Catch 'Now and Then' on Netflix or the films of Agnès Varda on the Criterion Channel.

By Mary Sollosi
August 02, 2019 at 08:58 PM EDT
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Bikini selfies are so passé. The best way to have a true Hot Girl Summer is to celebrate the brilliant female artists who have made big-screen magic, obviously. Don’t know where to begin? We’ve got you covered!

First of all, you can support women at the box office this month by seeing new releases including Andrea Berloff’s The Kitchen (Aug. 9), in which three mob wives take up their incarcerated husbands’ dirty work; Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light (Aug. 16), about a British teen of Pakistani descent who becomes obsessed with Bruce Springsteen in Thatcherite England; or Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale (Aug. 2), about a traumatized young woman traversing the Tasmanian wilderness in pursuit of revenge.

Everette Collection (2); Ciné Tamaris

But for those days when it’s too hot to leave the house, there’s a wealth of wonderful films made by exceptional women available to stream from the comfort of your couch. Check out these five this August — and check back next month for our September picks!

First things first: Honor an icon and stream Agnès Varda. As much of her as you can. The legendary French filmmaker, who died in March at age 90, was a pioneer of the medium who heavily influenced the cinematic language of the French New Wave in the ‘60s. Over a dozen of her films and shorts are available on the Criterion Channel, including her debut, 1955’s La Pointe Courte, which anticipated the nouvelle vague style years before her male contemporaries got to the same place; celebrated New Wave films Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962) and Le Bonheur(1965); and some of Varda’s later works like One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (1979) and Vagabond (1985).

STREAM THEM: Criterion Channel

Next, if the Gurinder Chadha’s joyous Blinded by the Light thrills you on the big screen this month, throw it back with the director’s beloved 2002 indie Bend It Like Beckham, another story of a British teenager caught between two cultures, struggling to reconcile the expectations of their traditional parents with their thoroughly modern passions.

STREAM IT: Starz, Starz on Hulu, Starz on Amazon Prime, iTunes

Chadha’s ode to Springsteen comes at the end of a summer full of rock-icon movies, following May’s Rocketman and June’s Yesterday, the latter of which was soundtracked with new recordings of classic tracks from the Beatles’ immortal catalog. If Himesh Patel’s take on the quartet’s hits gave you a serious case of Fab Four fever, then look no further than Julie Taymor’s artful 2007 jukebox musical Across the Universe. Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess (and more) lend their voices to the songs you know so well in the kinetic, romantic, and sometimes-psychedelic ‘60s-set drama.

STREAM IT: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes

Big Little Lies was beset with scandal (this time not involving an actual murder, mercifully) this summer when a report alleged that season 2 director Andrea Arnold had creative control taken away from her without her knowledge; HBO called this “misinformation,” and producer-stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon supported the network’s explanation. Whatever did happen there (if anything at all) there’s one thing that absolutely everyone can agree on: Arnold is an extraordinary filmmaker, and we should all be watching Fish Tank, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, as much as humanly possible.

STREAM IT: IFC Films on Amazon Prime

Finally, the end of summer is a perfect time to get a little nostalgic, and Netflix has just the thing: Lesli Linka Glatter’s 1995 coming-of-age drama Now and Then, which was also written by Pretty Little Liars creator I. Marlene King, hit the streaming service this month. Get your besties together and revisit the summer of 1970 just as you say goodbye to the summer of 2019.

STREAM IT: Netflix

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