget thriller that has one of the best tracking shots in it we have seen. In the 50s a DJ and switchboard operator find an audio signal that could well change a town in New Mexico forever. The movie keeps you guessing right up to the end. At times it feels like an extended Twilight Zone episode but it's all done so well.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

9. Pan’s Labyrinth

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This is not a kids’ film. We repeat, this is not a kids’ movie. Yes, it has a fun fawn and some weird and wonderful creatures but it’s set in the midst of the Spanish Civil War and is brutal in places. It’s a wonderful adult fairy tale that scares and awes in equal measure.

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This near one-shot movie is a fantastic achievement in filmmaking which loses a little of its might on the small screen but is still worth a watch. Directed by Sam Mendes, we see two young soldiers on the journey of their lives as they try and get through a battlefield to send a vitally important message to generals on the other side.

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From the bloodied fingertips to the blisters on hands, this frenetic take on a jazz musician taught by one of the most brutal teachers is an inspiring watch and shows just how much is needed to become the best of the best.

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The Watch is a gripping look at the true story of those trying to hold the government account for its 'enhanced interrogation' practises in the events after 9/11. Adam Driver is superb as the senator looking into how the CIA conducted its business and the abnormalities in what they were doing, trying to uncover a level of brutality that nobody wanted the world to know about.

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One of the best movies of 2020 (yep, it came out this year) is the twisty, unhinged Parasite. A metaphor for the gaping chasm that is the class system in South Korea, we see a lower-class family making their way into the lives of a rich family, by way of jobs and other rather stranger means.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

14. The Personal History of David Copperfield

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We love The Personal History of David Copperfield. The colour blind casting of Dev Patel as the titular character is inspired, as is the rest of the casting. The script and direction are hilarious, thanks to The Thick Of It's Armando Iannuci and it's just a lovely, lovely movie to watch.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

15. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

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It’s by no means a perfect movie but the Borat sequel strikes a much-needed political cord with its look at Borat and his daughter making their way to America once more to make fun of the ignorant. While the ‘story’ is wafer thin, it was a genius idea to bring his daughter along for the ride as she can do everything Borat would do but nobody recognises her - and her scene with one of the most famous people in America caught with his hands down his pants is just brilliant.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

16. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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This movie lives and dies by the performance of Frances McDormand, who brings the police to justice in a small town after they ignore the rape and murder of her daughter. McDormand is fantastic as the mother who rents billboards in the town to protest and make sure the police are taken to account for their lack of actions.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

17. Once Upon A Time In America

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One of the greatest movies ever made, Once Upon A Time In America is a generation spanning tale about the rise and fall of gangsters in the US. Robert D Niro, James Woods and the rest of the cast are superb. This was the final movie of Sergio Leone and his absolute masterpiece.

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The first time we saw Robert De Niro and Al Pacino on screen and it's in a fantastic movie. Heat is a cops and robbers tale, put the through the clinical lens of Michael Mann. It's a superb thriller and its effects can be seen in movies since - including The Dark Knight.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

19. A Star Is Born

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There are myriad versions of A Star Is Born, but the latest with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga is a marvel to watch. While it should be Cooper’s movie - he directs, writes and stars - it just wouldn’t work without the brilliance of Lady Gaga who is mesmerising as the cabaret singer who is catapulted to stardom after singing with Cooper’s washed-up country singer.

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A little-known comedy that needs to be seen by all. Starring The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt - and written by him - it’s about an 80s TV star who played Mindhorn brought in to help the police find a serial killer. The only problem is, he really does think he’s the detective he once played. It’s ridiculous but has the same vibe as Garth Marenghi’s DarkPlace and the Boosh.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

21. True History of the Kelly Gang

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The True History of the Kelly Gang is a brutal movie, brought to life by the mesmerising acting of George MacKay, Essie Davis and Nicholas Hoult. Based on Peter Carey's novel this is an almost psychedelic retelling of the Kelly Gang's exploits. Director Justin Kurzel does a brilliant job with the source material.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

22. I’m Your Woman

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Rachel Brosnahan (of Prime Video's The Marvelous Mrs Maisel) is fantastic in this '70s-based drama about a housewife that becomes embroiled in a life of crime. While the first half of the movie is the best, it's a caustic look at what life was like for women in the Seventies with a nice mix of crime thrills.

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One of the best movies of the 90s has probably been seen by all, but Fight Club is well worth a rewatch. The machismo of the movie may have dulled over the years, as has the CGI, but the main tale of a bunch of men looking for more from their corporate lives is still thrilling.

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While not as politically charged as his recent work, Steve McQueen's Widows is still a fantastic watch, about a group of girlfriends and wives of incarcerated bank robbers that decide to take a job on from themselves. Michelle Rodriguez, Viola Davis and Elizabeth Debicki are all fantastic in this superb heist thriller.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

25. One Night In Miami

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One Night In Miami is an understated movie and all the better for it. For the most part, it takes place in one room (a motel room) after Cassius Clay's big fight with Sonny Liston. Within that time the worlds of Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke collide in a drama that is compelling to watch.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

26. The Color Out Of Space

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The Colour Out Of Space is a fantastic retelling of a HP Lovecraft story. Starring Nicolas Cage and Joey Richardson as a couple who have moved from the city to country, we see strange things happen when their black magic loving daughter seemingly summons creatures from the cosmos. Magenta-tinged horrors happen with the film ratcheting up to its terrifying, surreal finale.

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Jennifer Lopez should have been up for an Oscar for her role in Hustlers. She is fantastic as the leader of a group of strip club employees who turn the tables on Wall Street execs who frequent their club. It's based on a true story and is a fascinating insight into those who hustle, why they hustle and where that eventually leads them.

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This one is an Amazon Original and is a fun frolic through the Scottish highlands, as part of the Duke of Edinburgh, as we follow four hip-hop loving city dwellers who are chased by a huntsman. Directed by Ninian Doff, who cut his tooth on music videos for the likes of Run The Jewels and The Chemical Brothers, this is a hilarious boys' own adventure. We do prefer the original title of the movie, though, which was Boyz In The Wood.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

29. How To Build A Girl

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We suspect that How To Build A Girl was destined for the big screen but because of the recent Covid-19 situation it’s come straight to Amazon Prime. Whatever the case, we're glad it's here as it’s a great adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s fantastic novel. It’s set around the 90s music scene, a great backdrop for a story about a girl trying to make it as a teenage rock critic. Beanie Feldstein is superb as Johanna Morrigan, the main protagonist based loosely on Moran’s own life.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video

30. If Beale Street Could Talk

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This film has heavyweight pedigree. It is Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to Oscar Best Picture winner Moonlight, and was adapted from a novel by James Baldwin.

The Academy must have thought Jenkins had had enough love, because If Beale Street Could Talk is a much stronger film than some of that year’s Best Picture nominees. It’s an affecting story of a young black couple’s lives in New York.

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