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The 30 Hottest Films of Summer 2018

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When we sat down to kick off this year’s summer movie preview, it felt just a little bit off. After all, Avengers: Infinity War has already opened, in April at that, and it may well be the biggest movie of the summer. But it’s also hardly the only one desperately hoping to earn that title.

As always, summer 2018 is rife with a mix of mega-budget studio tentpoles custom-built to put investors at ease while thrilling audiences the world over and would-be breakout indie hopefuls. Already-acclaimed material sits aside unproven entities, and as always, there’s at least one movie on the docket that we’re not sure will actually come out on time.

But there’s something for everybody, and it’s already getting warm, so why not let us walk you through the hottest stuff you’ll be checking out for the sake of keeping cool? See you at the movies.

Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Film Editor

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Deadpool 2 

deadpool 2 e1525282337777 The 30 Hottest Films of Summer 2018

Release Date: May 18th via 20th Century Fox

At a brisk 77 minutes, Stuart Little 2 is a tiny miracle. It’s a fuzzy, feel-good family film for all ages. The 2002 adventure comedy (with then-state-of-the-art computer animation) holds up like you wouldn’t believe. And this mouse was no louse. Michael J. Fox is the titular hero in the far-from-ratty sequel …

Wait, I was supposed to write about Deadpool 2?

Wow, I was really off on this one. We have got to fix Google Sheets!

Anyway, Deadpool 2 opens May 18th. Production troubles. Juvenile meta humor. First one was a runaway hit. YMMV. —Blake Goble

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First Reformed

First Reformed

Release Date: May 18th via A24

Paul Schrader’s recent filmography might include its share of inexplicable curiosities (The Canyons), but he’s back in peak form with First Reformed, a fanged character study about a struggling, grief-struck preacher (Ethan Hawke) whose life is changed irreparably when he comes into contact with a radical environmentalist and his terrified wife. This is Schrader in full Taxi Driver form, examining faith and salvation in worlds full of savagery. It’s hardly the kind of escapist stuff some moviegoers seek in the summer months, but it’s the kind of movie that’s going to stay with you when so much popcorn fare has come and gone. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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How to Talk to Girls at Parties

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Release Date: May 25th via A24

Calm down, incels. If you’re looking for dating advice, find another site. We’re talking groovy movies! About aliens and punk boys! This one’s the grand, glittery, galactic return of John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch). It’s a welcome showing from one of our favorite cult figures, and working off a script based on a short from Neil Gaiman, How to Talk to Girls at Parties has real teen cult potential. We’re talking Repo Man meets Can’t Hardly Wait meets My Stepmother is an Alien. Okay, that’s a tad much, but we’re interested in this offbeat romance all the same. —Blake Goble

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo - A Star Wars Story

Release Date: May 25th via Disney

Now that we’ve seen a full trailer, some television spots, and a full meal from Denny’s, the hype machine for Solo: A Star Wars Story has gone into hyperspace. Although past reports suggested Disney had a total piece of garbage on their hands, all signs point to a genuine adventure from Willow director Ron Howard, whose candid social media presence ahead of the film makes it all that much easier to forget this ever belonged to Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. And the more and more we see Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover as Han Solo and Lando Calrissean, respectively, the more we’re willing to “punch it” to May 25th ourselves. Here’s hoping Chewie gets some great lines. –Michael Roffman

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Hereditary

Hereditary

Release Date: June 8th via A24

Here’s what senior writer Randall Colburn wrote of Hereditary: “tragic, evil, and so fucking scary.” We’re willing to believe him, not only because he covered the film at South by Southwest for us (though, that’s certainly as good a reason as any), but mostly because the guy doesn’t scare easily. This is someone who writes about horror for a living, and if he’s walking around with the heebie jeebies, it’s bound to be contagious. And seeing how ‘the less we know, the better’ applies tenfold to anything coming out of this genre, we’re going to end our chat on this A24 release right now and even skip the trailer. –Michael Roffman

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Ocean’s 8

Ocean's 8

Release Date: June 8th via Warner Bros.

Sure, it’s yet another reboot in a summer fairly heavy on those, but at least Ocean’s 8 promises to take the series in a new direction. Between the murderer’s row of talent on the on-camera side and the usually reliable Gary Ross behind it, we’re fairly confident that Sandra Bullock will be able to fill George Clooney’s swaggering shoes as a master thief and ex-con attempting to steal a stunning, highly valuable necklace during the middle of the Met Gala. And right off Anne Hathaway’s neck. Get for a lot of reviews alluding to it as a “breezy summer caper,” because it looks like one in the best possible ways. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Won't You Be My Neighbor

Release Date: June 8th via Focus Features

Projects are coming out of the woodwork to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fred Rogers’ longest-running and most celebrated children’s program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The tributes include commemorative stamps, multiple documentaries, and even a biopic starring Tom Hanks due out in the near future. Of those projects, Morgan Neville’s documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, might shed the most light on the avuncular man behind the sweaters. It’ll no doubt warm hearts to revisit our best childhood friend and do our souls good to see a man who was just as kind, wholesome, and generous off camera as he was while visiting with us each day. –Matt Melis

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The Incredibles 2

The Incredibles 2 (Disney/Pixar)

Release Date: June 15th via Disney/Pixar

Of all of Pixar’s most beloved properties, 2005’s The Incredibles is the one that’s had fans clamoring the loudest for a sequel, and yet it’s been 13 years since the Parr family saved the world and struggled to hold themselves together. Some of the kids who grew up on The Incredibles are now parents themselves, and so Pixar’s sequel will look to connect with a whole new generation. The story of Mr. Incredible becoming a stay-at-home dad might be well-worn sitcom territory, but Pixar’s track record inspires more than enough confidence that it’ll be a worthwhile revival. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Superfly

Superfly (Sony)

Release Date: June 15th via Sony Pictures

“Atlanta’s got juice right now.” – Big Boi, making a very convincing case for a remake of Super Fly.

Gordon Parks Jr’s blaxploitation classic is a superlative work of swagger, crime, and American drug problems in the 1970s. It’s tough. It’s cool. It’s got one of the finest soundtracks of all time. (“Pusherman” alone deserves the Library of Congress treatment.) And it’s Harlem as hell. So for Sony to take a swing at the ’72 classic and update it with a Peach City twist is not a bad take at all. It’s got Joel Silver money producing it, so there’s the hype. Future is doing the original music, so that’s another plus. And Trevor Jackson looks smooth as hell as the new Youngblood Priest. So let’s push this, man. —Blake Goble

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Tag

Tag (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: June 15th via Warner Bros.

Huh, this is based on a Wall Street Journal article? Seems rather ribald an idea to publish amidst stock trends. But hey, just look at the cast: Jon Hamm, Isla Fisher, Hannibal Buress, Ed Helms? A veritable who’s-who of stars from TV shows you really like and remember. And after some nice and jokey work in American Hustle and The House, Jeremy Renner is letting his comedy geek out as a man who’s literally never been tagged once in a decades-long game of tag among friends. Here’s hoping this comedy has the ‘it’ factor in a good way. —Blake Goble

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal)

Release Date: June 22nd via Universal Pictures

For a generation of kids who didn’t already get to enjoy the city-smashing, gymnastics-heavy goofiness of The Lost World over 20 years ago, Fallen Kingdom will likely have a lot to offer. This isn’t to say that Jurassic World wasn’t thoroughly cartoonish in its own right, just that it appears that new helmer J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) has upped the anything-goes chaos, starting with a movie built around a dangerous dinosaur park that was apparently erected at the base of an active volcano. We can’t imagine the zoning meetings required for that endeavor. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Under the Silver Lakesilver lake The 30 Hottest Films of Summer 2018

Release Date: June 22nd via A24

Feels like it’s been a century since David Robert Mitchell had audiences cowering on the floor from his indie horror delight, It Follows. Now, the young Midwestern filmmaker is back, only this time he’s headed out West for what appears to be an audacious indie mystery. Starring Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough, Under the Silver Lake follows a young man (Garfield) on a mission to find his new neighbor (Keough) who’s gone missing amid a twisted and surreal Los Angeles wasteland. Judging from the trailer, it looks like Mitchell’s kind of following the footsteps of Richard Kelly, as the whole thing screams with the winded ambition of Southland Tales. Fortunately, Kevin Smith and Jon Lovitz are nowhere near this sucker. –Michael Roffman

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Sicario: Day of the SoldadoSicario: Day of the Soldado (Columbia)

Release Date: June 29th via Columbia Pictures

This one’s a little bit confusing. While we at CoS had a lot of love for the terse paranoia of Sicario, it wasn’t the kind of movie that struck anybody as franchise material. Yet here we are, with what appears to be a far more action-centric outing, this time focused on the first film’s more villainous elements, Josh Brolin’s shadowy federal agent and Benicio del Toro’s ruthless assassin. Italian filmmaker Stefano Sollima steps behind the camera in place of Denis Villeneuve, Taylor Sheridan pens once again, and we’ll guess that a fair number of people are about to die onscreen come late June. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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The First Purgefirst purge The 30 Hottest Films of Summer 2018

Release Date: July 4th via Universal Pictures

Look, say what you will about its premise — it’s stupid, it’s unrealistic, it’s hokey — but the Purge franchise is three for three so far. What started as a small home invasion thriller has since evolved into an incredible dystopian narrative that says more about our own society than the hyperbolic setting of Blumhouse’s blockbuster franchise. After two Frank Grillo-led entries, the last hitting too close to home (2016’s The Purge: Election Year), The First Purge plans to scale things back to the beginning, showing us a time that will undoubtedly be chaotic and even more realistic. We’ll probably see a lot of confused people who have no idea what to expect, and quickly lean how bad that ignorance will be for them. –Michael Roffman

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Ant-Man and the WaspAnt-Man and the Wasp (Marvel/Disney)

Release Date: July 6th via Marvel/Disney

You might still be in shock from the many surprises of Infinity War, but tuck in, because it’s not even the last Marvel movie of the year. That’s right: as audiences recuperate from one of the more emotionally wrenching entries in the MCU to date, here comes the lighthearted antics of Paul RuddAnt-Man and the Wasp will likely have to do some of the same thankless transitional heavy lifting as its predecessor, but Rudd and Evangeline Lilly make for quite the onscreen team, and it’ll be nice to have fun watching a Marvel movie again. For a while. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Sorry to Bother YouSorry to Bother You (Annapurna)

Release Date: July 6th via Annapurna Pictures

Boots Riley, formerly of The Coup, sent shockwaves through Sundance earlier this year with Sorry to Bother You, a bizarre slice of brutally comic dystopian sci-fi. Think Brazil gone modern, as Lakeith Stanfield struggles his way through a version of Oakland at once familiar and surreal while working his way up the ranks of a faceless, Amazon-esque mega-corporation. His trade secret? A “white voice” he uses while making cold-calls, played by David Cross, which sends him on a path of discovery and wild terror. Expect this to be like nothing else you watch in a theater this summer. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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SkyscraperSkyscraper (Universal)

Release Date: July 13th via Universal Pictures

Let’s be honest. By now, you already know if you’re seeing Skyscraper or not. It’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, sans giant ape friend this time around, trying to save his family from a giant building as it’s under assault by terrorists. This is Die Hard for the global age, it’s probably going to be ridiculous, and it’s likely going to be a fun mid-summer burst of CG-heavy movie madness. You’re either into it or you’re not, but a lot of people are going to be even if it’s the latter. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Eighth GradeEighth Grade (A24)

Release Date: July 13th via A24

The buzz has been deafening for Bo Burnham’s directorial debut, centered around Elsie Fisher as a young girl negotiating life and love and her place in the world during the last week of middle school. Eighth Grade is the kind of indie movie that tends to sneak up on audiences, and it’s also one of the first onscreen looks at teenhood in the digital age that actually seems like it captures the universal woes of one’s early teens, instead of treating them as confusing aliens who like those danged smartphones too much. Both Fisher’s performance and Burnham’s work have been lauded to a degree that we’ll likely be hearing about late into 2018. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Mamma Mia! Here We Go AgainMamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Universal)

Release Date: July 21st via Universal Pictures

It’s the “Here We Go Again!” that kinda makes us love this. Albeit guiltily. Or perhaps knowingly? “Here we go again” was once the kind of sitcom platitude that The Simpsons ribbed, but now, it’s kinda funny. Something that was once lame is now cool. Such is the hip life. Anyway, this one has Cher in addition to Meryl Streep (plus a returning Colin Firth), so that’s three times the Oscar power on this karaoke family movie sequel! And really, do you want to be the person that calls ABBA lame? They’re what make singing, dancing, and street festivals worthwhile. —Blake Goble

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BlindspottingBlindspotting (Summit)

Release Date: July 20th via Summit Entertainment

Another major Sundance hit from this year’s festival was Blindspotting, a collaboration between real-life friends Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. The duo wrote and co-star in this examination of changing racial dynamics in America, as seen through the increasing strain put on a friendship in a rapidly gentrifying Oakland as one of the friends is attempting to complete his parole without incident. Particularly in the current climate, it’s likely that you’ll be hearing a lot about Blindspotting as the year goes on, as films made under the current fraught American political situation continue to flow into theaters. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Mission: Impossible FalloutMission: Impossible Fallout (Paramount)

Release Date: July 27th via Paramount Pictures

Think about it — the Mission: Impossible franchise is the only spy series today that knows how to have fun and get away with it, too. In 2006, when JJ Abrams re-calibrated the mess John Woo made in 2000, who knew it would lead to two more exciting chapters like 2011’s Ghost Protocol and 2015’s Rogue Nation? Fortunately, that spirited action looks guaranteed to continue with the sixth entry in Christopher McQuarrie’s hands once again and both Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett joining the ever-expanding ensemble cast. Red light? Not so fast. Green light! –Michael Roffman

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Hot Summer NightsHot Summer Nights (A24)

Release Date: July 27th via A24

One of the most impressive films to come out of not this year’s South by Southwest, but last year’s festivities, is Elijah Bynum’s fantastic directorial debut, Hot Summer Nights. All the more impressive is the fact that the young screenwriter and filmmaker had zero experience in either field prior to making the film. And yet, the sweeping indie epic is a simmering anti-coming-of-age drama that moves with the muscular confidence of an early Paul Thomas Anderson production, and even kind of looks like one, too. Fans of Timothée Chalamet will also get a chance to see him time travel from the ’80s of Call Me By Your Name to the ’90s of this Cape Cod-set summer escape that’s inspired by Goodfellas. Plus: Thomas Jane. –Michael Roffman

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Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin

Release Date: August 3rd via Disney

Great minds think alike, though so do minds bereft of original ideas. Oh, bother. Winnie the Pooh fans will hope the former is the case when Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin hits theaters this summer. While last year’s (yes, only a few months ago) Goodbye Christopher Robin detailed the strains that Pooh author A.A. Milne’s son endured being the real-life “Christopher” as his father’s stories became a global phenomenon, Disney’s take will find a grown-up Christopher turning to old childhood friends to help weather the storms of his adult life. While a CGI Pooh might make all of us a bit nervous (and look a bit too much like Seth McFarlane’s Ted), we’d be total Eeyores not to give Ewan McGregor and our favorite bear of very little brain a fair chance. –Matt Melis

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Mile 22Mile 22 (STX)

Release Date: August 3rd via STX Entertainment

Fellini and Mastroianni. Kazan and Brando. Carpenter and Russell. Now, in the annals of classic director/star combos comes Berg and Wahlberg. You joke, but these two bros have been there and back. Together, they saved the Lone Survivor. They witnessed the BP oil disaster in Deepwater Horizon. And they allowed Wahlberg to pretty much solve the Boston Marathon bombing in Patriots Day. Now, they’re back together for some sort of secret ops-and-cops transport survival thriller. It sounds a little like 16 Blocks, maybe Eastwood’s The Gauntlet? That said, Berg and Wahlberg know how to bring competent, taut action in the handheld camera era. –Blake Goble

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The MegThe Meg (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: August 10th via Warner Bros.

Every generation gets the Deep Blue Sea it deserves, and in that spirit, here comes The Meg, which looks like a) the most ridiculous movie of the entire summer and b) a movie we’ll be seeing in theaters more than once. Jason Statham facing off with a megalodon, which in the first trailer alone seems to change in size and dimension by the scene? Tourists in grave danger? Ironic usage of Bobby Darin for maximum ominous dread? There’s nothing about The Meg that could diminish our excitement for it. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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BlacKkKlansman BlackKkKlansman (Focus Features)

Release Date: August 10th via Focus Features

An African-American leading a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan? It might sound like a Dave Chappelle skit, but it’s actually the premise behind filmmaker Spike Lee’s latest joint, BlacKkKlansman. In Lee’s proper return to the big screen after rebooting his ‘80s classic She’s Gotta Have It last year for Netflix, black police officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) infiltrates the Klan and gets far more than he bargained for. With Charlottesville still in our collective rearview mirrors, an updated look at the Klan in America should probably be mandatory viewing in 2018. Pretty damn sad. –Matt Melis

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Crazy Rich AsiansCrazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: August 17th via Warner Bros.

Based on the smash best-seller by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians offers the kind of lap-of-luxury stuff for which some people wait their whole moviegoing year. The sprawling ensemble comedy follows Constance Wu as a Chinese-American professor who goes to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family, only to find out that money and dark secrets and hidden desires lurk around every corner. Don’t be surprised one bit if this ends up becoming the kind of late-summer breakout hit that makes misguided websites write hot takes about how shocking its breakout success was, even as it’s based on a hit book and aimed squarely at a severely underserved corner of the moviegoing population. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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The Happytime MurdersThe Happytime Murders (STX)

Release Date: August 17th via STX Entertainment

We are very curious. The Happytime Murders is a Henson joint, but to be exact, a Brian Henson puppet noir comedy thriller (whoa), free of The Henson Company. Curiously enough, this is a Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone joint. That’s right, these puppets can cuss, kill, and bleed out (or lose a lot of stuffing, if the movie’s production stills have been any indicator). Marlowe meets the Muppets or something like that. In development hell since 2008, The Happytime Murders has seen re-writes, re-casting, and multiple studios footing the bill, but this August, it sounds like it’s really happening this time. — Blake Goble

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Juliet, NakedJuliet, Naked (Lionsgate)

Release Date: August 17th via Lionsgate

Based on Nick Hornby’s novel, Juliet, Naked sees Rose Byrne play out an inverse High Fidelity, as the girlfriend of an obnoxious musical superfan who winds up dragged into the orbit of his favorite artist, Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), when a leaked acoustic recording of Crowe’s winds up in their household. This is Hornby back in his most natural mode, dealing with the emotional lives of pop culture obsessives, and it’s the kind of low-key indie dramedy that could sneak up on audiences as the dog days of summer begin to roll in. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Slender ManSlender Man (Sony)

Release Date: August 24th via Sony Pictures

C’mon, it’s Slenderman. Who the hell doesn’t want something with that dude? Well, after HBO’s all-too-sobering true crime documentary, Beware the Slenderman, it’s admittedly a little awkward seeking out popcorn fare involving the Creepypasta meme. Still, we’re interested to see if the Internet myth translates to a standard narrative. You never know; after all, those online short films have done wonders for our sleeping habits. Will we sleep come August? –Michael Roffman

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