What Nonblockbuster Movies Are You Looking Forward to This Summer?

What Nonblockbuster Movies Are You Looking Forward to This Summer?

May 03, 2014

Now that May is here and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has swung into U.S. theaters, the summer movie season is officially upon us. Never mind that Captain America: The Winter Soldier a month ago, that didn't count. The web slinger is the first true hero of the true blockbuster period, and unfortunately for a lot of us that period has opened with a thud. If only Cap had been the usher of the season it'd be easier to be hopeful about the next four months. Instead, Spidey is giving me a bad feeling about summer 2014. Especially since my most anticipated tentpole is a long ways away still, as Guardians of the Galaxy isn't due until August.

Good thing there's more to look forward to than all the superhero movies and the sequels and reboots and sequels of reboots and sequels that are reboots and sequels of prequels that had been kinda reboots. And I'm not talking about that seemingly original but very familiar sounding Tom Cruise sci-fi action adaptation about a guy stuck in a loop -- the perfect metaphor for this year's summer movies as a whole, by the way. I mean the counterprogramming titles, whether they're indie comedies or little dramas or documentaries or foreign art house alternatives.

The kind of movie that really pops out on Rotten Tomatoes by having a 97% approval rating, as Ida does this weekend, especially listed next to ASM2's 54%. The kind of movie that, like those spread out between now and Labor Day, are directed by the likes of Woody Allen, Richard Ayoade, Richard Linklater, Steve James, James Gray, Kelly Reichardt, Roman Polanski, Bong Joon-ho, Joe Berlinger, Joe Swanberg, John Michael McDonagh, Michael Winterbottom, David Michod and Michel Gondry. That's not counting newcomers with raved-about festival hits, such as Obvious Child, Palo Alto and Life After Beth.

One thing that's often neat about these other options, notable every summer, is the amount of genre films that make the most perfect substitutes for stuff like Transformers 4 and X-Men 7 (or is it X-Men 4 or 5?). There are indie sci-fi and fantasy films and small zombie comedies and even a superhero movie if we can go so far as to call the Roger Ebert doc Life Itself that. I would. Having already seen that and Ayoade's The Double, I can recommend those as must-see alternatives. As for the ones I'm anticipating being similarly worthwhile, I can't wait to see Boyhood, Calvary, The Rover (pictured above) and The Trip to Italy. I bet one of these has a shot at being my favorite film of the summer more than any of the big-studio wide releases.


What nonblockbuster movies are you looking forward to this summer?

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