The 24 movies everyone will be talking about this summer

By Michael O'Sullivan, The Washington Post - Updated: May 25, 2018 at 8:24 am • Published: May 25, 2018 0
photo - Milly Shapiro, Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne and Alex Wolff in "Hereditary." MUST CREDIT:  Photo by James Minchin - A24.
Milly Shapiro, Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne and Alex Wolff in "Hereditary." MUST CREDIT: Photo by James Minchin - A24.

What's that buzz?

Is it the hum of the Millennium Falcon, warming up in "Solo: A Star Wars Story"? Or could it be the insistent, thrumming soundtrack of "Sicario: Day of the Soldado"? Or maybe the beating wings of Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp in "Ant-Man and the Wasp"?

No. It's the sound of movie fans in passionate conversation about this summer's lineup of big-screen entertainment. From the season's blockbusters to the buzziest festival favorites just over the horizon, there's a movie for everyone to talk about this year. Here's our guide (opening dates and ratings are subject to change).

- "Solo: A Star Wars Story" (Friday, PG-13) - Set 10 years before the action of the original "Star Wars," during the ascendancy of the evil Empire and the rebellion against it, this heist story - part of an expanded universe that includes "Rogue One" - introduces us to a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and his backstory, including relationships with the smooth-talking Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and the hirsute Wookiee, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo).

- "Ocean's 8" (June 8, PG-13) - Sandra Bullock heads up the powerhouse cast of this all-female spinoff of the "Ocean's 11" trilogy, playing Debbie Ocean, the estranged sister of George Clooney's master con artist, Danny Ocean (who appears to be dead, judging by the tombstone with his name on it in the trailer). But the durable heist franchise, which targets the Metropolitan Museum of Art this go-round, has always proven to be full of surprises, so who knows?

- "Hereditary" (June 8, R) - From the moment the trailer dropped for the feature debut of writer-director Ari Aster, it was clear this deeply unsettling horror film - about the supernatural legacy of an old woman whose funeral sets the story in motion - had visual style to burn. Centering on a family of four with a history of mental illness and mysterious rituals, the movie's increasingly unhinged mayhem is grounded by Toni Collette's tour-de-force performance, in the role of a visual artist whose work consists of miniature dollhouses that plumb her own nightmarish autobiography.

- "Incredibles 2" (June 15, PG) - Though 14 years in the making, Brad Bird's follow-up to his Oscar-winning animated superhero comedy picks up where the 2004 story - which explored what it means to be ordinary and extraordinary - left off. "Supers," as those with special abilities are known, still are banned, and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) becomes the public face of a PR campaign to rehabilitate their image. That leaves Mr. Incredible as a reluctant stay-at-home dad, tending to his brood of three evermore X-Men-like kids.

- "Sicario: Day of the Soldado" (June 29, R) - Was a sequel to "Sicario," the 2015 drug thriller that ended on a note of delicious open-endedness, necessary? Probably not, but fans of the darkly cynical Oscar nominee, set on the front lines of a shadow drug war, have been looking forward to the return of Benicio Del Toro's mysterious Alejandro, the attorney-turned-hitman at the center of the new film. "Day of the Soldado" reunites Alejandro with Josh Brolin's paramilitary fixer, Matt Graver, until their joint effort to foment a war between rival Mexican cartels falls apart, resulting in a bloody game of cat-and-mouse, played with Blackhawk helicopters and high-powered weapons.

- "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" (June 22, PG-13) - When the titular dino-centric theme park is threatened by an active volcano, Chris Pratt's dinosaur researcher/trainer returns to the island to attempt a rescue operation for the prehistoric critters that live there. But when a potential home for the dangerous beasts back on the U.S. mainland isn't the sanctuary it seemed, the action-adventure movie morphs into something more subtle.

- "Ant-Man and the Wasp" (July 6, not yet rated) - Marvel keeps 'em coming. In this sequel to the 2015 film about a teeny-tiny superhero - hugely entertaining, in proportion to its protagonist's size - Hope Van Dyne, a.k.a. the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), joins forces with Paul Rudd's picnic-pest-size protagonist to rescue her mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) from an alternate dimension. Expect a refreshing tonic to the downbeat tone of "Avengers: Infinity War."

- "Mission: Impossible - Fallout" (July 27, not yet rated) - Christopher McQuarrie seems to have something of a Tom Cruise fetish going, having written and/or directed multiple star vehicles for the gravity-defying megastar (including the previous "Mission: Impossible" film, "Rogue Nation," and this one). And for a director of action movies, what's not to love? Cruise, who famously injured himself while jumping from one building to another, hauled himself up to complete the shot - on a broken ankle. That footage is in the finished film.

- "First Reformed" (June 8, R) - Writer-director Paul Schrader is back to form with a multilayered tale of hope, despair and everything in between. Ethan Hawke plays the Rev. Toller, a divorced military chaplain and grieving father, pickling himself in booze over the son he lost in Iraq, while trying to provide pastoral counseling to a troubled parishioner. When a violent act brings Toller closer to that parishioner's wife (Amanda Seyfried), the story goes deep, diving into issues of personal responsibility, punishment and the possibility of salvation.

- "A Kid Like Jake" (June 15, not yet rated) - On the heels of "Roseanne," which tackled the issue of gender-nonconforming children with the character of Darlene's son, comes this film. Adapted by writer Daniel Pearle from his 2013 off-Broadway play, the film tells the story of a New York couple (Claire Danes and Jim Parsons) navigating the school application process for their 4-year-old - a boy who, in the words of his preschool director (Octavia Spencer), likes to engage in "gender-expansive play."

- "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" (June 8, not yet rated) - This documentary portrait of the late "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" host by Morgan Neville - director of the Oscar-winning "20 Feet From Stardom" - is racking up accolades. And it comes at a time when many Americans are in need of a reminder of the brand of civility practiced by the icon of children's entertainment.

- "Under the Silver Lake" (June 29, R) - Director David Robert Mitchell's follow-up to his breakout movie, the creepily elegant horror film "It Follows," is something of a change of pace. When a young man (Andrew Garfield) befriends a mysterious neighbor at his Los Angeles apartment complex (Riley Keough), and she disappears the next day, he sets off on a surreal search for her through La-La Land.

- "Sorry to Bother You" (July 6, not yet rated) - Rapper/producer Boots Riley wrote and directed this comedy in which an African-American telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) rises through the ranks after he discovers that the secret to success is using his "white voice" (provided by David Cross). What starts as an absurdist workplace satire about race gradually becomes a lot more absurd as elements of science fiction threaten to overwhelm the story.

- "Blindspotting" (July 20, not yet rated) - Written by Daveed Diggs ("Hamilton") and his childhood friend Rafael Casal, this topical, emotionally charged film explores the nexus of race and class in an Oakland-set story of police brutality, white privilege and gentrification. Diggs and Casal, who grew up in Oakland, play Collin and Miles, best friends who work for a moving company. After Collin, a recently paroled ex-con, witnesses a white police officer shooting an unarmed black man, his frustration builds to a cathartic climax.

- "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot" (July 20, R) - Joaquin Phoenix plays the late, mordantly funny cartoonist John Callahan, an alcoholic and paraplegic whose 1990 memoir, "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot," takes its name from the caption of one of the artist's more famous - and polarizing - drawings: a picture of a cowboy search party coming across an empty wheelchair in the desert. Phoenix, a three-time Oscar nominee, seems like the perfect choice to embody Callahan's contradictions.

"BlacKkKlansman" (Aug. 10, not yet rated) - John David Washington (the son of Denzel) plays Ron Stallworth, the real-life African American cop who, in 1979, infiltrated the Colorado Springs Ku Klux Klan simply by picking up the phone and spouting racist garbage. Eventually, Stallworth rose to a leadership position. (When he needed to appear in person, he'd send his partner, Flip Zimmerman, played by Adam Driver.) The latest from Spike Lee is sure to be outrageous.

- "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" (June 1, R) - Set in the South London borough of Croydon, circa 1977, the romantic fantasia by John Cameron Mitchell is based on a 2006 short story by Neil Gaiman about the star-crossed romance between a human punk rocker and an alien girl he meets at a party. Elle Fanning plays the otherworldly love interest of the sweetly naive, Sex Pistols-loving teenager Enn (Alex Sharp), who must turn to Nicole Kidman's Queen Boadicea - a prickly band manager in a Bowie-esque mop of platinum-blond hair - for backup when his beloved's life is threatened by her colony's leader.

- "American Animals" (June 8, R) - British writer-director Bart Layton's tale of a 2004 rare-book heist by four young men mixes dramatic re-enactments of the crime (featuring Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters, Jared Abrahamson and Blake Jenner in the principal roles, and Ann Dowd as their hapless librarian victim) with documentary interviews with the actual perpetrators. Like "I, Tonya," which also was based on interviews with its real-life inspirations, "American Animals" interrogates the slippery nature of truth, even as it manages to be wildly entertaining, funny and sad.

- "Hotel Artemis" (June 8, not yet rated) - Set 10 years from now in a dystopian Los Angeles, the tale of a secret, members-only emergency room that caters to criminals may have the single best cast of the summer. Jodie Foster plays the nurse to Sterling K. Brown's Waikiki, a bank robber who's fighting to save the life of his wounded brother (Henry).

- "Eighth Grade" (July 20, not yet rated) - Actor and stand-up comic Bo Burnham ("The Big Sick") makes his feature filmmaking debut with this festival charmer about the experiences of an unpopular 15-year-old. As the film's protagonist, Kayla, Elsie Fisher (mostly known as the voice of Agnes in "Despicable Me") seems poised to break out of cinematic oblivion with her sweetly angsty performance.

- "The Meg" (Aug. 10, PG-13) - The 1975 film "Jaws" set the gold standard for summer popcorn-horror (shark variety) with its depiction of a beach town terrorized by a 25-foot marine predator. That subject often has been riffed on since. Here it resurfaces with a thriller about an expert deep-sea rescue diver (Jason Statham) who must save the crew of a submersible vessel that has been attacked by a 75-foot prehistoric shark known as megalodon.

- "The Happytime Murders" (Aug. 17, not yet rated) - Call it "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" meets "The Muppets." In a noirish Los Angeles inhabited - in a tense and unease standoff - by puppets and the humans who despise them, a puppet detective (Bill Barretta) teams with his human ex-partner (a foul-mouthed Melissa McCarthy) to investigate a series of murders targeting the cast of a 1980 children's TV series, "The Happytime Gang." The raunchy, decidedly non-child-friendly film was directed by Brian Henson, son of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson.

- "Support the Girls" (Aug. 24, not yet rated) - Written and directed by the godfather of "mumblecore" cinema - a genre known for nonprofessional actors and naturalistic dialogue - Andrew Bujalski's latest film is practically a Hollywood blockbuster compared with his no-budget early films. Set in a Hooters-esque Texas tavern called Double Whammies, the punningly titled comedy stars Regina Hall ("Scary Movie") as the mother hen to a staff of young waitresses coping with sexism and racism.

- "The Wife" (Aug. 10, R) - Based on Meg Wolitzer's 2003 novel, Swedish filmmaker Björn Runge's drama centers on a character who has been marginalized for much of her life, the wife of a celebrated writer (Jonathan Pryce) who gave up her own literary ambitions to support her husband's career. As the self-effacing but steady Joan Castleman, who accompanies her arrogant spouse to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize, Glenn Close seems like a contender for her own award. Could this be the role that finally rectifies the fact this six-time Oscar nominee never has won the statuette?

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