The Best Movies on Amazon Prime Video Right Now

New films, and classics, just keep coming, but you don’t have to drill down to find the finest selections to stream. We’ll do the heavy lifting. You press play.

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As Netflix pours more of its resources into original content, Amazon Prime Video is picking up the slack, adding new movies for its subscribers each month. Its catalog has grown so impressive, in fact, that it’s a bit overwhelming — and at the same time, movies that are included with a Prime subscription regularly change status, becoming available only for rental or purchase. It’s a lot to sift through, so we’ve plucked out 100 of the absolute best movies included with a Prime subscription right now, to be updated as new information is made available.

Here are our lists of the best TV shows and movies on Netflix, and the best of both on Hulu and Disney+.

ImageWinona Ryder as Jo March in “Little Women” (1994).
Credit...Columbia Pictures/NBC

Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel “Little Women” isn’t a stranger to movie adaptations — early versions date clear back to the silent era — but this engaging take from the director Gillian Armstrong (“My Brilliant Career”) adroitly pitches the film to modern audiences. Handsomely staged and marvelously acted, this is a first-rate introduction to one of the great works of young adult literature. Our critic called it “the loveliest ‘Little Women’” ever onscreen.

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Credit...Michael Tackett/Gramercy Pictures

Frances McDormand won her first Oscar for her unforgettable performance in this indie smash from Joel and Ethan Coen. McDormand takes what could have been a caricature — Marge Gunderson, the very pregnant Minnesota police chief with a cheerful Midwestern disposition — and turns it into one of the warmest characters of the entire Coen canon: She deftly conveys not only Marge’s sense of “Minnesota nice,” but her sharp investigative skills and keen instincts for the nuances of human nature.

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Credit...Orion

Because it begat so many sequels, reboots, adaptations and other ephemera, it’s easy to forget that James Cameron’s original “Terminator” film was “a B-movie with flair” — a stripped-down, low-budget exploitation picture with an ingenious central idea, a well-selected cast and a director who knew how to stretch a dollar. Linda Hamilton is charismatic and sympathetic as Sarah Connor, an average woman who discovers a killing machine from the future (a terrifying Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been sent to hunt her down.

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Credit...Photofest

Eddie Murphy rose to superstardom playing wisecracking, foul-mouthed fast-talkers, in a series of vehicles built to showcase his rude charms. “Coming to America” was a departure from that formula, casting Murphy as a romantic leading man. The shift works; the romance at the film’s center is charming and sweet, while the supporting cast (including Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Shari Headley, Eriq La Salle and a young Samuel L. Jackson) lightens the load, and Murphy and Hall’s uproarious turns in multiple side roles provide a welcome counterbalance of lowdown laughs. (Murphy’s electrifying film debut, 48 Hrs.,” is also on Prime.)

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Credit...United Artists

Two jazz musicians (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis) disguise themselves in drag to escape some gangsters, but one of them falls for a seductive singer (Marilyn Monroe, in one of her best performances), while the other becomes the object of a millionaire’s desire. Uproariously funny and tight as a drum, “Some Like It Hot” works through every complication of its farcical setup, landing not only on a picture-perfect conclusion but also on one of the best closing lines in all of cinema. Our critic called it “a rare, rib-tickling lampoon.”

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Credit...MGM

Norman Jewison helms this seductive blend of cynicism and schmaltz from the screenwriter John Patrick Shanley, in which several seemingly hardened New Yorkers discover they’re hopeless romantics after all. Cher has never been more glorious as the widow Loretta, especially when she reacts to Nicolas Cage’s morning-after declaration of love with “Snap out of it!” and a sharp slap. Olympia Dukakis is frisky and funny as Loretta’s world-weary mother, who turns out to have man troubles of her own; both women won Oscars for their work in this joyous, swoony treat.

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Credit...Roadside Attractions

The actor-turned-director Sarah Polley makes her documentary debut with this intensely personal story unraveling the truths and white lies of her family’s past. A former child actor, Polley documents a yearslong investigation, weaving together family photos, interviews with family and friends, narrated extracts from her father’s memoir and eerily convincing home movie recreations. It’s not a conventional documentary, and that’s a case of form following function: Her film is about the blurry lines between perception and reality, and this “affecting documentary tale” walks that line with intrigue and grace.

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Credit...Bob Marshak/Artisan Entertainment

Steven Soderbergh followed up the career revival of “Out of Sight” with another fusion of art-house experimentation and genre storytelling. He combines fractured timelines, stream-of-consciousness editing and even clips from an earlier, unrelated film to tell the tale of a revenge-seeking ex-con (Terence Stamp, in a career-best performance). In doing so, Soderbergh turns what could’ve been a “Death Wish” remake into a thoughtful, mournful, elegiac meditation — on family, on forgiveness, on the past in general and the ’60s in particular.

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Credit...Paramount Pictures

The director David Cronenberg rarely made traditional horror films, and this adaptation of the best seller by Stephen King is no exception. It’s as much science-fiction as horror, focusing on a regular Joe (Christopher Walken, muted and effective) who comes out of a five-year coma with the ability to see the futures of those he touches. This thoughtful and tricky picture is as interested in moral dilemmas and historical ramifications as it is in thrills and chills; our critic found it “unsettling” and “quietly forceful.”

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Credit...Park Circus

The esteemed character actor Charles Laughton made his one and only trip behind the camera for this haunting small-town thriller. Robert Mitchum crafts a chilling, unforgettable performance as Harry Powell, a mysterious stranger who romances a widowed mother (a superb Shelley Winters) whose children seem to be the only ones capable of seeing the evil within him. Our critic called it “clever and exceptionally effective.”

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Credit...Bob Penn/Orion Pictures

The 1964 comedy “Bedtime Story” wasn’t exactly a career highlight for Marlon Brando or David Niven, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that this 1988 remake from director Frank Oz has replaced it in the popular consciousness. “Scoundrels” takes the clever premise of the original — warring con artists team up and then compete for the affections and pocketbook of a scene-stealing mark (Glenne Headly) — and gives it several delicious twists, making full use of the comic gifts of Headly, Steve Martin and Michael Caine. In the process, it makes the case for better remakes: Rather than tampering with the classics, why not fix good ideas that were improperly executed? (For more wild comedy, stream “My Cousin Vinny” and “Galaxy Quest” on Prime.)

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Credit...Paramount Pictures

The director Billy Wilder followed up the triumph of “Sunset Boulevard” with this similarly “sordid and cynical drama,” starring Kirk Douglas as a ruthless and amoral newspaper man who turns a minor story of a man trapped in a collapse into a nationwide media circus, all to bolster his own profile. “Ace in the Hole” was a critical and commercial failure at the time of its release, a reception that now seems an indication that Wilder was ahead of his time; the picture’s unflinching portrait of mass media (and of humanity in general) seems much more in tune with our contemporary mood.

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Credit...The Mount Company

The writer-director Ron Shelton’s tale of the on-and-off-field competitions of a small-town minor-league baseball team propelled Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins to the next level of stardom, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a laid-back charmer, endlessly funny and casually sexy, and it gives all of them the opportunity to do what they do best: Costner shoots straight, Sarandon smolders, and Robbins plays an amiable goofball. Our critic praised its “spirit and sex appeal.” (For more ’80s rom-coms, add “Mystic Pizza” to your watchlist.)

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Credit...Universal Studios

After “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg conquered the zeitgeist yet again with this “enchanted fantasy” of an alien visitor from another world. But considering its premise and its blockbuster commercial reception, “E.T.” is a surprisingly muted and gentle piece of work, less about special effects and monster makeup than about the heartwarming connection between little Elliott (Henry Thomas) and the extraterrestrial he discovers in the shed behind his suburban home. The film has the expected magical powers and evil government types, but ultimately this is a story of emotional longing and fulfillment, in which an outsider comes into a broken home and makes it whole again. (Spielberg’s “AI: Artificial Intelligence” is also streaming on Prime.)

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Credit...Patti Perret/Amazon Studios

The “one night” of the title of Regina King’s feature directorial debut is February 25, 1964 — the night Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) took down Sonny Liston for the world heavyweight championship. But the fight footage is brief, because King isn’t making a boxing movie; she’s making a film about Black identity, filled with conversations that are still being had, and questions that are still being asked. The four participants — Ali (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) — are giants in their fields and are friends celebrating a victory. It’s a moving, powerful film, confrontational and thought-provoking. A.O. Scott called it “one of the most exciting movies I’ve seen in quite some time.”

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Credit...Associated Press/Touchstone Pictures, via Stephen Vaughan

Between his first and second cracks at Batman, director Christopher Nolan slid in this twisty, stylish exercise in sleight-of-hand moviemaking, as if to assure the fans of his breakthrough movie “Memento” that he was still up to his old tricks. This time around, the prestidigitation is literal: In “The Prestige,” Nolan tells the story of two stage magicians in 1890s London, whose friendly rivalry becomes deadly. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale scheme and connive in the leading roles; a standout supporting cast includes Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall and David Bowie.

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Credit...Seth Johnson/Roadside Attractions, Armory Films

The writing and directing duo of Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz conceived this gentle comedy-drama to showcase the talents of Zack Gottsagen, a young actor with Down syndrome, playing a character with the same disorder. His is a journey of discovery and self-realization, a Huck Finn-style downriver trip alongside a fisherman (Shia LaBeouf) with troubles of his own, rendered with charming humanity and picturesque beauty. The supporting cast is stuffed, but Dakota Johnson is the standout as the young man’s caretaker, and the fisherman’s potential romantic interest. Our critic praised the picture’s “relaxed and amiable vibe.”

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Credit...Alexandra Weiss/ATO Pictures

Azazel Jacobs isn’t a household name, but he should be. Though his filmography is somewhat slender, his characters are dizzyingly complicated, his dialogue is deftly telling and his direction brings out the best of his stellar casts. This marvelous serio-comic drama features Jacob Wysocki as a teen outcast and John C. Reilly as the high school principal who tries, perhaps a bit too hard, to bring him out of his shell. A.O. Scott praised “the care and craft that the director, Azazel Jacobs, has brought to fairly conventional material.” (Reilly is also exceptional in Paul Thomas Anderson’s debut feature, “Hard Eight.”)

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Credit...Philippe Penel/Lightyear Entertainment

This Oscar nominee for best foreign film is, according to the opening credits, “based on a true story and performed by the people of Yakel” who inhabit the South Pacific island of the title. These nonactors are dramatizing a story of great importance to their people, so their unvarnished performances contribute to the film’s documentary-style intimacy, realism and attention to detail. “Tanna” captures the customs, rituals and routines of the daily lives of this population, which has chosen to continue living in the “old ways.” It is a film that is epic in its emotional and physical scope, brimming with colorful characters and humor, and filled with luminous photography that captures the heartache of the two young people at its center and the scenic island that surrounds them. “Every single shot is picturesque,” noted our critic, “and more than a few of them are genuinely beautiful.”

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Credit...Photofest

Fresh off the success of his genre-bending “spaghetti westerns,” the director Sergio Leone brought his signature dusty landscapes, offbeat music, brutal violence and morally flexible protagonists to this Hollywood studio production. Henry Fonda is truly chilling as a ruthless villain, conveying a pure evil not even hinted at in his decades of good-guy turns, and the film’s heroine (Claudia Cardinale) and her tough-guy companions (Charles Bronson and Jason Robards) make an unlikely but effective team. Atmospheric, bracing and effortlessly cool, with an unforgettable closing confrontation.

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Credit...Amazon Studios

Riz Ahmed is devastatingly good as Ruben, a hard rock drummer whose entire life — his music, his relationship, his self-image — is upended by a sudden case of extreme hearing loss, in this wrenching drama from the writer and director Darius Marder. A former addict in danger of relapse, Ruben enters a school for the deaf, where he must confront not only his new condition, but the jitteriness that predates it. His sense of solitude, even with others, quickly transforms to self-consciousness, then self-doubt, then self-destruction, and “Sound of Metal” is ultimately less about finding a silver bullet cure than finding the stillness within oneself. Marder works in a quiet, observational style, skillfully avoiding every cliché he approaches, taking turns both satisfying and moving. Our critic praised the film’s “distinctive style.” (Martin Scorsese’s “Bringing Out the Dead,” also on Prime, is a similarly visceral experience.)

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Credit...Dieter Dengler Archive

In 2006, Werner Herzog made “Rescue Dawn,” a searing war movie with a respected cast led by Christian Bale — dramatizing a story he’d already told onscreen once before, in this powerful documentary portrait. His subject is a German-American pilot, Dieter Dengler, who was taken prisoner and tortured when his plane was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War. It’s a grim, brutal story, but the film’s tone is sunny and optimistic; Dengler is such a positive force that the film becomes less a story of war, and more a reflection on the nature of survival. (Herzog’s “Aguirre, the Wrath Of God” is also on Prime.)

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Credit...MPI, via Getty Images

Three years after reinventing the crime movie with “Bonnie and Clyde,” the director Arthur Penn worked similar magic on the Western, adapting Thomas Berger’s novel about a very old man (Dustin Hoffman) who tells the tale of his exploits in the Old West, where he was raised by Native Americans. The film’s attitudes toward Indigenous people were boldly progressive at the time of its release, in 1970, coming as it did during a period when most westerns still teemed with racist images of “merciless Indian savages,” in the words of the Declaration of Independence. Our critic called it a “tough testament to the contrariness of the American experience.” (For a more traditional Western, try “Shane”; for more 1970s drama, stream “Downhill Racer.”)

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Credit...Columbia Pictures

Orson Welles attempted to repair his flailing film career (and his marriage to Rita Hayworth, whom he cast as a femme fatale) in this moody and visually striking film noir. Welles portrays a crewman hired to sail Hayworth and her husband’s yacht, and finds himself drawn into a wicked web of deception, sex and murder. As was often the case with his later works, “Shanghai” suffered from extensive studio interference and reshoots. But even in its expurgated form, this is an expert potboiler, and its oft-imitated house-of-mirrors climax is as gripping as ever. Our critic called it “at once fluid and discordant,” and “filled with virtuoso set pieces.”

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Credit...Hugh Brown/Cinecom International Films

When Jonathan Demme’s performance film of the Talking Heads opened in 1984, our critic wrote, “’Stop Making Sense’ owes very little to the rock filmmaking formulas of the past. It may well help inspire those of the future.” She couldn’t have been more right. Demme was rewriting the rules with this innovative hybrid of documentary and concert movie, taking his cues from the group’s kinetic energy and cross-pollination of styles. The filmmaker creates an immersive experience that captures both the thrill of being in that crowd, and the high of playing for them. (Rock doc fans should also add Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Waltz” to their watchlists.)

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Credit...Parrish Lewis/Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions

Spike Lee adapts and updates Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” to the streets of contemporary Chicago in this wildly funny, vividly theatrical mash-up of gangland drama, musical comedy and surrealist fantasy. Teyonah Parris shines as the determined young woman who leads a sex strike to stop the city’s violence, while Samuel L. Jackson struts and rhymes as “Dolmedes,” the picture’s one-man Greek chorus. His Dolemite-style interludes push the premise to its bawdy extremes, but Lee isn’t just playing for laughs. He’s swinging for the fences, and the result, according to Manohla Dargis, “entertains, engages and, at times, enrages.” (For more music, comedy and sex, try “The Full Monty.”)

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Credit...Photofest

The ’50s gangster movie gets a snazzy musical makeover in this 1955 film adaptation of the Broadway hit, itself based on the colorful New York characters of Damon Runyon’s fiction. Joseph L. Mankiewicz (“All About Eve”) directs with energy and pizazz, coaxing cheerful, engaged performances out of Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons, Vivian Blaine and that most unlikely of crooners, Marlon Brando. Our critic called it “as tinny and tawny and terrific as any hot-cha musical film you’ll ever see.” (For a starker examination of gambling and buddy dynamics, check out Robert Altman’s “California Split.”)

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Credit...SpotFilms

The Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien directs what A.O. Scott called “a stately action movie, graceful and slow-moving,” concerning a female assassin (Shu Qi) and her quest to kill corrupt government officials in Tang Dynasty-era China. What sounds like a conventional martial arts epic is elevated into something far wider in scope and far grander in ambition by Hou, who emphasizes poetry over fighting and mood over broken bones. His exquisite compositions and magnificent production design elevates “The Assassin” from action to art; it’s one of those movies in which nearly every image could be printed, put on a frame and mounted on your wall. (For more classically-styled action, try “The Last of the Mohicans.”)

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Credit...Paramount Pictures

Reese Witherspoon is a marvel as Tracey Flick, the high-school overachiever who gets under the skin of her teacher (Matthew Broderick), with disastrous results, in this “deft dark comedy” from the director Alexander Payne (“Sideways”). Payne slyly uses a high school election as a stand-in for larger political concerns, without letting the analogy overwhelm the narrative; at heart, it’s the story of a deeply unsatisfied Good Guy who finds out exactly how bad he is. Broderick cleverly subverts his Ferris Bueller persona, and Chris Klein is uproariously funny as the cheerfully clueless popular jock, but this is Witherspoon’s show: Her Tracey is a dizzyingly complicated creation, both mildly insufferable and deeply sympathetic. (For more high school comedy, check out “Dazed and Confused.”)

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Credit...Merrick Morton/Paramount Pictures

The director David Fincher’s breakthrough film was the serial-killer thriller “Seven,” but he had no intention of repeating himself with this 2007 mystery. Because the real-life Zodiac killer was never apprehended or tried for his crime, Fincher sidestepped the big payoff of most true crime stories, crafting instead a film that focuses on the kind of obsessiveness it takes to follow that trail, year after year, without a satisfactory conclusion. Our critic called it “at once sprawling and tightly constructed, opaque and meticulously detailed.” (Fans of the paranoid ’70s vibe will also enjoy “The Parallax View”; mystery lovers should also check out Devil in a Blue Dress” and “Knives Out.”)

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Credit...Oscilloscope Laboratories

Frontier tales have filled our books and movie screens for centuries, but few are as bleak and unforgiving as this one. Three pairs of settlers find themselves lost on the Oregon Trail, led by a guide (Bruce Greenwood) who doesn’t seem to have the foggiest idea what he’s doing. This is a sparse film, both in plotting and approach; director Kelly Reichardt (whose “Wendy and Lucy” is also on Prime) lets her story play out in long, uninterrupted takes that may test the patience of some, but which force the viewer to ease into the rhythms of the period. A.O. Scott called it “bracingly original.”

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Credit...Film Arcade

This “meticulously acted” serio-comic drama was the feature filmmaking debut of Joey Soloway (credited as Jill Soloway), the creator of “Transparent” and “I Love Dick.” Kathryn Hahn is astonishing in the leading role, clearly conveying her dissatisfied housewife’s longings and nerves but keeping her intentions enigmatic, and Juno Temple is electrifying as a young woman who’s learned how to use her sexuality as a weapon without fully considering the carnage left in its wake. Their byplay is vibrant, and it gets messy in fascinating ways; this is a sly, smart sex comedy that plumbs unexpected depths of sadness and despair. (For more female-driven drama, check out “Always Shine.”)

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Credit...Nicola Dove/A24

The great British writer/director Joanna Hogg tells a story of youthful exuberance, romantic recklessness, and unchecked addiction in early ’80s London. Her heroine is Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne, flawless), an idealistic film student who finds herself pulled, time and again, into the orbit of Anthony (Tom Burke), whose roguish charm covers a considerable number of concerning flaws. Tilda Swinton (Byrne’s real-life mother) co-stars as Julie’s concerned mum. Hogg’s film is quiet yet revelatory, trusting its audience with these characters’ secrets — and trusting us enough to fill in their blanks. A.O. Scott raves, “This is one of the saddest movies you can imagine, and it’s an absolute joy to watch.” (Stay in a melancholy mood with “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” also streaming on Prime.)

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Credit...RKO Radio Pictures

The director Frank Capra and the actor Jimmy Stewart took a marvelously simple premise — a suicidal man is given the opportunity to see what his world would have been like without him — and turned it into a holiday perennial. But “It’s a Wonderful Life” is too rich and complex to brand with a label as simple as “Christmas movie”; it is ultimately a story about overcoming darkness and finding light around you, a tricky transition achieved primarily through the peerless work of Stewart as a good man with big dreams who can’t walk away from the place where he’s needed most. Our critic said it was a “quaint and engaging modern parable.” (Classic movie lovers can also stream “The Great Escape,” “Funny Girl“ and “A Place in the Sun” on Prime.)

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Credit...Amazon Studios

Early in Garrett Bradley’s extraordinary documentary (a coproduction of The New York Times), someone asks Fox Rich about her husband, and she replies, “He’s, uh, out of town now.” Technically, it’s true; he’s in Angola prison, for a 1997 bank robbery, serving a 60-year sentence without the possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. Fox Rich has spent years fighting for her husband’s release — and against mass incarceration — and Bradley interweaves her crusade with years of grainy home video footage, moving back and forth from past to present, contrasting the possibilities of those early videos and the acceptance, even resignation, of today. But Fox Rich never gives up hope, and this “substantive and stunning” film suggests that even in the grimmest of circumstances, that never-say-die spirit can pay dividends. (Also worth watching: the thought-provoking documentary “Hale County This Morning, This Evening.”)

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Credit...Jacob Yakob/Codeblack Films

Most superhero movies clobber the viewer with special effects, smirking quips, and strained world-building; Julia Hart’s indie drama is barely a superhero movie at all, but a rich, tender character study of three women who just so happen to move objects with their minds. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is remarkable as Ruth, who has smothered her “abilities” in addiction and irresponsibility, returning home to join her mother (Lorraine Toussaint) and daughter (Saniyya Sidney) in an attempt to, well, save the world. Hart’s rich screenplay (written with Jordan Horowitz) vibrates with small-town authenticity and hard-earned emotion; our critic called it “a small, intimate story that hints at much bigger things.” (For more offbeat sci-fi, check out “The City of Lost Children.”)

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Credit...Casi Moss/A24

Billi (Awkwafina), a Chinese immigrant who grew up to be a starving artist in New York City, returns to her homeland to help perpetrate a family hoax in this charming and beguiling comedy/drama from the writer-director Lulu Wang. The reason for the homecoming is her grandmother, known as Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen), who has only months to live, but doesn’t know it. The family hastily arranges a premature wedding as a chance to say goodbye, resulting in misunderstandings, realizations and reconciliations. A.O. Scott praised the film’s “loose, anecdotal structure” and “tone that balances candor and tact.”(Fans of character-driven indie fare should also check out “Raising Victor Vargas” and “Thunder Road.”)


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Credit...Amazon Studios — Magnolia Pictures

The South Korean master Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy”) takes the stylistic trappings of a period romance and gooses them with scorching eroticism and one of the most ingenious con-artist plots this side of “The Sting.” Working from the Sarah Waters novel “Fingersmith,” Park begins with the story of a young woman who, as part of a seemingly straightforward swindle, goes to work as a Japanese heiress’s handmaiden, occasionally pausing the plot to slyly reveal new information, reframing what we’ve seen and where we think he might go next. Manohla Dargis saw it as an “amusingly slippery entertainment.” (Foreign film enthusiasts may also enjoy Les Diaboliques and “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.”)


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Credit...Cohen Media Group

Asghar Farhadi writes and directs this lucid and contemplative morality play, in which a married couple must grapple with the fallout of an assault on the wife in their home, particularly when the husband’s desire for vengeance surpasses her own. Farhadi’s brilliance at capturing the complexities of his native Iran’s culture is as astonishing as ever — particularly when coupled with insights into victimhood, justice, poverty and intimacy that know no borders. A.O. Scott praised the picture’s “rich and resonant ideas.” (Fans of foreign drama should also check out “Cold War” and “In a Year With 13 Moons.”)

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Credit...Paramount Pictures

Humphrey Bogart won his first and only Oscar for his role as the gin-soaked roughneck at the helm of the titular vessel; this was also his only on-screen pairing with his fellow icon Katharine Hepburn. Most of what happens is predictable, from the outcome of the dangerous mission to the eventual attraction of the opposites at the story’s center, but the actors and John Huston’s direction keep the viewer engaged and entertained. Our critic praised the picture’s “rollicking fun and gentle humor.” (Huston’s gut-wrenching “Fat City” is also streaming on Prime, as is Bogart’s “In a Lonely Place.”)

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Credit...Alison Rosa/CBS Films

Joel and Ethan Coen’s story of a struggling folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1961 cheerfully intertwines fact and fiction; they faithfully reproduce that period, and incorporate many of its key figures into a week in the life of the title character (played by Oscar Isaac). But this is not just a museum piece, or a “music movie.” It’s about the feeling of knowing that success is overdue, and yet may never arrive. A.O. Scott called it an “intoxicating ramble.”

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Credit...Claire Folger/Roadside Attractions

Kenneth Lonergan makes films about people in turmoil, roiled by bottomless sadness, dysfunction and guilt. Casey Affleck won an Oscar for his nuanced portrayal of Lee Chandler, a Boston plumber who, for all practical purposes, is broken; Lucas Hedges is prickly and funny as the nephew who needs him to put himself together again. Keenly observed, emotionally fraught and surprisingly funny, it’s a tear-jerker in the best sense, never stooping to cheap manipulation. Our critic called it “a finely shaded portrait.” (For more indie drama, try “Leave No Trace,” “Frailty” and “Affliction.”)


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Credit...Alison Cohen Rosa/Amazon Studios

The broad plot outlines — a traumatized vet, working as a killer-for-hire, gets in over his head in the criminal underworld — make this adaptation of Jonathan Ames’s novella sound like a million throwaway B-movies. But the director and screenwriter is Lynne Ramsay, and she’s not interested in making a conventional thriller; hers is more like a commentary on them, less interested in visceral action beats than their preparation and aftermath. She abstracts the violence, skipping the visual clichés and focusing on the details another filmmaker wouldn’t even see. Joaquin Phoenix is mesmerizing in the leading role (“there is something powerful in his agony,” A.O. Scott noted), internalizing his rage and pain until control is no longer an option. (For more mind-bending drama, queue up David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers” and Nicolas Roeg’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”)

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Credit...Variance Films

Eliza Hittman (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Beach Rats”) made her feature debut with this tricky, nuanced coming-of-age story, set in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Gravesend. A “mood poem to summer loving and sexual awakening,” it concerns 14-year-old Lila (Gina Piersanti), increasingly aware of her sexual impulses but unsure what to do with them; perhaps destructively, she focuses on Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein), a casually misogynistic neighborhood bad boy. Hittman’s narrative is slight, but her insight is not — this deceptively casual film captures the power and potency of hormonal pangs with a rare directness and immediacy. (For another indie drama about young women, seeThe Virgin Suicides.”)


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Credit...Sarah Shatz/Amazon Studios — Lionsgate

Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani based their first screenplay on their own, unconventional love story — a courtship that was paused, then oddly amplified by an unexpected illness and a medically induced coma. This isn’t typical rom-com fodder, but it’s written and played with such honesty and heart that it somehow lands. Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan (standing in for Gordon) generate easy, lived-in chemistry and a rooting interest in the relationship, while a second-act appearance by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as her parents creates a prickly tension that gives way to hard-won affection. Our critic deemed it “a joyous, generous-hearted romantic comedy.” (If you like your comedies with a dash of heartfelt drama, we also recommend “Harold and Maude” and “The Full Monty.”)

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Credit...Paramount Pictures

This sun-drenched romp reunited the director Alfred Hitchcock with one of his favorite leading men, Cary Grant, and with Grace Kelly, the ultimate “Hitchcock Blonde.” The sparks are nuclear-grade as the two fall in love, and they trade witticisms, jabs and flirtations with aplomb against the beautiful backdrop of the South of France. Our critic wrote, “the script and the actors keep things popping, in a fast, slick, sophisticated vein.”(Grant also sparkles in “The Bishop’s Wife” and “Charade.”)


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Credit...Columbia Pictures

Directed by Howard Hawks, this 1940 film wasn’t the first cinematic adaptation of the popular play “The Front Page,” but it cooked up a twist the 1931 version hadn’t: What if Hildy Johnson, the superstar reporter whom the ruthless editor Walter Burns will keep on his staff at any cost, wasn’t his drinking buddy but his ex-wife? It’s a movie that talks fast and moves faster, and the passage of nearly 80 years hasn’t slowed it down a bit. Our critic called it “a bold-faced reprint of what was once — and still remains — the maddest newspaper comedy of our times.” (If you’d like a more contemporary romance, try “Ghost” or “Four Weddings and Funeral.”)

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Credit...Paramount Pictures

Billy Wilder’s poison-penned love letter to Hollywood is often remembered more as a series of moments (particularly its closing line) than for its overwhelming whole: a sometimes tragic, sometimes comic, always riveting story about a faded silent movie queen (an unforgettable Gloria Swanson) and the opportunistic young man who tries to take advantage of her (a prickly William Holden). Our critic wrote that it “quickly casts a spell over an audience and holds it enthralled to a shattering climax.” (Classic movie lovers won’t want to miss “Roman Holiday” and “The Quiet Man,” also streaming on Prime.)

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Credit...The Orchard

This Polish possession story from the writer and director Marcin Wrona opens on a note of uncertainty and dread and then holds it for 94 harrowing minutes. Wrona transforms the relatable fears of wedding day into something far more sinister, as our groom protagonist discovers horrifying skeletons in his new family’s closet (or, more accurately, its yard); the filmmaker offsets the considerable nightmare imagery and wild-eyed desperation with piercing moments of gallows humor, particularly in contemplating how “sensible people” might react to these events. Our critic praised its “light shivers” and “bluntly old-fashioned screen magic.” (Fans of trippy genre movies will also enjoy “Midsommar” and “High Life.”)

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