From Being the Ricardos to Sound of Metal, these are the movies to commit an evening to.
Aside from dropping a host of movies at the beginning of each month, Amazon Prime Video doesn’t have a ton of new weekly releases.
But occasionally an original or a flick from the vault comes knocking and deserves to be put on your radar. Below you’ll find weekly highlights and CNET’s full list of best Amazon Prime Video Original movies.
Best Amazon Prime Video Original films
Being the Ricardos (2021)
Aaron Sorkin writes and directs this biographical drama based on the relationship between I Love Lucy stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. It stars Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Ball and Arnaz, respectively. In other words, expect breakneck dialogue, memorable lines and rich repartee. Standout Kidman embodies the actress and comedian, bringing heart to the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship.
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021)
Benedict Cumberbatch stars in this biopic about English artist, inventor, entrepreneur and caretaker Louis Wain. Set at the end of the 19th century, it follows a man who, after taking in a stray kitten, creates surreal cat paintings that made him wold famous. They also seem to reflect his own declining sanity. A feel-good drama with a typically gripping central performance from Cumberbatch, this warm portrait is filled with whimsy, even if it’s a little uneven.
Small Axe (2020)
A sublime anthology that doesn’t drop the ball across its five films. Small Axe is a collection of distinct stories about the lives of West Indian immigrants in London from the ’60s to the ’80s. They’re all directed by Steve McQueen, who’s working at his exquisite best (when doesn’t he?), crafting stories such as courtroom drama Mangrove, based on the 1971 trial of the Mangrove Nine and starring Black Panther’s Letitia Wright. Take a seat and devour this massive achievement.
Sound of Metal (2019)
Sound of Metal scored a bunch of Oscar nominations, including best picture and best actor for the outstanding Riz Ahmed. (It won in two categories: best sound and best film editing.) He plays Ruben, a punk-metal drummer who unfortunately starts to lose his hearing. As well as struggling with a drug addiction, Ruben is forced to settle into his new life in the deaf community and to learn American Sign Language. The film’s stunning sound design immerses you in Ruben’s suspenseful story and the experiences of those around him.
Selah and the Spades (2019)
If you’re into the dark-things-happen-at-boarding-schools genre, then Selah and the Spades might be the subject to sign up for. A senior leads a faction called the Spades who sell drugs to other students. But Selah’s about to graduate, so must find the right candidate to carry on her legacy. Shot beautifully and guided by debut director Tayarisha Poe’s unique lens, this is a taste of even greater things to come.
Honey Boy (2019)
Shia LaBeouf wrote the screenplay for this autobiographical movie about a child actor and his relationship with his father. We follow Otis, who’s traumatized after days on set accompanied by his father, a former rodeo clown. LaBeouf actually plays the character inspired by his father, giving Honey Boy even more psychological layers. This is fascinating, cinematic therapy from a singular perspective.
Cold War (2018)
Following lovers from different backgrounds and temperaments, Pawel Pawlikowski’s historical drama is set in a ravaged, post-World War II Poland. Zula is an ambitious young singer faking a peasant identity, while Wiktor is a jazz musician holding auditions for a state-sponsored folk music ensemble. The politics are handled elegantly and the black-and-white visuals are precise and beautiful. For an 88-minute treat of a sumptuous, passionate, almost impossible love story, look no further than Cold War.
King Lear (2018)
King Lear is, of course, an adaptation of the Shakespeare play, but two powerful forces help this one stand out: Anthony Hopkins and Black Widow scene stealer Florence Pugh. Not to mention Emma Thompson! This adaptation is set in an alternative universe during the 21st century, where London is under strict military control. Lear is ready to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, but not all of them are accepting. If you’re OK with the Shakespearean dialogue, then simply sit back and marvel at Hopkins and a stacked ensemble cast, including Emily Watson, Jim Broadbent and Andrew Scott.