Our top 10 movie picks on Amazon Prime Video
- Indiana Jones 1-4
- American Beauty
- Forrest Gump
- No Country for Old Man
- L.A Confidential
- Les Misérables
- It’s Kind of a Funny Story
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Amazon Prime has finally come to Singapore and the streaming service is a gold mine for some of the greatest movies ever made.
Here are the best movies we’ve found so far, ranked.
The portmanteau of Chicago and Iraq (pronounced “shy-rack”) is worryingly apt. That said, don’t go in expecting Spike Lee to deliver a docu-drama exposé of this Illinois gangland. Re-adjust your expectations to a modern hip-hop remix of Aristophanes’s Lysistrata, a bawdy Greek classic in which women from warring sides refuse their husbands bedroom action in pursuit of an armistice.
Via narration from a slick-suited Dolmedes (Samuel L Jackson), the sorry state of affairs is laid out in iambic pentameter rhymes. On one side we have the Spartans, headed by our hero Lysistrata’s boyfriend and they’re beefing with their rivals, the Trojans, when an innocent citizen catches a stray bullet. From there Chi-raq escalates into a musical that delivers an incendiary look at violence and guns, men and women, and sex and power.
Thought-provoking and phenomenal, Gattaca is an underrated sci-fi thriller that thrusts chilling questions about a dystopian future where the human species is perfected by genetic engineering.
Vincent (Ethan Hawke) was born in the old-fashioned way, in a society where such traditional conceptions are frowned upon due to the high probability of genetic imperfections. As expected, his genetic tests, detected a series of health issues – bad eyesight, heart problems and a life expectancy of about 30 years. With such an undesirable genetic ‘resume’, he is deemed an “Invalid” and only qualifies as a cleaner, despite his hard work and undying ambitions to travel to space.
Along with meticulous details and impressive performances by a stellar cast, Gattaca has stood the test of time to remain one of the finest sci-fi classics.
If you want to hear a heated debate, try asking my friends what the best Indiana Jones film is after they’ve all been drinking. There’s always the purist who stands up for the original Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lucas and Spielberg’s incredibly tight re-imagining of ye olde action serials. There’s often an ever-so-slightly larger group who insist that the best entry was Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, a father and son quest for the Holy Grail. And then there’ll be that edgier outlier who swears by the darker, heart-ripping antics of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Before fist fights can break out, my crew usually bond over one simple fact: despite our differences, we can universally agree on the letdown nature of Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Avoid it, stick to the original trilogy and you can’t go wrong. You’re guaranteed to be swinging into a priceless, (whip) cracking action-adventure series that belongs in a museum.
Oh, how many times I’ve sat in a cubicle and thought about emulating Lester Burnham – a disillusioned, 40+ worker drone who delivers the most incendiary job exit since the protagonist of Fight Club. This is a mid-life crisis for the ages, brought on by a sexually-disinterested wife who’s become career-obsessed, a borderline emo daughter and Lester’s sudden infatuation with a younger woman. The arrival of Ricky, a new neighbour who conveniently sells AAA-grade weed, sure does help this revolution along, too.
Unfortunately, what starts as a new awakening of the senses and a healthy recapturing of one’s youth triggers negative changes in Lester’s family. His tightly-wound better half becomes more manic and his daughter, Janie, hooks up with Ricky and expresses desires bordering on the homicidal. Incredibly well-cast and chock full of poignant observations and dark comedy, American Beauty is still very much the masterpiece.
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” This famous line is spoken by Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), a “wise fool” who has an IQ of 75 in Forrest Gump. Through his earnest childlike eyes, we’re able to perceive things in a less confused and muddled way. Besides being a cheerfully straight-arrow moral tale about a mentally challenged man’s epic journey through life, Forrest Gump is also a cheeky social satire of the past 40 years of US social-political history.
Forrest Gump is a sensational, must-see cinema. Not just because this classical masterpiece bagged six Oscars at the 67th Academy Awards, but rather its ability to elicit sincere emotions from its audience.
Prepare to meet Anton Chigurh, the most magnetic on-screen villain since Anthony Hopkins was laced into a face mask as Hannibal Lector. Chigurh’s an absolute terminator, an implacable hitman hired to locate Llewelyn Moss, a good ol’ boy who’s stumbled across a suitcase full of cash left in a drug deal gone wrong. Slight problem: said luggage carries a fairly primitive tracking device, too, and what follows is a state-wide game of cat-and-mouse. To make matters even more complicated, an ageing and disillusioned Sheriff Bell is only half a step behind them both, plus the cartels have decided to hire a plan-B merc.
Admittedly, the ending isn’t for everybody, but there’s also a general consensus that everything leading up to it represents an incredibly taut neo-noir thriller. Couple this with intense moments of ultra-violent action, plus some darkly humorous musings on the moral rot in America, and No Country For Old Men is a modern masterpiece.
Sometimes great horror is purely in the music and what you can’t see. It’s been nearly 40 years but the creeping dread of John Williams “duunn dunnnn” theme still sends chills up my spine. I’m confident that if you were to play that swelling double-note menace over the speakers of any indoor pool complex, people would cast reason aside and get out.
The power of this music was a godsend for Steven Spielberg, a fledgling director who invested too much faith in his prop department’s ability to create lifelike sharks. Turning what was a 25-foot polystyrene lemon into lemonade, Spielberg shifted course onto some of the most creative and (cost) effective jump-scares in the history of film. The end result is a great monster flick that’s made damn near perfect, thanks to the plight of a hapless Chief Brody and a strong set of supporting characters, all of whom you don’t want to be on the menu (but totally are).
Widely regarded as Hollywood’s last great noir film, L.A. Confidential tells the 1950s tale of compromised dreams and the unfortunates who fell victim to the siren’s song of Tinseltown. When a massacre takes place at a cafe and one of the dead is a young prostitute, further investigation reveals an employer who specializes in surgically altering “the wares” to better resemble movie stars. Cue: a much wider conspiracy that’s picked apart by three vastly different law-enforcers. You have Ed Exley, an ice-cold careerist; Jack Vincennes, a spotlight-chasing “Hollywood Cop” who does studio consultancy; and Bud White, an ask-questions-later brute.
While director Curtis Hanson had his bases well covered with top-billed stars like Kevin Spacey and Kim Basinger, he elevated this film from good to great by filling out his ensemble cast with relatively unknowns Guy Pearce and Russel Crowe. Allow yourself to be seduced by L.A. Confidential and you’ll go on a complex, engrossing thrill ride that thoroughly deserves every Oscar it won.
Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells a familiar, reassuring tale of oppression, liberation and redemption, alongside tear-jerking songs. A spectacular interpretation of Victor Hugo’s monumental 1862 humanistic novel, the star-studded movie recounts the heart-breaking state of the impoverished masses through the redemptive actions of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a compassionate ex-convict who served 19 years for merely stealing a loaf of bread. But amid the grime, power ballads and misery, Les Miserables is ultimately about the power of love and faith, complete with many moments of hope and beauty amid the miserable ones.
After contemplating suicide, protagonist Craig Gilner (Keir Gilchrist) checked himself into a psych ward to seek help for his suicidal intentions, which was unexpectedly greeted with bureaucratic nonchalance. Ironically, he winds up helping to heal his fellow mental patients and eventually found sanity in the most unlikely of places.
Equal parts serious, absurd and heart-warming, It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a front row seat to the themes of interpersonal disconnections, social withdrawal, and loneliness as main precursors to depression and suicidal ideation. Fortunately, this light-hearted take on a heavy topic reminds us that there’s always hope even when everything is seemingly bleak.
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