summer preview

20 Movies We Can’t Wait to See This Summer

From a new Cronenberg body horror to a stealth Predator sequel and beyond.

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos Courtesy of Studios
Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos Courtesy of Studios

Could this be it? Is this the summer that marks a pandemic-era reset for theatrical moviegoing? Tom Cruise’s long-awaited sequel Top Gun: Maverick is projected to become the biggest box-office opening of the star’s career — some say it’ll hit $180 million worldwide over Memorial Day weekend, with as many as 130 of those mils coming in Stateside. It’d be a hell of a kickoff for summer at the movies, and a welcome jolt when the year’s No. 3 highest-grossing movie is still a holdover from last year: Spider-Man: No Way Home. That’s not to say it’s been dull around here. The year’s top earner is a horny superhero movie. Everything Everywhere All at Once’s word-of-mouth ascendancy may carry it through to awards season. At Cannes, we saw standing ovation-worthy Palais premieres from David Cronenberg, Park Chan-wook, George Miller, and James Gray. And, hey, remember the Oscars?

And while the weeks ahead may be relatively light on tentpoles compared to summers past (you now have until next July to learn how to punctuate Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One), there’s so much to see beyond Thor: Love and Thunder and Jurassic World: Dominion. It’s shaping up to be a stellar indie-movie season, in fact, with Peter Strickland’s Flux Gourmet picking up where Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future leaves off, and titles like Marcel the Shell With Shoes On and Good Luck to You, Leo Grande eager to warm (and break) hearts. On the major studio side, horror maestro Jordan Peele is back in the director’s chair for Nope; Dan Trachtenberg has unveiled a surprise Predator movie; and the spectacle of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic is aiming to get you all shook up, too. Below are the movies we can’t wait to see in June, July, and August (along with the rest of the 2022 movie calendar as it stands now).

Summer 2022

June

Crimes of the Future

If the sight of Kristen Stewart crooning to Viggo Mortensen about how “surgery is the new sex” in the trailer isn’t enough to sell you on David Cronenberg’s latest, how about the promise of the Canadian auteur’s return to the body horror genre he basically owns? Crimes of the Future, which borrows its title (and nothing else) from an early effort in Cronenberg’s filmography, stars Mortensen, Stewart, Léa Seydoux, Don McKellar, and Scott Speedman, as well as all sorts of disturbingly organic-looking medical equipment. (In theaters June 3.) — Alison Willmore

Benediction

A new Terence Davies film is always cause for excitement, but his latest, an austere and elegant biopic of British poet Siegfried Sassoon, is truly special. Sassoon’s horrific experiences during WWI fueled much of his writing and activism, and Davies — who is himself modern cinema’s great poet of memory — has a field day exploring the nature of trauma, longing, and loneliness in what feels like a statement film for the director. (In theaters June 3.) — Bilge Ebiri

Hustle

Adam Sandler’s back in a dramatic role, but this one also seems to be a dream fulfillment role for him: He plays a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers who chances upon a promising Spanish NBA prospect (played by actual NBA player Juancho Hernangomez). The cast list is stacked with real NBA stars and legends, like Kenny Smith, Anthony Edwards, Kyle Lowry, Tobias Harris, and LeBron James is one of the producers. Let’s hope this is closer to Blue Chips than Space Jam 2. (In theaters June 3 and on Netflix June 8.) — Bilge Ebiri

Lost Illusions

There have been a lot of big movies out of France in the past year — including Annette, Titane, and Happening — but this is the one that actually won the Cesar award for Best Picture. In the past, Xavier Giannoli’s extravagant, star-studded adaptation of what might be Honore de Balzac’s greatest novel would have been the kind of no-brainer arthouse release that fed for months at the indie box office. It’ll be interesting to observe what happens this year, but this is definitely one to see on a big screen wherever possible. (In theaters June 10.) — Bilge Ebiri

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

Sophie Hyde’s film mostly consists of two people talking in a series of hotel rooms, and manages to be charmingly vulnerable and searingly hot despite this. Emma Thompson plays Nancy Stokes, a retired widow who’s only ever slept with her late husband, and who’s never had an orgasm. Daryl McCormack is Leo Grande, the escort she’s hired despite her many trepidations. Thompson and McCormack are both wonderful, but what really makes the film work is its utopian vision of sex work and its determination to shed a lifetime’s accrued shame and self-doubt to find liberation in bodies. (Streaming on Hulu June 17.) — Alison Willmore

Spiderhead

Director Joseph Kosinski wasn’t just twiddling his thumbs while Top Gun: Maverick sat on the shelf for two years. He went ahead and shot this sci-fi prison drama, based on a George Saunders short story and starring Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, and Jurnee Smollett. The film will be released on Netflix just a couple of weeks after Maverick hits theaters. That’s probably good marketing strategy, but it might also make for a fun little crash-course in auteur studies, prompting viewers to pay attention to the work of one of American mainstream cinema’s most underrated stylists. (Streaming on Netflix June 17.) — Bilge Ebiri

Flux Gourmet

The month of June is giving us two surreal movies taking place in worlds in which performance artists are the new rock stars. But where Crimes of the Future leans into the spectacle of surgery, this film from In Fabric’s Peter Strickland explores the internal tensions of a culinary collective that creates walls of noise using a combination of food and sound equipment. Droll, surprising, and genuinely fresh, Flux Gourmet is a meditation on authenticity, reputation, and digestive issues. (In theaters June 24.) — Alison Willmore

Elvis

Nearly a decade after the Australian filmmaker put his glitzy stamp on The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann sets his sights on Elvis Presley, America’s king of rock and roll. Luhrmann’s aesthetic of excess might be the perfect fit for this biopic starring Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. (In theaters June 24.) — Roxana Hadadi

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

This half-animated mockumentary follows a chatty, impressionable, and exceedingly thoughtful one-eyed seashell (voiced by Jenny Slate) who lives with his caring grandmother (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) and a piece of lint. Would you believe me if I told you this movie is, in fact, emotionally shattering? (In theaters June 24.) — Bilge Ebiri

More anticipated films:

Benediction (in theaters June 3), C.R.A.Z.Y. (in theaters June 3), Maika, The Girl From Another Galaxy (in theaters June 3), Neptune Frost (in theaters June 3), Fire Island (on Hulu June 3), Hustle (on Netflix June 8), The Janes (on HBO Max June 8), I’m Charlie Walker (in theaters and on VOD June 10), Jurassic World: Dominion (in theaters June 10), Halftime (on Netflix June 14), Mad God (on Shudder June 16), Brian and Charles (in theaters June 17), Cha Cha Real Smooth (in theaters and on Apple TV+ June 17), Jerry & Marge Go Large (on Paramount+ June 17), Lightyear (in theaters June 17), Official Competition (in theaters June 17), Apples (in theaters June 24), The Black Phone (in theaters June 24)

July

Minions: The Rise of Gru

This sequel to Minions and prequel to the Despicable Me movies is an origin story that explains how a young Gru (Steve Carell) first got interested in being evil, just in case you are in need of a kid-friendly Joker. (In theaters July 1.) — Jen Chaney

Both Sides of the Blade

Juliette Binoche and Titane’s Vincent Lindon are a middle-aged couple whose lives implode after the return of Grégoire Colin — Binoche’s former lover and Lindon’s former business partner. But Colin’s character is a catalyst more than a destroyer, a means for Claire Denis to capture some of the most brutally realistic fights you’ll find onscreen all year as the seemingly content couple falls apart at the reminder of the people they were before. (In theaters July 8.) — Alison Willmore

Murina

Yes, yes, summer is the time for blockbusters, but it’s also the time for sea-drenched coming-of-age indie films set in small coastal towns on the Adriatic. In Croatian director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović’s tense, gorgeous, award-winning debut film, a teenage girl who spends her time spearing morays with her domineering father becomes fascinated by a wealthy family friend (played by the always-terrific Cliff Curtis) who comes to visit her parents. (In theaters July 8.) — Bilge Ebiri

The Sea Beast

Over the past few years, Netflix built itself into a mighty animation studio by attracting top-level filmmakers and giving them free rein — an initiative that may well be coming to an end, as evidenced by recent reports of layoffs at the streamer. Even so, there’s still promising work coming out, including this marvelous-looking adventure about a young girl befriending a mythical sea monster, from Oscar-winning director Chris Williams (Moana, Big Hero 6). (Streaming on Netflix July 8.) — Bilge Ebiri

Thor: Love and Thunder

Most Marvel heroes don’t get a fourth solo film, but most of them didn’t take until the third film to crack the character. Love and Thunder reunites Chris Hemsworth with his zany Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, and hey, Natalie Portman’s back, too, for a storyline where she gets superpowers of her own. (In theaters July 8.) — Nate Jones

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Lesley Manville finally gets a star vehicle in this adaptation of a Paul Gallico novel. The Phantom Thread Oscar nominee plays a cleaning woman in 1950s London who wades into the world of French haute couture, crossing paths with Isabelle Huppert along the way. Amazingly not released by Sony Pictures Classics. (In theaters July 15.) — Nate Jones

Nope

Jordan Peele is involved in so many projects as a producer (Candyman, Lovecraft Country, The Twilight Zone, The Last O.G.), it’s easy to forget he hasn’t actually returned to the role of director since his 2019 sophomore effort, Us. July is blessing us with a new Peele production, one that’s apparently staying within the horror genre he’s been so influential in shaping recently. All we know about Nope so far is who’s in the cast — including Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun — plus the fact that the poster features a dish-shaped cloud trailing a menacing streamer. (In theaters July 22.) — Alison Willmore

More anticipated films:

Accepted (in theaters and on VOD July 1), Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song (in theaters July 1), The Princess (on Hulu July 1), Bed Rest (in theaters July 15), The Gray Man (in theaters July 15, on Netflix July 22), Persuasion (on Netflix July 15), Where the Crawdads Sing (in theaters July 15), Don’t Make Me Go (on Prime Video July 15) House Party (on HBO Max July 28), Ali & Ava (in theaters July 29), A Love Song (in theaters July 29), Vengeance (in theaters July 29)

August

Prey

Director Dan Trachtenberg effectively sidled up to a franchise with his debut, 10 Cloverfield Lane, a “spiritual successor” to the 2008 found-footage monster movie Cloverfield. And now he’s doing the same thing with Prey, which is set in 1719 and centers on a Comanche woman named Naru (Amber Midthunder) who ends up locked in battle with an alien hunter. While the original plan appears to have been to keep the film’s franchise connection a secret, the fact that it’s been revealed to be an installment in the Predator series doesn’t make it look any less intriguing. (Streaming on Hulu August 5.) — Alison Willmore

Resurrection

Critics went nuts at Sundance for this twisty psychological thriller — using words like “deranged,” “bonkers,” and “unhinged” to describe it, and prompting comparisons to cult classics like Possession and Repulsion. But the real reason to be excited for it might well be leads Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth, both of whom appear to be in the midst of career renaissances thanks to a series of surprising, complex roles. (In theaters August 5.) — Bilge Ebiri

Bodies Bodies Bodies

In A24’s blackly comedic, Scream-esque slasher flick, a group of rich Gen-Z frenemies gathers for a weekend of druggy, booze-y debauchery at a secluded mansion during a hurricane. What could go wrong? A role-playing game called Bodies, Bodies, Bodies involving a fake murderer that sets the stage for actual murders within the group, for one thing. With a cast that includes Amandla Stenberg, Pete Davidson, Lee Pace and Oscar-nominated Borat Subsequent Moviefilm breakout Maria Bakalova, the talk-y whodunnit wowed audiences upon its SXSW debut. And with its self-aware skewering of Zoomer behavioral tropes — mentions of toxicity, gaslighting and being triggered abound — the movie seems to live up to its tagline: “This is not a safe place!” (In theaters August 5.) — Chris Lee

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Tilda Swinton plays a bookish spinster and Idris Elba is the elfin-eared, wish-granting genie she inadvertently frees from bottled captivity in this adaptation of A.S. Byatt’s story collection The Djinn in The Nightingale’s Eyes. As reimagined by 77-year-old Australian writer-director George Miller — in his first auteurial outing since 2015’s epochal Mad Max: Fury Road — the book’s quasi-mythology leaps to the screen as a sci-fi fever dream that tonally swings from drollery to wonderment to weirdness with kinetic verve. “There is no story about wishing that is not a cautionary tale,” Swinton’s character remarks at one point. Which is to say the pleasures of this Arabian Nights-like fantasy are bittersweet. (In theaters August 31.) — Chris Lee

More anticipated films:

Bullet Train (in theaters August 5), Easter Sunday (in theaters August 5), I Love My Dad (in theaters August 5), Luck (on Apple TV+ August 5), Secret Headquarters (in theaters August 5), Am I OK? (on HBO Max August 11), Mack & Rita (in theaters August 12), 13: The Musical (on Netflix August 12), Beast (in theaters August 19), Breaking (in theaters August 26), Samaritan (in theaters August 26)

Later This Year

September

The Woman King

Fact: Gina Prince-Bythewood makes only great movies. And this one stars none other than Viola Davis as the general of an all-female military unit in the West African kingdom of Dahomey in a story inspired by true 19th-century events. Prince-Bythewood earned her action bona fides with 2020’s The Old Guard, and she has always brought both scope and intimacy to her films, no matter the subject. Just imagine what she’ll do behind the lens of a historical epic. (In theaters September 16.) — Melissa León

Don’t Worry Darling 

Few details have been released about Olivia Wilde’s follow-up to her acclaimed directorial debut Booksmart, but the ones that have emerged seem promising. Don’t Worry Darling is a 1950s-set psychological thriller starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles as a couple whose seemingly idyllic lives turn out to be built on some disturbing secrets. The production became an object of internet obsession for reasons unrelated to the story — it’s reportedly where the romance between Styles and Wilde began. (In theaters September 23.)  Alison Willmore

Bros

Billy Eichner is eager to claim his share of firsts with his romantic comedy Bros: first major studio film co-written by and starring an openly gay man, and the first to star LGBTQ+ actors in all of the principal heterosexual roles. Those actors include TS Madison, Miss Lawrence, Symone, and Guillermo Diaz opposite Eichner and Luke Macfarlane as our central lovebirds. Nicholas Stoller, whose Netflix series Friends From College co-starred Eichner, will direct. (In theaters September 30.) — Melissa León

More anticipated films:

Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul (in theaters and on Peacock September 2), Dark Harvest (in theaters September 9), Salem’s Lot (in theaters September 9), Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (in theaters September 16), Distant (in theaters September 16), Catherine Called Birdy (in theaters September 23, on Amazon October 7)

October

Halloween Ends 

I have no idea what happens in this follow-up to Halloween Kills. But I feel fairly confident the title is a lie. (In theaters October 14.) — Jen Chaney

Ticket to Paradise 

Ol Parker, writer-director of the eternally transcendent Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, brings his passion for tropical family hijinks to Bali, where divorcees George Clooney and Julia Roberts have traveled to stop their recently matriculated daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) from marrying a local. The rom-com is the sixth Clooney-Roberts joint to date and the latest since 2016’s Money Monster. (In theaters October 21) — Rachel Handler

More anticipated films:

Till (in theaters October 7)
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (in theaters October 7)
White Bird: A Wonder Story (in theaters October 14)
Black Adam (in theaters October 21)

November

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 

Even those who aren’t Marvel fans probably feel somewhat invested in the fate of the next Black Panther movie. For starters, the passing of Chadwick Boseman in 2020 robbed us of not just one of our finest actors but one of the more interesting superheroes in the Marvel firmament. It’s welcome news that director Ryan Coogler is returning behind the camera for this one — he’s the rare name with the clout to forge a new path in what might have otherwise been a standard-issue superhero sequel. (In theaters November 11.) — Bilge Ebiri

More anticipated films:

Canterbury Glass (in theaters November 4)
Spellbound (in theaters November 11)
Thirteen Lives (in theaters November 18)
She Said (in theaters November 18)
Creed III (in theaters November 23)
The Fabelmans (in theaters November 23)

December

Avatar: The Way of Water

James Cameron has been pushing movies back since before it was cool. Thirteen years after the original Avatar became the highest-grossing film worldwide, its sequel will finally hit theaters. Will audiences flock back to Pandora? They’d better — more installments in the Avatar saga are coming every two years until 2028. (In theaters December 16.) — Nate Jones

Babylon 

In March 2021, a source described Damien Chazelle’s period drama Babylon, about the 1920s transition from silent films to talkies, as “Great Gatsby on steroids,” an assessment that sounds promising! Chazelle’s post–La La Land return to analyzing the tension between who makes it in Hollywood and who doesn’t features absolutely everyone: A-listers Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, rising stars Jovan Adepo and Li Jun Li, and an endless array of recognizable faces including Olivia Wilde, Tobey Maguire, and Spike Jonze. (In theaters December 25.) —Roxana Hadadi

More anticipated films:

Violent Night (in theaters December 2), Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (in theaters December 21), Shazam! Fury of the Gods (in theaters December 21), I Wanna Dance With Somebody (in theaters December 21)

Undated films that should, or could, come out in 2022:

The Way of the Wind

Obviously, it’s a fool’s errand to anticipate an imminent release for any Terrence Malick film that hasn’t been scheduled (or for that matter picked up for distribution) yet as the director famously takes years to edit his projects. But this one filmed before the pandemic, so perhaps it’s a safe-ish bet to assume that 2022 will be the year we finally get to see it either at a festival or in actual release. It certainly sounds like a doozy: It’s an actual Jesus story (starring Son of Saul’s Géza Röhrig as Jesus and Mark Rylance as Satan), thus making explicit the religious themes the director has been circling for most of his career. And it comes after one of his greatest works, the WWII drama A Hidden Life, which saw Malick going into fascinating new stylistic and thematic territory while continuing to be very much himself. (Some extra exciting news for film geeks: The score will reportedly be composed by Eleni Karaindrou, who was responsible for many of the legendary scores of the late Greek master Theo Angelopoulos.) (Release date TBD.) — Bilge Ebiri

Disappointment Blvd. 

In the three years since his debut feature Hereditary sent heads rolling, director Ari Aster has flower-crowned himself the king of A24 horror. He’s billing the follow-up to 2019’s Midsommar as a “nightmare comedy” that runs four hours long; that running time must be one of the jokes. Either way, fans are eager to see what he’ll conjure up next, this time with Joaquin Phoenix in the lead and Nathan Lane, Patti LuPone, Parker Posey, Michael Gandolfini, and Meryl Streep rounding out the cast. (Release date TBD.) — Melissa León

Shotgun Wedding

The Jennifer Lopez rom-comaissance sashays on, this time placing our heroine opposite Josh Duhamel, who replaced Armie Hammer after that whole thing. They’ll play two halves of a couple kidnapped just before their destination wedding. Do not confuse this movie with the similarly J.Lo-starring, matrimony-minded Marry Me, which is out in February. This one’s got New Girl’s Liz Meriwether co-writing the script plus living legend Jennifer Coolidge, The Good Place standout D’Arcy Carden, Cheech Marin, and Lenny Kravitz all co-starring. (Release date TBD.) — Melissa León

Even more undated films with 2022 potential:

Argylle, Armageddon Time, Bardo, Beauty, Blonde, Bones and All, Carter, Decision To Leave, Disenchanted, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, Emily the Criminal, The Eternal Daughter, Hellraiser, The Killer, Killers Of The Flower Moon, Knives Out 2, Living, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, The Man From Toronto, Nothing Compares, One Fine Morning, One Second, Pinocchio, Pinocchio (the other one), Poor Things, Sharp Stick, Showing Up, Something in the Dirt, Spin Me Round, Thirteen Lives, Weird: The Yankovic Story, When You Finish Saving the World, White Noise, Women Talking, You People

20 Movies We Can’t Wait to See This Summer