19 Indies and Festival Favorites You Can’t Miss This Summer Season

Required viewing this summer: new films from Steven Soderbergh, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow and more filmmaker stars-in-the-making.
19 Indies and Festival Favorites You Can't Miss This Summer Season

This week, IndieWire will be rolling out our annual Summer Preview, including offerings that span genres, a look at the various trends driving the box office, and special attention to all the new movies you need to get through a jam-packed summer movie-going season. Check back throughout the week for a new look at the best the season has to offer, and clear your schedule, because we’re going to fill it right up.

Today — 19 indie standouts and festival favorites (including exciting new offerings from some of our favorite directors, from Kathryn Bigelow to Steven Soderbergh, Sofia Coppola to Edgar Wright) bound for a big screen near you.

READ MORE: IndieWire’s Complete 2017 Summer Preview

“The Lovers,” May 5

“The Lovers”

The concept of “The Lovers” is almost too cute: Middle-aged married couple Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger) lost interest in each other long ago, and have both launched extramarital affairs, promising their paramours that a divorce is on the horizon. In the midst of planning breakups, however, Michael and Marry suddenly rediscover the passion of their marriage, delay their secret plans to split, and the cheating dynamic twists around. The very notion of faithfulness is turned on its ear. It’s enough to fuel a lightly satisfying studio romcom, and it already has — Nancy Meyers’ “It’s Complicated” — but “The Lovers” writer-director Azazel Jacobs has a more delicate approach. -Eric Kohn

“Band Aid,” June 2

zoe lister-jones band aid
“Band Aid”

A couple finds musical inspiration from their arguments in this offbeat romantic comedy from writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones, a comedic television actress who makes her directorial debut after writing two features with her husband, Daryl Wein (“Lola Versus” and “Breaking Upwards”). Drawing from their creative partnership as inspiration, Lister-Jones plays uptight, baby-hungry Anna opposite Adam Pally’s video game-playing man-child, Ben. When an explosive fight suddenly erupts into song, they realize they might be onto something. The once wayward couple find new partnership as bandmates, along with their neighbor as drummer, played by Fred Armisen (a punk rock drummer before his “Saturday Night Live” days). Charming and witty more than laugh-out-loud funny, the chemistry between Anna and Ben anchors this Sundance favorite is a sincere music comedy about a relationship in need of a crescendo. -Jude Dry

“It Comes at Night,” June 9

“It Comes at Night”Screenshot/A24

Trey Edward Shults became an indie darling with his debut “Krisha,” quickly signing a two-picture deal with the visionaries at A24. The first film of that deal arrives this summer, and if you thought the psychological tenseness of “Krisha” was unbearable at times, just wait until you see what he has in store for “It Comes At Night.” The plot centers around two families forced under the same roof as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world outside. Expect Shults to masterfully depict the paranoia, fear and distrust that follows. Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough and Christopher Abbott star. -Zack Sharf

“Beatriz at Dinner,” June 9

“Beatriz at Dinner”

Director Miguel Arteta (“Youth in Revolt,” “Chuck & Buck”) and screenwriter Mike White (“School of Rock,” HBO’s “Enlightened”) explore  an awkward clash of cultures when Beatriz (Salma Hayek) – a holistic healer with car trouble – is welcomed to a client’s dinner party celebrating a lucrative business deal. With John Lithgow playing a Trump-like villain, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote from Sundance (where the film premiered in January), “Arteta and White handle this incendiary material with a gentle touch, and the result provokes strong ideas about the clash of values in modern America.” -Chris O’Falt

“The Bad Batch,” June 23

"The Bad Batch"
“The Bad Batch”Annapurna Pictures

The second feature film from “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour, “The Bad Batch” follows a young woman who has been exiled to the desert and must find a way to survive a world run by cannibals. Starring Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey and produced by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. “The Bad Batch” has earned comparisons to both “Mad Max” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” IndieWire’s Eric Kohn praised the movie for the way it “turns a completely ridiculous premise — dystopian warfare in a sun-bleached desert filled with cannibals, a raving cult leader, desperate thieves and LSD — into a warm, at times even elegant salute to the transformative power of companionship.” -Graham Winfrey

“The Beguiled,” June 23

"The Beguiled"
“The Beguiled”Focus Features

Nothing says “summer movie season” quite like a Sofia Coppola movie! In all seriousness, a new film from the “Somewhere” writer-director is most welcome at any time of year, especially because it’s been a long — practically endless — four years since she last graced us with the Hollywood hijinks of “The Bling Ring.” But “The Beguiled,” which Coppola has adapted from the same Thomas P. Cullinan novel that inspired the 1971 Clint Eastwood/Don Siegel joint of the same name, is a sweltering erotic drama that should be perfect viewing for those long June nights. Colin Farrell stars as a wounded Union soldier who seeks shelter at a boarding school for girls in rural Mississippi, where headmistress Nicole Kidman rules the roost. Of course, being cooped up during a war can wreak havoc on the mind (and inspire all sorts of horniness from the body), and it isn’t long before the school turns into a veritable powder keg that’s brimming with sexy, sexy violence. -David Ehrlich

“The Big Sick,” June 23

“The Big Sick”

One of the most highly-anticipated films from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Michael Showalter’s “The Big Sick” stars Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan and is based on the real-life courtship between Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, who wrote the script together. When the aspiring comedian Kumail and grad student Emily (Kazan) fall in love, their relationship leads to a rift with Kumail’s traditional Muslim parents. Then, Emily discovers she has a mysterious illness, leaving Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano). Produced by Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel, “The Big Sick” is a dramatic comedy with a romance at its center. The film co-stars Bollywood legend Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham, Kurt Braunohler and Vella Lovell. -GW

“Baby Driver,” June 28

Baby (ANSEL ELGORT) and Bats (JAMIE FOXX) on the way to the post office job with Buddy (JON HAMM) and Darling (EIZA GONZALEZ) as cops pull up next to them in TriStar Pictures' BABY DRIVER.
“Baby Driver”Wilson Webb

Edgar Wright’s first solo writing credit is a script littered with snark and self-awareness, with nuggets of the geekiness embedded in his work ever since his “Spaced” days (“Don’t feed me any more lines from ‘Monsters Inc.’! It pisses me off!”). But “Baby Driver” primarily exists as a platform for those operatic chase scenes, and they’re expertly plotted to provide fulfilling results. Wright has described “Baby Driver” as “a car film driven by music,” but it’s more of a music film built around cars. Five movies into his career, he continues to deliver an inspired kind of entertainment that follows its own rules — equal parts slapstick and visceral thrills, but never too far from a reality check when its characters must confront the legitimate hazards surrounding them. -EK

Ahead, check out our picks for July and August, including the return of not one, but two beloved filmmakers and a slew of Sundance breakouts.

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