Published on January 5th, 2021
Another year, another so many films that came out. The pace and sheer volume of new movies to stream is daunting. Here, have picked up 15 best movies to stream on Amazon Prime right now.
1. Leave No Trace
Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon.
When their idyllic life is shattered, both are put into social services. After clashing with their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a harrowing journey back to their wild homeland.
The film is directed by Debra Granik from a script adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini.
Review: The Guardian
A tale of a father and daughter living off the grid in the forests of the Pacific north-west of the US proves the perfect material for Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik.
Renowned for her empathetic portrayal of marginalised outsiders, Granik here conjures a low-key drama about cultural and generational divides that is alternately gripping and melancholic, but always shot through with the unmistakable ring of truth.
The result is work of overwhelming, understated power that quite simply took my breath away.
2. Stop Making Sense
David Byrne walks onto the stage and does a solo “Psycho Killer.” Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz join him for two more songs.
The crew is busy, still setting up. Then, three more musicians and two back-up singers join the band. Everybody sings, plays, harmonizes, dances, and runs. They change instruments and clothes. Bryne appears in the Big Suit.
The backdrop is often black, but sometimes it displays words, images, or children’s drawings.
The band cooks for 18 songs, the lyrics are clear, the house rocks. In this concert film, the Talking Heads hardly talk, don’t stop, and always make sense.
This concert/movie is simply a brilliant collaboration of music and film. First off, you have the Talking Heads, perhaps one of the most creative and interesting bands in the history of music who put on a concert that is so imaginative that I still cannot believe it happened.
Second, you have veteran Director Johnathan Demme who brings the darkness and creepiness that he used in such films as Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, to a concert with sort of a dark and creepy demeanor, i.e. David Byrne in general, the style of music, the dancing.
3. Eighth Grade
In his feature film directorial debut, comedian Bo Burnham deftly encapsulates the awkwardness, angst, self-loathing and reinvention that a teenage girl goes through on the cusp of high school.
Given that the 27-year-old stand-up comic achieved fame as a teenager himself through YouTube by riffing on his insecurities, he is uniquely capable as the film’s writer and director to tell the story of Kayla, an anxious girl navigating the final days of her eighth grade year, despite creating a protagonist w female instead of male.
Like Burnham did more than a decade ago, 13-year-old Kayla turns to YouTube to express herself, where she makes advice blogs in which she pretends to have it all together.
Review: The Guardian
Accepting his directorial debut award from the National Board of Review in January, “internet comedian” turned film-maker Bo Burnham described his brilliantly empathetic first feature as “an attempt to represent the kids who live their lives online”; youngsters who have been “mischaracterised as self-obsessed, narcissistic, shallow”, but who are actually “self-conscious”.
4. How To Train Your Dragon
Long ago up North on the Island of Berk, the young Viking, Hiccup, wants to join his town’s fight against the dragons that continually raid their town.
However, his macho father and village leader, Stoik the Vast, will not allow his small, clumsy, but inventive son to do so. Regardless, Hiccup ventures out into battle and downs a mysterious Night Fury dragon with his invention, but can’t bring himself to kill it.
Instead, Hiccup and the dragon, whom he dubs Toothless, begin a friendship that would open up both their worlds as the observant boy learns that his people have misjudged the species.
Review: Spirituality And Practice
The village has been dealing with a “dragon problem” for a long time. These huge fire-breathing beasts periodically descend upon the village to snatch up all the livestock and destroy the crops.
The Vikings only have clubs, swords, and spears to fight them off. The village teens go to a special training camp to learn how to kill dragons.
5. I Am Not Your Negro
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, “Remember This House.” The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished.
Review: The Atlantic
A novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet, James Baldwin was a writer with an arsenal of artistic talent and moral imagination.
His signature style was his prose—startling in its intricate design and depth of perception, and fierce in its determination to dismantle the racial assumptions of the American republic and the English language.
Baldwin lent his words and energies also to the civil-rights movement and would write one of the defining books of that era, The Fire Next Time, his 1963 classic.
6. Ash Ii Purest White
In an industrial city in China, a young dancer named Qiao falls in love with a mobster named Bin. When a fight breaks out between rival gangs, Qiao uses a gun to protect Bin and is sent to prison for five years.
True love may last forever, but can it weather Chinese infrastructure? In Jia Zhangke’s Ash Is Purest White, one woman’s loyalty to her love hangs on for 16 years, but it’s 16 years that feel — visually, technologically, and emotionally (and in the run time of the film, for better and worse) — like a century.
Wanna feel old? Zhangke asks. Just be in China, for really any duration of time at all. Your feelings and desires and dreams will feel slow and forgotten, as the skyscrapers and high-speed rail spring up around you.
James Bond (Sir Sean Connery) is back and his next mission takes him to Fort Knox, where Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) and his henchman are planning to raid Fort Knox and obliterate the world economy.
To save the world once again, Bond will need to become friends with Goldfinger, dodge killer hats, and avoid Goldfinger’s personal pilot, the sexy Pussy Galore.
Review: Empire Online
At the beginning of Goldfinger, James Bond emerges from black water sporting a seagull on his head, then proceeds to shed his wet suit to reveal a snazzy tuxedo replete with buttonhole.
Larger than life, faintly ridiculous, completely cool, it is perhaps the quintessential James Bond movie moment to kickstart the quintessential James Bond movie.
In short, Goldfinger is the Bond flick where 007 really hit his stride. From the broad strokes — exotic locale.
8. The Farewell
A headstrong Chinese-American woman returns to China when her beloved grandmother is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Billi struggles with her family’s decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time.
Review: Rotten Tomatoes
The Farewell is insightful, intimate and emotionally heartfelt thanks to its insightful story and themes as well as its solid lead performances from Awkwafina and company.
The film does enough to make audiences feel and understand for the family.
9. The Big Sick
Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings.
Romance, cultural conflict, betrayal, compassion, and redemption. All neatly wrapped within the context of a comedic memoir.
Michael Sholwater did a superb job directing and the writing collaboration between Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani gave the audience a wonderfully intimate sense of how the warmth, power, and growth of a couple relationship can expand and strengthen the bonds of family.
10. Short Term 12
At a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers, Grace is a young counselor trying to do her best for kids who often have been pulled from the worst kinds of home situations.
Even then, life is not easy as Grace and her colleagues care for kids who are too often profoundly scarred, even as they try to have lives of their own.
Now, things are coming to a head as Grace readies for marriage even as some her charges are coming to major turning points in their lives.
To cope, Grace will have to make difficult perceptions and decisions that could put her career, and more importantly her charges, at dire risk.
Review: The Guardian
Romcoms developed by standup comedy stars usually work like this: the jokes and the observational material are front-loaded into the first 15 minutes.
But once the wheels of narrative need to start moving, the comedy gets ground out. It’s something to do with needing to identify with the characters, to get on board for the upcoming happy ending and leave behind the cynicism and wrongness that provided the ecosystem for jokes.
Quad rugby as played by the US team, between 2002 games in Sweden and the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.
Young men, most with spinal injuries, play this rough and tumble sport in special chairs, seated gladiators.
We get to know several and their families. They talk frankly about their injuries, feelings in public, sex lives, competitiveness, and love of the game.
There’s also an angry former team member gone north to coach the Canadian team, tough on everyone, including his viola-playing son.
We meet a recently injured man, in rehab, at times close to despair, finding possible joy in quad rugby. After Athens, the team meets young men injured in war: the future stars of Team USA.
As a tale of human courage and personal triumph, Murderball works. As a sports documentary, it falls short of the mark. Fortunately, Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro’s crowd-pleasing movie (it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at Sundance) is more about the former than the latter.
The failure of the in-game sequences (which amount to only a small percentage of the overall running time) does little to detract from Murderball’s most important observations.
12. Blow Man Down
Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly attempt to cover up a gruesome run-in with a dangerous man. To conceal their crime, the sisters must go deep into the criminal underbelly of their hometown, uncovering the town’s darkest secrets.
This is a story from the POV of the woman. All the women. Excellent sense of place and realistic portrayal of intrigue, power, protection, and betrayal. I enjoyed every minute and would recommend.
13. One Child Nation
After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.
Review: The Guardian
China’s “one-child” policy lasted from 1979 to 2015 (to be replaced by the two-child maximum, still in force) and is revealed in this powerful documentary to be a cruel and tragic experiment in big-government meddling, a colossal and yet intimate abuse of the family by the state whose aftereffects have still to be reckoned with.
14. The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari
Francis, a young man, recalls in his memory the horrible experiences he and his fiancée Jane recently went through. It is the annual fair in Holstenwall.
Francis and his friend Alan visit The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, an exhibit where the mysterious doctor shows the somnambulist Cesare, and awakens him for some moments from his death-like sleep.
When Alan asks Cesare about his future, Cesare answers that he will die before dawn. The next morning Alan is found dead.
Francis suspects Cesare of being the murderer, and starts spying on him and Dr. Caligari. The following night Cesare is going to stab Jane in her bed, but softens when he sees the beautiful woman, and instead of committing another murder, he abducts her.
Review: Empire Online
Several claims have been made on behalf of Robert Wiene’s silent classic — few of which can actually be sustained.
Even the credits are disputed, with nigh on every key contributor keen to aggrandise their role in what has long been acclaimed a watershed production. What can’t be gainsaid is that the screenplay was written by Czech poet Hans Janowitz and Austrian artist
15. His Girl Friday
Having been away for four months, Hildy Johnson walks into the offices of the New York City based The Morning Post, where she is a star reporter, to tell her boss, editor Walter Burns, that she is quitting.
The reason for her absence was among other things to get a Reno divorce, from, of all people, Walter, who admits he was a bad husband.
Hildy divorced Walter largely because she wanted more of a home life, whereas Walter saw her more as a driven hard-boiled reporter than subservient homemaker.
Hildy has also come to tell Walter that she is taking the afternoon train to Albany, where she will be getting married tomorrow to staid straight-laced insurance agent, Bruce Baldwin, with whose mother they will live, at least for the first year.
one of the fastest, funniest, and most quotable films ever made, His Girl Friday stars Rosalind Russell as reporter Hildy Johnson, a standout among cinema’s powerful women. Hildy is matched in force only by her conniving but charismatic editor and ex-husband, Walter Burns (played by the peerless Cary Grant), who dangles the chance for her to scoop her fellow news writers with the story.