Summer Movie Preview '17: Ranking 50 must-see (or skip) films of the season, Pt. 2

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on
"Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" opens Friday.
Courtesy Disney

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

Mega-blockbusters to small indies, here are the 25 films I'm most looking forward to this summer.

As with yesterday's Part 1, I'm counting down 50 of the most anticipated movies scheduled to screen this summer. As before, I'm not making any guarantees that these films will screen here on their national opening day, or even at all. But with the ever-decreasing window between theatrical and home release dates, I'm pretty sure you'll see most of these before you have to break out your sweaters.

Disagree with my rakings or disappointed in an omission? Let me know! Tweet me or comment on Facebook. This is just my subjective take; I'd be happy to hear yours, too.


25. My Cousin Rachel

"My Cousin Rachel" trailer

Rachel Weisz as a probable black widow in a period adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier novel? Be still my heart. This one (the second time the story has been filmed, following a 1952 adaptation with Olivia de Havilland) looks nicely creepy and twisted. (June 9 in limited release)


24. Lady Macbeth

"Lady Macbeth" trailer

A 19th-century English woman pushed into marrying a wealthy older man revolts against her corsets and her smothering husband in this film starring newcomer Florence Pugh. Early reviews, from when the film opened at last year's Toronto Film Festival, are juicy and promising, such as the Indiewire review that described the film as "what might happen if Alfred Hitchcock directed Wuthering Heights." Yes, please. (July 14 in limited release) 


23. Dean

"Dean" trailer

I was a huge fan of minimalist comedian Demetri Martin's Comedy Central show, and I'm drawn to the subject matter of how a young man deals with the death of his mother. And, even more appealingly, Martin cast Kevin Kline as his father, who's also trying to get his life back on track, with Mary Steenburgen and Gillian Jacobs as the women who enter their lives. That's a can't-miss cast. (June 2 in limited release)


22. Ingrid Goes West

"Ingrid Goes West" trailer

This one, starring Aubrey Plaza, looks nicely wicked. Plaza is the intensely disturbed Ingrid, who moves to Los Angeles to stalk and befriend a social-media influencer (Elizabeth Olsen). Reviews out of Sundance indicate that it's a savage look at the validation-at-all-costs desperation that often drives social media. (Aug. 4 in limited release)


21. Wonder Woman

"Wonder Woman" trailer

Ordinarily, a film about one of my absolute favorite superheroes would be at the top of a list like this. But Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad blew any good will with me, and I'm actively dreading Justice League in November, because despite the promising trailer, with its apparent sense of humor about itself, I will not be burned again. ... And yet, Wonder Woman is still sitting at No. 21 on this list. I can't help it: The trailers look really, really strong, and the cast is to die for. And even though her costume suffers the same bland muting as everything in this franchise, I'm just a sucker for her. (June 2)


20. Detroit

"Detroit" trailer

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal (in their first film since Zero Dark Thirty) examine the fiery race riots in 1967 Detroit — specifically the Algiers Motel Incident, where, it's believed, the sound of a starter pistol led to police officers and national guardsmen to raid a hotel, leading to the deaths of three and the brutal beetings of nine others. The trailer is especially intense. (Aug. 4)


19. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

"An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power"

Former Vice President Al Gore continues his battle against climate change — a battle he's even more impassioned about in today's political environment — with this follow-up to the 2006 Oscar-winning documentary. Here, filmmakers Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk follow Gore around the world as he makes his case. (July 28)


18. The Lovers

"The Lovers" trailer

Debra Winger returns to the big screen as one half of a married couple who, despite carrying on longtime affairs, find themselves drawn back to each other. Tracy Letts (playwright of August: Osage County and costar of HBO's Divorce) is her other half. This one is one of many potentially great films for adults this summer. (Friday in limited release)


17. War for the Planet of the Apes

"War of the Planet of the Apes" trailer

Maybe this will be the one in the reboot franchise, which kicked off in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, where the wheels finally fall off. Even though 2014's Dawn of ... didn't seem to make much impact despite its high quality, I still find this reimagining of these damned dirty Apes to be one of the best franchises around. (July 14)


16. The Big Sick

"The Big Sick" trailer

Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) co-wrote and stars in this romantic comedy based on his own courtship with wife (and co-writer) Emily V. Gordon. In it, Nanjiani's character, an American Muslim, falls for a white American woman (played here by Zoe Kazan), who then becomes quite seriously ill. Nanjiani stays by her side, braving her family (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) while avoiding telling his Pakistani family about the relationship. It won rave after rave at Sundance. (June 23 in limited release)


15. Brigsby Bear 

"Brigsby Bear" cast at Sundance

Saturday Night Live star Kyle Mooney's humor isn't for everyone, but his utter commitment to totally bizarre situations generally works like gangbusters for me. In this film, which met a mixed reception at Sundance, he stars as a young man named James who lives in a geodesic dome with his parents (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) who gets weekly new videos of the (fictional) children's show Brigsby Bear. As in Room, he's totally cut off from the outside world. And, also similar to Room, it turns out that James was kidnapped as an infant from his real parents (Matt Walsh and Michaela Watkins), and when he's found, he has to try to reintegrate into regular society. Looks and sounds nuts, but totally appealing to me. (July 28 in limited release)


14. Beatriz at Dinner

"Beatriz at Dinner" trailer

I am always in for a project by Mike White, whose Chuck & Buck and Enlightenment continue to blow me away even years later. Here, screenwriter White again teams with Chuck & Buck director Miguel Arteta for a class-conscious comedy about a holistic healer (Salma Hayek) whose car breaks down while visiting a client (Connie Britton), so she ends up staying for an important dinner with a mega real estate mogul (John Lithgow). It sounds both incredibly squirm-filled and timely. (June 9 in limited release)


13. Snatched

"Snatched" trailer

Comedian Amy Schumer showed a fantastic ability to marry dirty jokes with real heart in Trainwreck (as well as on Inside Amy Schumer and in her standup). Couple that with her brilliant idea to cast Goldie Hawn as her mother (and to convince Hawn to return to acting for the first time since 2002), and my hopes are high for this road-trip comedy. (May 12)


12. A Ghost Story

"A Ghost Story" trailer

Writer-director David Lowery succeeded beyond my wildest dreams in recreating Pete's Dragon last summer. Now, the Ain't Them Bodies Saints auteur returns to his indie roots for this exceptionally odd-looking supernatural story, starring Casey Affleck as a dead man who the audiences mostly sees underneath a bedsheet, as if he were trick or treating instead of haunting the house he shared with his girlfriend (Rooney Mara). It certainly doesn't look like a film for everyone, but here's one big reason for area audiences to be excited: Amarillo native Annell Brodeur is the costume designer. (July 7 in limited release)


11. The Hero

"The Hero" trailer

I adored I’ll See You in My Dreams, a 2015 drama that was a long-overdue star turn for Blythe Danner. Writer-director Brett Haley hopes for the same success in centering his latest film on Sam Elliott (who co-starred in Dreams). Here, the gruff Elliott is a washed-up Western actor decades removed from his only big hit, trying to make some sense of his life in his twilight years. Elliott’s a national treasure — so’s his mustache — and it’s about time he got a showcase like this. (June 9 in limited release)


10. Alien: Covenant

"Alien: Covenant" trailer

Prometheus, director Ridley Scott’s opening salvo in his prequel series to Alien, wasn’t 100 percent successful, but I still found it quote compelling. And this one (set a decade later than Prometheus and 20 years before Alien) at least looks terrifically scary. Plus, I think we’re totally meant to actively root for aliens to burst out of Danny McBride. At least I will be. (May 19)


9. The Beguiled

"The Beguiled" trailer

This seductive-looking Southern gothic thriller from writer-director Sofia Coppola finds a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) plopped in the middle of an isolated girls’ school in the middle of the Civil War. Nicole Kidman and Kirten Dunst star as the teachers, with Elle Fanning as one of their predatory students. The story was filmed before in a 1971 movie with Clint Eastwood, but I’m looking forward to Coppola’s touch. (June 23 - limited)


8. Dunkirk

"Dunkirk" trailer

Director Christopher Nolan goes all out for this World War II battle epic depicting the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk, France, filming even the most intimate scenes with IMAX cameras. He says he wants to “put people on that beach or in the cockpit or in the boat, to experience it with the people at that time in that situation,” which sounds like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan turned up to 11. (July 21)


7. Baby Driver

"Baby Driver" trailer

Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) stars as a dewy-cheeked savant getaway driver trying to get out of the business after one last heist in this action flick from director Edgar Wright. Reviews from SXSW suggest that the storyline is secondary to the thrills of the car chases, which look absolutely spectacular. (June 28)


6. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

"Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" trailer

This eye-popping sci-fi adventure could be the most imaginative of the summer, set in the titular city, a space station boasting a population of extraterrestrials of all shapes, sizes and abilities. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne star as agents fighting to save the city in a tight timeframe in what’s said to be the most expensive film ever made in France, possibly in all of Europe. It may be a total flop, but at least it appears that it won't be a boring one. Director Luc Besson hit big with The Fifth Element; will lightning strike twice? (July 21)


5. It Comes at Night

"It Comes at Night" trailer

Writer-director Trey Edward Shults’ Krishaone of my absolute favorite films of 2016, was something of a horror film disguised as a family drama. He’s fully in scare mode in this thriller, featuring Joel Edgerton (The Gift), Carmen Ejogo (Selma) and Kelvin Harrison Jr. (The Birth of a Nation) as a family struggling to survive in a world wiped out by disease and not sure what to make of a young couple (Christopher Abbott and Riley Keough) finds their forest hideaway. It’s not necessarily my favorite genre, but Krisha was such a spectacular debut that I can’t wait to see what Texas filmmaker Shults does next. (June 9)


4. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

"Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" trailer

The 2014 blockbuster was a shocking success, both in the box office and in terms of expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s boundaries. Director James Gunn and the cast (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saladana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista) are back again, this time splitting off into a few different story tracks, including Pratt’s Star-Lord finally meeting his father, Ego the Living Planet (played in human form by Kurt Russell). Expect surprises and classic ‘70s and ‘80s rock tunes. (Friday)


3. Spider-Man: Homecoming

"Spider-Man: Homecoming" trailer

Yes, it’s another reboot of a franchise that already has seen two different actors (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) play the webslinger in the past 15 years. But this one, thanks to a new collaborative spirit between Marvel and Sony Pictures, fully immerses Spidey in the extended Marvel Cinematic Universe, as previewed in last year’s Captain America: Civil War. Between that film and the trailers for this one, it appears that Spider-Man will return to the wisecracking high-schooler from the seminal ‘60s comic books — in other words, a lot more fun than the increasingly dour previous films. (July 7)


2. Atomic Blonde

"Atomic Blonde" trailer

After her fierce turn in Mad Max: Fury Road and, more recently, in The Fate of the Furious, Charlize Theron headlines her own action flick, which debuted to ecstatic raves at SXSW in March. Theron is Lorraine Broughton, a British spy dumped into Berlin in 1989, just before the fall of the Wall. Broughton looks like an unapologetic butt-kicker in the best way. (July 28)


1. Okja

"Okja" trailer

Director Bong Joon Ho's American debut Snowpiercer was one of the most imaginative thrill rides I've encountered in years. If anything, this one (which will debut on Netflix following a debut this month at Cannes Film Festival) looks even more insane. Tilda Swinton plays the head of a company that genetically modifies food. Korean star An Seo Hyun attempts to save a friendly beast (the title creature) from the company, and, frankly, there's likely no end of bizareness after that. Do pigs dream? We'll find out. (June 28)

A Message from Lucy Mirando


Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and on Facebook.

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