10 best movies to watch on Amazon Prime: February 2021

We’ve all existed: Skimming Amazon Prime’s motion picture offerings, however stuck questioning uh, what’s excellent. So what are the very best motion pictures to view on Amazon Prime? The commercial giant’s streaming service has quietly collected a giant archive of films, and since 2006, has released a number of acclaimed films like Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By the Sea, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, and Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake under the Amazon Studios banner.

Prime Video is a great service, but there’s a ton of content to sift through. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve looked through the service and cherry-picked 10 of our favorite films currently on the platform to try out. From modern anime spectacles like Redline, cerebral sci-fi thrillers like Coherence, to experimental anthologies like Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series — we’ve got you covered with the good stuff. Without further ado, here are the top 10 finest films to stream on Amazon right now.


Sound of Metal

A bleach blonde Riz Ahmed in The Sound of Metal crossing his fingers

Image: Amazon Studios

In Sound of Metal, Riz Ahmed delivers a devastating performance as Ruben, a heavy-metal drummer whose life is thrown into chaos and uncertainty when he begins to lose his hearing and subsequently forced to go to rehab to retrain his approach to life. The diegetic sound design of Ruben’s waning auditory perception is immersive, as are Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci’s memorable performances as Ruben’s musical partner/lover Lou and mentor Joe respectively. An affecting story of hope, desperation, and the amorphous nature of addiction, Sound of Metal is without question one of the most beautiful films to release in the past year. —Toussaint Egan


One Night in Miami

a group of men at a bar

Photo: Amazon Studios

One Night in Miami is a star-studded, semi-fictionalized account of the historic 1964 rendezvous between civil-rights leader Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), soul singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), NFL champion Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), and boxing legend Cassius Clay / Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree) helmed by HBO’s Watchmen and If Beale Street Could Talk star Regina King in her directorial debut. From our review,

With the weight of this enormous history in mind, first-time feature director Regina King (star of HBO’s Watchmen) spins a tale of social change and the people who catalyze it, capturing the struggle of how best to fight for progress when every approach feels impossible or is perceived as a violent act. But in spite of its heavy subject matter, it’s also one of the most electrifying and downright fun historical dramas to come out of Hollywood in years.


The Small Axe Series

A large group of Black protestors carry a Black Panther banner in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series movie Mangrove

Photo: Amazon Studios

The five Small Axe installments, directed by 12 Years a Slave’s Steve McQueen, have launched a lively debate over whether they should be classified as motion pictures or TV episodes. Just to throw a wrench in the works, here’s a different take: they work best when taken as one long feature. Mangrove, Alex Wheatle, Lovers Rock, Education, and Red, White and Blue are set in London over the course of decades, among a thriving subculture of West Indian immigrants navigating work, romance, community-building, and especially the racism of the white establishment. The individual installments (which range from about an hour long to over two hours) each leave something to be desired, whether it’s a more complete story or tighter editing in the case of the rambling segments. But taken as a whole, they feel like one staggeringly ambitious narrative, a generational look at a community striving for peace, equality, self-determination, and freedom in what for some is a hostile new home, and for others is a native land that still insists on treating them like foreigners. —Tasha Robinson


Embrace of the Serpent

man stands in front of group in embrace of the serpent

Photo: Andrés Córdoba / Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

Director Ciro Guerra’s 2015 film Embrace of the Serpent is a powerful and poetic portrait of the effects of European colonialism and environmental despoilment as viewed through the eyes of Karamakate, the sole survivor of an Amazonian tribe murdered by rubber barons. Featuring a script written in with native Amazonian consultants, and shot in stunning black and white, Embrace of the Serpent made history in 2016 when it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards, becoming the Colombian film ever to receive a nomination for an Oscar. —TE


Redline

Sweet JP and Sonoshee race to the finish line in Takeshi Koike’s Redline.

Photo: Katasuhito Ishii, Gastonia, Madhouse / Redline Partners

Takeshi Koike’s sci-fi action anime Redline, which just last year celebrated its 10-year anniversary in theaters, is one of the most visually distinct and invigorating works of Japanese animation of its era. Redline is the story of Sweet JP, a daredevil racer with a ridiculously oversized pompadour who qualifies to compete in the eponymous Redline, the most popular, dangerous, and highly illegal racing tournament in the galaxy, all the while hounded by nefarious crime syndicates and fascist space empires. If you’re looking for brazenly outlandish and stylish action fare with fast cars, eccentric characters, and preposterously huge explosions, Redline is an absolute must-see. —TE

Note: Redline leaves Amazon Prime Streaming on February 28


Coming to America

Eddie Murphy in his fast food restaurant outfit in Coming to America

Image: Paramount Pictures

At the top of his game after Trading Places, two Beverly Hills Cop movies, and his legendary (if not controversial) stand-up concert film Raw, Eddie Murphy turned his eye to the story of a rich, famous young prince from the made up African nation of Zamunda who pines for a normal life. Unlike his hard-R-rated comedy, Coming to America is an unexpectedly sweet, level-headed rom-com, with the open-hearted Prince navigating the ups and downs of Queens, New York as he searches for the perfect woman. It’s also the movie that hooked Murphy on playing multiple roles in a single movie; he and Arsenio Hall slip into old-age makeup and jerry curl wigs to play a variety of side characters who bring bigger laughs than Murphy’s Prince Akeem Joffer. The comedian must be nostalgic for that experience — Coming to America arrives to Amazon just a few weeks before a long-awaited sequel, Coming 2 America, premieres on the platform. —TE


Time

Fox and Rob Richardson in a still from the documentary Time.

Photo: Amazon Studios

Garrett Bradley’s 2020 documentary Time recounts the dramatic story of Fox Rich, entrepreneur and mother of six children, and her two-decade campaign to secure the release of her husband Rob G. Rich from a 60-year prison sentence for a failed robbery the pair attempted in a moment of desperation during the early 90s. Constructed from archived home video footage filmed by Rich herself, the film is an affecting and intimate portrait of the personal costs and human stakes of the America’s prison system. The winner of the Best Documentary award at both the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and the 30th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, Time is an achingly beautiful film of perseverance and hope in the shadow of the American carceral system. —TE


Coherence

Nicholas Brendon, Maury Sterling, Lorene Scafaria, Alex Manugian, Lauren Maher, and Emily Baldoni in Coherence (2013)

Photo: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Writer-director James Ward Byrkit’s 2013 sci-fi thriller Coherence is a taut puzzle box of multidimensional weirdness and fraught existential terror. Holding it all together are strong performances led by Emily Baldoni, Homeland’s Maury Sterling, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendon. If you’re hungry for an intriguing blend of mumblecore cinema and sci-fi horror, Coherence is it. —TE


The Handmaiden

Kim Min-hee and Kim Tae-ri in Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden)

Photo: Amazon Studios / Magnolia Pictures

Oldboy director Park Chan-Wook’s elegant and elaborate erotic thriller set in 1930s Korea was launched to near-unanimous acclaim back in 2016, leaving audiences and critics clamoring for Park’s next turn at the director’s chair. Based on Sarah Waters’ 2002 novel Fingersmith, the film follows Nam Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri), a woman hired to work as a maid to a Japanese heiress (Kim Min-hee) in a sinister plot to despoil her inheritance. Things quickly take several dozen turns however, escalating into an intricate web of seduction and deception as Sook-hee and the heiress are brought ever closer together. Whether you’ve seen it before or not, now’s as perfect time as any to see what all the fuss is about while Park begins filming his upcoming his romantic murder mystery Decision to Leave this year. —TE


Zodiac

Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac.

Photo: Paramount Pictures

David Fincher’s 2007 mystery thriller dramatization of the manhunt to find the elusive Zodiac Killer is considered by many to be among his finest, if not the best film in his career. With stunning efficiencies by Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Robert Downey Jr., an ominous and subtle rating thanks to author David Shire, and regular Fincher partner Harris Savides’ beautiful cinematography, it’s not tough to see why. Take 3 hours for this thinking-person’s thriller. —TE

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.