The Amazon Prime Weekend Watchlist
1) What We Do in the Shadows (2014) – Director Taika Waititi directs, co-writes, and co-stars in this hilarious mock-umentary detailing the lives of immortal vampires sharing a house in New Zealand. The film works as a send-up of both vampire tropes and reality TV, and features a brilliant performance by co-writer and co-star Jemaine Clement.
2) Sicario (2015) - Denis Villeneuve is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors, with the one-two punch of this film and his follow-up, Arrival. Here, he follows a DEA agent played by Emily Blunt as she’s drawn by Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro deeper into the drug war south of the border. The film is tense, surprising, and engaging.
3) Interstellar (2014) – This sci-fi drama from director Christopher Nolan and starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and McKenzie Foy didn’t match the critical or commercial success of Nolan’s Inception. Regardless, this visually spectacular dystopian family drama has outstanding performances, which makes up for some choices that might leave viewers frustrated.
1) Winter's Bone (2010) - This independent drama is widely considered Jennifer Lawrence's breakthrough moment. She plays Ree Dolly, a young woman living in an impoverished town in the Ozarks who is struggling to look after her siblings and her mentally ill mother. While trying to find her father, who has been recently released from a drug-related stint in prison, Ree delves into the dark and disturbing world of meth production in rural America.
2) Ex Machina (2015) - Given how beautifully constructed this film is, it is hard to believe that this film is Alex Garland's directorial debut. Garland is also famous for writing screenplays for 28 Days Later (2002) and Sunshine (2007), as well as the novel The Beach (which was adapted into a mediocre film starring Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000). The film also features Oscar Isaac and Domnhall Gleeson slightly before Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) fame.
3) 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) - Only tangentially related to 2008's found footage monster flick Cloverfield, this quiet thriller focuses far more on human interactions than big, flashy action sequences. Not to be cliche, but the humans are the true monsters in 10 Cloverfield Lane after all. This tactic works brilliantly thanks to the subtle yet menacing performance of John Goodman, and the real chemistry between Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr.
1) Gone with the Wind (1939) – For those of you who haven’t yet seen this classic, this is a great time to catch it for free. It is considered one of the greatest films of all time. This consideration is supported by Ernest Haller’s gorgeous cinematography and a superb cast; the chemistry between Vivien Leigh, who was clearly born to play this role, and Clark Gable crackles on screen. This riches to rags to riches tale is one you have to see.
2) Beetlejuice (1988) – Shelby took my #2 and #3 lol, so I will give you Beetlejuice, a Tim Burton classic and a cookie of a film for fans of dark comedy. Many have said that this is one of Tim Burton’s best films, and the limited special effects, given the 1988 release date, are pretty rad. Michael Keaton is phenomenal in the role of Beetlejuice, and the character of Lydia served as one of Winona Ryder’s breakthrough roles. P.S. There’s been some buzz about the possibility of a sequel.
3) The Monster (2016) – There are so many amazing films on Amazon Prime right now that it was a bit challenging to just pick three, but I decided on The Monster because I watched it recently and really enjoyed it. In a nutshell, a mother and a daughter are forced to confront a monster after a car accident on a dark side road at night. It’s an indie horror film written and directed by Bryan Bertino, who also wrote The Strangers (2008). The film is fairly emotionally manipulative, but the acting is well done and the film really tackles the question of whether or not monsters are real? And if they are real, what do they look like (i.e., everyday people or beasties from the depths) and where are they found. If you enjoyed The Babadook (2014) make this your next watch.