Everyone wants to find something new. Something unique, impactful, and underappreciated to enjoy and share. But with limited time and knowledge, zeroing in on something spectacular and untapped is tricky. The deluge of titles hidden behind each category can make judging the quality of each specific movie difficult without watching them. Prime Video boasts a daunting selection size, and it doesn’t show any signs of shrinking. To save weary subscribers from sifting through an almost endless series of titles and pictures, here are the best hidden gems and underrated movies currently on Prime Video.
For more recommendations, check out our lists of the best movies and shows on Prime Video or the best hidden gems on Netflix.
Editor’s note: This article was updated May 2023 to include Afternoon Delight.
Run Time: 2 hrs 4 min | Genre: Musical Romance Drama | Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ben Mendelsohn
Joe Wright’s moving adaptation of the classic play from Edmond Rostand, Cyrano stars Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) in the titular role. Together, Dinklage and Wright capture the enchanting romance of the tale while adding a clever twist by making this version of Cyrano a movie musical. The inclusion of catchy original songs, performed by Dinklage and co-stars, including the captivating Haley Bennett, who shines as Roxanne, allows this Cyrano to soar. An underappreciated stellar supporting cast, especially Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Christian and Ben Mendelsohn (Captain Marvel) as De Guiche, this Cyrano is a charming addition to the lineage. – Yael Tygiel
Afternoon Delight (2013)
Run Time: 1 hr 37 min | Genre: Comedy Drama | Director: Joey Soloway
Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch
Written and directed by Joey Soloway, Afternoon Delight is a touching comedy with smart dialogue and undeniable performances from its incredible cast. Though it features some outdated views on sexuality and sex work, Afternoon Delight continues to hold strong in its ability to entertain. Kathryn Hahn stars as Rachel, a mother and wife who attempts to spice up her life by befriending a charismatic young stripper, played delightfully by Juno Temple (Ted Lasso). With effortless chemistry and irrefutable quips, Afternoon Delight manages to stay funny and light even while tackling complex subjects. – Yael Tygiel
Run Time: 1 hr 47 min | Director: B.J. Novak
Cast: B.J. Novak, Boyd Holbrook, Issa Rae, Ashton Kutcher, Dove Cameron
Written and directed by, as well as starring, B.J. Novak, Vengeance is a hilarious mystery that serves as Novak’s directorial debut. Vengeance follows an elitist New York City writer (Novak) who finds himself reluctantly involved in solving the potential murder of a woman he spent one night with months ago. Taking place in Texas and playing with cultural clashes, Vengeance knows where to lean in and stands tall on its strengths. Built on a cleverly ridiculous premise, Vengeance is undeniably entertaining, from the witty humor to the magnetic ensemble cast overflowing with famous faces, including Issa Rae, Ashton Kutcher, Boyd Holbrook (Logan), and Dove Cameron (Schmigadoon!). – Yael Tygiel
Thirteen Lives (2022)
Run Time: 2 hrs 27 min | Genre: Action Biography Drama | Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton
Ron Howard (Solo: A Star Wars Story) directs Thirteen Lives, a harrowing story about a rescue mission for a group of young boys and their soccer coach who found themselves trapped in the flooded underground caves of Thailand. Written by William Nicholson (Gladiator) and Don MacPherson, Thirteen Lives is a tense drama starring Viggo Mortensen (Crimes of the Future), Colin Farrell, and Joel Edgerton (Obi-Wan Kenobi), embodying real-life people who participated in the rescue on which the film is based. Allowing the fears of reality to keep audiences on the edge of their seats and critically praised for its accuracy, Thirteen Lives does not shy away from the horrific truth of what truly happened in Thailand. – Yael Tygiel
Run Time: 1 hr 42 min | Genre: Action Drama Superhero | Director: Julius Avery
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, Pilou Asbæk, Dascha Polanco
When thirteen-year-old Sam (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) discovers that his unsociable, grizzled neighbor (Sylvester Stallone) is actually a previously considered dead superhero, Sam attempts to persuade him to pick up his mantle as the vigilante named ‘Samaritan’ and save their city. Perfectly playing a cranky, aging, reluctant superhero, Stallone absolutely shines in Samaritan, a fascinatingly unexpected film from director Julius Avery. Avery’s use of practical effects and action sequences pair nicely with Stallone’s cantankerous dialogue. Samaritan provides the beloved concept of Hancock without the unnecessary eternal beings mythology. – Yael Tygiel
Run Time: 2 hrs 32 min | Genre: Horror Drama Mystery Thriller | Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton, Doris Hick, Dakota Johnson
Horrifyingly fascinating, Suspiria is a terrifyingly dark story set in 1970s Berlin about witches who run a dance company. When an ambitious young woman (Dakota Johnson) strives for success in the haunting conservatory, she uncovers a mystery and that things are not as they seem. Luca Guadagnino’s direction supplies a uniquely enthralling visual, playing with darkness and color, movement and mirrors. Tilda Swinton gracefully encompasses scenes, floating through her three roles, including that of grieving psychotherapist, Dr. Klemperer. As the thriller unfolds, it’s clear that Suspiria is absolutely stunning to see and grisly to watch. – Yael Tygiel
The Handmaiden (2016)
Run Time: 2 hrs 25 min | Genre: Suspense Drama Erotic Thriller | Director: PARK CHAN-wook
Cast: Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, Kim Tae-ri
From critically acclaimed director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) comes The Handmaiden, an engrossing yet dark crime drama about a secluded young Japanese heiress and a Korean con-woman she hires as her handmaiden. Beautifully shot, The Handmaiden allows the director to show off his unique talents while also emphasizing intricacies throughout the intriguing story. Based on the novel by Sarah Waters, screenwriter Seo-kyeong Jeong crafted the script along with Chan-wook, weaving a provocative web of mystery and sensuality starring Kim Tae-ri and Kim Min-hee. – Yael Tygiel
All the Old Knives (2022)
Run Time: 1 hr 41 min | Genre: Mystery Thriller | Director: Janus Metz
Cast: Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishburne
All the Old Knives is a riveting spy caper starring Chris Pine (Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves) and Thandiwe Newton (Westworld) as Henry and Celia, former lovers and former colleagues at the CIA. Reunited to close a case that ended in tragedy, Henry is investigating a potential leak in the agency and a suspected mole. Based on the book by Olen Steinhauer, All the Old Knives is a gripping story of passion, espionage, and betrayal, with clever direction from acclaimed director Janus Metz, who blurs lines as audiences watch with bated breath to uncover the truth. – Yael Tygiel
The Voyeurs (2021)
Run Time: 1 hr 56 min | Genre: Drama Mystery Erotic Thriller | Director: Michael Mohan
Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Justice Smith, Ben Hardy
The Voyeurs is a hypnotic erotic thriller about a young couple, Pippa and Thomas, played by Sydney Sweeney (The White Lotus) and Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu), who move in together and begin an unexpected obsession watching through the window into the home of their sexy neighbor (Ben Hardy). The more Pippa and Thomas get involved with their captivating neighbors, the darker they become, as does the path they find themselves on. A suspenseful and mesmerizing film about fantasy and fixation, The Voyeurs’ director Michael Mohan lures audiences to unexpected introspective revelations. – Yael Tygiel
Run Time: 1 hr 49 min | Genre: Documentary | Director: Leo Scott and Ting Poo
Cast: Val Kilmer and Jack Kilmer
Val Kilmer is having a big comeback this year thanks to the overwhelming success of Top Gun: Maverick, which respectfully incorporated Kilmer’s real-life health struggles into the narrative. Kilmer has struggled with throat cancer and lost his ability to speak without enduring pain. Kilmer told his life story in this intimate, emotional documentary from A24. Included in Val is incredible archive footage from throughout Kilmer’s career. It sheds insights on some of Kilmer’s most renowned projects and how he struggled to overcome the expectations of fame. The emotional voiceover narration was provided by Kilmer’s son Jack. – Liam Gaughan
American Animals (2018)
Run Time: 2 hr | Genre: Crime | Director: Bart Layton
Cast: Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Barry Keoghan, Jared Abrahamson, Eddie King
Alongside A Taxi Driver, American Animals is one of the best and most entertaining hidden gems on Prime Video. Many films boast to be “based on a true story,” but American Animals cheekily claims, “this is a true story.” Narration and fourth-wall-breaking documentary-style testimonials from the actual men who attempted to abscond with and fence rare artworks from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky interrupt and enhance the action and drama of the picture. True story aside, the young actors leading the picture feel dynamic and naive throughout the planning and execution of the heist—Evan Peters (American Horror Story) in particular. The slow pull of tension to and through the heist that persists despite the comedy, peculiarity, and barrage of film homage, is an achievement in and of itself. It’s a multifaceted and semi-relatable cautionary look at the banality of life on a collision course with the restlessness of youth empowered by privilege.
Run Time: 2 hr 19 min | Genre: Musical Romantic Drama | Director: Leos Carax
Cast: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg, Angele, Devyn Mcdowell
One of the weirder, longer movies on the list, Annette is a musical drama for film lovers. Though there is music, singing, long takes, and dancing, the movie doesn’t feel like it’s meant for musical lovers. Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Marion Cotillard (Inception) play two artists in love in LA. He’s a stand-up comic, something like a morose Bo Burnham, and she’s a star opera singer. The use of soliloquies and asides expands upon the characters’ thoughts and feelings throughout the musical montage. The songs throughout the picture often serve to convey feelings experienced over a period of time, more than they are meant to serve as profound pontification. The music, lyrics, and story are by the mythical Mael brothers of Sparks. Annette debuts the same year as the Edgar Wright (Baby Driver) documentary chronicling Ron and Russell Mael’s influential musical career, titled The Sparks Brothers. The steepest hurdle for any viewer experiencing Annette will be the decision by director Leos Carax (Holy Motors) to make Annette, the child of Driver and Cotillard, a very deliberately obvious marionette puppet. For those who can hang, they’ll be rewarded with a colorful, unpredictable movie musical unlike any other.
Run Time: 1 hr 48 min | Genre: Romantic Drama | Director: Neil Armfield
Cast: Heath Ledger, Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Budge, Tony Martin, Noni Hazelhurst
Few films hurt like Candy. The raw enactment of a poet and heroin addict named Dan (Heath Ledger) who drags his girlfriend Candy (Abbie Cornish) into his vapid world of addiction and damage is rife with humiliation, degradation, toxicity, and abuse. Ledger is at the top of his game in his most overlooked performance the year following his first Oscar nomination for best actor in a supporting role in Brokeback Mountain. Abbie Cornish (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri) matches him in equal measure to create one of the most heartwrenching movies of the 21st century. It’s split into chapters separated by the title cards, “Heaven, Earth, Hell,” depicting the draining of love and life from Dan and Candy’s relationship. It’s peppered with occasional dark humor, whispered poetry, and symbolism to break up the blunt heaviness and give Candy a tone all its own. This Australian gem is rounded out with an astounding Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) appearance as the comedic relief, and the wise old user who helps—and enables—the couple on their course from Heaven to Hell.
Daniel Isn’t Real (2019)
Run Time: 1 hr 40 min | Genre: Horror Thriller | Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer
Cast: Miles Robbins, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sasha Lane, Mary Stuart Masterson
Horror movie fans rejoice, Daniel Isn’t Real has descended from the Shudder sanctuary to bless Prime Video with its specific brand of, “is it mental illness, or is it eldritch horror?” Starring Miles Robbins (Blockers) as Luke, a young man who reconnects with his old—now grown—imaginary friend Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) in the hopes of mitigating stressors caused by school, socialization, and life. Daniel reemerges from Luke’s subconscious eager to aid him in growing his confidence and social circle. Luke acquiesces again and again to Daniel’s suggestions until he begins to lose sight of who is in control. Cinematographer Lyle Vincent applied his high contrast, fluorescent neon style displayed in The Bad Batch (2017) to the cramped interiors of Luke’s college life. It’s a beautiful, emotional story that blends CGI and practical effects to create a fantastical, luminous, and mysterious world. Never has a broomstick fight felt so significant.
Dead and Buried (1981)
Run Time: 1 hr 34 min | Genre: Horror Mystery | Director: Gary Sherman
Cast: James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, Dennis Redfield, Nancy Locke
Practical effects proponents shouldn’t miss Dead and Buried. The misty coastal town of Potters Bluff is an idyllic beach town getaway—save for the scores of murderous mobs who assemble to obliterate tourists and travelers. The screenplay is by Ronald Shusett, who worked with Dan O’Bannon on Alien and Total Recall (1990), while the novelization was done by American horror writer Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Dead and Buried shares strengths with the 1970s horror classic. The production design, special effects, and central mystery perpetually create terrifying and disturbing displays to distract or disgust the viewer. Sheriff Gillis’ (James Farentino) investigation into several disappearances unravels an unexpected and macabre horror story that shouldn’t be lost to time.
Drowning Mona (2000)
Run Time: 1 hr 36 min | Genre: Dark Comedy Crime Mystery | Director: Nick Gomez
Cast: Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Neve Campbell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Affleck
Drowning Mona’s brand of irreverent comedy feels more at home 21 years after its original release. It’s a comedic candy-colored suburban whodunit with a killer soundtrack. The suburbia setting sees everyone trying to appear civil, save for Mona. Mona (Bette Midler) is cantankerous and contemptible. Any one of the suburbanites, all rolling around with personalized license plates, could have aided in the vehicular sabotage that led to Mona’s demise. The facade of the neighborhood portrayed through the idyllic, overexposed lens of cinematographer Bruce Douglas Johnson (The Prophecy, 1995) slips with the introduction of each character—and their knowledge of the dirt on everyone else. But behind all the jokes, cynicism, and scheming is a film about love. Love and the desperate lengths people are willing to go for to feel it on their terms.
Run Time: 1 hr 55 min | Genre: Romance Comedy Drama | Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Rizwan Manji, Barry Shabaka Henley, Trev Parham
Paterson, New Jersey is a place, and Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver and poet who lives, and loves, in Paterson. It’s a quiet, intimate movie about labels, expressions, and desires. The viewer follows Paterson through a seemingly ordinary week: he gets up, goes to work, comes home, takes the dog for a walk, and stops for a beer at the local watering hole nearby—rinse and repeat. Adam Driver, an ex-marine and artist, feels natural as Paterson, an ex-marine and artist. His narration of the poems as the text appears on screen over serene and surreal edits that are enhanced by the atmospheric score is delightful, never delivering a line the same twice. There’s a meta theme of the poetry of life, and the art of coincidence in Paterson’s life—which is of course fictitious and created by a writer and artist who undoubtedly drew on their experiences of the poetry of life, and the art of coincidence they’d experienced. There’s barely any conflict, the film is very slice of life, but it’s a beautiful and thought-provoking reflection on passion and identity.
Watch on Prime Video
The Eclipse (2009)
Run Time: 1 hr 28 min | Genre: Supernatural Drama | Director: Connor McPherson
Cast: Ciaran Hinds, Iben Hjejle, Aiden Quinn, Billy Roche, Eanna Hardwick, Hannah Lynch
A gothic love and ghost story set in a modern Irish seaside town, The Eclipse could feel at home among A24’s stable of titillating-but-not-frightening dramatic films that host a scare or two. The grieving Michael Farr (Ciaran Hinds) somberly shuttles writers from their lodging to a literary festival where he makes acquaintances with the writers. The specter of his deceased father begins showing up ostentatiously to scare the daylights out of him. The few scary scenes might be enough to ward off easily spooked spectators, but the ghost serves as a metaphor more than a character. Conflict, sleep, writing, and death are all motifs the movie grapples with, and not one of them goes to waste. At its heart, it’s a love story about a lonely man on the precipice of reconnecting with the world.
Watch on Prime Video
The Wailing (2016)
Run Time: 2 hr 36 min | Genre: Horror Thriller Fantasy | Director: Na Hong-jin
Cast: Kwak Do-won, Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Woo-hee Chun, Hwan-hee Kim
Despite making its rounds across the big three streaming platforms, The Wailing still hides low under most people’s radar. It could be because it’s more than two and a half hours long, it could be because it’s a horror movie, it could be because it’s a foreign film, but it’s likely a combination of the three. Regardless, this beautiful and terrifying Korean film should be on everyone’s watch list. The movie opens with a quote, a verse from the book of Luke in The Bible. The smalltown detective tale about a series of unrelated homicides evolves into an almost modern folktale blended with biblical metaphors and imagery. The end result is a concoction of faith, fate, and deceit delivered through death. The movie extends into several subgenres of the horror and thriller categories on its way to the climax. With a central mystery, subgenre sprawling set pieces, and blood by the bucket, The Wailing best lends itself to being compared of the Giallo masterworks of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
When a Stranger Calls (1979)
Run Time: 1 hr 37 min | Genre: Psychological Thriller | Director: Fred Walton
Cast: Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Rutanya Alda, Carmen Angenziano, Tony Beckley
“Have you checked the children,” and “the call is coming from inside the house,” are two spine-tingling lines of dialogue any horror aficionado can recall, and they’re both uttered within the first 15 minutes of When a Stranger Calls. It has one of the tensest and most disturbing opening sequences of any film of its era. The subsequent time jump following the iconic opening scene sees a private investigator named John Clifford (Charles Durning) on the hunt for a lunatic on the loose named Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley). The audience gets to watch from the perspective of both cat and mouse in this chase. Tony Beckley is unhinged as the psychotic Curt Duncan, an escaped convicted homicidal maniac. The P.I. hunting him is the same man who helped put him away, though now retired. The magnificent Carol Kane (The Princess Bride) shines as the tortured babysitter in the cold open, and as the same woman, now grown, living lavishly with the tragedy of the past behind her. It’s a slow disturbing serial killer picture that doesn’t indulge in blood and gore, but in the chilling thrill of men on the hunt for a kill.