Summer movies 2020 list: 22 films to see, from ‘Mulan’ to ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ – Inverse


Even if the Biggest Movies of the Summer are all delayed, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any movies at all.

While theaters are still mostly closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s possible theaters in some parts of the country will somewhat open by July. Meanwhile, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ are eager to capitalize on an audience hungry for distractions at home.

The summer of 2020 isn’t devoid of new movies. Now that superheroes and franchises are not sucking all the air out of the room, the opportunity to watch unusual and unique movies is at a premium this summer.

The following guide is our hand-picked selection of more than 20 must-sees, with all the necessary info, like who’s starring, when you can see them, and where.

We’ve also added an “Escapism Score” to help you evaluate which movies are worth seeing if you want to tune out the outside world.

🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 is a great escape.

🚀 is a temporary daydream.

May 2020 New Movies

‘Scoob!’Warner Bros. Pictures

Scoob!

  • Release date: May 15
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Genre: Animation/family mystery comedy
  • Distribution: VOD
  • Director: Tony Cervone
  • Starring: Frank Welker, Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Jason Isaacs, Ken Jeong

Plot — A reboot of the Scooby-Doo franchise Warner Bros. hopes will kick off a Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are picked up by the superhero Blue Falcon who takes them away from the rest of Mystery Inc. Thus begins a chase by Velma, Daphne, and Fred to get their friends back, who may be in more danger than they realize.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀🚀The meddling kids of Mystery Inc. are timeless and sure to conjure carefree childhood memories, so long as you can stand to hear them make Netflix jokes.

The Lovebirds

Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae in ‘The Lovebirds.’Netflix

The Lovebirds

  • Release date: May 22
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • Genre: Rom-com/murder mystery
  • Distribution: Streaming (Netflix)
  • Director: Michael Showalter
  • Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae

Plot — A happy couple find themselves at the center of a brutal murder. As they evade the police, the two set out to solve the case in order to clear their names.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀While the suspense of running from police can certainly be stressful, the film comes packing with enough laughs to make the movie a breeze.

Inheritence

Lily Collins in ‘Inheritence’Vertical Entertainment

Inheritance

  • Release date: May 22
  • Studio: Vertical
  • Genre: Suspense/thriller
  • Distribution: Theatrical and VOD (same day)
  • Director: Vaughn Stein
  • Starring: Lily Collins, Connie Nielsen, Simon Pegg, Chace Crawford, Patrick Warburton

Plot — When the powerful patriarch of an influential family suddenly dies, he leaves behind a dark secret that threatens to destroy the life of his daughter.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀 Who among us come from super wealthy northeastern elite dynasties with skeletons in their closets? Maybe not all of us, but learning about your family’s darkest secrets is a pretty relatable thing.

The Painter and the Thief

‘The Painter and the Thief’NEON

The Painter and the Thief

  • Release date: May 22
  • Studio: NEON
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Distribution: Streaming (Hulu)
  • Director: Benjamin Ree
  • Starring: Barbora Kysilkova, Karl-Bertil Nordland

Plot — In 2015, two oil paintings worth 20,000 Euros were stolen from the Galleri Nobel in Oslo. While the story didn’t captivate the world, it did break the heart of artist Barbora Kysilkova, who imbued the stolen paintings with her personal traumas. In this documentary on Hulu, Kysilkova reaches out to the thieves who destroyed her most precious work to create a new masterpiece.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀 A true-life documentary about art, pain, and loss might be too heavy for living in a pandemic, but perhaps there’s some needed catharsis waiting on the other side.

June 2020 New Movies

Da 5 Bloods

‘Da 5 Bloods’ is the newest movie from director Spike Lee.Netflix

Da 5 Bloods

  • Release date: June 12
  • Studio: Netflix
  • Genre: Period/heist
  • Distribution: Streaming (Netflix)
  • Director: Spike Lee
  • Starring: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters, Chadwick Boseman, Jean Reno

Plot — Decades after the Vietnam War, four veterans return to Hanoi to retrieve the remains of a fallen comrade, as well as buried treasure. This is the newest film from legendary director Spike Lee, who flips between modern day, the Vietnam War, and archival footage of the 1960s to tell a new story about the lasting effects of warfare.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀 Spike Lee wouldn’t be Spike Lee if his movies didn’t evoke the anxieties of the present, yet a hunt for treasure always sounds like an adventure.

The King of Staten Island

Pete Davidson in ‘The King of Staten Island.’Universal

The King of Staten Island

  • Release date: June 12
  • Studio: Universal
  • Genre: Coming of age comedy
  • Distribution: VOD
  • Director: Judd Apatow
  • Starring: Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Steve Buschemi

Plot — Since losing his firefighter father, twenty-something Scott spends his days smoking weed, playing video games, and goofing off with his friends. When his mother dates a new man, also a firefighter, Scott begins to finally grapple with his grief and start life anew.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀 In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Judd Apatow said the movie imagines SNL alum and movie lead Pete Davidson’s life had he not pursued comedy (Davidson’s real father was a New York City fireman who died serving on 9/11). Like all Apatow movies, expect some real heavy stuff even when there’s a high chance for weed and dick jokes.

Disney Artemis Fowl

Ferdia Shaw in ‘Artemis Fowl.’Disney

Artemis Fowl

  • Release date: June 12
  • Studio: Disney
  • Genre: Fantasy/Young adult
  • Distribution: Streaming (Disney+)
  • Director: Kenneth Branagh
  • Starring: Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Josh Gad, Colin Farrell, Judi Dench, Hong Chau

Plot — Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old genius and the descendant of criminal masterminds. When his father is kidnapped by fairies who want a relic stolen by the Fowls returned, Artemis negotiates to get his father back. The film adapts the first two books in the Artemis Fowl fantasy novels from author Eoin Colfer.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀🚀 A big-budget Disney movie about master criminals and fairy kidnappers with big special effects is precisely the mindless summer fun we can all use right about now. Think Kingsman meets Chronicles of Narnia, and imagine how much fun that might be.

A Whisker Away

‘A Whisker Away’Netflix

A Whisker Away

  • Release date: June 18
  • Studio: Studio Colorido
  • Genre: Anime/Fantasy/Science fiction
  • Distribution: Streaming (Netflix)
  • Director: Junichi Satoh
  • Starring: Mirai Shida, Natsuki Hanae, Koichi Yamadera

Plot — Miyo, a junior high student, is in love with a boy from her class and uses a magical mask that lets her transform into a cat to get close to her crush. But Miyo soon realizes there’s a price for magic, as she slowly loses the ability to become human.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 Teenage crushes and magical spells collide in the second feature film by Studio Colorido, a relatively new anime studio that’s carved an identity for imaginative, sweeping young adult romances with elements of fantasy and science fiction. As the summer heats up, A Whisker Away will sweep us off our feet.

July 2020 New Movies

Russel Crowe Unhinged

Russel Crowe, in the new thriller ‘Unhinged.’Solstice/Skip Bolden

Unhinged

  • Release date: July 1
  • Studio: Solstice
  • Genre: Psychological thriller
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Derrick Borte
  • Starring: Russell Creow, Caren Pistorius, Jimmi Simpson

Plot — After a road rage altercation at a red light, a divorced single mother becomes the target of a relentless stranger determined to teach her a lesson.

Escapism Score — 🚀 Billed as “a timely psychological thriller” that ends with “an unpredictable and terrifying conclusion,” Unhinged will do anything but chill you out. While there’s significantly less traffic jams these days, a movie about road rage gone awry might trigger some nasty feelings we’ve all had sitting behind the wheel.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, in a stage performance for his rap musical ‘Hamilton.’Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Hamilton

  • Release date: July 3
  • Studio: Disney
  • Genre: Live musical
  • Distribution: Streaming (Disney+)
  • Director: Thomas Kail
  • Starring: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs

Plot — Lin Manuel-Miranda’s acclaimed rap musical that chronicles the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the American Founding Fathers, is coming to Disney+. A filmed 2016 stage performance with the original cast at the Richard Rogers Theatre was acquired by Disney for $75 million. Originally slated to hit theaters in 2021, the movie is coming early to Disney+ as a reprieve from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀🚀 While Alexander Hamilton was as real as can be, you can bet the 18th century American statesman didn’t spit bars when he met Aaron Burr (sir). For this one, put away the textbooks and just let the music tell its own story.

Tenet

John David Washington and Elizabeth Debicki in ‘Tenet.’Warner Bros. Pictures

Tenet

  • Release date: July 17
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Genre: Science fiction/Thriller
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh, Aarton Taylor-Johnson, Himesh Patel

Plot — A secret agent is tasked with preventing World War III. I swear, that’s an actual synopsis and all we know about the movie. Even the movie’s two-minute trailer is nebulous and opaque.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀🚀 For the first time since Inception, the English director returns to original science fiction with Tenet, a movie no one can make heads or tails from. (Even Robert Pattinson struggled to describe it in an interview with GQ.) All anyone can assume is that there’s a motif regarding time; note the visuals of the trailer are played in reverse, and “Tenet” is a palindrome that can be read forwards and backwards. So it’s going to be a pretty surreal movie that may or may not alleviate any of your paranoia over a pandemic. At least it looks good.

Mulan Disney

Liu Yifei in ‘Mulan.’Disney

Mulan

  • Release date: July 24
  • Studio: Disney
  • Genre: Fantasy/Action
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Niki Caro
  • Starring: Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Yonson An, Gong Li, Jet Li, Tzi Ma

Plot — Based on the ancient Chinese folktale (and the 1998 animated musical), Mulan is the story of a girl who poses as a man in order to take her ailing father’s place in the Chinese army to defeat an army of invaders from the north.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 Although it doesn’t have the talking dragon Mushu nor any musical numbers, the sweeping shots of mountainous China and wuxia-inspired action rarely seen in Hollywood movies makes Mulan a cinematic feast that will surely help you forget your worries for a few hours. Who knows, you might even come out of it a warrior.

The Rental Alison Brie

Alison Brie in ‘The Rental.’Allyson Riggs/IFC

The Rental

  • Release date: July 24
  • Studio: IFC Films
  • Genre: Thriller/Horror
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Dave Franco
  • Starring: Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Sheila Vand, Jeremy Allen White, Toby Huss

Plot —Two couples on a weekend getaway suspect the host of their lakeside rental is spying on them. Tensions flare as the paranoia brings to light secrets they’ve all kept from each other.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀 How much The Rental feels like an escape depends how much you miss weekend getaways with your couples friends (and the drama that usually transpire). If you’re hiding secrets from your SO in quarantine, this one might be too real. But for single folks who aren’t going anywhere, Dave Franco’s directorial debut is the perfect getaway.

August 2020 New Movies

Seth Rogen An American Pickle

Seth Rogen in ‘An American Pickle.’HBO

An American Pickle

  • Release date: August 6
  • Studio: HBO
  • Genre: Comedy/Science fiction
  • Distribution: Streaming (HBO Max)
  • Director: Brandon Trost
  • Starring: Seth Rogen, Maya Erskine, Sarah Snooke

Plot — Herschel Greenbaum, an immigrant in 1920 Brooklyn, falls into a vat of pickles and is preserved for 100 years. When he awakes in 2020, he finds his only relative is Ben, a computer coder. Hilarity ensues.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 The movie takes place in 2020 and everything seems fine. That isn’t just unreal, it’s flat out fantasy. It also sounds hilarious, and we can all use a good laugh.

Spongebob Sponge on the Run

‘SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run’Paramount Pictures

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

  • Release date: August 7
  • Studio: Paramount
  • Genre: Animation/Family comedy
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Tim Hill
  • Starring: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence

Plot — SpongeBob SquarePants rescues his beloved pet snail, Gary, on a road trip across the seven seas. Along the way, SpongeBob reminisces on the origin story of how they met.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 Aging millennials with fond memories of binge-watching Nickelodeon after school may be keen to pay a visit to Bikini Bottom for no other reason other than to satisfy a nostalgia itch. Also, Keanu Reeves makes a cameo appearance as a sage bush.

Wonder Woman 1984

Gal Gadot in ‘Wonder Woman 1984.’Warner Bros. Pictures

Wonder Woman 1984

  • Release date: August 14
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Genre: Superhero
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Patty Jenkins
  • Starring: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Chris Pine

Plot — A sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot returns as her DC superhero as she confronts new enemies in the backdrop of the raging Cold War of the mid-1980s.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀 With action scenes set in Washington D.C., a villainous Pedro Pascal playing a commercial entrepreneur with a bad haircut, and the threat of nukes going off at any minute, Wonder Woman 1984 may evoke a little too much of 2020. Still, this is the DC Universe, which means everything will be solved with enough punching of bad guys.

The Secret Garden

Dixie Egerickx in ‘The Secret Garden.’STX

The Secret Garden

  • Release date: August 14
  • Studio: StudioCanal
  • Genre: Period/Young adult fantasy
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Marc Munden
  • Starring: Dixie Egerickx, Colin Firth, Julie Walters

Plot — When spoiled 10-year-old Mary Lennox is orphaned after the death of her wealthy parents, she moves to Yorkshire to live with an uncle she’s never met. Upon exploring her new home, she discovers a locked-off walled garden that may hold magical secrets.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀 A cholera pandemic serves as the backdrop for the original 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which hits a little close to home. But with its early 20th century setting in upper class England, it’s still possible to get lost in the movie’s breathtaking greenery.

The Silencing

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in ‘The Silencing.’Saban Films

The Silencing

  • Release date: August 14
  • Studio: Saban Films
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Robin Pront
  • Starring: Niklaj Coster-Waldau, Annabelle Wallis, Hero Finnes Tiffin

Plot — A reformed hunter living alone in a wildlife sanctuary gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse when he and the local sheriff track a killer who kidnapped his daughter years ago.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀 One might appreciate its wilderness surroundings, but a thriller about experienced hunters becoming the hunted isn’t exactly Animal Crossing.

Bill and Ted Face the Music

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music.’United Artists

Bill & Ted Face the Music

  • Release date: August 21
  • Studio: United Artists
  • Genre: Comedy/Science fiction
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Dean Pariscot
  • Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Kristen Schaal, Kid Cudi, George Carlin (via archival footage)

Plot — Now in their middle-aged lives, William “Bill” S. Preston and Theodore “Ted” Logan are warned by a visitor from the future that they must record a new song to save the universe in just 78 minutes.

Escapism Score — A totally excellent 🎸🎸🎸🎸🎸 The long-awaited third movie in the Bill & Ted movies comes to save 2020 in the most radical way. The movie will involve Bill and Ted teaming up with their Millennial daughters, which gives Bill & Ted Face the Music cross-generational appeal.

Janelle Monae in 'Antebellum'

Janelle Monae in ‘Antebellum.’Matt Kennedy/Lionsgate

Antebellum

  • Release date: August 21
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Genre: Horror
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz
  • Starring: Janelle Monae, Marque Richardson, Kiersey Clemons, Jena Malone

Plot — A successful Black author from the 21st century wakes up in a nightmarish reality where she’s a slave in the Antebellum South.

Escapism Score — 🚀 This must-see summer horror movie weaponizes science fiction to explore America’s still unreckoned sins of slavery. Be prepared to confront still-uncomfortable truths about America’s racist history that continues even now in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The New Mutants

The cast of ‘The New Mutants.’20th Century Fox

The New Mutants

  • Release date: August 28
  • Studio: Fox/Disney
  • Genre: Superhero/Horror
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: Josh Boone
  • Starring: Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga

Plot — Misfit teenagers with mutant superpowers attempt to escape a secret facility where they’re held against their will.

Escapism Score — 🚀🚀🚀🚀 The continuation of the maybe finished X-Men movie franchise introduces a new group of Marvel mutants from the X-Men spin-off comics The New Mutants. The first real superhero horror movie was originally slated to hit theaters in 2018, only to be hit by a legendary delay. Now the movie is here (hopefully), and it’s sure to be an unusual entry in the continuing history of summer superhero movies.

September 2020 New movies

A Quiet Place Part II

Emily Blunt and Noah Jupe in ‘A Quiet Place Part II.’Paramount Pictures

A Quiet Place Part II

  • Release date: August 28
  • Studio: Universal
  • Genre: Horror
  • Distribution: Theatrical
  • Director: John Krasinski
  • Starring: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou, John Krasinski

Plot — After a big battle at home, the surviving members of the Abbot family must now venture to the outside world to continue living in silence. They quickly learn that the monsters aren’t the only threat they need to avoid.

Escapism Score — 🚀A horror movie about surviving an apocalypse maybe isn’t the best thing to watch in a pandemic, but some of us can use a dark story of triumph as the world slowly opens up again.

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