The 10 Most Anticipated Anti-Blockbuster Movies of the Summer Blockbuster Season

By Dustin Rowles | Guides | May 4, 2012 | Comments ()


The summer blockbuster season officially kicks off tonight with the release of The Avengers, and while we say it about a lot of summers only to end up ultimately disappointed, this summer looks like one of the best to come along in years thanks to a few highly anticipated films like Bourne Legacy, The Dark Knight Rises, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Brave, Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus, just to name a few. But you know about those movies. You will know about ALL those huge blockbuster, big-budget movies simply by virtue of existing in the modern world: They will seep in by osmosis. Before July arrives, you will know the trailer for the next Adam Sandler film, That's My Boy, by heart, whether you want to or not.

But summer is also a great time for smaller, independent films. Unfortunately, they're very much likely to be overshadowed by the huge action-film spectacles and sequels, as they are every year. So before you head to the theaters to catch Whedon's latest, we'd like to highlight ten smaller films coming out this summer that might be worth your attention. You'll probably forget about them tomorrow after the Battleship trailer dislodges your brain, but at least we can say we tried.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: This British comedy from director John Madden looks adorable, like something in a similar vein to Calendar Girls and The Full Monty without the nudity. It follows a group of British retirees -- played by Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and Tom Wilkinson, among others -- who take up residence in a newly restored hotel in India. What they find, however, is that the hotel is not exactly as advertised, but they're won over by its charms anyway. Advance reviews have been outstanding. (Release Date: May 4th).

Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson's first live action film since 2007's The Darjeeling Limited needs little by way of introduction. He brings back some regulars -- Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman -- and adds Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Ed Norton. The story follows two young lovers at a summer camp who flee a New England town, prompting the locals to put together a search party. Basically, it looks like a Wes Anderson movie, so you know what you're going to get: Quirk, whimsy, and a little bit of twee. (Opens May 25th)

Safety Not Guaranteed: Safety Not Gauranteed pairs "New Girl's" Jake Johnson and "Parks and Recreation's" Aubrey Plaza as two journalists investigating a story about a man (Mark Duplass) who put out a Craigslist ad asking for a time travel companion. It's a great cast, and the winsome comedy got high marks out of Sundance for Colin Trevorrow's debut effort. Plus, the trailer looks outstanding. (Opens: June 28th)

Hysteria: We haven't seen much of Maggie Gylenhaal lately, but she teams up with Hugh Dancy in Tanya Wexler's period comedy about Mortimer Granville's invention of the vibrator. It's Hollywood's first vibrator comedy! Notices out of film festivals suggest that Hysteria is simple fun, and with all the orgasm scenes in the trailer, how could it not be? Plus, for many of us, it's the first we've seen on Rupert Everett in years. (Opens May 18th)

Lola Versus: Daryl Wein, who made a small splash with Breaking Upwards returns with Lola Versus starring Greta Gerwig, the next coming of Parker Posey. The film follows Gerwig's character, who is facing turning 30 right after being dumped by her boyfriend, played by Joel Kinnamon. Reviews out of Tribeca have been solid, noting that Gerwig effortlessly carries a romantic comedy that gently eschews formula. (Opens June 8th)

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Noted by basically everyone who saw it at Sundance (where it won the Grand Jury Prize) as an early contender for the best film of the year, Beasts of the Southern Wild is an imaginative magical realist film that tracks a girl in New Orleans contending with the fading health of her father in the midst of Hurricane Katrina. It's hard to make much sense of the trailer, but it looks like the kind of film that will open you up and pour you out. (Opens June 27th)

Your Sister's Sister: This movie comes from Lynne Shelton, the phenomenal mumblecore director behind Humpday, and once again, it stars the ever-prolific Mark Duplass. It follows Duplass' character who is invited by Emily Blunt's character to stay at her family cabin, where he ends up falling for Blunt's sister, played by Rosemarie Dewitt. Reviews out of the festival circuit have been outstanding: It currently sets at 100 percent on Rottentomatoes, and most are recognizing it as Shelton's best film so far. (Opens June 15th)

Take This Waltz: The first film Sarah Polley has directed since the heart-wrenching Away from Her, Take This Waltz follows a happily married woman (Michelle Williams) who cheats on her husband (Seth Rogen) with a neighbor (Luke Kirby) across the street. Well reviewed at the Toronto film festival, Take This Waltz has been applauded for being warm, funny, passionately erotic and entertaining. With Michelle Williams in front of the camera and Sarah Polley behind it, count me in. Skinny Rogen in a thoughtful role is just gravy. (Opens June 29th)

Celeste and Jesse Forever: I don't know too much about the film, but I love the talent behind it. Lee Toland Krieger (who directed Adam Scott's phenomenal Vicious Kind) directs from a screenplay co-written by Rashida Jones, who also stars as one half of a divorcing couple (along with Andy Samberg) trying to maintain their friendship as they date other people. Wired reviewed the film at Sundance and noted it was a movie about letting go "that can be funny, cute and awesomely sad all at the same time."


Magic Mike: Steven Soderbergh just seems to like a challenge, attempting to turn Gina Carano into a legitimate action star in Haywire, trying to make money off a film about an unknown virus that wipes out the world (Contagion) and now trying to turn Channing Tatum into a legitimate actor with Magic Mike, a romantic comedy about a male stripper. He's one of the most ambitious directors in Hollywood, and he hits more times than not. This one looks like more fun than Soderbergh has allowed himself since the Ocean's films.

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