The movie that was supposed to herald a defiant return to business as usual has marked something more like a stumbling delay. Tenet, which emphatically declared “coming to theaters” in its late May trailer, has pushed back its premiere date from July 15 to July 31, passing the big-picture buck to Mulan, which will open on July 24, and now hold the dubious honor of the first major film to be released in an era when sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a packed theater is few people’s idea of a good time. (One upside for the Disney pic? As The Washington Post pointed out, the films that open this summer will have very slim competition.)
Other films slated for summer have decided to bail: Wonder Woman has been pushed back to the fall, as has Candyman and The French Dispatch. Some are skipping summer altogether; Black Widow, originally slated for the spring, will come out in November. Still, as reported in The New York Times, AMC has said that “almost all” of its U.S. theaters will open by mid-July. We’ll see.
In the meantime, here are a few of the films that our editors are keeping their fingers crossed for.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, June 26
With this year’s annual Eurovision Song Contest cancelled, this Netflix comedy could be the next best thing. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga stars Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as a pair of aspiring Icelandic musicians chosen to represent their country in the world's biggest song competition. With past winners including ABBA and Celine Dion, the real-life Eurovision has always been a playground for pop’s biggest and most over-the-top performers. The summer movie season could always use a splashy comedy that’s not afraid to lean into its goofiness. - Keaton Bell
The Truth, July 3
Hirokazu Kore-eda is one of those directors I will follow anywhere. I realize the pretension of that statement! But seriously, I think he’s a genius. (I’m not here to knock Parasite, but Kore-eda’s astonishing Shoplifters did a lot of what that film was doing in a slightly different, and I would argue, more touching register, a year earlier.) In the director’s English-language debut, Catherine Deneuve, an actor, and Juliette Binoche, her daughter, meet to celebrate the publication of the Deneuve character’s book. Ethan Hawke tags along in a charmingly bumbling way. I’m in. - Chloe Schama
Palm Springs, July 10
The romantic comedy has been declared a dying breed in multiple think-pieces a year, but Palm Springs is a perfect example of how the form only continues to evolve. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti play two wedding guests who accidentally stumble upon a time-loop that makes them relive the same day over and over again in a comedy that’s part Groundhog Day, part Before Sunset. As a stellar showcase for its charismatic leads with a tone that finds the perfect intersection of sour and sweet, Palm Springs is hilariously breezy summer entertainment that also packs a surprising amount of heart. - K.B.
Relic, July 10
I have high hopes that Relic will do for Emily Mortimer what Hereditary did for Toni Collete. Mortimer has always been a memorable screen presence and this take on the classic haunted house story looks poised to be a wickedly terrifying showcase for her talents. She plays a woman who travels with her daughter to their mother’s decrepit country estate only to discover her in the grips of an evil force. Early reviews have already praised Mortimer and the film for its character-driven scares, which is thrilling news for those like who can’t imagine anything more horrifying than an actress being underrated. - K.B.
Saint Maud, July 17
These days the best horror movies aren't really horror movies. Example: Saint Maud an exquisitely tuned and nerve-fraying character study of religious fervor and mental illness from the 30-year-old first-time British filmmaker Rose Glass. There's not a single jump scare in this story of a young palliative care nurse, Maud, (Morfydd Clark, magnificently intense) taking care of Amanda, a famous dancer and choreographer (Jennifer Ehle) who is dying of cancer in a dreary English seaside town. And yet Maud's obsession with religious ecstasy (and perhaps her need for redemption for a grisly act in her past) turn her into an object of mesmerizing study. Amanda, secular to the bone, manipulates and seduces Maud, leading her to spiral into madness. The lighting throughout is moody and dim (call it Earl Gray), the paranoiac mood recalls '70s classics like Rosemary's Baby and The Omen, and the ending—my God. I take it back: that is a scare for the ages. - Taylor Antrim
The Rental, July 24
Think twice before booking that scenic Airbnb in the middle of the woods. You’ll never look at the service the same way again after seeing The Rental, funnyman Dave Franco’s not-so-funny directorial debut about two couples staying at a vacation home who start to suspect its creepy owner is spying on them. The less you know about this crafty little thriller going into it, the better—just make sure you lock the door and close the blinds beforehand. - K.B.
Mulan, July 24
Those who delighted in watching a young Chinese woman disguise herself as a man and join the Imperial Army to save her family and her country in the original cartoon version of Mulan have quite a treat in store with this live-action remake, which scraps the music in favor of heightened emotion. Liu Yifei is incredible as Mulan, making this the rare film restless kids and bored parents can enjoy together. - Emma Specter
Tenet, July 31
If you’re going to bank on one person to could convince audiences to re-enter theaters in a post-quarantine world, Christopher Nolan is maybe your best bet. He’s a filmmaker who specializes in motion picture events begging to be witnessed on the big screen in all their 70 mm glory. Tenet looks to follow in the steps of classic Nolan mindbenders, featuring Robert Pattinson and John David Washington as secret agents tasked with preventing World War III. Additional details are scarce but Nolan has yet to disappoint, and a supporting cast rounded out by the always terrific Elizabeth Debicki is only building our anticipation for what’s already one of the most-discussed films of 2020. - Emma Specter
The Personal History of David Copperfield, August 14
Fans of Armando Iannucci’s fiercely excoriating brand of satiric comedy (The Death of Stalin, Veep, In the Loop) will approach his new film, The Personal History of David Copperfield, as one might a prizefight—expecting the jokes to land like blows. But the most surprising thing about this adaptation of Charles Dickens’s beloved doorstop of a novel is how gentle it is, how winningly heartfelt. In an act of color-blind casting that suits Iannucci’s subtlety modern retelling, Dev Patel plays the titular character, who endures fortune and misfortune in Victorian England with wide-eyed aplomb. Iannucci’s movie bursts with energy—and with scene-stealing British acting. Here is Tilda Swinton as batty Betsey Trotwood; there is Ben Whishaw as villainous Uriah Heep; Morfydd Clark plays Copperfield’s mother and his dog loving wife Dora Spenlow; we have turns from Darren Boyd, Gwendolyn Christie, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi. The film, like its source material, is a maximalist delight. - T.A.
Bill & Ted Face The Music, August 14
The totally tubular duo behind the most excellent comedy of the ‘80s are back together again for one last adventure. Reuniting Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as cinema’s most lovable boneheads, Bill & Ted Face the Music follows the wannabe rockers on their mission to write a song that could save all of mankind. Watching Reeves shred an air guitar again more than three decades after originating his breakout character should be worth the price of admission alone. - K.B.
The Secret Garden, August 14
Colin Firth, Julie Walters and Dixie Egerickx star in this adaptation of the beloved 1911 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Bucolic Yorkshire vistas make for a perfect background to the classic story, which follows a young girl sent to live with her uncle at an isolated estate. The screen adaptation is positively fantastical in its enchanted animation, which could make for the perfect escape from a world desperately in need of some magic. — E.S.
Antebellum, August 21
I’m a huge horror movie fan, and a huge Janelle Monáe fan, so Antebellum ticks both boxes. The trailer itself doesn’t give much away—it’s cryptic with a capital-C—but the eerie teaser already has me hooked. The plot follows a successful author (Monáe) who finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality: she’s time-travelled back to the South during the nineteenth century, awakening as a slave who must set herself free. Coming from the producers of Us and Get Out, the socially-minded thriller comes at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Monáe herself [has said](https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/antebellum-trailer-janelle-monae_n_5e5fea80c5b6985ec91a392e?ri18n=true) that she hopes viewers will leave the film “understanding why Black women and superhero should be one word.” - Christian Allaire
A Quiet Place, Part II, September 4
The beauty of A Quiet Place was it’s simplicity. The sequel, which seems to include at least a handful of prequel scenes, adds some layers: more characters, the baby who was born at the end of the first film, still sleeping in that creepy coffin-like box. But it seems to have retained its nerve-wracking intensity, with those giant spidery-looking things dropping from the sky to hiss and kill. Originally slated for a March release, the film was pushed back to early September so that people can, according to director John Krasinski, “see it all together.” Agree. I would not like to see this one alone and in the dark. - C.S.