Amazon original movies took a giant leap forward with Manchester by the Sea. The 2016 drama won 2 Academy Awards for best actor (Casey Affleck) and original screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan), and it put Amazon Studios, the entertainment division of the company, on the map. With nearly 30 movies under its belt, co-distributed with prominent production companies like Magnolia Pictures, Lionsgate, IFC Films, and Roadside Attractions, Amazon can compete with Netflix and Hulu when it comes to original content—and it has more than a dozen films in the works.
Here are the best Amazon original movies you can stream right now.
The best Amazon original movies
1) Manchester by the Sea
Manchester by the Sea is a tough watch. It revolves around a handyman, Lee (Casey Affleck, who won an Oscar for his performance), dealing with his brother’s (Kyle Chandler) death. Lee has to take in his nephew, Patrick (Academy Award-nominated Lucas Hedges) and grapple with his past failings. Despite the gloomy setting and even gloomier subject matter, Manchester has a wicked funny bone. Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan specializes in crafting sincere characters and dialogue so authentic you’ll want to start a GoFundMe to help Lee and Lucas stay afloat while they figure things out. —Eddie Strait
2) The Big Sick
The real-life relationship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon provides the basis for this charming romantic comedy. The movie deals with the dynamic of the couple’s interracial relationship and how it affects their families, as well as Gordon’s hospital stay and medically induced coma. Nanjiani and Gordon wrote the script, with Nanjiani playing himself and Zoe Kazan playing Gordon. The movie is an honest, hilarious reminder that our differences are the best things about us. The Big Sick is one of 2017’s best films. —E.S.
Every day for bus driver Paterson (Adam Driver) is exactly the same, and every day is also sublimely unique. Making wonderful use of repetition and recurring imagery, indie legend Jim Jarmusch’s latest shows how beauty can be found everywhere, if only you bother to look. Anchored by Driver’s understated performance, Paterson is a celebration of the creative impulse, and its ability to impart mystery and import to even the most innocuous of things. —David Wharton
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Richard Linklater finally has his road trip movie. Set in December 2003, Last Flag Flying opens with Steve Carell’s soft-spoken Larry “Doc” Shepherd tracking down his old friend Sal Nealon, played with foul-mouthed vigor by Bryan Cranston. The two were in Vietnam together, and Larry enlists him to help transport the body of his son, who was killed in Iraq. They pick up fellow vet Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), who is now a man of God. And with that collection of personalities, the film sets off on an emotional journey that paints early aughts patriotism in dreary strokes.
While his past films often focus on youth and romance, Last Flag Flying is more somber: 9/11 is still fresh; America’s less than a year into the Iraq War; we see footage of Saddam Hussein being captured and George W. Bush on TV. But the film is also a portrait of damaged men in middle age, which doesn’t always make for the most entertaining content. —Audra Schroeder
Spike Lee channels the provocateur of his early days with this fire-breathing musical about gang violence in Chicago. It’s based the Greek play Lysistrata by Apostrophe, and it’s set in a world where women withhold sex in an attempt to stop men from their violence. The first Amazon original movie, Chi-raq is not quite on par with Lee’s best, but it’s not far off. Lee is a vital voice, and Chi-raq proves he’s still got it. —E.S.
6) The Handmaiden
If you haven’t seen it yet, stop everything you’re doing and spend the next two-and-a-half hours in Park Chan-wook’s exhilarating The Handmaiden. The movie is chock full of twists and role-reversals, and it’s so much fun that mentioning any story specifics would be unfair. Chan-wook is one of the world’s most entertaining directors, and The Handmaiden is arguably one of his best. Everything that makes him great is on display here, from the dizzying tonal shifts to the luscious photography and idiosyncratic indulgences. —E.S.
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Jenny Slate and Gillian Robespierre, star and director of the acclaimed Obvious Child, respectively, reteam on Landline, a ‘90s-set family drama. It’s about sisters who uncover their father’s affair and the effects of that news coming to light. It’s a plotline straight out of the indie movie starter pack, but it’s elevated by strong work from the cast. Abby Quinn makes a noteworthy debut playing Slate’s sister, and Edie Falco, John Turturro, Finn Wittrock, and Mark Duplass are all terrific. —E.S.
8) The Salesman
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi is one of the world’s best directors. His films are observant and wise in the way they depict the contradictions of humanity. The Salesman is a story within a story: It follows a husband and wife who put on a performance of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman when the wife is assaulted at a friend’s apartment. The film deals with the emotional fallout. It’s the kind of intimate drama Farhadi specializes in. —E.S.
9) Love & Friendship
Whit Stillman’s adaptation of Jane Eyre’s Lady stars Kate Beckinsale as a widow on a mission to find husbands who offer the most financial stability for her daughters. Love & Friendship is hilarious and refreshingly self-aware. The film earned a great deal of acclaim, with Beckinsale and Tom Bennett singled out amongst a strong cast. If you’re new to Stillman’s work, this is a great introduction. —E.S.
This documentary tells the story of former NFL player Steve Gleason, who played for the New Orleans Saints, among other teams, before retiring in 2008. Gleason was diagnosed with ALS (more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2011. The documentary charts Gleason’s battle and his advocacy while also showing how his family has adapted to their circumstance. It’s an incredibly touching film, one that is inspirational and full of hope even in its darkest moments. —E.S.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Doctor Who hung out with fans outside her TARDIS and it sounded awesome
The new Time Lord.
The Doctor may have a pretty packed schedule what with all the alien fighting and galaxy-saving she has to do, but she still makes time for her fans.
On Tuesday, Jennifer Bulcock tweeted a photo of her children with Jodie Whittaker. From the looks of it they come across her filming a scene for the upcoming Doctor Who season and managed to find time to chat to her between takes.
“Thank you so much Jodie Whittaker aka The Doctor for stepping out of her TARDIS for an amazing moment to speak to 2 of my kids,” Bulcock wrote.
“My daughter is so pleased she can dress up as the doctor & even had her hair cut the same as Jodie’s.”
Thank you so much Jodie Whittaker aka The Doctor for stepping out of her TARDIS for an amazing moment to speak to 2 of my kids. My daughter is so pleased she can dress up as the doctor & even had her hair cut the same as Jodie’s. Cannot wait for the new series @bbcdoctorwho pic.twitter.com/YytSIdjuTY
— Jennifer Bulcock (@Jenbul13) February 13, 2018
Bulcock went on to share the following photo from the set:
From the sounds of it, she even picked up a couple of sweet, sweet, spoilers. But on that front she was keeping tight-lipped…
Fantastic! Jodie’s going to be smashing. When I was little I was lucky enough to meet Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy and they were lovely – always good when the Doctor is like the Doctor in real life!
— George Sandifer-Smith (@SandiferSmith) February 13, 2018
We just chatted like old pals, to be honest she is from my area and she went to school with someone I know. She is SUCH an amazing woman and I can honestly say I know she will make a brilliant doctor. I have a few #Spoilers but I’m not giving anything away….
— Jennifer Bulcock (@Jenbul13) February 13, 2018
It’s not every day you get to take a photo with a time-travelling extraterrestrial.
Jerry Seinfeld sees a ‘possible’ revival for ‘Seinfeld,’ but that’s not such a great idea
Seinfeld was, famously, a show about “nothing.” But if Jerry Seinfeld were ever to bring it back — as he suggested was “possible” during a recent appearance on Ellen— would nothing still fly?
Seinfeld‘s cast of 30-something singles feels today like a snapshot of 1990s America. Thumbing through reruns on Hulu, it quickly becomes evident that plenty of the humor didn’t age well.
There’s the running gay joke, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” The various shades of misogyny in the way Jerry, George, and Kramer conduct their dating lives. The jarring lack of diversity in the cast. Even innocuous gags, like the half-hour build-up to a punchline in “The Parking Garage” that today’s cellphones would render obsolete, would never fly today.
Viewed through the reactionary lens of a post-political correctness world, Seinfeld is a travesty. It was never kid-friendly, but it’s not even teen-friendly anymore. The show’s dramatized take on life and love was never accurate, but it’s now inaccurate to the point that it’s more of a cultural artifact and source of nostalgia than it is an enduring piece of entertainment.
Seinfeld was never kid-friendly, but it’s not even teen-friendly anymore.
And yet. Without Seinfeld, there would be no 30 Rock. No It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. No Arrested Development. For all that doesn’t hold up, Seinfeld was a revelation for scripted television. It proved that a sitcom didn’t need a point or an overarching lesson to impart. Seinfeld demonstrated how a strong central gag and a likable cast could easily carry half-hour chunks of story.
In other words, “nothing” isn’t the problem. Seinfeld lit a torch that many other successful shows have since carried. It’s true, many of those old jokes didn’t age well. But the same could be said for plenty of episodes and gags from Seinfeld predecessors.
Name a modern world-set TV series that isn’t in some way a product of its time. 30 Rock may be woke by Seinfeld standards, but the show has been criticized over the years for its handling of a number of topics. The world grows up, and the stories created for TV grow up along with it.
The real question we need to ask, then, when speculating about a Seinfeld revival: What reason is there for it to exist at this point?
Seinfeld worked because it captured a particular cast at a particular moment in their lives. Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer, together as a group, were a relatable bunch. We identified with their problems, if not always their solutions. As much as it was about nothing, the show depended on a fundamental hook of this mostly single, 30-something foursome navigating work and relationships on their own in the big city.
There’s no question that audiences are open to the idea of more Seinfeld. Just listen to the audience reaction on Ellen when Jerry responds to the idea of a revival with: “It’s possible.” But is that same audience really ready for what the reality of New Seinfeld would look like?
It’s been almost 20 years since the final episode aired and our 30-somethings have become 50-somethings. That singles-struggling-with-life-in-the-big-city schtick isn’t nearly as relatable.
OK. Fine. Maybe take things in another direction. Marry off one or two members of the foursome. Add some kids to the mix for a new twist on the show’s sardonic perspective on family. Own those old jokes, the problematic ones, and use them to show how these characters are (or aren’t) capable of growth.
That sounds… fine, right? Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s mockumentary take on Larry David’s life played with the idea when, during the HBO show’s seventh season, Larry teamed back up with Jerry for a Seinfeld reunion. It hewed closer to the original schtick than an actual reunion likely would.
The handful of scenes recreated for Curb brought audiences back to familiar Seinfeld sets, situations, and patter. It felt like an aging band returning to the songs that made them famous in the first place. It’s a welcome sight, it’s something you can tap your foot along to, but it doesn’t feel quite right.
Curb‘s revival of Seinfeld worked as a series of comedy sketches, but can you really imagine a full season of 30-minute episodes featuring these characters? The past 10 years of TV are awash with programming that delivered newer, fresher takes on Seinfeldian characters, from obvious predecessors like It’s Always Sunny to stealth impersonators like How I Met Your Mother.
We still love Seinfeld today because of nostalgia: It was the perfect show for the moment in which it existed. More than that, it has a real legacy. Entire books have been written about the show’s lasting impact on the entertainment that followed.
How do you take that magic now and bottle it up for a revival? Is such a thing even possible? New Seinfeld would have to be a completely separate beast, a new series driven by fresh ideas and original humor. You can revive the characters and their fictional lives, but not their cultural impact.
It might be best to let Seinfeld live on as the artifact it’s become: Difficult to watch today through any lens other than nostalgia, but an undeniably vital player in the evolution of TV storytelling.
Any revival carries the risk of needlessly tarnishing that legacy, particularly at a moment when this new “golden age of TV” is ruled by a young and increasingly diverse crowd of creators. Seinfeld had its moment, but that moment is over. Isn’t it enough that this show about nothing actually led to something?
The Olympics can’t end soon enough for ‘The Walking Dead’ fans
Let’s face it, the Olympics may not be for everybody, but at least there’s The Walking Dead to welcome you back with open arms once the Winter Games are over. (Also: Watch the Winter Olympics, though!)
AMC made a series of teasers for the return of The Walking Dead Season 8 for those of us who just don’t really get the whole hype around the Olympics or can’t be bothered to learn the intricacies of these sports and games we’re supposed to be invested in every four years. The spots, which you can check out exclusively below, will run on Tuesday and feature everyone’s favorite characters from The Walking Dead.
This one is for people who couldn’t care less about curling:
This one is for people who can’t be bothered to figure out figure skating scoring:
And this one is for people who aren’t going to take the time to learn about all the different events for skiing.
Warning: Spoilers for Season 8 of The Walking Dead ahead.
In the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead Season 8, Carl Grimes was shockingly bit by a walker, and his story will likely end in the mid-season premiere on Feb. 25 at 9 p.m. ET.
The premier will be an extra-long episode — 82 minutes —to give Carl a proper send-off. Carl is one of only a handful of characters who have made it since the first season of the show. His death is particularly shocking given the fact that Carl was never bit by a walker in the comics that the show is based on.
There are still eight episodes left in Season 8, including the mid-season premier titled “Honor.”
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