32 Must-See New Movies to See This Summer Season
Ah, summer at the movies. While the movie-going experience has shifted dramatically over the past couple of years — the days of big-bucket-of-popcorn multiplex-going still exist, but they are no longer the primary option for enjoying massive blockbusters or high-brow hits and everything in between — the thrill of a season spent soaking up a wide variety of new films has not abated. The coming months feature the kind of fare long associated with the summer season, from a brand-new Marvel joint to a long-awaited “Top Gun” sequel, the latest entry into the “Jurassic World” franchise and even a new Pixar outing, but there’s even more to find among the bombastic and just plain big titles.
We’re talking about new films from Jordan Peele, Baz Luhrmann, Claire Denis, Alex Garland, Jeremiah Zagar, Peter Strickland, and Quinn Shephard, and that’s just the start. There are festival hits in the mix, too, like Venice winner “Happening,” Sundance crowd-pleasers “Cha Cha Real Smooth” and “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” and gems like “Poser” and “Neptune Frost.” Comedy isn’t in short supply, thanks to films like “Fire Island” and “Official Competition,” but thrills and chills are also on offer, with “Men,” “The Black Phone,” “Watcher,” “Resurrection,” and more arriving soon.
This list only includes films that have confirmed release dates from May through August, though a few of IndieWire’s most-anticipated 2022 films have yet to announce their release plans. As spring and summer festivals begin in earnest, we expect a fresh round of new films to be excited about that just might sneak in their own summer release plans after bowing across the circuit.
That means that everything remains in flux, and as plans continue to change, this list will be updated. Whether that includes changing release dates, the method of a film’s release, or adding in some of those anticipated titles that lock in an official date in 2022, this preview remains particularly fluid. For now, however, these are the films we are most excited to see in the coming months.
We’re also thrilled to provide some exclusive new looks at some of our picks, including new stills from “Emergency,” “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” “Fire Island,” “Not Okay,” “Flux Gourmet,” “Happening,” “Official Competition,” “Resurrection,” and “Neptune Frost,” plus an exclusive clip from “Watcher,” which you can check out below.
Eric Kohn, David Ehrlich, Jude Dry, Ryan Lattanzio, Samantha Bergeson, and Christian Zilko contributed to this article.
IFC Films, exclusive to IndieWire
“Happening” (May 6, theaters)
To term French filmmaker Audrey Diwan’s abortion drama “Happening” as being “highly anticipated” is an understatement. The film won the Golden Lion at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, before Diwan landed a nomination for Best Director at the BAFTAs and multiple César Award nods including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Female Newcomer. But “Happening” hasnt’t happened yet in theaters, and thanks to IFC Films, the feature is finally landing stateside.
Based on a 2000 memoir by Annie Ernaux, “Happening” is set in 1963 France where college student Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei) unexpectedly discovered she’s pregnant. As Anne grapples with the range of emotions and debates as where, how, and if she can terminate her pregnancy, “Happening” takes a docudrama-like approach to showcasing her plight. Much like Eliza Hittman’s festival favorite “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” Diwan’s “Happening” feels like “just one woman’s true story” told honestly on-screen, as IndieWire’s review out of Sundance, where the film also screened, noted. The bold decision to share a truth without stigma or agenda is what makes “Happening” feel like it’s happening for this current moment. —SB
Read our review of “Happening.”
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”
Walt Disney Pictures/screenshot
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (May 6, theaters)
After the massive success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Marvel is doubling down on multiverse fun with its second Doctor Strange movie. And if the trailers are to be believed, this one will get very, very weird. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” picks up where “No Way Home” left off, following Benedict Cumberbatch’s Master of the Mystic Arts as he tries to deal with the rift he created in the universe that led to different worlds overlapping. He’ll travel directly into the Multiverse to battle what may be his most powerful adversary yet: an alternate version of himself. Following Tobey Maguire’s return to the Marvel world last year, the studio continues to find inspiration in the original “Spider-Man” trilogy, bringing in Sam Raimi to direct the film. In addition to Cumberbatch, the cast includes returning stars Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, Rachel McAdams as Dr. Christine Palmer, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo.
All signs point to “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” being one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of the summer. The trailer promises a feast for the senses, with the film continuing to push the boundaries of reality as it brings more of the fantasy and horror elements of the Marvel comics into the film fold. And Kevin Feige recently referred to Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange as “the anchor of the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” suggesting that this will be a foundational film in Phase 4 of the franchise. Also, it’s 2022 and Bruce Campbell has a cameo in a Sam Raimi movie, which we should all be able to agree is good news. —CZ
Watch the trailer for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
“Pleasure” (May 13, theaters)
Director Ninja Thyberg eviscerates the Los Angeles adult industry in this cooly detached but ballsy porn drama, which was initially scooped up by A24 out of Sundance 2021. But the distributor parted ways with the film over its theatrical cut, with Neon now making moves to release the movie uncensored to U.S. audiences.
The film follows a 20-year-old woman named Linnéa (newcomer Sofia Kappel), who arrives from Sweden to Los Angeles. It’s in the glittering land of Hollywood that she assumes the identity of Bella Cherry, hoping to become an international adult movie star, but that path to fame comes with a slew of compromises and anguishes. As Bella starts to rise up in the industry, the stakes, too, are raised, and some of her shoots become increasingly harrowing, and friends and lines of trust get blurred in the process. —RL
Read our review of “Pleasure.”
“Men” (May 20, theaters)
Men! Flawed gender, fantastically ominous film title. Little is known about Alex Garland’s small-scale pandemic movie about a grieving widow (Jessie Buckley) who goes on a solo holiday to the English countryside, but the creepy-as-hell trailer that A24 released last month — in which Rory Kinnear seems to be playing all of the men our poor heroine meets during her stay — suggests that she probably isn’t searching for solace in the right place.
Garland has flirted with horror in all of his previous work as a director (“Ex Machina,” “Annihilation,” and the miniseries “Devs”), but we can’t wait to find out what happens when he fully commits to the genre. The promise of a lead performance from the always-spectacular Buckley and a new score from Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow (high lords of sonic discomfort) is itself enough to make “Men” one of the must-see movies of the summer. —DE
Watch the trailer for “Men.”
Quantrell Colbert/© 2021 Amazon, exclusive to IndieWire
“Emergency” (May 20, theaters; May 27, streaming on Amazon Prime Video)
Carey Williams’ engaging satire follows a pair of Black college roommates (RJ Cyler and Donald Elise Watkins) who come home on the verge of party plans to find a white student passed out in their dorm. Worried about the optics of calling 911 and all the understandable fears of racially-charged consequences that entails, the pair decide to try and return the woman to wherever she came from.
The result is a zany and socially-conscious romp that finds the pair’s relationship reaching a breaking point as they consider their very different plans for the future (medical school and weed, respectively). Think “Superbad” with a polemical edge: The movie builds toward an applause-worthy moment that provides the ultimate repudiation of half-baked white guilt. Based on a short film that led to KD Davila’s Blacklist screenplay, “Emergency” is both catharsis from and a necessary engine for the frustrations of America’s fractured race relations in the 21st century. —EK
Read our review of “Emergency.”
“Top Gun: Maverick”
“Top Gun: Maverick” (May 27, theaters)
Two years after its original release date, the long-awaited new chapter in the saga of American cinema’s most iconic fighter pilot is finally here. Though it was released 36 years ago, “Top Gun” left open an ideal portal for a sequel: Tom Cruise’s Maverick decides to parlay his heroic stature into a teaching gig. Years later, he’s brought back to instruct some plucky new Top Gun hopefuls under the auspices of his old pal Tom “Iceman” Kasinsky (Val Kilmer, whose limited speaking ability these days leaves open the question of what a cameo might look like).
After Indiana Jones had to coach the next generation, this has become de rigeur for long-awaited sequels to ’80s franchises, and Maverick’s tasked with managing the rambunctious young pilot (Miles Teller) who happens to be the son of Maverick’s late pal Goose (RIP). The rest of the cast includes an assemblage of other familiar faces, from Ed Harris to Jon Hamm, but everyone’s really here for the daring flight sequences (especially Cruise, the daredevil who gets into the pilot seat for his own scenes). On that front, Joseph Kosinski appears to have delivered, and “Top Gun: Maverick” may be just the familiar ticket to welcome audiences back to movie theaters this summer. —EK
Watch the trailer for “Top Gun: Maverick.”
“Poser” (June 3, theaters)
Lennon looks the part: teal-tinted hair, cool tattoos, a punky sartorial sense, big headphones. As she sulks around the edges of a gallery opening on the arty side of Columbus, Ohio, she seems to fit in, until you notice… Why isn’t Lennon talking to anyone else? How come no one has said hello to her? And why is she recording the incredibly basic party chatter around her instead of actually partaking in it?
Cut to a title card that, amusingly and painfully, lets us in on the surface truth of Lennon’s existence: The film is called “Poser,” and that is exactly what Lennon (Sylvie Mix, outrageously good in her first starring role) is. While the elevator pitch of Ori Segev and Noah Dixon’s prickly feature directorial debut is simple enough — it’s “Single White Female” set in the vibrant Columbus indie scene, with a generous dash of podcast humor — the film’s fascinating setting and a pair of breakout lead performances set it a cut above other films like it. Spiky, funny, feverish, and more than a little nail-biting, “Poser” is an auspicious debut and proof that this seemingly well-tapped sub-genre isn’t done chilling audiences just yet. —KE
Read our review of “Poser.”
Kino Lorber, exclusive to IndieWire
“Neptune Frost” (June 3, in theaters and on demand)
The experimental Afrofuturist musical from multi-disciplinary artists Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman defies categorization, which is what makes it so exciting — and confounding. Part contemporary operetta, part anarchist sci-fi saga, the dreamlike tale follows a gender-shifting soothsayer and an off-the-grid hacker enclave as they dodge the ravages of a senseless resource war.
Filmed in the beautiful hills of Burundi, the visual impact of the fantastical tale is marked by sculptural sets and whimsical costumes that turn upcycled trash into glistening treasure before our eyes. The music is hypnotic and thrumming, a blend of invigorating protest songs and mournful ballads. The film is the latest iteration of a multifaceted project called “MartyrLoserKing,” which includes three albums and a graphic novel, and is bursting with enough life and ingenuity to fill a solo exhibition. —JD
Read our review of “Neptune Frost.”
Jeong Park, exclusive to IndieWire
“Fire Island” (June 3, streaming on Hulu)
The long-awaited gay vacation bonanza from writers Bowen Yang and Joel Kim Booster heralds the mainstream arrival of the queer comedy boom. After years defining New York’s indie comedy world as co-host of the beloved “Las Culturistas” podcast (with Matt Rogers), the “Saturday Night Live” star shot to international fame almost immediately after he first appeared as the bitchy iceberg who sank The Titanic. A fixture in the highly influential gay stand-up scene, Kim Booster has appeared in beloved comedies like “Search Party,” “The Other Two,” and “Shrill.”
The film stars the co-writers as two best friends on a group trip to New York’s bustling gay beach destination Fire Island, and is said to be a contemporary riff on “Pride and Prejudice.” With “Spa Night” and “Driveways” filmmaker Andrew Ahn directing, “Fire Island” will mark not only an exciting (and long overdue )turning point for gay creators, but Asian American ones as well. —JD
Check out a first look at “Fire Island.”
“Watcher” (June 3, theaters)
Between Alex Garland’s “Men” and Chloe Okuno’s debut feature “Watcher,” is 2022 the summer of the gaslighting thriller? This one returns “It Follows” breakout Maika Monroe to her rightful place as a horror-movie scream queen, here starring as lonely wife Julie, who joins her new husband (Karl Glusman) on a gloomy relocation to his family’s native Romania. She’s abandoned her acting career, and whatever shreds of hope she had left, to follow him to Bucharest. She often finds herself alone, unoccupied, and despondent amid the anonymous apartment complex that surrounds her.
One night, while people-watching from her window, Julie sees a vague-looking figure watching her across the shaft in an adjacent building. Later, her sense of being followed intensifies, but by whom exactly remains unclear. All the while, a serial killer known as The Spider is stalking the streets, slashing women’s throats to the point of nearly beheading them.
But if that sounds gruesome, it’s not quite the slow-burn effect this movie oozes — and with the added, paranoiac dread of late-’60s and early-’70s thrillers, from “Rosemary’s Baby” to “Klute,” where a woman is constantly shifting to evade the crosshairs of danger. The other obvious reference is, of course, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” here dashed with a bit of De Palma luridness. —RL
Read our review of “Watcher.”
“Hustle” (June 8, streaming on Netflix)
There are Adam Sandler movies, and then there are movies that happen to star Adam Sandler — a distinction that was fuzzy enough even before Netflix started distributing them both. “Hustle” will only add to the confusion, as the Sandman’s latest Netflix vehicle is neither a work-for-hire gig like “Uncut Gems” or a Sandler and his pals goof around on Reed Hastings’ dime programmer à la “Hubie Halloween,” but rather the third film ever produced under the Madison23 Productions banner that he’s previously reserved for the more dramatic likes of “Reign Over Me” and “Funny People,” and the first of those co-produced by Lebron James.
Helmed by “We the Animals” director Jeremiah Zagar, “Hustle” stars Sandler (bearded, so you know he means business) as a former basketball scout who tries to jump-start his old career after discovering a potential NBA phenom playing streetball in Madrid. Featuring a cast rounded out by veterans like Queen Latifah, Robert Duvall, and Ben Foster — in addition to an all-star team of NBA players — this could be a great opportunity for Sandler to flex his dramatic muscles in something with mass appeal. —DE
“Jurassic World Dominion”
“Jurassic World Dominion” (June 9, theaters)
Nearly thirty years on and six films deep, at least one thing remains irrevocably true about the “Jurassic World” milieu: attempting to bring back dinosaurs in a human-dominated world was a very, very bad idea. For the third film in the series’ second franchise — an absolutely bonkers moneymaker that the multiplex could really use, by the way — that sentiment looms even larger. Picking up after the events of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” director Colin Trevorrow again returns to the director’s chair for something kind of tricky: how to make a world positively overrun by dinos feel, well, kinda fun?
He’ll be helped by a murderer’s row of returning talent, not just this trilogy’s stars like Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, but also original stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum. If any cinematic event in history demanded an all-star team-up, it is (again) the story of a bunch of people who brought back massive carnivorous (well, some of them! veggie-a-saurus!) beasts and then realized that was a bad call. Will humans emerge triumphant? Do we even deserve to? Who cares, when it seems like Trevorrow and company are itching to bring us the most wild and crazy blockbuster event of the summer? —KE
Watch the trailer for “Jurassic World: Dominion.”
“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande”
Searchlight Pictures, exclusive to IndieWire
“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” (June 17, streaming on Hulu)
A big-time crowdpleaser at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Sophie Hyde’s charming sex dramedy “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” seems poised to offer the summer crowd one hell of a piece of counter-programming. Come for the (totally true) rumors that bonafide legend Emma Thompson goes full-frontal, stay for the actually quite nuanced consideration of sex work, finding yourself at any age, and bonding with some unexpected new friends.
Thompson stars as Nancy Stokes (if that’s her real name!), a retired schoolteacher and widow who has come to the totally discomfiting, totally true conclusion that she’s never had an actual orgasm. In pursuit of something new, Nancy hires handsome male escort Leo Grande (OK, definitely not his real name), played by the utterly fascinating Daryl McCormack, to help her with her pleasure problem. As the pair meet in a single hotel room over the course of a handful of evenings, both of them discover much more about themselves, each other, and what life is all about. A two-hander (wink) with plenty to say and charm to spare, it’s the kind of film you’re going to want to recommend to your family (and then never, ever speak of it again). —KE
Read our review of “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.”
“Brian and Charles”
“Brian and Charles” (June 17, theaters)
This year’s Sundance Film Festival wasn’t short on the charm, and Jim Archer’s feature-length take on his 2017 short film of the same name was a major part of that trend. Starring co-writers David Earl as lonely country dude Brian and Chris Hayward as his unusual best pal Charles, “Brian and Charles” is the kind of heart-warming buddy comedy we’re not getting too many of these days. Oh, the twist? Yes, there is one. Charles is a robot.
After an unusually tough winter, Brian — who loves tinkering with things, puttering around his small country home, and always dreams bigger than might be expected — decides he needs a friend, and so he builds Charles out of a mess of household items. And then he comes alive. The pair embark on all sorts of adventures, both wacky and frightening, as they attempt to carve out a life for them (and their bond). It’s sweet and funny, but Archer and his muses also sneak in deceptively big questions about what it means to live a good life, how to share it with others, and really, what it means to be human. —KE
Walt Disney Pictures
“Lightyear” (June 17, theaters)
“Toy Story” prequel “Lightyear” un-toy-ifies Buzz Lightyear, and tells the story of the real man who inspired the action figure (or something like that?). Chris Evans voices Space Ranger Buzz in the Disney/Pixar production, directed by Oscar winner Angus MacLan. The film will see Lightyear as he sets out to save his fellow astronauts after being stranded on an intergalactic planet. While the rest of the plot has been kept relatively under wraps, sans the glimpse of an adorable robo-cat named Sox and voiced by Peter Sohn, “Lightyear” is the fifth film in the “Toy Story” franchise.
Keke Palmer, Dale Soules, and Taika Waititi voice a group of ranger recruits, with Uzo Aduba, James Brolin, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Efren Ramirez, and Isiah Whitlock Jr. rounding out the ensemble cast. “Lightyear” already made headlines for restoring a same-sex kiss between Aduba’s scientist character Hawthorne and her partner amid the Walt Disney Co. financially backing homophobic legislation, the “Don’t Say Gay” law. But the sky’s the limit for the summer Pixar blockbuster. —SB
Watch the trailer for “Lightyear.”
Manolo Pavon, exclusive to IndieWire
“Official Competition” (June 17, theaters)
Argentine filmmakers Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohen’s playful jab at the international film business finds an aging billionaire tossing some money at an arthouse movie in a feeble bid to leave a positive mark on the world. From there, the movie offers up a wry satire of industry clichés and self-serious artists that should give anyone with some basic knowledge that world the best reason to laugh this side of “Entourage.”
But let’s be honest: The real reason to check out “Official Competition” is that it pairs Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz together for the first time in their careers. Yes, the pair had a fleeting moment in Pedro Almodóvar’s “I’m So Excited!,” but here, they’re central to the rambunctious journey, with Cruz playing the egotistical director and Banderas cast as her knuckle-headed star. These actors are creatures of cinema on their own terms, which makes “Official Competition” worthwhile even if you don’t get all of its inside jokes. —EK
Watch the trailer for “Official Competition.”
“Cha Cha Real Smooth”
“Cha Cha Real Smooth” (June 17, theaters and streaming on AppleTV+)
Following his SXSW-winning “Shithouse” with another effortlessly funny and endlessly forgiving MASH note to anyone who’s struggled to reconcile the life they got with the one they imagined for themselves, 24-year-old triple threat Cooper Raiff is back with a second feature that scales up the disarming earnestness of his debut without losing any of its intimacy. It’s also unimpeachably the greatest movie ever made about a bar mitzvah party starter (not bad for a goy!).
The wry and tender “Cha Cha Real Smooth” stars Raiff as an aimless college grad whose friendship with a young local mother (a sensational Dakota Johnson) is galvanized by their shared tendency to love people at their own expense. The result is a rare film that feels more honest for its sweetness, and Apple — which acquired this modest dramedy for a cool $15 million out of Sundance — will look for it to connect with audiences in the same way that “CODA” did last year. —DE
Read our review of “Cha Cha Real Smooth.”
“Elvis” (June 24, theaters)
There have been any number of films about Elvis Presley over the last 40 years, ranging from straightforward docs (“This Is Elvis”) to essayistic investigations of his impact (“The King”) and, um, more playful takes on his legacy (“Bubba Ho-Tep”), but you’d have to go all the way back to John Carpenter’s 1979 made-for-TV “Elvis” to find the last tried-and-true biopic about the best-selling solo music artist of all time.
Enter: Baz Luhrmann, whose glittery cinema of excess should be well-suited for a womb-to-tomb musical drama about a rock god who wore a rhinestone jockstrap. Shot in the director’s native Australia and boasting a star-studded cast that includes Austin Butler as the King, a hammy Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jimmie Rodgers Snow, and Kelvin Harrison Jr. as B.B. King, “Elvis” promises to be a spectacle every bit as electric and over-the-top as Presley’s actual life. —DE
Watch the trailer for “Elvis.”
“The Black Phone”
“The Black Phone” (June 24, theaters)
Ethan Hawke plays against type as a masked kidnapper nicknamed “The Grabber” in this zeitgeisty horror thriller that earned solid reviews out of its Fantastic Fest premiere. Adapted from a short story by contemporary horror writer Joe Hill (“NOS4A2”), The Grabber poses as a magician in order to lure unsuspecting children into his clutches. The film is told through the perspective of his latest young victim (Mason Thames), who discovers he is able to communicate with The Grabber’s past victims on a defunct rotary phone in the basement where he is being held hostage.
Directed by “Doctor Strange” filmmaker Scott Derrickson and produced by contemporary horror maestro Jason Blum, “The Black Phone” has all the makings of a highbrow horror hit. —JD
Read our review of “The Black Phone.”
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes on”
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes on” (June 24, theaters)
Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate served up a delightful surprise to Telluride audiences last September, and now they’re bringing the world’s most adorable stop-motion tween shell to theaters, where it will likely work the same heartfelt magic. According to general wisdom, it takes 20 beings to form a real community. When the feature-length film opens, the anthropomorphic seashell (voiced by Slate) has long been without such a population, instead whiling his days away alongside his sassy grandmother and a rotating cast of mostly disinterested AirBNB guests.
Like the trio of short films Fleischer-Camp and Slate crafted around the stop-motion shell in the early aughts (plus a pair of best-selling storybooks), “Marcel the Shell with Shoes on” adopts a breezy mockumentary style to tell the tale of the world’s most charming shell. This time, however, the duo (plus newbie partner Nick Paley, who wrote it alongside Fleischer-Camp and Slate) dig deeper into Marcel’s seemingly everyday life to unearth the usual tender feelings (he’s a tween shell! with shoes! he’s adorable!), plus a slew of insights that speak to far deeper emotions and ideas.
In a time beset with films consumed by questions of connection, community, and change, “Marcel the Shell” seamlessly marries big ideas with charm and humor (and inventive stop-motion work to boot). In short, it’s the cutest film about familial grief you’ll see all year, perhaps ever. —KE
Read our review of “Marcel the Shell with Shoes on.”
IFC Films, exclusive to IndieWire
“Flux Gourmet” (June 24, theaters and on demand)
“Berberian Sound Studio” and “The Duke of Burgundy” madman Peter Strickland returns with another twisted ode to class horror, this time trading in giallo for gastronomical horrors with the story of a collective of gourmands and the internal power struggles that unfold within their midst. Asa Butterfield and “Duke of Burgundy” star Gwendoline Christie lead a cast that also includes Ariane Labed, Fatma Mohamed, Makis Papadimitriou, Leo Bill, and Richard Bremmer.
The collective at the film’s center takes up residency at an institute devoted to culinary perfection, its members going to war with the institute’s head over creative differences. In this universe, music is made with food and youngsters dream of culinary ambitions rather than becoming pop stars. “Flux Gourmet” marks Strickland’s first movie since “In Fabric,” which turned its eye on the demonic powers of fashion. —RL
Read our review of “Flux Gourmet.”
On the next page (click “continue reading” below), check out our picks for must-see summer movies coming out in July and August.
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