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6 Amazon Prime Originals Worth Getting Excited About This Year

Barry Jenkins’s forthcoming The Underground Railroad. Photo: Atsushi Nishijima / Amazon Prime

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Amazon Prime has fallen behind in the global race for streaming domination, but not so. While 2020 was undoubtedly the year of Netflix and the platform recently received a whopping 35 Oscar nominations as a result, hot on their heels was Amazon, with 12 nominations — six for the immersive Sound of Metal, three for the powerful ensemble piece One Night In Miami, two for the hilarious Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, and one for the soaring documentary Time

Luckily for subscribers, their 2021 slate is set to be even better. From a Rosamund Pike-led fantasy epic to Barry Jenkins’ first major foray into TV, these are the upcoming releases to look out for.

1. Them (out 9 April)

Billed as an anthology series about terror in the US, the first 10-part instalment of Little Marvin’s chiller centres on a Black family (Deborah Ayorinde, Ashley Thomas, Melody Hurd, Shahadi Wright Joseph) who move to an all-white Los Angeles neighbourhood in the 1950s. Initially enchanted by their surroundings, they soon face hostile housewives, racist school kids and a plot to oust them, while sinister supernatural forces close in on them at home. Its truly harrowing set pieces and creepy soundtrack will be sure to keep you up at night.

2. Without Remorse (out 30 April)

After a year sorely lacking in big-screen blockbusters, Stefano Sollima’s rip-roaring action film will provide a much-needed dose of adrenaline. It features Michael B Jordan as a US Navy SEAL seeking justice for the murder of his pregnant wife at the hands of the Russian soldiers he’s been working against. As his mission exposes a vast international conspiracy, expect tense shoot-outs, ominous monologues, raucous fistfights and a fraught interrogation that takes place inside a burning car.

3. The Underground Railroad (out 14 May)

Perhaps the most hotly anticipated new TV show of 2021, Barry Jenkins’ lyrical adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead promises to have the visual virtuosity and emotional sweep of his multi-award-winning Moonlight (2016) and If Beale Street Could Talk (2018). Its cast is made up of rising stars (Thuso Mbedu, Aaron Pierre), the period detailing is meticulous, and the plot — following two slaves who escape a 19th-century plantation — will certainly pack a punch.

4. The Wheel of Time (expected 2021)

Fresh off her Golden Globe win for I Care A Lot (2020), Rosamund Pike returns as the indomitable Moiraine, a member of the magical all-female organisation the Aes Sedai, in Rafe Judkins’ take on Robert Jordan’s beloved fantasy book series. In a world unbound by time, it sees her embark upon a dangerous journey with five young people, one of whom may be the reincarnation of a hero who is prophesied to either save or destroy humanity. For sheer escapism, it’ll be essential viewing.

5. Solos (expected 2021)

Created by David Weil, who penned the stylised Al Pacino vehicle Hunters (2020), this sci-fi series boasts a wildly impressive cast: Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Uzo Aduba, Constance Wu, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Beharie, Anthony Mackie and Dan Stevens. Each actor is poised to get their moment to shine across seven episodes that find them setting off on separate adventures that remind them of the need for human connection — a theme that can’t help but resonate after a year of isolation.

6. The Lord of the Rings (expected 2021)

Set thousands of years before the bloody battles depicted in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (2001 to 2003) and The Hobbit (2012 to 2014) trilogies, JD Payne and Patrick McKay’s exploration of Middle Earth begins in a time of relative peace as characters, both old and new, wonder if evil will reemerge. Every snippet of information about the show has left us hungry for more, from the lush New Zealand locations to the news that Saint Maud’s Morfydd Clark will play the elf Galadriel. If anything could outdo the ambition and spectacle of Game of Thrones (2011 to 2019), this could be it.

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