After a winter that felt like it would never end (we’re still not entirely sure it ever did end), summer is finally here! OK, well the summer movie season is here anyway and with it comes sequels, reboots, remakes, prequels, adaptations, spinoffs and, if you look hard enough, some original movies too. There’s just about something for everyone. To help you wade through the many, many offerings (yes, there really is a movie where Christopher Walken turns Kevin Spacey into a cat), the ScreenCrush staff has put together a handy guide to the 20 movies you definitely don’t want to miss this summer.

So get out your calendar and your sharpie and start making your plans, because you’ve got a lot of movies to see over the next few months. The 2016 Summer Movie Season starts NOW.

Captain America: Civil War

Every summer movie season starts with a bang (and usually long before summer actually starts) and 2016 is no exception. What will likely wind up being the biggest movie of this summer, at least monetarily, is also the first. Captain America: Civil War arrives in theaters less than two months after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but Civil War brings with it stellar reviews and just about every superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (minus Hulk and Thor who are off causing trouble on the far side of the galaxy). It’s not just one of the biggest films of the summer, it may be one of the best. (May 6)

The Lobster

No, The Lobster isn’t the latest obscure superhero to make its way to the big screen this summer, but instead the latest from director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth). This dark, dark comedy deals with a dystopic future in which coupling is strictly enforced by the government. Those who are without significant others (like stars Colin Farrell and John C. Reilly) are sent to a facility to find a suitable mate; if no mate is found, they will be turned into an animal. If you can believe it, it gets even weirder from there. It’s like Wes Anderson meets Terry Gilliam and we promise you it won’t be like anything else you see at theaters this summer. (May 13)

Neighbors 2

Making a comedy sequel that’s just as good — if not better — than its predecessor is no easy feat, and yet Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising looks like a worthy successor to 2014’s surprise hit. Yes, the plot does seem like a basic gender switch, with a gaggle of scheming sorority mean girls replacing Zac Efron’s beer-guzzling frat bros as Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne’s new neighbors from hell, but that simple narrative concept isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes the best choice is the most obvious one, like casting Chloe Moretz as the sorority leader, capitalizing on her history of playing conniving, bratty characters who are scarily good at hilariously destroying the lives of grown men. She’ll have a little help from Selena Gomez, and if the idea of watching these two wreak havoc on Seth Rogen doesn’t sound even mildly entertaining to you, then perhaps you should check your pulse because you may very well be dead inside. (May 20)

The Nice Guys

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in a period buddy cop movie co-written and directed by Shane Black, the man who gave us the Lethal Weapon franchise, The Last Boy Scout, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang? Plus it’s an L.A. Confidential reunion with Crowe and Kim Basinger? And Matt Bomer and Keith David are in it too? Just shut up and put it in our eyeballs already. (May 20)

X-Men: Apocalypse

On the page, Mystique has long been one of the X-Men’s most persistent foes. Occasionally, she’s been a reluctant ally. But in the latest X-Men movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, Mystique practically becomes the team’s new leader when (at least according to the movie’s most recent trailer) she replaces Professor X (James McAvoy) and assembles a new group of mutants to fight Oscar Isaac’s immortal Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen (including Michael Fassbender’s Magneto). Could this heroic change of heart be a shameless attempt to artificially inflate the part because she’s played by mega-star Jennifer Lawrence? Absolutely. Do we care? Since it means more JLaw in X-Men, not in the slightest. (May 27)

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

While the idea of a parody of a documentary that came out back in 2011 (Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never) might seem a little late to the party, it’s the who behind this comedy that has us excited. The second official Lonely Island movie (after Hot Rod, perhaps the most underrated comedy of the last 10 years), Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schafer bring us Popstar, a new mockumentary about a Bieber-esque popstar that has to come to grips with the fact that he may not be so hot any more. In addition to the movie, the film also brings with it the soundtrack, which doubles as the new Lonely Island album. That’s enough to make you jizz in your pants. (June 3)

The Conjuring 2

Horror sequels don’t always have the best reputation — they’re traditionally more Jaws 4 than Evil Dead 2 — but we remain steadfast in our optimism for James Wan’s return to The Conjuring. The first film was so efficient and economical in its scares, it was one of the most surprising studio horror films in years. Yes, the spinoff Annabelle was a complete disappointment, but Wan himself is actually directing the sequel and we couldn’t be more excited (and terrified) to see what else is lurking around the corner. (June 10)

Finding Dory

Maybe Pixar genius Andrew Stanton lost himself a bit in the transition to live-action filmmaking and his infamous adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter. But there’s every reason to believe he’ll find himself again back home at Pixar (where he previously directed Finding Nemo and WALL-E, and co-wrote all three Toy Storys and Monsters, Inc.) for the Nemo sequel Finding Dory. Set a few months after the events of the first film, this time it’s Ellen DeGeneres’ forgetful blue tang who gets lost as she sets out to find her family, while Albert Brooks’ Marlin and his young son Nemo (Hayden Rolence) follow her trail. Some are skeptical of Pixar’s move towards sequels, but we love Finding Nemo and can’t wait to see what Stanton does back in the world of animation. (June 17)

Swiss Army Man

A movie in which Daniel Radcliffe portrays a farting corpse does not sound like your typical summer release, nor does it seem to be the most likely candidate for a film you would describe as “sweet” and “touching.” But those are the words that have been frequently associated with Swiss Army Man, the feature film debut of music video directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, aka the Daniels. The odd new indie comedy stars Paul Dano as a man who strikes up a very unlikely friendship with a dead body while stranded in the wilderness. Together, the pair form a strange bond and embark on a truly surreal journey to return to civilization. Co-starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Swiss Army Man blends fantasy with bizarre comedy and a healthily surprising dose of heart for a film that looks unlike anything we’ve seen before. We can’t decide what’s weirder: Paul Dano becoming BFFs with Daniel Radcliffe’s bloated corpse or the fact that a movie in which this happens could be one of the more poignant experiences of 2016. (June 24)

Independence Day: Resurgence

They’re baaaaack. Just when you thought your national monuments were safe, the aliens valiantly defeated by Will Smith & Co. in Roland Emmerich’s 1996 disasterpiece have returned, and this time they’re…well, they’re still out to destroy the world, but they certainly won’t be second-guessing our defense skills — especially when the government has taken the tech they left behind and developed new weapons. Will Smith may not be back for Independence Day: Resurgence, but the sequel does feature original cast members like Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch and, most importantly, Jeff Goldblum. Who doesn’t want to see Jeff Goldblum, unlikeliest of action heroes, in a space suit battling an epic extraterrestrial threat? Who among you would deny such a glorious thing? The long-awaited sequel looks like the sort of absurdist, explosive disaster flick we’ve come to expect from Emmerich, a director whose fetish for destroying iconic landmarks rivals Michael Bay’s similar preoccupation with oily biceps. (June 24)

The Neon Demon

Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest effort eschews the masculinity of Drive and Only God Forgives with a female-centric horror film partially inspired by the gruesome tale of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Set in modern-day Los Angeles, The Neon Demon stars Elle Fanning as an aspiring model whose youthful beauty makes her the target for a group of her violently envious peers. As implied by the title, Refn’s avant garde thriller incorporates vivid colors that contrast with L.A.’s sleek and deceptive promises of glitter and gold. With imagery suggestive of some insidious madness to come and a supporting cast that includes Keanu Reeves and Christina Hendricks, The Neon Demon looks like one of this summer’s more seductive — and dangerous — offerings. (June 24)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

If you needed another reason to get excited for Thor: Ragnarok (besides the obvious Hulk and Thor on a buddy-comedy adventure) just go see The Hunt For the Wilderpeople this summer. The latest film from Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) is such a funny, touching and enchanting adventure about a crusty old outdoorsman (Sam Neill) and a wanna-be gangsta kid (Julian Dennison) who are lost in the New Zealand outback as authorities track them down. It’s like Up meets Moonrise Kingdom by way of Edgar Wright. The film wowed audiences at both Sundance and SXSW and is setting box-office records in its home country. Now the rest of us get to see what all the well-deserved fuss is about. (June 24)


It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if, in late August, we see The BFG topping every single “Best 2016 Summer Movies” list. The film brings together Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison, the director/writer team of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, for another story about childhood and outsiderdom, this one based on a beloved book by Roald Dahl. It also stars Mark Rylance as the title character (a “big friendly giant”); his last performance for Spielberg, in Bridge of Spies, earned him an Academy Award. Spielberg excels at this sort of whimsical kids movie, and at finding the humanity in massive special effects. Everything about this, right down to the plush Independence Day weekend release date, suggests it’s going to be a BFD (big freaking deal). (July 1)


Who you gonna call? Paul Feig, if you’re looking to make a great female-driven action-comedy. The director of The Heat and Spy adds some sci-fi to that mix with Ghostbusters, his reboot of Ivan Reitman’s 1984 classic. Featuring the knockout lineup of Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon and Feig-fave Melissa McCarthy, you could call this film Spiritblasters and we’d still be first in line to buy a ticket on opening day. The promise of seeing these four wildly funny women strap on some proton packs to bust ghosts is just too awesome to ignore, and although the trailer was somewhat underwhelming, Feig has a history of delivering the goods when it comes to the main event. And casting Chris Hemsworth — aka the artist occasionally known as Thor — as the ladies’ hunky dim bulb of a receptionist is just an inherently hilarious bonus. (July 15)

Star Trek Beyond

Idris Elba as a space-villain? Sold. A Star Trek sequel directed by Justin Lin? We’re there. Based on a script co-written by Simon Pegg? Stop twisting our arm. Despite the disappointment of Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond has our attention for all of the aforementioned reasons — and then some. The basic Star Trek story has always followed Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise as they explore distant alien planets and rescue natives from impending doom. But the most interesting aspect of Lin’s new sequel is that it pauses to consider the ramifications of that ambitious heroism — what if Kirk & Co.’s actions ultimately did more harm than good? What if not everyone perceived them as saviors? Enter Idris Elba, who plays a new antagonist created specifically for Star Trek Beyond. His bone to pick with, uh, Bones and the gang isn’t rooted in the typical motivations of your average Trek villain. That concept alone has us pumped, not to mention the addition of Kingsman’s Sofia Boutella as a rad new alien. (July 22)

Jason Bourne

Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass previously declared themselves done with the Jason Bourne franchise after 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum. But the true Bourne ultimatum came from fans after 2012’s The Bourne Legacy tried to continue the series without Damon (Jeremy Renner’s vaguely Bourne-y hero, Aaron Cross, soldiered on in his place): “Give us the real Bourne, or GTFO.” Four years later, Universal finally delivers Jason Bourne, a title that breaks with the franchise’s previous naming convention of The Bourne Somethingorother in order to confirm that, yes, this movie has the real Bourne (and Damon) back with Paul Greengrass, for more epic fistfights involving household items and crazy car chases. Thank goodness. The Bourne identity should only belong to one man. (July 29)

Bad Moms

From Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the writers of The Hangover, comes this comedy about an overworked mom (Mila Kunis) who finally snaps and joins up with two other frustrated mothers (Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell) to break free of the shackles of responsible parenthood. With a cast that also includes Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Annie Mumolo, and freaking Kesha, plus a pair of directors with a flair for finding comic gold in the moment when repressed people finally unleash their wild side, Bad Moms definitely has sleeper comedy of the summer potential. (July 29)

Suicide Squad

Under ordinary circumstances, Batman v Superman may have dampened your enthusiasm for the next film in the DC Cinematic Universe, but Suicide Squad seems so wildly different from anything in Zack Snyder’s previous two films, it’s hard to hold any prejudice against it. The film follows a rogues’ gallery of DC villains — Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Rick Flag, Katana, Killer Croc, Diablo, Captain Boomerang and Slipknot — recruited by the government to stop a powerful new villain. But does the government actually want them to succeed or just have someone to blame when the fail? Oh yeah, and The Joker is there too. The film looks bright, weird and funny, and could be the DC Cinematic Universe’s answer to Guardians of the Galaxy. (August 5)

Nine Lives

Yes, this is the movie where Christopher Walken turns Kevin Spacey into a cat in order to teach him a lesson about being a better father to his family (including his wife, played by Jennifer Garner). You might ask, “ScreenCrush, with all the decent-looking stuff that didn’t make your most anticipated list, why are you looking forward to this?” The answer is very simple. No matter how many trailers or posters they release for Nine Lives, we still refuse to believe this is a real movie. Kevin Spacey learns to be a dad by becoming a cat? No. No, this cannot be. We literally need to see this to believe it. Probably while drunk. (August 5)

Pete’s Dragon

Disney’s next big redo curiously revisits one of its lesser classics with an updated take on Pete’s Dragon, the 1977 film that combined live-action with a giant cartoon dragon to deliver one of the studio’s weirder family adventures. David Lowery, best known for indie drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, directed the remake, which centers on a young orphan boy whose new best friend just happens to be a dragon — no big deal. Pete’s Dragon boasts a solid cast including Robert Redford, Karl Urban and Bryce Dallas Howard (who seems to have grown quite fond of acting opposite large CGI reptiles). Speaking of which: although the remake’s titular dragon was created with CGI, it definitely looks as though Lowery has maintained the cartoonish, fantastical spirit of its predecessor. If nothing else, Disney’s latest remake is almost guaranteed to be an improvement on the original, which isn’t nearly as good as you vaguely remember it to be. (August 12)