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Top Movies and Shows on Amazon Prime Video in 2021

Buy a new TV and then watch cool stuff on it

Allison Picurro
Kate Beckinsale, Jolt

Kate Beckinsale, Jolt

Amazon Studios

So much to stream, so little time. But if you're here, it seems safe to assume you've at least narrowed your platform of choice down to Amazon Prime Video. The good news is that there's a pretty endless selection of things to watch on Amazon, whether you're looking for a new show or a movie. By now, your friends have probably told you to watch Fleabag, or you've caught commercials for The Tomorrow War on TV, or maybe you've heard about Kate Beckinsale's new action thriller Jolt, which was released on July 23 and commits to its silliness so much that it works. The point is, there's a lot to choose from.

That's where we come in: TV Guide has narrowed down a list of the 50 best shows and movies to watch on Amazon. 

An important note about how this list was made: In order to keep the list as relevant as possible, we're stressing the best recent releases, Amazon Prime Video originals, and critics' favorites. But we're also putting our own personal spin on the list, with underrated gems we've been recommending to our friends, ageless classics, and important selections that highlight diverse voices.

Looking for more recommendations of what to watch next? We have a ton of them! We also have hand-picked selections based on shows you already love.

Last updated July 23, 2021

A Very English Scandal

For fans of: Watching Hugh Grant play a terrible, shady person
Number of seasons: 1 (just three hourlong episodes)

Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal

Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal

Sophie Mutevelian/BBC/Blueprint Television Ltd

Hugh Grant loves playing jerks who don't respect their wives; this is an indisputable fact. But a few years before he played the bad husband on The Undoing, he was playing the bad husband on A Very English Scandal, a show about a very real sex scandal that went down in the '70s. Grant plays Jeremy Thorpe, a member of Parliament who has an affair with Norman Josiffe (Ben Whishaw), a younger stable hand, which is complicated by the fact that Thorpe is both a public figure and married with a child. When the scandal blows up in the British press, a vicious battle breaks out between Thorpe and Josiffe. The best part of it all is that this show is an incredibly short watch, clocking in at only three episodes long. [Trailer]


For fans of: Jennifer Garner, spies
Number of seasons: 5

There's nothing like the sheer go-for-broke joy of watching Alias when it's firing on all cylinders, which is why it's always so exciting when the ABC series returns to streaming (even if most of its original music had to be changed due to licensing issues). J.J. Abrams' high-octane early-2000s spy drama follows Jennifer Garner's Sydney Bristow, a grad student who moonlights as a globe-trotting double agent for the CIA, as she hacks into servers while wearing colorful wigs and tries to make it home in time for midterms. The early seasons, in particular, are thrilling, twisty, and powerfully emotional in a way that grounds the show's campier side. It's no surprise that Alias began with Abrams daydreaming about how fun it would be if Felicity from Felicity turned out to be a secret spy, a prophecy that would later be fulfilled by Keri Russell's turn in The AmericansThe Americans is also great and also on Amazon; watch them both for the perfect spy double feature. -Kelly Connolly [Trailer]

The Americans

For fans of: Secrets, liars, spies, Keri Russell
Number of seasons: 6

The AmericansJoe Weisberg's exquisite Cold War spy series, stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as a pair of Russian intelligence officers posing as an American couple, complete with a white picket fence and two kids who are none the wiser. The Americans finds violence behind the closed doors of a picture-perfect home, spinning every global conflict into a metaphor for domestic life. It's electric, thrilling, and the best show of the 2010s. -Kelly Connolly [Trailer]

The Big Sick

For fans of: Pre-Marvel Kumail Nanjiani, heartfelt rom-coms

This romantic comedy is based on the actual love story between Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon. Nanjiani plays the fictionalized version of himself while Zoe Kazan plays the fictionalized version of Emily, whose sudden diagnosis with adult-onset Still's disease -- and the coma she falls into -- throws a major wrench into their burgeoning relationship. While Kumail and Emily's story is undoubtedly the thing that drives The Big Sick, Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, who play Emily's parents, are the movie's grounding forces. You'll probably walk away from this mostly wishing they could adopt you. [Trailer]


For fans of: Capitalism, but make it camp; pissing contests
Number of seasons: 5 (renewed for Season 6, date TBD)

Showtime's financial soap is part prestige drama and part grown-up frat party, following the reckless assholes of a Wall Street hedge fund as they accumulate wealth and eat sushi off naked women. That grotesquery is off-putting at first, but it soon becomes the reason to watch as the toxic masculinity sirens become music to your ears. And if you enjoy acting, Damian Lewis playing the hedge fund CEO and Paul Giamatti as the government lawyer trying to take him down will please. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

For fans of: Sequels, the way Borat says "my wiiiiife"

Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Amazon Studios

It's hard not to be wary when a beloved character is resurrected for a second go-around years later, but Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (full title Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) is the rare sequel that works. Sacha Baron Cohen returns as Kazakh journalist Borat, and the international fame he's racked up since the first film has hurt more than helped his home country. In an attempt to redeem Kazakhstan, he returns to America with the hopes of delivering a gift to former President Donald Trump (this movie was released right before the 2020 election, which does admittedly give some of the jokes a 10-second expiration date), but more compelling than all of that is Borat's legitimately sweet relationship with his daughter, Tutar (Maria Bakalova, who absolutely earned the Oscar nomination she received for her performance), who accompanies him on his mission, much to his chagrin. Honestly, the Rudy Giuliani stuff is the least interesting thing about this movie. It's good! Wa wa wee wa indeed. [Trailer]


For fans of: Troubled cops, the parts of L.A. that aren't so nice, The Shield
Number of seasons: 6 (Season 7 coming June 25, 2021)

Author Michael Connelly's rough-around-the-edges cop Harry Bosch comes to the screen in one of Amazon's most popular original series, a prestige dad show about morality and cleaning up the scum of Los Angeles. Titus Welliver plays Bosch, a homicide detective who doesn't always play well with authorities, but that might have something to do with the fact that he's always caught up in investigations against him dealing with police procedure. The police work is much more authentic than what you're used to, which some might call slow, but it's worth the watch for some gripping turns and its gritty atmosphere. A final season is coming, as is a spin-off. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

The Boys

For fans of: Superheroes with a twist
Number of seasons: 2 (renewed for a third season, date TBD)

The Boys is about superheroes, but not the Avengers kind. It would probably be more accurate to say that this show is about supervillains, or at least, villains who think they're heroes. Let me explain: The Boys is set in a world where superheroes are revered as celebrities and work for a giant corporation, but outside of saving the world, most are abusing their powers and are pretty bad people. (I'm talking actual Nazi-level bad, in the case of a few characters.) Enter... the titular Boys, a group of vigilantes who have tasked themselves with bringing down the corrupt "heroes." A lot of other things happen, but if you're looking for something that really strives to break the mold Marvel and DC have created, The Boys is the thing to start with. [Trailer]


For fans of: Unlikely romance, people being lovingly mean to each other
Number of seasons: 4

Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, Catastrophe

Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, Catastrophe

Amazon Studios

Co-creators and co-writers Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan star in this Amazon original comedy as the affable American Rob and the sardonic, disillusioned Irish Sharon, two single people who find themselves falling into a relationship after a short fling in London leaves Sharon pregnant. Catastrophe is the kind of show that celebrates the joys and frustrations of unexpected romance, telling us that love isn't easy, but it's worth having if you can find it. If all that wasn't enough, the late, great Carrie Fisher makes recurring appearances as Rob's eccentric, judgmental mother. [Trailer]


For fans of: Fringe, The Americans, if Fringe and The Americans had a baby
Number of seasons: 2

You want to watch one of the best science-fiction series of the last decade, but you also want to watch one of the best espionage thrillers of the last decade. The solution to both is Counterpart, an appallingly underwatched series that ran on Starz for two seasons from 2017 to 2019. J.K. Simmons stars as a low-level pencil pusher at a government agency in Berlin, where he learns that his job actually involves work with a top-secret parallel universe, and things only get more complicated when his counterpart, a hotshot spy from the other universe, arrives in his universe to stir up trouble. Or is he there to save the world(s)? It's a brilliant drama that allows its cast -- which includes Olivia Williams and Harry Lloyd -- to stretch itself out with the show's fun premise. -Tim Surette [Trailer]


For fans of: Campy mysteries, the board game Clue

Board games couldn't ask for better press than Clue, everyone's favorite box office flop. The cult classic 1985 murder mystery takes an Agatha Christie-style premise — six strangers are invited to dinner at a mansion — and turns it into a madcap comic romp packed with wordplay so silly it's smart. Eileen BrennanMadeline KahnChristopher LloydMichael McKeanMartin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren form an all-star ensemble of mysterious dinner guests who share the same blackmailer; Tim Curry, in one of his all-time best performances, plays the butler. Curry carries Clue's memorable gimmick of an ending, which offers up three possible resolutions, on his back, reenacting the whole film as he reveals who did it. -Kelly Connolly [Trailer]


For fans of: Serial killers with feelings, lumberjack beards
Number of seasons: 8

During television's heyday of prestige dramas, Dexter was Showtime's entry into that crowded space, following a blood spatter expert (Michael C. Hall) who also happened to be a serial killer. It was an instant hit, offering a macabre look at the mind of a murderer who painstakingly went through the process of killing other murderers and cleaning up the messes afterward. The show's appeal waned in later seasons, because Showtime has no issue letting series run out of creative juices as long as they're still fairly popular, but the early seasons are still great. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

The Expanse

For fans of: Spaaaaaace, complex political and social situations, Fedoras
Number of seasons: 5 (renewed for a sixth and final season, date TBD)

The Expanse

The Expanse


You may have heard people calling The Expanse "the best sci-fi series on TV right now," and gosh darnit, they're right. The series that Jeff Bazos reportedly personally saved from cancellation after Syfy axed it is a wonderfully complicated political thriller that just so happens to take place in space as Earth and Mars are on the brink of war and an alien somethingorother threatens all of humankind. Telling an intragalactic story from multiple planets and multiple points of view, The Expanse is Game of Thrones-level rich. Well, when Game of Thrones was good. Plus, Thomas Jane plays a detective with a dope hat. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

The Farewell

For fans of: Lovable grandmas, dysfunctional families

In 2020, Awkwafina became the first Asian American woman to win a Golden Globe for her performance in Lulu Wang's dramedy about a Chinese-American family who decide not to tell their terminally ill grandmother that she only has a short while left to live. While that stat obviously says something terrible about awards shows in general, Awkwafina deserved the trophy for the work she does in The Farewell, a movie that has a lot of wonderful parts that all add up to a heart-wrenching package: a reflection on the immigrant experience, an exploration of identity, and a celebration of the lovable messiness of family. [Trailer]


For fans of: People trying their best, rule-breaking priests, watching Olivia Colman be rude
Number of seasons: 2 (six episodes each)

Created by, written by, and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag takes us inside the everyday life of the titular Fleabag (Waller-Bridge), and the ways in which she fails upward romantically, professionally, and in her familial relationships. Its first season is a hilarious show that's also about the pain of hidden trauma, but it's in its second season where Fleabag confidently figures out exactly what it wants to say. As Fleabag begins to explore her strange, fleeting connection with Andrew Scott's (Hot) Priest, repairs her complicated relationship with her uptight sister Claire (Sian Clifford), and struggles to figure out the kind of person she wants to be, the show shines. By the time those two words heard 'round the world are uttered in the series finale -- "It'll pass"; if you know, you know -- it's abundantly clear that Fleabag has earned its cathartic, triumphant ending. [Trailer]


For fans of: Beloved comedians, the afterlife
Number of seasons: 1

Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen, Forever

Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen, Forever

Amazon Studios

Forever, a wondrously weird, canceled-too-soon series, stars Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen as a married couple who are in a rut, not exactly unhappy but nonetheless going through the motions. When Armisen's character dies suddenly, and Rudolph's character not long after, they find themselves back together in the perplexingly lawless afterlife, which is actually just an extremely normal suburb. They have no idea why they've ended up there or what they're supposed to be doing, with no one telling them what to do and no real goals set for them. You can probably already tell that this heads right for "What's the meaning of life?" territory, but the show explores that concept with sobering nuance. Rudolph and Armisen are just so good together, and Catherine Keener co-stars in a very fun supporting role. [Trailer]

Get Duked!

For fans of: Trainspotting, psychedelics

This 2019 British black comedy film will easily remind you of Danny Boyle's bonkers classic Trainspotting, and it should: three Scottish teens with a knack for partying and doing drugs get into trouble. In Get Duked!, they're joined by a do-gooder and wander the Highlands to win the Duke of Edinburgh Award, a survival challenge that turns boys into men, but they get stuck in the middle of a hunt-or-be-hunted situation, with Eddie Izzard playing a psycho with a sniper rifle. Believe it or not, it gets weirder from there. Hilarious, ridiculous, and packed with social commentary, this would be regular viewing in weed smoke-filled dorm rooms of the late '90s. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

Good Omens

For fans of: Buddy comedies, the concept of Frances McDormand as God
Number of seasons: 1

Amazon and the BBC's adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's beloved fantasy-comedy novel Good Omens is about a demon and an angel who team up to prevent the Antichrist from bringing about the end of the world because they've grown rather fond of Earth and its inhabitants, and it features some of the best casting television has ever seen. David Tennant as the hedonistic demon Crowley is so good it's like he was born solely for this purpose, and the way he plays off Michael Sheen's angel, Aziraphale, makes for a perfect odd-couple pairing that leads to the show's best moments. Although the limited series is faithful to the novel (perhaps to a fault), it doesn't always retain the same magic and whimsy, so it's really the cast, which also includes Michael McKeanFrances McDormand, and Jon Hamm, that makes it worth your while. Plus, it's a quick binge at only six episodes. -Kaitlin Thomas [Trailer]

The Handmaiden

For fans of: Deception, but in a sexy way

Ha Jung-woo and Kim Min-hee, The Handmaiden

Ha Jung-woo and Kim Min-hee, The Handmaiden

Amazon Studios

The Handmaiden is one of those movies where every character is scamming another character, resulting in an exciting, dramatic thriller. It starts out as a film about a Korean con man (Ha Jung-woo) who devises a plan to seduce a Japanese heiress (Kim Min-hee) out of her inheritance. He enlists the help of a pickpocket (Kim Tae-ri) to act as the heiress' maid and confidante, tasking her with encouraging marriage between the two. Things begin to get more dangerous as deeper relationships develop in the messy, intertwined trio, which is all I want to say without actually spoiling the plot's genius twists. What you should know going in is that this movie was directed by Park Chan-wook, who gave us the brutal, bloody Oldboy, so you prepare for some gruesome imagery. [Trailer]


For fans of: Little girls kicking butt, the movie Hanna
Number of seasons: 2 (renewed for Season 3)

Joe Wright's Hanna was an electric action film about a young girl genetically modified to be a government assassin, and Amazon's television adaptation isn't much different. When you have a little girl kicking the butts of grown men, why change it? But with Hanna the TV show, creator David Farr, who wrote the film, decided there was enough room in the margins to flesh out the universe, adding much more complexity to the characters, particularly Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett in the film, Mireille Enos in the show), and exploring more stories from the UTRAX program, like Season 2's academy for young female assassins. -Tim Surette [Trailer]


For fans of: Cartoon violence, superhero origin stories, celebrity voices
Number of seasons: 1

No one would blame you for having superhero fatigue, but Invincible is a little different from your average Marvel movie. Based on the comics by The Walking Dead'Robert Kirkman, this animated series follows Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), a 17-year-old kid who just so happens to be the son of the world's greatest superhero. When his own powers begin to develop, he learns some shocking information about himself and his father's legacy, all while trying to balance carving out his own identity as a hero with the normal anxieties that come along with being a teen. Alongside Yeun is an incredibly stacked voice cast that includes J.K. SimmonsSandra OhMahershala AliGillian JacobsSeth RogenMark HamillMae Whitman, and many, many more. [Trailer]

Jack Ryan

For fans of: America, bedside table books for your dad, buffed John Krasinski
Number of seasons: 2 (renewed for Season 3)

Amazon takes author Tom Clancy's most famous character and digs into Jack's origins with this political thriller starring John Krasinski as the titular CIA agent who regularly mops up international conflicts with both brain and brawn. It isn't trying to reinvent the genre so much as update it for today's era, with expensive location shoots and top-tier action to cover the so-so plot, but for easy Sunday night viewing, that's exactly what you (and your dad) want. -Tim Surette [Trailer]


For fans of: Crank, Kate Beckinsale violently brutalizing goons

Kate Beckinsale, Jolt

Kate Beckinsale, Jolt

Amazon Studios

Kate Beckinsale could have coasted in her career and played a lonely single mom who gets wooed by a hunk in various rom-coms, but thank god she's decided to be a butt-kicking action hero instead. In Jolt, she plays a woman with a unique condition that you'll only find in movies: if she doesn't electroshock herself with a custom-made harness, she loses her temper and starts to beat the shit out of everyone. Let's just say she doesn't always get the jolt she needs in time... a lot. There's also a scene in which she throws babies, and there are many swift kicks to the groin. Dumb fun, good time. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

Knives Out

For fans of: Chris Evans' white sweater, twisty mysteries

Has there been a bigger crowd-pleaser from the past few years than Rian Johnson's mystery-comedy film Knives Out? It centers on the exorbitantly wealthy Thrombey family, who come together when their crime novelist father (Christopher Plummer) commits suicide. Or does he? When an eccentric private investigator (Daniel Craig, doing some serious accent work) shows up suspecting foul play, the motives of every member of the family are suddenly in question. This is just one of those movies where it seems like everyone in the stacked cast -- Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Toni Collette, and more -- had the time of their lives on set, which makes an already absorbing story even more fun to watch. Plus, yeah, the sweater[Trailer]

Late Night

For fans of: Comedies about going to work, Emma Thompson wearing suits

Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson star in this extremely sweet-hearted movie, written by Kaling, about a talk show host (played by Thompson) whose popularity is waning as she ages. To help freshen up her writers' room and stop the network from replacing her, she hires a new, inexperienced writer (Kaling). Some of the jokes and job responsibilities admittedly delve a little too far into the inside baseball territory -- a lot of importance is placed on Kaling's character becoming co-monologue writer, for example -- but overall, it's a fun movie about the lengths women have to go to in order to be taken seriously in their careers. [Trailer]

The Lighthouse

For fans of: People going absolutely crazy, dirt

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were just starting to get used to being home 24/7, everyone online was talking about (or, more accurately, meme-ing) The Lighthouse. It makes sense: the Robert Eggers-directed psychological horror film takes place entirely inside a lighthouse, where two lighthouse keepers (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe) slowly spiral into madness when a storm leaves them stranded together. There are sexy mermaids and dangerous seagulls and an instantly iconic scene where Pattinson's character gives a passionate performance of a gibberish song. It's a wild ride. [Trailer]

Making the Cut

For fans of: Project Runway, the business of fashion
Number of seasons: 2

Project Runway has gone through a makeover in the past few years, so if you happen to miss having the very stylish duo of Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn on your TV, Making the Cut is the next best thing you can get. Making the Cut is a fashion competition show, pitting 12 up-and-coming designers against each other to see who has what it takes to start the "next big global fashion brand." Now, "big global fashion brand" is definitely extremely vague language, but there are some seriously talented contestants on this show, and people get very emotional in nearly every episode, which is alternately sweet and stressful to watch. Gunn in particular will always make such great TV as he delivers on his signature brand of inspirational tough love to push the designers to be their absolute best. Plus, it boasts some excellent guest judges, like Naomi Campbell and Nicole Richie. [Trailer]

The Man in the High Castle

For fans of: Historical fiction, dystopian universes
Number of seasons: 4

Based on the Philip K. Dick novel, the drama imagines a universe in which the Nazis won World War II. Picking up 20 years after the war, the United States is now divided into two states: Germany controls the east, and Japan controls the west, while the Rocky Mountain states are a lawless neutral zone. When films and newsreels created by a mysterious figure, appropriately called the Man in the High Castle, show Germany and Japan losing the war, people who have accepted their fate begin to rebel against the world they're stuck in. [Trailer]

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

For fans of: Pastiche, talking fast
Number of seasons: 3 (renewed for a fourth season, date TBD)

Alex Borstein and Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Alex Borstein and Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Amazon Studios

If you've seen even one episode Gilmore Girls, you're already familiar with the Amy Sherman-Palladino style: women who talk fast in a way that both annoys and charms everyone they meet. That same sensibility is also present in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Sherman-Palladino's comedy series about Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a 1950s housewife who begins moonlighting as a standup comedian to let off steam from the trials and tribulations of her daily life. The show follows her successes and her blunders as she traverses the world of comedy alongside her gruff manager, Susie (Alex Borstein), the ways she tries to keep her secret life hidden from her eccentric parents (Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle), and her relationship with her ex-husband, Joel (Michael Zegen). It's won a ton of Emmys and will probably win a ton more as it goes on. [Trailer]


For fans of: Psychological warfare, Florence Pugh's crying face, Scandinavian cults

Even if you haven't seen Midsommar, you've probably at least seen the memes or heard someone quote one of its most memorable lines: "Do you feel held by him?" This is the breakup movie to end all breakup movies, starring Florence Pugh as a girl who, while emotionally recovering from a devastating family tragedy, tags along on a trip to Sweden with her terrible boyfriend and his terrible friends to attend a festival that only occurs once every 90 years. And because this was directed by Ari Aster, the guy whose twisted mind brought us Hereditary, it naturally devolves into a story about a neopagan cult, flower crowns, and unspeakable horrors occurring in broad daylight. If that's not enough to hook you, it's also one of Ariana Grande's favorite films[Trailer]

Modern Love

For fans of: The New York Times, celebrities
Number of seasons: 1 (renewed for a second season, date TBD)

This is a show based on a newspaper column -- specifically the New York Times's Modern Love -- and if that doesn't sound like the most interesting concept, I can almost guarantee that at least one episode stars a celebrity you like. It's an anthology, so every episode is adapted from a different story: There's the Dev Patel episode, in which he stars as the founder of a dating app who's still in love with his ex-girlfriend, and the Anne Hathaway episode, where she plays a woman trying to cope with bipolar disorder. There's also the episode where Tina Fey and John Slattery go to marriage counseling, and the one where Andrew Scott has troubles with his surrogate. There's really something for everyone here! Ultimately, it's a sweet show that has a lot to say about love, in all of its many forms. [Trailer]

Mozart in the Jungle

For fans of: New York City as a character, classical music, weirdos
Number of seasons: 4

Mozart in the Jungle is a true oddball of a show, but there's a lot of sweetness and joy to be found in it. Rodrigo (Gael García Bernal) is the new conductor at the New York Symphony, whose flamboyant style puts him at odds with Thomas (Malcolm McDowell), the now-retired former conductor. Soon after Rodrigo takes over, he holds auditions for new players, and he hires young, determined oboist Hailey (Lola Kirke) -- not to play in the symphony, but to be his assistant, which she settles for with the hope that it will lead to bigger and better opportunities. The show is filled out by a cast of ridiculous characters, like the symphony president played by Bernadette Peters and Wallace Shawn's neurotic pianist, that make the world come alive, and as a bonus, you get to hear some beautiful music. [Trailer]

Mr. Robot

For fans of: Stanley Kubrick, paranoia, destroying the system
Number of seasons: 4

Rami Malek, Mr. Robot

Rami Malek, Mr. Robot

Elizabeth Fisher/USA Network

Sam Esmail's conspiracy thriller ranges from masterpiece to overcomplicated, but thankfully it's more of the former than the latter. Rami Malek made his name as Elliot, a misanthropic hacker whose hobby helped him try to understand people as much as it got him data, but his anxiety grew after stumbling across possible secrets from one of the fastest-growing predatory tech companies in the world. Things escalate to global proportions, with most of the action happening over keyboards and monitors while we sheep were none the wiser. Mr. Robot pushed plenty of boundaries, most notably by showing how a TV show could be shot like auteur cinema. Watch Season 3's continuous-shot "Runtime Error" to see it in action. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

One Child Nation

For fans of: Learning about history without opening a book

This award-winning documentary will teach you all about a painful chapter in China's history via the one-child policy, which lasted from 1979 to 2015. Real people who lived through such a devastating period speak on their experiences, and the film delves into the damaging effects of government propaganda. Interestingly, One Child Nation is given a personal touch by co-director Nanfu Wang, who weaves stories of her own experience as a new mother in with the documentary's overall narrative. [Trailer]

One Mississippi

For fans of: Tig Notaro, late in life coming-of-age stories
Number of seasons: 2

Tig Notaro stars as a version of herself in this fictionalized account of the period in her life directly after her mother died. While recovering from her own brush with cancer, she moves back to her Mississippi hometown to live with her brother and stepfather, reminiscing and learning about her past. This show really highlights Notaro's strengths as both an actor and a storyteller, and it's also one of those little hidden gems that will probably make you wonder, "Where has this been all my life?" [Trailer]

One Night in Miami...

For fans of: Historical figures, monologues

Directed by Regina King and based on a play by Kemp Powers, this film tells a dramatized account of a 1964 meeting between Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). They spend the night in a Miami hotel room together and end up arguing for a good portion of it, about X's belief that Cooke has sold out by pandering to white audience with his music, and Ali's, referred to in the film as Cassius Clay, decision to convert to Islam and change his name. It's an interesting movie that succeeds in peeling back the curtain on four pretty untouchable cultural icons, revealing more about their anxieties, inner lives, and ambitions than the average biopic would. [Trailer]

Orphan Black

For fans of: CLONES, Tatiana Maslany
Number of seasons: 5

Orphan Black burst onto the scene in 2013, coming out of nowhere to stun critics and viewers with its crafty premise: A con artist witnesses the suicide of another woman who looks just like her, leading her down a rabbit hole of clones and conspiracies. The BBC America series combines action, science-fiction, and humor extremely well, creating characters you'll adore (Alison Hendrix is a legend). It's a treat to watch them venture into each others' orbits. Chameleon Tatiana Maslany won an Emmy for her roles as the many clones, though she really should have won at least three. The first seasons are the strongest, but Maslany and the cast stay great throughout its run. -Lindsay MacDonald [Trailer]


For fans of: The Coen Brothers, cinematography, comedic violence
Number of seasons: 2

My best piece of advice: Stop everything and watch Patriot now. Steven Conrad's bizarre spy series stars For All Mankind's Michael Dorman as an aspiring folk singer dragged into espionage by his father, forcing him to go undercover as an employee at a pipe manufacturer in Milwaukee. Yeah, that sounds weird, and it is, charmingly. It's bolstered by artsy cinematography, colorful characters, and comedy so dark you might be ashamed to laugh. It's one of Amazon's hidden treasures. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

Small Axe

For fans of: Social justice stories, period pieces
Number of seasons: 1

John Boyega, Small Axe

John Boyega, Small Axe

Amazon Studios

Small Axe is peak prestige television in that it's not actually television at all, but instead an anthology collection of five films directed by Steve McQueen. Every installment focuses on London's West Indian community in the years between 1969 and 1982, and each stars a great group of actors that includes John Boyega, Letitia Wright, Jack Lowden, and more. The stories don't overlap, but they all do an excellent job of building out the world, and they deal with issues and themes that impact the community, like police brutality, education, and what it means to be part of British society as a person of West Indian descent. On one hand, yes, five films is a lot to ask of viewers, but on the other, it just so happens that McQueen is an incredible director with a strong vision, and each one is worth your time. If you only want to try one, give "Lovers Rock," a romance centered around a reggae house party, a spin. [Trailer]

Sneaky Pete

For fans of: Cons, slippery situations
Number of seasons: 3

From the still-smoldering ashes of Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston (along with House's David Shore) created this twisty crime drama about a con man (Giovanni Ribisi) fresh out of jail who assumes the identity of his still-imprisoned cellmate in order to avoid thugs who want to kill him. The con job involves embedding himself into a family as a long-lost relative, which is a ticking time bomb ready to explode with consequences. Check it out if you're into watching desperate crooks wiggle out of tight squeezes. Bonus: Cranston plays a mob boss and Margo Martindale plays a suspicious mom. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

Sound of Metal

For fans of: Heavy metal band t-shirts, being emotional

I am of the opinion that Riz Ahmed gave the best performance of 2020 as a heavy metal drummer losing his hearing in Sound of Metal, and he very correctly earned an Oscar nomination for it. As Ruben, he explores the emotional trauma of sudden deafness -- literally, as it plays out in the film, one minute he can hear perfectly and the next everything is muffled, and eventually gone completely -- and the importance of finding community as he goes to live in a rural home for deaf recovering addicts, run by Joe (Paul Raci, also rightfully Oscar nominated for his work). Sound of Metal's sound design is nothing short of incredible, and most notably, director Darius Marder cast many actual Deaf actors who help bring the story to life. [Trailer]


For fans of: Witches, dancers, witchy dancers, Tilda Swinton

Luca Guadagnino directs this remake of the 1977 Dario Argento horror classic. Dakota Johnson stars as Susie, a seemingly fresh-faced dancer who travels from Ohio to Berlin to study at an elite dance academy and is quickly named head dancer. As the movie unfolds, and as more students and teachers are found dead or go missing, it becomes increasingly clear that something very sinister and supernatural is going on underneath the surface. Also, Tilda Swinton plays three roles, and for one of them she gets to dress up as an old man. It's kooky, it's campy, and it's also very, very scary. [Trailer]

Sylvie's Love

For fans of: Tessa Thompson, period romance

Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha, Sylvie's Love

Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha, Sylvie's Love

Amazon Studios

If sweeping romance is your thing, this film should be your next watch. Set in New York City in 1962, it stars Tessa Thompson as Sylvie, an aspiring TV producer who strikes up a summer romance with a saxophonist (Nnamdi Asomugha) who works at her father's record store. Life eventually drags them apart, and they both go on without each other for a while, only to reunite years later to find that their connection remains just as strong. [Trailer]

The Tomorrow War

For fans of: Independence Day, action broken up by passable humor

A muscly and brainy Chris Pratt stars as a scientist who, along with thousands of others, is zapped 30 years into the future to help future soldiers fight an alien invasion and save the human race. Yeah, if that insane logline doesn't turn you off then you should enjoy this popcorn flick that doesn't take itself too seriously -- as evidenced by the many one-liners from comedians Sam RichardsonMike Mitchell, and Mary Lynn Rajskub -- but doesn't skimp on hours of soldiers unloading clips into grotesque aliens. It'll remind you of Starship Troopers without that sharp commentary. [Trailer]


For fans of: Family drama, magical realism
Number of seasons: 5

It's hard to discuss Transparent without also bringing up the Jeffrey Tambor of it all -- Tambor was accused of sexual harassment on the set of the series and subsequently exited after its fourth season -- but there's also a lot of value in talking about all the hard work put into this show by actual trans actors, directors, and writers, like Trace Lysette, Hari Nef, Our Lady J, and more. Transparent revolves around a family who learns that their parent (Tambor) is a trans woman, and it explores the ways in which her transition helps her children learn about their own identities. [Trailer]

Uncle Frank

For fans of: Road trips, Paul Bettany's American accent

This movie is a little bit like if someone tried to update Little Miss Sunshine and focus primarily on Steve Carell's character, but in a good way. Beth (Sophia Lillis) moves from her small North Carolina hometown to good ol' New York City, and immediately crashes into her favorite uncle's life. She finds out that Frank (Paul Bettany) is gay and has been living with his boyfriend, Wally (Peter Macdissi), for years, while successfully keeping it a secret from the rest of their family. And because this is a movie, the secret is of course put in jeopardy when Frank's father dies and he, Beth, and Wally embark on a road trip to attend the funeral. The movie balances its comedic and dramatic moments well, and your heart will ache during the flashbacks to Frank's adolescence, where he was first confronted with his family's homophobia. Plus, an always perfect Judy Greer co-stars. [Trailer]

The Underground Railroad

For fans of: Alternative histories, Barry Jenkins' magical touch
Number of seasons: 1 

Barry Jenkins made his first big foray into TV with this miniseries based on the Colson Whitehead novel about an alternate reality that imagines the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad with trains, conductors, and engineers. Cora (Thuso Mbedu), an enslaved woman, boards the train in effort to secure her freedom, all while being pursued by a vicious slave owner (Joel Edgerton). William Jackson Harper and Lily Rabe co-star. [Trailer]


For fans of: Masterful animation, metaphysical musings
Number of seasons: 1 (renewed for a second season, date TBD)

In this gorgeous rotoscoped drama, Rosa Salazar stars as a woman who wakes up after a car accident and discovers she now possesses the ability to manipulate time — and communicate with her deceased father (Bob Odenkirk). He recruits her to use her newfound powers to try to prevent his death 10 years prior. But even as she races backward and forward through time to save her dad, she wonders whether any of it is real or whether she's experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, which her grandmother had. With eight addictive 22-minute episodes, Undone is a breathtaking visual feast that demands to be consumed in a single sitting. –Noelene Clark [Trailer]

The Vast of Night

For fans of: That classic sci-fi feel, first-time directors making a huge splash

This 2019 science-fiction film from director Andrew Patterson is one of the best directorial debuts of the last decade, with Patterson's keen eye able to bring to life a small town experiencing strange phenomena from the sky. Featuring some truly incredible continuous shots involving hundreds of extras and one of my favorite intimate cinematic scenes featuring just one person on screen, The Vast of Night is a film school student's dream. It follows a young switchboard operator and a disc jockey in 1950s New Mexico trying to find the source of unidentified sounds, and it's an entrancing thriller from the opening shot to the closing seconds. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

The Wilds

For fans of: Teens, getting stranded, Lost
Number of seasons: 1 (renewed for a second season)

Jenna Clause, Sarah Pidgeon, and Mia Healey, The Wilds

Jenna Clause, Sarah Pidgeon, and Mia Healey, The Wilds

Amazon Studios

A mix of Lost and Lord of the Flies, The Wilds stars a mostly unknown cast of young women as teenage girls with an assortment of issues who are en route to a spiritual retreat when their plane crashes on a deserted island, forcing them to work together to stay alive. It naturally leads to plenty of bickering and politicking, as the group have different skills and backgrounds, while flashbacks and flashforwards fill out the rest of the story on both ends of the timeline. And if you think they ended up there on accident, then you clearly haven't watched enough television shows. This is a gritty, twisty thriller with a huge season-ending cliffhanger that has us dying for Season 2. [Trailer]


For fans of: Crime dramas, virtual vacations
Number of seasons: 1

ZeroZeroZero is a sprawling crime drama in every sense, following the life cycle of cocaine from production in Mexico to transport by an American shipping company to sale by the mafia in Italy. Of course, problems with the shipment arise, leading to infighting among syndicates and, yep, murder. Come for the crime, stay for the gorgeous on-location shots. -Tim Surette [Trailer]