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Summer’s hottest movies, from ‘Top Gun’ to ‘Nope’

In addition to blockbuster titles like ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ and ‘Thor: Love and Thunder,’ look for a spate of animated features — Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ among them — and the return of several first-rate directors

Buzz Lightyear, voiced by Chris Evans, in "Lightyear."Disney/Pixar via AP

It actually does seem as though movies in theaters are back. The summer of 2020 was all but wiped out. The summer of 2021 was a bit rocky. Remember Scarlett Johansson’s suit against Disney for releasing “Black Widow” both theatrically and on Disney+? The summer of 2022 looks practically ... normal.

The biggest indicator of that is the prominent presence of such blockbuster titles as “Top Gun: Maverick” (originally scheduled for release in 2020), “Jurassic World Dominion,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” and “Lightyear,” featuring Buzz Lightyear, of “Toy Story” fame. All will be exclusively in theaters. Their streaming time will come, but viewers will have to wait.


Sequels, franchise extensions, and spinoffs are one kind of familiarity that this summer will be offering. They’re not the only one. Another example of happy returns is the presence of several leading directors and at least one big star who’ve been absent from the big screen for several years. David Cronenberg (”Crimes of the Future”) has his first feature in eight years, Terence Davies (”Benediction”) his first in five, Baz Luhrmann (”Elvis”) his first in nine, and George Miller (”Three Thousand Years of Longing”) his first in seven.

That’s not counting Jordan Peele. It’s been only three years since the “Get Out” writer-director’s last movie, “Us.” Peele’s new one, “Nope,” may be the summer’s most-anticipated movie.

Ryan Gosling in "The Gray Man." Stanislav Honzik/Netflix via AP

Also missing in action has been Ryan Gosling. He hasn’t been on the big screen since 2018. Gosling stars in “The Gray Man,” a thriller costarring Chris Evans and Ana de Armas.

“The Gray Man” is a reminder of how different things remain — and also will stay. Streaming is now part of the first-run movie landscape. Not only is “The Gray Man” on Netflix. Its reported budget, $200 million, is the biggest in the streaming service’s history. Other high-profile movies this summer from streaming services include “Spiderhead,” an action movie starring Chris Hemsworth, and “Hustle,” a sports drama starring Adam Sandler, both on Netflix; and “Father of the Bride,” starring Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan, on HBO Max.


The title creature in "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On."Associated Press

“Luck,” an animated feature, will be streaming on Apple TV+. That’s a reminder that amid the predictability of any summer movie season — lots of blockbusters and sequels and such — there are always surprises. Last August a sweet little drama called “CODA” appeared in a few theaters and on Apple TV+. It was so under the radar The New York Times didn’t even give it a full review. So you know what happened. Seven months later “CODA” won the Oscar for best picture.

Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick." Paramount Pictures/Associated Press

MAY 27

TOP GUN: MAVERICK Thirty-six years after the original, Tom Cruise is still flying as a hot-shot Navy fighter pilot. Jennifer Connelly and Miles Teller costar.

THE BOB’S BURGERS MOVIE The Fox animated sitcom comes to the big screen. When a sinkhole opens up in the front restaurant, it is not good for business.

Kate Phillips and Jack Lowden in "Benediction." Associated Press


CRIMES OF THE FUTURE The plot of writer-director David Cronenberg’s film concerns something with the very Cronenbergian-sounding name Accelerated Evolution Syndrome. Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart star.

BENEDICTION A very different screen master, Terence Davies, also returns with this biopic about the World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon (played at different ages by Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi).

FIDDLER’S JOURNEY TO THE BIG SCREEN Daniel Raim’s documentary looks at how director Norman Jewison (who turns 96 in July) made the film version of the much-loved musical.


Also opening: Fire Island, Interceptor

"Jurassic World Dominion." Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment/Universal Pictures and Amblin En


JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION Dino DNA do-overs are once again order of the day in this sixth film in the franchise. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard star, with help from “Jurassic Park” returnees Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum.

HUSTLE In this Netflix sports drama, Adam Sandler plays a former NBA scout trying to revive his career with some dubious dealings. He has help from Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, and Robert Duvall.


HALFTIME Jennifer Lopez is the subject of this Netflix documentary, with a particular focus being the singer-actress’s halftime show at the 2020 Super Bowl.

Chris Hemsworth, left, and Miles Teller in "Spiderhead." NETFLIX/Associated Press


LIGHTYEAR To spinoff and beyond! Pixar gives everyone’s second-favorite “Toy Story” character his own feature. Chris Evans does the vocal honors in this intergalactic origin story.

SPIDERHEAD Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, and Jurnee Smollett star in this Netflix sci-fi thriller. Joseph Kosinski (“Top Gun: Maverick”) directed.

CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH Cooper Raiff wrote, directed, and stars in this offbeat comedy/drama about a relationship between a single mother (Dakota Johnson) and a young man (Raiff) who hosts bar mitzvah celebrations.

CIVIL: BEN CRUMP The celebrated civil rights lawyer is the subject of this Netflix documentary.

FATHER OF THE BRIDE Andy Garcia plays the paterfamilias in this third go-round for the matrimonial comedy. Gloria Estefan costars. On HBO Max.

GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE Emma Thompson stars as a widow who decides that just because she’s retired, her sex life doesn’t need to be, too.


THE LOST GIRLS This adaptation of Laurie Fox’s novel, a reimagining of “Peter Pan,” stars Livia De Paolis, who wrote and directed, Joely Richardson, and Richardson’s mother, Vanessa Redgrave.

Also opening: Brian and Charles

Austin Butler in "Elvis." Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/Associated Press


ELVIS Baz Luhrmann (”The Great Gatsby”) directed and helped write this biopic about a certain King of Rock ’n’ Roll. Austin Butler tackles the title role, with Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker.

THE BLACK PHONE A horror movie in which the title item may be all that stands between a serial killer of children (Ethan Hawke) and his next victim.

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON Jenny Slate, who co-wrote the script, provides the voice of the namesake mollusk in this stop-motion animated feature.

Otto the Minion in "Minions: The Rise of Gru." Illumination Entertainment/Associated Press


THE FORGIVEN Ralph Fiennes, Jessica Chastain, and Matt Smith star in this drama about cultures colliding because of an accident during a party in Morocco.

MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU This fifth entry in the “Despicable Me” franchise is a sequel to the fourth film, “Minions” (2015).

Also opening: Mr. Malcolm’s List

Chris Hemsworth in "Thor: Love and Thunder." Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios


THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER After the success of “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017), Taika Waititi returns as director and co-writer. Chris Hemsworth is back as the title character, and expect appearances from multiple Guardians of the Galaxy.

THE SEA BEAST It’s tough enough hunting aquatic monsters. It’s that much tougher when you discover a young stowaway on board your ship. That’s the premise of this Netflix animated feature, directed by Chris Williams (“Big Hero Six”).


Also opening: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between

Daisy Edgar-Jones and David Strathairn in "Where the Crawdads Sing." Michele K. Short/Associated Press


WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING Delia Owens’s best-selling novel about a young woman on trial for murder comes to the screen. Daisy Edgar-Jones and David Strathairn head the cast.

MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS It’s the 1950s, and a London charwoman develops a consuming interest in Dior couture. Lesley Manville plays the title character. Isabelle Huppert and Lambert Wilson costar.

PAWS OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF HANK Can you imagine an all-animal animated samurai remake, sort of, of “Blazing Saddles”? Then what you’ve imagined is “Paws of Fury.”

PERSUASION Dakota Johnson and Henry Golding star in this Netflix adaptation of the Jane Austen novel.

Daniel Kaluuya in "Nope." Universal Pictures


NOPE Something unusual is going on in a small California ranching community — unusualness of the sci-fi/horror sort. Jordan Peele wrote and directed. Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun star.

THE GRAY MAN Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Anna de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, and Alfre Woodward head a high-powered cast in this Netflix thriller about a CIA agent who discovers unsettling secrets about the agency. Anthony and Joe Russo (the last two “Avengers” movies) directed.

Krypto, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, in a scene from "DC League of Super-Pets."Warner Bros. Pictures via AP


DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS Who’ll come to the rescue in this animated feature when Lex Luthor captures the Justice League? Why, the superheroes’ pets, of course.

A LOVE SONG In his feature debut, Max Walker-Silverman wrote and directed this drama about two now-widowed former lovers (Dale Dickey, Wes Studi) who reunite.

Also opening: Purple Hearts, Vengeance

Brad Pitt, left, and Benito A. Martínez Ocasio (a.k.a. Bad Bunny) in "Bullet Train." Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures Entertainment

AUG. 5

BULLET TRAIN Brad Pitt stars as a hit man who’s supposed to pick up a briefcase on a high-speed train between Tokyo and Kyoto. Then things go off the rails.

LUCK What happens when the world’s unluckiest person is transported to the Land of Luck? A lot, actually, as this Apple TV+ animated feature makes plain. Voice talent includes Simon Pegg and Jane Fonda.

NOT OKAY A young woman (Zooey Deutch) seeking celebrity and a better social life fakes a visit to Paris and writes about it online. Things then get . . . complicated.

RESURRECTION Rebecca Hall plays a single mother whose life gets radically rearranged when her past, in the person of Tim Roth, returns.

SECRET HEADQUARTERS Is the hidden structure a kid (Walker Scobell) finds beneath his backyard a superhero hangout? Would that mean his dad (Owen Wilson) is the superhero in question?

Also opening: Bodies Bodies Bodies, Easter Sunday, Rise of the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles: The Movie

Aubrey Plaza in "Emily the Criminal."Low Spark Films/Sundance Institute via AP

AUG. 12

13: THE MUSICAL The 2008 Broadway musical comes to Netflix. A 12-year-old (Eli Golden) has to deal with his family’s move from Indiana to New York. Debra Messing and Rhea Perlman costar.

DAY SHIFT Jamie Foxx stars as a pool cleaner by day who moonlights — and moonlight is the word — as a vampire killer by night. Maybe vampires flee that chlorine smell even more than wolf’s bane and garlic.

EMILY THE CRIMINAL Student debt leads a young woman (Aubrey Plaza) down a shady path, and the further down she goes the shadier it gets.

Also opening: Summering

Leah Jeffries and Idris Elba in "Beast." Lauren Mulligan/Universal Pictur/Associated Press

AUG. 19

BEAST Visiting South Africa, a widower (Idris Elba) finds that he and his three daughters are being stalked by a rogue lion.

AUG. 26

892 A based-on-fact story about a Marine vet (John Boyega) who finds himself drawn into crime. The late Michael K. Williams, in one of his last performances, costars.

ME TIME Their wives and kids away, Mark Wahlberg and Kevin Hart play dads who decide to have a memorable weekend in this Netflix comedy. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Also opening: The Bride

AUG. 31

THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING On a visit to Istanbul, a scholar (Tilda Swinton) encounters a genie (Idris Elba again). She gets three wishes. George Miller (the “Mad Max” movies) wrote and directed.

SEPT. 2, 2022

HONK FOR JESUS, SAVE YOUR SOUL Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown star in this satire about a church pastor needing to make amends after a scandal.

Also opening: Love in the Villa

Mark Feeney can be reached at