It’s hard to believe that another month has slid by while we’re all stuck at home, but here we are in August, a time when movie-going is in total flux.
Luckily there are plenty of movies coming to streaming this month that are well worth your time. If you’re getting whiplash from Tenet getting delayed, and then delayed again, and then outright cancelled, and then announced for overseas markets, why not tide yourself over with Christopher Nolan’s Inception, which is moving to Amazon Prime this month. If you’re pining for Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, try a different kind of quirky with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Being John Malkovich. And if you just need an escape, there are some choice rom-coms heading to streaming this month, like My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Holiday. For more rom than com you can also stream Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise.
Read on for 10 of the best movies new to streaming services in August. (Cameron Diaz stars in three of them and Kate Winslet is in two. That’s not really relevant to anything but they’re both delightful and in good movies.)
Being John Malkovich
The feature film debut of both director Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are, Her) and writer Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) there’s no movie quite like Being John Malkovich. It stars John Cusack as Craig, an office drone and amateur puppeteer who stumbles upon a portal that leads directly inside the mind of actor John Malkovich. It’s a bonkers premise that Jonze and Kaufman thoroughly explore. But the explanation for why it’s happening is only part of what makes Being John Malkovich such a trip to watch. Malkovich commits hard to the role as himself (understandable, given that he’s the title character,) and his portrayal of strangers taking over his mind is one of the all-time great performances.
Being John Malkovich is streaming on Netflix.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
For a Charlie Kaufman double feature, follow up Being John Malkovich with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, his quirky romantic drama directed by Michel Gondry (The Green Hornet). Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star as a couple who had all memories of each other erased after their bad break-up. The timeline jumps around as it revisits their relationship, while they meet in the present unaware of their shared past. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is just as heady as Being John Malkovich, but lands in a sweeter, more optimistic place.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is streaming on Netflix.
Steven Spielberg’s creature feature is still a classic — it even returned as the highest grossing film in America last month. As the coronavirus pandemic has scrambled film release schedules, movie theaters that are opening back up don’t have many new movies to show. Instead, they’re relying on back catalogues to fill their screens. Jurassic Park is the perfect choice, a beloved summer blockbuster. Now that it’s heading to Netflix, you can revisit the family-friendly action and suspense without having to visit a movie theater that won’t require guests to wear masks.
Jurassic Park is streaming on Netflix.
My Best Friend’s Wedding
Julia Roberts was the perfect casting choice for ’90s rom-coms like My Best Friend’s Wedding because her bubbly personality and giant smile helped conceal the fact that her character is kind of a jerk (see also: Runaway Bride).
My Best Friend’s Wedding is streaming on Hulu.
Up in the Air
Jason Reitman’s follow-up to Juno brings his signature offbeat comedic style to the world of business-class travel. George Clooney stars as a frequent flier whose job is to travel around the country firing people. He forms a connection with a fellow traveler (Vera Farmiga), but his nomadic lifestyle is interrupted by a new hire (Anna Kendrick), who tags along on his flights to “observe.” It’s funny and sweet and depressing, just like most of Reitman’s movies.
Sometimes a certain movie will come along and lay indisputable claim to a song. So it goes with Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Edith Piaf’s “Non, je ne regrette rien,” which uses the song as a repeated motif. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief who specializes in entering others’ dreams and stealing ideas. His next job, however, turns the formula on its head; this time the aim is to plant an idea. The song becomes an auditory cue to help the job, which requires multiple levels of dreams, from growing out of control. There are, however, other complications, such as the general unpredictability of dreams and the ghost of Dom’s dead wife. —Karen Han
Inception is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Sure, it’s a Christmas movie but Nancy Myers’ The Holiday is perfect for whenever you need a warm pick-me-up, regardless of the season. Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz play recently-broken-up-with women who decide to swap houses over the holiday season to avoid their separate heartbreaks. Kate Winslet falls in love with Jack Black. Cameron Diaz falls in love with Jude Law. And it’s better than Love Actually — don’t @ me.
The Holiday is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Richard Linklater’s 1995 film Before Sunrise is universally beloved (it has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes) for its un-self-consciously romantic style and natural performances from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. They star as Jesse and Céline, two travelers who spend an evening falling in love while on a stopover in Vienna. There’s not much of a plot — the film is mostly content following them as they walk around the city talking — but it’s so heartbreakingly tender that it stays compelling. Two sequels, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, pick up with Jesse and Céline nine and 18 years later, respectively.
Based on the 1960s TV show, Harrison Ford stars as Dr. Richard Kimble, a surgeon who escapes custody after being wrongfully convicted of his wife’s murder. Tommy Lee Jones is the U.S. Marshal who tracks him down. The Fugitive is just a great thriller, with some top-tier acting. Harrison Ford yelling “I didn’t kill my wife!” and Tommy Lee Jones responding “I don’t care.” is one of the tensest exchanges in film history.
The Fugitive is streaming on HBO Max.
If you remember one thing from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette biopic, it’s probably the anachronistic post-punk soundtrack. Coppola’s signature flashy style (which is also on display in 2013’s The Bling Ring) makes what could have been a stuffy period drama feel vibrant and cool. Kirsten Dunst stars as the doomed French queen, whom Coppola portrays as charming, naïve, and desperate to be loved. It reminds me of music video for “Lucky” by Britney Spears, which is absolutely a compliment.
Marie Antoinette is streaming on Tubi.