We previewed what’s to come this month in September already, now my new trend of monthly movie articles continues in our recap of the best August 2016 films. The rest of the summer offered very little in terms of quality blockbusters, but smaller independent movies present a shining glimmer of hope for us cinephiles. Unsurprisingly, this trend continues in the last month of the summer movie season. Here’s my list of the best August 2016 provided in the realm of cinema.

Don’t Breathe

Purely going alphabetical, the first in my list of the finest August 2016 films is Don’t Breathe. We reviewed this horror gem previously, and found it completely original in story and brilliant in directing and acting. 2013’s Evil Dead director Fede Alvarez manipulates the camera in the most unsettling yet seamless of ways. Alvarez re-teams with his Evil Dead lead Jane Levy, who takes a tangibly believable approach in conveying her fear. Don’t Breathe dethroned Suicide Squad at the box office, and was the first movie to do so all month. This film certainly deserved it, and it proves audiences still yearn for unique ideas executed well, regardless of genre.

Hell or High Water

If The Revenant didn’t give my eyes such a visual masterpiece, Hell or High Water would have earned my #1 slot in my 2016 top 10. Disregard the August 2016 films list momentarily; this is the best written movie all year and should be seen by all. My review of this flick elaborates on specifics, but without question, you’ll find the some of the career-best performances from Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. Seeing Sicario writer Taylor Sheridan‘s name in the opening credits should have spoiled this movie’s greatness for me, but I still left the theater awestruck at what I’d seen.

Kubo & the Two Strings

You might notice from the trailer screenshot: Kubo is using three strings. But don’t let this trivial detail distract you from what I called (and still call) the best animated cinematic offering all year. The weight of that statement isn’t lost on me. After all, this is the same release year as animated jewels like ZootopiaSausage Party, The Little Prince, and Finding Dory. Kubo strikes the perfect balance of heart, fantastical lore, memorable action sequences, and a powerful message about loss and grief to resonate with all audiences. The stop-motion animation techniques famously utilized by Laika studios shouldn’t be overlooked either. All these moving parts will likely gain much attention come Oscar season.

The Little Prince

I mentioned The Little Prince literally 30 or less words ago when discussing animated films, and that wasn’t an accident. If you have a Netflix streaming subscription, I’d urge you to watch yet another adaptation on this magical tale. The difference here is the distinct animation style and imaginative environments that aren’t so limited in the 2016 animation world. This movie is as exciting as any other animated movie this year, and even with a familiar story, it feels like something we’ve never seen before.

Morris from America

Director Chad Hartigan caught me off-guard. His latest, Morris from America, lived nowhere near my radar until most critics called this a must-see summer movie. This movie didn’t let me down. Newcomer Markees Christmas stars as the titular ambitious teen Morris (or Mo), adjusting to a new life in Germany. Craig Robinson portrays Mo’s relatable father, Curtis. The film more-than-adequately services the coming-of-age/fish-out-of-water genre. If you’re scrambling for a movie at any point, I highly recommend you catch this flick, which is available to rent or buy on various video on-demand platforms.

Sausage Party

As I expressed earlier this monthSausage Party was unquestionable one of my favorite 2016 films (until I saw Kubo). Although, the Party still sticks out in my memory as a shockingly hilarious Pixar-esque adventure in this list of August 2016 films. Seth Rogen worked almost a decade to create Party and it paid off, especially in the final act’s pure insanity. Now, with the movie having a modicum of box office success, I highly anticipate the inevitable sequel idea to which the movie’s final moments allude. Speaking as someone who was unimpressed by the trailers, this movie treated me to unexpectedly high quality laughs and unforgettable characters.

Southside With You

If Southside With You weren’t following Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date, we’d still possess one of the best romance movies of our time here. The dialogue drips with richness, charisma, and character moments, spoken by the two phenomenal leads. All individuals involved in this production are unfamiliar to me, but everyone from casting to acting constructed an unforgettable date movie for the ages. Additionally, the two leads never felt like a phoned-in impression of our current President and First Lady. The actors simply let the writing and their chemistry speak for itself – but it doesn’t hurt that actor Parker Sawyers nails Barrack’s mannerisms.

Final Thoughts

In total, our August 2016 films underwhelmed at the blockbuster level. However, this list of (mostly) smaller budget movies shines a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel that represents our mediocre movie year. There’s enough of a light for movie fanatics to defend the movies offered thus far in 2016 to the naysayers. Regardless of whether you want to join that headache of a debate, go out of your way to catch these aforementioned 7 great films!

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