The summer movie season is nigh upon us! Following two years of release calendars sent spiraling into flux in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 has symbolized something of a realignment back to the rhythm of the expectations of our pre-pandemic world, already boasting a diverse swath of films that easily stand out as some of the year’s best.
That doesn’t appear to be changing as we steadily move into May and beyond, with a robust catalog of new releases to watch in theaters and at home coming this summer. From hotly anticipated tentpole releases like Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, Lightyear, and Thor: Love and Thunder to cerebral horror fare like Alex Garland’s Men, Jordan Peele’s Nope, and David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future to eccentric left-field films like Bullet Train and Ten Thousand Years of Longing, this season is positively stacked with a generous smorgasbord of exciting movies to choose from.
Here’s our list of the the biggest releases of the summer, as well as some of the most promising upcoming titles currently flying a bit under the radar.
Alex Garland’s Men is shaping up to be the director’s most mysterious film yet. Stepping aside from the explicit sci-fi premises of Ex Machina and Annihilation, Garland’s latest follows the story of Harper (Jessie Buckley), a woman who moves into an estate on the English countryside to distance herself from the recent loss of her husband. Something’s up with this town though, as Harper begins to feel more and more threatened by the leering smiles and inscrutable motivations of the men in the nearby town. It certainly doesn’t help that all the men appear to be played by Rory Kinnear and, at one point, look like they’re out to kill her. The question isn’t whether this is all in her head, but rather, what could it possibly be if it’s not? —Toussaint Egan
In theaters on May 20
Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers
The most recent trailer for Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers didn’t just show off the mischievous chipmunks and their peers. Nor did it just jam-pack Disney characters from across the company’s history. No, it pulled in cartoon characters from across animation history, in a mega crossover that’s giving Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Space Jam a run for their money. Chip and Dale are estranged after the cancellation of their popular show. Chip works in insurance, while Dale tries to relive the glory days — going so far as to get the “CG surgery.” They’re called back into action after several animated characters go missing. John Mulaney and Andy Samberg star as Chip and Dale respectively, with The Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer directing. —Petrana Radulovic
Available on Disney Plus on May 20
Top Gun: Maverick
Nearly four decades after the original Top Gun hit theaters, Tom Cruise is back at it again. And this time, he’s a certified pilot.
Cruise returns as Maverick, who has been chosen by his former rival Iceman (Val Kilmer, also returning to the franchise) to lead a group of new Top Gun graduates on a mission. That group includes Rooster, the son of Maverick’s best pal from Top Gun, Goose.
A movie star who has never been afraid of high-elevation stunts in his illustrious movie career, our few looks at Top Gun: Maverick show us Cruise is once again prioritizing practical effects over CG. The movie promises to bring audiences right into the cockpits of fighter jets with the real actors, who went through an intense training regimen in order to travel in the jets safely. If you haven’t watch the training video, it’s fascinating and sold me on the whole project (enjoy the glee with which Cruise talks about the aviation training he designed for his co-stars). —Pete Volk
In theaters on May 27
The Bob’s Burgers Movie
The Belcher family is headed to the big screen for the first time, after 12 seasons of the show and two years of pandemic-related release delays.
Bob, Linda, Louise, Tina, and Gene have to save their restaurant for the umpteenth time when a sinkhole opens in front of it, moving their business to a food cart. You can expect the debut of “Summer Tina,” silly songs, and puns. Oh, so many puns.
In the words of show creator Loren Bouchard, let’s hope it continues to make “small stories feel big.” —PV
In theaters on May 27
Directed by Andrew Ahn (Driveways) and written by and starring comedian Joel Kim Booster, Fire Island is a Pride and Prejudice-inspired rom-com set at the iconic gay resort destination of Fire Island. Booster, Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live), and comedian Margaret Cho star in what looks like a raunchy, hilarious time about found family, class and race within the gay community, and, of course, romance. —PV
Available on Hulu on June 3
Crimes of the Future
Body-horror maestro David Cronenberg is set to return to the subgenre he helped define with his upcoming 2022 film Crimes of the Future. Frequent collaborator Viggo Mortensen stars as Saul Tenser, a performance artist in a near-future society who rises to prominence by undergoing elaborate acts of self-mutilation for the entertainment of onlookers worldwide. Unbeknownst to him, Saul’s actions have attracted the attention of a mysterious group who views his career as a means to steer the course of human evolution. Joining Mortensen are Léa Seydoux as Saul’s partner, Caprice, and Kristen Stewart as Timlin, an investigator from the National Organ Registry.
The footage seen from the teaser trailer looks appropriately gnarly, with glimpses of Saul seated in a strange Gigerian apparatus, a man with ears protruding from his forehead having his eyes and mouth sewn shut, and Stewart’s Timlin holding an eyepiece while probing a camera inside the abdomen of an unseen person. Oh yeah, and a boy eating a pink ceramic waste basket. Cronenberg is back, baby! —TE
In theaters on June 3
Jurassic World: Dominion
“Excited” might not be the right word for Jurassic World: Dominion. “Morbidly curious” is probably a better fit. The first movie in the Jurassic Park sequel trilogy was almost absurd enough to come off as a parody of the last decade’s deluge of reboots and revivals of long-dormant series — after all, the dinosaurs are a perfect metaphor. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom proved that nothing that clever was going on here. The sequel did, however, open up the possibility of this series ascending to a new level of absurdity by trying to pass off dinosaurs as some kind of lethal new military tech. This premise is absurd enough on its own, but the fact that the third movie seems poised to suggest the idea of dinosaurs taking over the world — despite the existence of things like guns, missiles, drones, tanks, and human’s opposable thumbs — means that the movie has a chance to be a tremendous amount of fun, even if it isn’t likely to be particularly good. —Austen Goslin
In theaters on June 10
Adam Sandler famously loves basketball. Yes, he starred in the excellent Uncut Gems (one of our best thrillers you can watch at home), but he’s also a huge Knicks fan and pickup basketball legend who will somewhat randomly show up for games at courts around the country. In Hustle, produced by Sandler and LeBron James, he plays Stanley Sugarman, a struggling basketball scout who discovers a promising basketball prospect overseas (played by current NBA player Juancho Hernangómez). With a large supporting cast that includes Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, Robert Duvall, and NBA stars Anthony Edwards and Trae Young, Hustle is the rare promising sports vehicle led by a star with a love for the game. —PV
Available in theaters on June 3 and on Netflix on June 8
Pixar takes a sharp turn into hard sci-fi with Lightyear. It’s shaping up to be less of a “fifth movie in the Toy Story franchise” and more like a gritty, epic adventure of its own. And for those of you wondering: No, it’s not the “real” human Buzz Lightyear, but the main character of an in-universe movie called Lightyear that Andy likely watched growing up. Chris Evans stars as the reimagined Buzz, a determined pilot bent on finishing his mission no matter the cost. And when that cost turns into displacing him years out of time, he must work together with a group of rookies in order to stop a robot-alien invasion. It’s an adult science fiction film that also happens to be accessible to children — a first for Pixar. —PR
In theaters on June 17
If there’s one director who could bring new life to the well-worn musician biopic formula, it’s ostentatious blockbuster king Baz Luhrmann. It doesn’t hurt to have such a fascinating figure to focus on, either.
Elvis stars Austin Butler (Tex Watson in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the future Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in Dune: Part Two) as the King and Tom Hanks as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. With Luhrmann’s typical flair and some bold line delivery choices by Hanks in the trailer, Elvis looks like a musical biopic by way of superhero cinema. —PV
In theaters on June 24
The Black Phone
Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange, Sinister) returns to horror in this Ethan Hawke-led supernatural serial killer thriller based on the 2007 Joe Hill book. That’s honestly enough for us to be interested, but if you need a little plot to help you out: Hawke plays a serial killer who abducts a young boy. When the child sees a disconnected phone in the room he’s being held in, he discovers he can communicate with the killer’s past victims. Meanwhile, a fellow classmate is having dreams about the kidnapping and attempts to help the search for the boy. —PV
In theaters on June 24
This “Rapunzel meets The Raid” action movie is directed by Le-Van Kiet, who made the excellent Vietnamese martial arts movie Furie. The Princess stars Joey King as a princess imprisoned in a tower after refusing to marry a tyrant. The opportunity to watch a R-rated action movie about a princess kicking ass is too good to pass up, especially from a director who has the goods. —PV
Available on Hulu on July 1
Thor: Love and Thunder
After the success of Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi returns to direct the next iteration of the Thor series and to co-star as the voice of Korg. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie also return, naturally, and the additions of Russell Crowe as Zeus and Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher are intriguing. The Guardians of the Galaxy are also present, it appears.
But one element of Thor: Love and Thunder takes the cake, in terms of excitement level: Buff Lady Thor Jane Foster. Natalie Portman returns to the franchise with a new look and new powers, and we can’t wait to see her mess some folks up with Mjolnir. —PV
In theaters on July 8
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
Based on the 1958 novel, this comedy looks like a charming story about a domestic worker who becomes enchanted with a beautiful Dior dress. When she receives a delayed pension for her husband’s death in the war, she travels to Paris to buy one herself. Lesley Manville stars as Mrs. Harris, with supporting roles played by Isabelle Huppert and Jason Isaacs in this story that meets a fish-out-of-water comedy with class commentary and gorgeous dresses. —PV
In theaters on July 15
Competing with Alex Garland’s Men for this summer’s most succinctly titled movie, Jordan Peele’s Nope stars Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya as Jill and James Haywood, proprietors of the Black-owned horse-training ranch in a small California town who bear witness to a “miraculous” and terrifying event of immense proportions. Is it aliens, ghosts, or a mass hallucination brought on by the collective traumas of the 21st century? We don’t know! So far. what we do know is that Steven Yeun, Keith David, and Euphoria’s Barbie Ferreira have supporting roles and that the film will likely turn out to be a social thriller in the vein of Get Out and Us. We’ll have to wait until July to find out for ourselves. —TE
In theaters on July 22
We’re in a post-John Wick moment of action movies, and Bullet Train is the latest exciting example. Brad Pitt stars in the latest from his former stunt man David Leitch, co-director of the first Wick movie and sole director of Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, and Hobbs & Shaw. This high-octane thriller of five assassins on the same bullet train co-stars Aaron Taylor Johnson, Zazie Beetz, Michael Shannon, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, rapper Bad Bunny, and many other guest stars. The trailer promises a hard-hitting time in contained spaces, an action movie setting I will personally never tire of. —PV
In theaters on July 29
DC League of Super-Pets
After big changes to Warner Bros.’ schedule for DC movies, the animated adventure DC League of Super-Pets is now the big summer release for the studio. With some very god dogs (voiced by Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart), a turtle with super speed, and a villain who looks like the Brainiac of guinea pigs, this movie will follow the Justice League’s pets as they hope to rescue their superhero companions from said guinea pig. Also, Keanu Reeves voices Batman. —PV
In theaters on July 29
The first movie in a decade by writer-director Andrew Semans (Nancy, Please) stars Rebecca Hall (The Night House) in a horror thriller that sounds somewhat reminiscent of the 1981 masterwork Possession. Hall plays a woman who seems to have her life together — a single mom with a daughter going off to college and a successful career. But when a monster from her past (Tim Roth) reappears, things get ... spooky. Hall starring in this kind of project is always worth paying attention to — she’s one of our great modern screen actors, and it seems like the kind of project ripe for an unforgettable performance. —PV
In theaters on Aug. 5
Legendary stunt coordinator and second unit director J.J. Perry finally gets his directorial debut with this Netflix original about a pool cleaner (Jamie Foxx) who is a dad and also secretly a vampire hunter. Co-starring Dave Franco, Snoop Dogg, and action legend Scott Adkins, Day Shift has a screenplay by Shay Hatten (John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, Army of the Dead). —PV
Available on Netflix on Aug. 12
Three Thousand Years of Longing
Details are light on George Miller’s long-awaited follow-up to Mad Max: Fury Road, but that’s OK — the fact that he’s making another movie, and that Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton are in it, is plenty enough for us. We do know the movie is about a scholar who meets a djinn in Istanbul, which offers her three wishes. —PV
In theaters on Aug. 31