Whether you’ve got a long weekend or a lazy summer’s day to fill, the best Amazon Prime movies can do wondrous things. They can teleport you to new worlds, ones filled with Rings to Rule Them All, heart-stopping horror, or just a nice 90 min slice of gooey entertainment to take your mind off the world.
In fact, Prime has low-key one of the best movie libraries available on a streaming service – if you know where to look. But we don’t expect you to sift through literally hundreds of flicks to find the one that’s right for you. The 30 best Amazon Prime movies – for all ages and tastes – are just a quick scroll away. You don’t know what you’ve been missing.
30. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
The movie: Five years after the Spanish Civil War, Spain remains turbulent, with Allied forces set to free Europe from the Nazi regime. This troublesome time in Spanish history serves as the oppressive backdrop for Guillermo Del Toro’s glorious fantasy. While the war rumbles on, life for young Ofelia isn’t easy either, what with her mother marrying her evil stepfather, Captain Vidal. His orders, to flush out rebels in the countryside, lead their family to a rural retreat, where Ofelia befriends a faun who lives within a labyrinth filled with both wonder and terror.
Why it’s worth a watch: Del Toro’s take on wartime horrors is handled with imagination like you wouldn’t believe, a wondrous moodscape of darkness and delight. This grown-up fairytale meanders between the reality of war and the dream of the labyrinth, and does so with such a light touch, you’ll wonder where one ends and the begins.
29. The Conversation (1974)
The movie: Between work on The Godfather and its sequel, Francis Ford Coppola dove straight into this low-fi espionage thriller, that stars Gene Hackman as surveillance expert Harry Caul. Hired by an unseen client through an intermediary (played by a pre-Star Wars Harrison Ford), Caul is tasked with tailing a couple and records a rather cryptic conversation between the two. The Conversation is oft-seen as Coppola’s reaction to the Watergate scandal and, whatever you make of it, it’s a damn fine paranoia parable.
Why it’s worth a watch: One of the few times that a director has lost to himself at the Oscars! Yep, two of Coppola’s movies were nominated in 1975, The Conversation and The Godfather Part 2, with the latter scooping up the Best Picture gong. It’s chilling to watch a film that’s nearly half a decade old and realise the tensions at its core remain the same today.
28. Lady Bird (2017)
The movie: Greta Gerwig makes a flawless transition behind the camera in her directorial debut. Bringing the witty banter she often infuses her scripts with to this tale of ‘90s teen angst, it’s simply one of the best movies of the year. On the cusp of heading to university, Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) tries to figure out life in all its forms in her hometown of Sacramento, California. All of her relationships go through the ringer. How she deals with her mom (a superb Laurie Metcalf who was robbed of an Oscar), how she figures out the truth about her first boyfriend (you will cry) and how to maintain her best friendship. It’s simply one of the best movies of the last year.
Why it’s worth a watch: Much like this year’s Eighth Grade, Lady Bird feels like this is the first time we’re seeing this particular coming-of-age experience on screen. It’s funny as hell right off the bat, as Metcalf and Ronan take verbal sparring to the next level, and takes sharp swerves into emotional, tear-jerking terrain with ease. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll love these characters.
27. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The movie: This fantasy epic is simply an essential watch for any film fan. Directed by Peter Jackson and based on J. R. R. Tolkien's classic novels, Fellowship of the Ring chronicles the beginning of an epic adventure. Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), a young hobbit who lives in Middle Earth, finds himself in possession of the powerful One Ring, an object that Dark Lord Sauron is tearing the land apart to find. Now the fate of Middle Earth hangs in the balance as Frodo and his friends must journey to Mordor and the only place the ring can be destroyed: Mount Doom.
Why it’s worth a watch: If you're yet to journey to Mordor in this absolute classic, now is your chance. The whole trilogy is newly available on Amazon Prime Video and this is the place to start. Explore the beautiful fantasy realm of Middle Earth with Frodo, Gandalf, Samwise and more, and partnered with a memorable score from Howard Shore, you most definitely shall pass.
26. Heathers (1989)
The movie: The high school experience in ‘80s cinema was growing stale. Enter Heathers. A black-as-night comedy that renovates and greatly improves that pre-existing formula, it spins the unseemly undertones of many teen films into a new tale where the popular kids get a taste of their own medicine. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater star as Veronica and JD, a mismatched couple whose shared hatred of Veronica’s friends, the elite clique of Heathers, unites them. As the trio of girls start to exhibit more revolting behaviour, Veronica and JD hatch a plan to silence them, and teach them a lesson: by murdering them and making them look like suicides. Yes, it’s dark. But dang, it’s funny.
Why it’s worth a watch: Arguably the teen movie which changed the face of teen cinema forever. No other film in the genre has so expertly carved up the very audience it is supposed to entertain. Whether through vicious one-liners, barbs so sharp they’d slice your skin (“Did you eat a brain tumour for breakfast?” or this writer's personal favourite “Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit has a body count.”) or the horror these teenagers subject one another to, there’s no other movie this funny about a topic so tragic.
25. Paddington 2 (2017)
The movie: Paddington Bear returns for his second big-screen feature. This time, he’s become a regular fixture on his street, having settled in with the Brown family and found his place in the world. Eager to give his Aunt Lucy the best birthday present ever, he saves his money in the hopes of buying her a magical antique pop-up book. Alas, poor Paddington’s plan is scuppered when a thief steals the tome and the marmalade-loving bear is mistakenly arrested for the crime.
Why it’s worth a watch: Is Paddington 2 better than Paddington? The mere fact of asking that question should really say everything about how damn good this movie is. Still rocking a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating two years after its release, this sweet, kind-hearted, and surprisingly action-packed flick is guaranteed to hit you in the feels.
24. Coherence (2013)
The movie: Proof that you don’t need a million dollars to create suspense and genuine character interactions, writer-director James Ward Byrkit delivers one of the best low-budget genre movies of the last decade. Eight friends meet for a dinner party on the same night that a comet passes through Earth’s atmosphere. On an ordinary evening, that might provide a conversational spark, but on this night all bets are off, as the group start to experience some seriously strange occurrences. Side effects of the celestial event, or, is there something else at play?
Why it’s worth a watch: It’s hard to say why you should see Coherence without utterly spoiling it. Like The Invitation, another superb dinner party movie that changes course, this movie is best watched with very little knowledge of what’s about to happen. This is glorious filmmaking; proof that a shoestring budget and no script can lead to excellence.
23. The Big Sick (2017)
Region: UK, US
The movie: Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani writes and stars in this comedy based on his own marriage. The trials of cross-cultural romance come under scrutiny as stand-up comic Kumail falls for an American student at one of his shows. Not exactly the life his Muslim parents had in mind for him, but that’s the least of his concerns; shortly after they start dating, Emily falls into a coma, leaving Kumail to have to deal with her parents.
Why it’s worth a watch: Billed as a traditional romantic comedy, The Big Sick has a lot more heart and edge than the posters and trailers would have you believe. The chemistry between Nanjiani and Holly Hunter and Ray Romano - as Emily’s parents - provides most of the real grit. Realistic, and proof that there is still a lot of originality left in the genre, The Big Sick is one of the best movies on Amazon Prime Video.
22. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
The movie: Where the fourth entry in the Mission: Impossible series hit the ground running following a five-year break, it seemed… uhhh, impossible, for another sequel to somehow better that kinetic frenzy. Somehow, Rogue Nation did. Now, director Christopher McQuarrie does it yet again with Fallout, finding that sweet spot of plot, action, and making Tom Cruise risk his life to deliver another pulse-pounding piece of cinema. Ethan Hunt returns to scale heights and throw caution to the wind, typically at the same time, with his IMF crew in tow. This time the gang are in pursuit of a terrorist group planning to detonate three plutonium cores simultaneously across the globe.
Why it’s worth a watch: Let’s get this out of the way now – no-one watches the Mission: Impossible franchise for its strict adherence to reality. No. We watch for the bombastic stunts and seemingly nonsensical feats of action bravura and Henry Cavill’s ability to grow a moustache by recharging his fists. Cruise and co. crank things up to 11 and re-establish the series as arguably the best ongoing action franchise. Roll on MI7.
21. A Quiet Place (2018)
The movie: Following an alien invasion, the world has moved on. A race of scuttling extraterrestrials sensitive to sound now permeate the Earth, making human lives a different proposition. Just ask the Abbott family, led by Evelyn (Emily Blunt), her husband Lee (John Krasinski), and their children Regan, Marcus and Beau, who have lived in near-silence for years as a way to keep the beasts at bay. What begins as a normal day trip for Lee and Marcus quickly turns to a monster fight.
Why it’s worth a watch: Oh, aside from the fact that everyone and their mother and their mother’s tennis partner were talking about it last year? A horror that will shred your nerves and have you hardly breathing, nevermind talking, Krasinski’s directorial debut is a superb exercise in terror-filled set pieces. Oh, and we're getting a sequel soon...
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20. Fight Club (1999)
The movie: Another ‘90s Fincher flick that aims to disrupt what you think you know is happening on screen. Based on Chuck Palahniuk’s neo-noir tome, Fight Club takes the behaviours of angry young men and spins them into a story that deviates into ever more nihilistic turns. Edward Norton’s unnamed narrator meets Brad Pitt’s effortlessly cool Tyler Durden on a plane, where the two become acquaintances of a sort, bonding over their desire to feel something. That need swells into a movement that unites men from all over to join them in a series of underground fight clubs.
Why it’s worth a watch: The story is more relevant now perhaps than at the time of release, with its emphasis on young white men struggling to handle their future. Cinematically, this is all about the gorgeous visuals, the at-times kaleidoscopic cinematography, and of course, that mind-boggling twist. Keep your eyes peeled for the outstanding opening credits sequence that is *chef’s kiss*.
19. Zodiac (2007)
The movie: After first mastering the serial killer landscape in 1995’s Seven, David Fincher tackles the real-life world with a lengthy delve into the hunt for the Zodiac Killer. The dark, gloomy newsroom of the San Francisco Chronicle is the perfect backdrop for such a macabre tale, that starts all the way back at the Zodiac’s first victims, and his subsequent correspondence – and ciphers – with the Chronicle. His indecipherable notes snag the interest of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist whose intrigue in the case swells into obsession, alongside cop David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and journalist Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr).
Why it’s worth a watch: The world of thrillers is typically populated by characters whose arcs come to a nice, rounded conclusion: the bad guys are carted away and locked up, and those tensions simmering throughout? They simply melt away, letting the audience breathe a sigh of relief. Zodiac does away with all of that. It simply doesn’t obey the traditional rules. Mainly because screenwriter James Vanderbilt refused to wrap up the ending, and because well, the Zodiac has never been found, the movie ends on a note that’s entirely its own. What makes it so powerful is that the film is easily Fincher’s best work, in spite of that ending which offers no closure, you will find yourself looking through your fingers at the screen, and jumping when you least expect it.
18. Predestination (2014)
The movie: An underseen gem that needs to be seen, rewatched, and then rewatched several more times to be believed. From Daybreakers directors Peter and Michael Spierig, Predestination sounds, on the surface, to be a typical genre jaunt. It's far from it. Ethan Hawke plays a time-travelling agent who, while on a job to stop a criminal from blowing up the world, encounters Sarah Snook’s character in a bar one night, which is where the entire first act of the movie unravels. To say more would spoil this unique adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s tale All You Zombies.
Why it’s worth a watch: Frankly, this has one of the most ingenious Möbius strip-inspired plots that wrangles a damn good story into the proceedings. It’s unlike any other sci-fi movie that dabbles with the complexities of time travel. If you’ve not seen it, read nothing else about it, hunker down, and inhale this gloriously whacked-out love story.
17. Short Term 12 (2013)
The movie: Looking back, Short Term 12 plays like a ‘who’s who’ of upcoming acting talent. Brie Larson stars in this no-frills and gripping drama set in a care home for troubled teens alongside Lakeith Stanfield, Kaitlyn Dever, Rami Malek, and John Gallagher Jr. Larson leads the story as Grace, a young counsellor who works to connect with the kids while battling her own demons. Touching without spilling into sentimentality, it's alternately funny, heart-warming and sad.
Why it’s worth a watch: Larson's a revelation - as always - and gives an understated performance, that's impressive and brave. No need for scenery-chewing when you've got skills like this. If you’ve never seen her outside of the MCU as Captain Marvel then you have to see her mesmerising turn in this.
16. Booksmart (2019)
The movie: First-time director Olivia Wilde insisted on a “no asshole” and “lots of fun” policy on the set, a tactic that gifts her debut with heart and soul that doesn’t lessen the impact of its sharp humour. Booksmart is less interested in one-sided characters and crass sight gags: it’s a good-natured and witty dive into the last high school night for two self-admitted nerds, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein). Having studied to get into top-notch colleges, it’s only on the day before graduation that they discover their slovenly classmates ALSO got into Ivy Leagues. The girls’ plan? Party hard. Once.
Why it’s worth a watch: Forget the lazy comparisons to Superbad. Sure, on the surface Booksmart totters a similar premise (two unhip teens trying to get to a cool party) yet it’s worlds apart. Dever and Feldstein’s on-screen chemistry is dynamite, as two friends who genuinely care about each other. Their relationship, frequently tested over the course of one night, gives both actors the chance to flex their comedic chops (the hallucination scene) and dramatic (Dever’s post-pool heartbreak wander through the house is *chef’s kiss*) flair. Oh, and Billie Lourd swoops in to steal the show in every single scene. Don’t miss this.
15. Leave No Trace (2018)
The movie: With a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s no surprise that director Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace is one of the best movies on Amazon Prime. Living off the grid is normal for Iraq war veteran Will (Ben Foster) and his 13-year-old daughter, Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), having cultivated a beautiful, simple lifestyle in a sprawling urban park outside of Portland, Oregon. Their idyllic existence is sent off-kilter when a tiny slip in judgement puts them on the authorities radar, who, yank them from their dwelling and provide them with housing on a Christmas tree farm.
Why it’s worth a watch: Imagine Captain Fantastic without the overt quirkiness and Into the Wild without the earnestness and you’re somewhere in the realm of Leave No Trace. A low-key dive into similar territory, it steers away from obvious sentimentalism and instead hones in on the relationship between a father and daughter and their shared experience living in a way that’s alien to most of the world. Beautiful, tender, and shot with an eye for the small moments in life. One of the 2019’s major Oscar snubs.
14. Snowpiercer (2013)
The movie: In his English-language debut Bong Joon-ho mashes up every genre under the sun, as the story takes place within a gigantic train hurtling across the planet, during a post-apocalyptic, never-ending ice age blizzard. The aftermath of a global warming experiment gone awry is far more violent than you'd expect. Chris Evans stars a rugged everyman who refused to accept his situation as a back-of-the-train dweller. His journey to the front of the vessel finds him in dire straits on multiple occasions at the hands of Tilda Swinton's deliciously twisted villain.
Why it’s worth a watch: This tale of class war is a cut above the rest, Tilda Swinton's snooty Deputy-Minister Mason is a glorious creation. You'll loathe her while unable to take your eyes from the screen.
13. A Simple Favor (2018)
The movie: Following up on his run of comedy successes with a thriller, Paul Feig turns to the darker side of female friendship to tell the kooky tale of a missing woman. Anna Kendrick stars as mommy vlogger Stephanie who befriends Blake Lively’s mysterious Emily, an effortlessly cool parent, who drinks every afternoon and has no regrets, and then goes missing from their small, white-picket-fence town. A significant departure from Feig’s usual comedic fare, A Simple Favor mashes blacker humour into a twisty, turning noir as Stephanie seeks to track down her new bestie.
Why it’s worth a watch: Kendrick and Lively’s chemistry is off the charts, their witty banter and flirtatious playfulness, absolutely winning. What’s most exciting about A Simple Favor is Feig’s willingness to venture outside of his established genre, himself flirting with boundaries to deliver a unique wedge of female-led cinema.
12. The Handmaiden (2016)
The movie: Very loosely based on the Sarah Waters novel Fingersmith, Park Chan-wook relocates the story from Victorian England to Korea under Japanese colonial rule. That is but one of the many unique choices made by Chan-wook that propels this movie from good to great, as its three parts chart the dubious plottings of a conman, the self-dubbed Count Fujiwara, who aims to marry wealthy heiress Lady Hideko then steal her riches and dump her. He can’t carry out his plan alone, so Fujiwara hires a pickpocket to work as the Lady’s handmaiden with the hopes the young woman will convince Hideko to wed Fujiwara.
Why it’s worth a watch: So. Many. Reasons. Is it the operatic feeling of the plot? The sensuous visuals that mesmerize? You’ll be at a loss for words once the credits roll. This is lavish and decadent filmmaking, with thrills galore that unravel through sublime character development. Basically, it’s brilliant.
11. Midnight Special (2016)
The movie: The willingness to do anything for your child is a common theme in movies. What’s less common is when the child in question has supernatural abilities. I know what you’re thinking: Is this is the superhero origin tale you’ve been waiting for? Well, hold on a second. Midnight Special does have certain superheroic echoes, but it’s more of an indie road movie spiked with sci-fi elements. The story follows Roy (Michael Shannon) and his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) as they try to evade capture from law enforcement and a religious cult. Why? Because Alton’s a very special boy.
Why it’s worth a watch: Director Jeff Nichols borrows from every major genre director, uniting elements of John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg to tell a truly unique story. It’s not often that homage works without seeming like an obvious rip-off, but in this case Nichols hits a home run.
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10. First Reformed (2018)
The movie: The one where Ethan Hawke somehow wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. Taxi Driver writer Paul Schrader writes and directs this story about a small-town pastor, Ernst Toller (Hawke) whose entire life revolves around his parish. Dedicating time each day to pen a brutally-honest diary, Toller finds truth at the bottom of the bottle and a lack of belief steering him towards an ultimatum of faith. Enter newlyweds, Mary and Michael Messana, who shake up Toller’s existing beliefs.
Why it’s worth a watch: A real slow-burn that champions the big moments in life that come to define us, you won’t anticipate the twists and turns that occur, because they feel so at odds with the tone of the movie. It’s these risky story decisions that, in places, echo Taxi Driver.
9. You Were Never Really Here (2018)
Region: UK, US
The movie: Probably not one to watch when you need a pick-me-up, this 2017 thriller from Lynne Ramsay focuses on the life of a New York City hitman played by Joaquin Phoenix. A contract killer, Joe dispenses with his targets for crummy wages and with a hammer, adding a dose of up-close brutality to his work that contrasts massively with his down-time which he typically spends with his ageing mother. When a Senator’s teenage daughter is believed to have been kidnapped, Joe is summoned to track her down, and to bring her captors to justice.
Why it’s worth a watch: Aside from its captivating central performance by Joaquin Phoenix, you should be checking this out for the stellar work of Ramsay, who continues to deliver unusual takes on darker topics. You might have seen similar issues dealt with on screen, but none with such a unique and unflinching approach. Oh, and did I mention it’s only 90 minutes?
8. Eighth Grade (2018)
The movie: At last, a movie that approaches early adolescence with a certain degree of seriousness. That’s not to say Eighth Grade isn’t funny, because it is packed with humour and charm, most of which hails from newcomer Elsie Fisher who unveils her mastery of awkwardness as Kayla Day. Even whilst suffering through her own social anxieties, Kayla attempts to better herself and her peers by offering advice through her vlog, and even taking her own pointers in order to get more friends and make it through the school year.
Why it’s worth a watch: Writer-director Bo Burnham taps into the reality of what it means to be a 13-year old today in the current culture of sharing every detail of our lives on social media. Really, it’s Fisher’s performance that makes Eighth Grade such a winning watch. She truly illuminates the struggle of adolescence, from the very first scene through to the last, letting us witness up-close those battles that seem life-or-death when you’re a kid.
7. Hereditary (2018)
The movie: The most critically-praised horror movie of recent years is also one of the best movies on Amazon Prime. Ari Aster’s directorial debut is a compelling concoction of family battles, claustrophobic crafting, and some of the best acting you’ll never see on an Oscar ballot. Toni Collette leads the stellar cast as Annie Graham, a woman racked with grief following the death of her mother. Will grief bring her closer to her husband, her son, or her daughter? One thing’s for certain, there’s plenty of domestic drama to come, but you won’t expect any of it.
Why it’s worth a watch: It takes a lot for esteemed horror experts to throw up their hands and say they’re scared witless. That’s exactly what happened with Hereditary, which has proven to be a highly effective method of incurring lifelong insomnia. Aster is a skilled curator of mood, which, when tied together with the horrific events burning through the centre of Hereditary, will shake your very soul.
6. Heat (1995)
The movie: What do you get when you unite two of cinema’s most iconic actors in the same film? Michael Mann’s Heat. Of course, to say this is essential for any film fan purely because of that would be to discount everything else that makes this one of the best action films ever made. It’s also a heist flick, that finds Robert De Niro cast in the role of criminal mastermind Neil McCauley, who’s out to do “one last job” with his crew before calling it a day. On the other side of the law, is Al Pacino’s Lieutenant, who is eager to bring down McCauley and his team.
Why it’s worth a watch: De Niro. Pacino. They’ve since appeared together onscreen, in the lacklustre Righteous Kill, so it’s always a riot to revisit this duo in the mid-90s, especially when they work their magic for that one particular scene. Oh, and the shoot-outs? Epic.
5. Under the Skin (2013)
The movie: A cold, washed-out Glasgow is an unusual location for a cerebral sci-fi flick. But this is Jonathan Glazer's point: weird shit can happen anywhere, so why not there? Scarlett Johansson stars as a perplexed extraterrestrial disguised as a perplexed young woman, who ambles around the Glaswegian streets luring men into her Transit van. Why? Well, you'll have to watch it. Shot using what Glazer calls “covert filming” - most of the movie was lensed undercover to help achieve an extra layer of odd.
Why it’s worth a watch: This is a haunting exercise in painting a mood. Don't go in expecting a dense plot or an clearly-outlined goal and you'll be happy. It also birthed the Scarlett Johansson falling down meme and features the most bizarre response to carrot cake ever.
4. Unsane (2018)
The movie: While trailers positioned it as a somewhat gloomy psychiatric drama, Unsane is a far richer cinematic experience. It’s more akin to a mistaken identity thriller, with Claire Foy cast as Sawyer Valentini, a woman who moves across the country to be free of her long-time stalker. Right as her life is looking up, she finds herself locked into a mental ward after a supposedly routine health checkup. And, if that weren’t bad enough, shortly after her admission she realises that one of the staff looks familiar...
Why it’s worth a watch: You might not always enjoy the risks Steven Soderbergh takes with filmmaking technology, yet his idea of shooting an entire feature on iPhones pays off. Dark at times due to the lighting offered on such a device, the story somehow matches that visual, making Sawyer’s desperate attempts at escape seem even more realistic.
3. Carol (2015)
The movie: One of 2015's award darlings deserves all the praise it can get. Adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt, the film stars Cate Blanchett as an exotic, affluent housewife who takes a trip to a department store to pick up something for her son, and in the process, completely charms Rooney Mara's shopgirl. From thereon, the pair become friends, quickly realising there is something deeper to their kinship. It's a 1950s piece, through and through, thanks to the costumes and production, but told through a distinct modern lens. Gorgeous and utterly compelling.
Why it's worth a watch: Far From Heaven director Todd Haynes knows how to do period pieces. Every tiny detail of the production is given its time in the spotlight, adding to the love story between the two leads. That in itself is a breath of fresh air, as LGBTQ relationships in cinema are rarely represented this way.
2. Ghost World (2001)
The movie: A superhero-free comic book adaptation, Ghost World revels in the ordinary lives of two high schoolers leading up to graduation. Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) are on the cusp of adulthood, each possessing very different ideas about where they’re headed, which is what makes the film a unique entry into the teen movie canon: this pair are pals now, yet will they be six months into the future? Does it even matter when right now is all we have? Director Terry Zwigoff works the funniest and most touching moments from the comic panels into a darkly funny modern classic.
Why it’s worth a watch: Zwigoff strikes that perfect balance between flagrant laugh-out-loud humour (see: Illeana Douglas’ art teacher) and quiet poignancy. That’s not an easy tone to master. Birch and Johansson are excellent, channeling their own youth into their characters who are both excited and embittered by the world.
1. Brazil (1985)
The movie: What’s amazing about Terry Gilliam’s slapstick homage to George Orwell’s 1984, is that at time of release it didn’t even scrape back its meagre $15 million dollar-budget. That’s the sign of true genius, though, right? Brazil gives a righteous two fingers to The Man over and over, while telling one of the wackiest stories ever committed to celluloid. Jonathan Price plays Sam Lowry, a miserable worker at the Ministry of Education desperate to break free from the shackles of a totalitarian regime. Daydreaming of rescuing the same woman over and over, as he tries to locate a terrorist, Sam encounters his fictional woman and tries to aid her quest.
Why it’s worth a watch: A surreal, batty takedown of bureaucracy might sound at odds with itself, and to be honest, that’s exactly Gilliam’s point. The dreary dystopian city in which it takes place is driven by automated technological systems that are seldom monitored by humans. In fact, it’s an error caused by one that leads to the movie’s first major plot point. Even at 30 years old, Brazil is eerily prescient about today’s “smart” living.