12 Films still to look forward to this summer

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With the second half of the year underway, it’s tempting to also declare the summer movie season all but over as well. While we may only have a few big blockbusters still to go, the independent films still to be released offer some interesting options, with at least one excellent option that I can vouch for (though I’ve actually seen all but four of the titles on the impending list). As such, I figured I’d take this moment to give you all 12 flicks that you can still look forward to between now and the end of August. There’s plenty out now to see, between Boyhood, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Life Itself, just to name three excellent new releases, but now I’ll give you some other things to anticipate.

Below you’ll see a dozen films that you should still have marked down on your calendars as must sees…

12. I Origins – Even though I’m not a huge fan of this science fiction tinged indie drama, it’s certainly interesting and worth seeing. Filmmaker Mike Cahill impressed me last time around with Another Earth, so anyone who liked that one should check out this new one, which also features Brit Marling once again, though Michael Pitt is the star this time around. It begins its rollout next week.

11. Love Is Strange – Back at the Tribeca Film Festival I saw and very much enjoyed this small scale love story. Both John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are excellent here as an older couple trying to make it in New York City. It’s well worth seeing, trust me there. It hits at the end of August.

10. A Most Wanted Man – One of the final performances we’ll ever see from the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman is in this thriller. At one point this was thought of as a potential awards player, but its reception at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year was rather muted. Still, it opens at the beginning of next month and should be worth checking out.

9. The One I Love – An offbeat dramedy with a number of plot twists I won’t spoil, it captured my interest at Tribeca. Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss are strong as just about the only folks in the movie. It’s out in the middle of August and is a nice change of pace option for audiences.

8. Calvary – The previous film by John Michael McDonagh (The Guard) also gave Brendan Gleeson a lot of room to play, so here’s hoping that this one is just as good. It’s another August 1st release, so there isn’t too much of a wait either. It may be a bit small for some, but it’s going to be rewarding for many others.

7. Magic in the Moonlight – I’m always a fan of Woody Allen movies, and while I’m embargoed from saying anything about his latest, I do look forward to others getting to see it later on in July. Allen’s flicks are always solid counter-progamming, and this romantic lark featuring Colin Firth and Emma Stone likely is no exception this month. When I can say more about it, I will.

6. Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – Even though the first film in this presumed now franchise didn’t blow me away, I’m always willing to give Robert Rodriguez a shot and this is no exception. I’m sure many of you are counting down the days until this one opens in August, so it’s only about a month or so more of a wait until the stylized story hits screens.

5. About Alex – Another movie I loved at Tribeca, this is my generations’ The Big Chill. Ed Zwick’s son Jesse Zwick establishes himself as a young filmmaker to watch with this touching dramedy. The ensemble cast is strong and this is one that deserves a bigger audience than it’ll likely get. When it opens next month, do your best to check it out if you can. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

4. Frank – Michael Fassbender is outstanding in this music tinged dramedy. It received solid reviews at Sundance and when it hits in August, I’m sure some will try and pitch Fassbender as a Best Actor contender. I think the movie is too small, but he’s certainly good enough, so if you dig him, this is one not to miss, as it’s a tour de force on his part.

3. What If – One of the smartest romantic comedy/dramedies this year, this seeks to be a modern update on When Harry Met Sally and pretty much succeeds. Starring Zoe Kazan and Daniel Radcliffe (both of whom are excellent), the rom com begins its run next month, before hopefully expanding to wider audiences by the beginning of September. It’s very witty and is hovering around the bottom of my top ten of the year so far list. If that does anything for you, consider it added incentive to check this one out.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy – The big blockbuster still to come, I’ve seen about 17 minutes of this new Marvel flick and it’s a ton of fun. The character Rocket Raccoon especially (voiced by Bradley Cooper) will likely steal the movie and be the character of the summer for many. It’s not going to contend for awards, but it might be the most profitable summer release still to come. It hits on the first day of August and will clean up at the box office.

1. Wish I Was Here – One of the best films I’ve seen this year, Zach Braff’s sophomore directorial outing is hilarious and poignant in equal measure. Braff, Kate Hudson, and Joey King are terrific, with certain elements of the movie even eclipsing Braff’s Garden State in my eyes. I’ll be talking more about this one when it comes out next weekend, but for now, it’s clearly the flick to most look forward to not only in July but throughout the rest of the summer as well. It’s a winner, plain and simple.

There you have it. Now, you have no excuse for not enjoying the rest of the summer movie season!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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