Netflix gets all the love, but don’t forget about Amazon Prime. They don’t have the breadth of the big streaming giant. But they do all right for themselves. For one thing, they treat their movies better. While Netflix buys award-winning films at festivals like Sundance then dumps them onto their platform with less fanfare they grant their latest Adam Sandler movie (read all about this sad practice right here), Amazon actually releases them in theaters first. And guess what happens? In the case of “Manchester by the Sea,” they get two Oscars plus a $60 million box office haul — this, for a sad, sad, sad movie about a haunted Casey Affleck grieving his brother’s death.
Sometimes they even get better movies. May’s Netflix newbs include “Forrest Gump” and the little-loved “Southpaw.” Amazon has frickin’ “Moonlight,” plus a ton of Bond movies. Here’s the best of this month’s crop:
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This year's Oscar winners
Amazon did well by snatching up “Manchester by the Sea,” which exclusively drops on their service. But they were also smart in grabbing the rights to the film that beat it (after a little blip) to the Best Picture Oscar. That’s right, they got “La La Land” — we mean, “Moonlight”! (They don’t have “La La Land” — yet.) Barry Jenkins’ time-jumping drama, about a shy boy who grows into a bullied teen and then into a drug dealer, only managed a $27.8 million gross in the U.S., despite its untold accolades. If you haven’t watched it — or felt it was too grim to see in theaters — you have no excuse now. (Seriously, it’s the rare award-gobbler to deserve its many wins.)
Bond. James Bond
Every now and then Netflix or Amazon are suddenly gifted with a random assortment of 007 films. This month they get 10 out of the 24. And as usual they pick from all different eras and Bond actors. So treat yourself to some Connery (“Dr. No,” “From Russia with Love,” “Thunderball”), some Moore ("For Your Eyes Only" and, er, “Moonraker” and “A View to a Kill”), one Dalton (“Licence to Kill”), some Brosnan (“Goldeneye,” “Tomorrow Never Dies”), even the solitary Lazenby (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” which is actually the best Bond). There’s no Craig, alas, but half of those are bad anyway.
Hot newish blockbusters
Amazon’s the place to weep through “Me Before You,” last year’s very English euthanasia weepie, with Emilia Clarke doting over a crippled man (“Hunger Games”’ Sam Claflin) who wants to die. And lucky for humanity, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” underperformed last year, meaning we’re probably spared future installments of Michael Bay’s series with the creepy CGI turtles who will haunt your children’s dreams. But maybe skip through it to watch Tyler Perry and Laura Linney, who looks like she’s having a blast picking up a sizable paycheck.
How about Oliver Stone’s underrated “The Doors”? Or “Winter’s Bone,” the excellent neo-noir that nabbed Jennifer Lawrence her first Oscar nomination? Or Quentin Tarantino’s also underrated “Jackie Brown”? You can also catch up with some of last year’s smaller movies, including “A Hologram for the King,” with Tom Hanks bopping about the Middle East. And please cringe-watch “Denial,” in which a smart and capable woman is pitted against a boorish demagogue who’s trying to delude a gullible public by preying on their worst beliefs. No, it’s not Hillary vs. Donald; it’s a historian (Rachel Weisz) in court against a monster (Timothy Spall) who claims the Holocaust never happened. At least this story has a happy ending.
Actual old movies
It’s tragic how few Hollywood classics are available on the big streaming services. For those, you have to shell out for Warner Archive or FilmStruck. (And you should.) But Amazon now ensures that at least two of the biggest film classics of all time can be streamed, and therefore won’t be forgotten by an entire generation. “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind” now live online, meaning you can introduce your kids to the former and have rigorous debates about the latter. Yes, “Wind” is a paean to the old Confederacy, but it also might be, shot-for-shot, the most beautifully filmed movie in Hollywood history. And Rhett Butler’s kiss-off line? You'd think its power would be robbed by how famous it is, but it remains bad. Ass.