The 12 Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now (July 2020)

What to watch on Amazon Prime

There are more than 18,000 movies available for viewing on Amazon Prime, and almost 2,000 television shows. That's a lot of content, so unless you have about 84,000 hours to spend streaming video from Amazon, you're going to need some help. We've rounded up the best movies on Amazon Prime right now, in a variety of categories, to help you make the most of your TV-watching time. 

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The Avengers (2012): Best Ensemble Superhero Flick

A scene from The Avengers


IMDb rating: 8.0

Genre: Action Adventure

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson

Director: Joss Whedon

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 143 minutes

In 2012, Joss Whedon took various superhero ingredients and combined them into an ensemble action movie that would change the way Hollywood thinks about blockbusters for a generation. Specifically, Tinseltown is now reluctant to make a superhero movie unless it's now part of some sort of connected universe.

Take Captain America (Chris Evans), Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and a half-dozen other costumed crusaders, toss in a large heap of quips and witty banter, and end the whole thing with a set-piece battle against a generic CGI alien army—it works so well in The Avengers that it's been the template for virtually every superhero movie ever since. Don't settle for imitation: Re-watch and re-enjoy the original.

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The Big Sick (2017): Best Real-Life Romantic Comedy

Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan in a scene from The Big Sick


IMDb rating: 7.5

Genre: Romance

Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter

Director: Michael Showalter

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 120 minutes

Kumail Nanjiani (Kumail Nanjiani) meets and falls in love with Emily Gardner (Zoe Kazan), but his parents—who have set up an arranged marriage for him—throw a monkey wrench in the relationship and she breaks up with him. It sounds like the start of a generic clash-of-cultures romantic comedy, except that this is all real. Kumail Nanjiani co-wrote the screenplay for The Big Sick with his real-life wife Emily Gordon based on the events of their highly unusual courtship.

The heart of the film is about what happens when Emily—no longer dating Kumail—falls deathly ill and her parents (and Kumail) rush to the hospital to manage the illness and care for her. Like any rom-com, lessons are learned, hearts are mended, and poignant moments are shared. But what makes this movie so much more meaningful—and more likely to stay with you long after it's over—is that it really happened.

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The Boondock Saints (1999): Best Cult-Classic Crime Drama

A scene from The Boondock Saints

 Franchise Pictures

IMDb rating: 7.8

Genre: Crime Drama

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus

Director: Troy Duffy

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 108 minutes

When people talk about movies that debuted to yawns but went on to become classics, they're probably talking about The Boondock Saints, a movie that was apparently born under a broken mirror. The story of Connor MacManus (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy MacManus (Norman Reedus) is a tale of two brothers who accidentally kill a pair of Russian Mafia thugs and then decide to become vigilantes. The movie lost its original studio, then had the misfortune of being a violent movie released in the wake of the Columbine tragedy. To add insult to injust, it was screened in just five movie theaters.

But you can't keep greatness down. The movie, which tracks the over-the-top antics of the brothers as they try to clean up Boston, has become a cult classic, has spawned multiple sequels, and is a must-watch crime drama.

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The Cabin in the Woods (2011): Best Deconstructed Comedy/Horror Flick

A scene from Cabin in the Woods


IMDb rating: 7.0

Genre: Horror

Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison 

Director: Drew Goddard

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 95 minutes

People seem to love it when chefs 'deconstruct' popular dishes, such as when they give you a sliver of bread, puddle of sauce, and a slice of cheese and call it pizza. Joss Whedon has done something similar with The Cabin in the Woods, deconstructing the genre in an incredibly fun and exciting way.

A group of typical teens including Dana (Kristen Connolly), Curt (Chris Hemsworth) and Jules (Anna Hutchison) head off to a remote cabin for the weekend and end up unleashing an army of the undead. But the way they do it—and the unexpected twists and turns the plot takes along the way—is like taking a college course in horror film tropes. And the film's final act sets a new standard for upending your expectations. Moreover, this is an excellent movie not just for die-hard horror fans who want to see the genre turned inside-out; the comedy makes it thoroughly entertaining for horror newbies, too.

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I am Not Your Negro (2017): Best Essential Viewing Documentary

A scene from I Am Not Your Negro

Magnolia Pictures

IMDb rating: 7.8

Genre: Documentary

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King

Director: Raoul Peck

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 93 minutes

For the uninitiated, James Baldwin was a novelist, playwright, and important voice for the African American experience. When he died in 1987, he left behind a barely-started novel that was intended to be a personal account of the lives of three of his closest friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. In this film, director Raoul Peck set out to tell the story Baldwin never had a chance to complete.

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and featuring archival footage of historical figures like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., I Am Not Your Negro features much of Baldwin's own writings and has won a veritable avalanche of major awards from around the world. Given the current political climate in the United States, this important film should be deemed essential viewing.

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It Might Get Loud (2008): Best Classic Rock Music Documentary

A scene from It Might Get Loud

 Sony Pictures

IMDb rating: 7.6

Genre: Documentary

Starring: Jimmy Page, The Edge, Jack White

Director: Davis Guggenheim

Motion Picture Rating: PG

Running Time: 98 minutes

Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White are three of the most influential living guitarists in rock history. It Might Be Loud spends time with each of these three musicians so that viewers can learn how they got their start in music and how they developed each of their own signature styles. There's perhaps no better way to start a documentary like this than with watching Jack White build a guitar—from scratch—and then start playing it.

This is a movie for lovers of music, and lovers of classic rock in particular. Jimmy Page is an elder statesman of the 70s sound, while The Edge redefined what rock could sound like with his staccato strumming style in the aftermath of punk and New Wave. And Jack White, of course, has reinvented blues for a new century. This movie captures all of that. And watch out: it might get loud.

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Lucky Logan (2017): Best Off-Kilter Heist Movie

A scene from Lucky Logan

 Amazon Prime

IMDb rating: 7.0

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 118 minutes

Who doesn't love a good heist movie? Lucky Logan is a somewhat off-kilter heist flick, though—it's sort of a trailer park version of Ocean's 11 (which is an even more apt description when you note it's directed by none other than Steven Soderbergh).

What you get in this delicious little heist is a plot to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Memorial Day weekend Coca-Cola 600. You get all the usual characters, like the mastermind Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), explosives expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), and computer experts Sam and Fish (Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid) as well as a slew of others in this ensemble cast. The performances are amazing; seeing (and hearing) Daniel Craig lean into his inner oddball hick. Nothing seems to ever go as planned in this clever take on the crime genre, and the well-engineered story keeps paying off right to the very end.

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Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018): Best Cinematic Action Movie

Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Fallout


IMDb rating: 7.7

Genre: Action/Adventure

Starring: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 147 minutes

Who would have expected, in 1996, that the cinematic version of the campy old Mission: Impossible TV series would go on to spawn one of the most popular franchises in film history? And that, with a few exceptions, each M:I movie gets better than the one before?

In the latest chapter, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team need to recover the plutonium cores to a trio of nuclear weapons. But like in most M:I movies, the particular MacGuffin they're after is almost irrelevant. Fallout takes the crew to Paris, London, and India, includes an epic car chase, some skydiving, and an insane helicopter that you have to see to believe—all the more amazing because that's Tom Cruise really flying that helicopter.

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A Quiet Place (2018): Best Popcorn Horror Flick

Emily Bunt's character holding a shotgun in A Quiet Place


IMDb rating: 7.5

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror

Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds

Director: John Krasinski

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 90 minutes

Between A Quiet Place and Bird Box, horror movies in 2018 seemed focused on our five senses—but A Quiet Place is unquestionably the best film in this unusual genre. Civilization has collapsed because aliens with an acute sense of hearing have invaded our planet, and Lee Abbott (John Krasinski, who also directs), his wife Evelyn (real-life wife Emily Blunt) and children try to stay alive, mainly by walking on an implausibly large amount of sand.

This movie is gripping and powerful, largely because Krasinski knows that what you don't see is often scarier than what you do. It's Krasinski's major studio directorial debut and was one of the best popcorn flicks of 2018.

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The Report (2019): Best Thriller for Political Junkie

Adam Driver in a scene from The Report

 Amazon Prime

IMDb rating: 7.2

Genre: Biographical Crime Drama

Starring: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm

Director: Scott Z. Burns

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 119 minutes

Which would you rather watch—a bare-knuckles car chase that culminates in defusing a nuclear bomb, saving New York City, or US Senate staffers doggedly researching fraud and abuse through painstaking legal channels? If you pick that second one, The Report is for you. At the request of Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) is a staffer tasked with investigating very real-world CIA interrogations in the wake of 9/11.

Hollywood doesn't make a lot of movies like this, and the reasons why are right there on the screen: it's slow-moving at times, steeped in real-world political esoterica, and lacks the punch of a fictional (and more satisfying) ending. All that might sound like criticism, but it's said with love. If you're a political junkie, this is a must-watch film.

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Rocketman (2019): Best Musical Biopic

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman


IMDb rating: 7.3

Genre: Biography, Music, Drama

Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 121 minutes

If you grew up singing along to Bennie and the Jets, Crocodile Rock, or, dare I say it, Rocketman, then you will not want to miss Taron Egerton slip seamlessly into the role of world's best-known rock and roll piano player.

Yes, it's a bit of a paint-by-the-numbers biopic, but unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie Mercury's recent biography, this look at the life of Elton John has the advantage of being more or less accurate. Along the way, you get all the great music, the ups and downs of his life and musical career, and get to meet the most important people in his life, including manager John Reid (Richard Madden) and partner Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). And for fans, that's more than enough.

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The Vast of Night (2019): Best Classic Invasion Sci-Fi Mystery

A scene from The Vast of Night


IMDb rating: 6.7

Genre: Sci-Fi

Starring: Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer

Director: Andrew Patterson

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 89 minutes

Borrowing liberally from classic alone invasion movies and soaked in the same kind of nostalgic reverence that you'll find in J.J. Abrams' Super 8 or Netflix's Stranger Things, The Vast of Night is a delightfully gripping sci-fi mystery that focuses on strange doings in the sky over a small town.

The movie follows high school students Everett (Jake Horowitz) and Fay (Sierra McCormick) as they discover something weird is happening. As a late-night radio show host and switchboard operator respectively, they are among the first to start to unravel the mystery. Almost universally praised for its long tracking shots and atmospheric textures, it's unpredictable and a joy to watch.