Amazon isn’t about to let Netflix have all the fun (and funds) when it comes to making superb original television series and films – and it’s already given its Prime subscribers some award-winning stuff to stream. Here are the best Amazon Prime Video Original movies and TV shows.
While Amazon’s in-house production library isn’t as extensive as Netflix’s, there’s still piles of great material to get your teeth into, from glossy crime shows to affecting dramas to sweeping period epics. And what’s more, a good amount of the best Amazon Prime Video Originals are available in 4K Ultra HD and/or HDR at no extra cost – perfect if you want to see what your flashy new 4K TV can do.
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Our guide to the best Amazon Prime Video Original movies and shows
Swarm is a riotously creative comedy-horror series about toxic fandom. Protagonist Dre (superbly played by Dominique Fishback) is shy, quiet and socially inept, but feels empowered in her membership of ‘The Swarm’, the obsessive online fanbase surrounding global popstar Ni’Jah (clearly inspired by real-life idol Beyoncé).
When a family tragedy coincides with the surprise drop of Ni’Jah’s latest album and video, Dre draws a relationship between the two events, tipping her over the edge into a deranged orgy of violence. This dark, disturbing and entertaining exploration of ‘stan culture’ is among Prime’s best original series.
Watch Swarm on Amazon Prime Video
Jury Duty (S1)
One of the few Amazon originals made specifically for its ad-supported Freevee offshoot (which means you don’t need an Amazon Prime account to watch – just a strong stomach when it comes to unskippable commercial breaks), this hilarious reality show is ostensibly a fly-on-the-wall series about the ups and downs of serving on a jury.
The thing is, aside from one member of the jury who’s not in on the joke, every person on-screen is an actor: the other jurors, the judge, the bailiffs, the lawyers and everyone else involved in the trail know exactly what’s going on. So, like a some massively extended Beadle’s About skit, our poor mark is dragged into all kinds of awkward, embarrassing and enraging situations for our amusement. Cruel and unusual, but brilliant all the same.
Watch Jury Duty on Amazon Freevee
The true (ish) tale of how staid and straitlaced (no pun intended) sneaker maker Nike became the coolest sportswear brand in the world gets the star treatment in this enjoyable Ben Affleck-directed brand-opic (a genre we just made up, but seems to be all the rage at the moment).
Affleck himself is among a cast that includes Matt Damon, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman and Chris Tucker and tells the story of how Nike’s basketball talent scout Sonny Vaccaro (Damon) relentlessly courted a young rookie by the name of Michael Jordan. The rest is all well-known sporting history, of course, but the film never stops being a fun ride – even if the character of Jordan himself never appears on screen.
Watch Air on Prime Video
Daisy Jones & The Six (S1)
Adapted from the 2019 novel of the same name, this story of the rise and fall of a 1970s Los Angeles rock band isn’t short on cliché. All the tropes are here: sex, drugs, booze, creative differences, professional jealousy, punishing tour schedules, scummy label executives, tortured artists and, occasionally, some toe-tapping tunes. But even if we’ve seen it all before, the scuzzy glamour of the setting and strong lead performances from Riley Keogh and Sam Claflin make this an enjoyable retro trip to the golden age of classic rock.
Watch Daisy Jones & The Six on Prime Video
The Legend of Vox Machina (S1-2)
A Kickstarter-funded adult animated show based on characters from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign that has been previously dramatized in a web series? If nothing else, The Legend of Vox Machina is further proof that geek/nerd/tech culture has gone full-on mainstream and that it’s nigh-on impossible to be uncool these days – even if you’re spending your evenings pretending to be an elf mage.
Thankfully, it’s also a brilliant series with eye-catching animation, a sharp gag-filled script and a compelling, high-stakes story as a party of eight adventurers embarks on a quest to save the world.
Watch The Legend of Vox Machina on Prime Video
The brooding loose cannon cop who gets the job done while rubbing pen-pushing top brass the wrong way might be a huge cliche, but this three-season series about LA detective Harry Bosch is so enjoyable that you’ll overlook it. In fact, you’ll probably end up embracing it as warmly as we do, chuckling to yourself every time Lance Reddick’s Deputy Commissioner ruefully intones something along the lines of, “Who beat up the witness? Bosch? Why am I not surprised?”
Based on Michael Connelly’s novels, the show weaves together various season-spanning cases while also delving periodically into Bosch’s own troubled backstory and his ongoing search for the man who murdered his mother. Its plot alone is gripping enough to keep you coming back episode after episode, but we also love Bosch‘s mood, which brings modern-day LA noir to the screen like nothing else on TV.
When you’ve binged your way through all seven seasons of this, you can catch the similarly great spin-off series Bosch: Legacy on Prime Video’s ad-supported sister channel Freevee.
Watch Bosch on Amazon Prime
The Peripheral (S1)
Based on a story by cyberpunk genre trailblazer William Gibson, this slick sci-fi series stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a small-town girl with big VR gaming skills in a near-future America. With a sick mother to look after, when she gets the opportunity to earn some extra money playing a highly realistic sim she jumps at the chance, only to find herself whisked to a virtual London in the year 2100. But this particular digital world seems far too real to be replica – it feels like she’s genuinely travelled forward in time. But that’s impossible. Isn’t it?
Thus begins a mind-bending action-thriller set across two different timelines, packed with crazy technology like invisible cars and murderous robot bodyguards. Probably Amazon’s best original show of 2022.
Watch The Peripheral on Prime Video
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (S1)
Amazon cranking up Prime Video’s subscription fee by about 20% just prior to the arrival of its biggest ever original series might smack of cynical price-gouging, but let’s face it: given the state of the real world right now, many of us would gladly fork out a few extra notes to spend some time in J.R.R. Tolkien’s impossibly picturesque Middle-Earth.
Set thousands of years before the events depicted in Peter Jackson’s movies, this fantasy drama is the first time Tolkien’s Second Age has been brought to the screen. You already know the drill – elves, orcs, swords, dwarves, Balrogs and hobbits (sorry, ‘harfoots’) – but you probably don’t know the story, because it’s basically all new. The series has had a mixed reception from critics and Tolkien fans, and we can certainly agree that it takes its sweet time to get going, but fantasy aficionados should lap it all up gleefully.
Watch The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime Video
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (S1-5)
Missing Mad Men? A mind for something else in the mid-century Manhattan milieu? The Marvelous Mrs Maisel might be the new series for you.
House of Cards‘ Rachel Brosnahan stars as Midge Maisel, a vivacious, fast-talking housewife with what she thought was the perfect 1950s New York lifestyle: husband, kids, beautiful Upper West Side apartment, the works. When sudden upheaval turns that all upside down, she decides to pursue a career in standup comedy – and discovers she has something of a talent for not only making people laugh but for hitting upon life’s truths and enigmas while doing it.
Watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime
Jack Reacher is described as a 6’5” man mountain in Lee Child’s bestselling series of novels – it’s a huge (no pun intended) part of his character. So when the movie adaptations cast the famously-not-6’5” Tom Cruise as the former military policeman turned rootless hero, eyebrows went skyward. Amazon’s excellent series puts the far taller, far beefier Alan Ritchson in Reacher’s boots, and what he lacks in Hollywood pizazz he makes up for in sheer screen presence.
Reacher (even his own mother calls him “Reacher”) is built like a brick outhouse and only marginally more talkative, but blessed with a keen intelligence, a heart of gold and the ability to absolutely annihilate any lowlife who steps to him. When he wanders into a small Georgia town only to find himself immediately arrested for murder, Reacher must use his wits, wiles and muscles to find the crime’s true perpetrators.
Watch Reacher on Prime Video
Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman brings another of his cult comic books to the screen. This animated series concerns a young superhero coming to terms with his newfound powers – and dealing with the fact that his dad is the most powerful and famous masked crusader on the planet. If that sounds like something you’ve seen a thousand times before in superhero fiction, we urge you to give it a chance anyway: the plot throws a curveball early on that is guaranteed to make you sit up and pay attention. Stephen Yuen, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Mahershala Ali and Mark Hamill are among the star-studded voice cast.
Watch Invincible on Amazon Prime Video
The Expanse (S1-6)
Game of Thrones with spaceships? That’s a lazy and reductive way to describe The Expanse, but also pretty accurate: it has a massive cast of characters, many of whom are shaded with more grey than an army of raccoons; its story is based around conflict and scheming as various factions vie for power while potentially ignoring a much greater existential threat; and it’s packed with graphic sex, violence and language. Hell yeah!
Set in a period when humanity has conquered the solar system and a war between Earth and Mars seems to be looming, The Expanse is a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi space opera in a largely believable representation of the future. It was set to be prematurely cancelled by original maker SyFy after three seasons, but Amazon not only acquired full rights to broadcast the show but has already made two more seasons – great news for the millions of fans already addicted to its twisty plot lines.
Watch The Expanse on Amazon Prime
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, a couple of strangers who happen to be guests at the same wedding, find themselves stuck in an infinite time loop in this offbeat romcom. If they fall asleep or die, they wake up and live the entire day through again. The pair decide to make the most of their temporal purgatory, indulging in wilder and wilder behaviour in the knowledge that whatever happens, they’ll just end up back at square one. Everything, it seems, has become meaningless.
It might sound like a hackneyed idea but Palm Springs feels different by dint of focussing on a pair of people rather than just one. The chemistry and tensions between the two keep the film nicely involving – and it’s very funny to boot.
Watch Palm Springs on Amazon Prime Video
The visuals of Amazon’s first animated original series are startlingly realistic, because they use the rotoscoping technique: seemingly hand-drawn images “traced” over live actors. It’s perfect for relaying the slightly unreal life of protagonist Alma, a young woman whose monotonous, directionless routine is shattered by a near-death experience that allows her to see and speak to her late father – who is seemingly urging her to uncover the mystery of his death.
Watch Undone on Amazon Prime Video
I’m Your Woman
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’s Rachel Brosnahan stars in this taut crime drama which is both set in and feels like it could have been made in the 1970s. And that’s a good thing! Brosnahan plays a disaffected woman who, when her criminal husband apparently goes missing after double-crossing his partners, must suddenly go on the run with their baby. Having never had to fend for herself before, she’s forced to learn a few things – and confront some uncomfortable truths about her life.
Watch I’m Your Woman on Prime Video
The Vast of Night
A telephone switchboard operator notices a mysterious sound on her headset, sparking off a series of creepy revelations in this gem of a retro sci-fi movie from rookie director Andrew Patterson.
From its late 1950s small town America setting to its sound design and music, The Vast of Night gleefully channels classic mystery shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Twin Peaks and The X-Files, not to mention films like Super 8 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but its snappy dialogue and stylish camerawork make it stand out on its own. The plot is simple, the cast small and unknown, but Patterson wrings the most out of his tiny budget.
Watch The Vast of Night on Amazon Prime Video
The Boys (S1-2)
What if superheroes were not only real, but as full of fears, doubt and crushing character flaws as the rest of us? That’s the premise behind this superb comic book adaptation from the producers of Preacher, in which a bunch of world famous costumed crusaders are owned and controlled by Vought, a ruthless corporation that keeps their bad behaviour – which ranges from voyeurism and drug abuse to outright murderous psychopathy – under wraps to keep the cashflow moving.
When one super-powered outrage leaves a young man bereaved and hellbent on revenge, he joins a group of like-minded vigilantes with the aim of bringing Vought down once and for all. Effortlessly blending humour, action and drama, The Boys manages to be Amazon’s best original series in ages.
Watch The Boys on Amazon Prime
Good Omens (S1-2)
Lovers of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s cult fantasy novel have for years been crossing fingers, toes and other body parts in the hopes that one day, somebody would take a chance on a screen adaptation of Good Omens – and that somebody turned out to be Amazon. The result is this glitzy, star-studded six-part miniseries.
Set in modern day England, it focusses on a demon and an angel (the very watchable David Tennant and Michael Sheen) whose eons-old friendship faces obliteration (along with the rest of the world) as the Antichrist comes of age and Armageddon looms. With the supporting cast including Jon Hamm, Frances McDormand, Miranda Richardson and Michael McKean, and Amazon’s deep pockets providing the necessary budget to really bring the novel to life, the fanboys and girls’ waiting has not been in vain.
Watch Good Omens on Amazon Prime
The world isn’t short of wry, quirky comedy drama series delving into the crushing ennui of modern life (!) – but Amazon has taken the time to furnish us with another one. Luckily, it’s a delightful surprise.
Starring Maya Rudolf and Fred Armisen as a married couple struggling to cope with an encroaching middle-aged itch, Forever fools you into thinking it’s a certain type of show before unexpectedly transforming into another. Funny, smart and touching, it’s one of Amazon’s best recently original series.
Watch Forever on Amazon Prime
The Big Sick
Silicon Valley star and stand-up comic Kumail Nanjiani plays himself in this dramatisation of he and his wife, the writer Emily Gordon (here called “Emily Gardner” and played by Zoe Kazan), met each other, fell in love and married.
An enjoyable culture-clash romantic comedy revolving around Nanjiani’s desire to lead a regular American life while his Pakistani parents pressure him to enter into an arranged marriage with one of several women he barely knows, The Big Sick really takes off when Emily is taken seriously ill, forcing our hero to confront the two sides of his life – not to mention meet her parents, played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, who prove the film’s highlights.
Watch The Big Sick on Amazon Prime
Amazon had been trying to “do a Netflix” by creating its very own blockbusting, awards-grabbing TV series for ages, and Transparent is that show. For a start, it’s bold and inventive – it tells the story of a 60-something divorcee announcing to his three grown-up kids that he’s always felt different and is now going to live as a woman.
Sounds heavy, and it sort of is, but it’s also darkly funny, with a degree of wit and sharpness that’s still rare even in this golden age of TV. The bickering between the three kids (each of whom is riddled with their own individual issues and peccadillos) is as chucklesome as it is awkward and real. Amazing telly.
Watch Transparent on Amazon Prime
The Grand Tour (S1-5)
Clarkson and company’s Top Gear-beater is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of deal; if you’re an oily-fingered petrolhead, or simply into watching ageing boy-men on banter-fuelled road trips, you’re going to enjoy this jape-packed series a lot.
If you can’t stand this brand of overbearing laddishness, The Grand Tour isn’t going to transform you into a believer – but for anybody looking for some beautifully shot (4K! HDR!) mindless entertainment to grace that new Ultra HD telly, this impeccably-produced show fits the bill perfectly.
Watch The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime
American Gods (S1-3)
This mega-budget drama from Bryan Fuller (previously show runner on Stuff favourite Hannibal) is based on the beloved Neil Gaiman novel, and weaves together cords of ancient mythology, modern mythology, Americana and pop culture to create a modern fantasy tale – a tale about immigration, above other things.
The cast includes the classy likes of Ian McShane, Peter Stormare and Gillian Anderson, but British viewers will be shocked to see former Hollyoaks hunk Ricky Whittle in the leading role – and doing a very decent job along with it.
Watch American Gods on Amazon Prime
This quirky spy drama blends deadpan humour, action and a bunch of truly great characters for a truly original whole.
Michael Dorman is superb as permanently put-upon spook John Tavner, who really just wants to be a folk singer – only for life to keep conspiring against him.
The clever plot takes in Iran, nuclear weapons, a single-minded Luxembouger cop and a lot more info about industrial piping than you could ever care for, it’s genuinely laugh-out-loud funny at times and the acting throughout is excellent. A real winner.
Watch Patriot on Amazon Video
The Man in the High Castle (S1-4)
What if the Allies had lost the Second World War, and America was currently ruled by Germany in its eastern half and Japan in its western half, with a lawless neutral zone keeping the two new superpowers apart? Well, you can find out in this megabucks Amazon Prime original series, a sci-fi thriller thats zips around an alternative 1960s North America that’s more “Ja wohl!” than “Aw shucks!”.
Dealing with underground resistance groups, various shadowy plots and a new Cold War waged between Imperial Japan and the German Reich, it’s the kind of series that’ll appeal to history buffs, sci-fi fans and anyone who’s into high concept television. It’s also one of the best-looking shows we’ve laid eyes on, with 4K and HDR showing off every cent of that production budget.
Watch The Main in the High Castle on Amazon Prime