Since Wonder Woman is probably the only superhero movie you need to see this summer, it’s time to start looking elsewhere for your cinematic kicks. While there’s no shortage of sequels, remakes and reboots coming down the pike, the summer movie season is also chock full of many of the titles that drew raves at some of the year’s biggest film festivals.
Sofia Coppola’s Cannes sensation The Beguiled is getting a late June release, while Kyle Mooney’s Sundance crowd-pleaser Brigsby Bear hits theaters just one month later. As the tepid responses to Alien: Covenant and the six hundredth Pirates of The Carribean proved, audiences are fatigued by the same old, same old being jammed down their throats each weekend. If you happen to find yourself in that particular demographic, below are 10 under-the-radar festival darlings and indie upstarts that’ll have audiences buzzing all summer long.
IT COMES AT NIGHT (June 9)
There will be no sophomore slump for Trey Edward Shults, whose debut feature Krishna had some observers already anointing him America’s next great director. That hype should only become more deafening once audiences get a load of his tight and tense chamber piece about two families that must join forces to stave of a mysterious outside force that threatens to wipe out all of civilization. Based on early reviews, Shults and his actors, which include Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough, Christopher Abbott and Carmen Ejogo have followed in Get Out’s lofty footsteps with a horror whose ideas are as big as its scares.
THE BEGUILED (June 23)
Sofia Coppola’s moody period thriller made a major splash at this year’s Cannes, when the scion of Hollywood royalty became just the second woman ever to take home the festival’s top directing prize. Critics hailed her gothic tale about the lust, betrayal and violence that ensue when an injured Union soldier (Colin Farrell) is taken in by the inhabitants of a remote all-girls seminary. Nicole Kidman won raves for her chilling performance as the headmistress, while Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning show up to bring some much-needed heat to the chillingly austere proceedings.
THE BAD BATCH (June 23)
Since 2017 is bereft of new Quentin Tarantino, Ana Lily Amirpour’s post-apocalyptic road movie might be the most balls-out, visceral experience you’ll have at the theater this year. The Girl Walks Home Alone at Night director once again pushes the boundaries of genre with this bold and brazen tale about a young heroine (Suki Waterhouse, in her first starring role) who navigates her way through some treacherous outlands where mysterious drifters (Jim Carrey), devious cult leaders (Keanu Reeves) and beefy cannibals (Jason Momoa) roam free.
A GHOST STORY (July 7)
On a recent episode of his podcast The Big Picture, The Ringer’s editor-in-chief Sean Fennessy called David Lowery’s daring look at life after death one of “the slowest American movies” he’s ever seen. While that may not exactly be a ringing summer endorsement, watching Casey Affleck in ghost form—he literally wears a sheet over his head for most of the film—come to terms with his old life as it slowly slips away, might be the perfect antidote to blockbuster fatigue.
LANDLINE (July 21)
Gillian Robespierre’s assured debut feature, the abortion comedy (yes, that’s a thing) Obvious Child, explored the bumpy emotional terrain young people must traverse when their lives are turned upside down by unexpected circumstances, and did so with some of the sharpest writing about middle-class New Yorkers since Woody Allen in his prime. Once again, Robespierre mines that same territory subbing in an extramarital affair for Obvious Child’s unwanted pregnancy as the potential life-altering grenade. Robespierre’s muse Jenny Slate is back and she’s joined by an indie dream team that includes Jay Duplass, Finn Wittrock, John Turturro and Edie Falco.
MENASHE (July 28)
If you’ve ever gotten lost in Williamsburg while looking for that perfect matcha latte, you might have some idea of just how insular Brooklyn’s Hasidic community really is. Joshua Z. Weinstein lets us into that world with this immersive week-in-the-life of a widower and his son as they learn to coexist in an environment in which all the odds are stacked against them. Movies are at their most powerful when they grant the audience permission to enter a world that’s not their own. This is Brooklyn like you’ve never seen it before.
BRIGSBY BEAR (July 28)
On the surface, Kyle Mooney’s movie about a man-child who’s obsessed with an animatronic bear from his favorite children’s show sounds like more of the sophomoric stuff that made him one of Saturday Night Live’s most intriguing new cast members. But dig deeper, and you’ll find a movie with heart and humor as big as its fictional bear’s costume head. Mooney made the film with his best friend from high school, Kevin McCary, who joined Mooney on SNL after their sketch comedy group/viral video-making machine Good Neighbor caught Lorne Michaels’ notoriously discerning eye. If Brigsby Bear is as big a hit as some are expecting, Michaels can add one more name to the growing list of movie stars he helped discover.
INGRID GOES WEST (August 4)
Of all the movies on this list with serious breakout potential, this Matt Spicer-directed drama about a deranged young woman (Aubrey Plaza) who becomes dangerously obsessed with a vapid social media influencer (Elizabeth Olsen) might just top the list. Thanks to a subject matter that feels even more vital in the wake of the Fyre Fest debacle, Ingrid Goes West has the potential to capture the millennial zeitgeist in the same way that Spring Breakers did five years earlier at the dawn of Instagram.
PATTI CAKE$ (August 18)
Tupac Shakur finally gets the biopic treatment when All Eyez on Me hits theaters next week. But if you’re going to see one rags-to-riches hip-hop saga this summer, make it Geremy Jasper’s underdog tale about a a plus-size white girl from Jersey with dreams of conquering the rap game. After wowing audiences at Sundance, a heated bidding war ended when Fox Searchlight made a $9.5 million bet that Patti Cake$ would emerge as one of the summer’s surprise hits, and that lead Danielle Macdonald would become the season’s breakout star. According to those who’ve seen the film, Macdonald is very much the real deal.
BEACH RATS (August 25)
Eliza Hittman has crafted a searing character study of what happens when a Coney Island street tough (Harris Dickinson) embarks on a summer of sexual awakening and self-discovery in the digital age. What starts out with illicit chat room dalliances with older men, quickly escalates into lurid hook-ups on the beach, while his fellow Brooklyn bros are none the wiser. Dickinson is already being called the next big thing for his captivating portrayal of a young man trying to figure out his place in the world.