After a somewhat snoozy winter in the theaters, it is finally time for the loud and boisterous movie season to begin. This summer, it’s not all about the blockbusters—although there are admittedly an awesome few—because filmmakers from all over the world are holding nothing back, giving us wild documentaries, heart-stopping dramas, and everything in between that could possibly tickle your fancy. So, without further ado, here are 22 summer releases that we think are worth your attention and box office bucks. Strap in, kids.
Director: Ross Katz
Starring: Nick Kroll, Rose Byrne, Bobby Canavale, Joel McHale
Distributor: Radius TWC
Release Date: April 24th on VOD & iTunes
Fueled by the success of his sketch comedy series “The Kroll Show,” Nick Kroll has finally found himself in the much-deserved spotlight. With Adult Beginners, he shows his seamless knack for triggering chuckles, but this time around through a much more sensitive lens, as a man who lost his fortune and is forced to move in with his pregnant sister. Responsibility, family, and adulthood confront him as he questions what exactly makes him happy in life. Rose Byrne, Bobby Canavale, and Joel McHale’s performances are sure to provide the appropriate hilarity and tenderness that we crave from each of the rich personas.
MISERY LOVES COMEDY
Director: Kevin Pollak
Starring: Amy Schumer, Jimmy Fallon, Larry David, Judd Apatow, Bob Saget
Distributor: Tribeca Film
Release Date: May 1st
It’s no secret that the life of a comedian is often one filled with loneliness and rejection, community and love, and plenty of weird curveballs to keep things interesting in between. Comedian Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects) uses his documentary Misery Loves Comedy to cover all of these often-contradictory aspects of comedians’ lives by asking our nation’s top funny people exactly why comedy is worth it at all. Including over 50 comedians and comediennes from generations old and new, us viewers are promised a deeper, darker, and more hilarious look into the jokesters that keep the world laughing.
Director: Albert Maysles
Starring: Iris Apfel, Carl Apfel
Release Date: May 1st (LA)
She may be 93 years old, but Iris Apfel still has one of keenest outlooks on fashion’s place in our cultural heartbeat. From being one of the first women to wear jeans to influencing the stylings of the Kennedy’s White House, her impact on our perception of clothing is endless in scope. Director Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens) shines a light on the outspoken New Yorker who continues to question the limits of what we know simply as style. If Maysles’ doc contains even a fraction of its subject’s spunk, then Iris will be the perfect palette cleanser this summer.
WELCOME TO ME
Director: Shira Piven
Starring: Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Joan Cusack, Wes Bentley
Release Date: May 1st
Our darling comedienne Kristen Wiig is back in yet another poignantly hilarious plot. Welcome to Me follows a young woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who wins the lottery and all of the sudden has the power to do whatever she wants, which is apparently starting a talk show starring none other than she, herself, and her. With a cast of undeniable talent, including Tim Robbins, James Marsden, and Joan Cusack, Welcome to Me promises to both pluck the heartstrings and punch the gut with uproarious laughter—a great follow up to the critical success of Wiig’s dramedy The Skeleton Twins of last year.
Director: Bertrand Bonello
Starring: Gaspard Ulliel, Jérémie Renier, Louis Garrel, Léa Seydoux
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classic
Release Date: May 8th
There are only a handful of fashion designers out there who can be so lauded for highly contrasting reasons, and Yves Saint Laurent may be at the very top of that list. From the couture to ready-to-wear, Saint Laurent revolutionized the way women express femininity through their clothing. Director Bertrand Bonello’s lusciously stylish biopic Saint Laurent goes beyond fashion and dives headfirst into the tumultuous mind and tormented creativity of the man who controlled the walkways. With another film covering the dark luxury of Saint Laurent’s career on its way from The Weinstein Company, fascination is at it’s highest, and there is good reason.
IN THE NAME OF MY DAUGHTER
Director: André Téchiné
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Guillaume Canet, Adèle Haenel
Distributor: Cohen Media Group
Release Date: May 15th
Murder, betrayal, love, despair, mystery—these are the elements that make up the engrossing true life drama of In the Name of My Daughter. The film depicts the string of melodramatic events leading up to the mysterious departure of a young woman named Agnès Le Roux in the 1970s. Decades later, her mother, the owner of a luxurious casino in the French Rivera, played by legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve, continues to search for the one responsible and seek justice for the messy ending to her daughter’s life. With proper style, romanticism, and dark twists of fate, In the Name of My Daughter questions the supposed unbreakable ties that make up a family.
I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS
Director: Brett Haley
Starring: Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Malin Akerman, June Squibb
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Release Date: May 15
For an actress who has achieved so much in her long, lustrous career, it’s remarkable that the beautiful Blythe Danner has only come into side roles in the past years. Thankfully, this all changes with I’ll See You in My Dreams, a wonderfully fresh and genuine examination of what a 72-year-old woman does after losing her husband. As only his second feature, writer/director Brett Haley dives into a world seldom explored, discovering that dreams aren’t just for the young, and finding love is not lost on those who’ve already had it. Danner’s spotlight could not have been better carved for her, not to mention the delightful cast including Sam Elliott, June Squibb, and Malin Akerman that add rich levity to the challenges of a woman’s third-quarter-life crisis.
Director: Claudia Llosa
Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Mélanie Laurent
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: May 22nd
A mother’s choices, good and bad, echo throughout lives of her children. This is, in the most basic terms, the heart of director Claudia Llosa’s latest drama Aloft. It’s the story of a woman who abandons her son, and twenty years later, unexpectedly reunites with him and now must face the consequences of the tormented decisions of her past. It’s hard to say if Llosa could have chosen a more fitting pair as mother and son than Jennifer Connelly and Cillian Murphy, both whom have wildly raw and haunting on-screen presences. Match that with the sweeping stark landscapes of Canada, and Llosa’s third feature ought to be her most evocative yet.
WINNING: THE RACING LIFE OF PAUL NEWMAN
Director: Adam Carolla, Nate Adams
Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Patrick Dempsey, Tom Cruise
May 22nd Contrary to popular belief, it was never The Oscar, the women, or the ceaseless amount of fame that fueled Paul Newman’s career. Instead, he looked to the racetrack, a place of indeterminable challenges and danger, that filled him with intoxicating passion and superseded his prolific acting career, even threatening to bring it crashing down. Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman explores the lesser-known side of the much-lauded artist and philanthropist, who simply craved speed and to be pushed past his own limits rather than the spotlight that aimed to sweep him away.
WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Kathy Bates, Kiernan Shipka, Ellen Burstyn
Release Date: May 22nd
From Japan’s unrivaled Studio Ghibli, which brought us Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, comes yet another exploration of animated magic and wonder. When Marnie Was There takes us through the often-isolating aspects of childhood through the eyes of an orphan named Anna. Just when she thinks no one could possibly understand her, she meets Marnie, a mysterious girl who lives in a castle in the marshes. The second feature from director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, When Marnie Was There pulses with the same whimsical quirk we have come to adore Studio Ghibli for.
LOVE & MERCY
Director: Bill Pohlad
Starring: Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giomatti
Distributor: Lionsgate & Roadside Attractions
June 5th Behind all their breezy and carefree melodies that drove them to stardom, The Beach Boys faced complex forces that sought to destroy everything they had achieved in the world of music, a lot of which came from the eccentricities of front man Brian Wilson. Longtime producer and first-time director Bill Pohlad takes us on Wilson’s journey from The Beach Boys’ prolific era in the 60s to Wilson’s crumbling middle-age life of today. With Paul Dano and John Cusack playing Wilson in his respective stages, Love & Mercy guarantees more than the straightforward tropes of a biopic, escorting us through the overwhelming pressures of creative genius.
ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: June 12th
Garnering two of the biggest awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, The Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a charming, heart-wrenching, and wholly unexpected story of boy-meets-girl-with-cancer. Before any eye-rolling or sighs about how many times we’ve seen this inevitably tragic story play out, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is here to lead us toward something vastly different. The wit, the tenderness, and the genuine curiosity about the friendship are deeply embedded in one another, ultimately shining through its three young leads Olivia Cooke, Thomas Mann, and RJ Cyler.
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Starring: Shameik Moore, Kiersey Clemons, Zoë Kravitz, Blake Anderson, Tony Revolori
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: June 19th
With high hopes of getting past the cliché setbacks of his inner-city upbringing, self-proclaimed geek Malcolm and his friends want to shine on their college applications for different reasons. Unfortunately, high school is never so easy. So when they find themselves with a backpack full of drugs that they need to push or else it’s their heads, the gang has to get creative if their college careers aren’t to be ruined. Rick Famuyiwa’s feature was a hit at Sundance this year, and with a soundtrack pulsing with original tracks by Pharrell, Dope is a fresh and stylish addition to the summer lineup.
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
Starring: Félix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macaigne, Hugo Conzelmann, Greta Gerwig
Distributor: Broad Green Pictures
Release Date: June 19th
No matter your musical allegiances, the fact that techno is deeply rooted in the pulse of European culture is simply undeniable. That’s why French director Mia Hansen-Løve’s enigmatic drama Eden is a valuable history lesson, looking into the evolution of the very DJs who would go on to create a whole new genre of music in the 1990s. From their smalltime beginnings, to the love of affairs that inspired and nearly destroyed their careers, Eden brims with the wildness of youth that gives the music industry its lithe, yet unpredictable spirit. The fact that Hansen-Løve was able to attain the rights to Daft Punk’s music—a necessary facet of Eden’s narrative—is a simple testament to the invaluable quality of her fourth feature.
Director: Jalmari Helander
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson, Victor Garber
Release Date: June 26th
With the influx of a wide array of blockbusters this summer, we’d be remiss if not one of them included the incomparable Samuel L. Jackson. In director Jalmari Helander’s wild action flick Big Game, SLJ is none other than the President of the United States, who happens to find himself flying out of a burning Air Force One and landing in the middle of the Finnish wilderness. Luckily for him, a young boy on an adventure quest discovers the disheveled world leader, and together they form an unlikely team fighting against a bunch of baddies threatening to kidnap the President. If the trailer is any indication, Mr. Jackson will be brandishing a couple more wonderfully ridiculous catch phrases for our undying enjoyment.
INFINITELY POLAR BEAR
Director: Maya Forbes
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Keir Dullea, Imogene Wolodarsky
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classic
Release Date: June 19th
No one said raising a family is easy, but when you happen to be a parent with bipolar disorder, a new level of unpredictability and self-doubt can surely cause a new level of stress. This is the premise for Infinitely Polar Bear, Maya Forbes’ first foray in the world of directing. Known for writing fun animated films like Monsters vs. Aliens, Forbes turned to the undeniably humorous yet complicated facets of her childhood for the inspiration of her feature. There may not have been a better first step towards making an unforgettable debut than casting Mark Ruffalo as the father juggling the challenges of his disorder with the whimsies of his two precocious kids, one of whom is Forbes’ real life daughter.
Director: Sean Baker Starring: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: July 10th
With the constant evolution of film technology, it’s always refreshing to see filmmakers going back to the basics… and I mean the real basics. Tangerine, which debuted at the Next division of the Sundance Film Festival, is the first feature film to ever be entirely filmed on an iPhone. Some cinephiles may scoff at such a feat, but the content of director Sean Baker’s audacious film will assuredly turn the heads of those craving the offbeat over the mundane. Following the day in the life of an outspoken cross-dressing prostitute seeking revenge on the pimp who broke her heart, Tangerine is an unabashedly sassy and heartfelt look into the wild shenanigans of the people of the streets. With the Duplass Brothers producing, we can only assume that it will be a thoroughly enjoyable ride with plenty of quirky bumps along the way.
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Hiroyuki Sanada, Milo Parker
Distributor: Roadside Attractions & Miramax
Release Date: July 17th
Over a decade after their partnership on the spellbinding drama Gods and Monsters, director Bill Condon and Sir Ian McKellen come together once more in the mysterious and magical world of Sherlock Holmes. Where most narratives concerning the master detective emphasize Holmes’ cases as a young man, Mr. Holmes shifts focus towards his later years, where an aged and increasingly forgetful Sherlock grapples with the loose ends of his last case. With the help of his housekeeper, played by the marvelous Laura Linney, and her precocious son, Holmes looks back at his life of adventure to discover the wonder that assuredly still surrounds him.
THE LOOK OF SILENCE
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Distributor: Drafthouse Films & Participant Media
Release Date: July 24th
In 2012, documentarian Joshua Oppenheimer opened our eyes, however painfully, to the atrocious massacres that swept Indonesia in 1965 and 1966. The Act of Killing was paradoxically beautiful as it mercilessly showed the ridiculousness of murder. Now, after the wide critical praise and general uproar that he instigated, Oppenheimer is back with his follow up piece, The Look of Silence. Just like its predecessor, Oppenheimer has gained unfathomable access to the inner circles of the community affected by the massacre, including the murderers themselves. Just as gripping, just as woefully jarring, The Look of Silence is a necessary and focused exposé on the groundwork Oppenheimer has already laid out.
Director: Joel Edgerton Starring: Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall
Distributor: STX Entertainment
Release Date: July 31st
Having proven himself over the past few years as a powerful dramatic actor and writer in films like Zero Dark Thirty and Animal Kingdom, Aussie Joel Edgerton is adding directing to his already impressive résumé with his stalker thriller, The Gift. Simon and Robyn are a married couple who hope to start a new chapter of their life by moving into a gorgeous new home, but when someone from Simon’s high school past unexpectedly turns up on their doorstep, over and over again, we start to realize that some people never truly forgive and forget. With Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall starring as the victims of a man’s long-held grudge, and Edgerton himself as the encroaching old friend, The Gift promises an uncomfortably tense viewing experience with a powerhouse roster of talent to back it up.
BEYOND THE BRICK: A LEGO BRICKUMENTARY
Director: Kief Davidson, Daniel Junge
Starring: Jason Bateman
Release Date: July 31st
Last year, The LEGO Movie won over audiences all over the world, no matter what age, with its ceaseless creativity and genuine affection for fun. Now, after instilling a keen curiosity into the world of LEGOs, we are delighted with a behind-the-scenes look at the little bricks themselves and exactly why they are an imperative part of so many people’s lives. From conventions to schools, narrator Jason Bateman shows how the reach of LEGOs are limitless, and that is precisely why Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary is so fascinating; where one person sees a toy, another sees a lifestyle.
Director: Jared Hess
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis
Release Date: August 7th
With Birdman as his most recent charade on the big screen, it seems it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen Zach Galifianakis cause some raucous trouble on the big screen. That’s why we’re thankful that Masterminds has come around to deliver just that and then some. Sharing the limelight with Kristen Wiig (who’s on a tear of the summer marquees) as well as Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis, this wild bank heist comedy is bound to rile up audiences these coming hot months. And with Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess at the wheel, the potential for outrageous laughs is arguably unavoidable.