The coming months don’t just promise some of the biggest blockbusters of the year, but new features from beloved filmmakers, streaming picks, and a number of titles already competing for our 2023 best-of lists.
Where to begin with this year’s summer preview?
The “big” titles, including new superhero films, another zippy entry into the “Fast and Furious” franchise, the continuing adventures of Tom Cruise running against “Impossible” odds, or even a kicky new Indiana Jones film? What about the latest picks from some of our favorite filmmakers, Wes Anderson to Greta Gerwig, Christopher Nolan to Nicole Holofcener, Paul Schrader to Niki Caro, Christian Petzold to Rachel Sennott?
Or what about the rising filmmaking stars we’ve already fallen for, like Celine Song, Laurel Parmet, Adele Lim, Charlotte Regan, and Savanah Leaf? Should we bet even bigger, noting that this summer includes at least two films we’ve already crowned some of the best of the year? (Don’t worry, we won’t make you scroll: those two are Song’s “Past Lives” and Lim’s “Joy Ride.”)
Or, better yet, how about we let the films speak for themselves? As another summer movie season beckons, we’ve dug into the calendar to pull out the titles we’re most excited about — including, yes, some already proven picks, along with plenty of potential hits — in the coming weeks. Take a gander.
Of note: This list only includes films that have confirmed release dates from May through August, though a few of IndieWire’s most-anticipated 2023 films have yet to announce their release plans. As spring and summer festivals begin in earnest, we expect a fresh round of new films to be excited about that just might sneak in their own summer release plans after bowing across the circuit.
That means that everything remains in flux, and as plans continue to change, this list will be updated. Whether that includes changing release dates, the method of a film’s release, or adding in some of those anticipated titles that lock in an official date in 2023, this preview remains particularly fluid. For now, however, these are the films we are most excited to see in the coming months.
We’re also thrilled to provide some exclusive new looks at some of our picks, including new stills from “Theater Camp,” “Gran Turismo,” “Flamin’ Hot,” “Scrapper,” “The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future,” and more.
Eric Kohn, David Ehrlich, Jude Dry, Ryan Lattanzio, Alison Foreman, Samantha Bergeson, Christian Zilko, Esther Zuckerman, Steph Green, Rafael Motamayor, Leila Latif, Marisa Mirabel, Robert Daniels, and Ben Croll contributed to this article.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (May 5, theaters)
Talk about the end of an era. After launching himself as a superhero impresario to be reckoned with (after deliriously skewering the genre with his own “Super”), filmmaker James Gunn is closing out his “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy with a final film that promises to pull together all its many candy-colored, foul-mouthed pieces into a satisfying conclusion. And the end of this particular trilogy will also close the door (presumably) on Gunn’s career at Marvel, as he moves into co-running the DC universe (and directing more films on that side of the comic book franchise divide, to boot).
While details are being kept under wraps(-ish, as is the wont of the MCU world), we do know that all the big stars — including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, and Vin Diesel — are all back for one last ride, for an adventure the focuses mostly on Cooper’s own Rocket Raccoon. During a recent interview with EW, Gunn said of this final film, “I feel like I did everything that I possibly could to make this trilogy as good as it can possibly be. And I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate that I had all these people around me making it. It’s the biggest blessing of my life. … I would’ve been very sad not to complete the trilogy for many reasons, but I just feel very connected to Rocket. I feel like nobody would be able to tell his full story if it wasn’t me.” Would it be weird to cry in a Marvel film? —KE
Watch the latest trailer for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”
“BlackBerry” (May 12, theaters)
Is there anything worse than becoming obsolete? It’s a fear many share — to be slowly forgotten and discarded, left on a proverbial roadside as the rest of the world continues to innovate at pace around us. It isn’t just a business concern, but a human one: the innate craving for relevancy in a world where something or someone shinier than you is always around the corner. The BlackBerry, with its distinctive QWERTY click-click keypad, met a sobering fate when it faded into quiet obscurity in the past decade — going from having a 43 percent market share in 2010 to zero percent just six years later — and when it was announced that a film charting the smartphone’s rise and fall had landed a Berlinale competition slot, one’s initial thoughts were: oh, that old thing?
But “BlackBerry,” which follows Canadian software company Research in Motion and the mistakes made by co-CEOs Mike Lazarides (Jay Baruchel) and Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton), uses lashes of retrospective irony to dive into the precarity of monolithic success. With a good deal of zippy snark à la “The Social Network” and a sense of deadpan comedy straight from the “Succession” playbook, “BlackBerry” is the kind of mid-budget marvel that doesn’t seem to come around often anymore. —SG
Read IndieWire’s full review of “BlackBerry.”
“Monica” (May 12, theaters)
Mirrors are more than just refracted light — they are how we see ourselves and a reflection of how others see us. Reflections are everywhere in “Monica,” an understated family drama starring Trace Lysette as a woman who reluctantly returns home to see her estranged and ailing mother. Shot in an elegant 1:1 aspect ratio, we see Monica through French doors left ajar, in the glass frames of childhood photos, and the patina of the antique mirror in her mother’s girlish bedroom. If there is a reflection to be found, Monica is there.
Caustic and frail, Eugenia (Patricia Clarkson) doesn’t recognize her daughter, though it’s unclear whether that’s the dementia or because Monica is trans. Spare but poignant, “Monica” is a pensive family drama that’s loaded with the empty space of things left unsaid. The film takes a very restrained approach to the contours of the story, doling out information only at the very last minute. Unfurling at a slow simmer, Monica remains a mystery for most of the film, for better or worse. This is measured storytelling that demands patience, but the rewards are subtle, too. When she’s not being seen in a mirror, Monica is always shot from the side or behind, sometimes we see only her windswept hair or headless body. She’s opaque to herself, unsure of her feelings about being back in her childhood home, but also to the viewer. —JD
Read IndieWire’s full review of “Monica.”
“The Starling Girl” (May 12, theaters)
Laurel Parmet’s “The Starling Girl” tells a tale as old as time — the broad strokes of its story about the affair between a naïve teenage girl and a married older man who swears that he’ll leave his wife adhere to convention from start to finish — but the power of this sensitive and devilishly detailed coming-of-age drama is rooted in the friction that it finds between biblical paternalism and modern personhood. While young women have always been taught to be ashamed of their desires (hot take!), Parmet’s self-possessed debut is uncommonly well-attuned to how garbled that gospel might sound to a God-loving girl who’s been raised amid the echoes of a secular culture.
Played by the ever-arresting Eliza Scanlen, Jem Starling isn’t the first Christian fundamentalist to feel an ungodly stir in her bones when she lays eyes on her youth pastor Owen. Played by “Top Gun: Maverick” star Lewis Pullman, whose nuanced and fully convincing performance hinges on a predatory hunkiness that couldn’t be further removed from the nerd-adjacent roles he’s played so far, Owen commands a divine respect that disguises his own susceptibility to temptation.
There’s nothing the least bit novel about how Jem and Owen begin to orbit around each other, but she’s too young to see the clichés piling up around them, and he’s too busy exploiting those clichés to care. Jem’s short-sightedness can also be forgiven because Parmet renders the usual beats with the same flushed immediacy that Scanlen brings to every scene. —DE
Read IndieWire’s full review of “The Starling Girl.”
“Still” (May 12, streaming on AppleTV+)
“The walking really freaks people out,” Michael J. Fox explains in his Apple-produced documentary, “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie,” directed by Davis Guggenheim. And, sure enough, it is striking to see him struggle to amble down a New York City sidewalk with his physical therapist by his side. A dog barks at him. Other people say hello. And then he falls.
He’s not wrong. It does initially “freak you out” to see Fox’s Parkinson’s in full effect in the film. It’s without a doubt upsetting to understand the pain of his body or to watch a makeup artist cover up the spot where he broke bones in his face falling. For as distressing as that sounds, Fox is nothing if not a likable figure, and he and Guggenheim have crafted a likable film about both his suffering and resilience without turning him into a martyr. It’s not without some of the conventional beats of a star-driven documentary, but it also refuses to turn maudlin when it so easily could. —EZ
Read IndieWire’s full review of “Still.”
“The Mother” (May 12, streaming on Netflix)
Jennifer Lopez reaffirmed her rom-com roots in 2022, with “Marry Me” and “Shotgun Wedding” bookending a year that also saw her wed former aughts flame Ben Affleck. Now, she’s expecting “The Mother”: a straight-to-streaming action flick about an assassin who leaves her newborn in an attempt to protect her — only to have that estranged daughter (Lucy Paez) targeted and kidnapped years later.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” villain Joseph Fiennes leads the venomous enemy contingent. Meanwhile, TV legend Edie Falco is on Team Lopez — or at least, seems to be on Team Lopez. (Hey, it’s an spy/crime thriller!) Directed by Niki Caro, best known for everything from indie gem “Whale Rider” to Disney’s 2020 live-action “Mulan” remake, “The Mother” is set against the sprawling Alaskan wilderness and promises a kind of “Kill Bill” meets “The Last of Us” reunion/revenge epic drawing its power from Lopez’s bizarre-yet-badass past in movies like “Out of Sight,” “The Cell,” and even “Anaconda.” —AF
Kino Lorber, exclusive to IndieWire
“The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future” (May 19, theaters)
“The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future” uses magical realism to blend the story of a family deeply scarred by a suicide decades ago, and a fable of Mother Nature crying out for help. Thankfully, Francisca Alegría’s feature debut manages to be hauntingly moving and hopeful instead of angry and pessimistic, like Adam McKay’s recent doomsday satire “Don’t Look Up.”
The fish are dying from pollution, the bees are disappearing, and the milking cows are not far behind, not unlike the beginning of Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” And like the 2005 adaptation of the book, the lamentations of the animals is presented in song form, with the fish and cows singing woes of death and despair, begging for their suffering to serve some larger purpose.
As the fish start dying in a river in the south of Chile, a woman (Mía Maestro) emerges after being dead for decades. Providing many questions and very few answers, Alegría and co-writers Fernanda Urrejole and Manuela Infante make a point to show that life can emerge from death, imploring the audience to stop fixating on the damages done in the past and focus on saving the present and future. —RM
Read IndieWire’s full review of “The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future.”
“Master Gardener” (May 19, theaters)
Knowing how dark Paul Schrader is capable of going, his loyal audience will be bracing themselves for cruelty when “Master Gardener” begins. But, while the central character’s arc will likely launch a dreaded “discourse,” there is a tenderness to “Master Gardener” that may prove its biggest surprise. Joel Edgerton plays the title role as Narvel Roth, a reserved and meticulous gardener who runs the grounds of the grand Gracewood estate along with a small but committed team.
The estate is owned by Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver) who swans into every scene with a perfectly coiffed helmet of hair and waspy panache. Their concerns may seem of little consequence, talking about preparations for a gala and the orchids they plan to auction off, but the oedipal tension between them is immediately unnerving. The botanical passion of our protagonist is revisited in (occasionally heavy-handed) metaphors when Narvel ponderously writes in his diaries that “gardening is a bridge to the future,” “the seeds of love grow like the seeds of hate,” or “I found a life in gardens, how unlikely is that?”
But meditative contemplation on botany aside, life really starts anew for Narvel when Norma asks him to take on her estranged “mixed-blood” grand-niece Maya (Quintessa Swindell), whose parents have died and is in need of a job and an opportunity to turn her life around. —LL
Read IndieWire’s full review of “Master Gardener.”
“Fast X” (May 19, theaters)
It’s still all about family, but after two decades, the Toretto clan saga is finally coming to an end. The tenth film in the series is (allegedly) the first half of the long-awaited “Fast and Furious” finale, with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) revving his engine in a battle royale against villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) and mysterious new adversary Dante (Jason Momoa).
After a director switcheroo mid-production with Louis Letterier taking over for longtime helmer Justin Lin, “Fast X” has kicked the rumor mill into overdrive. Michelle Rodriguez claimed that she and Theron filmed their epic fight, teased in the trailer, sans director and it’s clear “Fast X” has a pile up of big budget bravado ahead. It’s the quintessential summer blockbuster, ready for the end of the road. —SB
Watch the latest trailer for “Fast X.”
courtesy of Sundance Institute/A24
“You Hurt My Feelings” (May 26, theaters)
Filmmaker Nicole Holofcener has long been one of our foremost chroniclers of the minutiae of everyday life, someone uniquely equipped to marry the very funny with the very honest, the sort of creator who makes things that hurt, in both good and bad ways. For her first original feature in a decade — she’s been making plenty of TV in recent years, and in 2018, directed and scripted the Ted Thompson adaptation “The Land of Steady Habits” — Holofcener returns to classic territory: a New York City story about neuroses and good intentions and the slights that keep us at night. It’s, of course, about love.
“You Hurt My Feelings” is not without all the things Holofencer does so very well — all that honesty, all that understanding of the texture of everyday life, plus Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the spotlight, where she belongs — it also feels decidedly low-key for such a insightful filmmaker. The shagginess of it, the missteps, the rambling bits are pleasurable enough, and there are plenty of laughs and insights here, but there’s also nothing new. In a Hollywood landscape not often compelled by these sorts of distantly adult comedies, that’s a comfort. —KE
Read IndieWire’s full review of “You Hurt My Feelings.”
Photo courtesy of Disney.
“The Little Mermaid” (May 26, theaters)
Halle Bailey lit the Internet abuzz with her stunning vocals showcased in Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid,” as the singer-actress transforms into Ariel for Rob Marshall’s reimagining of the beloved fairytale. Javier Bardem plays Ariel’s father King Triton, while Melissa McCarthy channeled her inner chainsmoking, martini-swilling drag queen to embody underwater spinster Ursula.
Both adults stand in the way of Ariel exploring a blossoming romance with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King), but as in most fairy tales, young love prevails. Lin-Manuel Miranda penned new lyrics for the songs by Alan Menken, including tweaking “Kiss the Girl” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” to modernize the movie. Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, and Jacob Tremblay also lend their voices to the soon-to-be Disney classic that will plunge “Under the Sea” this summer. —SB
Watch the latest trailer for “The Little Mermaid.”
“Past Lives” (June 2, theaters)
Of all the writers retreats in all the summer towns in all of New York, he had to walk into hers. As the sun fades on a perfect Montauk night — setting the stage for a first kiss that, like so many of the most resonant moments in Celine Song’s transcendent “Past Lives,” will ultimately be left to the imagination — Nora (Greta Lee) tells Arthur (John Magaro) about the Korean concept of In-Yun, which suggests that people are destined to meet one another if their souls have overlapped a certain number of times before.
But as this delicate yet crushingly beautiful film continues to ripple forward in time — the wet clay of Nora and Arthur’s flirtation hardening into a marriage in the span of a single cut — the very real life they create together can’t help but run parallel to the imagined one that Nora seemed fated to share with the childhood sweetheart she left back in her birth country. She and Hae Sung (“Leto” star Teo Yoo) haven’t seen each other in the flesh since they were in grade school, but the ties between them have never entirely frayed apart.
On the contrary, they seem to knot together in unexpected ways every 12 years, as Hae Sung orbits back around to his first crush with the cosmic regularity of a comet passing through the sky above. The closer he comes to making contact with Nora, the more heart-stoppingly complicated her relationship with destiny becomes. And with each passing scene in this film — all of them so hushed and sacrosanct that even their most uncertain moments feel as if they’re being repeated like an ancient prayer — it grows easier to appreciate why Nora invoked In-Yun on that seismic Montauk night. —DE
Read IndieWire’s full review of “Past Lives.”
Sony Pictures Animation
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (June 2, theaters)
There’s a strong case to be made that the most innovative superhero property of the past half decade has been Sony’s animated “Spider-Verse” franchise. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” saw Phil Lord and Chris Miller uniting multiple Spider-Men years before “No Way Home” made it cool, and the film’s unique animation style was one of Hollywood’s most serious attempts at recreating an actual comic book aesthetic. After blowing up the box office and winning an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, a sequel was inevitable.
Unsurprisingly, the creative team doesn’t seem to be resting on their laurels for the second installment. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” expands Miles Morale’s story in a huge way, seeing him team up with Gwen Stacey for another multiverse adventure featuring new characters like Oscar Isaac’s Spider-Man 2099, Daniel Kaluuya’s Spider-Punk, and Karan Soni’s Spider-Man India. The film is the first half of a sprawling two-part saga that concludes with next year’s “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse.” —CZ
Watch the latest trailer for “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”
Searchlight Pictures, exclusive to IndieWire
“Flamin’ Hot” (June 9, streaming on Hulu)
We’ll get the liberties out of the way: The subject of Eva Longoria’s narrative feature directorial debut (she directed the doc “La Guerra Civil”) is businessman and entrepreneur Richard Montañez. He has lived an extraordinary life that saw him rise from a childhood in a migrant labor camp to becoming a PepsiCo executive and an in-demand motivational speaker. However, he did not actually invent Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. So yes, it’s unfortunate that Longoria’s energetic and loving feature is, well, all about Richard Montañez inventing Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
It’s an inspiring story that Montañez told for years — he even wrote a book about it — and which has now gotten the biopic treatment, care of the aptly titled “Flamin’ Hot.” But any biopic engenders scrutiny and in May 2021, the Los Angeles Times published an expose about how Montañez didn’t actually do the one thing he’s long said he did. Throughout Longoria’s film, written by Linda Yvette Chávez and Lewis Colick, Montañez’s Flamin’ Hot origin story is told, along with a slew of other lightly buffed-over truths. It’s entertaining enough, and Longoria certainly has the eye and heart for crowd-pleasing movie-making. —KE
Read IndieWire’s full review of “Flamin’ Hot.”
“The Blackening” (June 16, theaters)
“The Blackening” is the first great horror parody of the post-“Get Out” era. The scares may be underserved, but the laughs and Blackness commentary make this a thrilling rollercoaster of a film. Based on 3-PEAT Comedy’s 2018 Comedy Central digital short of the same name, it asks a simple question: If the Black character is always the first to go in a horror movie, what happens when the whole cast is Black?
In the original short, a serial killer forces the group to sacrifice whoever is Blackest in order to save themselves. Directed by Tim Story (“Shaft”), the film expands the concept to lampoon every other horror trope and cliché. We start with a remote house in the woods — not a cabin, it’s a gorgeous home — with, of course, a creepy basement. There’s a horribly racist board game, The Blackening, which has a big blackface figure as a mascot. The game is simple: Answer questions about Blackness or die. —RM
Read IndieWire’s full review of “The Blackening.”
“Asteroid City” (June 16, theaters)
Here’s something we should all be able to agree on: nobody on the planet is more qualified to make a comedy about a ’50s-era astronomy convention than Wes Anderson. While the arthouse rock star has spent most of the past decade making visually decadent films set in Europe, his greatest strength has always been his ability to find humor in the strange idiosyncrasies of American culture. “Asteroid City” appears to be firmly in that wheelhouse, combining the period setting of “Moonrise Kingdom” with the desert backdrop of “Bottle Rocket.” Between the visually stunning trailer and the news that the film will compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, anticipation for this one couldn’t be higher.
Excitement for the project was apparently felt throughout Hollywood, as Anderson lined up an A-list ensemble cast that’s remarkable even by his standards. Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Hong Chau, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, and Jason Schwartzman make for a nice mixture of Anderson first-timers and familiar faces. The film has all the makings of a Wes Anderson comedy for the ages — and it’s not even the only film he’s releasing this year! What a time to be alive. —CZ
Read everything you need to know about “Asteroid City.”
“The Flash” (June 16, theaters)
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has promised that Andy Muschietti’s “The Flash” is “among the great DC films coming up.” Sure, that bar is already low, so that may be true, but the movie also has an unruly star at its center following the multiple arrests and grooming and abuse allegations against Ezra Miller. The “We Need to Talk About Kevin” star is right now in the process of retconning their public image, saying they’re focused on their recovery after lapses with mental illness and substance use. The studio hasn’t shied away from putting Miller front and center of its campaign for the film, which, well, what else are they going to do since Miller is the star?
Miller is joined by multiple Batmans played by Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck, so the spectacle of that alone should be enough to shatter the cerebral cortexes of DCEU fans everywhere. Miller also stars alongside Sasha Calle as Kara Zor-El, AKA Supergirl, plus Kiersey Clemons, Ron Livingston, and Michael Shannon, who said he was surprised when he got the call for “The Flash” since he thought he died in his last DC entry, “Man of Steel.” That says it all. —RL
Watch the latest trailer for “The Flash.”
“No Hard Feelings” (June 23, theaters)
Not many stars can float between genres as seamlessly as Jennifer Lawrence can, but the Oscar winner will soon remind us of her quick comedy chops with this irreverent sex comedy from “Good Boys” writer/director Gene Stupnitsky. Lawrence plays an Uber driver facing financial ruin who accepts an unusual proposition from a wealthy couple: to “date” their socially awkward son and help him see the pleasures of adult life.
Mathew Broderick and Laura Benanti play the parents, with Natalie Morales, Ebon Moss-Bacharach, and Hasan Minhaj rounding out the rest of the stacked cast. A writer on “The Office,” Stupnitsky proved himself a clever comedic voice with “Good Boys.” It’ll be exciting to see what he can do with an A-list roster and studio level support. —JD
Watch the latest trailer for “No Hard Feelings.”
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” (June 30, theaters)
Fifteen years ago, Steven Spielberg returned to his most iconic creation for the first time in decades with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” and the results were…not that great? The strange plot twists and clunky father-son dynamic between Harrison Ford’s Indy and his son (Shia LaBeouf) simply didn’t click. The movie played like a nostalgia spoiler for countless fans. But now James Mangold is here to set things right — or, at least, that’s the hope with this $300 million production, which certainly has a lot of potential.
As 80-year-old Ford passes the torch to “Fleabag” talent Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who plays the archeologist’s fellow globe-hopping goddaughter at the center of a Cold War adventure involving the space race. The action looks tight and modern, the quips look fun and self-referential, and there are even hints of genuine emotion as the character aims to hang up his hat and whip once and for all. For real this time. We can only hope he goes out with the style he deserves. —EK
Watch the latest trailer for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.”
On the next page (click “continue reading” below), check out our picks for must-see summer movies coming out in July and August.
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