Our 10 Most Anticipated Summer Movies (And The Five We're Dreading)

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to blow shit up. Summer-movie season begins in earnest on Friday with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and we're excited for another go-round of sequels and spectacle, although this is also the time for exciting counter-programming involving small-scale dramas with Oscar hopes. So, with hopes high ourselves, we're spotlighting the 10 films we're most excited to see this summer. But we're also holding our noses at the five films we're absolutely dreading.

THE HOPEFUL TEN

Godzilla (May 16)

It shouldn't be that hard to get Godzilla right—it is basically the founding document of apocalyptic monster thillers—but no one ever has, at least not in the modern age. This seems as impressive a stab as any, with that outstanding cast (Bryan Cranston! Elizabeth Olsen! Ken Watanabe!), a massive scope (so many destroyed cities!), and, if the recent international trailer can be trusted, an appearance from Rodan. This looks like it might hit every quandrant of Summer Blockbuster. And we haven't even seen him breathe fire yet. [WL]

The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)

If you've read the book, you're probably already crying just thinking about it. The best-seller from author John Green (full disclosure: We're old web-nerd associates) is famously devastating to every teenager who has come across it, and they've gone to great lengths to stay as loyal to the book (even having Green on set for most of the filming) as possible. This is the teenager movie that will make all the other teenager movies worth it. [WL]

Boyhood (July 11)

Richard Linklater's decade-plus-in-the-making story of a child's upbringing, filmed over a 12-year-span as kid actor Ellar Coltrane grew up, knocked everybody over at the Sundance Film Festival. (Grierson was crazy about it, too.) The movie itself is considered by those who have seen it to be less audience-friendly than that trailer makes it look, but that doesn't mean people haven't been deeply moved by it. I've basically been salivating over it since its Sundance debut, but if it took them 12 years to make it, I suppose five months isn't that much more to wait. [WL]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)

I'll confess to being one of the few skeptics about the first film—in large part because of James Franco's empty, actively bored performance at the film's center —but I'm optimistic about this one. That's partly because of the sure-fire premise, which features humans vs. apes in a war for the planet after the deadly virus released at the end of the first film. But mostly it's because of director Matt Reeves, a J.J. Abrams cohort who'd I'd argue is a better director than his more famous college buddy. His Cloverfield remains perhaps the best found-footage horror movie in a sea of them, and, even better, his remake Let Me In spiked the original's mid-'80s Spielberg vibe with genuine dread in a way Abrams couldn't approach in Super 8. I would watch anything he does. [WL]

Jupiter Ascending (July 18)

Andy and Lana Wachowski will always be known for The Matrix, and rightfully so, but even though their later movies (Cloud Atlas, Speed Racer) haven't been near that film in matters of quality, they sure have surpassed it in terms of insanity. Thus, Jupiter Ascending seems destined to be their magnum opus. Of all the lunacy in that trailer, nothing has quite surpassed, for me, the majesty of Channing Tatum's ears. (Though Jamie Bell's bad-guy screams are close.) Also: I love that the "Jupiter" of the title is not the planet, or a god: It's just the name of Mila Kunis' character. Which means this could have conceivably been called "Martha Ascending" or "Kaitlin Ascending." I might have liked those movies more. [WL]

A Most Wanted Man (July 25)

When A Most Wanted Man premiered at Sundance, reviews were a little chilly for this thriller based on a John le Carré novel. (I was a big fan.) But the audience expectation has changed now that this is one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final films: He died in February, shortly after the festival ended. A rare starring role for the Oscar-winning actor, A Most Wanted Man's Bachmann is a member of German intelligence trying to track down possible Islamic terrorists. A smart, grownup thriller for fans of Michael Clayton or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (also based on le Carré's work), this film builds slowly but arrives at a devastating place. It'll remind you all over again just how great an actor Hoffman was. [TG]

Magic in the Moonlight (July 25)

Our 10 Most Anticipated Summer Movies (And The Five We're Dreading)

Because this is a Woody Allen movie, that means a) there aren't a lot of plot details, and b) we're excited to see it regardless. Colin Firth and Emma Stone star in this 1920s-set romantic comedy about a Englishman (Firth) trying to expose a con artist (Stone) in France. Marcia Gay Harden and Jacki Weaver are also part of the cast, but for a lot of people, Magic in the Moonlight's real selling point is that Allen won't be acting. The only thing we're not looking forward to with this movie is the return of the "Is Woody a child molester?" debate. [TG]

Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)

Marvel makes so much money that it's hard to think of any of its films as scrappy underdogs. And yet, we find ourselves rooting for Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe it's because we love Chris Pratt; maybe it's because this movie actually seems sorta audacious. (How many CGI critters does this thing have?) Marvel's superhero films have become such a well-honed machine that, by comparison, Guardians of the Galaxy feels like a genuine risk on the studio's part: This could be its first outright bomb. The movie looks just weird and funky enough that we hope it's not. [TG]

Lucy (August 8)

Scarlett Johansson is on a hot streak with Her, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Under the Skin, so we're willing to take a risk on Maria Full of Grace: The Action Movie. This Limitless-like story of a drug mule who becomes super-intelligent and a lethal killing machine is directed by Luc Besson, who appears to be back in the no-mercy thriller mode that made his name in the 1990s with films like The Professional. Popcorn escapism with style: That's enough to sell us. [TG]

Love Is Strange (August 22)


One of the hits of this year's Sundance, Love Is Strange tells the story of a gay married couple (John Lithgow and Alfred Molina) forced to live apart. This is the latest film from director Ira Sachs, whose previous outing was the heartbreaking romantic drama Keep the Lights On. Hardened critics emerged from screenings of Love Is Strange with visible lumps in their throat. In a summer of big action movies, this looks to be one of the season's big indie sleepers. [TG]

THE DREADED FIVE

Blended (May 23)

Adam Sandler goes to South Africa. At last. [TG]

Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)

In an age where The Avengers and Joss Whedon exist—and thus show how these massive-scale films can be done with wit and charm—I keep crossing my fingers that the tide will finally turn on Michael Bay's bi-annual displays of brains being pounded with skull until human sensation is no longer possible. If pairing with Mark Wahlberg—"I think we found a Transformer!"—doesn't do it, nothing will. [WL]

Wish I Was Here (July 18)

Zach Braff. Kickstarter. "The story of a struggling actor who is still trying to find his identity." Sweet god, that title. At last, a movie that exists solely to inspire you to want to kick it in its goddamned face. [WL]

Planes: Fire & Rescue (July 18)

The Planes films are made by Disney, not Pixar, so don't blame the Toy Story guys for this depressingly lame franchise. But think about this: There is a new generation who thinks Dane Cook is just the guy who provides the voice to the lovable Dusty Crophopper. Wait 'til they find out. [TG]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8)

The best part of the TMNT trailer is that it attempts to somehow give the turtles scope and grandeur. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I think they only know one way to make trailers. It will be funny to see Michael Bay (and Megan Fox!) attempt to talk to little kids, though. [WL]

Grierson & Leitch is a regular column about the movies. Follow us on Twitter, @griersonleitch.

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