The Best Movies of August 2019: Two Actresses Lead the Way in Star Turns
After Hobbs and Shaw — the cinematic equivalent of an eight-year-old boy smashing toxically buff action figures together for two hours — opened in theaters, the rest of August was full of intriguing projects, many of which were released in August solely because they don’t necessarily fit in a neat box — they were a little different in way that sometimes causes studios to shudder. Or, an opportunistic studio recognized that there wouldn’t be much competition from blockbusters and decided to shoot their shot. This list of the best movies of August 2019 is where such risk-taking paid-off. As for when it didn’t work out, well, we’ll get to those in a matter of time in another article where you’ll get to read sentences where I had to take breaks to pull my hair out in frustration of subquality art.
But we’ll save my latest example of existential dread for another time. In the meantime, here are happy thoughts on movies that I quite enjoyed:
#3: Ready or Not
Samara Weaving, the niece of Red Skull, is now on my list of actresses to watch moving forward. I can’t remember the last time a young actress burst onto the scene in such a way. For one, she has an incredible scream that conveys anguish and pain in such an honest way as it cracks mid-yelp. Her reactions to some of the more disturbing moments in Ready or Not feel genuinely believable in that way. They don’t come off as coldly calculated, which adds an extra edge to Ready or Not that is sadly missing in many of our deranged rich-people-hunt-poor-people thrillers.
Outside of Weaving, one of the best bits in Ready or Not is just how terrible the rich people are at killing. This ritual doesn’t happen very often, and these characters are handling antiquated equipment — my favorite of which involves a running gag with a crossbow — while not having the slightest clue how to operate them. Give them a line of coke to snort and they’ll accomplish it with top marks. But give them a gun, and the help gets brutally dismembered only to then have other members of this rich family exclaim, “Aww, she was my favorite” with no regard for humanity. The idea of social commentary by way of deadly games is not even close to new, but this cast makes the entire bloody charade worth it.
Here’s to hoping that Weaving can make the upcoming Bill & Ted Face the Music dissimilar from fellow along-waited sequel Dumb and Dumber To. (i.e. not sad and depressing to watch older characters that you used to love.)
#2: Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus
I’d like to think that I’m a man of taste. Among my favorite movies of this year are High Life, The Souvenir, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Little Woods, and many more. I also love Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus. Sometimes, you just need a depraved, deeply cynical adult animated movie moonlighting as content for children in your life.
Invader Zim the TV show ran from 2001-2006, and I’m still dismayed that it hasn’t become a meme sensation like its other Nickelodeon brethren. Although shows like Spongebob have many more episodes for all of Twitter to take screengrabs from for new crops of memes, Invader Zim might have more memes per each show. It’s a spirit that this Netflix revival has captured brilliantly.
The general structure of Enter the Florpus goes a little something like this: a character yells at Zim, which in return causes Zim to yell even louder by hilariously stressing and modulating random words in his retort. I haven’t stopped repeating how Zim says “lozenge” in the film’s third act. Watching these moments makes it feel as if this Lovecraftian, oddly scary, beautifully obnoxious, and aggressive show never left
#1: Brittany Runs a Marathon
Brittany Runs a Marathon is an unpredictably predictable movie: generally, you know how the plot will resolve itself, but you’re constantly surprised by how it gets to that point. From the moment a doctor tells Brittany that she needs to lose approximately 55 pounds — impressively, Bell lost 40 pounds herself during filming — it doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to figure out the resolution to the story. But, the amount of care and decency paid to this struggle is consistently surprising. We learn that losing the weight was never really the problem for Brittany, it was merely an avenue for her to finally take responsibility for herself and develop the proper habits she needed to live a holistically healthy life. Bell is excellent at finding charming ways to convey her internal struggle, often defaulting to oddly funny mannerisms as a shield from others.
In 10 years, I think we’ll look back at Brittany Runs a Marathon as the beginning of a new era for Bell, the moment where we all collectively realized that she was much more than the bit player in a quirky comedy. She has serious chops.
Funny enough, she will also star in Bill & Ted Face the Music alongside Samara Weaving, so perhaps we’ll see these two wonderful actresses make another joint appearance in this running series of articles sometime in the not-to-distant future.
*To read the site’s full review of Brittany Runs a Marathon, please click here.
In Case You (Or I) Missed It
Here are a few other films worth mentioning, including a few smaller gems that you might have missed:
The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Peanut Butter Falcon is a bit simplistic and threatens to fall apart at the seams narratively, but there’s no denying its charm and level of thoughtfulness. At the moment, it’s one of mainstream cinema’s best rebuttals to ableism, casting Zack Gottsagen, an actor with Down Syndrome, as the co-lead along Shia LaBeouf. The best moments of the film are when these two actors are hanging out, shooting the shit and talking about whatever comes to their minds. I wish this movie was even more of a hangout movie than it already is, but I love its heart.
One Child Nation
One Child Nation is the very definition of a bummer movie. It’s an hour and a half of sadness — necessary sadness, but sadness the all the same. Director Nanfu Wang offers a look into the darker side of the one-child policy in China without a filter, showing all the carnage and turmoil that it has caused. It’s a tough hang, but you need these shocks to the system every so often.
So I saw The Nightingale at Sundance back in January of this year at a midnight screening. I saw it, didn’t like it, discussed my displeasure on the lovely Sean Coates’ podcast, and even wrote a fairly negative review for this very site. Yet I can’t stop thinking about this movie…and the possibility that I might have misread Jennifer Kent’s latest film due to a confluence of factors. Consider the mention of this movie here an IOU — I’m going to give The Nightingale another try sooner rather than later and write about my experiences with it once again. Given its widespread acclaim from critics I deeply appreciate, it deserves another try — and will act as a fun discussion on the hoopla that comes with attending film festivals.
Or, if you want to take the cynical route, I’m having my cake and eating it too because I’m a Jennifer Kent shill and am terrible at my job. I’ll let you decide that one.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on the best movies of August 2019? Comment down below!
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