Summer’s Must-See Movies: Beyoncé’s Blockbuster, Spider-Man’s Epic Loss, and ‘Toy Story’s’ Teary-Eyed Return
Yes, the summer movie season is upon us. And there’s plenty of good stuff to check out in theaters this summer, from moving dramas to massive blockbusters.
Since Avengers and Game of Thrones took up everyone’s spring screentime, this summer’s movie lineup is uniquely stacked. Dave Bautista is coming for Dwayne Johnson’s muscle-comedy throne. Tiffany Haddish is going “Serious Actress.” And Quentin Tarantino is causing controversy—well, I guess that isn’t quite a surprise. If there was ever a time to finally turn off Netflix and put that Roku stick down, it’s now.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and baby Natalie Portman (aka Millie Bobby Brown) face off against Godzilla and his three-headed archnemesis, King Ghidorah, in this blockbuster sequel.
Rocketman (May 31)
Director: Dexter Fletcher
As our very own Kevin Fallon said about the Elton John-approved biopic, starring Taron Egerton: “Well, there is gay sex in Rocketman.” Take THAT Bohemian Rhapsody.
Ma (May 31)
Director: Tate Taylor
Octavia Spencer stars as a lonely killer in small-town Ohio who befriends a group of trouble-seeking high school students looking for a place to party, including newcomer Diana Silvers (also excellent in Booksmart). Expectedly, things go awry. It’s nice to see Spencer take the lead in a modern-day film, but why the hell is she again playing a nurse?
Dark Phoenix (June 7)
Director: Simon Kinberg
Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner stars in the latest X-Men adaptation, chronicling how mutant Jean Grey became the beloved Dark Phoenix. Looks like Turner can’t quite escape off-screen drama when it comes to franchise endings. Dark Phoenix’s third act was reportedly reshot to avoid similarities with another unnamed superhero film. Captain Marvel, perhaps?
Late Night (June 7)
Director: Nisha Ganatra
Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling star is this buddy comedy as a jaded late-night host and her insufferably eager new writer, respectively. With a stellar supporting cast and script by Kaling, Late Night is both seriously funny and seriously serious, offering a timely yet witty take on workplace sexism and harassment.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 (June 7)
Director: Chris Renaud
What’s the secret to a pet’s life? Overcoming fear, naturally. The animated sequel finds house pets voiced by Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart and Jenny Slate taking on their New York owner’s greatest trait yet: anxiety. Harrison Ford joins the crew to help them manage their mental health.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (June 7)
Director: Joe Talbot
Partly based on actor Jimmie Fails’ own life, his character—also named Jimmie—tries to reclaim his childhood home in the rapidly gentrifying Fillmore District of San Francisco. This film, produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B, received heavy buzz out of Sundance.
Men in Black: International (June 14)
Director: F. Gary Gray
Director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) revives the Men in Black franchise with unbearably cool duo Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth, of Thor: Ragnarok. The spinoff of the Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones series will feature more alien invasions with the added threat of a mole in their organization. Men in black? More like men (and Tessa Thompson) are back.
Shaft (June 14)
Director: Tim Story
It’s once again the summer of the sequel. Or in Shaft’s case, the summer of the son. Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson return as the iconic patriarchs of the Shaft family of private investigators. This time they're joined by the third in line JJ Shaft Jr. (Jessie Usher). With a script by black-ish creator Kenya Barris and a burgundy-suede coat, Shaft is poised to give James Bond a run for his money as the reigning ultra-cool crusader.
The Dead Don’t Die (June 14)
Director: Jim Jarmusch
The Dead Don’t Die and neither has the buzz around this ensemble horror comedy starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop, and Selena Gomez. Oh, and did I mention Carol Kane, Caleb Landry Jones, Chloe Sevigny and Steve Buscemi pop up too? The film received mixed reviews after opening the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month, but something tells me the Selenators will still turn out for this small-town zombie invasion tale.
Toy Story 4 (June 21)
Director: Josh Cooley
Pixar’s offering this year is the fourth installment of the Toy Story franchise, where Bonnie has created a new toy out of a spork, googly eyes and piece of pipe cleaner: Forky. After ending up far from home, Woody makes his way back with Forky and they both learn what it means to fully accept who you are. No, you’re already crying!
Child’s Play (June 21)
Director: Lars Klevberg
Child’s Play is, in fact, not safe for children. Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry and Mark Hamill (as the voice of Chucky) star in the remake of the 1988 horror film of the same name. I should probably tell you more, but I refuse to subject myself to the scary-doll film’s trailer.
Yesterday (June 28)
Director: Danny Boyle
After an accident, Jack (Himesh Patel) finds himself in a world where he’s the only person that remembers The Beatles. So, naturally, he starts playing their songs as original tracks. The stolen intellectual property jumped out! Lily James, Kate McKinnon and Ed Sheeran (?) also star.
Ophelia (June 28)
Director: Claire McCarthy
Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley is the titular character in this adaption of Hamlet as seen through Ophelia’s perspective. George MacKay plays Hamlet, Naomi Watts is Gertude, Clive Owen takes on Claudius, and I certainly won’t doth protest too much!
Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 2)
Director: Jon Watts
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker travels to Europe on a school trip where he is recruited by Nick Fury to battle the “Elementals.” Jake Gyllenhaal is Quentin Beck, a special-effects wizard helping Peter Parker (later revealed to be *gasp* Mysterio, a Spidey supervillain).
Midsommar (July 3)
Director: Ari Aster
Ari Aster follows up Hereditary with another thriller about an American couple (Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor) who travel to Sweden for a festival held every 90 years. Suddenly things become violent and pagan. Maybe Coachella isn’t so bad after all.
The Farewell (July 12)
Director: Lulu Wang
Awkwafina stars as Billi, a Chinese-American woman who returns to China to say goodbye to her terminally-ill grandmother. Except her beloved Nai Nai doesn’t know she’s dying. A24 is behind the touching tribute to family and bridging Eastern and Western cultures. Bring tissues and revel in Awkwafina’s award-worthy performance.
Stuber (July 12)
Director: Michael Dowse
Kumail Nanjiani got buff, and Dave Bautista got funny. The two star in this action comedy with Nanjiani as Stu, an Uber driver who picks up a cop (Bautista) tracking down a killer. Something tells me Stu might not keep his five-star rating.
The Art of Self-Defense (July 12)
Director: Riley Stearns
Jesse Eisenberg plays a twisted Jesse Eisenberg. As a callow man looking to become more intimidating, Casey (Eisenberg) starts taking a local karate class. But his growing physical prowess only makes his paranoia worse.
The Lion King (July 19)
Director: Jon Favreau
I’ll be disappointed if by the time you finish reading this sentence about The Lion King—the highly-anticipated CGI remake of Disney’s beloved animated film, starring Donald Glover and Beyoncé—there’s not already pre-ordered tickets in your hand.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (July 26)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
If there’s a divisive summer film to have a take on at the upcoming family BBQ, it’ll be this one. Washed-up Hollywood actor Rick (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff (Brad Pitt) try to keep themselves relevant in 1969 Hollywood. Oh, and they also live next to Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). The film premiered last month at Cannes to rave reviews.
Skin (July 26)
Director: Guy Nattiv
A former skinhead leaves the white-supremacist group he was born into after falling in love with a woman. Unsurprisingly, his untethering doesn’t go very smoothly. Jamie Bell stars alongside Danielle Macdonald in the riveting film, a feature-length exploration of filmmaker Guy Nattiv’s Oscar-winning short of the same name.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (August 2)
Director: David Leitch
Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are the “good guys” and Idris Elba is the “villain” in this Fast and the Furious spinoff movie. Got it? Good, because I’ve got to get to focusing on the three hot men about to dominate my summer.
Luce (August 2)
Director: Julius Onah
Naomi Watts and Tim Roth reckon with the future they envisioned for Luc, their son adopted from Eritrea, after a school teacher (played by Octavia Spencer) discovers he may have a much darker past than they thought.
The Nightingale (August 2)
Director: Jennifer Kent
An 1800s young Irish convict is on a revenge mission in the Tasmanian wilderness to track down a British officer who’d destroyed her family. Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin and Damon Herriman star in Jennifer Kent’s anticipated follow-up to The Babadook.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold (August 9)
Director: James Bobin
Dora gets the live-action treatment in this family-friendly comedy about a fish-out-of-water high schooler who must save her classmates after their field trip goes awry and they’re forced to solve the mystery of the Inca civilization. Come for Dora, stay for Eva Longoria and Michael Pena as Dora’s goofy parents.
One Child Nation (August 9)
Directors: Jialing Zhang, Nanfu Wang
Filmmakers Jialing Zhang and Nanfu Wang set out to explore China’s policy of forcibly restricting families to one child. Along their journey interviewing victims and perpetrators, Wang also confronts her own family’s trauma.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (August 9)
Director: André Øvredal
Presented by Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, this highly-anticipated adaptation of the children’s anthology series follows a group of teenagers who stumble upon a book of scary stories. What they don’t know is Sarah (Zoe Colletti), a young girl with a traumatic past, wrote the book, and suddenly her fictional tales are wreaking very real havoc on their lives.
The Kitchen (August 9)
Director: Andrea Berloff
Please welcome to the stage Tiffany Haddish, prestige actress! Comedienne Haddish showcases her dramatic acting chops to star alongside Elisabeth Moss and Melissa McCarthy in this 1970s drama about three women who take over organized crime in Hell’s Kitchen. Tiffany, she ready...for her Oscar!
Blinded by the Light (August 14)
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Here, Bruce Springsteen gets the cinematic treatment. But Blinded by the Light is no biopic. Javed (Viveik Kalra) is a British teen of Pakistani descent living amidst the racial and economic unrest of 1987 England. He turns to the songs of another blue-collar man, “The Boss,” to find his own voice.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette (August 16)
Director: Richard Linklater
With her Anna Wintour hairdo, Cate Blanchett takes on the title role in Richard Linklater’s adaption of the beloved novel. She plays a mother who takes a sudden epic adventure to reconnect with her creative self after years of putting her family first. Kristen Wiig, Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup and Judy Greer round out the cast.
Good Boys (August 16)
Director: Gene Stupnitsky
As an executive producer, Seth Rogen’s version of a coming-of-age film is raunchy, explicit and entirely joyous. Jacob Tremblay (Room) stars alongside newcomers Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon as foul-mouthed sixth graders skipping school and accidentally transporting stolen drugs. Oy vey!
Angel Has Fallen (August 23)
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
At this point, what hasn’t fallen? Since Olympus and London already tumbled, it’s Gerard Butler’s time to go. The third film in the Olympus trilogy finds Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Butler) being framed for an assassination attempt against the president—as depicted in the previous film. So, Gerard Butler is an angel? Your guess is as good as mine.
Brittany Runs a Marathon (August 23)
Director: Paul Downs Colaizzo
This Sundance breakout stars the hilarious Jillian Bell in her first leading role as a hard-partying New Yorker on the cusp of 30 with one goal: run a marathon. Our own Kevin Fallon sat down with Bell in Janurary and asked if playing a marathoner convinced her to run a 26.2-mile race. Her response? “Absolutely not.”
It: Chapter Two (September 6)
Director: Andrés Muschietti
The Losers Club is all grown up. Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader and James McAvoy return to Derry, Maine, 27 years after the events of the first film—just in time for Pennywise’s terrifying return.