Amazon Studios was home to some of the best movies of 2022, ranked here.
While Netflix and Disney+ continue to churn out original content, Amazon Prime Video is no opponent to be discounted in the “streaming wars.” With the unprecedented success of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Amazon Prime proved in 2022 that they could create a blockbuster-level event in a serialized format. This was also a notable year for the studio as it purchased MGM, which only furthers its upcoming slate and library of older titles.
While Amazon Studios’ greatest success has been with television, the streaming platform also has a strong collection of original films; it's easy to forget that Amazon was the first streaming service to land a Best Picture nomination with Manchester by the Sea. This year, Amazon Studios’ robust slate includes a fascinating mixture of independent acquisitions, acclaimed documentaries, prestige projects from acclaimed auteurs, and a growing horror collection.
Here are the 11 best Amazon Studios films of 2022, ranked.
While Amazon may have ended 2022 with the rights to the action-packed James Bond franchise, All The Old Knives is a much more grounded spy thriller that examines the complex political infrastructure behind modern espionage. Rather than padding out the running time with excessive action sequences, director Janus Metz Pedersen keeps us focused on a series of intimate conversations that creatively intertwine different timelines. The density of the material may initially be overwhelming, but the emotional performances from Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton as doomed lovers are enough to add gravitas to the story.
Don’t Make Me Go was a buzzy “Sundance weepie,” and it falls into a standard category of “familial cancer movies” that tend to dominate the January festival. However, Don’t Make Me Go transcends the clichés of the genre thanks to a career-best performance from John Cho. It’s odd to ever imagine that the Harold and Kumar star could deliver such a touching, heartbreaking performance as a father trying to spend all the time he has left with his daughter. It’s the realistic chemistry between Cho and his younger co-star, Mia Isaac, that elevates the material.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism sounds like the title of just another “streaming horror” throwaway film that does nothing but mock popular trends, but this adaptation of the Grady Hendrix novel of the same name is a surprisingly clever and inventive reimagining of possession films from a teen perspective. Thanks to a terrific performance from Elsie Fischer, the film manages to make the teen drama just as compelling as the demonic elements without ever descending into melodrama. If you’ve ever wanted a horror movie that feels like it was made by John Hughes, this is the movie for you.
It’s rare that a debut director announces themselves with such a vivid atmosphere, but Nikyatu Jusu proves that she’s one to watch with the haunting (no pun intended) horror fable. While Nanny generates interest with its bleak mysteries, it's the subtle commentary on the isolation of the immigrant experience that makes the story feel so specific to the current political discourse. In a world where awards bodies weren’t as restrictive toward genre films, Anna Diop would be gaining major “Oscar buzz” for Best Actress.
While its title may suggest that it’s simply another cutesy documentary similar to My Octopus Teacher, Wildcat is a surprisingly gripping examination of post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health issues. This startling intimate story focuses on the Afghanistan veteran Harry Turner as he cares for a young cat in the Amazon and contemplates his life beyond military service. Is there any hope for these “lost souls” that wander into the jungle in search of meaning? Wildcat wrestles with the complexities of depression, whilst still delivering some adorable footage of young cats and their guardians.
It’s unfortunate that Harry Styles drew more attention this year for the outrageous press tour for Don’t Worry Darling, because he’s much stronger in this old-fashioned period romance. With its simple, elegant structure, My Policeman isn’t exactly reinventing the genre, but its intimate depiction of sexuality signifies a step forward in representation. Styles captures the complicated duties of a married officer of the law that falls for a friendly neighbor, but it's David Dawson who steals the film as the man who wins the titular policeman’s heart.
Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos was a laughably shallow examination of the cultural influence of I Love Lucy, but Amy Poehler’s documentary feature Lucy and Desi does a much better job at explaining all of the barriers that the sitcom faced with its modern perspective on familial life. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were both game changers in their own right, and Poehler does a great job at exploring both their role in television history and the effect of their working relationship on their marriage. It’s difficult to make a documentary feel so emotional when it's dominated by archive footage, but Lucy and Desi manages to be both a much-needed history lesson and one of the more romantic films of the year.
Catherine Called Birdy is simply a delight; doing a fourth wall breaking, modern approach to a period coming-of-age dramedy had the recipe for disaster, but Lena Dunham shows a greater self-awareness with this uproarious takedown of the patriarchy. It’s the humane, sincere moments that elevate Catherine Called Birdy; the scenes between young Bella Ramsey and her uncle (played charmingly by Joe Alwyn) capture adolescent anxiety without disrespecting the characters. Catherine Called Birdy examines arranged marriages, political stigmas, and the perils of medieval gender roles without ever sacrificing a good joke.
Surprisingly left off of the Academy Awards shortlist for Best Documentary Feature, Good Night Oppy is an inspiring story of NASA’s rover program that features stunning visual effects used to reimagine the surface of Mars. The film does not skimp on the technical details surrounding space travel (and will certainly be an inspiration to any young, aspiring astronauts), but the interviews get surprisingly candid as the engineers begin to consider their ambitious rover as a member of their family. In addition to learning a thing or two, Good Night Oppy might get you to tear up.
It’s a shame that Thirteen Lives was released to little fanfare at the end of the summer, because Ron Howard’s incredible recreation of the Thai cave rescue of a young soccer team deserves serious awards consideration. Howard may be known for his sentimentality, but Thirteen Lives explores how a tightly wound community can be both traumatized by disruption and inspired by achievement. Without discounting the various players involved in the rescue itself, Thirteen Lives features scaled-back performances from Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen as the incredible cavers who performed the risky mission.
Argentina held the most vile men of its last military dictatorship responsible for their crimes in front of a captive audience in 1985; it was a moment of historical significance that has never been given the proper spotlight before now. Argentina, 1985 is surprisingly effective as a crowd-pleaser, as the relationship between the maverick lawyer Julio César Strassera (Ricardo Darín) and his young staff makes the details of the court case more digestible. It’s a moving, nuanced study of how a society must hold itself accountable before real progress begins.
Liam Gaughan is a film and TV writer at Collider. He has been writing film reviews and news coverage for eight years with bylines at Dallas Observer, About.com, Taste of Cinema, Dallas Morning News, Schmoes Know, Rebel Scum, and Central Track. He aims to get his spec scripts produced and currently writes short films and stage plays. He lives in McKinney, TX.
Amazon Studios was home to some of the best movies of 2022, ranked here. While Netflix and Disney+ continue to churn out original content, Amazon Prime Video is no opponent to be discounted in the “streaming wars.” With the unprecedented success of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Amazon Prime proved in […]
Amazon Studios was home to some of the best movies of 2022, ranked here.