I know, I know – it can be hard to keep up with all the films that come out in theaters week after week. Since we’re halfway through the year, consider this a refresher on some titles you may have missed. From grand-scale action to intimate character drama, these are ten of the best films released in the U.S. so far this year.*
Clouds of Sils Maria
There are plenty of reasons to watch Clouds of Sils Maria, but the one that may be of interest to most readers is this: Kristen Stewart won a Cesar (the French equivalent of the Oscar) for her work in this film, becoming the first American ever to win a Cesar. She’s deserving of it, too.
Clouds of Sils Maria is out of theaters, and will be available on home video and VOD platforms later this year.
There’s a sense of dread that hangs over this entire picture, permeating every frame until its surprising conclusion. Coupled with a small cast of characters who all seem like they may be hiding something, Ex Machina is a truly suspenseful project from writer/director Alex Garland.
Ex Machina is playing in select theaters, and is available on VOD platforms now. Home video formats available July 14.
Upon first viewing, I knew this was one of Pixar’s best. With a subsequent viewing, I’m very tempted to say it’s their flat-out best work to date. Aside from what I’ve mentioned in my review, what stuck with me the second time was the way the film approached the way we treat children (especially young girls) to conceal their true emotions, and the damage that can cause.
Inside Out is playing in theaters now.
What I love about It Follows is that the film doesn’t really try to explain what’s following the victims. It’s just… “it.” And the film’s resolution may be one of the more chilling endings to a horror film that I can recall in recent memory.
It Follows is available on VOD platforms on July 2. Home video formats available July 14.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Matthew Vaughn has proven himself adept at adapting comic books (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class), but he tops himself with this take on the spy genre. The spectacle alone spiced up theater screens at the beginning of the year, thankfully.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is available on home video and VOD platforms now.
Mad Max: Fury Road
It’s still mind-boggling that George Miller hadn’t directed an action film in 30 years when this was released. At 70, he’s shown Hollywood how to make action films exciting all over again – all while hammering home one of the fiercest feminist messages in an action film ever.
Mad Max: Fury Road is playing in theaters now.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
The breakout hit of Sundance this year may not appeal to those with a distaste for quirk. I’m all for quirk, though, and I found Me and Earl and the Dying Girl to be frequently (and sometimes inappropriately) hilarious, while also hitting an emotional chord as the film progresses.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is playing in theaters now.
Although it’s expanded somewhat from its short story origin, Predestination has an unusually assured sense of self when it comes to handling time travel. And boy, does time travel go by all over this film. But it’s a standout performance from Sarah Snook, who’s required to play significant variations on her character, that makes the film excel.
Predestination is available on home video and VOD platforms now.
We all know Melissa McCarthy’s funny. Here, though, she blends her film and television comic personas into her best work to date. To say that Spy is hilarious would be to vastly undersell it. Spy is layered with so many moments of humor that it demands multiple viewings.
Spy is playing in theaters now.
Who doesn’t understand the need for revenge? In this anthology film, viewers follow six wildly different tales connected by a single, unifying theme. It’s a dark, and frequently hilarious, series of stories that also manage to take some surprising twists.
Wild Tales is available on home video and VOD platforms now.