25 summer films you need to see

Sweat it out with TOP’s selection of soon-to-be blockbusters and arthouse stunners.



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  • Dark Shadows

  • I Wish

  • Polisse

  • Chernobyl Diaries

  • Moonrise Kingdom

Dark Shadows

Summer is traditionally the season of the dumb guilty pleasure, but 2012 looks like it will be serving up something a little smarter with your popcorn (Battleships excluded). This year's crop of big fun looks to be unusually director-driven: Ridley Scott returns to the icky genre he defined with Prometheus, a prequel to Alien, while today's reigning king of sombre blockbusting, Christopher Nolan, concludes his memorable trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises. On the comedy front, there are offerings from Woody Allen, stars Steve Carell and Johnny Depp, and every shouty man from the A-list (The Campaign). Meanwhile, the specialty market yields some of the most anticipated titles of the year: Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson's return to live-action quirk; Beasts of the Southern Wild and Compliance were two of the most provocative titles from this year's contentious Sundance Film Festival and if you don't like stories all that much, why not give the Katy Perry concert film a try? It's in 3-D and you'll definitely hear that "Firework" song. (There goes the smart summer theory...)

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows

The trailers paint Tim Burton's big-screen adaptation of the seminal horror soap—starring Johnny Depp as beleaguered vamp Barnabas Collins—as an otherworldly comedy à la Beetlejuice. We’re happy to sink our teeth into that. (May 9)

I Wish

I Wish

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda delivered a devastating portrait of kids in peril with 2004’s Nobody Knows; his latest takes a more whimsical look at childhood, as a 12-year-old hopes to magically reunite his separated family. We’re bringing tissues. (May 11)



Imagine several seasons of Law & Order: Belleville CPU stuffed into two hours, and you’d have something like actor-director Maïwenn Le Besco’s sprawling drama about French cops. You won’t see a more compelling Parisian precinct procedural this season. (May 18)

Chernobyl Diaries

Chernobyl Diaries

It sounds dumb enough to get us stoked: Six tourists persuade an idiot guide to take them to the site of the worst nuclear accident in modern history, where they encounter ghosts. Paranormal Activity’s Oren Peli wrote the story. (May 25)

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson returns to live-action filmmaking with this sure-to-be-quirky tale of two young sweethearts on the lam. Whether the writer-director’s eccentricity is endearing or insufferable here remains to be seen, but with a cast that includes Anderson regular Bill Murray, alongside Edward Norton, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton, we’re ready to declare our allegiance to this monarchy. (May 25)

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