Now more than ever, film fans turn to streaming services to find new recommendations and catch up on recent films. Often, the home pages of these services are dominated by the high profile titles that became either box office hits or awards contenders, but there’s so much more to explore in streaming libraries. Due to the sheer number of available titles, streaming services offer film fans more options than ever before to explore underrated and underappreciated films.
Amazon Prime is one of the biggest streaming services today, and has an impressive library of recent hits and classics alike, as well as all the films produced by Amazon Studios. Many of the most underrated films of the past decade are now available to stream for free. Here are ten great recent films on Amazon Prime you may have missed.
10. Jeff, Who Lives At Home
The Duplass brothers have become increasingly popular filmmakers who’ve developed a unique take on the mumblecore subgenre through their oddball characters and strange philosophical undertones. Jeff, Who Lives At Home is perhaps the most mainstream film that the pair has written and directed, but it retains the same “day in the life” simplicity that made their previous films successful. The emphasis on destiny is also more evident in Jeff, Who Lives At Home, and is used to great comedic effect as the characters come to reflect on the choices that led them to where they are now.
Jeff (Jason Segal) is an aimless stoner who lives in his mother’s basement, but after a series of awkward exchanges with his brother Pat (Ed Helms), the pair team up to see if Pat’s wife Linda (Judy Greer) has been cheating on him. Segal has a signature awkward charisma that makes him eminently watchable on screen, which makes his interactions with his aggressive brother all the more entertaining. Susan Sarandon also gives one of her best recent performances as Jeff and Pat’s mother, who also goes through a transformative emotional experience.
9. Love & Mercy
Musician biopics are poised to become more popular than ever before thanks to the awards and box office success of films like Straight Outta Compton, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Rocketman, but one of the most underrated films within the genre was the 2015 critical darling Love & Mercy. The film tells the story of the famous Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson, but not in the traditional sense; told across two timelines, the film shows a younger Wilson (Paul Dano) as he becomes crushed under his own expectations and an older Wilson (John Cusack) who has been manipulated by a cruel therapist.
By contrasting the two extremes of Wilson’s life, Love & Mercy crafts a tender story about how artistic inspiration is discovered, lost, and found again. In particular, the film focuses on how Wilson was able to craft the iconic album Pet Sounds during one of the darker periods within his life, and how his relationship with Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) was able to rejuvenate his spirits. Dano is pitch perfect in capturing the spirit of a young, tortured artist, and Cusack does some of his best work in over a decade as the detached and aimless older Wilson.
8. A Private War
Rosamund Pike received immense acclaim for her now iconic performance in Gone Girl, and while it’s hard to top a performance of that caliber, her role as Marie Colvin in A Private War is certainly one to rival it. The film tells the true story of Colvin, an American journalist who led several missions to war torn countries to deliver unprecedented new coverage and imagery. While A Private War tells Colvin’s entire life story, it primarily focuses on her final days exploring the Syrian conflict that would eventually end her life.
Pike is able to capture the dedication Colvin brought to her field, and shows how her empathy for those in danger led her to undertake so many dangerous missions. The film doesn’t shy away from showing graphic footage of wartime conflict, and through Pike’s subtle, reserved work, it’s clear that there are lasting psychological effects of witnessing such carnage. First time narrative filmmaker Matthew Heineman proves that he is one to watch.
7. A Most Wanted Man
The works of famous novelist John le Carre have often been adapted to produce great espionage tales, including such recent films as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Constant Gardener, and Our Kind of Traitor, as well as the award-winning miniseries The Night Manager. One of the more underrated le Carre adaptations is 2014’s A Most Wanted Man, a riveting and timely thriller focusing on the intersection between immigration and counterterrorism activities. As with many le Carre adaptations, A Most Wanted Man explores how various offices and organizations interact as they respond to an international crisis.
Anton Corbijn is always a reliable filmmaker who can craft tense, realistic exchanges, and he wrangles together an incredible cast that includes Daniel Bruhl, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, and Rachel McAdams. However, the standout performance is easily Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who gave his last performance as Günther Bachmann, a German secret agent who is tasked with recruiting new operatives. Hoffman is unflinching in his portrayal of a world weary agent determined to prevent extreme collateral damage, and once again he gives a riveting performance.
Although he initially broke out as one of the foremost comedic actors of his time, Jonah Hill has slowly proven himself as a dramatic actor with films like Moneyball, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot. Hill completed his journey into more dramatic material with his directorial debut Mid90s, which focuses on the coming of age story of 13-year-old Stevie (Sunny Suljic), a loner kid who escapes his troubled home life by joining a group of skaters and forming a lifelong group of friends. Hill has reported that much of the film was inspired by his own experiences growing up outside of Los Angeles.
The personal touch is evident, as the entire vernacular of the film feels very accurate to the time and place that Hill has recreated. There’s a lot of humor found in the story, as the dead end conversations and existential musings from the adolescent characters are often played for laughs, but Hill is ultimately able to use this comradery to craft something more endearing. Suljic gives a breakout performance, and Hill’s patient, vivid imagery works to create a wholly unique slice of life story.