Nirav Desai staff writer
Students have been treated to an embarassment of riches during the last few Mays. On account of Hollywood, and probably some local parents who work in the industry, what was previously celebrated as the final month of the school year now marks the beginning of the summer movie season. This extended interval of entertainment has already proven fruitful for major motion picture studios, with six of the top-ten highest grossing films of 2015 premiering during the new summer film season that spans from late May until early September. However, American audiences have not been so fortunate, with last year’s summer only spawning a single Best Picture nominee (“Mad Max: Fury Road”).
While it is true that this year has already paid off for big-budget production companies, as evidenced by the historic box-office success of “Deadpool,” an R-rated Marvel movie, summer 2016’s slate of films may end up satisfying moviegoers’ desires for critically-acclaimed works.
Aside from obvious crowd-pleasers such as “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Suicide Squad” and “Ghostbusters,” here are six summer flicks students should keep on their radars post-graduation:
“OJ: Made in America”– June 11
As the only movie on this list that will not be shown in theaters this summer, ESPN’s ambitious, in-depth documentary aims to take advantage of renewed interest in the OJ Simpson trial by airing five installments over a one-week period on ABC and ESPN. Though they may have been beaten to the nostalgic punch by FX’s “American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson,” ESPN’s take on the most infamous trial in recent world history has already earned dazzling reviews after screening at the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals. If Buzzfeed’s Anne Helen Petersen’s statement that “‘OJ: Made in America’ is the most powerful and essential documentary about race, class, and gender in America in years” is accurate, then students should treat the film’s part one premiere on ABC as required viewing.
“Finding Dory” – June 17
In perhaps this summer’s safest bet, Disney•Pixar will allow young adults in 2016 to reconnect with the characters they loved as children in 2003. In addition to recasting the voice of Nemo to match the tiny clown fish’s unchanged youth, the second film in the franchise shifts its focus to Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres; a decision sure to be hailed by lovers of mom-jokes nationwide. While the plot of the sequel story may be easy to predict (Dory will be lost, a finding of Dory will commence, Dory will be found, now strengthened by life-lessons she learns along the way), Disney•Pixar has never churned out the same tale twice. (“Cars 2” is just a blur, sorry.)
“Free State of Jones” – June 24
In his latest installment of a string of successful biopics including “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Dallas Buyers’ Club,” Matthew McConaughey plays a pro-union Southerner who attempts to secede Jones County, Mississippi, from the secessionist Confederate States of America. McConaughey may receive awards-season buzz for his role, especially if the film garners public support amid what could be a third consecutive summer of mass racial unrest in the South.
“The BFG” – July 1
If Stephen Spielberg’s last animated production, “The Adventures of Tintin,” left any doubt regarding the legendary director’s capability to craft a quality cartoon, then the DreamWorks founder’s first offering under the Disney banner should put such doubts to rest. Armed with the acting talents of Academy Award winner Mark Rylance and Saturday Night Live alumnus Bill Hader, Spielberg will adapt the beloved Roald Dahl novel into a sentimental silver-screen show of force.
“The Founder” – Aug. 5
Michael Keaton will try to appear in a third consecutive Best Picture winner in as many years when he portrays Ray Kroc, the influential businessman who turned McDonald’s into a multinational corporate behemoth, in “The Founder.” Aided by quirky castmates such as “Parks and Recreation’s” Nick Offerman and “The Office’s” B.J. Novak, Keaton promises to take audiences on a biographical adventure they did not even know they wanted to go on.
“Southside with You” – Aug. 26
If students end up searching for a date movie amid summer flings, they probably will not be able to find a sweeter movie than “Southside with You,” a creative walk-and-talk look into the fateful first date between President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Aside from featuring Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpters in the perfectly-cast leading roles, the movie provides insight into the formative days of the popular first couple, who found both their passion for public service and each other in 1989 Chicago.