Apart from bringing much-needed supplies like toilet paper and headphones straight to your house, Amazon Prime is also making pretty cool original videos. Amazon entered the original film industry a few years ago when Netflix’s own material was also ramping up production. The early Amazon Prime’s initial movies were always angling for prestige, and they were a hit! Films like Manchester By the Sea and I Am Not Your Negro have been popular at the Oscars, but Amazon has lately started to diversify its catalog of horror videos, comedies, and straight-up, decent videos.
1. Cold War
Between this film and Ida, I love what Pawel Pawlikowski is doing: making vibrant, complex, complicated, intense movies that are less than 90 minutes away. Some filmmakers are working on the idea that heavy film deserves an epic runtime, but Pawlikowski’s narrative technology is so genius that he gets everything he wants to cram into a single scene or a single moment. In the Cold War, he discusses a tortured love affair that lasts 15 years and has taken you up and down between composer Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and singer Zula (Joanna Kulig) in post-war Eastern Europe.
The essence of the film is two characters that can’t be apart and can’t be together, and the emotional richness still comes through without ever getting overshadowed.
2. The Vast of Night
This sci-fi flick was premiered at the Slamdance Festival in 2019, before Amazon obtained exclusive distribution rights, and was released digitally and in several movie theatres in 2020. Drive-in theatre is well suitable for this creepy ’50s-era science-fiction thriller. One night in the 1950s, New Mexico, a young switchboard operator, Fay (Sierra McCormick), and radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) have found a peculiar audio frequency that threatens to transform the world forever.
Dropped phone calls, AM radio messages, hidden tape reels, crossed sticks, and an unknown phone call made Fay and Everett unwittingly enigmatic, impossible to be heroes.
3. You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay always lets us wait, but my god, she always lets our time worth it. Seven years after her smashing Tilda Swinton vehicle We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ramsay paired up with Amazon for You Never Was Ever Here, giving Joaquin Phoenix a platform for one of the most spectacular performances of his career. Phoenix stars like Joe, a veteran with a horrific history, who spends his nights hunting down trafficked girls and punishing those who hurt them.
But when there’s a work going on, Joe gets swept up in a scheme that leaves his life in ruins despite eventually allowing himself something to fight for. You Were Never Really Here is beautiful and gentle, but it is also crushing and wrenching, offering a picture of a man characterized by brutality, but yet softened and compromised by it. And right now, there’s no one in the game with a better eye than Ramsay.
4. The Big SIck
Most notable for his appearance as Dinesh in the HBO Silicon Valley series, Kumail Nanjiani proved his tremendous ability as a screenwriter, as well as the touching rom-com he co-wrote with his partner, Emily V. Gordon. Loosely based on their own existence, it follows the story of an interracial couple dealing with their cultural differences. But when Emily (Zoe Kazan) becomes ill, all is set in perspective.
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, it was one of the biggest feature films that year. Bursting with passion and earnest good nature, The Big Sick is a witty and fun discovery of passion, loyalty, and friendship, and a bonafide crowd-pleaser to boot.
5. Beautiful Boy
When was the last time you were open-faced, straight-up in a movie theatre? Me, no contest, the 2018 Beautiful Kid. Centered on the true story, the film gently and expertly leads us through the journey of the man, Steve Carell, and his drug-addict son, Timothée Chalamet. Both actors offer career-best performances, perfect nuance, and comparison tests. Chalamet is the high-pitched of the two artists, cascading agonizingly and authentically between violent withdrawal effects and sincere cries for help. And Carell’s role is brilliantly underplayed with resolve, persistence, bounds, and devotion.
Although the film wears its feelings on its sleeve, it’s not a dishonest or romantic thing. The artistic team of director Felix van Groeningen, DP Ruben Impens, and editor Nico Leunen have created a very fascinating visual language for the film, featuring vivid and vibrant colors, elliptical editing, and long-term emphasis on atypical subjects for what’s going on in the scene. Catch the Adorable Boy from the safety of your own house, weep to the content of your ears, call a loved one directly afterward.
6. Manchester by the Sea
One of the first purchases of Amazon Studios for the Prime Video streaming site, this heart-breaking tale is now among the best due to its poignant storyline and convincingly emotional performances. After returning to his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, to see his ill brother,
Lee (Casey Affleck) found himself rediscovering the old tragedy that forced him to leave town in the first place and to make a difficult decision about his nephew and his brother’s last wishes. It’s a tearjerker, so it’s worth a watch to hear that the film has earned multiple nods and wins, including one for Affleck.
Adam Driver stars in this original film, as a bus driver and poet who lives a traditionally dull life, in comparison to his wife’s ever-changing passion. When he does his mundane everyday activities, but, including walking a dog and taking a drink at the local pub, he takes the seemingly meaningless moments around him and turns them into exquisite art.
The entire film takes place over a time of just one week, and while it has been described as undramatic, that is exactly what makes it so enjoyable to watch.
8. The Lost City of Z
British adventurer Percy Fawcett traveled to Brazil to try to discover a forgotten city in the Amazon, and this film looks at his trip. It is based on the 2009 David Grann book of the same name and looks at Fawcett’s search attempts over several years as he becomes fascinated with discovering this forgotten city. Though the film didn’t really do so well in the box office, the reviewers appreciated the plot and Charlie Hunnam’s performance, so it may be worth checking out when You’ve got a two-plus-hour movie to sit down.