Summer movie season has arrived. There is an insane number of films on the (incomplete) list that follows, and plenty of room for optimism. To that end, we've tried to cut back on the snarky comments about pointless sequels and loathsome actors—although it's nearly impossible to let those infernal pirates sail by without a slap or two. But, hey, they can take it, because they're really, really rich, and because everyone knows pirates can't read. Happy summer, Dallas. —Chuck Wilson
Cast: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr.
Director: William Friedkin
Director William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) returns with an adaptation of screenwriter Tracy Lett's intense off-Broadway drama about an Oklahoma cocktail waitress (Ashley Judd) who invites a Gulf War vet (Michael Shannon) into her motel room home. Over time, she gradually becomes caught up in his belief that the room they're occupying is infected with government issued bugs—the kind that crawl. (Lionsgate) Opens nationwide.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush
Director: Gore Verbinski
Verbinski sends Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and the lovely Elizabeth to the edge of the known world, over which we pray they will sail, never to be seen again. (Buena Vista) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tom McInerny, Toby Stephens
Director: Christopher Smith
On a corporate retreat in Budapest an international arms dealer and his six employees are attacked by crazed mercenaries, who—and we're just guessing here—must be pissed over not having received a bulk discount. (Magnolia) Opens nationwide.
Director: Dan Klores
In this irresistible documentary, director Dan Klores tracks the insane lengths Bronx lawyer Burt Pugach went to woo the woman who rejected him, including the part where he hired thugs to throw acid in her face. A film guaranteed to make you feel better about your love life. (Magnolia) Opens New York and Los Angeles June 1, San Francisco June 8, with additional cities to follow.
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Seth Rogen
Director: Judd Apatow
The Hollywood hype-meisters are predicting that this comedy about a slob (Rogen) and a gorgeous TV reporter (Heigl) who get drunk, have sex and inadvertently make a baby, is going to make Grey's Anatomy star Heigl the next Julia Roberts. No pressure there. Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) writes and directs. (Universal) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, William Hurt
Director: Bruce A. Evans
Costner plays a rich Portland businessman who moonlights as a serial killer, a sideline at which he excels until a smart cop (Moore) and a blackmailing photographer (Cook) start messing with his master plan. (MGM) Opens nationwide.
Hostel Part II
Cast: Lauren German, Bijou Phillips, Heather Matarazzo, Roger Bart
Director: Eli Roth
In a decidedly unkempt Slovakian dungeon, three vacationing Americans are flayed, decapitated, and generally mistreated by insane rich men with knives. Summer movie fun for the whole family. (Lionsgate) Opens nationwide.
La Vie en Rose
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Jean-Paul Rouve, Clotilde Courau
Director: Olivier Dahan
Raised in a brothel, blind for a time as a child, and suspected of murder, French chanteuse Edith Piaf is long overdue for a biopic. The year's first bit of Oscar buzz is building for Cotillard's fierce performance. (Picturehouse) Opens New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco June 8, with additional cities to follow.
Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin
Director: Steven Soderbergh
A band of very pretty people rob a casino. (Warner Bros) Opens nationwide.
Voice Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Jon Heder, James Woods, Jeff Bridges
Directors: Ash Brannon, Chris Buck
A teenaged penguin travels from Antarctica to Hawaii for a surfboarding competition. Animated. (Sony) Opens nationwide.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon
Director: Tim Story
In this sequel to a film every comic geek saw and few loved, a silver-skinned cool dude superhero on a surfboard joins forces with the Fab Four to once again defeat the evil Dr. Doom. (Fox) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Sam Worthington, Victoria Hill, Gary Sweet, Matt Doran
Director: Geoffrey Wright
Australian filmmaker Wright (Romper Stomper) sets Macbeth (Worthington) and his murderous mum (Hill) in a modern-day Melbourne, where Duncan (Sweet) is a crime boss whose end is near. (Union Station Media/Truly Indie) Opens Seattle June 15, San Francisco June 29, New York July 6, additional cities to follow.
Cast: Emma Roberts, Rachael Leigh Cook, Tate Donovan
Director: Andrew Fleming
The rare summer movie that may appeal to your grandmother, this big screen adaptation of the young-adult mystery series stars Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece to Julia) as a modern-day version of the plucky 1930s teen sleuth. (Warner Bros) Opens nationwide.
A Mighty Heart
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Will Patton, Irrfan Khan
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Angelina Jolie stars as Mariane Pearl, whose bestseller A Mighty Heart detailed her 2002 journey to Pakistan to search for her husband Daniel, a Wall Street Journal reporter who'd been kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists. Dan Futterman (who wrote Capote) portrays, in flashback, the late Daniel Pearl. (Paramount Vantage) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Parker Posey, Melvil Poupard, Gena Rowlands, Drea de Matteo
Director: Zoe Cassavetes
In a rare dramatic role, Posey stars as a Manhattan hotel exec unlucky in love, until the night she meets and falls hard for a visiting Frenchman (Melvil Poupard, who was so good in 2005's Time to Leave). For her feature debut, writer-director Zoe Cassavetes, daughter of the late John Cassavetes, cast her mother, the great Gena Rowlands, to play Posey's disapproving mother. (Magnolia) Opens in New York and Los Angeles June 22, with additional cities to follow.
Cast: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham
Director: Tom Shadyac
Morgan Freeman returns in what's shaping up to be the first talking deity series since George Burns started yakking to John Denver (in 1977's Oh, God!, for you youngsters). In this not-quite-a-sequel variation on the Jim Carrey hit Bruce Almighty, God comes calling on an arrogant newsman, played by Carell, the new It-Man of Hollywood comedy (sorry, Jim). (Universal) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Jon Voight, Trent Ford, Tamara Hope, Terence Stamp
Director: Christopher Cain
A bearded Stamp plays Mormon leader Brigham Young in this dramatization of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, when 120 settlers in the Utah Territory were murdered by a Mormon militia. Don't expect a Salt Lake City red carpet premiere. (Black Diamond Pictures) Opens nationwide.
You Kill Me
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Téa Leoni, Luke Wilson, Phillip Baker Hall, Bill Pullman
Director: John Dahl
A crime noir comedy from Red Rock West director Dahl about an alcoholic Polish mafia hit man (Kingsley) ordered to dry out in San Francisco, where he finds love and a part-time job as a mortician. (IFC) Opens nationwide.
Live Free or Die Hard
Cast: Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q.
Director: Len Wiseman
Twelve years and many flops after Die Hard With a Vengeance, Willis competes for box office gold as maverick cop John McClane, who takes on a cyber terrorist (Olyphant) with the help of a computer-geek sidekick who just happens to be played by Mac ad kid Justin Long. (Fox) Opens nationwide.
Death at a Funeral Home
Cast: Ewen Bremmer, Peter Dinklage, Matthew McFadden
Director: Frank Oz
A black comedy about a proper British funeral where the mourning family is slowly coming unhinged, thanks to accidental drug trips, unexpected trysts, and the unnerving appearance of the dead patriarch's secret gay lover. Great trailer. (MGM) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Wilson, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close
Director: Lajos Koltai
Novelist Michael Cunningham (The Hours) wrote the screenplay for this star-packed adaptation of Susan Minot's exquisite 1999 novel, in which a dying woman travels back in her mind to a wedding 40 years before at which she fell madly, and tragically, in love. (Focus) Opens nationwide.
Voice Cast: Patton Oswalt, Brian Dennehy, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo
Director: Brad Bird
Pixar Animation and the director of The Incredibles team up to tell the inspiring tale of Remy the Parisian Rat, who dreams of being a master chef in a world that doesn't always respond enthusiastically to a rodent in the kitchen. Even a cute one. (Buena Vista) Opens nationwide.
Director: Michael Moore
After taking on the car industry (Roger & Me), the gun industry (Bowling for Columbine), and the war industry (Fahrenheit 9/11), Michael Moore shifts his obsessive gaze to the American health care system. Hey, insurance companies: No publicity is bad publicity, right? (Weinstein)
License to Wed
Cast: Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, John Krasinski
Director: Ken Kwapis
Sadie (Mandy Moore) dreams of marrying her fiancé (John Krasinski) at her family's church, but it's all booked up for the next two years. Except: There is one open day, and to score it, the couple must survive a marriage-prep course devised by a most unorthodox pastor, played by the ever unorthodox Robin Williams. (Warner Bros) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies
Director: Werner Herzog
This taut and surprisingly straightforward action film from iconoclastic director Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, Grizzly Man) tells the true story of Dieter Dengler (Bale), shot down over Laos in 1964, captured, and thrown into a brutal North Vietnamese prison where he finds two Americans (Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies) reluctant to join his escape plan. (MGM) Opens New York and Los Angeles July 4, with additional cities to follow.
Cast: Shia LeBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Anderson
Director: Michael Bay
Imagine if those nimble robot action figures gathering dust under your kid's bed decided to bulk up, rise up, and take over Earth. With the director of Pearl Harbor and Armageddon at the helm, expect a long, noisy war. (Dreamworks/Paramount) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Vera Farmiga
Director: George Ratliff
Everyone's thrilled when parents Brad and Abby (Rockwell and Farmiga) bring home their beautiful new baby girl. Everyone except 9-year-old brother Joshua (Kogan), that is. Soon evil plagues the family, and maybe Joshua is more than just smart. (Fox Searchlight) Opens New York and Los Angeles July 6, with additional cities to follow.
Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack
Director: Mikael Hfström
Stephen King, who knows a thing or two about scary hotels, penned the short story that inspired this scary movie about a professional haunted house debunker (Cusack) who checks into a room many have entered and few have exited. (Weinstein/MGM) Opens nationwide.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Director: David Yates
An obscure British import, for which there's very little advance publicity. (Warner Bros) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Steve Buscemi, Sienna Miller
Director: Steve Buscemi
Buscemi stars as a hardened political reporter who's sent to interview a soap star (Miller). He's not happy about it, but as their interview stretches into a long night, each discovers unexpected depths in the other. Buscemi directs from a screenplay that he co-adapted from one that was written by Dutch director Theo van Gogh, who was on the verge of directing Buscemi and Miller in the film when brutally murdered by an Islamic extremist. (Sony Pictures Classics) Opens New York and Los Angeles July 13, with additional cities to follow.
Talk to Me
Cast: Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Don Cheadle stars as Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene, a legendary 1960s radio and talk show host who galvanized Washington, D.C. by leading public protests against poverty and racism. (Focus) Opens New York and Los Angeles July 13, and additional cities July 13 and July 27.
Cast: Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Shaun Evans
Director: Sean Ellis
Filmmaker Sean Ellis expands his Oscar-nominated short about a young art student (Biggerstaff) who, suffering from insomnia, goes to work at an all-night market. There he discovers that he can stop time, a trick that allows him to find unexpected beauties (female and otherwise) within the store. (Magnolia) Opening cities TBD.
Cast: Stellan Skarsgard, Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman
Director: Milos Forman
Milos Forman, Oscar-winning director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus, dramatizes the rivalry between Spanish painter Francisco Goya (Skarsgard) and a powerful clergyman (Bardem) who's infatuated with Goya's teenage muse (Portman). (Samuel Goldwyn Films) Opening cities TBD.
Cast: John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken
Director: Adam Shankman
Filmmaker John Waters' lifelong dream of invading the suburban multiplexes of America finally comes true with this big-budget version of the hit Broadway play, which in turn was based on Waters' non-musical 1988 comedy. In full drag, John Travolta plays a '50s mom, continuing a tradition set by the late, great, and much-missed drag queen Divine, to whom the part will always truly belong. (New Line Cinema) Opens nationwide.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel
Director: Dennis Dugan
About Schmidt and Sideways writers Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor go seriously mainstream, joining with co-writer Barry Fanaro (Kingpin) for this broad comedy about two perpetually single New York firefighters who pretend to be lovers in order to receive domestic partnership benefits. (Universal) Opens nationwide.
I Know Who Killed Me
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Julia Ormond, Neal McDonough, Brian Geraghty
Director: Chris Sivertson
After escaping from a sadistic serial killer, a young woman named Aubrey Fleming (Lohan) awakens from a coma to say that she is not who authorities believe she is, and that the real Aubrey Fleming is still out there, in danger. (Sony) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin
Director: Scott Hicks
An acclaimed Manhattan chef (Zeta-Jones) with no time for anything but cooking is suddenly given charge of her 9-year-old niece (Breslin) at the same time a handsome, spirited sous-chef (Eckhart) joins her staff. Sparks fly. (Warner Bros) Opens nationwide.
The Simpsons Movie
Director: David Silverman
Please be funny. (Fox) Opens nationwide. El Cantante
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony
Director: Leon Ichaso
Latin singing sensation Marc Anthony stars as the wildly popular 1960s and '70s salsa star Hector Lavoe, who couldn't overcome his addiction to cocaine and heroine. J. Lo plays Lavoe's wife. (Picturehouse) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Sissy Spacek, Ian McShane
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg plays Rod Kimble, a motorcycle stuntman who plans to jump 15 buses to raise money for a life-saving operation his abusive stepfather (Ian McShane) desperately needs. Once said stepfather is healthy, Rod plans to kick his ass. (Paramount) Opens nationwide.
Resurrecting the Champ
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Rod Lurie
After realizing that a homeless man (Jackson) is a former boxing champ, sports reporter Hartnett tries to revive the boxer's career and also boost his own. (Yari Film Group) Opens nationwide.
The Bourne Ultimatum
Cast: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, David Strathairn
Director: Paul Greengrass
In the final film of the Bourne Trilogy, former C.I.A. assassin Jason Bourne (Damon) dodges bullets and flying cars (again) while investigating (again) the mysteries of the past he can't remember (again). Regression therapy might have been easier. (Universal) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Paul Rudd, Jessica Alba, Winona Ryder, Adam Brody, Gretchen Mol, Famke Janssen, Liev Schreiber, Oliver Platt, Justin Theroux
Director: David Wain
Ten comic vignettes, set in the modern day, inspired by the Ten Commandments. (Think Film) Opens New York and Los Angeles August 3, with additional cites to follow.
Cast: Jim Belushi, Peter Dinklage, Brad Garrett
Director: Frederik Du Chau
In this live-action family comedy, a lab accident gives a beagle superpowers plus the ability to speak (via Jason Lee's voice). So when evildoers descend on the city, it's Underdog—complete with a cool cape—to the rescue. (Walt Disney Pictures) Opens nationwide. Rocket Science
Cast: Reece Thompson, Anna Kendrick, Nicholas D'Agosto
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Blitz, director of the popular spelling bee documentary Spellbound, helms this comedy about a chronic stutterer (Thompson) who joins his high-school debate team at the insistence of the school's beautiful debate team queen (Kendrick). (Picturehouse) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro, Peter O'Toole
Director: Matthew Vaughn
A young Englishman follows a falling star and ends up in the fantasy land of Faerie, where the star is a beautiful girl (Danes) being hunted by an evil witch (Pfeiffer). Based on a graphic novel by the revered sci-fi/fantasy writer Neil Gaiman. (Paramount Pictures) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
In the umpteenth riff on Jack Finney's classic 1955 novel, The Body Snatchers, a Washington, D.C. psychiatrist (Kidman) comes to believe that the reason people around her are acting stranger than usual is that aliens have taken them over. (Warner Bros) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader
Director: Greg Mottola
A coming-of-age comedy about two lifelong buddies (Cera and Hill), nerds and virgins both, who head off to separate grad schools, and on one fateful night try to score with beautiful women. Produced by Judd Apatow (The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) and directed by Mottola, whose debut film was the terrific indie comedy Daytrippers. (Columbia Pictures) Opens nationwide.
Wrist Cutters: A Love Story
Cast: Patrick Fugit, Shea Whigham
Director: Goran Dukic
In this decidedly original comedy, Zia (Fugit), who killed himself after his girlfriend dumped him, wakes up in a boring little desert town that's a kind of hell for suicides. Upon hearing that his girl has died too, Zia and his new best friend, a fellow suicide, set out to find her. Look for a cameo by Tom Waits. (Lionsgate) Opens New York and Los Angeles August 17, with additional cities to follow.
Cast: David Koechner, Bradley Cooper, Matthew Lawrence
Director: Tom Brady
In this spoof of inspiring sports movies, the unluckiest coach in sports (Koechner) gets one last chance when he takes over a talent-less football team with the worst record in history. (Fox Atomic) Opens nationwide.
Cast: Anthony Wong, Frances Ng, Simon Yam, Lam Suet
Director: Johnnie To
Four hired killers descend on the house of a fellow bad guy. Two want to kill him; two want to save him. There's a gunfight. No one dies. All five sit down to dinner. Resume. Sergio Leone meets the Coen Brothers in this modern Western from virtuoso director To. (Magnolia) Opens New York and Los Angeles August 24, and additional cities August 31.
Good Luck Chuck
Cast: Dane Cook, Jessica Alba
Director: Mark Helfrich
Poor Chuck (Cook) becomes a babe magnet for all the wrong reasons after word gets out that for some mysterious reason any woman who sleeps with him is destined to fall in love with the next man she meets. (Lionsgate) Opens nationwide.
The Hottest State
Cast: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Laura Linney, Mark Webber, Michelle Williams, Sonia Braga, Ethan Hawke
Director: Ethan Hawke
Hawke wrote and directed this adaptation of his 1996 novel, and Webber stars as a 20-year-old New York actor who meets a young singer (Catalina Sandino Moreno), takes her to Mexico City, and before long, regrets it. (Think Film) Opens New York and Los Angeles August 24, with additional cities to follow.
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Balls of Fury
Cast: Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez, Maggie Q.
Director: Robert Ben Grant
At the behest of the FBI agent Randy Daytona (Fogler), a former ping-pong champ re-enters the fray on a secret mission to find his father and defeat his father's arch rival and possible killer (Christopher Walken). Watching Walken ping his pong may be worth the price of admission. (Rogue) Opens nationwide.