back to top
TVAndMovies

22 Wonderful Movies You Probably Missed This Year That You Can Watch Right Now

August is a painfully slow month for movies, so why not catch up on these gems (which are all available to watch right now) that you might have missed this year?

Posted on

1. 10,000 Km

Broad Green Pictures

Game of Thrones alum Natalia Tena and David Verdaguer play a couple spending a year on separate continents in this debut film from Spanish director Carlos Marques-Marcet. It's a long-distance love story, or maybe it's better described as an anti-love story, as the movie explores the ways technology gives us the illusion of intimacy while failing as a replacement for actually being together in person. Incorporating video chats and set entirely in the pair's apartments in Barcelona and Los Angeles, this movie merits a trigger warning for anyone fresh off a breakup — the slow-forming cracks in its central relationship are all too real. —Alison Willmore

Where to watch it: 10,000 Km is available for digital rental and purchase.

2. Amy

A24

Most people first got to know Amy Winehouse well after her alcohol and drug abuse led to her biggest hit, "Rehab" — a song that subsequently made the peerless jazz vocalist a household name, and a tabloid fixture up to her death in 2011. This deeply affecting and incredibly well-crafted doc paints a much more complex portrait of Winehouse, starting well before her sudden onslaught of fame. As director Asif Kapadia (Senna) plays dozens of audio interviews with Winehouse's friends and family over archival video from Winehouse's life, we come to see her as a charming, funny, profoundly talented, and deeply flawed young woman who was failed by far too many of those closest to her. —Adam B. Vary

Where to watch it: Amy is still playing in theaters.

3. Appropriate Behavior

Gravitas Ventures

Desiree Akhavan's directorial debut is Girls-like enough to have actually led to her landing a role on the last season of Lena Dunham's HBO series. (She played Chandra, Hannah's critical Iowa Writers' Workshop classmate.) But while Appropriate Behavior explores some similar bohemian Brooklyn and cringe comedy territory, it's grounded in the liminal perspective of a heroine whose bisexuality and Iranian-American background make her feel like she's always halfway between worlds. It also features the year's most excruciatingly eloquent attempted threesome, one that conveys social expectations and awkwardness without saying a word. —A.W.

Where to watch it: Appropriate Behavior is available for digital rental and on DVD.

4. Ex Machina

A24

Writer-director Alex Garland's psychological techno-thriller may be more cerebral and deliberately paced than the film's breathless marketing campaign would suggest, but it is no less arresting or provocative for it. Oscar Isaac glowers with Kubrickian intensity as Nathan, a technology super genius who has invented true artificial intelligence, and Domhnall Gleeson projects the right mix of intelligence and credulity as Caleb, the mid-level employee Nathan hauls out to his secluded mountain compound to test his latest creation, Ava. And, as Ava, Alicia Vikander delivers an outstanding breakout performance, playing a being who is never quite human, but who is just as complex — and as lethal. —A.B.V.

Where to watch it: Ex Machina is available for digital rental and purchase, and on DVD and Blu-ray.

5. Faults

Screen Media Films

A nifty, compact thriller starring Leland Orser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and written and directed by Winstead's husband Riley Stearns, Faults is about a down-on-his-luck cult specialist who agrees to deprogram the daughter of a couple that's going to pay him a sizable chunk of change for the effort. Things don't go as planned, and the film is uneasy and unpredictable in the psychological duel that unfolds between them. Stearns' thoughtful filmmaking adds to the tension, all claustrophobic spaces and slow pushes in, leading up to some intriguing twists. —A.W.

Where to watch it: Faults is available for digital rental or purchase, on DVD, and on Netflix streaming.

6. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

HBO

The Church of Scientology has been a subject of deep fascination and frustration for decades, but no one has ever attempted as probing and thorough a feature documentary on the Church until this film by Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), based on investigative journalist Lawrence Wright's book of the same name. Anyone who has followed the Church is likely familiar with many of the Scientology buzzwords used here (body theatans, Xenu, the Sea-Org, e-meters, etc.), as well as with the major players in the Church featured in the doc (L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, etc.) Anyone even casually familiar with the Church is also likely not surprised by its full-throated repudiation of the film. Gibney and Wright, however, push their gaze further inside the Church with a deliberate and mesmerizing urgency, making a devastating case for how damaging life in the Church has been for so many who have chosen to leave it. —A.B.V.

Where to watch it: Going Clear is available to stream on HBO Now and HBO Go.

7. It Follows

RADiUS-TWC

The "It" of It Follows is never really defined, beyond what causes "It" to follow you: Have sex with someone "It" is following, and "It" starts following you instead, in the form of a random stranger slowing walking a direct line your way. Once "It" reaches you, "It" will kill you, violently, so you have just two choices: run, or have sex with another victim. Writer-director David Robert Mitchell shoots the action with a languorous realism that slowly and relentlessly grows taut with an almost unbearable tension. It is one of the most arresting, and innovative, horror films in many, many years. —A.B.V.

Where to watch it: It Follows is available for digital rental or purchase, and on DVD and Blu-ray.

8. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Sean Porter / Amplify Releasing

Pacific Rim's Rinko Kikuchi stars in this funny-sad film that's a fictionalized take on the urban legend surrounding Takako Konishi, a real Japanese woman who committed suicide in Minnesota in 2001, and who was incorrectly reported to have died looking for the nonexistent treasure in the Coen brothers' film Fargo. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter combines this doomed quest with a melancholy, deadpan portrait of depression — its title character a Tokyo office lady (and rabbit owner) who lives in busy solitude and who pulls the ripcord on an urban life in which she's unable to find a place. —A.W.

Where to watch it: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is available on demand, for digital rental and purchase, and on DVD and Blu-ray.

9. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Fox Searchlight

The biggest sensation at this year's Sundance Film Festival has fizzled in theaters, grossing just $6.6 million to date. This is weird, because Me and Earl — about teenage budding filmmaker Greg (Thomas Mann), his deadpan buddy Earl (RJ Cyler), and Rachel (Olivia Cooke), the cancer-riddled classmate they begrudgingly befriend — is visually inventive, keenly observed, and deeply emotional. Which is to say, it's the kind of movie that would have been an art house sensation in the '90s and '00s. Come on, '10s. We can do better! —A.B.V.

Where to watch it: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is still playing in theaters.

10. Mr. Holmes

Roadside Attractions

It's Ian McKellan playing Sherlock Holmes, primarily as an old man at 93, weary and grasping to marshal his fraying mental acumen, and also in flashbacks 30 years earlier, as Holmes stands in full command of his keen mental faculties while he embarks on his final case. What more could one possibly want? —A.B.V.

Where to watch it: Mr. Holmes is still playing in theaters.

11. Phoenix

Sundance Selects

It'll make you feel like your heart's being ripped to shreds, but Christian Petzold's post-World War II film about a Jewish woman returning home from the camps after reconstructive surgery to a husband who no longer recognizes her is quietly perfect. And it's a far more satisfying experience than that traumatic description would have you expect — as much a noir as a historical drama, it's anchored by a marvelous Nina Hoss in the lead role, and shows the process of a woman starting to come to terms with what happened to her and those who would comfortably forget the past and their role in it. —A.W.

Where to watch it: Phoenix is still playing in theaters.

12. Predestination

Ben King / Vertical Entertainment

This twisty sci-fi movie from sibling filmmakers Michael and Peter Spierig, based on a Robert A. Heinlein short story, has a premise too crazy to explain. So just trust us that what makes it work is the emotional seriousness with which it takes its wild setup, which involves time-traveling agents and what might be the loneliest person in the space-time continuum. Ethan Hawke is the film's most famous cast member, but it's his fearless co-star, Sarah Snook, who provides the heart and steals the show. —A.W.

Where to watch it: Predestination is available for digital purchase and on DVD and Blu-ray.

13. The Salvation

IFC Films

There's a Western starring Mads Mikkelsen as a Danish cowboy and Eva Green as a mute bandit queen and you probably didn't even hear about it. Kristian Levring (The King Is Alive) directs this stylishly fun frontier revenge story with a hip Euro streak, while Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the baddie, and former soccer star Eric Cantona is his right-hand man. —A.W.

Where to watch it: The Salvation is available for digital rental and purchase and on DVD and Blu-ray.

14. Shaun the Sheep

Lionsgate

There's been one great childrens movie out this year filled with adorable, incomprehensible characters who have unexpectedly mundane names, and it's not Minions. Shaun the Sheep is the latest feature from Aardman Animations, the company behind Wallace and Gromit, and it's gone woefully underseen, thanks, perhaps, to a lack of familiarity in the U.S. with the TV series on which it's based. But there's no need for any background to find this movie charming — it's all throwback physical comedy with some visual gags thrown in for the grown-ups, though there's really no need for them. The adventures that take Shaun and his friends from the farm to the city entertain just fine on their own. —A.W.

Where to watch it: Shaun the Sheep is still playing in theaters.

15. The Sisterhood of Night

Freestyle Releasing

Smarter than your typical teen movie, The Sisterhood of Night uses the hook of a social media era riff on the witch trials as a way to offer up an unusually delicate portrayal of teenage girl power plays, jealously, and loneliness. Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia) and Kara Hayward (Moonrise Kingdom) play classmates whose rivalry escalates into town hysteria, but while everyone's screaming about satanic rituals, the actual isolation and pain for which the girls are just trying to find an outlet go ignored. Directed by Caryn Waechter, it's a minor film, but one that's gone unfortunately overlooked in favor of blander, bigger YA fare. —A.W.

Where to watch it: The Sisterhood of Night is available for digital rental and purchase, on DVD, and via streaming on Netflix.

16. Slow West

A24

This fairy-tale Western stars Michael Fassbender as a mysterious gunslinger helping a lovesick Irish kid (Kodi Smit-McPhee) find his beloved (Caren Pistorius), who's escaped into the American frontier with her father because they're both wanted back in Ireland for murder. That sounds grim, but this film isn't, nor is it slow, as its unfortunate title suggests. Instead, it is a brisk, idiosyncratic delight, with some big laughs, gutsy storytelling twists, and spectacular scenery courtesy of the enchantingly incongruous New Zealand vistas where the film was shot. —A.B.V.

Where to watch it: Slow West is available for digital rental and purchase, and on DVD and Blu-ray.

17. Spring

Drafthouse Films

Like Before Sunrise, Spring is a talky romance set in Europe, where American schmoe Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) attempts to woo a beautiful, mysterious woman named Louise (Nadia Hilker). It works surprisingly well — so well that even Evan seems taken aback, like he's worried she's going to get all Hostel on him. But this film from directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who also made the interesting Resolution, takes a wild turn instead into the supernatural, more dark fantasy than horror. If it doesn't entirely sell the grandeur of its romance, it's refreshingly hard to guess where it's going. —A.W.

Where to watch it: Spring is available for digital rental and purchase, on DVD, and via streaming on Amazon Prime.

18. Tangerine

Magnolia Pictures

Two trans women prostitutes — the whirling dervish Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), and the reserved dreamer Alexandra (Mya Taylor) — spend Christmas Eve bouncing around the sun-drenched streets of Hollywood, after Alexandra lets slip that Sin-Dee's pimp and boyfriend, Chester (James Ransone), has been cheating on her with a cis woman. Co-writer/director Sean Baker neither looks down on his characters nor pretends that their complicated and difficult lives haven't shaped them into the complicated and difficult women they are. The result is at once hysterical, harrowing, and heartwarming. Famous for being shot on the iPhone 5S, this movie is also one of the most visually stunning of 2015. —A.B.V.

Where to watch it: Tangerine is still playing in theaters.

19. Wild Tales

Juan Salvarredy / Sony Pictures Classics

Dark as hell and so very funny, this Argentine film is an anthology of shorter stories — think Pulp Fiction without the crisscrossing — the segments bound together instead by a shared theme of people at their breaking point. Writer and director Damián Szifrón has razor-sharp timing — the first sequence, which takes place entirely before the opening credits, builds to an applause-worthy punchline, while the last story is set at a wedding that goes terribly, wonderfully wrong. In between, there's murder, a cover-up, and parking, with an undercurrent of class consciousness that never interferes with how bitterly enjoyable this movie is. —A.W.

Where to watch it: Wild Tales is available on demand, for digital rental and purchase, and on DVD and Blu-ray.

20. What Happened, Miss Simone?

Netflix

Like Winehouse, Nina Simone was a singularly gifted singer and songwriter whose soul seemed to fray and crumple in direct proportion to her fame and success. Unlike Winehouse, however, Simone lived a long life so full that it burst several times over — and this meticulous and absorbing documentary captures the full breadth of it, from her start as a classical pianist prodigy, to her rise as a blues and jazz vocalist, to her take-no-prisoners embrace of the civil rights movement in the '60s, to her sudden, self-imposed disappearance from the music world. —A.B.V.

Where to watch it: What Happened, Miss Simone? is available on Netflix streaming.

21. While We're Young

A24

The pretenses of both the young and the old(er) are exploded here with loving and knowing comic verve by writer-director Noah Baumbach. Just as a fortysomething couple (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) is beginning to feel stagnated in their settled New York professional lives, they meet a pair of ambitious twentysomething art hipsters (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) and find their zest for life renewed — until things begin to get weird. —A.B.V.

Where to watch it: While We're Young is available for digital rental and purchase, and on DVD and Blu-ray.

22. The Wolfpack

Magnolia Pictures

For practically their entire lives, the six Angulo brothers lived within the confines of their apartment in a housing project in New York City. According to director Crystal Moselle's profound documentary about their family, which won the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, their Peruvian father forbade them (and their American mother) from stepping foot into the city. But he did allow them to rent movies, and the brothers devoured them so fully, they began to re-create their favorites using a camcorder and a surprisingly resourceful DIY approach to costumes and props. Moselle uses those films and her own fly-on-the-wall cinematography to create an indelible portrait of how cinema shaped and rescued these six lost boys. —A.B.V.

Where to watch it: The Wolfpack is available for digital rental.

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!

Dismiss