15 Underrated Movies on Amazon Prime Video
It’s no secret that Amazon Prime is stacked when it comes to great movies- having past International picture Academy Award nominees, thought provoking science-fiction films, and character focused indies all available in one place to stream. They have a wide variety of genres to enjoy but if you know me, I am constantly ranting about great underappreciated/underrated movies that deserve much more recognition.
I define an underrated movie as one that flew under the radar, it might have gotten positive praise from critics, but the general moviegoing audience might not be aware of its existence. If you’re bored at home and running out of content to consume, I, along with Andres Cabrera and Robert Butler III, made a list of some of our favorite underrated movies on Amazon Prime Video to help any film lover get through this quarantine.
Check out the list below:
You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay provided us with a film that is an impactful, complex character drama that deserves to be in the conversation as one of the best films of the last decade. You Were Never Really Here is brutal, but I really enjoyed the way Ramsay focuses on the action and the grit in this film. The shots and imagery can be so heavy, while at the same time being visually stunning and gorgeous – telling a story within themselves. The action sequences kept me on the edge of my seat and Joaquin Phoenix delivers a quietly intense performance that will haunt you long after you finish the film’s short runtime. The score and sound design is one of my favorites of the year it came out; I revisit this film often and regularly recommend it to my friends. -Sabrina Ramirez
Paterson is directed by Jim Jarmusch and features a beautiful, quietly profound performance from Adam Driver. It centers on a bus driver in Paterson, NJ (who also happens to be named Paterson) living a simple life, experiencing the world through the people he meets. He writes poetry based on these interactions and his daily routine, which consists of work, walking his dog, and drinking a beer at the same bar every night. He has a loving, eccentric wife who encourages him to continue to write poetry and explore creative outlets in life. It is a warm, simple film that feels like a hug. -Sabrina Ramirez
The Handmaiden is one of the most interesting romantic drama films I have ever seen because it is so much more than that. I hesitate to say the word masterpiece, but this film truly deserves that title. Directed by Park Chan-wook, this erotic thriller, loosely based on the English novel “Fingersmith”, is set in 1930s Korea and centres around wealth, deception, and lust. Deeply focused on characters that are rich with wit and passion, the story is twisting and keeps you heavily invested throughout its entirety. The visuals, cinematography, and production design heighten the atmosphere of the world we are being immersed into. This, along with a stunning screenplay and meticulous direction, create a film that is so special and worth viewing multiple times. -Sabrina Ramirez
It’s strange to live in a world where we have a fictional female late night host before we have one in real life. Fortunately, this Amazon original provides a glimpse into what that reality would look like. Late Night stars Dame Emma Thompson as Katherine Newbury – a veteran nightly TV host with an all male writer’s room. Her comfortable tenure has led to a ratings downturn, but when she hires Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), her show and life turns upside down. When Molly enters the fold, Newbury’s journey of self discovery and openness to inclusion making for a moving, earnest ordeal. Written and produced by Kaling, the story is loosely based on her time as Conan O’Brien’s intern. A movie about diversity, comedy, and unabashed feminism, Late Night will not disappoint. – Robert Butler III
Under the Silver Lake
Under the Silver Lake is an eager neo-noir set in Los Angeles, where we follow along with our protagonist as he unravels the dirty, gritty underbelly of LA to solve the mystery of his missing neighbor. I went into this film with a completely open mind, and I think the best way to view this is through impartial eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed this film throughout its over 2-hour runtime. It’s odd, and I know it’s unquestionably a polarizing film that will not please every single audience member, however, it really worked for me. The score is reminiscent of 60s Hollywood and it really is utilized to its full potential, carefully setting the tone and atmosphere of this film. It is beautifully shot and directed, every single frame is done so purposefully.
After watching the film, I watched an interview with director David Robert Mitchell at Cannes where he stated the script “came to him in a fever dream”, and that is very evident by watching the film. It’s dense, and not everything pays off the way I would have ultimately liked it to, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying everything that succeeded. Overall, it really is one of the most grounded, ambitious films I’ve seen in awhile. I feel like the main character (played by Andrew Garfield) – I just want to go through this film a thousand times and pick out and try to explain every single detail and hidden meaning but, I know that’s not the point. It’s supposed to be ambiguous and unresolved and I love that. -Sabrina Ramirez
On a more somber note, Polytechnique is the movie that put Arrival director Denis Villeneuve on the map. Telling the tragic true story of a group of female engineering students at Montréal’s École Polytechnique who were murdered at the hands of a lone gunman, the film explores multiple levels of toxic masculinity that lead to the heart-wrenching events. Segments of the film actually adopt the perspective of the unnamed murderer without glorification or sympathy. Other moments follow Karine Vanasse’s character “Valérie” and her difficulty in upward mobility before these events. Vanasse gives an astonishing performance, and Villeneuve’s sublime talent for direction and pacing is in full effect throughout. While unsettling and bleak, Polytechnique is an essential viewing for its historical representation and for observing the beginning of Denis Villeneuve’s extraordinary career. – Robert Butler III
Robert Egger’s follow-up to The Witch is a criminally underrated, grueling film. The Lighthouse stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as two lighthouse keepers trying to stay sane as they’re trapped together on a remote New England island. This movie is wildly entertaining, haunting, and includes imagery that stuck with me for a long time after my initial viewing. I don’t even want to give any part of this film away because this is such a refreshing and unique take on these types of isolation films, where the protagonist(s) descends into madness as the days drag on. This is essentially a two man show, and both actors give performances that deserve an immense amount of praise. -Sabrina Ramirez
Selah And The Spades
Academics, high school hierarchies and politics collide in Selah And The Spades. With her directorial debut, writer/director Tayarisha Poe gives the audience a film that will leave you thinking and likely talking about it long after. While there’s a mixture of other high school dramas, Selah And The Spades is wholly new territory and puts a spin on the powerful clique dynamic we haven’t seen before. With many interesting characters to unpack and drama around every corner, Poe’s directorial debut is definitely worthy of a watch. Check out the full review of Selah And The Spades here.
Ari Aster proved with Hereditary that he is a master of slow burn/paced horror, and his sophomore feature further highlights his abilities as a filmmaker. The camerawork and color palette was enchanting, I never thought something so vibrant and bright could be as troubling as this was. Midsommar has humor and horror, balancing the lines between these different tones flawlessly. It was beautifully written, with visuals that went beyond what I imagined Ari Aster would display. This is a must see if you enjoy not being able to sleep at night. -Sabrina Ramirez
At one point in time, everyone had an opinion on Shia LaBeouf, and most of them weren’t positive. He was a child actor, so naturally, he followed the same patterns of his predecessors and became consumed with alcohol abuse and run-ins with the law. However, his artistic spirit always remained intact. Shia wrote a script (while in rehab), about the challenges he faced growing up with his eccentric father, who was a former rodeo clown obsessed with his son’s career. That script became Honey Boy, a movie that examines the fragile Hollywood system and the difficulty of dealing with an abusive “stage dad.” Alma Har’el shines as a director by bringing in a unique perspective to the horrors of a hyper masculine and fame obsessed upbringing. The film offers a therapeutic effect, not only to Shia LaBeouf, who transforms himself to play his own father, but to the audience as well. Honey Boy will leave you with a sense of hope in the face of painful childhood memories. – Andres Cabrera
If you’ve been anywhere near the social media conversation around Hereditary you know that it has a lot of hype. I’m here to tell you that the hype is well-deserved. Ari Aster crafts a crippling first feature that blurs the lines of the Horror genre, delivering what can best be described as a broken family nightmare. Toni Collette erupts on screen, with a jaw-dropping performance, as the mother of a family that struggles to recover from relentless tragedy. The film pulls no punches and will push you to your emotional and psychological limits. Your first watch will be an unforgettable experience. – Andres Cabrera
The complicated questions that first-generation immigrant children ask themselves are all too real. I, for one, can speak from personal experience being the child of Latino immigrants. So, the impact Lulu Wang delivers in her first feature, about a Chinese-American 20-something going back to China to spend time with her sick grandmother, hit a truly special note. Lulu draws from her personal life which allows audiences to feel the authenticity of every dinner argument and heat-warming moment.
Awkwafina strays away from her usual brand of comedic performances, to give us a much more stripped version of herself. She is dynamite in portraying a frustrated grandchild desperate to break Chinese norm, which feels cold and distant to her, in exchange for a straight-shooting American approach to family issues. This film goes straight for the feels, but it’s done in such a sincere manner that it’s refreshing. Truly, one of the best films of last year, and the winner of Best Feature at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards, The Farewell is a must watch. – Andres Cabrera
There are few movies that truly harness the imagination of a young mind like Troop Zero. The film is set in the rural 1977 Georgia and stars Mckenna Grace as Christmas Flint – a young, misfit girl who brings together a troop of girl scouts to win the chance to send her voice to space. She recruits a family friend named Miss Rayleen (Viola Davis) to help build a dysfunctional troop of children that are ready to compete with their Birdie Scout rivals. It might have been easy for this movie to fall into the “Mystical Negro” genre that many movies regularly do, but fortunately the white child/black mentor dynamic in this film is a little more authentic and honest than something like Eddie Murphy’s Mr. Church. And while imagination and creativity are at the forefront of this film, Troop Zero also deals with themes of poverty, bullying, and otherness in a family-friendly way.
As someone who once dreamed of being amongst the stars at a kid, Troop Zero homes in on the limitless ambition of childhood. Directed by Bert and Bertie – a female directing duo who’d previously did the YouTube Red original Dance Camp – Troop Zero is a heartfelt, inspiring movie that you can watch with your entire family. – Robert Butler III
Christianity and environmental awareness have both been important pillars of my life. Unfortunately, the disconnection between creationism and modern science has manufactured a grey area amongst Christians when it comes to protecting the environment. This grey area is precisely what is explored throughout 2018’s First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfield, and Cedric the Entertainer. Written and directed by Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader, First Reformed is one of the most complex and introspective pieces about religion and the consequences of indifference. Ethan Hawke plays a morbidly depressed pastor who begins questioning his congregation’s relationship with the impending climate crisis after meeting a mentally unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife (Amanda Seyfield).
Hawke delivers the best performance of his entire career, as his character’s complicated personal struggles amplify the film’s dark, contemplative tone. Ultimately, Hawke was scrubbed for an Oscar nomination when this film was in contention, but Schrader earned a well deserved Best Original Screenplay nom for his layered, yet simplistic script. This movie ranked high on my personal Best Movies of 2018 list and honestly continues to unsettle me to this day. If you are looking for a quiet, meditative reflection of religion, environmentalism, and mental illness, First Reformed is the movie for you. – Robert Butler III
Fighting with My Family
At this point in the list, you’re probably saying to yourself: “Ughhhh, another Florence Pugh movie?” But it’s not her fault that she has somehow managed to have one of the most impressive young careers in recent film history. The first time she really stood out to me as a performer was in 2019’s Fighting with My Family. Based on the equally amazing Channel 4 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family, Pugh stars as real life wrestling superstar Paige. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was so moved by the documentary that he produced this passion project written/directed by Stephen Merchant. Merchant masterfully chronicles the hardships of maintaining a healthy family relationship while excelling in the WWE. This movie flew under the radar theatrically due to its early January release date, but it is a genuinely heartfelt sports movie. Inspiring, exhilarating, and delightfully sincere, Family with My Family is a great film for all age groups. – Robert Butler III