It’s been a pretty miserable year at the cinema thus far, to put it lightly.
With a few exceptions—the gleefully anarchic Jackass Forever, throwback slasher X, universe-hopping Everything Everywhere All at Once, and the horror hilarity of Men among them—there’s been precious little of note emanating from these not-so United States. Studio tentpoles have been uninspired at best while streaming options haven’t fared much better. The majority of 2022’s finest films have come from elsewhere, such as Norway’s devastating portrait of a twenty-something woman in crisis, The Worst Person in the World; Iran’s magical road-trip flick Hit the Road; the French abortion drama Happening; and the dazzling Indian action film RRR.
But that’s about to change. This summer will offer a veritable smorgasbord of movies, from high-flying blockbusters like Top Gun: Maverick and Thor: Love and Thunder to new offerings from auteurs David Cronenberg, Jordan Peele, and George Miller.
So strap in and get ready for the most hotly anticipated movies of summer 2022.
TOP GUN: MAVERICK (May 27, Theaters)
Nobody runs—or flies planes—on screen better than Tom Cruise. Miles Teller is at his best playing the tortured pupil desperate for acceptance. Glen Powell has incredible abs. Val Kilmer’s charisma knows no bounds. And Jennifer Connelly may be the most stunning woman alive. All of these are on full display in this supercharged sequel, coming 36 years after the original. Pop on those aviators and prepare yourself for an exhilarating ride.
WE FEED PEOPLE (May 27, Disney+)
Thankfully, director Ron Howard has turned his camera away from rank opportunist J.D. Vance and toward someone who actually deserves it: Jose Andrés. The acclaimed Spanish chef and humanitarian provides meals to people in the wake of natural disasters and wars through his non-profit outfit World Central Kitchen. (He is currently in and out of Europe feeding Ukrainian refugees). This documentary provides a well-rounded portrait of Andrés and doesn’t shy away from capturing moments where the pressure gets to him.
FIRE ISLAND (June 3, Hulu)
I’ve been eagerly awaiting a breakout vehicle for SNL’s immensely talented young star Bowen Yang, and this sure looks it. Yang stars as one of two best friends (alongside comic Joel Kim Booster) who visit the gay bacchanal that is Fire Island for some good old-fashioned partying—only to find love instead. While Billy Eichner’s upcoming Bros made history as the first gay studio rom-com, Fire Island is sure to make plenty of noise.
CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (June 3, Theaters)
It’s nice to see body horror maestro David Cronenberg return to icky territory in his first film in eight years. Set in a dystopian future where people don’t feel pain and derive sexual pleasure from surgery, it sees a surgical performance-artist couple (Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux) tussle with a horny neophyte (a very game Kristen Stewart). There will be gore—and orgasms.
HUSTLE (June 8, Netflix)
While we wait with bated breath for Adam Sandler’s next film with the Safdies, there’s this upcoming sports drama that stars the Sandman as Stanley Sugarman, a washed-up basketball scout who travels overseas to recruit a troubled—albeit incredibly gifted—young player (Juancho Hernangomez) to play in the NBA. Adam Sandler + sports is almost always a recipe for success, and he’s joined in this venture by Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, Robert Duvall, and SNL’s Heidi Gardner.
THE JANES (June 8, Theaters/HBO)
Prior to Roe v. Wade, a group of activist women in the ‘70s, who called themselves “Jane,” built an underground network that provided low-cost illegal abortions to women with unwanted pregnancies. The Janes ended up helping an estimated 11,000 women in dire straits, and this HBO documentary from filmmakers Emma Pildes and Tia Lessin—featuring interviews with the original Janes—couldn’t be timelier given the GOP’s assault on women’s bodily autonomy.
JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION (June 10, Theaters)
No Jurassic Park film has come close to matching the excitement and wonder of Spielberg’s original, so they decided to bring back original cast members Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum for this sequel directed by Colin Trevorrow. It’s set four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, where dinosaurs and humans coexist (sort of). Expect plenty of CGI dinos and wisecracks.
JENNIFER LOPEZ: HALFTIME (June 14, Netflix)
I had the pleasure of seeing Jennifer Lopez’s Vegas concert residency “All I Have,” and man, can this lady put on a show. This all-access documentary, directed by Amanda Micheli (La Corona), follows J.Lo as she prepares for her performance alongside Shakira at the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show. The doc, which will open the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, will surely give you a renewed appreciation for Lopez’s grit and determination.
FATHER OF THE BRIDE (June 16, HBO Max)
Because nothing is sacred, HBO Max is remaking the beloved comedy hit Father of the Bride, about a father coming to terms with his daughter’s upcoming nuptials—this time focusing on a Cuban-American family led by Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan. Oh, and SNL breakout Chloe Fineman stars. OK fine, I’m in.
LIGHTYEAR (June 17, Theaters)
Is Pixar’s Toy Story spinoff, this time featuring the voice of Chris Evans as the Space Ranger, a cash-grab to sell toys and milk existing IP for every last drop? Sure. Will I see it? Probably. Evans is joined in this CGI sci-fi romp—telling the origin story of the astronaut-toy—by the vocal stylings of Keke Palmer, James Brolin, Taika Waititi, and Uzo Aduba.
JERRY AND MARGE GO LARGE (June 17, Paramount+)
From David Frankel, director of the addictive The Devil Wears Prada, comes this wacky comedy starring Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening as a couple who exploits a loophole in the Massachusetts Lottery in order to help their struggling hometown. Cranston and Bening hijinks? Yes, please. Rainn Wilson, Larry Wilmore, Michael McKean and Anna Camp join in on the fun.
CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH (June 17, Theaters/Apple TV+)
A whole lot of people enjoyed this quirky romantic comedy—about an aimless twenty-something guy (writer/director Cooper Raiff) who finds meaning in life via hosting Bar Mitzvahs and romancing a lonely mother (Dakota Johnson, always fire)—at Sundance, where it took home the Audience Award. I was not one of them. But hey, I’ll let you be the judge. The film also stars Leslie Mann, Brad Garrett, and Vanessa Burghardt.
ELVIS (June 24, Theaters)
I’m a bit of an Elvis fan—have listened to all his records, watched all his films, and visited Graceland twice—and I am more than a little worried about this Baz Luhrmann extravaganza. Why? Well, I still haven’t forgiven him for The Get Down, his $120 million Netflix series about the origins of rap that was nothing short of dreadful (and canceled after one season). Oh, and the film has a hip hop-infused soundtrack, a la his Gatsby. But Austin Butler does look good as Elvis, and it features Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, so maybe it’ll be fun. Tom Hanks got COVID in March of 2020 shooting this film, so at least it helped convince some of us to take it seriously.
THE BLACK PHONE (June 24, Theaters)
I’m a sucker for horror movies—good, bad, whatever. But this one looks like it may fall in the former category. Reuniting the Sinister duo of director Scott Derrickson and star Ethan Hawke, it tells the lurid tale of a 13-year-old boy who’s being held hostage in a dank basement by a demented killer (Hawke), and who begins receiving messages on the titular phone from the madman’s previous victims who hope to prevent the youngster from meeting a similar fate.
MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON (June 24, Theaters)
It was back in 2010 that Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate uploaded a series of stop-motion animated short films to YouTube centering on Marcel, an anthropomorphic seashell sporting cute little shoes (voiced by Slate) being interviewed by a documentary filmmaker. Now, the mockumentary’s been given the feature-film treatment, exploring Marcel’s complicated relationship with his live-in grandma, voiced by the inimitable Isabella Rossellini.
MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU (July 1, Theaters)
I haven’t seen any of these movies because I am a childless adult, but enjoy the memes. This computer-animated film—the fifth entry in the Despicable Me franchise, and a sequel to the 2015 prequel Minions (yes, a sequel to a prequel)—is set in the ‘70s and follows a 12-year-old Gru (Steve Carell) as he rises up the ranks of villainy. It also, strangely enough, features the most hotly anticipated film soundtrack of the year, produced by Jack Antonoff and featuring the talents of Diana Ross, Tame Impala, St. Vincent, Brittany Howard, Phoebe Bridgers, and loads more.
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (July 8, Theaters)
Marvel fatigue has set in for me, I must admit, but Thor: Ragnarok remains one of the finest films of the Marvel canon. Director Taika Waititi—along with Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Jeff Goldblum—returns for this glitzy sequel, which will see Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy do battle against Gorr the God Butcher, a god-killing assassin played by Christian Bale (!). Oh, and there’s also Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor, Russell Crowe as Zeus, and Waititi’s lovable Korg. It’ll be a hoot seeing Bale chew up the scenery as a Marvel Big Bad.
BOTH SIDES OF THE BLADE (July 8, Theaters)
If you have not familiarized yourself with the oeuvre of French cinema titan Claire Denis, please do so immediately. I’d start with Beau Travail and White Material and then work your way up/down the list from there. Her latest is a romantic drama featuring Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon (who wowed in last year’s Titane) as an older couple whose love is threatened when an ex with designs on winning back Binoche re-enters the picture. The film will make its premiere in Cannes.
THE GRAY MAN (July 15, Theaters/Netflix)
The Russo brothers, who helmed the highest-grossing film ever in Avengers: Endgame, have decided to follow the disappointing Cherry with this $200 million action blockbuster—the most expensive film in Netflix history. The film centers on Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling), a CIA assassin who becomes the target of a global hunt after stumbling upon the agency’s darkest secrets. Leading the charge is Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a psychopathic ex-colleague, while Ana de Armas, Rege-Jean Page, Jessica Henwick, Dhanush, Billy Bob Thornton, and Alfre Woodard feature as well. Netflix is hopeful that it will kick-start a popular franchise. We’ll see!
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING (July 15, Theaters)
Delia Owen’s novel, about an abandoned young girl growing up in a North Carolina marsh in the 1950s who eventually is accused of murdering her attempted rapist, was a phenomenon in the publishing world, selling over 12 million copies (though fewer are familiar with the book’s dark history). Thus, the inevitable film adaptation is here, directed by Olivia Newman (First Match), written by Lucy Alibar (Beasts of the Southern Wild), and starring Normal People breakout Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya Clarke, who finds herself on trial for the murder of hometown quarterback Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson).
PERSUASION (July 15, Netflix)
A delicious costume drama is hard to find these days but Netflix has us covered with this remake of the Jane Austen novel, starring Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot and Henry Golding as Mr. Elliot. Cosmo Jarvis plays Captain Frederick Wentworth, a former flame of Anne’s with whom she hopes to rekindle things. The cast is rounded out by Suki Waterhouse, Richard E. Grant, and Nikki Amuka-Bird.
NOPE (July 22, Theaters)
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out was a masterpiece—and sparked a seemingly endless array of lame knockoffs. Well, the man himself has chosen to follow the Reagan satire Us with this sci-fi horror film that sees the owners and workers of a storied Black-owned ranch in rural California contend with beings from… elsewhere. Nope reunites Peele with his Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, one of the most charismatic actors around, along with Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Euphoria’s Barbie Ferreira, and the underrated character actor Michael Wincott.
VENGEANCE (July 29, Theaters)
Marking the directorial debut of The Office scribe/star B.J. Novak, this screwy comedy follows a journalist/podcaster (Novak) who—thanks to a misunderstanding—gets roped into attending the Texas funeral of a girl he hooked up with a few times, only to then be enticed into investigating her possible murder. Boyd Holbrook, Dove Cameron, Issa Rae and Ashton Kutcher also star.
BULLET TRAIN (Aug. 5, Theaters)
Hoo boy, am I excited for this one. From John Wick co-director David Leitch comes this wild action flick about a killer (Brad Pitt) who agrees to one last job: to retrieve a brief case on a bullet train traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto. The problem? It’s filled with a whole bunch of fellow assassins who want the same thing he does. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Michael Shannon, Bad Bunny (!), and Zazie Beetz all try to take out William Bradley Pitt, while Sandra Bullock pops up as his trusted (or not?) handler.
BODIES BODIES BODIES (Aug. 5, Theaters)
Who doesn’t love a good murder-mystery? This horror-comedy from Dutch filmmaker Halina Reijn involves a group of seven people—five good friends and two new romantic partners—who find themselves trapped in a mansion during a hurricane. So, they play the party game Bodies Bodies Bodies—only people begin to actually turn up dead. Amandla Stenberg and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’s Maria Bakalova anchor the proceedings, while Shiva Baby’s Rachel Sennott and comic Pete Davidson steal every damn scene they’re in.
PREY (Aug. 5, Hulu)
If you told me there was a fifth Predator film coming out, I would simply ask, “Why?” If you explained that it was a prequel set in 1719 that saw the alien assassin engage in a forest battle with Comanche warriors, led by the female fighter Naru (Amber Midthunder), and was directed by 10 Cloverfield Lane’s Dan Trachtenberg, well, I would then say, “Bring it on.”
RESURRECTION (Aug. 5, Theaters)
Rebecca Hall is one of the most underrated talents around. Whether it’s coming-of-age comedies (Starter for 10), heist flicks (The Town), psychological thrillers (The Gift), or dark character studies (Christine), she can do it all—not to mention, she’s a gifted filmmaker (Passing). This psychological thriller from Andrew Semans, adapted from his Black List screenplay, sees Hall embody a woman who believes she’s being stalked by the man (Tim Roth) who assaulted her years earlier. One thing is certain: Hall will give it her all.
THEY/THEM (Aug. 5, Peacock)
What do Any Given Sunday, Gladiator, The Aviator, Skyfall, Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, and the Broadway musical Moulin Rouge! have in common? They were all written by John Logan. Now, he makes his feature directorial debut with this horror film that describes itself as a “queer empowerment story set at a gay conversion camp.” Yes, I am concerned. The film stars Theo Germaine, Kevin Bacon, Carrie Preston, and Anna Chlumsky.
EMILY THE CRIMINAL (Aug. 12, Theaters)
In recent years, the deadpan comedienne Aubrey Plaza has proven to be a formidable dramatic actor as well in films like Ingrid Goes West, Black Bear, and the FX series Legion. She continues to flex those muscles in this nimble crime drama as a debt-haunted woman who gets mixed up with a gang of credit card scammers, drawing her deeper and deeper into the criminal underbelly of LA. Plaza has never been more in confident and in command of her craft, earning well-deserved raves when the film premiered at Sundance.
THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING (Aug. 31, Theaters)
Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best movies of the last two decades. In between that and the upcoming spinoff Furiosa, its brilliant filmmaker George Miller—who also helmed the original Mad Max films and Babe—found the time to direct this florid fantasy about a British scholar (Tilda Swinton) who awakens a djinn (Idris Elba) in a bottle, setting the stage for a wild, time-jumping adventure with some added romance.