August is here, can you believe it? Wow! This month’s crop of new movies being added to streaming includes such beloved favorites as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Alex Garland’s cerebral sci-fi debut Ex Machina, Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog, and much more.
Here are 15 of the best movies new to streaming platforms in August 2022.
Belle tells the story of Suzu, a shy high school student who retreats to the massive online world of “U” in search of a fresh start following the death of her mother. Just as her online persona “Belle” begins to gain notoriety as a digital pop idol, Suzu crosses paths with the Dragon, a monstrous figure known for his reputation of causing havoc. Unmistakably drawn to his tragic and mysterious nature, Belle sets out in search of the Dragon and discovers a connection far deeper than any she could’ve previously imagined.
A rousing tour de force that combines the signature themes and emotional story beats of director Mamoru Hosoda’s past work and plants them in a dazzling universe built by a swath of talented artists across the world, this sci-fi fantasy riff on Beauty and the Beast in the digital age is arguably Hosoda’s most crowd-pleasing movie to date. —TE
Belle is available to stream on HBO Max.
This pre-DC Universe DC movie is a supernatural neo-noir, with pre-John Wick Keanu Reeves as a very dour John Constantine. Made very much in the style of an old detective thriller (but with supernatural elements), Constantine is a campy fun time with a great cast (Reeves is joined by Rachel Weisz, Tilda Swinton, and Peter Stormare, among others) and more than a few silly visual gags. —Pete Volk
Constantine is available to stream on Netflix.
Domhnall Gleeson stars in Alex Garland’s directorial debut Ex Machina as Caleb, a young programmer who wins the chance to spend a week with Nathan (Oscar Isaac), an elusive tech CEO, at his luxurious and isolated compound. Upon arrival, Caleb agrees to become the key participant of Nathan’s latest venture: a Turing test to gauge the intelligence of Ava (Alicia Vikander), an advanced humanoid robot. A sleek, slow-burn sci-fi thriller that probes at the intersection of consciousness, gender, and power, Ex Machina is a remarkable film and easily ranks as one of the most noteworthy sci-fi films of 2010s. —Toussaint Egan
Ex Machina is available to stream on HBO Max.
John Woo’s third Hollywood movie (following Hard Target and Broken Arrow) is the first where it feels like he really got to flex the muscles that make a John Woo movie a John Woo movie. Featuring huge gun fights, strained depictions of masculinity, and, of course, doves, Face/Off is a delightfully over-the-top ’90s action movie that thrives on Woo’s direction and the two leading performances.
John Travolta is FBI agent Sean Archer, whose son was killed by Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), a terrorist who intended to kill the older Archer. In his quest for vengeance, Archer decides to undergo an experimental face transplant surgery, “becoming” Troy. Of course, Troy does the same in return, “becoming” Archer. The set-up is a perfect stage for both actors to have fun in this playground, although Cage has joked that Travolta got the better end of the deal, spending most of the running time playing the much more eccentric of the two characters.
Fun fact: Face/Off writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary had Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in mind when they wrote the script. I can see it, but I’m glad we got this one. —PV
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
This terrific crime drama from Jim Jarmusch follows a hitman (Forest Whitaker) nicknamed “Ghost Dog” who sees himself as a modern-day samurai and lives by the code in Hagakure (also known as The Book of the Samurai). While living in a modern American setting, he doesn’t use modern technology (he communicates through pigeons) and is mysterious even to those he works with. When Ghost Dog is hired to kill a gangster but leaves an innocent bystander alive, a hit is put out on his life instead.
Whitaker is terrific in the leading role, and Jarmusch’s script and direction are pitch-perfect. But Ghost Dog really soars because of the score — the first movie soundtrack to be produced by the RZA. –PV
Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai is available to stream on HBO Max.
A contained thriller set entirely in a car, Locke follows construction foreman Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) as he drives from Birmingham to London the night before a big project. Locke, who is married with kids, learns the woman he is having an affair with is about to have their child. As he drives across the country to join her, he juggles conversations on the phone with business associates and family members. A master class of a performance by Hardy, who is the only actor shown on screen, Locke is an impressive feat of economical filmmaking by director Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders). —PV
Locke is available to stream on HBO Max.
Man on Fire
I can’t speak highly enough about Man on Fire. The 2004 film starring Denzel Washington as a former CIA agent turned bodyguard for a 9-year-old girl in Mexico City found Tony Scott at the peak of his abilities, delivering a brutal, explosive, and emotional action thriller about a man’s quest for redemption and his surrogate love for his charge. With a blistering scoring by Harry Gregson-Williams and Lisa Gerrard, intense action and violence, and an achingly beautiful denouement, Man on Fire is an utterly electrifying watch. —TE
Man on Fire is available to stream on Peacock.
Before the seemingly endless modern onslaught of multiverse movies, this 2001 movie from James Wong (Final Destination) stars Jet Li as many, many versions of himself. A movie about interdimensional travel, the narrative follows a homicidal serial killer traveling across the multiverse to kill all other versions of himself, and the group of people trying to stop him from completing his goal.
Back to all the Jet Lis. First you have our principal characters — protagonist Gabe Law, a police officer, and antagonist Gabriel Yulaw, the previously mentioned homicidal serial killer. But there’s Yu Fook Law (Rastafari Jet Li), Swen Law (surfer Jet Li), Seth Law (Jet Li with long hair), and so, so many more.
The One rules because of the fun setup, and also because of Li’s particular set of skills. Li’s personal action director Corey Yuen (Yes, Madam) showcases his acrobatic skill with a dynamic energy, especially in the moments where Li kicks people in midair like they are soccer balls. Also, Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham (with an American accent and a mostly full head of hair!) co-star. —PV
The One is available to stream on HBO Max.
The latest entry in the long-running Predator series comes from Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) and is one of the best, taking the sci-fi villain and placing him in 18th-century America. A young woman, Naru (Amber Midthunder), teased by the men in her village for her desire to be a hunter, is the only one who sees this impending threat. —PV
From our review:
Trachtenberg, who made the similarly pared-down franchise extension 10 Cloverfield Lane, has one major thing to offer in Prey: efficiency. This is a movie about a young woman on a collision course with a spine-ripping alien dude in a cool skull mask. The other members of Naru’s tribe are there to naysay and/or become Predator fodder. A late-arriving band of fur traders also offers up some huntable bodies. Trachtenberg finds ways to present the efficiencies of their short, brief lives with a flourish: He sets up action with overhead shots, sometimes from far above for lay-of-the-land establishing shots, and sometimes giving the camera just enough space for a full view of obstacles like a particularly sticky mud pit.
Prey is available to stream on Hulu.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy
Three of the best Marvel movies ever made make their way to Netflix and Hulu. Yes, I said three.
With Sam Raimi’s latest Marvel movie out and new Spider-Man movies appearing left and right, we’ve talked quite a bit at Polygon about our love of his original trilogy of Spider-Man movies. With excellent use of Raimi’s horror background, a great cast with terrific villainous performances, and a strong moral center, it’s hard to beat.
I’ll happily join the masses in praising the first two movies, which are both excellent, but I’d like to take a moment to praise the third entry. It’s messy, sure, but in a really fascinating way (if you can get past the third act or all the Topher Grace as Venom stuff). In Spider-Man 3, the successes of the first two movies get to Peter’s head, leaving him as an inadequate Spidey and, most importantly, a very shitty boyfriend to Mary-Jane. Much of this movie is about what it means to be a present partner, something Peter fails terribly at. If you’re one of the many people who thinks this movie is simply a blight on the franchise, I encourage you to give it another go. And hey, even if you still don’t like it, the other two movies are now right there for you to boot up on Netflix at any time. —PV
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy is available to stream on Netflix and Hulu.
The late, great James Caan (The Godfather) stars in Michael Mann’s 1981 neo-noir heist thriller Thief as Frank, an ex-con and professional safecracker looking to go straight and start a family. Unfortunately for him, Frank is denied his share of his latest heist, forcing him to accept an assignment from the Mob in order to break even. With a beautiful synth score by Tangerine Dream, dazzling nighttime cinematography by Donald Thorin, and an iconic and emotionally nuanced performance by Caan, Thief is a stone-cold stunner and a gem in the crown of one of the finest directors working today. End of blurb. —TE
Thief is available to stream on Prime Video.
The Safdies’ (Good Time) 2019 masterpiece is not only one of the best thrillers you can watch at home, it’s also one of the best basketball movies. Few works of fiction have ever so accurately nailed the stress of watching a high-stakes sports event; here, playoff basketball is turned into a literal life-and-death situation. Featuring a career-best performance from Adam Sandler, unforgettable cameos from Kevin Garnett and The Weeknd, and a bedazzled Furby, Uncut Gems is, simply put, a jewel of a movie. —PV
Uncut Gems is available to stream on Peacock.
Under the Skin
Under the Skin is a stone-cold stunner, and an exquisitely paced slow-burn thriller from the master Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast).
From our list of the best movies of the 2010s:
Jonathan Glazer’s existential sci-fi horror film, about an alien who harvests men for purposes that are opaque, is painful and intense. We get little visibility into the motivations of Scarlett Johansson’s extraterrestrial predator of flesh, other than that she coldly exploits men’s sexuality and (cruelly) human love to seemingly serve unfeeling masters of her own. From the alien creature’s birth to its awakening to its savage demise, Under the Skin is a grim short story with chilling implications. (Oh, and shout-out to Micah Levi’s piercing, icy score.)
Under the Skin is available to stream on HBO Max.