From studio fare to festival favorites, May, June, and July are boom times for movies. Consult our month-by-month guide to the best films.
The Great Gatsby (May 10)
In our younger and more vulnerable years, we would’ve howled with indignant rage at a 3D adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most enduring classic. Now, as old sports, knowing the film is in the hands of Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann makes us think it’s just crazy enough to work. And, if it doesn’t, we can still bask in the glow of all the glittery Art Deco.
Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)
J.J. Abrams continues to jazz up his Star Trek franchise for non-Trekkies with the addition of more hot young things in the cast—namely Benedict Cumberbatch, who’s already rejuvenated a series with an older fan base on the BBC’s Sherlock. Cumberbatch plays John—or is that Khan?—a villain going up against Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk.
Frances Ha (May 17)
The Squid and the Whale director Noah Baumbach and Greenberg star Greta Gerwig are the indie scene’s favorite couple since John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. So, naturally, it would generate excitement when the two collaborated on a movie. After Frances Ha—starring Gerwig, directed by Baumbach, and written by both of them—screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, The A.V. Club writer Scott Tobias noted that Gerwig’s charms “recall Diane Keaton in Annie Hall if she were more ungainly and even less sure of herself.” We consider that a compliment.
Before Midnight (May 24)
If you remember your flannel-wearing days in the ’90s, watching the dreamy, almost-plotless romance Before Sunrise, would you ever have guessed that that would be the Richard Linklater movie that would become a trilogy? (Our money would’ve been on Dazed and Confused.) Before Midnight checks in on Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) 18 years after their first chance-meeting on a train—you know, the one that had you looking wistfully at all the strangers on Metro-North.
Also Consider: Before Midnight has you looking for more part-threes? Pick your favorite trilogy-capper, Iron Man 3 (5/3) or The Hangover Part III (5/24)—or double-down and go for Fast & Furious 6 (5/24). (Is it just us, or did they really perfect that Fast & Furious formula the fifth time around?) For magic and mayhem, there’s Now You See Me (5/31), a thriller about illusionists—including an against-type Jesse Eisenberg—who pull bank heists on the side. And, since it isn’t summer without vampires, there’s Kiss of the Damned (5/3), directed by—speak of the devil—John Cassavetes’ daughter, Xan.
After Earth (June 7)
Disasters, cataclysms, the Apocalypse, and all other manner of peril are trendy this season—but what happens afterward? After Earth follows a father-and-son team—played by real-life father-and-son duo Will and Jaden Smith—who crash-land on our planet 1,000 years after previous disasters caused mankind to abandon it. Will Smith has saved the Earth so many times already, it’s refreshing to see him try and escape it for once.
Man of Steel (June 14)
Yes, we all loved the recent run of Batman films—but they’re over now. And no, no one can replace Bedford’s Christopher Reeve as Superman in our hearts. But, if you can find room for another go at the Man of Steel, Warner Bros. has your back with a new Superman film. The movie promises high-flying thrills that are faster than a speeding bullet, but, as reporters, we’re holding out hope for a good, healthy dose of Clark Kent.
The Bling Ring (June 14)
What do Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, and Audrina Patridge have in common—besides being staples of Us Weekly? They all were robbed by oh-so-fashionable young thieves who carried out a celebrity-obsessed crime spree. The true-life story comes to the screen courtesy of another fashionable icon: Sofia Coppola. Emma Watson, shedding her goodie-goodie Hermione image from the Harry Potter franchise, co-stars.
Monsters University (June 21)
Messy, loud, and grubby—you think your old fraternity was full of monsters? Pixar will show you a fraternity of actual monsters. Monsters University is a prequel to Monsters, Inc., showing how the one-eyed Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and the furry James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) met in college. Really, though, did we have to say anything after “Pixar” to pique your interest?
Also Consider: We weren’t kidding when we said peril was hot this year. We’ve got Brad Pitt fighting zombies in World War Z (6/21). We’ve got Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jonah Hill—playing themselves—facing down the apocalypse in This Is The End (6/14). We’ve got Channing Tatum defending the White House from invasion—in the second such movie this year—in White House Down (6/28). We even have a plane crash played for laughs in Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited (6/28). Too much stress? Try The Internship (6/7), which sees Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as comparatively elderly interns competing for jobs at Google, or The Heat (6/28), wherein the buddy-cop formula gets a dose of girl power, courtesy of Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock.
The Lone Ranger (July 3)
When it comes to Johnny Depp’s characters, we’ve learned to just roll with it. He wants to wear a stuffed bird on his head to be Tonto in The Lone Ranger? Sure, why not? It seemed crazy when he wanted to play a character in a movie based loosely on an amusement park ride, too, and look how that turned out. In fact, for The Lone Ranger, Depp is re-teaming with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski—so the avian headdress might be the most restrained thing about the movie. Armie Hammer—best known for playing both of the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network—is the Lone Ranger to Depp’s Tonto.
The Way, Way Back (July 5)
The Way, Way Back is the new film from the writing team behind The Descendants: Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, aka the guys who made fun of Angelina Jolie’s thrusted-leg stance at the 2012 Oscars. You can tell from The Descendants that they have a good feel for young people, which is why they’re the perfect fit for this coming-of-age tale about a teenager who finds a job at a water park over the summer. The film was one of the biggest Sundance acquisitions this year, so expect something in the vein of other Park City favorites, like Little Miss Sunshine or Once.
Pacific Rim (July 12)
You didn’t think you’d make it out of July without some kind of world-ending disaster striking, did you? In Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, a crevice in the ocean becomes a gateway for inter-dimensional monsters—and not the cute, funny, Pixar kind, either. And we all know the only way to exterminate giant monsters is to build even bigger robots to fight them, right? With all of this large-scale destruction, you’re going to need to see this one in IMAX.
Blue Jasmine (July 26)
Woody Allen is 77 years old—you didn’t expect him to retire, did you? Not even close. Instead, he’s rounded up a far-ranging cast for his 42nd (!) directorial feature, from Alec Baldwin and Cate Blanchett to Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay. Allen has made a string of films in Europe recently, but Blue Jasmine sees his return to the States, and we welcome him back. What’s the movie about? Oh, you know—some kind of crisis or breakdown or neurosis or something, this time afflicting a New York housewife.
Also Consider: The X-Men have always had a special place in our hearts, with their school based in Westchester, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t champion The Wolverine (7/26), even if it does mostly take place in Japan this time around. It’s a two-for-one on former Wolverine nemesis—and current Bedford resident—Ryan Reynolds, who’ll play an undead cop in comic-book adaptation R.I.P.D. (7/19) and provide the voice of a super-charged snail with dreams of winning the Indy 500 in Turbo (7/19). Speaking of neighbors, if you love Ulster County’s Vera Farmiga’s slide into the horror world on Bates Motel, check out The Conjuring (7/19), where she encounters spirits in her New England farmhouse. Treat your parents to a night out at Red 2 (7/19), starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich as retired CIA agents. We’re sure most moms want to be Helen Mirren when they grow up. Or, if you just want to laugh at the misfortunes of brightly colored cartoons, there’s Despicable Me 2 (7/3) and The Smurfs 2 (7/31).
Also Consider in August: Haven’t had enough visions of a life after our planet? In Elysium (8/9), written and directed by District 9’s Neill Blomkamp, the rich live on a pristine, man-made space station, while the hoi polloi are stuck living on—gross—Earth. Summer is also the season of the raunchy comedy, and The To Do List (8/16)—about a high school graduate, played by Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza, looking for more sexual experiences before college—is no exception.
Note: Studios are notoriously twitchy about film release dates, and some of these may have “adjusted” after press time. Check your listings.