Adam Driver and John David Washington in Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, a 1970s-set tale based on a wild true story.EXPAND
Adam Driver and John David Washington in Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, a 1970s-set tale based on a wild true story.
Focus Features

Summer Movie Guide: L.A. Weekly's Top 12 Picks for Must-See Flicks

This year’s summer movie season has a little something for everyone. From June to August, big popcorn flicks will once again jockey and jostle to entertain the masses in the hopes of claiming the top spot at the box office, dreaming of Avengers: Infinity War–sized returns, while smaller counterprogramming choices, often calculated to appeal to the more discerning moviegoer, look to claim sleeper status.

Audiences can expect a healthy dose of sequels and spinoffs, superheroes and spies, and some quality character dramas, with a few more eye-opening documentaries than usual for this time of year. To help you cut through the clutter, L.A. Weekly shines the spotlight on 12 films that we can’t wait to watch!

6 Thought-Provoking Picks:

Documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? sheds new light on Fred Rogers' life and his role as Mister Rogers.
Documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? sheds new light on Fred Rogers' life and his role as Mister Rogers.
Focus Features

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (June 8): Fred Rogers, a public television icon to Generation X and the millennials who followed, gets an insightful look at his life and influence from acclaimed documentary director Morgan Neville, in Won’t You Be My Neighbor? No TV personality could fully understand the mind of a child quite like the gentle, good-natured Rogers, and this nostalgic, heartfelt film delves into the creative and psychological motivations behind his educational kiddie classic Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which surprisingly made a few subtly radical statements during its 35-year run. Joanne Rogers, François Clemmons, Yo-Yo Ma, David Newell and Joe Negri remember Rogers in the film, which reinforces the concept that a little love, kindness and understanding can go a long way in this world.

Watch the trailer here.

Viewers go on a cross-country trip inside Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V in The King.EXPAND
Viewers go on a cross-country trip inside Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V in The King.
Oscilloscope

The King (June 22): Documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki takes us on a cross-country trip inside Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V as an ingenious reflection of contemporary culture and society in The King. Chuck D, James Carville, Ethan Hawke, Alec Baldwin, John Hiatt, Lana Del Rey and Emmylou Harris are among the notables who vibe off the car and share their perspectives in a film that explores the King of Rock & Roll’s roots and rise to American demigod status 40 years after his death. This opens the door for some serious soul-searching, discussion of cultural appropriation and investigation into how Presley’s trajectory holds up a mirror to our own imperfections. It’s not just about the King, it’s about America in the Trump era — warts and all.

Watch the trailer here.

Riley Keough in Under the Silver LakeEXPAND
Riley Keough in Under the Silver Lake
A24

Under the Silver Lake (June 22): Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough (the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley) star in Under the Silver Lake, a neo-noir descent into obsession. When Garfield’s neighbor/would-be girlfriend Keough makes nice and then vanishes overnight, the Silver Lake slacker becomes determined to find out what happened to her. Sifting through clues that point to strange patterns, numerology and other weird stuff, Garfield’s quest devolves into a paranoia that may just expose actual sinister conspiracies in our own backyard. It Follows director David Robert Mitchell pulls the strings with a sense of humor and his own obsessive attention to detail, with Topher Grace, Laura-Leigh and Jimmi Simpson also along for the trip.

Watch the trailer here.

Elsie Fisher (the voice of Agnes in the firt two Despicable Me movies) in Eighth GradeEXPAND
Elsie Fisher (the voice of Agnes in the firt two Despicable Me movies) in Eighth Grade
A24

Eighth Grade (July 13): This charming coming-of-age comedy holds some sharp observations and may just wind up on everyone’s Top 10 list come year’s end. In Eighth Grade, Elsie Fisher (the voice of Agnes in the first two Despicable Me movies) delivers a raw, natural performance as Kayla, an average suburban 13-year-old girl on the verge. Shy and awkward in public but a social butterfly on social media, she searches for the meaning of just being herself while navigating the choppy waters of adolescence in her last days of middle school. Also starring Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Kevin R. Free, and Josh Hamilton as Kayla’s single dad, Eighth Grade is the perceptive and assured feature debut of Bo Burnham, a stand-up comic, actor and musician.

Watch the trailer here.

Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill in Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on FootEXPAND
Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill in Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot
Amazon Studios

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (July 13): Joaquin Phoenix takes on the bittersweet, real-life story of Portland’s John Callahan, an alcoholic whose life was forever altered in a drunk-driving accident. Confined to a wheelchair with only limited use of his arms, Callahan confronts sobriety and finds an unexpected outlet by drawing cartoons. Fueled by his iconoclastic and politically incorrect sense of humor, he lands a weekly newspaper slot that captures national attention. The talent involved with this irreverent dramedy alone is worth the price of admission. Rooney Mara, Jonah Hill, Jack Black, Carrie Brownstein, Beth Ditto and Kim Gordon co-star under the sure hand of Oscar-bait director Gus van Sant (Good Will Hunting), who based the film on Callahan’s autobiography.

Watch the trailer here.

Adam Driver and John David Washington in Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, a 1970s-set tale based on a wild true story.EXPAND
Adam Driver and John David Washington in Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, a 1970s-set tale based on a wild true story.
Focus Features

BlacKkKlansman (Aug. 10): Drawing from the “you couldn’t make this shit up” files, Spike Lee returns to form with BlacKkKlansman, a ’70s-set tale based on a wild true story. John David Washington (the son of Denzel) plays Ron Stallworth, an African-American rookie undercover officer in Colorado, who manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan with a brazen phone call and the help of a white Jewish man, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), posing as his namesake. Peppered with dark, absurdist, comedic moments, Spike’s new joint promises to pull no punches and get to the heart of the very real racial tensions that have only seemed to increase in recent years. Alec Baldwin, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace (as David Duke), Paul Walter Hauser and Harry Belafonte also star in the film, co-produced by Get Out’s Jordan Peele and Jason Blum.

Watch the trailer here.

6 Big Popcorn Picks:

Sandra Bullock, left, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Cate Blanchett and Awkwafina in Ocean's 8EXPAND
Sandra Bullock, left, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Cate Blanchett and Awkwafina in Ocean's 8
Warner Bros.

Ocean’s 8 (June 8): Sandra Bullock sets her sights on the priceless jewels on parade at the Met’s annual high-profile gala in Ocean's 8, a witty spinoff of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy. Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, slick sister to George Clooney’s Danny Ocean, who recruits the likes of Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter to each utilize her particular set of skills and get a piece of the action — specifically, Anne Hathaway’s $150 million necklace. Gary Ross directs the heist this time, with Soderbergh producing. James Corden, Dakota Fanning and Richard Armitage also star. Look for some fun cameos in this one as well as appearances from Ocean’s regulars Linus Caldwell and Saul Bloom, aka Matt Damon and Carl Reiner.

Watch the trailer here.

The Parr family is at it again in this summer's highly anticipated family sequel Incredibles 2.EXPAND
The Parr family is at it again in this summer's highly anticipated family sequel Incredibles 2.
Walt Disney Pictures

Incredibles 2 (June 15): Honey, where's my super suit? Director Brad Bird returns to the Pixar fold to deliver the long-awaited follow-up to his brilliant take on the superhero genre in Incredibles 2. Picking up right where the 2004 original left off, the Parr family must embrace the new dynamic of having Helen/Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) take the spotlight as the friendly face of re-emerging “supers,” while Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) must conquer the domestic chores of raising Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and unpredictable baby Jack-Jack. Of course, there’s a new villain on the scene, Screenslaver, threatening to upset the delicate balance. Bird, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Isabella Rosselini, Sophia Bush and Pixar lucky charm John Ratzenberger also contribute their vocal talents.

Watch the trailer here.

Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomEXPAND
Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Universal Pictures

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22): More dinosaurs on the loose and a ticking volcanic clock set the stage for the fifth entry in the blockbuster series launched by Steven Spielberg’s game-changer 25 years ago. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return to Isla Nublar to rescue their fearsome reptiles, with the added value of a new conspiracy and Jurassic Park alum Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm there to warn them with chaos theory. New Jurassic director J.A. Bayona’s pedigree of monsters (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls), drama and natural-disaster mayhem (The Impossible) make him a compelling choice to helm this chapter, which also stars Ted Levine, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, Justice Smith, James Cromwell, Geraldine Chaplin and the returning B.D. Wong as potential dino kibble.

Watch the trailer here.

Evangeline Lilly and Paul Rudd in Ant-Man and The WaspEXPAND
Evangeline Lilly and Paul Rudd in Ant-Man and The Wasp
Walt Disney Pictures

Ant-Man and The Wasp (July 6): After sitting out Avengers: Infinity War, petty thief turned unexpected hero Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) teams up with Hope van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) and her father, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), for Ant-Man and The Wasp, a brand-new Marvel mission requiring feats of both epic and minuscule proportions — literally. But balancing crime-fighting with a new partner while providing a stable home life for his daughter is proving to be much more complicated than Lang expected — especially when his exploits take him to an alternate dimension. Really, could any superhero handle that kind of stress? Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Peña and Walton Goggins also star in the film, once again directed by Ant-Man helmer Peyton Reed.

Watch the trailer here

Tom Cruise performs yet another death-defying stunt in Mission: Impossible — Fallout.EXPAND
Tom Cruise performs yet another death-defying stunt in Mission: Impossible — Fallout.
Paramount Pictures

Mission: Impossible  Fallout (July 27): If Tom Cruise still insists on risking his life for our entertainment, we’ll keep watching — especially when it comes to his outrageous Mission: Impossible stunts. Clinging to cliff walls, curve-hugging motorcycles, banking airplanes and the world’s tallest skyscraper still isn’t enough for Cruise, who adds a killer, one-take skydiving stunt to his résumé in Mission: Impossible — Fallout. This time, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is a pariah who mixes it up with former ally Rebecca Ferguson, former flame Michelle Monaghan and usual suspects Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg in order to clear his name and save the globe. Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation writer-director Christopher McQuarrie returns to Cruise control the sixth installment, which also stars series newcomers Angela Bassett and Henry Cavill (sporting that infamously super-expensive ’stache).

Watch the trailer here.

Crazy Rich Asians is the first major studio film with an all Asian and Asian-American cast, including Michelle Yeoh, left, Henry Golding and Constance Wu.EXPAND
Crazy Rich Asians is the first major studio film with an all Asian and Asian-American cast, including Michelle Yeoh, left, Henry Golding and Constance Wu.
Warner Bros.

Crazy Rich Asians (Aug. 17): Kevin Kwan's best-selling novel comes to life with an all-star Asian cast that includes Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Harry Shum Jr. and Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu. Wu plays native New Yorker Rachel, whose hot boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) invites her to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Overseas, she’s shocked to learn firsthand that the modest Nick actually comes from an eccentric, filthy-rich family and that he just happens to be one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Who knew? Rachel’s dream trip becomes a social nightmare as jealous socialites aim to steal her man and she’s forced to engage in a psychological game of cat-and-mouse with Nick’s mother (Yeoh) to earn her approval. Step Up 2 & 3 director John M. Chu brings the bling in this romantic comedy.

Watch the trailer here

David Weiner is a Rondo Award–winning writer who was executive editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and senior editor at ETonline before that. For fun he runs the genre pop culture site ItCameFrom and spends too much money on eBay trying to reclaim pieces of his childhood.

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