The summer movie season is upon us, which means a seemingly endless pile-up of superhero, reboots, and sequels will crowd the multiplexes. While a select few show some promise, we’ve set out to highlight a vast range of titles — 50 in total — that will arrive over the next four months, many of which we’ve already given our stamp of approval.
As a note, we’ve also reviewed Maggie, Good Kill, Saint Laurent, The D Train, Welcome to Me, The Stanford Prison Experiment, The Nightmare, Manglehorn, The Cut, The Bronze, Aloft, Ten Thousand Saints, People, Places, Things, and Cop Car, but they didn’t make the cut.
There’s bound to be more late-summer announcements in the coming months, and a number of titles will arrive on VOD day-and-date, so follow us on Twitter for the latest updates. In the meantime, see our top 50 picks for what to watch this summer and let us know what you’re looking forward to most in the comments.
Far From the Madding Crowd (Thomas Vinterberg; May 1st)
Following his piercing, bleak drama The Hunt, director Thomas Vinterberg is clearly having a great deal of perhaps needed fun with his follow-up, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy‘s classic novel, Far From the Madding Crowd. The preeminent kind of period piece, the late 19th century tale arrives with a heightened sense of self-awareness on what makes this genre tick. With sun-kissed cinematography, a swelling score, and back-and-forth romantic yearnings, this is a drama, despite feeling rushed in sections, intent on providing satisfaction above all else. – Jordan R. (full review)
Far From Men (David Oelhoffen; May 1st)
Writer/director David Oelhoffen has a special film on his hands because it’s powerful tale begs audience members to learn more about the subject. I’m not talking about the fictional character of Daru (Viggo Mortensen) secluding himself in the mountains to teach young Arab children how to read while civil war wages on or his unwitting ward of the state Mohamed (Reda Kateb) awaiting trial in Tinguit for murdering his cousin. I’m referencing the backdrop—where those mountains are and the “why” of the ongoing rebellion amidst them that spans two ethnicities, two languages, multiple races, and one common goal of freedom. – Jared M. (full review)
The Apu Trilogy (Satyajit Ray; May 8th)
The films that Martin Scorsese once called “one of the great cinematic experiences of my life,” from a director Akira Kurosawa said, “never having seen [his films] is like never having seen the sun or moon,” are returning to theaters in a gorgeous-looking restoration. Satyajit Ray‘s landmark The Apu Trilogy, which tracks the life of a child in the outskirts of Bengal leading to his eventual education and young adulthood. Certain to be a more worthwhile experience than any studio release this summer, seek them out if they are coming to you. – Jordan R.
Slow West (John Maclean; May 15th)
The treacherous landscape of the west has been captured in numerous entries in the genre, but rarely with the distinctive vibrancy cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Fish Tank) brings to it in Slow West. John Maclean — who has had a long relationship with his star Michael Fassbender in a handful of shorter form projects — makes his directorial debut here, clearly reveling in providing his twist on the genre, while still holding true to its roots. – Jordan R. (full review)
Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller; May 15th)
The first Mad Max movie in 30 years will feature a familiar face in writer-director George Miller, and a fresh star in Tom Hardy, who inherited the iconic role from Mel Gibson. The return to Miller’s post-apocalyptic universe will find our reluctant, taciturn hero (Hardy) battling desert marauders with a convoy of survivors (played by an ensemble that includes Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). And unlike previous installments, the action will start from the beginning and continue throughout the entire film. That’s around 120 minutes of non-stop explosions, stylized car crashes, and other high-speed craziness – in other words, hopefully the perfect summer blockbuster. – Amanda W.
When Marnie Was There (Hiromasa Yonebayashi; May 22nd)
After three decades with consistent output of some of the finest animations ever made, Studio Ghibli may have no films on the horizon, but their last one for now is a pleasant way to go out. Based on the novel by Joan G. Robinson, the sophomore feature of Hiromasa Yonebayashi (The Secret World of Arrietty) is a more of a modest offering from the studio, but its beautiful design and heartfelt emotions will certainly win one over. A ghost story about a lonely girl named Annie who meets her first friend in the mysterious Marnie, this English-language version features voice work by Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, Kathy Bates, Ellen Burstyn, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara, John C. Reilly, Raini Rodriguez and Vanessa Williams. – Jordan R.
Love at First Fight (Thomas Cailley; May 22nd)
You perhaps aren’t familiar with the name Adèle Haenel yet, but we imagine in a few years time, you will be. Before she was recently cast in the next film from the Dardennes, she starred in Les Combattants (translated to Love at First Fight here), which is now getting a U.S. release thanks to Strand Releasing. Earning César Awards for Best Actress, Most Promising Actor, and Best First Feature Film, as well as doing a record-breaking sweep of all three of Cannes’ 46th Directors’ Fortnight prizes, the story follows a carpenter Arnaud becomes infatuated with a military fanatic and joins her in army training. – Jordan R.
Tomorrowland (Brad Bird; May 22nd)
It looks promising enough on the page, only to be boosted significantly by the strong possibility that every film directed by Brad Bird is among the best of its kind. Coming off an espionage thriller as tightly wound as Ghost Protocol, I’m inclined to say he’s capable of working in live-action, and the initial hints of what Tomorrowland might bring — I’ve noted Bird’s advice and avoided just about anything more revealing than a poster — do much to recall the sort of retro-future classics its title brings to mind. Backed by one of the most charismatic marquee names of his generation and an unknown young lead as they go on… some sort of dimension-tripping adventure (again: this seems like the sort of film about which information should be avoided), Bird’s next film boasts a pedigree any other (unseen) film on this list would only be so lucky to have. – Nick N.
Heaven Knows What (Ben Safdie and Joshua Safdie; May 29th)
There’s a repulsion instinct that makes Heaven Knows What one of the more compelling films on the festival tour this past year. Exploring the plights of the middle-class or lower-class isn’t sparse in cinema, but it’s rare to see a seemingly accurate portrayal of homelessness in conjunction with drug addiction. Shot with a detached style, directors Benny and Joshua Safdie take a story that is ushered along by a heroin addict named Harley in New York City (played by first-time actress Arielle Holmes) and weave it into a compelling narrative that occasionally has a false sense of urgency. The collaboration between the three of them provides a narrative arc that is both heartbreaking and endlessly fascinating to watch. – Bill G. (full review)
Aloha (Cameron Crowe; May 29th)
Cameron Crowe‘s untitled film was initially scheduled to warm all our hearts this past Christmas, but, unfortunately, Sony pushed the film back to this summer. It was a busy holiday season, so perhaps his latest has a greater chance of finding an audience come summer time. The writer-director assembled a helluva cast for this Hawaii set project: Bradley Cooper, Bill Murray, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin, and more. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be excited for another Cameron Crowe film. Few filmmakers today make movies as warm, honest and funny as the guy behind Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, and Jerry Maguire. – Jack G.
Tu dors Nicole (Stéphane Lafleur; May 29th)
It’s perhaps possible that the whimsical nature of Tu dors Nicole would be rather unbearable in the form of an American studio comedy, the kind that fills the alt-programming summer slate of Fox Searchlight. On paper, the film suggests something rather slight: Nicole spends her post-college summer at her parents’ house while they fly away on vacation. She works at a local donation store, fights with her punk-rock brother, and spends afternoons wasting away with her best friend. But under the direction of Stéphane Lafleur, this Québécois comedy takes on an air of wondrous restlessness in its minor ambitions. – Peter L. (full review)
Gemma Bovery (Anne Fontaine; May 29th)
It might be hard to conceive of how a tragic story like Madame Bovary could be turned into a farcical and winning comedy, and yet here we stand. With remarkable tonal control from director Anne Fontaine and a winning pair of performances from Gemma Arterton and Fabrice Luchini, Gemma Bovery somehow manages to be an affecting and hilarious treat. Set in modern day Normandy, Gemma Bovery updates the Flaubert classic through a metatextual twist that both pays loving homage to the novel while also tweaking the tendency people who are obsessed with such works of fiction have to try to apply their favorite narratives to real life. – Brian R. (full review)
Results (Andrew Bujalski; May 29th)
Certain movies coast by on the charm of their cast, and that’s pretty much the case with writer-director Andrew Bujalski‘s Results. That’s not to say the film completely rests on the shoulders of the talent assembled, but if there’s one major reason why the film ultimately succeeds, it’s because of this pack of reliable actors turning in entertaining performances. – Jack G. (full review)
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson; June 3rd)
Roy Andersson‘s films are a rare Swedish treat, only coming after we patiently wait for him to carefully assemble those meticulous Studio 24 sets necessary to his peculiar works. His latest, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, doesn’t stray from the template of 2000’s Songs from the Second Floor or 2007’s You, The Living — the first two parts of a ‘living trilogy’ now concluded — but stagnation is hardly an issue with Andersson. All three films are collections of modern-life tableaux, ranging from the trivial to the absurd and often merging the two. They invariably display tremendous wit and unsettling undertones during elaborate fixed shots where people barely move – yet the sketch is often over before you’re done processing the rich details and the amount of information it contained. – Tommaso T. (full review)
Hungry Hearts (Saverio Costanzo; June 5th)
My only piece of advice: don’t watch the trailer. Such is the power of co-writer and director Saverio Costanzo’s work that those who go in knowing nothing are going in unprepared. Third-act issues notwithstanding, this is a terrifying, brutal film that aspires to the close-quarter tension of Polanski and, at certain turns, can consider itself worthy of such company. It’s also a great actor’s showcase — Adam Driver and Alba Rohrwacher, who are often the only people on-screen, won Venice’s prestigious Volpi Cup for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively — visually and structurally defined by dream- and nightmare-like ellipses, off-center angles, wide-angle lenses, and grainy 16mm stock. Hungry Hearts is a film that will be both remembered and discovered for years to come. – Nick N.
Love & Mercy (Bill Pohlad; June 5th)
One of the summer releases we’re quite looking forward to is what looks to be a worthwhile biopic on Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson. Love & Mercy, follows both Paul Dano and John Cusack playing different iterations of the legendary musicians, tackling the early days of the band and Wilson’s later struggles with mental issues and substance abuse. Directed by Bill Pohlad, the accomplished producer behind The Tree of Life, 12 Years a Slave, and Brokeback Mountain, reviews were mostly positive out of its Toronto International Film Festival premiere last fall. Featuring a script co-written by Oren Moverman (The Messenger, Rampart), the film also stars Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti. – Jordan R.
Testament of Youth (James Kent; June 5th)
If one wants to feel like they are slacking, just take a look at the career of rising star Alicia Vikander. Recently seen in Ex Machina, it’s only one of nine (!) feature films that’ll be released this year featuring her work. Next on the docket is the WWI biographical drama Testament of Youth, which follows her as Vera Brittain, a young Englishwoman who not only experienced World War I from the nurse’s perspective, but also chronicled those trials in her seminal memoir. Also starring Kit Harington, Taron Egerton, Emily Watson, and Hayley Atwell, after a successful U.K. bow it’ll hit U.S. theaters this summer. – Jordan R.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon; June 12th)
With the glut of shapeless and uninspired teenage dramas hitting the marketplace, a breath of fresh air arrives with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon with remarkable control, creativity and fervor, the film is equal parts a homage to classic cinema and a heart-wrenching romantic comedy with earned emotion. – Jordan R. (full review)
The Wolfpack (Crystal Moselle; June 12th)
Growing up one can often feel sheltered from the outside world, whether its through parental restrictions, lack of a social life, or the location of one’s upbringing. The Wolfpack, a captivating new documentary from director Crystal Moselle shot over five years, captures an environment in which that idea is taken to the outright extreme. Raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, or rather a single apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the six Angulo brothers (and one sister) live an exceedingly sheltered life. Since they were born, they’ve only left their home for at most nine times a year, and in some years, never. To keep busy, they have a collection of thousands of films in which they repeatedly watch TV, transcribing them frame by frame and creating lavish scripts that they will then extravagantly (and frugally) bring to life in their own creative way. – Jordan R. (full review)
The Tribe (Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy; June 17th)
Devoid of any spoken words, music, voice-over or even subtitles, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy‘s debut feature film The Tribe is communicated through sign language, for all the characters are deaf. This provides a unique challenge for any audience member not versed with how to sign, as the filmmaker provides no direct explanation of what characters are actually saying. While this may initially seem daunting, a viewer’s patience and keen observation is rewarded by a haunting cinematic experience that truly is unlike anything else this year. – Raffi A. (full review)
Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve; June 19th)
It begins with a dark night in the woods and the occasional sight of a half-complete face or full-figure silhouette, such impressions stemming only from pale moonlight. These figures are followed over multiple shots, and what little can be discerned herein is quietly expanded upon with some illumination — soft, spotty, and artificial, but with an expressive quality that lets us know we’re outside all boundaries of normal civilization. After the first real exchange of dialogue comes the first true close-up: not of a face, but hands, this Bressonian gesture guiding the camera’s vision from a turntable to a stack of records to one record in particular, that special item an unidentifiable young man wishes to hear. The music starts, and, as if it is only through these sounds that the world can expand past this hermetic set, a cut proclaims “let there be light” — merely daylight to them, sure, yet the first thing through which “them” could be identified as more than just a shape. Without a spinning record, they are nothing. – Nick N. (full review)
The Overnight (Patrick Brice; June 19th)
Things get weird, and then some, in Patrick Brice‘s engaging and bizarre new comedy The Overnight. As with the majority of Duplass-produced features, we follow a couple (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) past their honeymoon phase, but before a level of veritable maturity. Having recently moved from Seattle to Los Angeles with their sole child, they are looking to make friends, which they end up finding at a local playground. Arriving with an over-confident presence is Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), a man of mystery and random knowledge who immediately attracts (or rather, effectively coerces) the couple to come to their house for a night of pizza so their children can bond.- Jordan R. (full review)
Dope (Rick Famuyiwa; June 19th)
Dope opens with a sense of energy proclaiming that writer-director Rick Famuyiwa has something to say, and he’s going to do it in his own particular way. Difficult to quantify, the Sundance drama is many things: a love letter to the 1990’s era of style and hip-hop, a coming-of-age story, a crime drama, a romance, an examination of social media, and an offbeat comedy. While some of these strands don’t entirely excel, Dope is often a refreshingly lively and passionate work of filmmaking. – Jordan R. (full review)
Inside Out (Pete Docter; June 19th)
While the early trailers for Pixar’s latest sold an slightly obnoxious, overly kid-friendly experience, judging from the reactions out of CinemaCon, Inside Out is anything but. We’ve talked to a few attendees who’ve told us the plot dealing with emotions actually delivers on said promise with a spectrum of wall-to-wall feelings fully realized. Considering it’s been half-a-decade since their last worthwhile film, we’re greatly looking forward to what’s in store. – Jordan R.
The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro; June 26th)
Although his films are rarely filled with the obvious cinematic references that color the works of Tarantino, Matias Piñeiro’s films are a different type of cinephile’s delight, engaging essential questions of how we watch and think about movies. His approach — relaxed, inconspicuous, playful, and, at times, perhaps mystical — makes their engagement of these issues feel revelatory. Then again, Hitchcock didn’t make Rear Window as a film directly about screen-based scopophilia, and Piñeiro’s films are up the same alley. His first four followed young lovers in and around Beunos Aires, shape-shifting their way through the texts of Shakespeare, their country’s own history, and, most importantly, their own romantic relationships. The Princess of France, his fifth endeavor, is decidedly his most complex, an investigation into the idea of the off-screen — though that’s only scratching the surface. – Peter L. (full review)
Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs; July 1st)
Yes, Steven Soderbergh’s absence as director is hard to overlook, given the extent to which his personality permeated the original film — but his continued involvement as cinematographer and editor (Peter Andrews and Mary Ann Bernard have got to eat!) should, judging by the first previews, be enough to retain an essential signature. That, and the fact that well-shot sequences of hunky men disrobing to pop songs work far better as set pieces than yet another alien-robot invasion of a major city. If Magic Mike XXL exudes half the intelligence of its predecessor while bringing even more of the beefcake, I can’t imagine anything other than a fine night at the cinema. – Nick N.
Cartel Land (Matthew Heineman; July 3rd)
Following in the footsteps of the late, great, cinematic badass Michael Glawogger, whose work often put him on the front-lines of the most dangerous jobs (or at the very least unsavory situations), Cartel Land finds a certain humanity in the work of militias on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border cartel fights. Directed, produced and filmed by Matthew Heineman, the documentary dives deep into vigilante culture, chronicling the struggles of the Autodefensas, an organized militia who takes up arms against the Knights Templar. On the U.S. side of the border in Arizona’s Altar Valley, Tim “Nailer” Foley heads the Arizona Border Recon, a group that patrols the Valley, turning over smugglers and their advance men to US.. Customs and Border Patrol. The approaches are similar while the motivations of each are complex; Nailer and crew’s story is overshadowed in Cartel Land by the compelling, immediate on-the-ground reporting of its Mexican passages. – John F. (full review)
Jimmy’s Hall (Ken Loach; July 3rd)
If the fairly recent Footloose remake didn’t satisfy your prohibited dance cravings, then look no further as Ken Loach looks to be putting an Irish spin on the story with his latest feature. Jimmy’s Hall, which premiered nearly a year ago at the Cannes Film Festival, will finally be arriving in the U.S. shortly. The drama is set in 1932 Ireland, as we follow James Gralton (Barry Ward), a local communist leader who returns, after a decade-long stay in New York, to open an old dance hall designed for celebrating the spirit of the free thinkers who went to learn, argue, dream and have fun. – Jordan R.
Tangerine (Sean Baker; July 10th)
Like a bat out of hell does Tangerine begin, the new film from Sean Baker. Shot entirely on iPhones, this film has a very specific style and Baker is determined to shove it down the viewer’s throat. It’s a bold, visceral piece of work about a certain part of Los Angeles and the people who live there. Our heroes are two transgender prostitutes named Alexandra (Mya Taylor) and Sin-Dee (Kiki Kitana Rodriguez). It’s Christmas Eve and Sin-Dee, just back from a 28-day stint in prison, learns from Alexandra that her pimp/boyfriend Chester (a scene-stealing James Ransone) has been cheating on her with a woman whose name starts with a “D.” And so begins a day-long odyssey for Sin-Dee to find “D” and confront Chester, while Alexandra walks around town inviting anyone and everyone to a solo-singing performance of hers at 7pm. – Dan M. (full review)
Self/Less (Tarsem; July 10th)
A consistently underrated expert of the visual medium, Tarsem might not always have the material to back up his story, but The Fall, Immortals, and, yes, even Mirror Mirror showed he can defy expectations. His latest film teams him with Ryan Reynolds (who with The Voices has shown he’s looking for something a bit different) in the sci-fi story of an a wealthy dying man who transfers his consciousness to a younger, fit man through a medical procedure and complications ensue. Set for the middle of summer, we’re hoping it can be this year’s Lucy, and we mean that in the best way possible. – Jordan R.
Trainwreck (Judd Apatow: July 17th)
To be upfront, the version of Trainwreck I saw at SXSW was, like Neighbors and Bridesmaids in previous years, a work-in-progress. It hasn’t been locked and small tweaks — or possibly big ones — could be coming, but if it’s similar to Universal’s aforementioned premieres, the film is likely near-finished. As it stands, Judd Apatow’s latest is a hilarious and seemingly perfectly timed picture that announces Amy Schumer as a force to be reckoned with in the comedy world for years to come. It seems only natural that this vehicle, which she headlines and wrote, would springboard her, but it is also the cast around her and Schumer’s willingness to be anything but politically correct that’s part of the charm and hilarity of Trainwreck. Clearly I wasn’t alone in missing several follow-up jokes throughout the film as laughter echoed through the Paramount Theater. It’s the kind of film that should only gain more traction on repeat viewings and, perhaps unlike other work from Apatow, the pacing is excellent. – Bill G. (full review)
The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer; July 17th)
When sitting down to watch The Look of Silence – Joshua Oppenheimer‘s follow-up to 2012’s harrowing The Act of Killing – you’re struck by how quickly you can slip back into the particular brand of uncomfortable captured by its predecessor. The laughs, the jarringly playful recounting, the unblinking eye of the camera – it’s like a nightmare you find waiting for you when you go back to sleep, astonishingly unchanged. – Tommaso T. (full review)
Boulevard (Dito Montiel; July 17th)
An unexpected turn for director Dito Montiel, known for his portraits of rugged masculinity in the inner city, including his debut future A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and Fighting, Boulevard is a tender portrait of a man about to shatter an illusion he’s created for himself. Opening with an out-of-focus shot of Nolan Mack (Robin Williams) coming to terms with the eventual death of his father, Nolan, like his father and the audience, are not “present” in the moment. – John F. (full review)
Irrational Man (Woody Allen; July 24th)
Another year, another Woody Allen film. This one stars Joaquin Phoenix and current Allen ingenue Emma Stone in what’s reported to be a “mystery comedy-drama.” Allen, even in his weaker turns, offers adult entertainment with a pointed insight we rarely get on the big screen these days. According to WSJ, the film follows Phoenix as “Abe Lucas, a Rhode Island philosophy professor who has lost his way. After overhearing a restaurant conversation, Abe embraces an adventure that, although irrational, gives him new energy and purpose. He also gets involved with an unhappily married science professor (Parker Posey) and an eager student (Stone).” Check out the recently released debut trailer here. – Dan M.
Unexpected (Kris Swanberg; July 24th)
Early on in Kris Swanberg‘s Unexpected, inner-city school teacher Samantha Abbott (Cobie Smulders) finds out that she’s pregnant. The timing’s off, as the Chicago public high school she works at is being shut down after graduation. At home, she’s got a loving boyfriend (Anders Holm) who is fully supportive of the situation, if a bit naive. The two are quickly married, much to the dismay of Samantha’s judgmental mother Carolyn (Elizabeth McGovern), and make a tentative decision for Samantha to stay at home with their baby once it’s born. Back at school, Samantha learns that Jasmine (Gail Bean), one of her most-promising students, is pregnant as well. – Dan M. (full review)
Southpaw (Antoine Fuqua; July 24th)
Director Antoine Fuqua‘s career has had its ups and downs, but with Southpaw, he’s hot off the success of The Equalizer. That action film has its share of problems, but Fuqua’s controlled, surprisingly brutal direction was not one of them. His violence often packs an unexpected punch, and we should expect a similar response with his boxing pic, which stars the ripped and immensely versatile Jake Gyllenhaal. Seeing a Fuqua movie without a gun sure will be refreshing. – Jack G.
Listen to Me Marlon (Stevan Riley; July 29th)
Some iconic talents of cinema rarely gave an interview, while others were relegated to the routine press circus. Regardless of where one falls on the spectrum, the bite-sized, often pre-packaged tidbits of one’s career do little to paint an accurate portrait of a life, and it’s effectively unfeasible to get such a look apart from the talent itself. However, the new documentary Listen to Me Marlon provides something vastly more extensive and intimate than a standard interview. Given access to hundreds of hours worth of previously-concealed audio interviews/musings with Marlon Brando, director Stevan Riley magnificently produces one of the best documentaries about a legendary figure — all without a single talking head. Ahead of his time, we begin with Brando predicting the future of filmmaking: actors will soon be motion-captured and their essence created in a computer screen for projection. We then witness the man resurrected through such a digital form, incorporating the audio from his interviews, giving an ethereal effect interspersed throughout the film. – Jordan R. (full review)
The End of the Tour (James Ponsoldt; July 31st)
The last two trips director James Ponsoldt made to Sundance it was with two excellent dramas: Smashed and The Spectacular Now. This year, Ponsoldt returns with the often moving and consistently funny The End of the Tour. While the director’s latest may not be on par with his past two efforts, that’s not much of a problem considering the level of quality he achieves here. The End of the Tour follows a failed author, David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), interviewing one of the most talked-about writers of the moment, David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel), for Rolling Stone magazine in 1996. Lipsky spends time with Wallace on the final days of his book tour for Infinite Jest. For the most part, the two get off to a good start, in spite of Wallace hoping to maintain his privacy. Things get bumpy when Lipsky starts to wonder: how can someone so brilliant be so normal? Wallace is a guy who eats burgers at McDonalds, teaches at a college, and, despite his success, struggles with depression and everyday problems. Their time together ultimately becomes more than just another interview. – Jack G. (full review)
Best of Enemies (Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville; July 31st)
One of the most acclaimed films coming out of Sundance Film Festival this year, Best of Enemies charts the relationship (or lackthereof) between the conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. and democrat Gore Vidal, who battled on television in the summer of 1968 in historic series of quarrels. Co-directed by Twenty Feet From Stardom‘s Oscar-winning Morgan Neville, it’ll get a prime summer release thanks to Magnolia. – Jordan R.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Christopher McQuarrie; July 31st)
The last film in this franchise was probably the best of all of them. Directed by Brad Bird and buoyed by the still-burning charisma of Tom Cruise, Ghost Protocol showed that even in it’s fourth installment a movie series could keep surprising us with its quality. With Christopher McQuarrie (who previously directed Cruise in Jack Reacher) taking the directing duties and with Cruise being joined once more by the reluctant junior IMF agent played by Jeremy Renner, there is just as much to look forward to this time. McQuarrie may not be as well known as Bird, but with more to prove he might just bring more to the table as well. – Brian R.
The Kindergarten Teacher (Nadav Lapid; July 31st)
Premiering back at Cannes last year, Nadav Lapid‘s acclaimed Israeli drama will finally get a U.S. release this summer. Following a teacher who discovers her student’s incredible gift for poetry, THR says the director “not only makes this rich and rather strange tale convincing on screen, but he does so with the aesthetic prowess of a first-class auteur, combining a realistic, at times documentary approach with cinematic flights-of-fancy that are often thrilling to behold.” – Jordan R.
Horse Money (Pedro Costa; July TBA)
Often, when defining the auteur, one of the first things we go to is the consistency of location — that through a certain booming metropolis, quaint small town, or secluded countryside, we can surmise autobiographical details or even the utopian fantasies of the director at hand. All of this is easy in the case of Pedro Costa, coming off his Fontainhas trilogy, which depicted the struggles of the poor and drug-addicted denizens of Lisbon’s housing projects. – Ethan V. (full review)
Ricki and the Flash (Jonathan Demme; August 7th)
Pay attention to this. A Jonathan Demme-directed (his first major feature in 7 years), Diablo Cody-written film starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. Following a rock ‘n’ roll star who returns home to make amends to her family, this has the potential to be an all-star type of showcase in a summer full of superheroes and sequels. – Dan M.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller; August 7th)
Sometimes there’s a small sense of dread while watching a great film unfold. When a movie is running smoothly and firing on all cylinders, a small voice inside your head asks, “When is this gonna go downhill?” In the case of first-time director Marielle Heller‘s stunning debut, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, a dip in quality never comes. Based on Phoebe Gloeckner‘s 2002 graphic novel of the same name, Heller’s adaptation is an outstanding coming-of-age story. Set in San Francisco during the 1970s, the film follows Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley), a young teenage girl experimenting with her sexuality, drugs, and more. In the opening scene, which features Dwight Twilley’s “Looking for the Magic,” Minnie is walking on a high: she’s just had sex for the first time. The problem is, she had sex with her mother’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). Minnie and Monroe continue their illegal fling behind Charlotte’s (Wiig) back. The young girl develops feelings for the older man, which, for the most part, are not reciprocated. For the first time Minnie experiences love, desire, confusion, and plenty of other relatable emotions. – Jack G. (full review)
Straight Outta Compton (F. Gary Gray; August 14th)
While most biopics seem to take the standard by-the-numbers approach of capturing the story of their subject, the N.W.A. drama Straight Outta Compton looks to be doing things quite differently. With cinematography by frequent Darren Aronofsky collaborator Matthew Libatique and direction from F. Gary Gray (Friday, Set It Off, The Italian Job), the trailers and early word have been highly promising, so let’s hope that follows through comes august. – Leonard P.
Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland; August 21st)
Every year it seems we sound the death knell of the romantic comedy. They often feel too “big” for a sometimes particular indie scene, and studios aren’t making them anymore in a market built for an international audience not quite as comfortable with (mostly) privileged white people having introspective conversations about what’s in their heart and what not. So let it be said, that on this week in late January at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival the romantic comedy has re-emerged alive and well, thanks in no large part to writer/director Leslye Headland and her film Sleeping With Other People, starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie. Working within sub-genre expectations with a sure hand and a bit of a sardonic streak, Headland finds fresh ground to tread in familiar territory, not-so-subtly updating When Harry Met Sally… for a generation a tad more comfortable with oral sex and obsessed with their iPhones. – Dan M. (full review)
Digging For Fire (Joe Swanberg; August 21st)
Joe Swanberg keeps getting better and better. A few years ago, Swanberg seriously stepped up his game with his highest-profile film yet, Drinking Buddies. The filmmaking, structure, and acting is all polished in that film, and the same goes for the writer-director’s latest, Digging for Fire. Co-written by the film’s star Jake Johnson, this marks another step forward in Swanberg’s evolution as a filmmaker. – Jack G. (full review)
Goodnight Mommy (Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz; August TBA)
As its moniker suggests, one never quite knows that to expect when it comes to secret screenings during Fantastic Fest. At times they can be highly-anticipated titles that blow the doors off the venue or they can present films that had little-to-no demand that simply rock. This year was most certainly the latter as Goodnight Mommy (or Ich Seh Ich Seh) screened, a film I’m thoroughly convinced of its divisiveness and also one that I imagine will be highly rewatchable. There’s little doubt about the insanity within this chilling Austrian thriller. While the more vague the better, it is a cruel twisting narrative that too obviously telegraphs some aspects but also keeps a handful of the proceedings mysterious and is all the better for it. – Bill G. (full review)
Z For Zachariah (Craig Zobel; August TBA)
At the opening of Craig Zobel’s Z For Zachariah, it’s the end of the world and there is a woman surviving on her own. That woman’s name is Ann (Margot Robbie), and she lives on what was her father’s farm in a valley that has somehow avoided the radiation that has caused this apocalypse. It’s when the men enter the picture that things start getting complicated. First we meet Dr. John Loomis, played by a brooding Chiwetel Ejiofor. Loomis is a man of science, determined to rebuild by any means necessary. And while his staunch scientific stance clashes with Ann’s deeply religious views (her farmer father was also a preacher), the two become fast friends and lingering romantic partners. After all, who else is there? – Dan M. (full review)
The Mend (John Magary; Summer TBA)
“John Magary‘s The Mend… that was a movie that just fired me up,” director Michael Tully told us last year. It’s messy, like life itself, like a Margaret or Listen Up Philip, like a really good, true New York story. Not just sort of, “We’re privileged kids wandering around Brooklyn.” It actually had a real old-school New York drunk and sloppy grime to it.” Recently acquired for distribution, a summer date has been penciled in and we can’t wait to see the acclaimed independent drama. – Jordan R.
What are you most looking forward to this summer?