The 20 Must-See Films of Summer

Sharks, a violent game of tag and evil puppets. Let’s review.

May 7, 2018 9:00 am

This is but one installment of 37 Things a Man’s Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September. Stay tuned all month for more.

Not every film you experience this summer will be Jurassic Park-sized.

There are also some smaller, stranger pleasures to be had, which you’ll find below, in our 2018 Summer Movie Guide.

Inside: 20 films we’ve got high hopes for, from brainless-but-fun blockbusters (Jason Statham battling a giant prehistoric shark) to offbeat indie comedies (Lakeith Stanfield as an all-star telemarketer) and everything in between.

Bring it, rainy days.

The guilty pleasure: Tag
Lifelong friends (Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson) play an on-going, increasingly vicious game of Tag. (June 15)

Backup plan: Breaking In is an interesting twist on the home invasion film: two children are trapped with kidnappers inside a mansion designed to be impenetrable. But the house hasn’t met one very angry and determined mom (Gabrielle Union). It’s Panic Room in reverse. (May 11)

The popcorn flick: Ocean’s 8
This gender-flipped take on Steven Soderbergh’s crime capers features an all-female crew (led by Sandra Bullock) attempting a multimillion dollar heist at the Met Gala. Looks damn fun, and has to be better than Ocean’s 12 or 13. (June 8)

Backup plan: In The Meg, Jason Statham fights a giant prehistoric shark. See you opening night! (Aug. 10)

The nightmare inducer: Hereditary
A tragedy unveils a weird and twisted family history in this throwback to the mood and pacing of old-school horror flicks like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. It already wowed at Sundance. (June 8)

Backup plan: Who is that exceedingly tall, faceless man who captures children? Find out when the Internet meme comes to life in Slender Man — which visually reminds us a bit of The Ring. (Aug. 24)

The indie comedy: Sorry to Bother You
Boots Riley (from the great political hip-hop group the Coup) wrote and directed this bizarre tale of an African-American telemarketer (up-and-comer Lakeith Stanfield) who suddenly excels at his job when he adopts a “white voice” — the very pasty tones of David Cross. (July 6)

Backup plan: BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s take on a real-life story about a black police officer who infiltrates the KKK, is supposedly …  kinda funny? Jordan Peele does co-produce it, and Topher Grace plays David Duke. This one’s gonna be interesting. (Aug. 10)

The superhero flick: Deadpool 2
More foulmouthed metafictional laughs from Ryan Reynolds and company, now with future adversary Cable (Josh Brolin) and a “derivative” superhero team called X-Force. Original director Tim Miller reportedly wanted to go more serious … so he was wisely jettisoned for John Wick/Atomic Blonde lensman David Leitch. (May 17)

Backup plan: “If you two are finished comparing sizes …” Ant-Man and the Wasp are the pint-sized crime-fighting duo of the year. (July 6)

The sequel: Mission Impossible: Fallout
Not a lot of info on the latest Ethan Hunt adventure — exotic locales, mission gone wrong, world at risk, etc. — but it certainly features a near-impossible Halo jump. Also, this might be the only film series that gets better with every edition. (July 27)

Backup plan: “I’m gonna need to get … dirty.” Drug cartels, terrorists, lots of guns and the always welcome team of Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro return in Sicario: Day of the Soldado (June 29).

The action flick: Upgrade
Gang kills man’s wife. Man gets computer chip (“Stem”) implanted that gives him superhuman strength and an AI-assisted brain. Ridiculous bloodbath ensues, courtesy of Saw creator Leigh Whannell. (June 1)

Backup: Jodie Foster is a nurse who runs Hotel Artemis, a secret hospital for criminals in the riot-torn Los Angeles. It’s basically Continental of the John Wick universe given a starring role. (June 8)

The documentary: McQueen
A in-depth look at the late, great designer Alexander McQueen, from his working-class East London upbringing through some of his most-famous and daring moments on the runway (see: hologram Kate Moss), as told through interviews and previously unreleased home movies. (July 20)

Backup plan: Before Tom Hanks Hollywoods it up, witness the impact and legacy of the real Fred Rogers in Won’t You Be My Neighbor. (June 8)

The family film: Incredibles 2
The superhero family pulls a Mr. Mom, with dad Mr. Incredible staying home to take care of his increasingly restless children — while, in the outside world, the debate rages on whether super-powered folk are a good thing or not. It’s Pixar, so expect life lessons mixed with sharp comedy. (June 15)

Backup plan: A very grown Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) rediscovers Winnie the Pooh and his other childhood friends in this live-action reimagining, which looks, well, adorable. (Aug. 3)

The WTF: Under the Silver Lake
David Robert Mitchell’s long-awaited follow-up to the revelatory horror classic It Follows has a paranoid Andrew Garfield frantically searching for the woman he loves around an increasingly hostile and weird Los Angeles. Entertainment Weekly Garfield’s compared the film to The Goonies and David Lynch, so that’s a good start. (June 22)

Backup plan: What if the Muppets were real and were getting murdered one by one? That’s loosely the premise of The Happytime Murders. (Aug. 17)

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