ENTERTAINMENT
05/05/2017 09:37 am ET

23 Must-See Blockbusters And Indie Gems Opening This Summer

Suit up for "Wonder Woman," Sofia Coppola and a few girls' nights out.

Blockbusters, once associated only with the dog days of summer, are now year-round events. But as long as studios keep packing the hottest months with one big-budget spectacle after the next, we’ll offer some recommendations on which ones look the most promising. (Sorry, “Transformers.”) 

In between all that computer-generated action, you’ll also find indie charmers, thoughtful documentaries and a few intimate genre pieces likely to generate buzz. (Enough with you, “Transformers.”)

Here are 23 options fulfilling all sides of the moviegoing spectrum. (Bye, “Transformers.”)

  • "Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2" (May 5)
    Directed by James Gunn &bull; Written by James Gunn<br><br>Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper,
    Disney
    Directed by James Gunn • Written by James Gunn

    Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Stallone and Karen Gillan

    What to expect: There's no way the third-highest-grossing movie of 2014 wouldn't get a sequel. In the scope of the Marvel universe, "Guardians of the Galaxy" was so fresh and different that it's impossible to recapture the same glory. "Vol. 2" does its best, blending the witty irreverence that pleased fans with surprisingly moving sentiments about friendship and bravery.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Snatched" (May 12)
    Directed by Jonathan Levine &bull; Written by Katie Dippold<br><br>Starring Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Christopher Meloni, Wan
    Fox
    Directed by Jonathan Levine • Written by Katie Dippold

    Starring Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Christopher Meloni, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Ike Barinholtz and Randal Park

    What to expect: Goldie Hawn hasn't made a movie in 15 years, which alone places "Snatched" in the must-see category. She and Amy Schumer play a hyper-cautious mother and a recently dumped daughter whose Ecuador vacation flies off the rails when they get kidnapped.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Alien: Covenant" (May 19)
    Directed by Ridley Scott &bull; Written by Dante Harper and John Logan<br><br>Starring Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbende
    Fox
    Directed by Ridley Scott • Written by Dante Harper and John Logan

    Starring Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir

    What to expect: The 2012 prequel "Prometheus" marked Ridley Scott's return to the "Alien" franchise, 33 years after he made the near-perfect original. "Alien: Covenant" picks up 10 years after the events of "Prometheus," with a colony ship headed to a remote planet where a life-threatening lone inhabitant is found.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Wonder Woman" (June 2)
    Directed by Patty Jenkins &bull; Written by Allan Heinberg, Jason Fuchs and Zack Snyder<br><br>Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine
    Warner Bros
    Directed by Patty Jenkins • Written by Allan Heinberg, Jason Fuchs and Zack Snyder

    Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis and Danny Huston

    What to expect: With "Wonder Woman," a female director finally gets to spearhead a superhero flick. Like many men who've helmed blockbusters in the past decade, Patty Jenkins hails from the indie world -- her signature credits are "Monster" and two episodes of the AMC series "The Killing." She steeled herself for a big task, as a big-screen "Wonder Woman" has been in development since 1986. With Israeli star Gal Gadot in the title role on a mission to stop World War I, we have high hopes. 

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Dean" (June 2)
    Directed by Demetri Martin &bull; Written by Demetri Martin<br><br>Starring Demetri Martin, Gillian Jacobs, Kevin Kline, Mary
    CBS Films
    Directed by Demetri Martin • Written by Demetri Martin

    Starring Demetri Martin, Gillian Jacobs, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen, Reid Scott and Peter Scalari 

    What to expect: This charming dramedy about an under-employed illustrator rebounding from his mother's death and the sale of his childhood home makes for a nice directorial inauguration for Demetri Martin. It's a fortuitous summer jaunt, both wistful and lively. 

    Watch the trailer.
  • "It Comes at Night" (June 9)
    Directed by Trey Edward Shults &bull; Written by&nbsp;Trey Edward Shults<br><br>Starring Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, C
    A24
    Directed by Trey Edward Shults • Written by Trey Edward Shults

    Starring Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough and Kelvin Harrison Jr.

    What to expect: "Krisha," one of 2016's best movies, introduced Trey Edward Shults, who was immediately inducted into the cannon of promising young indie auteurs. That movie borrowed elements of the psychological-thriller genre, but "It Comes at Night" is a full-on horrorfest, chronicling two families whose mutual paranoia builds amid a civilization-threatening epidemic.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Beatriz at Dinner" (June 9)
    Directed by Miguel Arteta &bull; Written by Mike White<br><br>Starring Salma Hayek, Connie Britton,&nbsp;Chlo&euml; Sevigny,
    Roadside Attractions
    Directed by Miguel Arteta • Written by Mike White

    Starring Salma Hayek, Connie Britton, Chloë Sevigny, John Lithgow, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker and John Early

    What to expect: It's time for Salma Hayek to have a moment. "Beatriz at Dinner" gives her one. Hayek plays a California-based holistic healer who apprehensively dines at her wealthy clients' home after her car breaks down. Beatriz's composure crumbles as her companions' subtle hostility toward immigrants emerges. Miguel Arteta and the exceedingly gifted Mike White are frequent collaborators -- their highlights include "The Good Girl" and the impeccable HBO series "Enlightened."

    Watch the trailer.
  • "All Eyez on Me" (June 16)
    Directed by Benny Boom &bull; Written by Jeremy Halt, Eddie Gonzalez and Steven Bagatourian<br><br>Starring Demetrius Shipp J
    Lionsgate
    Directed by Benny Boom • Written by Jeremy Halt, Eddie Gonzalez and Steven Bagatourian

    Starring Demetrius Shipp Jr., Kat Graham, Dominic L. Sanata, Danai Gurira, Jamal Woolard and Lauren Cohan

    What to expect: In 2015, "Straight Outta Compton" turned N.W.A.'s origin story into a box-office smash. "All Eyez on Me" will attempt to do the same with Tupac Shakur, chronicling his rise to fame, rivalry with Notorious B.I.G. and brutal death at the age of 25.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Rough Night" (June 16)
    Directed by Lucia Aniello&nbsp;&bull; Written by&nbsp;Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs<br><br>Starring Scarlett Johansson, Kat
    Sony
    Directed by Lucia Aniello • Written by Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs

    Starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Zoë Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Jillian Bell, Demi Moore, Ty Burrell and Colton Haynes

    What to expect: If Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs' "Broad City" work offers any indication, "Rough Night" is everything we want in a summer comedy. It's "Bachelorette" with a murderous twist: Five college besties reunite for a weekend in Miami, where they accidentally kill a male stripper while partying. In the infamous words of no one in particular, what's a girl to do? We'll find out.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "The Beguiled" (June 23)
    Directed by Sofia Coppola &bull; Written by Sofia Coppola<br><br>Starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle F
    Focus Features
    Directed by Sofia Coppola • Written by Sofia Coppola

    Starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Oona Laurence

    What to expect: Every Sofia Coppola movie is an event, but seeing her make a Southern Gothic horror deserves a phenomenon. "The Beguiled" reimagines the 1971 Clint Eastwood drama about a Civil War invalid camping out at a rural all-girls' boarding school. Things get twisted enough for this lone gentlemen to cry out, "What have you done to me, you vengeful bitches?" Hell yes.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "The Big Sick" (June 23)
    Directed by Michael Showalter &bull; Written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani<br><br>Starring&nbsp;Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe
    Lionsgate/Amazon
    Directed by Michael Showalter • Written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani

    Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano and Aidy Bryant

    What to expect: Kumail Nanjiani's life story serves as ideal fodder for this delightful, bittersweet movie about a Pakistani-American comedian dating a white woman against his Muslim family's wishes. It has an Apatowian bent to it, given it was produced by Judd Apatow. The real star: Holly Hunter, whose name deserves to resurface in next year's Oscar race.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Baby Driver" (June 28)
    Directed by Edgar Wright &bull; Written by Edgar Wright<br><br>Starring Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey,&nbs
    TriStar Pictures
    Directed by Edgar Wright • Written by Edgar Wright

    Starring Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Eiza González, Sky Ferreira, Jon Bernthal and Flea

    What to expect: The first "Baby Driver" reviews out of South by Southwest called the movie "thrilling" and "wildly successful." Essentially a two-hour music video, this crime caper with rom-com undertones stars Ansel Elgort as a getaway driver attempting to abandon his heist habits. Key word: "attempting."

    Watch the trailer.
  • "The House" (June 30)
    Directed by Andrew J. Cohen &bull; Written by Andrew J. Cohen<br><br>Starring Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell,&nbsp;Jason Mantzouka
    Warner Bros
    Directed by Andrew J. Cohen • Written by Andrew J. Cohen

    Starring Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Jason Mantzoukas, Allison Tolman, Michaela Watkins, Sam Richardson, Rob Huebel and Andrea Savage

    What to expect: The writer of "Neighbors" makes his directorial debut with this rowdy comedy about a suburban couple who start a basement casino to fund their daughter's college tuition. Aside from her "Anchorman 2" cameo, Amy Poehler hasn't appeared on the big screen with Will Ferrell, her former "SNL" colleague, since "Blades of Glory" in 2007. 

    Watch the trailer.
  • "A Ghost Story" (July 7)
    Directed by David Lowery &bull; Written by David Lowery&nbsp;<br><br>Starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck<br><br><strong>Wh
    A24
    Directed by David Lowery • Written by David Lowery 

    Starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck

    What to expect: There's no use likening "A Ghost Story" to any precursors -- it's truly one of a kind. Nearly wordless but relentlessly captivating, this meditative drama explores grief and the passage of time through the eyes of a newly widowed Texan whose late husband returns to haunt the home they shared. It sounds like the premise of a horror movie, but this Sundance standout is far more intriguing.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Dunkirk" (July 21)
    Directed by Christopher Nolan &bull; Written by Christopher Nolan<br><br>Starring Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy,
    Warner Bros
    Directed by Christopher Nolan • Written by Christopher Nolan

    Starring Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Harry Styles and James D'Arcy

    What to expect: For "Dunkirk," Christopher Nolan reportedly inked the heftiest director salary in more than a decade. The World War II survival epic incorporated inventive shooting strategies using IMAX cameras, practical effects and hordes of extras, which sounds as Nolanian as they come.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Patti Cake$" (July 7)
    Directed by Jeremy Gasper &bull; Written by Jeremy Gasper<br><br>Starring Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett,&nbsp;Siddharth
    Fox Searchlight
    Directed by Jeremy Gasper • Written by Jeremy Gasper

    Starring Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie and Cathy Moriarty

    What to expect: This Sundance crowdpleaser showcases a plus-size white teenage girl with dreams of becoming a gangster rapper. Name a more iconic premise.

    No trailer available.
  • "Girls Trip" (July 21)
    Directed by Malcolm D. Lee &bull; Written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver<br><br>Starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, Q
    Universal
    Directed by Malcolm D. Lee • Written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver

    Starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate and Mike Colter

    What to expect: One month after "Rough Night," another ladies' outing arrives in the form of "Girls Trip." But instead of a deadly bachelorette weekend in Miami, these friends are heading to New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival and some perilous French Quarter zip-lining. 

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Atomic Blonde" (July 28)
    Directed by David Leitch &bull; Written by Kurt Johnstad<br><br>Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jo
    Focus Features
    Directed by David Leitch • Written by Kurt Johnstad

    Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Sofia Boutella and Bill Skarsgård

    What to expect: Charlize Theron was stuck barking commands from behind a desk in "The Fate of the Furious," but in the punk-rock thriller "Atomic Blonde," she gets to join the action. Theron plays a first-rate spy commissioned to take down a espionage ring during the final days of the Berlin Wall. The movie is based on Antony Johnston's graphic novel "The Coldest City."

    Watch the trailer.
  • "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" (July 28)
    Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk<br><br>Starring Al Gore and footage of Donald Trump denying scientific evidence<br><br>
    Paramount
    Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk

    Starring Al Gore and footage of Donald Trump denying scientific evidence

    What to expect: Eleven years after "An Inconvenient Truth" galvanized climate-change activism, Al Gore is back with an update on how far we've come. The documentary is brimming with hope, particularly surrounding the Paris agreement signed in 2015 -- and then global-warming denier Donald Trump is elected president.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "The Dark Tower" (Aug. 4)
    Directed by Nikolaj Arcel &bull; Written by&nbsp;Nikolaj Arcel, Akiva Goldsman,&nbsp;Jeff Pinkner and Anders Thomas Jensen<br
    Sony
    Directed by Nikolaj Arcel • Written by Nikolaj Arcel, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner and Anders Thomas Jensen

    Starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Jackie Earle Haley and Katheryn Winnick

    What to expect: The long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series takes place after the final book's events, when an 11-year-old adventurer is whisked to Mid-World to help the Gunslinger save the world. Given the novels' popularity and the long gestation this film has undergone, expect "The Dark Tower" to be one of summer's defining hits.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Fun Mom Dinner" (Aug. 4)
    Directed by Althea Jones &bull; Written by Julie Rudd<br><br>Starring Toni Collette,&nbsp;Katie Aselton, Bridget Everett, Mol
    Momentum
    Directed by Althea Jones • Written by Julie Rudd

    Starring Toni Collette, Katie Aselton, Bridget Everett, Molly Shannon, Adam Scott, Paul Rust, Ron Huebel, Adam Levine and Paul Rudd

    What to expect: It's "Bad Moms" 2.0. You know the drill: Four tired mothers of preschoolers enjoy a night out; antics ensue.

    No trailer available.
  • "Detroit" (Aug. 4)
    Directed by Kathryn Bigelow &bull; Written&nbsp;by Mark Boal<br><br>Starring John Boyega, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Sam
    Annapurna Pictures
    Directed by Kathryn Bigelow • Written by Mark Boal

    Starring John Boyega, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Samira Wiley, Will Poulter, Jason Mitchell, Kaitlyn Dever and Jack Reynor

    What to expect: In July 1967, police raided an unlicensed bar filled with black patrons. What followed were six days of rioting that resulted in 43 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries. Kathryn Bigelow has reteamed with "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Hurt Locker" scribe Mark Boal to tell the story of one of the largest citizen revolts in U.S. history. This could be summer's Oscar contender.

    Watch the trailer.
  • "Ingrid Goes West" (Aug. 11)
    Directed by Matt Spicer &bull; Written by David Branson Smith and Matt Spicer<br><br>Starring Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen,
    Neon
    Directed by Matt Spicer • Written by David Branson Smith and Matt Spicer

    Starring Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen and Pom Klementieff

    What to expect: A buzzy title at this year's Sundance, "Ingrid Goes West" is a fable for the Instagram age. Aubrey Plaza plays an unstable loner who moves from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles in hopes of befriending the social-media celebrity with whom she's obsessed. This low-budget dark comedy satirizes instant gratification and bad decisions.

    Watch the trailer.

All release dates are subject to change.

The above video was edited by Gabe Piscione.

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