Summer is beginning to wind down, but August presents one final opportunity to get a sunny vacation in—or if you just want to chill on a couch, it’s 31 more days to check out a few more series. This month, Netflix will drop the second season of Ozark—a.k.a. Jason Bateman breaks bad—and the second season of NBC’s The Good Place. Meanwhile, those who missed out on the divisiveness of Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! in theaters can rest easy: You can now be repelled by this purposefully contentious movie for free with a Hulu subscription.
Below is a complete breakdown of The Ringer’s top streaming picks for August available on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, as well as some random recommendations staffers have become engrossed in.
What’s New to Streaming in August
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
Ozark Season 2 (coming to Netflix on August 31)
Alison Herman: The words ‘gritty bingo’ figure prominently in my notes on Netflix’s latest [drama], and Ozark, the Jason Bateman–fronted series in which high finance meets a low-rent vacation town, plays the hypothetical game with aplomb. Menacing, self-serious monologues: check. Sex workers used as set decoration: check. A complicit wife who claims, regarding her latest semilegal action, “I did it for our family”: check. That’s game!
Mother! (coming to Hulu and Amazon Prime on August 26)
Sean Fennessey: [Darren] Aronofsky and [Jennifer] Lawrence have made a movie about a woman who is overlooked, undermined, used, and abused. The risk is entirely Lawrence’s. Aronofsky is understood to be a provocateur with a complicated relationship to religion and womanhood. This movie isn’t a surprise for him, gut-ripping though it may be. It demands reaction, it drives a kind of frustration and divisiveness that movies haven’t stoked in years.
The Good Place Season 2 (coming to Netflix on August 28)
Miles Surrey: When The Leftovers ended, there was a bittersweetness, but also a sense of optimism; that two people who were irreparably broken by a Rapture-like event could learn to live and love again, even if it took actual decades and might be predicated on an elaborate lie. The Good Place’s own spiritual journey may not deliver quite the same emotional heft—or as many gorgeous shots of the Outback—but as the show goes on, one can expect Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani to test their moral compasses. And though they’ll probably struggle, Season 2 ends with the hope that they will leave this other-Earth as the better people they’ve been striving to be.
Baby Driver (coming to Hulu on August 11)
K. Austin Collins: The movie is a gust of fresh air: a feature-length quotation mark of a movie that somehow doesn’t feel too hung up on its references. [Edgar] Wright’s originality as an artist is to refurbish old tricks, old tropes, in his own wackadoo image. And the joy of Baby Driver is that, though you’ve seen versions of this story before, many times over, you’ve never seen it done quite like this.
Great News Season 1 (coming to Netflix on August 23)
Herman: It’s Diana [St. Tropez] who instigates the rebrand of Great News’ show-within-a-show into a deliberately provocative piece of infotainment, driven by opinionated guests like a “transracial fracking misunderstander” and a gay dog. She’s essential to Great News’ maturation into a surprisingly apt work of media criticism, including such eerily prescient plots as a sexual harassment story line modeled after Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes that just happened to air a week after The New York Times’ Harvey Weinstein revelations.
Batman Begins (coming to Netflix on August 1)
Robert Mays: Batman Begins has wrongfully become the least talked-about installment of [Christopher] Nolan’s trilogy. The notion of haunted, brooding superheroes has become a caricature of itself over the past decade, but most clichés are born from an idea that took hold for a reason. When Bale’s Bruce Wayne was getting in prison fights, trudging up mountains, and growling at gangsters — all set to Hans Zimmer’s towering score — it made for a superhero movie unlike anything else we’d seen.
Hoosiers (coming to Amazon Prime on August 1)
Mark Titus: There’s a lot to love, from the soundtrack to the numerous redemption stories to Norman Dale making a move on Myra Fleener immediately after he explains what went through his mind as he hit one of his players in the face. But what sets Hoosiers apart as an all-time classic is the same thing that makes Indiana natives love it so much: The little details perfectly encapsulate the high school basketball experience in small-town Indiana.
Some New-ish Things You Might’ve Missed
Because it’s hard to keep up with everything, here are a few things that have premiered somewhat recently that may be worth catching up on.
Castle Rock (on Hulu)
Herman: Castle Rock aims to gradually open up [Stephen] King’s world beyond the mere near-bottomless well of adaptation-ready narratives it already is into an actually bottomless well of King-adjacent stories for [J.J.] Abrams and Hulu to keep expounding on until they choose not to. The finite, if massive, quantity of King works to adapt would no longer be an impediment; if the show strikes a chord, it could make Stephen King bigger than Stephen King.
Set It Up (on Netflix)
Kate Halliwell: Big-budget superhero movies have a stranglehold on cinemas, but luckily for us, Netflix has the rom-com corner covered. The streaming site’s most recent offering, Set It Up, stars the immensely likable Glen Powell and Zoey Deutch as two overworked assistants who set up their bosses in an attempt to lighten their workload. As expected, the plan results in various high jinks. Strictly speaking, this isn’t the most ethically sound movie, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.
Running Wild With Bear Grylls Season 4 (on Hulu)
Surrey: “[Running Wild] was a perfect recipe; mixing [Bear] Grylls’s natural effervescence with easily recognizable famous people and tossing them into increasingly absurd nature scenarios just works.”
Taxi Driver (on Hulu)
Lindsay Zoladz: Perhaps the most frightening part of watching Taxi Driver now is that [Travis] would likely be worse off in 2018 than he is in 1976: Our sense of community has eroded and the kind of loneliness he experiences has only grown more common—or at least more visibly mainstream.
A random collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path, for when you’re in a certain kind of mood.
What to Watch If MoviePass’s Existential Crisis Ruined Your Theater Plans: I have been so grateful for the existence of MoviePass—how else would I have been able to revel in the awfulness of The Snowman and not feel like I burned an extremely unnecessary hole in my pocket in the process? But with MoviePass maybe, possibly, doomed, I never had a chance to watch Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Thankfully, you can still watch the first Mamma Mia! on Netflix. What the first film lacks in Lily James time jumps it compensates for in (spoilers!) not killing off Meryl Streep. I also can’t express with enough words how awful and inescapably bad Pierce Brosnan is at singing. —Surrey
What to Watch If You Want to Reconsider a Flop: Devotees of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials were thrilled with the news that the popular fantasy books will get a live-action do-over, thanks to a recently announced BBC miniseries. The first attempt at adapting the series wasn’t particularly popular, since it basically ignored, uh, the central idea of the book. What I’m here to argue, however, is that despite these minor setbacks, 2007’s The Golden Compass, on Netflix, is Actually Good. Plotwise, it could use some work. But in terms of casting, it set a standard that the upcoming miniseries simply cannot match: Nicole Kidman as the evil, fabulous Mrs. Coulter; Daniel Craig as sexy professor Lord Asriel; Ian McKellen voicing giant polar bear warrior Iorek Byrnison (if you haven’t read the books, just go with it); Ian McShane voicing his polar bear nemesis; Eva Green as mysterious flying witch Serafina Pekkala; and Sam Elliot as charming sky-cowboy Lee Scoresby. All perfectly cast, and all totally let down by the material. But no matter! It’s enough to make the new miniseries pale in comparison, at least in the casting stage. I’m sure James McAvoy will be perfectly fine as the new Asriel, but I’d rather not think about Lin Manuel Miranda’s take on Lee Scoresby. Either way, we’ve got plenty of time before the new adaptation hits our screens, so watch the movie and then start another Dark Materials reread. Just make sure you go in that order—reading and then watching may cause soul-crushing disappointment, no matter how many sequined gold gowns Nicole saunters around in. —Kate Halliwell
What to Watch If You Want to Ride the Glen Powell Wave: First off, an aside: If you have ever successfully typed or spoken aloud the title of this movie without having to first look it up, then you are light-years ahead of me. Anyway. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, adapted from Mary Ann Shaffer’s 2008 book of the same name, is set in post–World War II England and follows a writer named Juliet Ashton as she searches for the subject of her next book. Through a series of correspondence that begins with a single letter from a man (Dawsey Adams) who happens upon one of her old books, Juliet becomes enamored of a special book club of sorts that formed on the island of Guernsey during the German occupation. The tale itself is lovely, full of vibrant characters and vivid depictions of scenery, but the film’s casting takes it to another level: Lily James plays full-time writer, part-time adventurer Juliet; Michiel Huisman plays Adams, an original member of the club and (SPOILER ALERT BUT NOT REALLY) eventual love interest; Matthew Goode plays Juliet’s book editor and old friend; and Glen Powell—who is so hot right now—plays Markham Reynolds, Juliet’s overly suave American boyfriend who, despite his best efforts, cannot dissuade her interest in telling the story of the folks from Guernsey. Honestly, none of us are worthy. The movie was released in the U.K. earlier this year, and it’s coming to American audiences via Netflix this month. Have your tea and typewriter at the ready. —Megan Schuster
What to Watch If You Want a Little Joy in Your Life (and Also Jay Baruchel): Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, available on Netflix, is by no means a great movie. I’m not even entirely sure whether it’s a good movie. But it is a fun movie, especially if you have nothing to do on a Friday night and don’t find teenage hipsters running around mid-to-late 2000s lower Manhattan and Brooklyn for an hour and a half too insufferable. The cast is great (Michael Cera in his prime; Kat Dennings before her prime; Jay Baruchel, who’s had a weird and fun career) and it takes place in a post-Strokes indie era in New York City. The whole movie—which celebrates its 10th anniversary this October—is earnest and charming, and it all makes for a fun first effort from Lorene Scafaria, who went on to write better movies, like The Meddler and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. So watch this movie to add a little joy in your life. Also, yes, that is Seth Meyers making out with Scafaria in the back of the Yugo. —Austin Elias-de Jesus
What to Watch If You Miss Bro Brad Pitt: The ingredient list behind Burn After Reading’s charm is long as it is sundry. Brad Pitt is peak Bro Brad Pitt in this 2008 Coen brothers film—streaming on Netflix—as Chad (the only bro-ier name than Brad, of course, is Chad), a workout buff armed with blond tips and an iPod armband. Cast alongside the deepest of benches (George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, and J.K. Simmons), Chad is thrust, painfully unaware, into extorting a former CIA agent. The self-inflicted stakes are at first trivial, then grave as character timelines collide. —Haley O’Shaughnessy
What to Watch If You Ever Need a Reminder That Growing Up Was Bad: Nick Kroll’s Netflix series, Big Mouth, is an ode to the most awkward years of life: the early teens, when feelings (and hair growth) accelerate and childhood rapidly disappears. With the gift of animation, Big Mouth turns puberty’s figurative demons into real ones—the Hormone Monster and Monstress, who perch themselves on the shoulders of the show’s characters, feed their grandest insecurities and, once in a while, bring on an unfortunate wet dream. It’s all very funny, but also very whimsical, sweet, and empathetic. Big Mouth approaches puberty with a refreshing level of sex-positivity, to the extent that watching it may help you better understand your most turbulent times. It will also, however, convince you to stop being so damn nostalgic and remember that your teen years were full of shame, confusion, and personal horror. —Andrew Gruttadaro