your ultimate summer movie preview

    blockbusters, indies, and everything in between

    by · May 01, 2015

    Summer is finally upon us, which means it’s time to spend all your waking hours in a dark movie theater. That’s Hollywood’s hope anyway: It’s serving up an all-you-can-watch buffet of heroes, villains, and worlds that need saving.

    But amidst the CGI-soaked blockbusters that have come to define the summer-movie season are comedic gems, period romances, and indie coming-of-age stories destined to become sleeper hits. To help you sort through all the celluloid goodies hitting theaters over the next four months, we developed this hefty guide of what to see and why.

    Photo via Marvel Studios

    The Avengers: Age of Ultron
    What better way to kick off the summer movie season than with the biggest, most anticipated superhero movie of all time? The Avengers: Age of Ultron does everything a sequel of this magnitude (and hype) should. It introduces new characters (Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver), unleashes a more fearsome villain (the robotic Ultron), and sets up the trilogy for its beyond-epic two-part finale, Infinity War, which will be shot back-to-back over the course of nine months. This is moviemaking on the grandest scale. (May 1)

    Photo via BBC films

    Far From the Madding Crowd
    Believe it or not, this sweeping romance marks the first time Carey Mulligan has starred in a film set before the 20th century. The occasion is Thomas Hardy’s classic Victorian-era love story about a woman balancing three potential suitors from very different backgrounds. It was directed by Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg, whose last film, The Hunt, is one of the most underseen of the last five years. If men in iron suits and big green rage monsters aren’t your thing, this is the movie for you. (May 1)

    Photo via MGM

    Hot Pursuit
    You might as well call this The Heat 2, as this action comedy follows nearly the exact same formula as the Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy hit from a few years back, and is clearly looking to piggyback off of that movie’s success (just take one look at the title). This time, the role of uptight police officer is played by America’s Other Sweetheart, Reese Witherspoon, and her live-wire comedic foil is played by Sofia Vergera in her first legit shot at big-screen stardom. Go for the laughs, stay for the scorching hot pursuit. (May 8)

    Photo via Kennedy Miller Productions

    Mad Max: Fury Road
    If you’ve seen any of the trailers for this reboot of the Mel Gibson classic, then you’re not even reading this and are already in line to buy tickets. The plot here is pretty inconsequential. All you need to know is Tom Hardy is replacing Gibson as the titular hero, and in a post-apocalyptic future, he and Charlize Theron—whose character has a mechanical arm and is awesomely named Imperator Furiosa— are attempting to cross a vast desert while being chased by a gang of bloodthirsty lunatics. Original Mad Max director George Miller has updated his own vision here, and it looks like the most insane thing that will hit theaters all summer long. (May 15)

    Photo via Universal Pictures

    Pitch Perfect 2
    No one thought Pitch Perfect would become the cult classic it has, but when you make a perfectly cast weirdo comedy with zero inhibitions and set it within the cutthroat world of a cappella, anything is possible. This sequel reunites the Barden Bellas, upping the ante—as sequels tend to—with a competition that takes them international. The entire cast is back, with Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson once again taking front and center. And as if all this wasn’t already awesome, series star Elizabeth Banks is making her directorial debut. Buckle up, Pitches. (May 15)

    Photo via Walt Disney Pictures

    The latest Disney attraction to get the big-screen treatment, this CGI-slathered epic stars up-and-comer Britt Robertson as a girl who joins George Clooney’s former boy-genius on an adventure to a futuristic world created by some of the world’s most well-known geniuses. We have no idea how the movie—which has been shrouded in secrecy—is going to play, but considering it was helmed by The Incredibles director Brad Bird, hopes are sky high. (May 22)

    Photo via Columbia Pictures

    Every time we think Cameron Crowe is going to recapture the magic of Jerry Maguire, he misses the mark, sometimes barely (Vanilla Sky), and sometimes by a mile (We Bought a Zoo). Aloha looks like it falls somewhere in the middle. It has Hollywood’s marquee male movie star in Bradley Cooper, who plays a military contractor returning to Hawaii and reconnecting with his ex (Rachel McAdams). It also has Emma Stone as the woman who turns Cooper’s life topsy-turvy, and this being a Cameron Crowe movie, it also boasts a killer soundtrack. Essentially, all the elements for a smart, character-driven rom-com are here. The wild card remains Cameron Crowe himself. (May 29)

    Photo via HBO

    Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the movie that no one really wanted but that Hollywood is giving us anyway. We’re not saying there’s no audience for the next chapter in the Hollywood adventures of Vinnie Chase and his crew, we’re just saying it’s probably not us. (June 3)

    Photo via Twentieth Century Fox

    The summer movie season would not be complete without Melissa McCarthy showing every other actor on earth how you make bank. This sure-fire smash sees McCarthy teaming up with her Bridesmaids director Paul Feig for the third time (the second time was for The Heat, the fourth will be for Ghostbusters) for a James Bond-type send-up. McCarthy plays a CIA analyst who finds herself living out her covert-ops fantasies alongside Jason Statham and Jude Law, in what is surely the beginning of Hollywood’s next great franchise. (June 5)

    Photo via BBC films

    Testament of Youth
    Based on the memoir of Vera Brittain, this World War One saga follows Brittain (Alicia Vikander) as she begins studies at Oxford University despite the odds being stacked against her as a woman. But as the war breaks out in Europe, and her brother (Taron Edgerton) and fiancé (Kit Harrington) are sent to fight on the front lines, Brittain abandons her studies to become a nurse for the war effort. Vikander, who most recently starred in Ex Machina, seems poised to become Hollywood’s next big star, and Kit Harrington is Kit Harrington, despite that very un-Jon-Snow-esque short hair. (June 5)

    Photo via Universal Pictures

    Jurassic World
    There was a time we thought the Jurassic Park franchise was extinct, but never underestimate Hollywood’s ability resurrect old ideas using the DNA found in a dead mosquito. This latest installment is set 22 years after the original on the very same island. And despite those initial, er, complications, there is now a fully functioning dinosaur theme park that shares a name with this movie. But because of dwindling visitors, the scientists decide to create a hybrid dinosaur and everyone lives happily ever after. Just kidding! Things go horribly, horribly wrong, and Chris Pratt and his pack of raptors are summoned to save the day. Can’t wait. (June 12)

    Photo via Occupant Entertainment

    Madame Bovary
    Mia Wasikowska is no stranger to famous literary adaptations. The young actress was a perfect fit in Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, and an even better one in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. There’s no telling how she’ll fare in the umpteenth adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s all-timer, Madame Bovary, but here’s a guess: She’ll slay it. The story here is one as old as time: A beautiful woman marries into a loveless marriage, and is eventually embroiled in stormy love affairs that complicate her life. Perfect. (June 12)

    Photo via Indian Paintbrush

    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
    By the time the end credits rolled at the Sundance premiere of this peculiar coming-of-age story, audiences were standing, cheering, and sobbing. What else would you expect from a clever, funny, and touching story about a high school outcast who befriends a neighborhood girl just diagnosed with leukemia? But if you’re looking for a sappy—and doomed—romance, buy The Fault In Our Stars on iTunes. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is too self-knowing for that. All three leads—Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, and RJ Cyler—give breakout performances. It’s no wonder why this crowd-pleaser won the top two prizes at Sundance and ignited a bidding war. (June 12)

    Photo via Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

    Inside Out
    Last year was the first summer in almost a decade without a Pixar movie. Those were dark times, but finally there’s some light at the end of the 3D animated tunnel, thanks to this ingenious-sounding cartoon about the emotions that co-exist inside the mind of Riley, a little girl. Amy Poehler stars as Joy, who gets lost inside Riley’s mind just as she moves with her family to a new city. Along with Sadness, voiced by Phyllis Smith, they must find their way back to Headquarters (get it?) to rejoin the other emotions, including Disgust, voiced by Mindy Kaling. This has the potential to be Pixar’s most inventive movie yet, and for the studio that brought us the Toy Story movies and Finding Nemo (to name a few), that’s saying a lot.

    Photo via Forest Whitaker's Significant Productions

    We recently got a text from a friend who had just seen this coming-of-age comedy that simply read, “Dope is my favorite movie ever.” That was the reaction of many when this kinetic and highly original movie premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Telling the story of three high school students who must navigate an obstacle course of gangs and drug dealers in inner-city Los Angeles, the movie is a technicolor odyssey awash in rapid-fire pop culture references and filmmaking panache like split-screen and freeze-frames. The kids at the center of the story are self-proclaimed nerds, which in their world means being into “white stuff,” like BMX bikes and ’90s hip-hop culture. Featuring A$AP Rocky’s big screen debut.

    Photo via Universal Pictures

    Ted 2
    After bombing with last year’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, Seth MacFarlane is back with a sure-fire smash. The first Ted, which introduced us to the foul-mouthed CGI stuffed animal, became the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time, if you can believe that (we can’t). The plot, which we’re not making up, has something to do with Ted and his new human wife wanting to have a child together. In order to do so, he, along with best bud Mark Wahlberg, must prove that he is a person in a court of a law. We have no clue how he plans to accomplish such a thing, but our guess is that it will involve a bunch of weed and dick jokes.

    Photo via Iron Horse Entertainment (II)

    Magic Mike XXL
    Hollywood is so sequel-crazy that even that mediocre flick where Channing Tatum plays a male stripper is deemed worthy of a follow-up. However, the movie’s trailer impressed, with this installment embracing its out-there premise more than the sometimes self-serious original. In Magic Mike XXL (as in condom size, we guess?), Mike and his band of brothers take their abs on the road, from Tampa to Myrtle Beach, for a stripping convention. Magic Mike director Steven Soderbergh is no longer behind the camera, but even more gloomy is the absence of Matthew McConaughey, who was original’s scene-stealing bright spot. (July 1)

    Photo via Paramount Pictures

    Terminator: Genysis
    When Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator first uttered the words, “I’ll be back,” we had no idea how serious he was being. Pretty serious, it turns out. This is Arnold’s fourth time playing the iconic T-100, this time in a movie the remixes the events of the original trilogy. (The trailers have been pretty confusing.) Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke trades in dragons for submachine guns as the latest actress to play Sarah Connor (fun fact: Clarke’s GoT costar Lena Heady played Sarah Connor on the Sarah Connor Chronicles), and Jason Clarke picks up where Edward Furlong and Christian Bale left off, as mankind’s savior John Connor—who in this version may not be who he says he is. (July 1)

    Photo via Marvel Studios

    Welcome to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Paul Rudd. Who could have guessed that one day, Phoebe Buffay’s beloved husband would put on a special suit that would shrink him down to the size of an ant so he could save the world from a psychopath named Yellowjacket? Not us, but we couldn’t be happier about it. (July 17)

    Photo via Gravier Productions

    Irrational Man
    Oh look! Woody Allen made another movie! And guess what? It’s about an older man falling for a younger woman. This time it’s Joaquin Phoenix’s existentially challenged philosophy professor entering a relationship with Emma Stone’s college student, in what sounds like the plot to a Woody Allen movie if you asked us to come up with the plot to a Woody Allen movie. (July 17)

    Photo via Roadside Attractions

    Mr. Holmes
    We always thought Sir Ian McKellen was born to play Gandalf, but it turns out that all this time the legendary British actor was born to play a retired Sherlock Holmes. Duh. In this Bill Condon-directed period piece, McKellen has an opposite take on the iconic detective than the last time we saw him on screen—Robert Downey Jr.’s wisecracking wham-bam version. Here, Holmes has moved to the English countryside to reflect on his life and polish his magnifying glass. But since he’s Sherlock Holmes, mysteries follows him everywhere, and the aging detective finds himself grappling with an unsolved case from his past. (July 17)

    Photo via Universal Pictures

    The Stanford Prison Experiment
    Based on the notorious true story of a psychological experiment gone terribly awry, this tense ensemble thriller stunned audiences when it debuted at Sundance earlier this year. It tells the story of the scientific investigation into human power dynamics in which a team of researches simulated prisoner/guard dynamics between a group of male students. Michael Angarano, Ezra Miller, and Thomas Mann lead a roll call of some of Hollywood’s most gifted young actors, as the students who assume their given roles to shocking results. (July 17)

    Photo via Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

    Paper Towns
    While this romantic mystery about a boy who falls for his mysterious neighbor might not reach The Fault In Our Stars-level hysteria, it solidifies author John Green as the Nicholas Sparks for the social media generation. It also elevates Nat Wolff to leading-man status and marks Cara Delevingne’s transition into full-blown movie star. (July 24)

    Photo via The Weinstein Company

    Jake Gyllenhaal continues his steady march towards Great Actor status with this hard-knocks drama about a champion boxer whose life falls apart after the sudden death of his wife (Rachel McAdams) and must fight—in and out of the ring—to gain it all back. For the role (which was initially supposed to be played by Eminem), Gyllenhaal notoriously transformed his body into the most shredded thing since Monterey Jack cheese. But beneath the muscles lies a performance that we predict will nab him his first Best Actor nomination. (July 24)

    Photo via Anonymous Content

    The End of the Tour
    Our same friend who texted us after Dope did the same thing for this talky, heartbreaking buddy dramedy, except this time he wrote, “That movie was everything.” Audiences at Sundance seemed to agree, where the movie won raves, particularly Jason Segel for his portrayal of the late author David Foster Wallace. Based on writer David Lipsky’s encounter with the tortured Infinite Jest author, the movie follows the two men (Lipsky is played by Jesse Eisenberg) on the last five stops of Wallace’s book tour, 12 years before he committed suicide. Lipsky, who was profiling Wallace for a Rolling Stone article that never ran, encounters a man uncomfortable with his newfound fame and struggling with depression, but whose overwhelming humanity shines through. In a transformative performance, Segel is already considered an early Oscar favorite. (July 31)

    Photo via Paramount Pictures

    Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation Tom Cruise returns to his most famous—or at least most profitable—role as Ethan Hunt, international super-spy. This time around, Hunt must take down the Syndicate, a legendary organization of assassins. But the real reason to turn out for the fifth installment of this franchise is to see how Cruise would top his death-defying climb atop Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in 2012’s Ghost Protocol. The answer: strap himself to the side of a plane as it takes off, natch. (July 31)

    Photo via Caviar

    The Diary of a Teenage Girl
    Remember the name Bel Powley—actually don’t bother. The young British actress is so good in this Sundance hit that by the time you leave the movie theater, you won’t be able to forget it. Powley, who earned some of the most enthusiastic rave reviews at Sundance for her performance, plays the 15-year-old Minnie Goetz who—spoiler alert—loses her virginity to one of her mom’s many boyfriends at the films outset. From there she delves deeper and deeper into her blossoming sexuality. Bonus: Mom is played by Kristen Wiig and boyfriend is played by Alexander Skarsgard. (Aug 7)

    Photo via 20th Century Fox & Marvel Entertainment

    Fantastic 4
    By the time this movie comes out, we might be suffering from a case of superhero fatigue, but leave it to fresh faces Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell to reinvigorate our desire for crimefighters with special powers who also wear tights. This franchise reboot about four young scientists who develop superpowers after a trip to another dimension goes awry (you don’t say) is naturally much “darker” and “grittier” than its early-aughts predecessors. Translation: It’s more realistic—or at least as realistic as a movie that features an invisible woman and a human torch can be. (August 7)

    Photo via Legendary Pictures

    Straight Outta Compton
    The title for this one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s an authorized a biopic of West Coast rap group N.W.A.—real-life members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube serve as executive producers—who in the late ’80s introduced America to gangsta rap at a time when racial tensions in urban populations were running dangerously high. This movie couldn’t be coming at a more prescient time. (Aug 14)
    Main: Permalink:
    Last updated: 2015-05-01T15:45:57-04:00
    NYLON Media I, LLC

    More By This Author

    Stories We Love