Riz Ahmed is an actor who constantly challenges the perception of his craft. He’s not afraid to experiment with his career, taking on bolder and bolder roles as his fame grows. This bravery has won him numerous awards, including a 2022 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action). The best Riz Ahmed movies and TV shows challenge viewers, while showcasing engaging and fascinating stories. Many of Ahmed's movies and shows are available to watch on your favorite streaming services.
For this list, I chose some of the best Riz Ahmed movies and TV shows streaming across multiple platforms and those available to rent or buy. I mainly selected films that had Ahmed as a main character or in a very important supporting role. Also, I tried to vary this selection to include multiple genres. Let’s explore where you can watch all of these great projects.
The Night Of (2016)
The Night Of is an HBO miniseries that aired eight episodes in 2016. It stars Riz Ahmed as Naz, a young man accused of murder. Most of the series depicts Naz’s prison journey. It’s a heartbreaking show that highlights the problems with the justice system. It is also a complex story that allows Ahmed and others to shine through their acting choices.
The Night Of dominated the 2017 Emmy Awards, receiving multiple 2017 Emmy nominations and winning five, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Riz Ahmed.
Sound Of Metal (2019)
Sound of Metal follows Ruben (Riz Ahmed), a drummer who begins to lose his hearing. He fights against this reality, but finds support and companionship within a deaf rehab community, especially as his relationship with his girlfriend, Lou (Olivia Cooke), begins to fall apart.
Sound of Metal is one of the best movies of 2020. It’s not only a really enthralling film that does wonderful things with sound, which earned it a 2021 Academy Award, but it features one of Riz Ahmed’s best performances yet. Viewers can completely immerse themselves in his journey because of the raw sincerity that he brings to this performance.
Mogul Mowgli (2020)
Riz Ahmed co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in Mogul Mowgli. The film follows Zed (Riz Ahmed), a rising rapper who returns home before a big European tour begins. He faces an unexpected challenge as his body begins to betray him.
He’s diagnosed with a degenerative autoimmune disease, and he’s starting to lose the ability to control his body. Mogul Mowgli is a partly experimental film as it plays around with how it constructs its narrative. It’s also a great movie about identity, family, and dreams, and what happens when your biggest dream begins to be taken away from you in a way that’s beyond your control.
The Long Goodbye (2020)
The Long Goodbye is a short film that accompanied Riz Ahmed’s second studio album of the same name. The movie starts with a South Asian family in Britain preparing for a wedding. Things take a sudden turn and escalate.
The less than 12-minute film is haunting because it’s unexpected, but that’s the point. It’s supposed to hit you hard with the horrors of the action and make clear the objective of the film and the message behind Ahmed’s lyrics. It comes as no surprise that it won the Oscar for the Best Live Action Short.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a prequel to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and follows a group of Rebels who join forces with the hope of helping to further the rebellion by stealing the plans for the Death Star.
The Rogue One cast includes Diego Luna, Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen, and Riz Ahmed. Ahmed plays Bodhi Rook, a former Imperial cargo pilot and an important key to this mission. Rogue One is a bit different from other Star Wars movies, which could make fans think it’s one of the best Star Wars movies or one of the worst. Those who consider themselves neutral to the franchise may just enjoy it for the intriguing storyline and interesting cast of characters.
Stream Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Disney+. (opens in new tab)
Rent/buy Rogue One: A Star Wars Story digitally on Amazon. (opens in new tab)
Buy Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on DVD/Blu-ray on Amazon. (opens in new tab)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a thriller based on the book of the same name. It tells the story of Changez (Riz Ahmed), a young man who finds success at a Wall Street firm but finds his life changed after September 11, 2001.
He becomes a target and outsider in a place he once called home. It also follows him as he tells his story to a reporter named Bobby (Liev Schreiber). Bobby believes that Changez may be involved in the kidnapping of an American professor. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is at its strongest when focusing on Changez’s frustrating and infuriating journey of becoming an outsider in a country where he worked so hard to belong.
Four Lions (2010)
Four Lions is a satirical movie about four aspiring terrorist jihadis. It stars Riz Ahmed, Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsay, and Adeel Akhtar. The film is co-written by Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong, and Sam Bain.
Four Lions makes a very dark subject hilarious. These terrorists really believe in what they’re doing, but they’re so bad at it that it becomes like a Three Stooges episode. This makes the ending equal parts entertaining and heartbreaking. The entire cast gives great performances in Four Lions, and it’s the sharp writing that we’ve come to expect from Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain (who co-created the U.K. hit, Peep Show) that really sells this movie.
Dead Set (2008)
Dead Set is a horror dramedy that follows employees and contestants of Big Brother during a zombie outbreak. It features some past Big Brother U.K. contestants, including former host Davina McCall and narrator Marcus Bentley.
Charlie Brooker wrote Dead Set and Yann Demange directed the five-episode miniseries. Riz Ahmed plays a fictional character who's trying to survive and find his girlfriend, who is one of the employees on the Big Brother set. This is a great show for Big Brother fans, because it’s a satirical look at the world of Big Brother and the audience that engages with it. Ahmed’s character is one of the most important in the show and one of the audience’s emotional navigators in this story.
Venom stars Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist who finds himself sharing a body with an alien symbiote that gives him super powers. The first film follows Brock as he tries to navigate his new situation with Venom. He also has to stop genius inventor Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) from using these symbiotes to destroy and dominate the world and humanity.
Ahmed rarely plays such a theatrical villain character, so it’s fun to watch him embody this role. His version of Carlton Drake shows him being a bit insane, but in an enjoyable way. He’s a great Marvel movie villain.
Encounter is the story of a man who takes his children in an effort to save them from an alien invasion. The film is directed by Michael Pearce and co-written by him and Joe Barton. It stars Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer, Lucian River Chauhan, and Aditya Geddada.
Encounter is a controversial pick because it received mixed reactions from viewers and critics. It’s a film that’s better the less you know going into it, so I won’t talk too much about the plot. I will say, however, what I liked about Encounter is the performances. Riz Ahmed gives a performance that hooks you from the beginning and doesn’t let go.
Nightcrawler follows Lou (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he tries to grow his film production company. Lou films crime footage to sell to the local news, and as Lou’s business grows, his morals shrink.
Riz Ahmed plays Lou’s intern, Rick. He’s an important factor in the Nightcrawler ending, and Ahmed gives a performance that’s a bit more subtle than Gyllenhaal’s performance but just as fascinating. You understand Rick’s motives just as much as you understands Lou’s driving force.
Some of the best Riz Ahmed movies and TV shows showcase some of the best South Asian characters on film. They’re engaging, have an authentic voice, and highlight Ahmed’s ability to effortlessly embody these characters.
These are only a few of the best Riz Ahmed movies and TV shows currently streaming, so if you’re just starting to become a fan of the talented actor, musician, and storyteller, then make sure to check out some of his other projects, including Trishna, Una, The Sisters Brothers, Girls, The OA, and many others.
Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.
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