With what are certain to be 2018’s Mightiest Heroes, box office-wise, already having cleaned up in theaters, it’s tempting to count what your cinephile parents used to think of as the Summer Movie Season as one more casualty of the Infinity Wars. The synchronicity of releasing Black Panther during Black History Month aside, the holiday-adjacent release dates that once seemed essential to mega-productions’ success have become an afterthought in an era where the domestic gross matters less and less. Nevertheless, here are our picks for the most promising movies due in the Memorial Day-to-Labor Day frame that was responsible for keeping Hollywood solvent a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. (A handful of these have screened at festivals; the author has seen none of them. I’m placing bets based on publicly available information. Also, release dates are subject to change, and limited-release films don’t yet have local premieres scheduled.)
Hereditary (June 8, wide) — Writer-director Ari Aster’s feature debut, about a household that suffers strange and terrifying events after Grandma dies, earned raves at the Sundance Film Festival in January, with Toni Collette’s performance being hailed as one of the versatile actor’s best. Aster made two shorts, The Strange Thing About the Johnsons and Munchausen, that dealt with violently dysfunctional parent-child relationships. It would appear he has more to say on this subject.
Incredibles 2 (June 15, wide) — Not that traditional bad-guy-punchin’ superpowers aren’t great, too. It’s been fourteen years since writer-director Brad Bird and Pixar gave us the Best Animated Feature-winning The Incredibles, but through the magic of animation, this sequel picks up the story of this struggling household of “supers” — again voiced by Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter and Sarah Vowell, with Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener signing on, too — soon after the original ended. In the interim, Bird turned the troubled Ratatouille into a success, gave the Mission: Impossible franchise a new lease on life with the Burj Khalifa-scaling Ghost Protocol, and did his doggone durnedest to make the earnest fantasy Tomorrowland work. The capes-and-tights genre was a lot less crowded back in 2004, but if anyone can make it fresh again, it’s a Bird (it’s a plane, etc.).
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (July 13, limited) — I won’t lie: I picked this one for the title. Joaquin Phoenix stars as the quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan, whose memoir inspired the film. Director Gus Van Sant adapted Callahan’s book. Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara and Jack Black appear, if you’re into those sorts of things.
Mission: Impossible — Fallout (July 27, wide) — The most thrilling analog action franchise around used to essentially reboot itself with a new director and supporting cast each time. For Mission No. 6, busy screenwriter and script doc Christopher McQuarrie becomes the first director to return. He’s retained Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin and Sean Harris from 2015’s Rogue Nation and added Henry “the world’s most expensive mustache” Cavill and Angela Bassett to the crew. The shot of age-defying producer/star/stunt-Thetan Tom Cruise shattering his ankle against the side of a London building last August, necessitating a two-month hiatus in filming while he (partially) recovered, was in the trailer, but it’s far from the movie’s biggest stunt. That would be a skydive involving Cruise’s attempt to intercept Cavill midair; the star told a CinemaCon audience he did 106 jumps to get the scene in the can. One of these guys ages at roughly a quarter of standard human rate, believes himself to be descended from extraterrestrials and can fly. The other one is Superman.
Crazy Rich Asians (Aug. 17, wide) — An American economics professor (Constance Wu) of Chinese descent accompanies her boyfriend (Henry Golding) to Singapore, then discovers he’s part of a rich and aristocratic family. This adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s 2013 comic novel — a celebration or a condemnation of the leisure classes of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai, depending upon whom you ask — comes from Jon M. Chu. He’s the director of two Step Up sequels, two Justin Bieber concert films, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Jem and the Holograms and Now You See Me 2. At least it won’t be pretentious.
Juliet, Naked (Aug. 17, limited) — Jesse Peretz, a founding member of soured indie-rock band the Lemonheads before he became an auteur, seems like a good candidate to adapt Nick Hornby’s 2009 novel. It’s about a woman (Rose Byrne) who becomes involved with the semi-retired cult musician (Ethan Hawke) with whom her boyfriend (Chris O’Dowd) is obsessed. Once again, Hornby puts the aging, stunted male rock superfan under glass — but Rob from High Fidelity didn’t have reddit forums to exacerbate his condition.
ALSO: Skyscraper (July 13) / The Meg (Aug. 10) — Dwayne Johnson vs. the World’s Tallest Building / Jason Statham vs. the World’s Largest Shark. Oh, I’m sorry: I thought you said you like movies.