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The Complete Guide to 2015’s Best Summer Movies

Our shortlist of films to look forward to this summer, from blockbusters to documentaries and everything in between.


This summer, as you plant your feet on the sticky movie theater floor and grab a handful of popcorn, don’t be worried if you have a sudden bout of déjà vu. After all, 2015’s blockbuster season is filled with reboots and new installments. The Avengers: Age of Ultron will likely overtake its forbearer as one of the biggest blockbuster release of all time; a horror classic, Poltergeist, will get new life; one Woody Allen movie will be replaced by another; Arnold (the real one) will return as a Terminator for the first time in a long time; we’ll all probably buy tickets, once again, to Jurassic Park, even if we regret it in the end.

But 2015 will also feature plenty of new, exciting films to dig into. Here are our picks for a few movies to look out for in the next few months, from blockbusters to documentaries and everything in between.


Irrational Man

Director: Woody Allen
Who did: Blue Jasmine (2013), Midnight in Paris (2011) and 40+ others
Starring: Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix
In theaters: July 24
What happens: A philosophy professor falls for one of his much younger students during an existential crisis. Imagine how that goes.
How to Prepare: Watch Manhattan, which is a similar film by Woody Allen, read about Colin McGinn, and take someone half your age to see it.



Starring: Emily Blunt, Jon Bernthal, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Who did: Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013) and Incendies (2010)
In theaters: September 18
What happens: FBI agent Kate Macy (Blunt) heads south across the border with mercenaries to take down the head of a violent Mexican cartel.
GP Verdict: Villeneuve is a great director, and Blunt, who played supporting roles in Looper and Edge of Tomorrow, is taking the lead role herself this time.


Sea Of Trees

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe
Director/Writer: Gus Van Sant
Who did: Good Will Hunting (1997) and Milk (2008)
In theaters: Later this year.
What happens: Two men meet in Japan’s infamous suicide forest and try to find their way out.
How to Prepare: Read VICE‘s report on Aokigahara, Japan’s suicide forest, and then read EW’s interview with Matthew McConaughey about his character in the film, who he says is equally poetic as Rust was in True Detective. Then, binge watch True Detective.



Ted 2

Starring: Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Mark Wahlberg
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Who did: Ted (2012) and created Family Guy
In theaters: June 26
What happens: Ted, a stuffed teddy bear, wants to have a kid, but to that he must prove to a judge that he’s a person.
Why see it?: Because after the lukewarm release of his live action, A Million Ways to Die in the West, MacFarlane has returned to milk the success of his lewd, talking teddy bear.



Director: Jared Hess
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis.
In theaters: August 7
What happens: A comedic telling of the 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina, wherein a night guard at an armored car company organized a $17.3 million heist.
Why see it?: Because after producing flops for a decade since Napoleon Dynamite, Hess might finally have the right story and the right cast for a hit comedy.



Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and James Spader
Director: Joss Whedon
Who did: Much Ado About Nothing (2012) and The Avengers (2012)
In theaters: May 1
What happens: The Avengers get back together to fight Ultron — “a technological terror hell-bent on human extinction” — and to make a lot more money.
GP Verdict: It’s projected to be the biggest feature-film debut of all time, so why not?


Mad Max: Fury Road

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult
Director: George Miller
Who did: The original Mad Max trilogy, along with Happy Feet (2006)
In theaters: May 15
What happens: In a post-apocalyptic world of sand, oil and death, Max, this time played by Hardy, teams up with Furiousa (Theron) to survive.
GP Verdict: A Mad Max reboot with the original director and better special effects is worth the ticket price.


Black Mass

Director: Scott Cooper
Who did: Out of the Furnace (2013) and Crazy Heart (2009)
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Depp
In theaters: September 18
What happens: Another take on Whitey Bulger, the most infamous gangster in the history of South Boston, by another skilled director.
GP Verdict: For fans of Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed, this will be a welcomed release.



Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Who adapted: 127 Hours (2010) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightly, Robin Wright
When: September 18
What happens: Based on the journey of Scott Fischer (Gyllenhaal) and Rob Hall (Clarke) during the 1996 Everest disaster, which was the deadliest season on Everest until the avalanche of 2014, which occurred during production.



Terminator: Genisys

Director: Alan Taylor
Who did: Thor: The Dark World (2013); he also worked on The Sopranos, Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Arnold Schwarzenegger
When: July 1
What happens: Arnold is back as an aging Terminator to help stop “Judgement Day”.
How to Prepare: Read a feature from The Verge that goes behind the scenes of the making of Terminator with Arnold.



Starring: Judy Greer, Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas
Director: Peyton Reed
Who did: The Break-Up (2006) and Bring It On (2000)
Written by: Adam McKay, who wrote Anchorman, and Paul Rudd
In theaters: July 17
What happens: Con artist Scott Lang (Rudd) uses his powers, which consists of shrinking in scale but increasing in strength, for the good of the world.
GP Verdict: It’s a self-aware superhero movie written and acted by funny people.



Before I Wake

Starring: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Who did: Oculus (2013)
In theaters: May 8
What happens: A couple adopts a son whose dreams manifest in the real world. Only he doesn’t want to be an astronaut.
Prep work: For more “dreams versus reality” info, watch The Science of Sleep or Waking Life. Also, maybe reconsider that adoption.



Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt and Jared Harris
Directed by: Gil Kenan
Who did: City of Ember (2008) and Monster House (2006)
In theaters: May 22
What happens: A remake of the 1982 original, documenting the supernatural events affecting a family and their very haunted home.
GP Verdict: The film that haunted your childhood gets — perhaps needlessly — a facelift. We’ll see it due to nostalgia alone.



Starring: Emma Watson, Ethan Hawke
Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
Who did: The Sea Inside (2004) and The Others (2001)
In theaters: August 28
What happens: A detective (Hawke) and a psychologist help uncover the mystery behind the memories of Hermione Granger.
GP Verdict: The first feature film from Amenábar in half a decade is a psychological thriller, which will provide a nice break from horror slashers.



Inside Out

Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Who worked on: Up (2009) and WALL-E (2008)
Starring the voices of: Diane Lane, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader
When: June 19
What happens: A Pixar representation of the battle of emotions in the mind of a young girl.
GP Verdict: Besides Brave, this is the first Pixar film since 2009 that isn’t a sequel. Pixar are pros at small, emotional characters obsessed with the good of the lead (see: Toy Story.)



Director: Joe Wright
Who did: Atonement (2007) and Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund and Levi Miller
When: July 24
What happens: It’s a prequel to Peter Pan.
GP Verdict: This is Wright’s first family film, but he rarely misses and has multiple Oscar nominations, so this may stand out among the trough of Peter Pan remakes.



Going Clear

Director: Alex Gibney
Who did: Taxi to the Dark Side (2007), for which he won an Oscar, among many more documentaries.
When: May 16
What happens: Using Lawrence Wright’s book of the same name, Gibney reveals the practices of the Church of Scientology, featuring interviews with ex-members and video from their conventions. Watch it on HBO now.


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