Summer movie season is upon us, and this year, there’s something for everyone: You want Rihanna as an extraterrestrial exotic dancer? You got it. You want Charlize Theron beating the living daylights out of everyone in her path? You got it. You want Zac Efron’s impossibly chiseled abs? You got those, too.
As the days lengthen and the beach days beckon, here are the movies we’re most excited to see this summer.
Write to Eliza Berman at email@example.com.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)
This summer’s first superhero offering finds Marvel’s galaxy-hopping spacefarers dealing with family drama: The sibling rivalry between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) still threatens to erupt into violence and Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is finally working out his daddy issues with his actual factual bio-dad (Kurt Russell). Come for dancing Baby Groot, stay for dancing Baby Groot.
Snatched (May 12)
Goldie Hawn returns to the big screen for the first time in 15 years, opposite Amy Schumer, for a mother-daughter comedy written by Ghostbusters reboot scribe Katie Dippold. Schumer’s Emily, a variation on the petulant woman-child she often plays in her stand-up and sketches, so fully captures the worst qualities of the ignorant American tourist on a South American holiday that when the pair gets kidnapped, you can’t help but think they kind of deserve it.
Alien: Covenant (May 19)
Ridley Scott returns with the sixth installment in the Alien franchise and the follow-up to 2012’s Prometheus. In this one, a colony ship (with Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup onboard) arrives in pristine, uncharted territory. They soon find, of course, that they’re not particularly welcome there. (Why otherwise smart people continue to stick their faces inches away from murderous, slimy aliens — we’re looking at you, Crudup — we’ll never know.)
Everything, Everything (May 19)
If you’re not already following Amandla Stenberg’s career, now’s the time to start: the teenaged Hunger Games star is as magnetic on-camera as she is off-camera, where she spends much of her spare time speaking out on social issues like racism and gender identity. In Stella Meghie’s adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s teen romance novel, she plays a young woman, confined to her home by a rare illness, who falls for the oddball hunk next door (Nick Robinson).
Baywatch (May 25)
If all you want from a movie is the chance to see Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron face off in an epic battle of muscle-rippling lifeguardian feats — and we don’t blame you if you do — this reboot has you covered. (And if you’re more concerned with that famously buoyant, slow-mo beach run, fear not: it translates just fine on the big screen.) You may never have asked for this movie, but this movie knows that, and it’s all the funnier for it.
Wonder Woman (June 2)
DC Comics’ Amazonian princess is finally getting her own feature film — and it only took 75 years to get here. Helmed by Patty Jenkins (who directed Charlize Theron to an Oscar in Monster), the origin story is not only a chance for Warner Bros. to turn things around after the critically condemned Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad, but an opportunity to shut down the idea that moviegoers won’t pay to see the fate of humanity resting in the hands of a woman.
Dean (June 2)
Comedian Demetri Martin’s directorial debut is a disarming and sweetly funny exploration of grief and new love at different phases of life. In parallel stories, Martin’s Dean and his father Robert (Kevin Kline) pursue new relationships while still reeling from the loss of the central woman in their lives, Dean’s mother and Robert’s wife.
My Cousin Rachel (June 9)
This moody period romance stars Rachel Weisz as a widow whose mysterious motives for seducing Sam Claflin’s naive young gentleman serve up a steamy slice of drama. Based on the novel by Rebecca author Daphne du Maurier, it’s the second adaptation of My Cousin Rachel — the first, in 1952, starred Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton.
The Mummy (June 9)
The franchise that keeps on giving (since 1932!) gets a reboot, adding Tom Cruise to the mix. Trailers released to date have featured Cruise screaming his face off as his plane plummets earthwards, waking up naked in a body bag, and running, crawling, swimming and jumping away from very bad, scary things.
It Comes at Night (June 9)
With last year’s arresting micro-budget family drama Krisha, Trey Edward Shults cemented his status as a director to watch. This summer he returns with a psychological horror film about a family and the refuge seekers they take in, all terrorized by a vague, supernatural threat. You might need to watch this one with the lights on.
Rough Night (June 16)
Fans who can’t wait for the next season of Broad City can get a fix, in the meantime, with the big-screen debut of writer-director Lucia Aniello. Co-written with her real-life partner Paul W. Downs (who plays Trey in Broad City), the comedy follows a group of friends (Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Jillian Bell, Kate McKinnon and Ilana Glazer) on a bachelorette party that goes fatefully (and controversially) awry.
All Eyez on Me (June 16)
It’s been a long road, but Tupac Shakur is finally getting the biopic treatment with a drama from director Benny Boom (best known for his music videos for the likes of Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent and Nicki Minaj). Starring newcomer (and eerie Tupac doppelgänger) Demetrius Shipp, Jr., the movie covers the rapper’s rise to fame and his work as an actor, poet and activist.
The Book of Henry (June 16)
Director Colin Treverrow has moved on from his indie beginnings to much, much bigger things (Jurassic World, Star Wars: Episode IX), but in between franchise fare he took a break to make a more grounded, human story. In it, Midnight Special‘s Jaeden Lieberher plays a genius kid who hatches a plan to help the suffering girl next door, with the help of his single mother (Naomi Watts).
Maudie (June 16)
Sally Hawkins charms (as usual) in this true story about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, who despite a difficult life — she suffered great pain from rheumatoid arthritis — channeled joy and whimsy into her paintings of animals and the Nova Scotian landscape. Ethan Hawke co-stars as her taciturn fisherman husband, whose traditional values gradually give way to allow for a more modern, if unconventional, partnership.
The Big Sick (June 23)
Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani co-wrote this romantic-comedy-slash-medical-drama, a Sundance hit, with his wife, Emily Gordon, about the inauspicious start to their real-life relationship: he keeps his white girlfriend a secret from his Pakistani Muslim family, she falls mysteriously ill and is put into a medically-induced coma, much confusion ensues. Starring opposite Zoe Kazan, Nanjiani proves himself a magnetic leading man we’re sure to see more from.
The Beguiled (June 23)
Sofia Coppola brings her singular vision to the second adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan’s Civil War-set novel — the first starred Clint Eastwood in 1971 — in which a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) is taken in by an all-girls boarding school in Mississippi. Seduction, jealousy and bloody nightgowns follow. Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning co-star as the soldier’s conflicted saviors.
Okja (June 28)
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho brings his first movie since 2013’s Snowpiercer straight to Netflix. The story centers on a little girl (Seohyun An) whose best friend — a mysterious, giant creature named Okja — is threatened by a mysterious, giant multinational corporation. Tilda Swinton, who also starred in Snowpiercer, stars alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano.
Baby Driver (June 28)
Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) takes the concept for a 2003 music video he directed for the band Mint Royale and expands it into a full-length movie about a music-obsessed getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) trying to break out of his risky line of work while wooing a winsome waitress (Lily James). The head-spinning chase scenes will dazzle even action skeptics and the soundtrack will blare from car speakers all summer long.
The House (June 30)
Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell team up for a comedy about two parents who, having totally spaced on saving for their daughter’s college education, start an underground casino with a buddy (Jason Mantzoukas). The plan, of course, is as poorly considered as their financial planning up to that point, and hijinks ensue.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)
After making his debut in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker gets the feature-length treatment in what looks to be a hybrid superhero-high school movie (fitting, given that Stan Lee created the web-slinger to meet the high teenage demand for comic books). Marisa Tomei plays Aunt May and Michael Keaton stars as Spider-Man’s nemesis (this time around, at least), Vulture.
A Ghost Story (July 7)
If superhero movies aren’t your speed, perhaps you’d like to watch the ghost of Casey Affleck walk around under a sheet with two eye holes, silently observing the world he’s left behind? Writer-director David Lowery’s film about a ghost stuck in his home even after his partner (Rooney Mara) moves away is one of the most provocative, meditative movies in this summer’s slate.
Girls Trip (July 21)
Welcome to your summer raunch-fest: co-written by Black-ish showrunner Kenya Barris and 10 Things I Hate About You scribe Karen McCullah, this story about four college friends (Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and scene-stealer Tiffany Haddish) reuniting for a weekend in the Big Easy features bathroom and bedroom humor galore. Maya Rudolph, take heed: it’s also got a scene to rival Bridesmaids’ infamous mid-crosswalk wedding dress fiasco.
Landline (July 21)
Writer-director Gillian Robespierre, writer-producer Elisabeth Holm and actor Jenny Slate, the team behind the charming 2015 comedy Obvious Child, reunite for a bittersweet story about two sisters (Slate and Abby Quinn) who find out their father (John Turturro) is cheating on their mom (Edie Falco). Set in Manhattan in the mid-’90s, its scrunchies, chokers and floppy disc drama are guaranteed to induce nostalgia.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21)
Visionary French director Luc Besson returns to the source of one of his most memorable movies, 1997’s The Fifth Element: French comic books. Inspired by Valérian and Laureline, this one takes place in a 28th-century metropolis threatened by an intangible menace, and it stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne and Rihanna. (Did we mention Rihanna?)
Dunkirk (July 21)
It’s unclear whether Christopher Nolan realized that casting ex-One Directioner Harry Styles in his next movie would consume so much of its pre-release hype, but the movie has much else going for it: It looks to be as much action thriller as it is historical World War II drama, and it depicts the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk from several perspectives: air, land and sea. In Nolan’s words: “To mingle these different versions of history, one had to mix the temporal strata.” Soon we’ll find out exactly what that means.
Atomic Blonde (July 28)
If you enjoyed watching Charlize Theron vengefully obliterate bad guys in Mad Max: Fury Road, you may well enjoy watching her vengefully obliterate bad guys in Atomic Blonde, in which she plays an MI6 agent on a mission to stop some Russians with nuclear intel in 1989 Berlin. But the plot is secondary to the main event: 115 minutes of Theron kicking so much ass she can hardly be bothered to take names.
Emoji Movie (July 28)
The main thing to know about this movie is that Sir Patrick Stewart has been cast as the Poop Emoji. The main question to ask about this movie is whether clown emoji is going to be at this party, because please, no. People who want clowns can go see It.
Menashe (July 28)
Documentary filmmaker Joshua Z. Weinstein’s bracingly tender narrative debut is a glimpse into a rarely depicted community — ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. The story centers around a widower struggling with the strict rules of his tradition, which prohibit him from raising his son alone (the remedy would be to remarry, which he’s reluctant to do). Filmed with many first-time actors, it’s the first movie in decades to be filmed almost entirely in Yiddish, and as foreign as its world may be to many viewers, its themes of grief and paternal love are universal.
The Dark Tower (Aug. 4)
This year offers a fine bounty for Stephen King fans: in September, an adaptation of his 1986 novel It hits theaters, but first comes a sci-fi fantasy based on the author’s The Dark Tower novels. Idris Elba stars as the Gunslinger, whose quest to reach the titular tower risks derailment by Matthew McConaughey’s Man in Black, an ageless sorcerer.
Wind River (Aug. 4)
“U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent” doesn’t necessarily sound like the beginning of a logline for a must-see thriller. But this one comes from Taylor Sheridan, the Oscar-nominated writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water, who takes the helm as director here. The Sundance movie stars Jeremy Renner as said agent and Elizabeth Olsen as an FBI agent investigating what appears to be a homicide on a Wyoming Indian reservation.
Detroit (Aug. 4)
Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow returns with her first feature since Zero Dark Thirty, a historical thriller about the Algiers Motel Incident — during which three black men were killed and several people beaten by members of the Detroit Police Department — which took place during the 12th Street Riot in 1967. John Boyega, Jason Mitchell and John Krasinski star.
Ingrid Goes West (Aug. 11)
“Instagram envy” may not be in the DSM-5 (yet), but our ever-evolving relationships to social media offer plenty to mine in this dark comedy about an unstable young woman (Aubrey Plaza) who drops everything to befriend a social media celebrity (Elizabeth Olsen). And there’s no face we’d rather watch contorting in an anguished response to her Instagram feed than Plaza’s.
Patti Cake$ (Aug. 18)
Aussie newcomer Danielle MacDonald wowed audiences at Sundance as the title character of this instant classic about a young New Jersey woman who dreams of becoming a rapper. It’s not just MacDonald’s prowess with the rhymes (despite no relevant prior experience) that leaves an indelible impression, but the authenticity with which writer-director Geremy Jasper imbues the people in her world, including standout Bridget Everett as a mother whose big-league dreams are reduced to brief moments of glory on karaoke night.
Logan Lucky (Aug. 18)
Steven Soderbergh can’t get enough of Channing Tatum. (Though really, who can?) The Magic Mike director came out of his brief self-imposed movie retirement to direct this heist comedy about three siblings (Tatum, Adam Driver and Riley Keough) who attempt an ambitious robbery during a NASCAR race. Other big names, like Hilary Swank and Daniel Craig (above) join the party as well.
Beach Rats Aug. 25
Another hit at Sundance — where filmmaker Eliza Hittman won the U.S. Dramatic Directing award — Beach Rats spends a summer with a 19-year-old Brooklynite caught between his sexual attraction toward men and the rigid, hetero-masculinity expected of him by the bros with whom he trawls the Coney Island boardwalk for girls and drugs. It’s sure to launch unforgettable newcomer Harris Dickinson, who’s already at work on the Hunger Games-ian dystopian YA adaptation The Darkest Minds.