Five “Must-See” Movies for July 2015

July Five Must Sees

Normally, I’m not one to brag, but I would like to say right off the bat, I think I did pretty well with my must-see list last month. Of my five official picks — Spy, Jurassic World, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Dope and Inside Out — the closest I got to suggesting you see a movie people generally didn’t like was Jurassic World, which has broken all sorts of box office records and sits at a “fresh” 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not that box office results or Rotten Tomatoes are the ultimate barometers of quality, but I have to base this off something, right?

Personally I didn’t much care for the new Jurassic film aside from a few scenes of enormous spectacle, but others found plenty to like in it. I also ended up seeing Dope twice — that one might be my favorite movie so far this year — and it appears there has been some critical blowback against Me and Earl and the Dying Girl since it first premiered at Sundance in January, where it won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize, but the film remains highly lauded no matter. I noticed more flaws on a second viewing, but I still really like it. Oh, and it seems Pixar is back, considering Inside Out is the studio’s best reviewed movie (and could very well be its highest grossing) since Toy Story 3.

But enough about June, last month is officially behind us, so it’s time to look away from what has happened the past few weeks and focus our sights on the July frame to see what’s hitting theaters this month for our viewing pleasure — or displeasure, such as it may be. What should you check out and what should you skip? Let’s dive in, shall we?

Notable Wide Releases

Terminator Genisys. Minions. Pixels. Paper Towns. Vacation. All five of those movies are coming out this month, and while they will all likely command an audience — Minions especially — I can’t say I have any real desire to see them, other than to be able to say that I did. Self/less, the new film from Tarsem Singh, looks a bit more compelling than the ones mentioned above, and Southpaw is of interest because Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams headline, but I’m curious if either movie will actually be worth the price of admission.

Spotlight on Indies

Normally — sample size of two — I do a section here and call it “A Few Before We Really Get Started“, but given the nature of July’s release slate, I wanted to use this space to highlight a few independent films I’m really interested in checking out and that I think might interest you, too. So go ahead, read on.

Amy (7/3): I was never really a fan of Amy Winehouse‘s music, but plenty of others are, and Asif Kapadia (Senna) now brings the tragic musician’s story to the big screen with his latest documentary Amy. The film played well at Cannes and was picked up for distribution by A24, both of which boost my interest in the project.

Tangerine (7/10): “Trashy, lurid, and hilariously profane — exploitation in the best, most cinematic sense,” is how Grantland‘s Wesley Morris describes Tangerine, a no-budget Sundance film about a transgender prostitute who tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. Also, director Sean S. Baker shot the film entirely on an iPhone. Interested?

The Look of Silence (7/17): The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer‘s last documentary, was hailed by most everyone — though less so by me, personally — and his newest doc The Look of Silence has had perhaps even more praise heaped upon it for telling the story of a family who confronts the men responsible for murdering one of their brothers. My thoughts on Oppenheimer’s last film aside, I’m intrigued.

Mr. Holmes (7/17): Starring Ian McKellen as infamous detective Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Holmes promises a new spin on a classic character. The movie played well at the Berlin Film Festival in February, with high praise given to McKellen for playing a long-retired Holmes who reflects on his life and grapples with his memories of an unsolved case.

Irrational Man (7/17): The times they are a-changin’, but every summer there are at least a couple things I can count on: 1) I burn my hand on my steering wheel, and 2) Woody Allen releases a new movie. The release of Irrational Man is an example of the latter. Reviews out of Cannes for Allen’s newest film weren’t exactly strong, but neither were the reviews for last summer’s Magic in the Moonlight, which I called one of the most underrated films of 2014. This makes for Emma Stone‘s second role as Allen’s new muse, and the prolific writer-director brings Joaquin Phoenix and Parker Posey into the mix here.

The Stanford Prison Experiment (7/17): The trailer for The Stanford Prison Experiment looks very good, which makes me wonder if the movie itself will be as thrilling as it appears or if the people who cut the trailer found a way to fool me; but no matter, it’s got a great young cast, specifically Ezra Miller and Tye Sheridan. Considering the movie spent 12 years in development, let’s hope it was worth the wait.

Phoenix (7/24): I’ve only read a few things about Christian Petzold‘s Holocaust drama Phoenix, but those few things I have read make me really interested in seeing the film. A lot of the focus in reviews on the festival circuit has been placed upon the film’s ending and the film’s star Nina Hoss, so I’m curious to see what the fuss is about.

Hopefully those flicks serve as a nice warmup for what the rest of the month has to offer, because now it’s time to turn our focus to the main stage. But I warn you, things are about to get hot, y’all!