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[Top] 59 The 50 Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now, Updated for March 2023

Du ser emneartiklen [Top] 59 The 50 Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now, Updated for March 2023, som er udarbejdet af os fra mange kilder på internettet

Free two-day shipping is nice, sure, but have you seen all the movies your Amazon Prime subscription gives you access to? As if all the original content produced by Amazon Studios was not enough, the streamer also boasts one of the most impressive and varied catalogs of other movies available for your viewing pleasure. (For starters, they actually have more than a handful of titles made before the year 2000.) You can both brush up on some classics from Hollywood’s studio era or watch a recent under-the-radar indie sensation. They have plenty of recent crowd-pleasing hits with familiar names as well as a plentiful supply of foreign films should you be looking to do some cinematic tourism.

Rather than waste time scouring that extensive catalog for your next watch, let Decider guide you toward the service’s top offerings. Whether it’s catching up with an old favorite or discovering a new one, we’ve found and updated the 50 Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now (updated for March 2023). Whatever movie-watching mood you’re in, Amazon Prime almost certainly has a title for it.


‘50/50’ (2011)

50/50, from left: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, 2011. ph: Chris Helcermanas-Benge/©Summit Entert

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Levine
STARS: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick

A comedy about having cancer? While it might seem impossible, 50/50 finds humor amidst the heartbreak as 27-year-old Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) faces down a cancer diagnosis that shakes him psychologically as much as it does physically. The film charts the ups and downs with grace thanks to the screenplay of Will Reiser, who infuses the proceedings with an authenticity derived from his own experiences.

‘The Vast of Night’ (2020)

The Vast of the Night

DIRECTOR: Andrew Patterson
STARS: Sierra McCormack, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer

Get in on the ground floor with director Andrew Patterson before he goes supernova. His debut feature The Vast of Night is an enticing sci-fi tale about a young switchboard operator and a disc jockey uncovering what might be an extraterrestrial transmission in the ’50s. This scrappy start shows an impressive mastery of both form and mood – just imagine what he can do with a big budget.

‘The Lost City’ (2022)


DIRECTORS: Aaron and Adam Nee
STARS: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe

Is The Lost City basically just doing Romancing the Stone – romance novelist and rugged suitor meet-cute in the jungle – for a new generation? Sure. But if you don’t need novelty and just want to see the sparks fly between a type A Sandra Bullock heroine and a lovable Channing Tatum himbo, then this is a guaranteed great night in. The Lost City delivers on romance and comedy, with a number of cunning belly laughs that far outshine the familiarity of the script.

‘Heathers’ (1988)


DIRECTOR: Michael Lehmann
STARS: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater

If you think ‘80s high school movies were nothing other than the optimistic comedies of John Hughes, look no further than Heathers. This high-concept satires skewers the conformity of cliques by imagining the popular girls as literally all named Heather. Winona Ryder’s Veronica is good enough to be among the Heathers but also smart enough to realize the group’s inanity. Once that pent-up anger crosses paths with Christian Slater’s volatile J.D., their school will have no idea what hit them.

‘Sylvie’s Love’ (2020)


DIRECTOR: Eugene Ashe
STARS: Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Eva Longoria

Eugene Ashe takes us back to the ’50s with his gorgeous romance Sylvie’s Love – not only in setting but also in sensibility. This is a film that sincerely believes in love at first sight as well as connections that can persevere against all odds, which is exactly what must come to pass for there to be any chance for jazz saxophonist Robert (Asomugha) and aspiring TV producer Sylvie (Thompson). There’s enough old-fashioned sincerity and charm in every sumptuously colored frame to make you swoon.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946)


DIRECTOR: Frank Capra
STARS: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

It need not be Christmas to enjoy Frank Capra’s classic! While the snowy setting certainly gives It’s a Wonderful Life a fun seasonal glow, its message of the power of an individual life to ripple through a community resonates every week of the year. Though some might use the director’s name as an insult to deride maudlin movies – “Capra corn” – this is evidence that sincere emotion can inspire and charm if executed with indisputable earnestness.

‘What the Constitution Means to Me’ (2020)


DIRECTOR: Marielle Heller
STARS: Heidi Schreck, Mike Iveson, Rosdely Ciprian
RATING: Not Rated

The best of Broadway is available in your living room! Marielle Heller’s rendering of Heidi Schreck’s informative, passionate one-woman show democratizes the play for a global audience to see. And better yet, the camera brings us even closer to the star than possible when sitting in the audience – making the impact of Schreck’s scorching monologue about how the lives of the women in her family interact with the Constitution land with an even more personal impact.

Watch What the Constitution Means to Me on Amazon Prime Video

‘The General’ (1926)

The General

DIRECTORS: Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman
STARS: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack
RATING: Not Rated

Tom Cruise’s stunt work has nothing on Buster Keaton, cinema’s original daredevil showman. His silent-era comic caper The General reminds us that there’s no more expressive instrument than the human body. If you can bracket the unsavory plot element that Keaton’s wannabe heroic soldier is on the side of the Confederacy, you’ll find his endearing and epic journey to impress the girl of his dreams a wild ride worth taking.

‘Selah and the Spades’ (2020)

Selah and the Spades

DIRECTOR: Tayarisha Poe
STARS: Lovie Simone, Jharrel Jerome, Jesse Williams

The world of prep school intrigue gets a stylish upgrade by way of Tayarisha Poe. Unlike the normal precocious protagonists of the genre, Lovie Simone’s Selah is not itching to leave her high school halls. She relishes the power she holds over the social factions too much to relinquish it easily, so she takes great pride in grooming her successor. Selah and the Spades may give heightened, almost Shakespearean, stakes to the action, but Poe resists the urge to turn her characters into easy stereotypes.

‘The Report’ (2019)


DIRECTOR: Scott Z. Burns
STARS: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm

Need any more proof Adam Driver has the range? It’s hard to think of a role more diametrically opposed to Kylo Ren than his modest, unassuming Congressional staffer Daniel Jones in The Report. He’s tasked with getting to the bottom of the CIA’s torture program, an arduous assignment that mostly means he’s left to sort through mountains of documents. The fact that Driver can make this long process both compelling to watch and morally urgent speaks volumes to his talents as an actor.

‘Nanny’ (2022)


DIRECTOR: Nikyatu Jusu
STARS: Anna Diop, Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls

There have been countless “social thrillers” to pop up in the wake of Get Out’s success – most of which are garbage. Not so for Nikyatu Jusu’s Sundance-winning Nanny, a film that lambasts the contemporary realities of an undocumented African caregiver watching over the young daughter of a wealthy Manhattan family. Jusu really takes the film to the next level by connecting the struggles of Aisha (Anna Diop) to stories of mythological resonance. It’s horror by virtue of what it covers as well as how Jusu covers it.

‘Nebraska’ (2013)


DIRECTOR: Alexander Payne
STARS: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb

Filmmaker Alexander Payne has set many a movie in his native Nebraskan environs, yet he’s often accused of picking on the salt-of-the-earth Midwesterners with his brutal sense of ironic comedy. Nebraska strikes a beautiful balance, finding the quiet dignity of their commitment to family while remaining unafraid to point out how foolhardy he finds some of their endeavors. The film is quite the career-capper for the legendary Bruce Dern as he masterfully conveys the senility and sincerity of an aging man convinced he’s won a giant prize.

‘Something Wild’ (1986)


DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme
STARS: Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, Ray Liotta

The great Paul Thomas Anderson refers to Something Wild as a “gearshift movie” because it can change tones and styles at the drop of a hat. “I like to see that in movies because that’s what real life is like,” so says PTA, “and it’s also good storytelling.” What initially presents as an adventurous road trip rom-com between Jeff Daniels’ yuppie banker Charles and Melanie Griffith’s beguiling blonde Audrey veers into entirely unexpected territory. I could tell you, sure, but it’s better if you just strap in and let Jonathan Demme take you where he wants.

‘Cold War’ (2018)

Cold War

DIRECTOR: Pawel Pawlikowski
STARS: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc

Know that feeling of watching a performer for the first time and sensing you’ll follow their career forever? That’s the thought that passed through my head seeing Joanna Kulig in Cold War, a tale of star-crossed lovers trying to navigate love, art, and politics in Communist-controlled Poland. Even in black and white, Kulig’s star burns incandescently as Zula, an entrancing and gifted jazz singer with self-destructive tendencies.

‘Landline’ (2017)


DIRECTOR: Gillian Robespierre
STARS: Jenny Slate, Edie Falco, John Turturro, Abby Quinn

Ready for a ’90s period piece? Like it or not, Gillian Robespierre is taking you there in Landline to reflect on some formative years when her understanding of love was forged by dealing with the realities of divorce and infidelity. This dramedy strikes a tricky balance between somberness and silliness, something it navigates nimbly thanks to deeply felt performances by the movie’s entire central family.

‘Annette’ (2021)


DIRECTOR: Leos Carax
STARS: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg

Leos Carax has long been somewhat of an enfant terrible in French cinema, and his biggest effort to date does not back down from the unabashed weirdness that defines his work. This tribute – or perhaps parody? – of the rock opera feature the ironic tunes of cult band Sparks, the prickly brashness of Adam Driver as a self-destructive artist, and a titular baby wonder that simply must be seen to be believed. You may love Annette, or you may hate it. What’s unlikely, though, is that you feel indifferent watching this truly singular piece of cinematic art.

‘His Girl Friday’ (1940)


DIRECTOR: Howard Hawks
STARS: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
RATING: Not Rated

With all due respect to today’s stars, they really don’t make romantic leads like they used to. The chemistry between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell practically jumps off the screen in His Girl Friday, one of the most beloved screwball comedies of the Hollywood studio era. It’s a madcap blast as Grant’s newspaper editor Walter tries to lure back his lost love/former star reporter, Russell’s Hildy, by giving her one final assignment he knows she can’t resist … and might struggle to escape.

‘One Night in Miami…’ (2020)


DIRECTOR: Regina King
STARS: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Leslie Odom Jr., Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge

“Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke walk into a hotel room…” might sound like the setup to a bad joke. But in the hands of Regina King, it’s the starting point for a fascinating debate over how to wield Black cultural power in a world that was finally beginning to accept it. One Night in Miami… nimbly balances an exploration of both who these men were and what they meant.

‘A Hero’ (2021)


DIRECTOR: Asghar Farhadi
STARS: Amir Jadidi, Mohsen Tanabandeh, Fereshteh Sadr Erfai

No one crafts a moral drama quite like Asghar Farhadi. The Iranian master filmmaker won’t just have his works examined among other great artists of the screen – his scripts will be dissected like Shakespeare or Chekhov. A Hero provides an excellent look at Farhadi’s craft in microcosm. Start with a situation that is placid yet unstable, drop in one seemingly small action, and watch the status quo of that world unravel in front of our eyes. Here, it’s imprisoned debtor Rahim appearing to commit a highly moral action that bolsters his case for release … but Farhadi quickly and thrillingly shows how nothing is ever as open-and-shut as it appears.

‘Sound of Metal’ (2020)


DIRECTOR: Darius Marder
STARS: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci

What is gained when a sense is lost? Riz Ahmed’s high-flying metal drummer Ruben finds out as he loses almost all hearing and must contemplate the new limitations and possibilities that come from his condition. Powered by Ahmed’s vulnerable and humanistic performance, Sound of Metal forms a moving tribute to how disability can open up the world rather than shutting it down. (Winner of the 2021 Academy Awards for Best Editing and Best Sound.)

‘Let the Right One In’ (2008)

Let the Right One In

DIRECTOR: Tomas Alfredson
STARS: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar

If Twilight convinced you that vampires were too sexy to be scary, let Let the Right One In dispel you of such notions. This chilling Swedish film foregrounds its horror in the innocence of youth as a bullied boy strikes up a connection with a beguiling girl next door for psychological support. She’s of course got a dark secret, but the film treats that as secondary to the secret bond she shares with her neighbor. Don’t come expecting schlock as the craftsmanship on display from director Tomas Alfredson is quite exquisite.

‘Licorice Pizza’ (2021)


DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson
STARS: Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Bradley Cooper

Paul Thomas Anderson has conjured visions of the 1970s before in Boogie Nights, yet they’ve never had such heart and warmth as this sun-soaked vision of the San Fernando Valley in his youthful years. Licorice Pizza has that ambling, aimless feeling of growing up but not necessarily coming of age. This amusing tale of two youthful spirits finding themselves amidst a pile-up of odd misadventures is as electrifying as the needle-drops powering the film.

‘The Handmaiden’ (2016)

The Handmaiden

DIRECTOR: Park Chan-wook
STARS: Tae Ri Kim, Kim Min-hee
RATING: Not Rated

Get over the one-inch barrier, as Bong Joon-ho memorably dubbed subtitles, and throw yourself into the wacky world of Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden. This tantalizing triptych plays thrice through the story of Korean handmaiden Sook-hee (Tae Ri Kim) as she attempts to swindle her Japanese employer Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee). But the con is far more complicated and complex than initially meets the eye – perhaps because you’ll be distracted by the stunning costumes, set design and camerawork to realize all the sneaky maneuvers happening. It’s a funny, erotic and thrilling ride worth strapping in for.

‘Role Models’ (2008)

Role Models

DIRECTOR: David Wain
STARS: Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, Elizabeth Banks

Role Models is in a rare echelon of movies that I’ve had to pause multiple times at home. And that’s not so people can go to the bathroom, mind you, that’s so people have time to catch their breath between belly laughs that last a distractingly large amount of time. The comedy flies fast and furious in David Wain’s film about two energy-drink salesmen doing court-ordered mentorship of children. Be it in the form pithy one-liners or a hold on Paul Rudd’s skeptical scowl just a second longer than you think it should, there’s always more to discover here.

‘Transit’ (2019)


DIRECTOR: Christian Petzold
STARS: Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer
RATING: Not Rated

Everything about the dialogue and scenario in Christian Petzold’s Transit indicates the story occurs in World War II-era Marseille. Everything about the visuals, though, suggest a story taking place in the present day. Petzold wants us to sit in that dissonance and, instead, find the resonance of how an age-old story could convincingly repeat itself in the current climate. If someone wanted to remake Casablanca today, it’d look a whole lot like this film’s tale of languishing lovers looking to flee their surroundings but not necessarily one another.

‘Paterson’ (2016)

PATERSON, Adam Driver, 2016. © Amazon Studios /Courtesy Everett Collection

DIRECTOR: Jim Jarmusch
STARS: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, William Jackson Harper

Want to wrap yourself in a warm blanket of a movie? Look no further than Paterson, starring Adam Driver as a modest New Jersey bus driver with a passion for writing poetry. There’s no artificial conflict, no cliched struggling artist tropes — just a thoughtful and earnest look at how people can carve out space for artistic fulfillment in the midst of mundanity.

‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ (2011)


DIRECTOR: Lynne Ramsay
STARS: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly

A decade out, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin only grows in relevance. Our society continues to struggle in reckoning with the “mother of a monster” figure given the plague of disaffected young men committing acts of unspeakable violence. Ramsay never gets preachy or didactic in her exploration of the nature vs. nurture debate, instead letting her propulsive visuals pull us deep into the tortured psyche of Tilda Swinton’s Eva Khatchadourian. Don’t expect easy answers from the film, but Ramsay’s challenges and provocations will undoubtedly deepen your emotional understanding of this new cultural archetype.

‘The Big Sick’ (2017)

THE BIG SICK, l-r: Zoe Kazan, Kumail Nanjiani, 2017. ph: Nicole Rivelli/courtesy Everett Collection

DIRECTOR: Michael Showalter
STARS: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter

If it weren’t based on a true story, the concept of The Big Sick might sound too ridiculous to believe. A couple in the throes of puppy love breaks up, and a guy decides to stay by that ex-girlfriend in the hospital as she falls into a coma from an unexplained illness? Not a usual stop on the way to “happily ever after,” but the unconventional love story of Kumail Nanjiani (playing himself) and Emily V. Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan) is all the stronger for leaning into the unconventional and unique. The alchemic mix of humor and heart is perfectly calibrated for an exuberant watching experience.

‘A.I.: Artificial Intelligence’ (2001)


DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
STARS: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor

Twenty years ago, A.I. was too cheery for fans of Stanley Kubrick, the legendary director who originated this sci-fi story about a robotic boy programmed to love. At the same time, it was a little too dour for fans of Steven Spielberg, the famous crowd-pleasing director who helped push the film across the finish line. (Ironically, it was Spielberg who pulled the film in darker directions!) This is a film ripe for rediscovery and reappraisal as it probes the mysteries of emotion and authenticity in a robotic age. Spielberg strikes an appropriate balance of sentimental and skeptical.

‘Lovers Rock’ / ‘Small Axe’ (2020)


DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen
STARS: Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, Micheal Ward, Shaniqua Okwok

Is it a movie, or is it TV? Let’s just leave that Twitter debate aside for now and say one thing is certain: Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology, a collection of five feature-length films, is absolutely outstanding. If you only have time for one piece of his chronicle memorializing London’s West Indian community as it pushed back against discrimination, make it Lovers Rock. This slender volume documents an unheralded form of resistance: collective joy. Here, that bliss all takes place on the dance floor where Black Britons congregate defiantly in a space all of their own.

‘Baby Mama’ (2008)


DIRECTOR: Michael McCullers
STARS: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Dax Shepard

The comedic chemistry of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s on-screen pairing makes it so that, as the old adage goes, they could make reading the phonebook entertaining. But luckily they have much better material in Baby Mama as a single career woman desperate to have a baby (Fey) and the hapless surrogate whose womb enables her dream to become a reality (Poehler). This mom-com is packed to the brim with great one-liners, zany supporting characters and hilarious gags.

‘Catherine Called Birdy’ (2022)

Catherine Called Birdy

DIRECTOR: Lena Dunham
STARS: Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Joe Alwyn

Let’s hear it for a new classic teen comedy! Never mind the Middle Ages setting, Lena Dunham’s take on beloved young adult novel Catherine Called Birdy has plenty to offer today’s middle schoolers (not to mention those older). This irreverent, quippy coming-of-age story vividly depicts that unique life stage where you’ve started to outgrow childhood but don’t quite have the mindset to grasp adulthood. Through it all, Bella Ramsey’s Birdy provides a delightful spirit guide through the colorful ensemble surrounding her in Medieval England.

‘Fences’ (2016)

FENCES, Denzel Washington, 2016. ph: David Lee/©Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

DIRECTOR: Denzel Washington
STARS: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Jovan Adepo

It’s common to hear people throw around the term “filmed theater” as derogatory, implying a kind of hierarchy between the mediums that establishes screen as inherently better than stage. That kind of quibble falls by the wayside watching Denzel Washington tackle August Wilson’s play Fences for the cinema. He knows how to key into the earth-shattering power of the performances delivered by himself and Viola Davis to transcend the limits of a talky, location-limited script. It never feels as if we’re just watching a camera record a play.

‘Erin Brockovich’ (2000)

erin brockovich

DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh
STARS: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart

Like the titular character, I’ll ask: which number do you want? 131: the number of minutes in Steven Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich, none of which are wasted exploring the origin story of how an unemployed single mom scrappily became one of our most important consumer advocates. 12: a rough estimation of the amount of zingers by Julia Roberts that prompt an audible cheer from me each time I put this movie on. Infinity: the number of times I could watch Erin Brockovich without getting bored.

‘Akeelah and the Bee’ (2006)


DIRECTOR: Doug Atchison
STARS: Keke Palmer, Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne

If your reaction to Keke Palmer’s breakout role in Akeelah and the Bee is sorry to this man … er, movie … it’s time to educate yourself! This story of an unlikely spelling bee champion is proof that the ins and outs of the English language can be as thrilling as any sports movie. This is the kind of rousing, heartwarming tale that’s worth gathering the family together to watch.

‘Election’ (1999)


DIRECTOR: Alexander Payne
STARS: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein

The best movie about the 2016 election was actually made in 1999. When smug Mr. McAllister (Matthew Broderick) just can’t stomach the ascendancy of overqualified Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) to win student body president, he throws a wrench in the democratic system by recruiting an airheaded jock (Klein) to thwart her candidacy. This vicious, delicious satire of American politics and campaigning has not lost one iota of bite or humor over two decades later.

‘Clue’ (1985)

CLUE, Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Mull, Madeline Kahn, Michael McKean, Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, E

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Lynn
STARS: Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan

It’s a little shocking that, more than 30 years later, Clue remains the only movie that’s really cracked the code of how to turn a board game into a successful movie. This murder mystery unfolds methodically but merrily, capturing all the fun of assuming a character and navigating a fixed set of rules. Having a stacked ensemble of fantastic thespians fully willing to commit to the bit is just the cherry on top.

‘You Were Never Really Here’ (2018)


DIRECTOR: Lynne Ramsay
STARS: Joaquin Phoenix, Alessandro Nivola, Ekaterina Samsonov

Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here plays out almost like the response to an unspoken prompt: how much can you strip away from a revenge movie and still have it satisfy as an action flick? Her minimalistic response is a chillingly sparse look at how a tortured soul busts up a ring of sex traffickers and nearly loses himself in the process. This role is the brooding ball of anger that should have won Joaquin Phoenix his Oscar.

‘Harold & Maude’ (1971)


STARS: Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort

It feels strange to describe a film with multiple staged suicide attempts as heartwarming and life-affirming, but that’s just the magic of Hal Ashby’s moviemaking. Harold & Maude traces the rainbow through the rain as the depressing young Harold finds a new lease on life through a friendship with the much-older Maude who has relatively little life left to live. It’s an odd wavelength to ride, but once you can latch on, the film is a rollicking delight as it relishes in the rejuvenating power of unconventional companionship.

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ (2008)


DIRECTOR: David Fincher
STARS: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson

Though it’s widely regarded as the “one for them” David Fincher had to make for Paramount to get financing for Zodiac, his work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is far from workmanlike studio hackery. This is an emotionally and visually heart-stopping journey backward through life with Brad Pitt’s titular character who is fated to age in reverse. All the technical wizardry in which Fincher excels all works in service of a story that shows a different way to live and live. It’s a commitment to watch nearly three hours, but an epic story deserves a canvas this grand.

Watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on Amazon Prime Video

‘Bridesmaids’ (2011)

BRIDESMAIDS, Kristen Wiig, 2011. ph: Suzanne Hanover/©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

STARS: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne

If you have time to read more than a blurb on why Bridesmaids is so great, I argued that its GIF-ability made it the definitive comedy of the 2010s in my Decider column “Smells Like ‘10s Spirit.” Those outsized reactions to everyday absurdity, particularly from leading lady Kristen Wiig, made it the perfect movie to capture the imagination of a culture moving further towards visual rather than text-based communication. But the movie also endures because it’s more than just a collection of outrageous moments – it’s an honest, heartfelt look at female friendships.

‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ (1999)

The Talented Mr. Ripley

DIRECTOR: Anthony Minghella
STARS: Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow

The squeaky-clean “boy next door” image Matt Damon has cultivated for himself is fascinating because it’s so at odds with the roles he’s chosen. Shortly after Good Will Hunting, he immediately undercut that loveable underdog by playing the enigmatic striver at the heart of The Talented Mr. Ripley. Damon’s Tom Ripley will stop at nothing to have what comes effortlessly to Jude Law’s high society slacker Dickie Greenleaf. But does he want to be Dickie, replace Dickie, or have Dickie? Therein lies the exquisite mystery powering the film’s immaculate intrigue.

‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ (1981)


DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
STARS: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman

Nothing says adventure quite like the legendary team-up of director Steven Spielberg and writer George Lucas channeling the swashbuckling serials of their youth. The globetrotting escapades of Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones never lose their luster — not even Kingdom of the Crystal Skull can change that! Nothing beats the original Raiders of the Lost Ark, though. It still possesses that little hint of magic that renders you back to seeing the world as you did in your formative years.

‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ (2011)

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL, Tom Cruise, 2011. ph: David James/©Paramount Pictures/Courtesy

STARS: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton

There are cases to be made for just about any of the Mission: Impossible movies being the best, but I’m here to settle this once and for all: it’s 2011’s Ghost Protocol. Director Brad Bird, best known for his work with Pixar, brings a real ingenuity to the action sequences that stems from working in the limitlessly imaginative realm of animation. Even on the smallest screen, the visual of Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt scaling the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is breathtaking.

Watch Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol on Amazon Prime Video

‘Time’ (2020)

Time Still 1

DIRECTOR: Garrett Bradley
STARS: Fox Rich, Rob Rich II

Many documentaries can make us understand the cruel realities of the American prison system. But few manage to translate the way the institution can seep into every facet of a person’s life quite like Garrett Bradley does in Time, her documentary chronicle of Fox Rich’s decades-long crusade to be reunited with her incarcerated husband. The film smothers you in the purest form of love as it champions the virtues of fair justice and just mercy.

‘Paths of Glory’ (1957)

Paths of Glory

DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick
STARS: Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou
RATING: Not Rated

This might not be Stanley Kubrick’s most inventive or subversive work, but darn if it isn’t his most emotionally affecting. About as close to an anti-war movie as can be made, Paths of Glory follows the fallout of a cowardly general looking to cover his own mistakes by scapegoating three of his own soldiers. As Kirk Douglas’ Colonel Dax fights a system rigged to protect the powerful from the consequences of their own actions, his rage against injustice translates on a visceral level.

‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004)


DIRECTOR: Michel Gondry
STARS: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst

Is it possible that the greatest modern love story is actually about a couple determined to erase the memory of their relationship after an acrimonious breakup? Writer Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry’s magical (sur)realist anti-romance captures the pains and pleasures of love in all its complex contradictions. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is an eternal bright spot in the cinematic canon.

Watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on Amazon Prime Video

‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)

Pulp Fiction

DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino
STARS: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis

More than a quarter-century of cinematic imitators, college dorm room posters, and graphic tees have not knocked the shine off the classic. Tarantino’s generation-defining postmodern pastiche Pulp Fiction remains as vital and exciting as ever. The snappy dialogue still crackles; the eclectic soundtrack still slaps; the ingenious plotting still exhilarates.

‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ (1946)

The Best Years of Our Lives

DIRECTOR: William Wyler
STARS: Frederic March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews
RATING: Not Rated

Director Steven Spielberg listed this as one of his all-time favorites … game recognize game. The Best Years of Our Lives is one of those movies you should carve out three hours of your life to feel your way through. This home-front drama about three soldiers returning home from World War II, each wounded physically or psychologically in their own way, is a remarkably empathetic tale about the enormous sacrifices made by servicemembers – including those who return home alive.

‘Manchester by the Sea’ (2016)


DIRECTOR: Kenneth Lonergan
STARS: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler

Yes, it’s a bruising watch to see Casey Affleck’s Lee Chandler try to overcome the emotional baggage of his hometown and all his memories within it in Manchester by the Sea. But it’s a rewarding, uplifting one as well given that filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan paints an honest, human portrait of what it means to be there for the ones we love. This may very well be a perfect movie – I challenge anyone to name a single misjudged moment or a scene out of key. It’s less like watching a movie and more like paratrooping into a real scenario populated with authentic people.

Marshall Shaffer is a New York-based freelance film journalist. In addition to Decider, his work has also appeared on Slashfilm, Slant, Little White Lies and many other outlets. Some day soon, everyone will realize how right he is about Spring Breakers.

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