Good luck planning ahead to see movies this summer; the schedules (and the theatrical versus streaming strategies) are still changing rapidly. But here are a dozen movies I’m keeping an eye on, and hoping to see on the biggest screen I can find.
“The Dry” (May 21). Based on a wonderfully atmospheric novel by Jane Harper, Robert Connolly’s film stars Eric Bana as an Australian federal agent who reluctantly agrees to investigate a crime in his hometown.
“A Quiet Place Part II” (May 28). The original “A Quiet Place,” back in 2018, freaked me the hell out, to put it mildly. (Do not watch this film in an empty house; every subsequent noise will terrify you.) Now the sequel to John Krasinski’s very effective horror movie, in which he stars with Emily Blunt as a couple who must fend off apocalyptic monsters who are triggered by sound, is coming up, with even more silence. Yikes.
“Cruella” (May 28, also streaming on Disney+ Premier Access). Do we really need an origin story for “101 Dalmatians” villain Cruella de Vil? Apparently we do! Two always-splendid Emmas — Stone and Thompson — appear in this live-action Disney comedy, with Stone as the young title character who dreams of being a fashion designer. The costumes alone, by the great Merchant-Ivory veteran Jenny Beavan, look to be a treat. Craig Gillespie (“I, Tonya,” “Lars and the Real Girl”) directs.
“Vivo” (June 4). It’s the Summer of Lin-Manuel Miranda at the multiplexes! (And after the year we’ve all been through, we deserve all the L-MM we can get.) First up: this animated family comedy about an adventurous kinkajou who travels from Havana to Miami. Miranda (“Hamilton,” should you need reminding) wrote the songs; his “In the Heights” collaborator Quiara Alegría Hudes wrote the script with director Kirk DeMicco.
“In the Heights” (June 11, also streaming on HBO Max). See above! A year after it was originally scheduled to be in theaters, the film of Miranda’s hit Broadway musical about a Washington Heights bodega owner is finally hitting the multiplexes. Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”) directs; expect dancing in the streets.
“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided To Go For It” (June 18). You might know Moreno from “West Side Story,” or maybe from growing up with “The Electric Company,” or maybe more recently from her delightful work on “One Day at a Time” — regardless, the EGOT (Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony) winner is a legend in show business, and has long deserved a documentary of her own.
“Blue Bayou” (June 25). The latest from filmmaker/actor Justin Chon (“Gook”) sounds timely and moving; let’s hope it doesn’t get lost in a sea of higher-profile films. Chon plays a Korean adoptee living in Louisiana with his wife (Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”) who learns that he is facing deportation.
“F9” (June 25). Inject this movie into my veins immediately, please. Dwayne Johnson may have left this fast-driving, insanely fun franchise, but Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez and the rest of the gang return — along with Helen Mirren, who according to the trailer gets her own car this time. Bring it on!
“Black Widow” (July 9, also streaming on Disney+ Premier Access). The 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has at its center one Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), a former KGB assassin and present Avenger; it takes place after the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” It’s been delayed three times due to the pandemic, but finally hits theaters in midsummer. And sure, you could stream it, but don’t you want to see this one big?
“Cinderella” (July 16). Billy Porter as Fairy Godmother? Sign me up. This musical version of the familiar fairy tale also stars recording artist Camila Cabello (in her first feature film) and Idina Menzel as her wicked stepmother.
“Old” (July 23). M. Night Shyamalan’s output has been decidedly uneven since “The Sixth Sense,” but what the heck, we’ve all been missing movies so let’s give this one a go. Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps (“Phantom Thread”) play a couple who are horrified when their children begin rapidly aging on a remote tropical beach. OK then!
“Respect” (Aug. 13). Jennifer Hudson was personally chosen by Aretha Franklin, years before the Queen of Soul’s death in 2018, to play her as a young woman in this biopic, which also stars Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald and Mary J. Blige (the latter as Dinah Washington). And yes, of course Hudson does her own singing.