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The 20 best summer movies to look forward to in 2016

From Hollywood’s hugest to indie’s finest, we’ve narrowed it down for you—the best summer movies of 2016

Suicide Squad

Summer of boring-looking Hollywood sequels gotcha down? Snap out of it. The season’s packed with fascinating documentaries, Academy Award-worthy dramas and, yes, even a handful of franchise installments and action movies worth betting on. There’s plenty to do this summer outdoors, but if you plan on beating the heat in your multiplex of choice, you could do a lot worse than these 20 summer movies.

Best summer movies of 2016

1

The Nice Guys

Russell Crowe and a shrieking, hyperpanicky Ryan Gosling are the stars of this throwback ’70s-set detective comedy, which looks twisty and violent. But the real attraction is writer-director Shane Black, the revered scribe behind Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Opens May 20

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2

Weiner

Sexting ex-politician Anthony Weiner won’t ever be remembered for his discretion, but you have to wonder what inspired him to let a documentary crew intimately chart his attempted comeback—even as more allegations were about to, er, rise. His loss is our gain. Opens May 20

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3

Alice Through the Looking Glass

The absence of director Tim Burton concerns us—this sequel to his billion-grossing 2010 original goes on without him—but all those hyperactive digital effects should be present in abundance. And if you thought Johnny Depp was a little too sedate in his Australian apology video with Amber Heard, his return as the Mad Hatter should spark him up a bit. Opens May 27

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4

X-Men: Apocalypse

This one’s rumored to be set in 1983 and be about the rise of a supermutant who’s actually called Apocalypse. (Unless you’re a wrestler or a deejay, that name’s gotta go.) Still, even though we can smell the overbaked CGI from here, we’re stoked for another X-Men movie: They always have more heart than the usual junk. Opens May 27

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5

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

The Lonely Island troupe has given us so much short-form euphoria over the years (SNL’s “Dick in a Box,” “Jack Sparrow,” etc.) that we’re willing to try them out at feature length—and pretend that 2007’s Hot Rod never happened. Andy Samberg plays a rapper-ex-boy-band-leader on the decline; the cast is thick with comedy genius. Opens June 3

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6

The Conjuring 2

The first one was a rare beast: a horror blockbuster of old-school craft that was legitimately terrifying. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as spirit-busting couple the Warrens, along with visionary helmer James Wan, so expect cool chills on a hot night. Opens June 10

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7

Now You See Me 2

Sue us, but we liked the glitzy Vegas-style magic of the first one—a caper that was so beyond silly, it approached a kind of perfection. The “Four Horsemen” return, now with Lizzy Caplan (a trade-up from Isla Fisher) and a new foe in Daniel Radcliffe, satirizing his way with a wand. Opens June 10

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8

Finding Dory

It’s been 13 years seen Finding Nemo charmed the world (and at least 13 hours since a thankful babysitter fired up the Blu-ray for the millionth time). No one’s exactly clamoring for a sequel, yet more often than not, the mighty Pixar knows what it’s doing. Opens June 17

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9

Independence Day: Resurgence

Sensing a trend here? Lots of sequels this summer, more than usual. Still, it’s going to be pretty hard for us to resist a new installment of the White-House-explodin’ 1996 original. Mayhem expert Roland Emmerich returns, as does geeky Jeff Goldblum and Bill Paxton. Opens June 24

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10

The Shallows

A wild new trailer has turned us around on this one. Now we’re stoked for some dumb fun, as stranded surfer Blake Lively does battle with a great white shark. Lest we forget the first blockbuster of all time (Jaws), this is the kind of movie summer was made for. Opens June 24

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