Sun Screenings: 10 New Summer Blockbusters That Embrace Aging and Nostalgia
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear — but are entirely welcome — the 2023 summer movie season seems noticeably geared to boomers, whether it’s older talent in leading roles, themes centred around aging and nostalgia, or both.
And we’re not just talking highbrow dramas, though those are represented. Comedies, fantasies, action-adventure films, and biopics complete the slate of 10 terrific titles we can’t wait to see before Labour Day and the advent of awards contenders that typically dominate the year-end cinematic slate. Summers are short, and a reprieve from the heat is always welcome, especially in the company of these awaited films.
Granted, the early reviews have been unkind, the plot seems a smidge convoluted, and star Ezra Miller has of late made headlines more for controversies than accomplishments. But The Flash boasts two — two! — Batmans (Michael Keaton, 71, and Ben Affleck, 50) alongside Michael Shannon, 48, Jeremy Irons, 74, and Ron Livingston, 56. Plus, no summer would be complete without a CGI-goosed superhero movie. They can’t all be masterpieces. And did we mention the great Michael Keaton is back in the cowl and cape? Opens June 16.
As might be expected from eclectic director Wes Anderson, 54, this visually arresting, nostalgia-rich comedy features a sprawling A-list ensemble cast including Tom Hanks, 66, Jeffrey Wright, 57, Tilda Swinton, 62, Bryan Cranston, 67, Edward Norton, 53, Steve Carell, 60, Willem Dafoe, 67, Liev Schreiber, 55, and Jeff Goldblum, 70, among notable others, as “The itinerary of a Junior Stargazer convention is spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events” in 1955. Every dazzling scene from the trailer could be framed and hung on the wall. Opens wide on June 23.
“Indiana Jones. Always knew that someday you’d come walking back through my door.”
True, the fifth and final installment of this legendary adventure series is not directed by Steven Spielberg. But his role as executive producer — abetted by star Harrison Ford’s fluency with the character and the fact that the actor, at 80, is battling Nazis again! — is highly promising. Ford himself has a sense of humour about it, as exhibited by his retort to a reporter at the Cannes Film Festival in May who joyfully commented about seeing him remove his shirt in the film: “Look, I’ve been blessed with this body,” the adventuring octogenarian quipped. “Thanks for noticing.”
Director James Mangold, 59, knows his way around action (see Ford v Ferrari, The Wolverine) and the supporting cast is nuts: Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, 57, Toby Jones, 56, Antonio Banderas, 62, plus original stars John Rhys-Davies, 79 and Karen Allen, 71 — speaker of the above line of dialogue from the brilliant 1981 original Raiders of the Lost Ark, the yardstick by which all Indy sequels must be measured. Opens June 30.
Tom Cruise doing non-stop, white-knuckle, Tom Cruise–worthy stunts in the latest installment of this high-budget, action-adventure series directed by frequent Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie. Enough said. (OK, OK, we also want to shout out co-stars Ving Rhames, 64, Simon Pegg, 53, and Canuck Henry Czerny, 64). It opens July 12, a week after Cruise’s 61st birthday, which is slightly more celebratory than sitting down to store-bought cake, no?
Okay, it’s not technically a blockbuster, but this modest, heartfelt dramedy from Ireland, which premiered last week at the Tribeca Festival, follows three women — the ridiculously formidable Maggie Smith, 88, Kathy Bates, 74, and Laura Linney, 59 — as they travel from Dublin to Lourdes, finding friendship, forgiveness, and some earthly miracles along the way. Opens July 14.
Director Christopher Nolan’s big-budget biopic about famed American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb during the Second World War is one of the year’s most anticipated movies. And not just for its towering thematic gravitas. Nobody makes movies like Nolan, 52, whose “smaller,” narrative films (as opposed to his Batman blockbusters) are at once widescreen yet intimate, as evidenced by 2010’s Inception, and Interstellar from 2014. Oppenheimer appears to slot in that box. Plus, star Cillian Murphy, 47, seems palpably haunted by his character’s game-changing invention in the film’s trailer. Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, 52, Robert Downey Jr., 58, and Kenneth Branagh, 62, round out the marquee cast. And it’s shot in IMAX. Out July 21.
Easily the buzziest film of the summer, for a bunch of reasons. Any girl born after 1959 likely grew up with the doll, which means this story comes freighted both with nostalgia and troubling reminders of Barbie’s rigidly conformist message about what femininity should look like. Satirically inclined director Greta Gerwig — who co-wrote the script with longtime work and life partner Noah Baumbach — clearly tackles all of that, guaranteeing any surface comedy rests on canny cultural criticism. Plus, it just looks so fun and goofy and clever. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken are dropped into a cotton candy–coloured world that simultaneously scans as cute and creepy, especially in more recent trailers which hint at the film’s darker subtext. Appropriately, it’s billed as being perfect for those who love Barbie… and for those who hate her. Co-stars include Canadian superstar Simu Liu plus Will Ferrell, 55, Kate McKinnon, and America Ferrera. Opens July 21.
A smaller film that could get lost in the shuffle amid big-budget summer blockbusters — but shouldn’t — this touching drama starring Helen Mirren, 77, and Gillian Anderson, 54, tells the story of a Jewish child hidden from the Nazis by a kind family. The life lessons she learns guide her actions and those in her orbit for the rest of her life. Bring Kleenex; the trailer alone makes one misty. Opens Aug. 18.
Helen Mirren again, this time as late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, specifically in the lead-up to the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The film divided critics at the Berlin International Film Festival where it premiered in February, yet all agreed that Mirren — wigged, chain-smoking, and cloaked by prosthetics — conjured the redoubtable politician. It’s certainly a fraught and fascinating period to revisit. Liev Schreiber, 55, plays Henry Kissinger, who just turned 100 and will likely be getting his own biopic soon, alas. Opens Aug. 25.
One for the sports fan, The Hill tells the true-life story of disabled athlete Ricky Hill’s journey to play major league baseball. The just-released trailer looks heartwarming if a bit corny, but baseball movies are to summertime what sugar is to coffee, and star Dennis Quaid, 69 is always a welcome presence on screen. Opens Aug. 25.