The 7 Best Movies New to Netflix in August 2019

Quentin Tarantino's relationship with Netflix grows even tighter as "Jackie Brown" leads the streamer's light August slate.
The 7 Best Movies New to Netflix in August 2019
"Jackie Brown"
Miramax/A Band Apart / The Kobal Collection

Leaning into the dog days of summer, when everything is languid and everyone is just waiting for Labor Day, Netflix’s August movie slate is light on excitement and heavy on familiar pleasures — the kind of stuff that you’ve probably seen a million times before, and can only watch while lying down across the entire couch.

Major new additions are few and far between, with the breakout Sundance documentary “American Factory” being the streaming giant’s biggest exclusive release of the month. That essential new film is joined by a hodgepodge of cable standards that ranges from Nancy Meyers’ most beloved rom-com to Quentin Tarantino’s most human story; “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might borrow a few tricks from the likes of “Inglourious Basterds,” but its tender side harkens all the way back to the touching story of “Jackie Brown.”

Here are the seven best movies new to Netflix in August 2019.

7. “The Bank Job” (2008)

A scrummy Guy Ritchie heist movie without all of the Guy Ritchie-ness, “The Bank Job” is most of all a showcase (or is it Shaw-case?) for Jason Statham’s raw appeal; this is what proved once and for all that Jason Statham will eventually emerge as the most likable character in any film that features Jason Statham. He’s not even the main character here — drug smuggler and ex-model Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) only ropes Terry Leather (wink, wink) into the plot because they grew up together — he just slowly becomes the hero through sheer charisma, edging out a cast that includes half the scrappier character actors in England.

If it feels like Statham really had his heart in this delightful caper, perhaps that’s because his character’s good-natured trajectory from dodginess to glamour so perfectly mirrors his own. Or maybe it’s because Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais’ script, about a bunch of cons trying to steal incriminating photos of Princess Margaret, gives him all of the best dialogue. Hearing Statham deliver a line like “[we need to] stop fucking about and stop picking the shit from under our fingernails” is enough to make you imagine an alternate universe where the guy works as a motivational speaker.

Available to stream August 1.

6. “Panic Room” (2002)

David Fincher’s fifth feature is based on one of the most terrifying premises ever conceived for a motion picture: What if a cornrowed Jared Leto broke into your apartment? A contained, claustrophobic reaction to the sprawl of his previous film (“Fight Club”), “Panic Room” might be the smallest of Fincher’s movies, but the director characteristically still found a way to complicate it to the point of gleeful absurdity, turning what’s essentially a single-location home invasion thriller into a piece of machinery so precise that it owes as much to TAG Heuer as it does to Alfred Hitchcock.

It stars with a divorced woman (Jodie Foster), her diabetic 11-year-old daughter (Kristen Stewart), and a brownstone that has one very special feature. But Fincher elevates that wisp of a story into a veritable playground of ideas, moving his camera through walls with the power of Kitty Pryde, and building household objects out of CG so he can milk them for every mite of their drama. In a film that hinges on the balance between freedom and security, Fincher’s all-seeing eye is used to underline just how limited his characters really are.

“Panic Room” is as purely entertaining as anything Fincher has ever made, even in spite of its modesty and its flaws (a trio of weak villains and an apprehensive third act, for starters). More to the point, it actually grows when seen in context with the rest of his oeuvre, even if it didn’t make much of a dent in the culture. Making literal some of Fincher’s most favorite motifs — darkness, the relationship between safety and technology, and women whose strength is forged through self-preservation against a world of primitive men — “Panic Room” becomes a ridiculously compact distillation of all the things that make its maker tick.

Available to stream August 1.

5. “Rocky” (1976)

Netflix is adding all five of the mainline “Rocky” movies to the service this month, which should be helpful for anyone who’s still confused over that weird “Creed” subplot about the old man who could only talk in vowels. And with Russia back in the news, even “Rocky IV” feels like a relevant addition to the franchise. Just be sure to hit the “menu” button before Netflix starts “auto-playing” the next one.

Available to stream August 1.

4. “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003)

The word “iconic” is used a lot these days, but Nancy Meyers’ 2003 rom-com mega-hit earns it several times over. From Diane Keaton’s white turtleneck to Jack Nicholson’s stair-climbing fitness test, Keanu Reeves’ dreamboat of a young doctor, and — best of all — an unforgettable opening credits sequence that’s set to Crazy Town’s “Butterfly,” this entire movie is forever burned into the millennial consciousness.

The story of a skirt-chasing music mogul who falls in love with his twentysomething girlfriend’s age-appropriate mother after he suffers a heart attack in her Hamptons mansion, “Something’s Gotta Give” is as alien and unapologetically affluent as anything that Meyers has ever directed, but also sweetly in touch with the tender agony of becoming old enough that you stop expecting anything new from life. Frances McDormand plays Keaton’s sister, Nicholson sings “La Vie en Rose,” there’s a third act race to Paris… this is Michelin-starred comfort food.

Available to stream August 1.

3. “American Factory” (2019)

american factory
“American Factory”

Winner of the documentary Directing Award at Sundance earlier this year, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s hyper-relevant new film offers a remarkable inside look at what happens when a Chinese billionaire opens a new plant on the remnants of an old Ohio General Motors factory, and hires 2,000 blue-collar Americans who don’t always see eye-to-eye with their new overlord. Here’s what IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote about the film in his rave review:

Veteran documentary filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s Oscar-nominated short “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” tracked the final days an Ohio factory that left some 3,000 people without jobs. “American Factory” serves as a kind of sequel to that drama, revealing the strange odyssey of the company that moved in. The saga of Fuyao Glass America, a Chinese-run company that overtook the old GM plant and rehired thousands of locals, unfolds as a fascinating tragicomedy about the incompatibility of American and Chinese industries. Arriving in town as its saving grace, Fuyao instead brings a whole new set of bureaucratic problems and enterprising goals often lost in translation.

“American Factory” takes off two years into the factory’s arrival, as over 1,000 people have been employed by the glass-maker and optimism runs high. The company’s hawkish leader, the beady-eyed billionaire Chairman Cao Dewang, arrives at the facility beaming with pride — but it doesn’t take him long to start micromanaging every facet of the plant, leaving his English-speaking senior staff agape. As Cao wanders the grounds with a translator in tow, “American Factory” shifts from an optimistic portrait of a Chinese rescue mission to a dispiriting comedy of errors, like an episode of “The Office” for fans of “The World Is Flat.”

Available to stream August 21.

2. “Groundhog Day” (1993)

An essential movie for anyone who likes a dollop of spiritual crisis with their comedy, Harold Ramis’ “Groundhog Day” has not only become one of the most beloved movies of the ’90s, but — perhaps even more impressively — it’s held up against the entire sub-genre of movies that it inspired. Bill Murray may not have been the first guy ever stuck in a vicious time loop (shoutout to the dude from “La Jetée”!), but without cynical weatherman Phil Connors it’s hard to imagine that Hollywood would have felt emboldened to make “Before I Fall,” or “Edge of Tomorrow,” or “Happy Death Day,” or that movie where the kid has to keep repeating the same day until he stops prematurely ejaculating. And what a tragedy that would be.

Anyway, now that “Groundhog Day” is streaming on Netflix, you can watch it over and over and over and over and over (and over) again, like there’s no tomorrow. Although, you might want not want to dally, as it sometimes feels like this film is pulled and re-uploaded to Netflix on a monthly basis.

Available to stream August 1.

1. “Jackie Brown” (1997)

There are a number of reasons why “Jackie Brown” never seems to get the respect that it deserves (not that QT’s devoted acolytes don’t enjoy the feeling of getting to keep one of his movies for themselves), but one of them is that — even in the wake of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” it’s still the subtlest, most comfortably human thing he’s ever made. There’s also the fact that Elmore Leonard’s hard-boiled source material that keeps this crime saga of bail bondsmen, surfer girls, and low-rent drug dealers from getting too high on its own supply. And that this achingly half-realized love story features the best performances that Pam Grier and Robert Forster have given in their long and illustrious careers.

And, of course, it all builds to the most touching ending that Tarantino has ever written, as the film’s hard-luck heroine — an emotionally grounded flight attendant who gets caught between the cops and robbers — pays a bittersweet farewell to a lifetime of bullshit. If “Jackie Brown” is a blindspot in your Tarantino viewing, now is the perfect time to make things right.

Available to stream August 1.

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