Why does this keep happening? To sort out all the summer movies vying for your attention, we’re going to play the popular party game of Ticket / Torrent / Stream It. It’ll help you decide which movies you should pay to see in a theater on a given weekend, which you should watch on the streaming service of your choice in a few months, and which you should download using Bram Cohen’s peer-to-peer problem-child BitTorrent — which, of course you should never do, because stealing is wrong.
(Ever notice how Fuck / Marry / Kill never comes with a similar disclaimer about how murder is wrong?)
The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography
Director: Errol Morris
Cast: Elsa Dorfman
Ticket: A new Errol Morris film is always a cause for celebration, especially another loving look at an outsider — in this case, a stalwart Polaroid-portrait photographer.
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, David Thewlis
Stream It: Being the first modern DC Comics movie from a director who has only made good films thus far, here’s hoping it washes away the lingering ick from Suicide Squad.
Director: David Soren
Cast: Jordan Peele, Kevin Hart, Nick Kroll, Kristen Schaal
Torrent: Soren’s previous film Turbo was better than it had any right to be, and Dav Pilkey’s books are a strong source material. But still, we can’t shake the feeling that something will go terribly wrong.
It Comes at Night
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbott
Ticket: Though it has monster-movie elements, this picture from the director of the e’er-so-overrated Krisha looks to be a tight siege picture in the vein of the first Purge film.
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Cast: Kate Mara, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford, Ramon Rodriguez
Stream It: The last film about a war-hero dog, 2015’s Max, got overshadowed by that same year’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Could Mad Megan be far behind?
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Cast: Sofia Boutella, Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe
Torrent: Hard to say what’s a bigger sign of desperation: that this is Universal’s second attempt to launch a monster universe after Dracula Untold stumbled, or the presence of Tom Cruise, whose name is in a considerably smaller font than the movie’s title.
Director: Lucia Aniello
Cast: Kate McKinnon, Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Demi Moore
Ticket: After ruining Twitter’s childhood with Ghostbusters last year, Kate McKinnon is back in theaters and continues to give no fucks.
Director: Brett Haley
Cast: Sam Elliott, Katharine Ross, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter
Stream It: In which one of our greatest character actors, Sam goddamn Elliott, gets to play a character who is someone Elliott never quite became in real life: a movie star. (Also, his name is more prominent in this poster than Cruise’s is for The Mummy. Not that it’s a competition or anything.)
Director: Brian Fee
Cast: Armie Hammer, Nathan Fillion, Owen Wilson, Kerry Washington
Torrent: At the risk of blaming the victims, if more of you had gone to see Brave in 2012, it’s possible there wouldn’t be another freakin’ Cars movie now. But we’ll never know, will we?
The Bad Batch
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cast: Jason Momoa, Diego Luna, Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey
Ticket: It’s in color with movie stars and without Sheila Vand, but it’s still a cannibal comedy from the director of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and that’s what matters.
The Big Sick
Director: Michael Showalter
Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano
Stream It: Kumail Nanjiani and his spouse Emily V. Gordon wrote about their early difficulties as a cross-cultural couple, plus it’s produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Stella’s Michael Showalter. Sold.
Transformers: The Last Knight
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Gemma Chan, Laura Haddock, Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins
Torrent: Fuckshitfuckshitfuckshitfuckshitfuckshit. (Please spread the word using the hashtag #Transformersfuckshitfuckshitfuckshitfuckshitfuckshit.)
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx
Ticket: The new film by Edgar Wright, and I dunno where I had you, but I know I had me at “the new film by Edgar Wright.”
Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Colin Farrell
Ticket: Sofia Coppola remaking this comparatively obscure 1971 Don Siegel film which starred Clint Eastwood makes more sense than it sounds at first, and it fits right into Coppola’s wheelhouse of “virginal blonde girls in white dresses.” (Wait ‘til she sees Picnic at Hanging Rock!)
Amityville: The Awakening
Director: Franck Khalfoun
Cast: Bella Thorne, Mckenna Grace, Cameron Monaghan, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Stream It: It’s the 19th film to capitalize on the 1977 Amityville hoax, the eighth of those to be released in the past five years, and the first since 2005 to receive wide theatrical distribution — something that, in this case, has been pushed back since April 2016. But it’s also by the director of the excellent Maniac remake, so it’s a draw.
Despicable Me 3
Directors: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, and Eric Guillon
Cast: Jenny Slate, Kristen Wiig, Steve Carell, Steve Coogan
Torrent: You have to feel a little sorry for this above-average cast, who must be aware that they’ll be entirely overshadowed by the Minions.
Director: João Pedro Rodrigues
Cast: Paul Hamy, Xelo Cagiao, Han Wen, Chan Suan
Ticket: If you don’t get your fill of ripped dudes in tighty-whities during Pride Month, this tale of a hunky birdwatcher who struggles to survive in the woods has got you covered.
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Cast: Christian Friedel, Katharina Schüttler, Burghart Klaußner
Stream It: Having recreated the historical death of Hitler in Downfall, the film that launched a thousand “Hilter Reacts” videos, director Hirschbiegel now looks at one the earliest assassination plots against Der Führer and his dumb face.
Director:J on Watts
Cast: Marisa Tomei, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Holland
Torrent: Wild guess: Tony Stark makes even more hilarious jokes about how hot Aunt May is for her advanced age, despite Tomei being only four months older than Downey.
Director: William Oldroyd
Cast: Florence Pugh, Christopher Fairbank, Cosmo Jarvis
Ticket: Indiewire’s blurb reads “Imagine Alfred Hitchcock directing Wuthering Heights,” except that can also describe Hitchcock’s mostly-forgotten 1949 costume drama Under Capricorn. Thankfully, this adaptation of a Nikolai Leskov novel looks much better.
War for the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Judy Greer, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
Stream It: There’s nothing like a new Planet of the Apes movie to make you be all, “Oh, right! They’re still making new Planet of the Apes movies.”
Director: John R. Leonetti
Cast: Joey King, Elisabeth Röhm, Sherilyn Fenn
Torrent: The only mystery in this generic tale of a Box of Evil from the director of Annabelle is why it’s not being released in late August, or possibly January.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Aneurin Barnard
Ticket: Much like how people used to try to guess the twist in M. Night Shyamalan’s movies, let’s guess the inevitable mindfuck at the end of Nolan’s otherwise straightforward-looking World War II epic. How about, it’s all taking place in a universe contained in a mote of dust on Murph’s bookshelf in Interstellar?
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Cast: Jeremias Herskovitz, Adan Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alejandro Jodorowsky
Stream It: Someone who’s never let being straightforward get in the way of wall-to-wall mindfuckery is the eldest Jodorowsky, who once again recruits his sons for this second in his intended five-film autobiographical cycle after 2013’s The Dance of Reality.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke
Torrent: The Fifth Element is overrated! There, I said it. Please direct your angry tweets to @wannacyber. [Oh, hell no. Send them to @sherilyn instead. – PLK]
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Directors: Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk
Cast: Al Gore
Ticket: OMG WHY ARE YOU SO ANTI-TRUMP HE WON THE ELECTION DEAL WITH IT!!!1!1!11!
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Charlize Theron, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella
Stream It: This Cold War spy flick is by a co-director of John Wick, which is a good sign, but also the announced director of Deadpool 2, which is less of a good sign considering how irritating the first Deadpool was. Again, send your angry tweets to @wannacyber. [Stop saying that! – PLK]
The Emoji Movie
Director: Tony Leondis
Cast: Anna Faris, Jennifer Coolidge, Patrick Stewart
Torrent: If you thought The Lego Movie was one of the best movies of 2014, you’re not allowed to so much as roll your eyes.
The Dark Tower
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Cast: Idris Elba, Katheryn Winnick, Matthew McConaughey
Ticket: The best sign is that Stephen King has been raving on Twitter about how good the movie looks, since he definitely doesn’t need the money.
Director: Amanda Lipitz
Cast: Paula Dofat, Cori Grainger, Tayla Solomon
Stream It: This documentary about a Baltimore high school girls’ step dance team is not to be confused with the Step Up series, though the director Lipitz probably wouldn’t mind if you did.
All I See Is You
Director: Marc Forster
Cast: Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Wes Chatham
Torrent: Speaking of things being seen, what is the deal with Jason Clarke’s face? He’s probably a very nice guy, but his visage was terribly distracting in Terminator: Genisys, and not even a welcome distraction.
The Trip to Spain
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
Stream It: The third in the series of films edited down from a BBC series in which Coogan and Brydon drive through Europe, eating at fancy restaurants and generally being hilarious together.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
Director: Cal Brunker
Cast: Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan
Torrent: Though set in a 1930s-era American city, the first film ended with Psy leading the cast in “Gangnam Style” because it was partially funded by state-run South Korean banks and their tourism ministry. The Nut Job 3 is already in pre-production, because fuck everything.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Riley Keough, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig
Ticket: Speaking again of one-word titles containing half of a two-word title being released that same year, what luck that Soderbergh’s first feature film after his 2013 retirement is coming out five months after the much-loved Logan, huh?
[At the time of this writing, these are the only two films known to be opening on August 18; however, we highly recommend streaming Steven Soderbergh’s underseen Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra at your earliest convenience.]
The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Director: Patrick Hughes
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Ryan Reynolds
Torrent: We knew it was happening, but this comedy’s poster — a detailed parody of the iconic poster for 1992’s The Bodyguard, down to the font and the tagline — is further evidence that Generation X is calcifying in our nostalgia no less than the Boomers did in theirs. Break the cycle, Millennials!
Director: Eliza Hittman
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge
Ticket: The new film from the director of the great It Felt Like Love returns to her familiar milieu of disaffected Brooklyn youth, this time from a boy’s perspective.
Director: Geremy Jasper
Cast: Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Cathy Moriarty, Siddharth Dhananjay
Stream It: This comedy about a New Jersey teenager who aspires to be a rapper got all the accolades at Sundance and at our own fricative-heavy SFFILM Festival, so there you go.
Director: Lars Klevberg
Cast: Grace Zabriskie, Madelaine Petsch, Kathryn Prescott
Torrent: On the opposite end of the excitement spectrum from Errol Morris’s Polaroid-themed documentary is this horror film about a cursed instant camera.
Leap! (Opening August 30)
Director: Eric Summer and Éric Warin
Cast: Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan (again!), Carly Rae Jepsen
Ticket: This French-Canadian cartoon about a girl from rural Brittany who travels to Paris to become a ballerina was originally supposed to come out in April, but at least it was only delayed months instead of years. (Consider yourself subtweeted, Amityville: The Awakening!)
Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette
Stream It: A generic-looking spy thriller by a journeyman director who’s done a little bit of everything in his 45-year feature directing career. (Among others, Apted directed Coal Miner’s Daughter in 1980, Gorillas in the Mist in 1988, and The World is Not Enough in 1999.) He’s earned the right to cruise.
Director: Steven Quale
Cast: J.K. Simmons, Sylvia Hoeks, Ewen Bremner,
Torrent: American soldiers hunt for Nazi gold, and it’s not Kelly’s Heroes — and the sudden preponderance of dusty cars in San Francisco means summer’s finally over, thank fuck.