7 Films To Watch This Summer If Superheroes Just Aren’t Your Thing

Baby Driver

by Katie Rosseinsky |
Published on

When it comes to summer films, the offerings we're faced with tend to fall into one of few categories: mega-budget superhero franchise (see the latest Spiderman re-boot for proof), generic male-fronted fantasy vehicle (this time around, it's the critically mauled The Mummy or the equally ropey fifth Pirates outing), kid-friendly cartoon or uninspiring rom-com. It's almost as if studios think that anyone with a passing interest in cinema hibernates during summer time, ready to emerge in time for the autumnal arrival of glossy biopics and awards bait.

Look beyond the tentpoles, though, and there's a handful of releases that are more than worth your attention. Here are the ones you can't miss...

1. The Beguiled

Nicole Kidman in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled
Nicole Kidman in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled ©Focus Features

A new film from Sofia Coppola is always an event. The Beguiled, her first since 2013's The Bling Ring, generated serious buzz at Cannes, eventually taking the festival’s prestigious Best Director prize (eye-roll stat: Coppola is the second ever female winner in the festival’s 70-year history). Offering a female-focused take on a 1971 Clint Eastwood vehicle (based in turn on a pulpy Southern Gothic novel by Thomas P. Cullinan), The Beguiled brings Coppola's distinctive vision to the Civil War Antebellum, telling the story of a wounded soldier who seeks shelter in an all-female boarding school. Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, it boasts the sort of ensemble cast that most directors could only dream of.

In cinemas 14th July

2. The Big Sick

Zoe Kazan and Kumail Nanjiani in The Big Sick
Zoe Kazan and Kumail Nanjiani in The Big Sick

Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in and out of love, girl develops rare and vicious auto-immune disease and falls into a coma. The Big Sick is based on the real-life romance of Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani and (spoiler alert!) his wife, writer and producer Emily V. Gordon: the couple wrote the script together, with indie favourite Zoe Kazan filling in for Emily on-screen. The resulting rom-com is the most moving and memorable you'll see all year, from the tiny, heart-warmingly weird details of Kumail and Emily's relationship (Kumail's true-to-life Hugh Grant obsession is a highlight) to the deft, funny navigation of interracial relationships and family values. You'll cry, and you won't be mad about it.

In cinemas 28th July

3. Dunkirk


Tom Hardy. Cillian Murphy. Harry Styles. Yes, that Harry Styles. Christopher Nolan has assembled a predictably brilliant cast for his first film since Interstellar, and while the intriguing prospect of former One Directioner Harry's big-screen debut has generated its fair share of headlines, Dunkirk has far more going for it than this teen-friendly cameo. This World War Two epic charts Operation Dynamo, the legendary evacuation of hundreds of thousands of British soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in everything from 'destroyer' warships to tiny fishing boats; a feat that's still considered something of a miracle today. Catch it in IMAX for full jaw-drop potential.

In cinemas July 21st

4. Baby Driver

Baby Driver
Baby Driver

Baby Driver is a two-hour adrenaline rush: bold, bright and operating at a breakneck speed. The latest from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright, it’s a heist movie, but one in which every brake screech, door slam or rev of the accelerator lands on the syncopated beats of the soundtrack. Ansel Elgort is Baby, a preternaturally gifted getaway driver who blocks out chronic tinnitus by living through a permanent iPod playlist. Just when a romance with Debora (Lily James, switching gears from ‘English rose’ to ‘all-American girl’) seems to offer him an escape route, he’s drawn back to the wheel for one last job by shady linchpin Doc (Kevin Spacey)…

In cinemas June 28th

5. Detroit

John Boyega in Detroit
John Boyega in Detroit

For her anticipated follow-up to Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow is tackling one of the most violent and destructive uprisings in American history, the Detroit riots of summer 1967. Sparked by clashes between the public and the police (a response to a pressure cooker of persistent poverty and still-ingrained institutional racism), the disturbances engulfed the city for five days. Bigelow’s film zeroes in on the Algiers Motel incident, which saw white riot officers kill three young black civilians: of course, there are stark parallels to be drawn here with more recent examples of police brutality, making the Oscar-winning director’s latest effort a must-watch.

In cinemas 25th August

6. To The Bone

Lily Collins in To The Bone
Lily Collins in To The Bone ©Netflix

Lily Collins’ latest project is a particularly personal one. The actress, who has previously spoken openly about dealing with an eating disorder as a teenager, plays a young woman caught in a cycle of recovery and relapse in To The Bone, which was picked up by Netflix after garnering strong reviews at Sundance earlier this year. It’s semi-autobiographical, too, for writer-director Marti Noxon. While the ethics of placing anorexia front and centre are always going to be complicated (like 13 Reasons Why before it, the trailer has already attracted some criticism for ‘glamourising’ a serious condition), here’s hoping for a considered take on an issue that the film industry rarely confronts.

On Netflix 14th July

7. Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman ©Warner Bros

OK, we promised no superheroes, but we've been holding out for a female-fronted comic book movie for a long time (over a decade, to be precise). Luckily, this one was more than worth the wait - and will win over the naysayers. Dispensing with the genre's drearier conventions (an angst-ridden lead, a gloomy backstory... anyone who's sat through the entire teeth-grinding run time of Batman Vs Superman could probably go on...) Wonder Woman's first ever solo big screen outing is empowering, genuinely funny and in possession of an entirely charming lead in Gal Gadot. It's already the highest grossing live-action film directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins); let's push that box office figure a little higher...

In cinemas now

READ MORE: The Films You Can't Miss In 2017

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us