summer movies 2020
Thrillist/Maitane Romagosa

19 Movies We Can't Wait to Actually See This Summer

No theaters, no problem.

In the same way personal plans for the next few months were scrapped in the wake of the coronavirus, the summer movie season is in a state of flux. With drive-in theaters reopening across the country, providing a socially distant way to enjoy a trip to the movies, and Christopher Nolan insisting that his latest head-scratcher Tenet will absolutely open on July 17, there are signs that moviegoing might not be on permanent hiatus. Though many of the summer's biggest tentpoles were pushed to 2021 -- you won't be hanging with Vin Diesel and the Fast family any time soon -- the show will go on in a new, mostly couch-bound form. 

For the purposes of this list, we've focused on the movies that you're actually going to be able to see. Depending on where you live or if they're actually released, films like the aforementioned Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984, and Mulan might end up on your hypothetical to-watch list. But the movies you'll find below, all of which will be released via a streaming platform or on Video On Demand, are the ones that we know for certain will be available. The only risk involved will be finding out if they're as good as they look.

the high note
Focus Features

The High Note 

Release date: May 29
Cast: Tracee Ellis Ross, Dakota Johnson, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ice Cube
Director: Nisha Ganatra 
Why we're excited: Tracee Ellis Ross pays homage to her very famous mom in this adorable comedy from Nisha Ganatra, the director of last year's Late Night. Ross plays Grace Davis, a diva who isn't quite as popular as she used to be. Her loyal assistant Maggie (Dakota Johnson) really wants to produce music. Can the younger generation help the older generation succeed? Probably!
Where to watch: VOD (Watch the trailer)

the vast of night
Amazon Studios

The Vast of Night

Release date: May 29 
Cast: Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Bruce Davis
Director: Andrew Patterson
Why we're excited: A sci-fi thriller styled like an episode from The Twilight Zone reliving the heyday of retro radio dramas? Sign us up. Set in 1950s New Mexico, the movie follows two young teens who both discover a strange sound coming over the radio waves on a dark summer night. When mystery people start calling in claiming they've heard the noise before, the two uncover a decades-old extraterrestrial cover-up.
Where to watch: In select theaters and on Amazon Prime (Watch the trailer)

the last days of american crime

The Last Days of American Crime 

Release date: June 5
Cast: Édgar Ramírez, Anna Brewster, Michael Pitt, Sharlto Copley
Director: Olivier Megaton
Why we're excited: Édgar Ramírez, the star of the excellent Carlos and forgettable Point Break remake, plays a bank robber who signs up for one last job before the government implements an oppressive (and potentially difficult to pull off) brainwave technology that permanently ends all criminal behavior. With a high-concept premise that sounds like Den of Thieves meets The Purge, this Netflix thriller, based on a comic by prolific writer Rick Remender, will either be surprisingly fun or incredibly dumb. Or maybe a little bit of both?
Where to watch: Netflix (Watch the trailer)

shirley movie


Release date: June 5
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan Lerman
Director: Josephine Decker 
Why we're excited: This sort-of biopic about the foundational horror author Shirley Jackson was one of our favorite films out of Sundance. It's an impressionistic take on the writer best known for her short story "The Lottery" played by our foremost interpreter of madness, Elisabeth Moss. Here, Shirley's reclusive life is interrupted by the arrival of a young couple, who she initially antagonizes before infecting with her demons. It's a sexy, surreal film. 
Where to watch: Hulu, VOD, and participating drive-ins (Watch the trailer)

Quiver/RedBox Entertainment


Release date: June 5
Cast: Lulu Wilson, Joel McHale, Kevin James
Directors: Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion
Why we're excited: When a family's lake house vacation takes a turn for the worse -- Kevin James shows up in full neo-Nazi convict attire, complete with swastika head tattoo -- it's up to young Becky to save her family by any means necessary. And, judging from the trailer, this kid has a violent streak. Directors Milott and Murnion helmed the similarly kinetic Bushwick, which featured a surprising turn from wrestler-turned-actor Dave Bautista, so expect lots of mayhem and some real menace from the cast-against-type King of Queens star. 
Where to watch: VOD (Watch the trailer)

artemis fowl
Walt Disney Pictures

Artemis Fowl

Release date: June 12 
Cast: Ferdia Shaw, Colin Farrell, Judi Dench
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Why we're excited: The long-awaited (and long-delayed) film adaptation of the beloved young adult urban fantasy series is finally coming out -- and on streaming in the comfort of your own home, no less. Artemis Fowl is a preteen criminal mastermind, hellbent on enlisting the help of the fairy world to save his father, played here by Colin Farrell, from an evil threat. While it feels like Disney is cutting its loses by punting this expensive would-be blockbuster to its streaming platform, expect to hear that lots of kids and families watched this one, just like Universal's Trolls World Tour earlier this year. 
Where to watch: Disney+ (Watch the trailer)

the king of staten island
Universal Pictures

The King of Staten Island

Release date: June 12
Cast: Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Steve Buscemi 
Director: Judd Apatow
Why we're excited: Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Pete Davidson is one of the most intriguing figures in modern comedy. The King of Staten Island isn't exactly his autobiography -- he plays Scott, a burnout in his mid-20s who lives with his mom and is still dealing with the death of his firefighter father -- but it's drawn from elements of his life. Judd Apatow, the patron saint of man-children, is the perfect director to bring the story of arrested development mixed with profound grief over the loss of a parent to the screen.
Where to watch: VOD (Watch the trailer)

da 5 bloods

Da 5 Bloods 

Release date: June 12
Cast: Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Chadwick Boseman
Director: Spike Lee
Why we're excited: Following up his Oscar-winning cop drama BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee has teamed up with Netflix for this flashback-heavy Vietnam War drama, which follows a group of grizzled veterans on a trip to recover some lost gold and the remains of their squad leader (played by Black Panther's Chadwick Boseman). Seemingly riffing on classics like Apocalypse Now and The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Da 5 Bloods will likely be provocative, ambitious, and unpredictable. That's the Spike Lee way. 
Where to watch: Netflix (Watch the trailer)

miss juneteenth
Vertical Entertainment

Miss Juneteenth

Release date: June 19
Cast: Nicole Beharie, Alexis Chikaeze, Kendrick Sampson
Director: Channing Godfrey Peoples
Why we're excited: Nicole Beharie, who genre fans might remember from FOX's Sleepy Hollow or the "Striking Vipers" episode of Black Mirror, is one of the most underrated actresses working today and she finally gets a role worthy of her talents in Channing Godfrey Peoples' Miss Juneteenth. The film, which was praised out of Sundance, stars Beharie as a mom pushing her daughter to relive her former glory as a pageant queen in the Miss Juneteenth contest.
Where to watch: VOD and in select theaters (Watch the trailer)

Elizabeth Viggiano/Netflix

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga 

Release date: June 26
Cast: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Pierce Brosnan
Director: David Dobkin 
Why we're excited: With no Eurovision this year because of the pandemic, we're going to have to get our dose of insanity from somewhere else. Thank god for Will Ferrell, who wrote and stars in this take on the actual real-life contest where acts from around the world compete for pop glory. (Eurovision, if you didn't know, gave us ABBA and Celine Dion.) Ferrell and Rachel McAdams play an Icelandic duo and, if the movie is anything like this strange video for the pair's single "Volcano Man," then we can't wait.
Where to watch: Netflix 

Focus Features


Release date: June 26
Cast: Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis 
Director: Jon Stewart
Why we're excited: Since leaving his perch at Comedy Central's The Daily Show in 2015, Jon Stewart signed a development deal with HBO and has continued to make the occasional appearance on TV, but he hasn't exactly been releasing a lot of new material. This political satire, which stars his old Daily Show colleague Steve Carell as a Democratic strategist seeking out a possible candidate in Wisconsin, seems more in line with his comedic sensibilities than his more serious directorial debut, the docudrama Rosewater. While the trailer looks a bit stale, Stewart has earned enough good will and the movie's VOD release will make it easy enough to check out.
Where to watch: VOD (Watch the trailer)

Theo Wargo/Getty Images


Release date: July 3
Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Renée Elise Goldsberry, Daveed Diggs
Director: Thomas Kail 
Why we're excited:Hamilton, the Broadway phenomenon, finally comes to the screen. But a word of caution: This is not a movie-adaptation of the show so much as it is a filmed version of the stage production featuring the original cast with some added bells and whistles. Still, with live theater shut down for the foreseeable future, we are going to need this.
Where to watch: Disney+ 

the old guard

The Old Guard

Release date: July 10
Cast: Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, KiKi Layne, Marwan Kenzari 
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Why we're excited: This comic book adaptation from the director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights) tells the story of a group of immortal mercenaries who spend decades hunting down threats to humanity -- until their whole team is exposed and they become the hunted themselves, just as they find a new member who is just like them. Judging by the trailer, which finds Charlize Theron going full Atomic Blonde mode at multiple points, The Old Guard is going to be one action-packed, bloody feast.
Where to watch: Netflix (Watch the trailer)

IFC Midnight


Release date: July 10
Cast: Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote
Director: Natalie Erika James 
Why we're excited: Australian director Natalie Erika James makes a thrilling feature debut with this upsetting spin on the haunted house movie, about three generations of women in a battle against horrors both human and supernatural. Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote play a parent and child who must contend with a nefarious force when the elder's mother returns from a mysterious disappearance. It's a film about dementia that's profound and surprisingly fun to watch. 
Where to watch: VOD and in theaters (Watch the trailer)

Amazon Studios


Release date: July 24
Cast: Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley, Anya Taylor-Joy, Aneurin Barnard
Director: Marjane Satrapi
Why we're excited: Marie Sklodowska-Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for her work studying the properties of radioactivity -- but she was also just like the rest of us, her scientific passion topped only by the passions of her romantic life. The film, which casts Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike as the groundbreaking scientist, follows Curie's discoveries in physics, as well as details her complex and fascinating relationship with her husband Pierre, played by Maleficent's Sam Riley. No, it's not an adaptation of that annoying Imagine Dragons song, thank god. 
Where to watch: Amazon Prime (Watch the trailer)

an american pickle
Sony Pictures/HBO Max

An American Pickle

Release date: August 6
Cast: Seth Rogen, Maya Erskine, Sarah Snook, Jorma Taccone
Director: Brandon Trost
Why we're excited: Adapted from a short story by former SNL writer Simon Rich, this absurdist take on the Rip Van Winkle tale follows an immigrant, played by a bearded Seth Rogen, in 1920s Brooklyn who tumbles into a vat of pickle juice and brines himself for 100 years. (Listen, we said it was absurd.) Unfrozen from time, he wakes up in modern-day Brooklyn and seeks out his city-dwelling great-grandson Ben, also played by Rogen. This project was originally slated for a summer release by Sony but instead landed on HBO Max, where the company clearly hopes to lure in comedy fans with a taste for cucumber-based humor. 
Where to watch: HBO Max

charm city kings
Sony Pictures Classics/HBO Max

Charm City Kings

Release date: August 14
Cast: Jahi Di'Allo Winston, Meek Mill, Will Catlett, Teyonah Parris
Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Why we're excited: Based on 12 O'Clock Boys, a 2013 documentary examining Baltimore's vibrant dirt bike scene, this coming-of-age drama mixes motor-revving action with the beats of a Boyz N the Hood-esque narrative. Thankfully, the cast, which includes rapper Meek Mill and a number of new young actors, brings passion, intensity, and humor to some occasionally familiar plotting. Plus, the bikes go real fast. 
Where to watch: HBO Max (Watch the trailer)

Project Power 

Release date: August 14
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jamie Foxx, Dominique Fishback, Courtney B. Vance
Directors: Ariel Shulman and Henry Joost
Why we're excited: The co-directing team behind the documentary that spawned MTV's Catfish and daredevil app thriller Nerve are back directing this sci-fi film, whose spec script was the subject of a heated bidding war in 2017. We know very little about the plot and there's no trailer (or photos) yet -- apparently the premise involves a pill that gives its users super powers -- but if Netflix is willing to pay however many millions of dollars to get it, we're interested in seeing what it's all about Foxx remains an underrated action star and the directors have certainly surprised audiences in the past. 
Where to watch: Netflix

tesla movie
IFC Films


Release date: August 21
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Kyle MacLachlan, Eve Hewson, Jim Gaffigan 
Director: Michael Almereyda
Why we're excited: Director Michael Almereyda is not one for your traditional biopic, and this take on the story of Nikola Tesla is weird and wild. Part Powerpoint presentation and part absurdist satire, it reunites the Hamlet filmmaker with his frequent collaborator Ethan Hawke, who plays the engineering genius. This is a movie that features karaoke and intense ice cream licking and that's sort of all you need to know. 
Where to watch: VOD and in theaters

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