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Your Ultimate Guide to This Summer’s Best Movies

Don’t miss any of the action with our critics’ picks of what’s coming and where to catch them

Side by side images of Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz dancing in Official Competition, Austin Butler seated in a purple jumpsuit as Elvis Presley in Elvis and Brad Pitt seated on a train in Bullet Train

Manolo Pavon/IFC Films; Hugh Stewart/Warner Bros. Entertainment; Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures

(Left to right) Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz in "Official Competition," Austin Butler in "Elvis" and Brad Pitt in "Bullet Train."

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​Everyone vaxxed and boosted? Because screens big and small are lighting up with an exciting mix of comedies, dramas and documentaries this summer. Make your movie nights worth it with our critics’ picks of the best of what’s coming up and what’s already opened. (Keep an eye on this page for updates, as COVID-19 may rejigger studios’ best-laid plans to make your summer cinematic.)​

COMING IN MAY

Downton Abbey: A New Era (May 20)

Most of the old gang — both upstairs and downstairs — are back in the sequel to the hit about America’s favorite British manor. It’s 1927, and an actor (Dominic West, 52) shoots a moving picture at Downton, while the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith, 87) acquires a French villa from a man in her past. 

Check it out: Downton Abbey: A New Era


​Top Gun: Maverick (May 27)

Rebel test pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise, 59) roars back in a Super Hornet jet to the tune of “Danger Zone.” The buzz on this film is louder than Maverick’s jet.

Check it out: Top Gun: Maverick


COMING IN JUNE

Hustle (June 8)

Queen Latifah, 52, plays the wife of Adam Sandler, 55, a down-on-his-luck NBA scout who tries to revive his career with a talented amateur he discovers in Spain (actual NBA player Juancho Hernangomez). Robert Duvall, 91, has a supporting role, and since LeBron James coproduced the film, it’s apt to be authentic.

Check it out: Hustle


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Jurassic World: Dominion (June 10)

Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and their favorite fanged, scaly (or feathered) 66 million-year-old friends return in the latest Jurassic adventure.

Check it out: Jurassic World: Dominion


Halftime (June 14)

A documentary about Jennifer Lopez’s illustrious past and how she plans to use the second half of her life.

Check it out: Halftime


Father of the Bride (June 16)

Andy Garcia, 66, and Gloria Estefan, 64, star in a remake of the 1950 Spencer Tracy comedy classic about a dad coping with his daughter’s marriage, remade in 1991 with Steve Martin. But this time, it’s about a Cuban-American family meeting a clan from Mexico City — a culture-clash comedy.

Check it out: Father of the Bride


Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (June 17)

A widowed teacher (Emma Thompson, 63) decides she’s had enough of her hopeless love life, so she hires a young sex worker (Daryl McCormack) to work things out.

Check it out: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande


Lightyear (June 17)

This Toy Story spinoff stars Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz Lightyear, the Space Ranger, with James Brolin (81, Marcus Welby, M.D.) as Buzz’s nemesis, Emperor Zurg. The film targets both nostalgic elders and children, 10 percent of whom believe Buzz Lightyear was the first man on the moon, according to one 2010 poll. 

Check it out: Lightyear


Official Competition (June 17)

A billionaire hires a famous director (Penélope Cruz) to make an iconic movie starring two of the biggest egomaniacs in the industry (Antonio Banderas, 61, and Oscar Martínez, 72), who don’t love each other. Let the competition begin!

Check it out: Official Competition


Elvis (June 24)

The widow Priscilla Presley says Tom Hanks nails the mysterious character of Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, and Austin Butler is just right as the singer whose wriggly hips and curled lip rocked the world.

Check it out: Elvis


COMING IN JULY

The Forgiven (July 1)

“Why am I thinking, ‘Harpy?’ ” says a bitter husband (Ralph Fiennes, 59) to his wife as they head from Casablanca to a rich-people’s party in the Morocco mountains. “Why am I thinking, ‘Highly functioning alcoholic?’ ” retorts his wife (Jessica Chastain). Then he hits and kills a local boy on the road, and their story gets darker fast.

Check it out: The Forgiven


Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song (July 1)

Leonard Cohen’s life as seen through the lens of his most popular and ambitious tune, “Hallelujah.”

Check it out: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song


Fire (July 8)

One winter in Paris, Juliette Binoche, 58, is torn between her lover of 10 years (Vincent Lindon, 62) and his best friend — and her ex (Grégoire Colin). The film won the best director award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Check it out: Fire


Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (July 15)

A widowed, fashion-forward London cleaning lady (Lesley Manville, 66) saves up to buy the Christian Dior haute couture dress of her dreams in Paris, where she meets a marquis who seems sweet on her and the formidably chic Dior gatekeeper (Isabelle Huppert, 69). 

Check it out: Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris


Where the Crawdads Sing (July 15)

A woman who grew up on her own in the Carolina marshes (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is accused of murdering her old beau, and defended by an Atticus Finch-like attorney (David Strathairn, 73). 

Check it out: Where the Crawdads Sing


Persuasion (July 15)

Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith’s daughter Dakota Johnson plays Jane Austen’s last heroine, Anne Elliott, who seizes a second chance at love at 27. A rare Austen movie cowritten by a woman, directed by a woman, starring and executive-produced by a woman.

Check it out: Persuasion


Nope (July 22)

In the hotly awaited, no doubt high-IQ horror movie by Jordan Peele, his Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya confronts space aliens on a Black-run California horse farm.

Check it out: Nope


Dale Dickey in a scene from the film A Love Song

Alfonso Herrera Salcedo/Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Dale Dickey stars in "A Love Song."

A Love Song (July 29)

Dale Dickey, 60, who played scary people in Winter’s BoneJustifiedTrue Blood and Breaking Bad, gets her first lead role (and first romantic onscreen kiss), as a widow in the Colorado mountains who reunites with her high school crush (Wes Studi, 74).

Check it out: A Love Song


COMING IN AUGUST

Bullet Train (Aug. 5)

All the assassin (Brad Pitt, 58) wants to do is quit the business, but his handler (Sandra Bullock, 57) makes him do another mission — fetch a certain briefcase aboard the fast train from Tokyo to Kyoto. Unfortunately, four other assassins are aboard.

Check it out: Bullet Train


Resurrection (Aug. 5)

In a psychological thriller with a slow fuse, a single mom (Rebecca Hall) who’s finally gotten her life in order confronts a mysterious man from her past (Tim Roth, 60).

Check it out: Resurrection


Mack & Rita (Aug. 12)

A young woman (Diane Keaton, 76) gets struck by lightning and wakes up to find she’s pushing 70. A comedy that lots of us can relate to.

Check it out: Mack & Rita


Samaritan (Aug. 26)

A boy hunts down a superhero (Sylvester Stallone, 75) who’s been AWOL for two decades.

Check it out: Samaritan


John Boyega in the film Breaking

Chris Witt/Courtesy of Sundance Institute

John Boyega stars in “Breaking.”

Breaking (Aug. 26)

In a tale inspired by a true story (and originally entitled 892), a Marine veteran facing poverty (John Boyega) walks into a bank claiming he has a bomb. In the last performance of the late Michael K. Williams (The WireBoardwalk Empire), he plays a crisis negotiator.

Check it out: Breaking


Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, The Village Voice and LA Weekly.