If the August heat forces you inside, Amazon will keep you busy with a better-than average crop of movies old and new debuting on the streaming service. Highlights range from Amazon's new seriocomedy film Elvis & Nixon all the way back to a diametrically opposed pair of tech-inspired flicks from the ‘90s: The Matrix and You've Got Mail. New TV offerings are unusually thin, but they run the gamut from the naughty dramedy House of Lies to Amazon's new show about soccer kids, The Kicks.
House of Lies, Seasons 4 & 5 (Aug. 23)
Don Cheadle leads a ruthless gang of management consultants (including co-star Kristen Bell) who will fudge the facts and manipulate anyone to get the most lucrative gigs. Season 4 picks up with legal troubles, romantic entanglements and a pregnancy.
The Kicks, Season 1 (Aug. 26)
In this Amazon original kids' show, a family moves from the East Coast to LA, leaving their soccer-obsessed daughter Devon to find her way in an unfamiliar city and a new, not-so-great school team. The show is based on the eponymous series of books by gold-medalist soccer player Alex Morgan. Soccer star Sixx Orange plays Devon.
13 Assassins (Aug. 29)
A sadistic lord terrorizes late-feudal Japan and aspires to the throne. The only thing in his way are 13 unemployed samurai. Director Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer) delivers gorgeous cinematography — and stunts — in this rich period piece. (English subtitles)
A Clockwork Orange (Aug. 1)
Stanley Kubrick probes the origins of violence and the possibility for reform in this absurdist, darkly humorous portrayal of hooligans and criminal justice in early 1970s London. Malcolm McDowell plays Alex, the bowler- and suspender-wearing head of a sadistic gang. When Alex undergoes an unorthodox treatment to rid him of violent tendencies, it's an eye-opener, for sure.
Cloverfield (Aug. 1)
J.J. Abrams produced this fun, moderate-budget sci-fi thriller told through found footage after a devastating alien attack on New York City. The plentiful scenes in which you don't see the monster — only the aftereffects — are the scariest.
Elvis & Nixon (Aug. 25)
Sometimes the true stories are the craziest. Elvis Presley was a diehard patriot, and his years in the Army weren't enough for him. In 1970, he visited the White House and asked President Richard Nixon to deputize him as a federal agent — and it worked. Elvis is played by Michael Shannon (Man of Steel), and the ruthless president by — who else? — Kevin Spacey.
Inside Llewyn Davis (Aug. 1)
This Coen Brothers' dark comedy portrays the early 1960s New York City folk music scene through the story of a mostly failed performer with a mostly failed life. Oscar Isaac plays the title role, in a tale loosely based on the biography of musician Dave Van Ronk. Carey Mulligan plays Llewyn's cantankerous sometimes love interest in a funny departure from her usual charming roles.
The Matrix (Aug. 1)
While the first Star Wars prequel was depressing sci-fi fans in 1999, this dystopian adventure captured their hearts. Inspired by previous sci-fi masters, especially William Gibson, the Wachowskis crafted a dark world in which humans are reduced to components for the machines that rule the world. To win their freedom, hackers must battle the overlords in a cyberspace that lends itself to ass-kicking visuals. The great cast includes Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving. (Amazon also offers the two sequels, but they don't come close to the original.)
Mission: Impossible ─ Rogue Nation (Aug. 12)
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is back, but without a home now that the Impossible Missions Force has been disbanded. Now, he and his team are on their own against the Syndicate — a vast, secret network of spies that acts like its own mayhem-causing nation. The stunts are expectedly awesome, and sidekicks played by Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg make it a blast.
No Country for Old Men (Aug. 11)
Javier Bardem played psychopathic killing machine Anton (for which he won an Oscar) in this pitch-black tale of greed and violence. He's pursuing a man, Llewelyn (Josh Brolin), who stumbled into a caper, and is himself pursued by a sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones). Neither can fully appreciate what they are in for. This adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel won best writing, directing and picture Oscars for the Coen Brothers.
Ong Bak ─ The Thai Warrior (Aug. 16)
This 2003 action flick combines two of Thailand's greatest cultural treasures: Buddhism and martial arts. When thieves steal the head from a small village's revered Buddha statue, named Ong Bak, a young Muay Thai fighter, played by Tony Jaa, travels to Bangkok to retrieve it. To complete his mission, he ends up having to compete in fantastic fighting contests and street battles that show off Jaa's awesome martial arts skills and director Prachya Pinkaew's choreography.
The Others (Aug. 1)
Nicole Kidman plays a woman losing her mind (or has she already lost it?) in this 2001 supernatural thriller. In the aftermath of WWII, her character Grace lives with her photosensitive children in a darkened house in the Channel Islands. Signs of the supernatural appear to slowly grow more and more dramatic until the big reveal at the end. If you watch closely, you'll probably see it coming.
The Piano (Aug. 1)
This frontier romance earned Oscars for writer Jane Campion, Holly Hunter as best actress, and a little Anna Paquin as best supporting actress. Accompanied by her daughter, Hunter's character, Ada, is sent to a remote New Zealand Island for an arranged marriage with a wealthy landowner (Sam Neill) but falls in love with a laborer played by Harvey Keitel.
You've Got Mail (Aug. 1)
This one is worth it for the historical charm. It's set in 1998 — when modem-based email was the internet's big draw, long before Barnes & Noble was closing stores and AOL was a division of Verizon. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan play archenemies in the big-vs.-small publishing business. They are also, unwittingly, having an anonymous online romance.
What Else to Stream
Keep making the most of your Amazon Prime membership by using it to the fullest. When you're done with all these shows, check out our list of the best shows to binge watch.