If you’re looking for a respite from the hot summer days, August is looking to be an excellent month for movies helmed by women or led by women characters.
One of the most highly anticipated August films is “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” from the Iranian-American writer-director Desiree Akhavan. Out August 3, the Sundance prize-winner offers a sobering portrayal of a teenager (Chloë Grace Moretz) forced to attend a gay conversion camp. Another buzzy release is “Crazy Rich Asians,” a romantic comedy-drama starring Constance Wu. Hitting theaters August 15, the film is notable for being the first Hollywood production featuring an all-Asian cast in 25 years. Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, and Sonoya Mizuno also star.
Among the other higher-profile August releases are Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s sci-fi thriller “The Darkest Minds,” toplined by Amandla Stenberg (August 3); “The Wife,” a portrait of the frustrated woman (Glenn Close) behind a so-called “Great Man”(August 17); and the Melissa McCarthy-starring puppet murder mystery/surreal comedy “The Happytime Murders” (August 24).
Plenty of docs are opening in August, too. The follow-up to “The Cove,” Megumi Sasaki’s “A Whale of a Tale,” explores the post-“Cove” politics currently surrounding whaling in Japan. Other documentary releases include Michelle Memran’s “The Rest I Make Up” (August 23), about the life of playwright Maria Irene Fornes; Holly Tuckett’s “Church & State” (August 10), tracing the fight for legalized same-sex marriage in the state of Utah; and “Cielo” (August 15), Alison McAlpine’s cinematic love letter to the night sky in the Atacama Desert.
August will also see the U.S. release of Isabel Coixet’s Goya winner “The Bookshop.” Starring Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson, the ’50s-set drama is about a widow who opens a book store in her small town and stirs up some controversy in the process. It hits theaters August 24.
Finally, one of the most promising Netflix releases this month is “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” directed by Susan Johnson and written by Sofia Alvarez. Based on the hit YA novel by Jenny Han, the film features Lana Condor as Lara Jean, a teenager whose life is thrown into chaos when her secret love letters are sent.
Here are all of the women-centric, women-directed, and women-written films debuting in August. All descriptions are from press materials unless otherwise noted.
“Nico, 1998” – Written and Directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli
“Nico, 1988” follows the singer-songwriter (Trine Dyrholm), approaching 50, leading a solitary existence in Manchester, far from her ’60s glam days as a Warhol superstar and celebrated vocalist for cult band The Velvet Underground. Her life and career on the fringes, Nico’s new manager convinces her to hit the road again and tour Europe to promote her latest album. Struggling with her demons and the consequences of a muddled life, she longs to rebuild a relationship with her son, whose custody she lost long ago. A brave and uncompromising musician, Nico’s story is the story of a rebirth: of an artist, a mother, and the woman behind the icon.
“The Darkest Minds” – Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson
When teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, they are declared a threat by the government and detained. Sixteen-year-old Ruby (Amandla Stenberg), one of the most powerful young people anyone has encountered, escapes her camp and joins a group of runaway teens seeking safe haven. Soon this newfound family realizes that, in a world in which the adults in power have betrayed them, running is not enough and they must wage a resistance, using their collective power to take back control of their future.
“The Miseducation of Cameron Post” – Written and Directed by Desiree Akhavan
Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) looks the part of a perfect high school girl. But after she’s caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night, Cameron is quickly shipped off to a conversion therapy center that treats teens “struggling with same-sex attraction.” At the facility, Cameron is subjected to outlandish discipline, dubious “de-gaying” methods, and earnest Christian rock songs — but this unusual setting also provides her with an unlikely gay community. For the first time, Cameron connects with peers, and she’s able to find her place among fellow outcasts.
“Never Goin’ Back” – Written and Directed by Augustine Frizzell
Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Camila Morrone) dream of escaping their waitressing jobs at a low-rent Texas diner, even if it’s only to Galveston. Taking place over just a few days, the film follows their hilarious and unpredictable misadventures on the streets of suburban Dallas as they attempt increasingly madcap and wild schemes to try and raise some cash.
“Night Comes On” – Directed by Jordana Spiro; Written by Jordana Spiro and Angelica Nwandu
Angel LaMere (Dominique Fishback) is released from juvenile detention on the eve of her 18th birthday. Haunted by her past, Angel embarks on a journey with her 10-year-old sister to avenge her mother’s death.
“Like Father” – Written and Directed by Lauren Miller Rogen (Available on Netflix)
When a workaholic young executive (Kristen Bell), is left at the altar, she ends up on her Caribbean honeymoon cruise with the last person she ever expected: her estranged and equally workaholic father (Kelsey Grammer). The two depart as strangers, but over the course of a few adventures, a couple of umbrella-clad cocktails and a whole lot of soul-searching, they return with a renewed appreciation for family and life.
“The Spy Who Dumped Me” – Co-Written and Directed by Susanna Fogel
Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon), two 30-year-old best friends in Los Angeles, are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend (Justin Theroux) shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Surprising even themselves, the duo jump into action, on the run throughout Europe from assassins and a suspicious-but-charming British agent, as they hatch a plan to save the world.
“Milla” – Written and Directed by Valérie Massadian
Milla and Leo live clandestinely, their meager furnishings and sustenance countered by a love for which there is neither logic nor substitute. But such an existence will only last until forces of nature take hold. Where is there to go in its wake?
“Christopher Robin” – Co-Written by Allison Schroeder
In “Christopher Robin,” the young boy who loved embarking on adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with a band of spirited and lovable stuffed animals has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.
“Dog Days” – Written by Elissa Matsueda and Erica Oyama
“Dog Days” is an ensemble comedy that follows the lives of multiple dog owners and their beloved fluffy pals around sunny Los Angeles. When these human-and-canines’ paths start to intertwine, their lives begin changing in ways they never expected.
“Skate Kitchen” – Directed by Crystal Moselle; Written by Crystal Moselle, Jen Silverman, and Aslihan Unaldi
Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), an introverted teenage skateboarder from Long Island, meets and befriends an all-girl, New York City-based skateboarding crew called Skate Kitchen. She falls in with the in-crowd, has a falling-out with her mother, and falls for a mysterious skateboarder guy (Jaden Smith), but a relationship with him proves to be trickier to navigate than a kickflip.
“Madeline’s Madeline” – Directed by Josephine Decker; Written by Josephine Decker and Donna di Novelli (Opens in NY; Opens in LA August 17)
Madeline (Helena Howard) has become an integral part of a prestigious physical theater troupe. When the workshop’s ambitious director (Molly Parker) pushes the teenager to weave her rich interior world and troubled history with her mother (Miranda July) into their collective art, the lines between performance and reality begin to blur. The resulting battle between imagination and appropriation rips out of the rehearsal space and through all three women’s lives.
“Elizabeth Harvest” (Opens in NY and LA)
Elizabeth (Abbey Lee), a beautiful young newlywed, arrives at the palatial estate of her brilliant scientist husband, Henry (Ciaran Hinds). Ensconced in modernist luxury with an obedient — if slightly unsettling — house staff (Carla Gugino and Matthew Beard), she has seemingly everything she could want. But one mystery tantalizes her: what is behind the locked door to Henry’s laboratory that he has forbidden her to enter? When an inquisitive Elizabeth dares to find out, everything she thought she knew about her husband — and about herself — will change.
“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” (Available on Netflix)
London, 1946. Juliet (Lily James), a charismatic and free-spirited writer receives a letter from a member of a mysterious literary club started in Nazi-occupied Guernsey. Her curiosity piqued, Juliet decides to visit the island. There she meets the delightfully eccentric members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, including Dawsey (Michiel Huisman), the rugged and intriguing farmer who wrote her the letter. As the secrets from their wartime past unfold, Juliet’s growing attachment to the island, the book club, and her affection for Dawsey will change the course of her life forever.
“Church & State” (Documentary) – Directed by Holly Tuckett; Co-Written by Holly Tuckett and Jennifer Lynn Dobner (Also Available on VOD)
A surprise federal court ruling in 2013 legalized gay marriage for Utah — triggering a fierce battle in a state where Mormon Church values control the Legislature and every aspect of public life.
“Hope Springs Eternal” – Written by Stephanie Mickus (Also Available on VOD)
Hope Gracin (Mia Rose Frampton) is known as “the girl dying of cancer” and has fully embraced this identity. Posting YouTube videos, having fun with friends, an Australian boyfriend, and being popular have been the results of this identity — until her tests show that she is cured. Hope, unsure of what her new future holds, hides the truth. But as what happens with most secrets, the truth comes out.
“Along Came the Devil” – Co-Written by Heather DeVan (Also Available on VOD)
Ashley (Sydney Sweeney) is sent to live with her estranged Aunt Tanya (Jessica Barth). While in her old hometown she has visions of her deceased mom, driving her to contact the spirit world. Ashley unknowingly unearths a demonic force, which leaves her loved ones fighting for her soul.
After surviving the slaughter of her entire squad in a drug raid compromised by dirty cops, anti-narcotics special operative Nina Manigan (Anne Curtis), is eager to go head-to-head with the drug cartels that hold a bloody grip on Manila. But when her new mission in the city’s most dangerous slum goes south, the angry civilians turn on her squad. Trapped between a brutal drug gang and hordes of bloodthirsty citizens, their only option is to fight their way out, turning one claustrophobic street at a time into a symphony of apocalyptic violence.
“Summer of 84” – Co-Directed by Anouk Whissell
Summer, 1984: The perfect time to be 15-years-old and free. But when neighborhood conspiracy theorist Davey Armstrong (Graham Verchere) begins to suspect his police officer neighbor might be the serial killer all over the local news, he and his three best friends begin an investigation that soon turns dangerous.
“Crazy Rich Asians” – Co-Written by Adele Lim
Crazy Rich Asians follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) as she accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick’s family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. It turns out that he is not only the scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families but also one of its most sought-after bachelors. Being on Nick’s arm puts a target on Rachel’s back, with jealous socialites and, worse, Nick’s own disapproving mother (Michelle Yeoh) taking aim. And it soon becomes clear that while money can’t buy love, it can definitely complicate things.
“Cielo” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Alison McAlpine
“Cielo” is a cinematic reverie on the crazy beauty of the night sky, as experienced in the Atacama Desert, Chile, one of the best places on our planet to explore and contemplate its splendor. Director Alison McAlpine’s sublime nonfiction film drifts between science and spirituality, the arid land, desert shores, and lush galaxies expanding the limits of our earthling imaginations. Planet Hunters in the Atacama’s astronomical observatories and the desert dwellers who work the land and sea share their evocative visions of the stars and planets, their mythic stories, and existential queries with remarkable openness and a contagious sense of wonder.
“The Wife – Written by Jane Anderson”
After nearly 40 years of marriage, Joan and Joe Castleman (Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce) are complements. Where Joe is casual, Joan is elegant. Where Joe is vain, Joan is self-effacing. And where Joe enjoys his very public role as Great American Novelist, Joan pours her considerable intellect, grace, charm, and diplomacy into the private role of Great Man’s Wife. Joe is about to be awarded the Nobel Prize for his acclaimed and prolific body of work. Joe’s literary star has blazed since he and Joan first met in the late 1950. “The Wife” interweaves the story of the couple’s youthful passion and ambition with a portrait of a marriage, 30-plus years later — a lifetime’s shared compromises, secrets, betrayals, and mutual love.
“Down a Dark Hall”
Kit (AnnaSophia Robb), a difficult young girl, is sent to the mysterious Blackwood Boarding School when her heated temper becomes too much for her mother to handle. Once she arrives at Blackwood, Kit encounters eccentric headmistress Madame Duret (Uma Thurman) and meets the school’s only other students, four young women also headed down a troubled path. While exploring the labyrinthine corridors of the school, Kit and her classmates discover that Blackwood Manor hides an age-old secret rooted in the paranormal.
“Juliet, Naked” – Co-Written by Tamara Jenkins and Evgenia Peretz
Annie (Rose Byrne) is stuck in a long-term relationship with Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) — an obsessive fan of obscure rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). When the acoustic demo of Tucker’s hit record from 25 years ago surfaces, its release leads to a life-changing encounter with the elusive rocker himself.
“Memoir of War” (Opens in NY; Opens in LA August 24)
It’s 1944 Nazi-occupied France, and Marguerite (Mélanie Thierry) is an active Resistance member along with husband Robert (Emmanuel Bourdieu) and a band of fellow subversives. When Robert is deported to Dachau by the Gestapo, Marguerite becomes friendly with French Nazi collaborator Rabier (Benoît Magimel) to learn of her husband’s whereabouts. But as the months wear on with no news of her husband, Marguerite must begin the process of confronting the unimaginable.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” – Directed by Susan Johnson; Written by Sofia Alvarez (Available on Netflix)
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them — all at once? Lara Jean Song Covey’s (Lana Condor, “X-Men: Apocalypse”) love life goes from imaginary to out of control when the love letters for every boy she’s ever loved — five in all — are mysteriously mailed out. Based on the bestselling YA novel by Jenny Han.
“A Whale of a Tale” (Documentary) – Directed by Megumi Sasaki (Opens in NY; Opens in LA August 24)
In 2010, Taiji, a sleepy fishing town in Japan, suddenly found itself in the worldwide media spotlight. “The Cove,” a documentary denouncing the town’s longstanding whale and dolphin hunting traditions, won an Academy Award and almost overnight, Taiji became the go-to destination and battleground for activists from around the world. Can a proud 400-year-old whaling tradition survive a tsunami of modern animal-rights activism and colliding forces of globalism vs. localism?
“Blaze” – Co-Written by Sybil Rosen
“Blaze” is inspired by the life of Blaze Foley (Ben Dickey), the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas outlaw music movement that spawned the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. The film weaves together three different periods of time, braiding re-imagined versions of Blaze’s past, present, and future. The different strands explore his love affair with Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat); his last, dark night on earth; and the impact his songs and death had on his fans, friends, and foes.
“Mile 22” – Written by Lea Carpenter
James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) is an operative of the CIA’s most highly-prized and least-understood unit. Aided by a top-secret tactical command team, Silva must retrieve and transport an asset who holds life-threatening information to Mile 22 for extraction before the enemy closes in.
“Breaking & Exiting” – Written by Jordan Hinson (Also Available on VOD)
Harry (Milo Gibson), a charming house thief, gets more than he bargains for during an attempted burglary when he stumbles upon Daisy (Jordan Hinson) and decides to save her from herself, sending both of them into a darkly comedic journey of self-discovery and love.
“The Rest I Make Up” (Documentary) – Directed by Michelle Memran (One Week Only in NY)
Maria Irene Fornes is one of America’s greatest playwrights and most influential teachers, but many know her only as the ex-lover of writer and social critic Susan Sontag. The visionary Cuban-American dramatist constructed astonishing worlds onstage, writing over 40 plays and winning nine Obie Awards. At the vanguard of the nascent Off-Off Broadway experimental theater movement in NYC, Fornes is often referred to as American theater’s “Mother Avant-Garde.” When she gradually stops writing due to dementia, an unexpected friendship with filmmaker Michelle Memran reignites her spontaneous creative spirit and triggers a decade-long collaboration that picks up where the pen left off. The duo travels from New York to Havana, Miami to Seattle, exploring the playwright’s remembered past and their shared present.
“The Bookshop” – Written and Directed by Isabel Coixet (U.S. Release)
England, 1959. Free-spirited widow Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) risks everything to open a bookshop in a conservative East Anglian coastal town. While bringing about a surprising cultural awakening through works by Ray Bradbury and Vladimir Nabokov, she earns the polite but ruthless opposition of a local grand dame (Patricia Clarkson) and the support and affection of a reclusive book loving widower (Bill Nighy). As Florence’s obstacles amass and bear suspicious signs of a local power struggle, she is forced to ask: is there a place for a bookshop in a town that may not want one?
“Nelly” – Written and Directed by Anne Émond (Opens in NY; Opens in LA September 14)
This biopic of magnetic, beautiful, and troubled Quebecois author Nelly Arcan (Mylène MacKay) details her attempts to deal with her sudden fame and notoriety when her novel “Putain,” based on her own experiences as a sex worker, was published to critical acclaim in 2001.
“Support the Girls”
Lisa (Regina Hall) is the last person you’d expect to find in a highway-side “sports bar with curves,” but as general manager at Double Whammies, she’s come to love the place and its customers. An incurable den mother, she nurtures and protects her girls fiercely — but over the course of one trying day, her optimism is battered from every direction. Double Whammies sells a big, weird American fantasy, but what happens when reality pokes a bunch of holes in it?
“A Happening of Monumental Proportions” – Directed by Judy Greer
“A Happening of Monumental Proportions” intertwines students, parents, and teachers, all trying to find their way through one rough day. The all-star cast finds Daniel(Common), an account manager with a boring job gearing up for Career Day at his lovely daughter’s elementary school, while dealing with the fallout of an intra-office romance with his assistant (Jennifer Garner) and his nasty new boss (Bradley Whitford). The boss’ unfortunately nerdy son finds himself instantly entranced with Daniel’s daughter (Storm Reid), seeking advice from their school’s hip shop teacher (John Cho) and depressed music teacher (Anders Holm), without success. The teachers’ principal team — Allison Janney and Rob Riggle — spend their day trying to hide the school’s dead gardener from not only the staff, but also the students and their parents, who experience a Career Day they likely will never forget.
“The Happytime Murders”
No Sesame. All Street. The Happytime Murders is a filthy comedy set in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist. Two clashing detectives with a shared secret, one human (Melissa McCarthy) and one puppet, are forced to work together again to solve the brutal murders of the former cast of a beloved classic puppet television show.
“Hot to Trot” (Documentary) – Directed by Gail Freedman (Opens in NY; Opens September 14 in LA)
An immersive character study — and an idiosyncratic attack on bigotry — “Hot to Trot” gets up on the stage and goes behind the scenes to discover the captivating but little known world of same-sex competitive ballroom dance, a world where expressions of personal passion become a political statement, and where one false step can crush aspirations.
“Arizona” (Also Available on VOD)
Cassie (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a real estate agent and single mom struggling to keep it all together. Things go from bad to worse when a disgruntled client, Sonny (Danny McBride), confronts Cassie’s boss and accidentally kills him. Having witnessed the crime, Sonny kidnaps Cassie to keep her quiet until he figures out what to do. But he makes one outrageously bad — and bloody — decision after another, until things completely spiral out of control.
The Children Act (Opens in the UK; Opens in the U.S. September 14)
Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) is an eminent High Court judge in London presiding with wisdom and compassion over ethically complex cases of family law. But she has paid a heavy personal price for her workload, and her marriage to American professor Jack (Stanley Tucci) is at a breaking point. In this moment of personal crisis, Fiona is asked to rule on the case of Adam (Fionn Whitehead), a brilliant boy who is refusing the blood transfusion that will save his life. Adam is three months from his 18th birthday and still legally a child. Should Fiona force him to live? Fiona visits Adam in the hospital and their meeting has a profound emotional impact on them both, stirring strong new emotions in the boy and long-buried feelings in her.
“What Keeps You Alive”
How much can you really know about another person? The unsettling truth that even those closest to us can harbor hidden dimensions drives this thrillingly unpredictable, blood-stained fear trip. Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen) are a couple celebrating their one-year anniversary at a secluded cabin in the woods belonging to Jackie’s family. From the moment they arrive, something changes in Jules’ normally loving wife, as Jackie (if that even is her real name) begins to reveal a previously unknown dark side — all building up to a shocking revelation that will pit Jules against the woman she loves most in a terrifying fight to survive.
“Let the Corpses Tan” – Co-Written and Co-Directed by Hélène Cattet
After stealing a truckload of gold bars, a gang of thieves absconds to the ruins of a remote village perched on the cliffs of the Mediterranean. Home to a reclusive yet hypersexual artist and her motley crew of family and admirers, it seems like a perfect hideout. But when two cops roll up on motorcycles to investigate, the hamlet erupts into a hallucinatory battlefield as both sides engage in an all-day, all-night firefight rife with double-crosses and dripping with blood.
“The Little Stranger” – Written by Lucinda Coxon
Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson), the son of a housemaid, has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. During the long hot summer of 1948, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked. The Hall has been home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries. But it is now in decline and its inhabitants — mother, son, and daughter (Charlotte Rampling, Will Poulter, and Ruth Wilson) — are haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life. When he takes on his new patient, Faraday has no idea how closely, and how disturbingly, the family’s story is about to become entwined with his own.
“Pick of the Litter” (Documentary) – Written and Co-Directed by Dana Nachman (Also Available on VOD)
“Pick of the Litter” follows a litter of puppies from the moment they’re born and begin their quest to become guide dogs for the blind. Cameras follow these pups through an intense two-year odyssey as they train to become dogs whose ultimate responsibility is to protect their blind partners from harm. Along the way, these remarkable animals rely on a community of dedicated individuals who train them to do amazing, life-changing things in the service of their human. The stakes are high and not every dog can make the cut. Only the best of the best. The pick of the litter.