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Top 20 Must See films of the Summer!

Ahhhhh lazy days ahead. Picnics, BBQ’s and fun days at the beach (see pic above). Summer is also the time when Hollywood campaigns for folks to make there way to air-conditioned multiplexes. I champion such activity but I also say don’t forget the other films – the arty sort. Using our regular voting system – I asked the cream of crop folks at ioncinema to name me their most anticipated picks to beat the heat….you’ll find a bit of everything in the choices of Marcello Paolillo, Justin Ambrosino, Samuel Hilton, Jameson Kowalczyk and me.

Scroll down to see what we feel are 20 reasons to go to the theatres this summer, and stay tuned tomorrow as we unveil the remaining top choices.

20.Lady in the Water

Release date: July 21st Wide Release
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Ioncinema Preview : View here

The Gist: Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) rescues a mysterious young woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) from danger and discovers she is actually a narf, a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the treacherous journey from our world back to hers.

Fact: M. Night Shyamalan skipped Life of Pi to bring what was originally conceived as a bedtime story for his children to the big screen.

See it: Remember Splash? We love mermaids and got a kick out of Cocoon.
The Shyamalan name is synonymous with fun summer movies – plus he is one of the only studio directors who really sticks to his ideas – a rarity in the industry.

19.X-Men: The Last Stand

Release date: May 26th Wide Release
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
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The Gist: The end of the trilogy sees plenty of mayhem. The opposing viewpoints of mutant leaders Charles Xavier, who preaches tolerance, and Magneto, who believes in the survival of the fittest, are put to the ultimate test – triggering the war to end all wars.

Fact: Brett Ratner and Bryan Singer switch places – one does it out of boredom (?) and the other out of spite (?).

See it: It’s safe to say that no one here at ion is laying claim to being a fan of helmer Brett Ratner, but nonetheless we are opting to finish off the X-Men adventure than (re)embark (?) on the man in blue tights WB experience. Plus Hugh Jackman rocks as Wolverine.

18.Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Release date: August 4th Wide Release
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Ioncinema Preview : View here

The Gist: This is based on a pitch that is set in the world of high-stakes professional stock car racing. Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G) will play Jean Girard, a gay, French Formula One driver who comes to the U.S. to conquer NASCAR and defeat Will Ferrell.

Fact: Americans love their stock car racing. Director Adam McKay seems to bring out the best in a very hyper Ferrell.

See it: If Ferrell treads down Anchorman and Elf territory – it might be laughs per minute for the paying consumers.


Release date: June.9th Wide Release
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
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The Gist: John Lasseter (Toy Story I & II) brings us a film about classic automobiles that come to life as they speed down Route 66 searching for adventure.

Fact: Note to the designers at Ford & GM. The film’s animators drew up over 43,000 sketches for designs of the cars.

See it: This is Pixar folks. No need to elaborate.

16.The U.S. vs. John Lennon

Release date: July.21 Limited (moved to Fall) Release
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
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The Gist: A contemporary exploration – the film covers the period 1966-1976 and tells the story of John Lennon’s transformation from beloved musical artist to anti-war activist to iconic inspiration for peace, and recounts the story of the U.S. Government’s efforts to silence him.

Fact: Yoko Ono narrates. Doesn’t sing.

See it: Beatles fans and anti-government folk might want to give this “peace” a chance. The directing, writing and producing team of John Scheinfeld and David Leaf have made plenty of musician-related biographies, but this one will be their break out film with Lionsgate backing them.

15.The Da Vinci Code

Release date: May 19th Wide Release
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Ioncinema Preview: View here

The Gist: Best-selling novel gets the big screen treatment – while in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) receives an urgent late-night phone call: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum.

Fact: Ron Howard + Tom Hanks + most read novel = Box-office gold.

See it: If you want to keep up with office chit-chat by the cooler you may want to catch the film that everyone else will.

14.The King

Release date: May 19th Limited Release
Distributor: THINKFilm
Ioncinema Preview : View here

The Gist: James Marsh‘s debut tells the story centers on 21-year-old just out of the Navy (Gael García Bernal) who tracks down the father he never knew (William Hurt) only to find him as a pastor of a thriving Baptist church in Corpus Christi, Texas. With a beautiful wife (Laura Harring) and two perfect kids, the pastor wants nothing to do with his lost son.

Fact: Milo Addica wrote the script. Film was selected for Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section.

See it: Bernal is one of the most intense young actors out there – should sit well inside this drama.

13.Wassup Rockers

Release date: June 23rd Limited Release
Distributor: First Look Studios
Ioncinema Preview : View here

The Gist: This is set in South Central Los Angeles and follows a group of largely Hispanic teenagers who, instead of conforming to the hip-hop culture of their neighborhood, ride skateboards, listen to punk rock and wear their clothes tight. Constantly harassed, they take buses to Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Hollywood, where they skate and catch the attention of the local rich girls, inevitably leading to trouble with parents, police and boyfriends.

Fact: The film was showcased at this year’s Slamdance.

See it: Perhaps he has explored the teenage youth thing to its potential, but for those who were pummeled by Clark’s Kids, then another serving will be much welcomed.

12.Half Nelson

Release date: August 11th Limited Release
Distributor: THINKFilm
Ioncinema Preview : View here

The Gist: Written by Anna Boden and Fleck, this centers on a crack-addicted inner-city junior high schoolteacher (Ryan Gosling) and his friendship with one of his students.

Fact: This is based on a short film – the Sundance Jury Prize¬winning short film Gowanus, Brooklyn.

See it: One of my favs at this year’s Sundance film festival, this will surely leave its mark way after a viewing.


Release date: August 18th Limited Release
Distributor: IFC Films
Ioncinema Preview : View here

The Gist: Based on the novel by cult author Charles Bukowski this is the story of a man living on the edge; of a writer willing to risk everything to make sure his life is poetry. Henry Chinaski (Matt Dillon) works in factories and warehouses to support what he really wants to do: drink, bet the horses, take up with women as rootless as he is and, above all write stories no one wants to publish.

Fact: Picturehouse films dumped Bent Hamer’s film not knowing how to promote it. IFC Films gladly obliged.

See it: Its dark humor is perhaps a turn off for most, but for anyone who could care less about political correctness will definitely want to check it out and this is a nice follow-up for the 23 people who caught the brilliant Kitchen Stories.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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