"Avengers: Infinity War" spoiled us. It kicked off the summer by setting the bar crazy-high in terms of packing one hell of an emotional and action-packed punch. So Summer 2018 started and peaked at the end of April, but that doesn't mean the season is without merit. Here are some Thanos-free movies worthy of your time.
'Avengers: Infinity War'
This movie has EVERYTHING. Even a scary-good, WTF?! cliffhanger ending. "Infinity War" set a benchmark for Marvel ten years in the making; can't wait to see how they cap it with the 2019 finale.
'Won't You Be My Neighbor?'
Bring at least two boxes of tissues for this much-needed dose of hope in a world that lately seems void of it. "Won't You Be My Neighbor," while at times barely diving past the surface of its complicated and sincere subject, chronicles Fred Rogers' inspired journey to be more than just the host of a PBS kids show. "Neighbor" takes a trip through some of our history's darkest, most confusing and painful times and puts it all through a lens that will make you wish you could be a kid again.
This sidequel/spinoff is way more fun than the trailers let on, or maybe than anyone expected. Director Gary Ross lacks the jazzy fun and visual aplomb of "Ocean's 11" director and friend Steven Soderbergh, but he more than makes up for it with a clever and satisfying caper and an entertaining ensemble. (Anne Hathaway haters will fall in love with her.)
'Sicario: Day of the Soldado'
If the first "Sicario" and "Clear and Present Danger" had a kid, it would grow up to be the gritty and badass "Soldado." When it's not depicting the over-drinks decision making that leads to shadow wars being greenlit by morally ambiguous CIA types, its pulling no punches in its portrayal of the cost of waging those wars in a world where there are no black or white hats. Just constantly blurred lines of grey.
"Eighth Grade" is the manifestation of every awkward though or feeling or worry you've ever had as a pre-high school teen. Comedian Bo Burnham taps into something you laugh with and never at, and it stays with you just like the memories of your middle school years do, but in better, more satisfying ways.
It took 14 years but we finally got it. And guess what? It’s a total blast. Writer/director Brad Bird returned to everyone’s favorite superhero family with “Incredibles 2” and not only made good on the promise of the first film but in some ways surpassed that already high bar. This time the action was centered around Helen aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), as she’s called into duty in an attempt to rehabilitate the superhero image, while Bob aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is stuck at home with the kids. But could have been a one-note role reversal instead subtly upends the superhero genre while also serving as a graceful ode to family dynamics.
Charlize Theron reunites with the writer and director of "Young Adult" to deliver another underrated drama about the emotional and physical cost of motherhood. Theron's performance is scary-good, though that wasn't enough to rise above the din of summer blockbusters in a way that attracted mass audiences. Ignore the mixed reactions to the film's twist involving a nanny character and make sure you give this movie a watch.
"RBG" is the surprise hit of the summer; a documentary about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her continued efforts to battle for women's rights in a political climate that constantly seems to want to threaten them.
It's your classic tale of a man getting an A.I. implant to help with a terrible injury, only to realize his new implant has uploaded him with murder-death-kill skills. It's the best B-movie the '80s never made, and a perfect double bill with "The Guest."
A Sundance favorite, this crime drama is both stirring and compelling as it chronicles the impossibly true story of one of the most insane heists you will ever see.
A film that seems to conversely terrify and alienate audiences, Ari Aster’s debut film “Hereditary” was the kind of horror movie that prompted discussion, theorizing and (most importantly) some very bad dreams. Toni Collette, in one of the year’s greatest performances, plays a woman who finds herself unraveling after the death of her mother. What comes next is a cascade of terrifying trauma, both psychological and otherworldly, that ends with a climax that everyone is (still) talking about and dissecting. Just thinking about this movie is enough to give you the heebie-jeebies.
How in the world did Paul Schrader go from “Dog Eat Dog,” a barely watchable, pornographically violent Z-grade crime movie (starring Nicolas Cage, of course) to “First Reformed,” a beautiful, transcendent drama that moves like a thriller. Ethan Hawke plays a former military chaplain put in charge of an ailing historic church, who gets involved in the life of a young widow (Amanda Seyfried) whose husband was planning an act of eco-terrorism. It might seem overwrought or too philosophical for its own good, but “First Reformed” is a transfixing, oftentimes downright mesmerizing treatise on faith in 2018 America.
“Damsel” is almost indescribable but we’re going to try anyway: Robert Pattinson plays a dandy traveling across the American West in search of his long-lost love (Mia Wasikowska). That’s about all you should know about this zany feature before you see it; half the fun is just watching what kind of craziness will unfold. But one thing’s for sure -- you’ve never seen a western like this before. And you’ve never seen a damsel quite like Wasikowska. The Zellner Brothers’ last feature was “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” a film based in part on the “Fargo.” With “Damsel,” it feels like they might be the next Coen Brothers.
'Mission: Impossible - Fallout'
"Rogue Nation" director and writer Christopher McQuarrie proves he is one of the best action movie directors working right now by reinventing his visual approach here in a very Pakula/Gordon Willis way while being the only filmmaker to ever return for another installment in the "Mission" franchise. 22 years since the first film hit theaters, Tom Cruise is still running and jumping and hanging off things better than you or anyone could possibly imagine. The stakes are, on paper, impossibly high (nukes are in the hands of bad men) but they are also very familiar. McQuarrie's script has fun subverting all the expectations surrounding the "been there, done that" feel of the exposition-dragged plot, and his execution of the majority of practically shot action scenes give McQ bragging rights over the Bond movies. Especially that third act finale involving two helicopters and Cruise hanging off one of them in glorious IMAX. Seriously, the last 20 minutes or so are worth paying to see this movie twice. "Fallout" is both this franchise's "Skyfall" and "Spectre," striving for the greatness of the former while stumbling occasionally into the ho-hum, cartoony nature (and gritty color palette) of the latter. It's not the best "Mission," but it is -- pound for pound -- one of the best action movies of this or any year.