Summer is movie season, and in a chaotic era of remakes, reboots, trilogies, and $14 movie tickets, it’s nice to have a guide. We’ve gathered a mix of big names, indies that aren’t disastrous (we saw a few while we were out at Sundance) and some sneaky under-the-radar flicks, all of which should be worth your while. Oh, and we threw the rest together in a sidebar for you to stream
illegally after a long day at the pool.
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane
Director/Writer: Richard Linklater
Who did: Dazed and Confused (1993), Waking Life (2003) and Before Midnight (2013)
In theaters: July 11th
What happens: A boy grows from age 5 to age 18, and so does everyone around him.
How to Prepare: This was an epic undertaking. Linklater filmed the movie with the same cast for 12 years, rather than using multiple, semi-similar looking child actors of varying ages, as practicality should have dictated. This isn’t the first time Linklater has made time a major element in his films. Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight take place over one 24-hour period, with the later trilogy occurring with the same leads, each movie spaced nine years apart.
Director:Michaël R. Roskam
Who did: Bullhead (2011)
But you’ll see it for the writer:Dennis Lehane
Who wrote the novels: Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island
Along with: Three episodes of The Wire
The movie stars: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini (in his last post-mortem film)
In theaters: September 12th
What happens: The robbery of Marv’s (James Gandolfini) Brooklyn bar — coincidentally also a drop house — drudges up the past of the neighborhood.
How to Prepare: Read Esquire’s interview with Tom Hardy, who starred in Bronson, Warrior and The Dark Knight Rises and is blowing up. Watch Enough Said to see the most recent of Gandolfini’s post-mortem appearances, or a few episodes of The Sopranos to see his breakout role as Tony Soprano.
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Kelly Reilly and Chris O’Dowd
Director/Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Who did: The Guard (2011)
But see it for: The performance from Brendan Gleeson (Braveheart, In Bruges), who plays a priest threatened during a confession and is forced to face his killer while remaining priestly
When: August 1st
How to Prepare: Watch In Bruges, an under-watched British black comedy in which Gleeson plays one in a pair of hitman who are forced to kill time in fucking Bruges.
||22 JUMP STREET
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Dave Franco
Director: Phil Lorde, Christopher Miller
Who did: 21 Jump Street (2012) and The Lego Movie (2014)
In theaters: June 13th
What happens: After going undercover at a high school in 21 Jump Street, Hill and Tatum take the next logical step for a sequel: they head to college, and ultimately spring break in Mexico, to keep a new drug “whyphy” off the street.
Why see it?: Sequels suck, but 21 Jump Street one was surprisingly funny, and The Lego Movie was an amazing use of interlocking pieces of plastic. Don’t be fooled by the trailers, 21 Jump Street was surprisingly offensive and violent, meaning many of the best scenes can’t be shown in a preview. 22 Jump Street looks to continue this trend.
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Scoot McNairy
In theaters: August 22nd (limited)
Why see it?: It’s not going to be the most popular movie, but it’ll be damn interesting. Michael Fassbender (who is on the rise, via performances under director Steve McQueen in Shame and 12 Years A Slave) plays Chris Sievey, who donned a papier-mâché head from 1984 onward for his comedic persona Frank Sidebottom.
How to Prepare: Read up on Chris Sievey and his subsequent stint as Frank Sidebottom. “Based on a true story” films never capture the whole picture, but Sievey was unique, eccentric and something of a cult figure in England during the late 80s and early 90s.
||MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT
Starring: Emma Stone and Colin Firth
Director/Writer: Woody Allen
Who did: Blue Jasmine (2013), Midnight in Paris (2011) and, of course, Annie Hall (1977).
In theaters: July 25th
What happens: An Englishman helps to unmask a possible swindle, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels style.
Why see it?: Despite what you might feel about Woody Allen personally, the guy is one of the more prolific writers and neurotic comedic minds alive today and he’s still on top of his game (he received an Oscar nomination for Blue Jasmine).
Movies To Stream at Home
These films are all solid flicks, but they were either already out of theaters or will be released in extremely limited circulation, so we figured it was best to throw them together for streaming on a summer night.
Locke – Tom Hardy is the only character on screen, and with the weight of the movie on his shoulders he truly kills it. A unique performance from one of the fastest rising actors.
Love Is Strange – Was one of the best performers at the Tribeca Film Festival. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are a gay couple living in New York and facing new difficulties after their marriage.
Ida – This black and white film follows an orphaned young nun in 1960s Poland as she realizes secrets about her family and her past.
The One I Love – A romantic comedy that guys should find both funny and realistic.
Night Moves – Jesse Eisenberg is one of a team of three radical environmentalists trying to blow up a hydroelectric dam.
The Raid 2 – The must-see action packed sequel to the must-see action packed original The Raid, in which an entire apartment building becomes a hand-to-hand battlefield.
Search Party – From the guy who wrote Old School, a group of friends to try to reunite their friend and the woman he was going to marry.
Neighbors – Zac Efron is a frat bro living next to family man Seth Rogen and conflict escalates, quickly.
The Trip To Italy – British comedy in which two friends go for a road trip around Italy, in a sequel to the successful original The Trip.
Only Lovers Left Alive – Jim Jarmusch imparts his weird but amazing cinematic style in this fresh take on a vampire movie.
||SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
These are the guys: Miller wrote the graphic novels The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City and 300, all of which have been turned into blockbuster movies. At the age of 23, Rodriguez directed El Mariachi, a movie with a $7,000 budget that went on to make over $2,000,000, cementing him as an idol for independent film makers ever since.
Starring: Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis
In theaters: August 22nd
What happens: The same stuff that happened in the first one: stylized violence portrayed like a graphic novel in the fiction Basin City.
GP Verdict: The style might not appeal to everyone, but if you liked the original Sin City, the sequel, coming a full nine years later, is guaranteed to be a hit.
||DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Starring: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Judy Greer
Director: Matt Reeves
Who did: Let Me In (2010) and Cloverfield (2008)
In theaters: July 10th
What happens: The genetically evolved apes and human survivors left over from the virus in Rise of the Planet of the Apes battle to be Earth’s dominant species.
Good to know: The original Planet of the Apes series featured five films released between 1968 and 1973. Then Tim Burton released that awful remake in 2001, before the entire series got a reboot in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Director: David Michôd
Who did: Animal Kingdom (2010)
Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson and Scott McNairy
When: June 20th
What happens: In a Mad Maxian Australia 10 years after economic collapse, Eric (Guy Pearce), an ex-soldier, tries to track down the men who stole his most valuable possession.
How to Prepare: Binge watch The Road, Mad Max and War of the Worlds to get in the mindset of a lone man with a mission, wandering around at the end of his world.
Starring: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell and Tilda Swinton
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Who did: Mother (2009) and The Host (2006)
And written with the help of: Kelly Masterson who wrote Before The Devil Knows Your Dead
In theaters: June 27th
What happens: Everyone on the planet has died due to a failed global warming initiative, except for the passengers on the Snowpiercer. A class revolt occurs on the train.
Good to know: This is Bong’s first movie whose cast hasn’t been entirely Korean, and so you’ve probably never seen his earlier films, but he’s one of Korea’s best contemporary directors. Snowpiercer is based on the French graphic novel Le
||X-MEN: DAY OF FUTURE PAST
Director: Bryan Singer
Who did: The Usual Suspects (1995) and the first two X-Men movies (the two best)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence
When: May 23rd
What happens: In a nod to Terminator, the X-Men send Wolverine back in time to change the course of history and protect themselves.
How to Prepare: Days of Future Past is a direct sequel to both X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and X-Men: First Class (2011), so watch either one (First Class is better) if you want some continuity in your theater seat.
||THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt (Andy from Parks and Rec) and Bradley Cooper
In theaters: August 1st
What happens: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is the target of an interstellar chase after he steals an orb belonging to Ronan, the villain.
GP Verdict: This movie could definitely flop. Super hero movies are played out, and $150 million budgets can’t save bad writing, but this is also exactly why Guardians could work. The film is based on little known Marvel comic book characters in a little known world, giving Gunn (writer and director) freedom not afforded to an Iron Man sequel. Also, to be fair, Dunn hasn’t made any great movies, but his last few films were comedies, which will help Marvel solidify it’s tongue and cheek take on comics (see any film with Tony Stark).
Starring: Sarah Snook, Mark Webber and Joelle Carter
Directed by: Kevin Greutert
Who work on: Pretty much every movie in the Saw series
In theaters: August 29th
What happens: Jessabelle returns to her home in Louisiana to recover from a car accident and be haunted by spirits with southern accents.
GP Verdict: It probably won’t be an Oscar winner, but as far as horror movies go, this one’s good for some shots of adrenaline during the ass clenching horror scenes.
||AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
Starring: Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge and Perdita Weeks
Directed by: John Erick Dowdle
Who did: Quarantine (2008) and Devil (2010)
In theaters: August 15th
What happens: Two archaeologists search for lost treasure in the miles of catacombs below Paris and it doesn’t go so well.
Good to know: This film is based on “found footage”, which means viewers are led to believe that this actually happened and these poor souls actually filmed themselves getting haunted so that moviegoers could understand their last screaming moments on Earth. To prepare, watch The Blaire Witch Project, which is the most successful found footage film, making close to $250 million in the box office after being made for under $100,000, meaning it’s the highest revenue to budget ratio of any movie, ever.
||THE GREEN INFERNO
Starring: Little known white people and a previously unfilmed Amazonian tribe.
Directed by: Eli Roth
Who did: Cabin Fever (2002) and Hostel (2005)
In theaters: September 5th
What happens: A group of go-getter students from New York fly to the Amazon to protect a dying tribe. In a fit of irony, their plane crashes and they start getting tortured by the tribe they were going to save.
GP Verdict: If you like gore, this is your movie. Roth (the bear jew from Inglourious Basterds) shocked everyone with Hostel, a movie that could fairly be described as half porno, half torture movie. If The Green Inferno appeals to you, you probably already knew about it.
||HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
Director: Dean DeBlois
Who did: Lilo and Stitch (2002) and How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
Starring: Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler and Jonah Hill
When: June 13th
What happens: While on an adventure, Hiccup and Toothless find an ice cave, find some more dragons and battle to protect the peace.
GP Verdict: The first movie got such great reviews that it’s sequel, despite being a sequel, is guaranteed to continue this trend in a profitable, imaginative world.
Director: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Who worked on: ParaNorman (2012), Coraline (2009) and Antz (1998)
Starring: Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg and Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark)
When: September 26th
What happens: Trash collectors battle against an evil exterminator with the help of an orphaned boy.
Good to know: Laika Entertainment, the production company, is the Pixar of stop motion animation, creating the critically acclaimed Coraline and ParaNorman. This movie is guaranteed to be good, or at least, beautiful to watch. Interestingly, the company is owned by Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight.
Director: Stephanie Soechtig
Who did: GMO OMG (2013) and Tapped (2009)
When: May 9th (Limited)
What happens: Soechtig takes another look at the fast food industry, this time with a focus on refined sugar.
GP Verdict: If you’ve seen and enjoyed Super Size Me or Food, Inc. then Fed Up is right up your alley.
Director: Steve James
Who did: Hoop Dreams (1994), Stevie (2002) and The Interrupters (2011)
Starring: Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog and Roger Ebert
In theaters, iTunes and On Demand: July 4th
What happens: James takes a look into the life of Roger Ebert, the best known movie critic of our generation.
GP Verdict: Hoop Dreams was a critically acclaimed documentary masterpiece, so for any film nerd interested in the life of Roger Ebert, this movie will not disappoint.
||TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT
Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Who are brothers and also worked on: The Kid with a Bike (2011) and L’enfant (2005)
Starring: Marion Cotillard and Fabrizio Rongione
When: Look for it in August
What happens: Sandra has one weekend to convince her co-workers to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job.
GP Verdict: The Dardenne brothers produce some of the best French language films around, and this time they utilize movie star Cotillard to steal the show at Cannes.
||THE GREAT BEAUTY
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Starring: Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone and Sabrina Ferilli
Get it online: Here
What happens: As Jep Gambardella (Servillo) ages, he grows out of the Roman nightclub scene and starts to appreciate true beauty in life.
Why see it?: You might have missed it in theaters earlier this year, but we included it anyway, as it won the 2014 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.
Starring: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen and Michael Lomenda
Director: Clint Eastwood
Who also directed: Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) and Million Dollar Baby (2004)
In theaters: June 20th
What happens: A biography/drama about the four men from New Jersey who formed the iconic rock group The Four Seasons.
GP Verdict: As Eastwood put on the years, he transitioned from in front of the camera to behind it, to much success. Plus The Four Seasons were the most popular rock band before the Beatles came over and took over.
||GET ON UP
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer
Director: Tate Taylor
Who did: The Help (2011), which exceeded everyone’s expectations
When: August 1st
What happens: The story of James Brown’s rise from poverty to music legend.
GP Verdict: Johnny Cash and Ray Charles have had their day in the sun in I Walk The Line and Ray, now it’s The Godfather of Soul’s turn.