Your Ultimate Guide To Summer Movies — From Blockbusters To Indie Tearjerkers

Sure, it's been rainy and gross out for a while now. But trust, summer is upon us. And with it come sticky, disgusting days that beg for a respite in an aggressively air-conditioned movie theater — and conveniently, those days happen to coincide with summer blockbuster season.
In case you're having trouble deciding between the many, many options ahead of you, we're here to help. We've weeded through everything from the big-budget action flicks to the so-charming festival finds — and of course, the cheesy guilty pleasures as well — and rounded up your ultimate guide to summer movies. Here's what you should be watching, every single weekend from now through the end of July.
Photos (from top left): Courtesy of Fox Searchlight, Magnolia Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Universal, and Disney.
Snow White & The Huntsman: We're the first to get a little up in arms about the sexist nature of fairy tales. But this movie recasts the story of Snow White in a brand new light that has us counting down the days to the premiere. It looks dark, aggressive, and intense — and in case we need to say it, Charlize looks flawless.
Backup Options: We're not giving you any here. This movie promises to be amazing. We're not always all rah-rah Kristen Stewart, but in this case, we think she was perfectly cast. Also, we cannot wait to see her don her armor and face off against Charlize's stunningly terrifying evil queen.
Lola Versus: This is the dialogue-heavy, introspective movie to break up your summer of blockbusters and action flicks. Basically, girl gets dumped a few weeks before her wedding, girl looks ahead to her upcoming 30th birthday, and girl freaks out a little bit. But at its core, this is a movie about a woman trying to find her place in the world, in a moment that forces her to take stock of her life. That's a story we can all relate to, and we're thoroughly charmed by the idea of making that journey with the always-entertaining Greta Gerwig.
Backup Option:
Prometheus: "In space, no one can hear you scream." We loved the very first Alien movie, if not all of the sequels and prequels that came after, and this shrouded-in-secrecy follow-up involves some of our favorite names in the industry: Michael Fassbender (we would argue that he's been the best Mr. Rochester to date), Damon Lindelof (of Lost fame), and of course, the original director, Ridley Scott.
Rock of Ages: Tom Cruise is at his best when he's mocking himself (See: Tropic Thunder), and we're hoping that tongue-in-cheek sense of humor prevails here. The superstar cast and '80s soundtrack shouldn't hurt either, just as long as you're willing to check any expectations of highbrow anything at the door.
Backup Option:
The Woman In The Fifth: This story (mysterious deaths and dark forces factor in) seems a little weird. However, Kristin Scott Thomas and Ethan Hawke feature prominently — and yes, the movie is set in Paris — so we're still intrigued.
Brave: We shed a tear or two when we watched this trailer for the first time. Perhaps we're suckers for a plucky-young-girl-turned-hero story, but we have hopes of loving this movie even more than we did Up.
Backup Option:
Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World: Answer honestly: What would you do if you knew the world were coming to an end? For Steve Carell in this movie, that answer would apparently be to leave his wife and head out in search of his high school sweetheart. That's all good and well, but we'll be watching because Mrs. Coach Taylor Connie Britton and Seth Cohen Adam Brody are involved.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (June 27): Critics really like this movie. It won the Sundance 2012 Grand Jury Prize as well as the Excellence in Cinematography Award, following in the footsteps of films like Precious and Winter's Bone. Watch the trailer, let your eyes well up, and buy a ticket for this one when you're ready for a movie to really move you.
Backup Options:
Take This Waltz: Our first viewing of this trailer made us feel like we were watching a more whimsical version of the (so deceptive) Blue Valentine trailer. But after a second (and third) viewing, we've changed our minds. Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen play a happy couple who are actually in love, but the movie tackles the question of what you do when you're faced with another alternative — the potential for greater happiness. Watching Williams handle the temptation to cheat (as well as the head-scratching conclusion) feels surprisingly thought-provoking, but never soul-crushing.
Magic Mike: In case you haven't had enough chances to see Matthew McConaughey shirtless in this lifetime, he and Channing Tatum play strippers in the art-imitates-life version of Channing Tatum's real-life story. The whole thing promises to be ridiculous and cheesy — and exactly what you need in the middle of a very hot summer.
The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3): Emma and Andrew! The last few movies went off the rails (that whole "dark" Spider-Man incident was particularly troublesome), so we are more than ready to start over with this franchise. Also, in case it wasn't clear, we really love Emma Stone (even as a blonde) and Andrew Garfield. Far and wide, the buzz seems to be tapering off for this movie, but we're still holding out hope.
Backup Option:
Trishna: We saw this one at Tribeca and were thoroughly moved. It's Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but set in India, and starring a captivating Freida Pinto in the title role.
Union Square: We love Mira Sorvino best when she's playing a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown (although, Romy and Michele, you are unrivaled in our hearts). That's the case here, and Sorvino delivers a standout performance in this story of estranged sisters, playing against Tammy Blanchard (Moneyball) and Patti Lupone.
Backup Option:
Red Lights: This one's for the paranomal thrill-seeker. There is no Paranormal Activity follow-up coming out this summer, so fill the void with Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy (those eyes, so captivating and terrifying, all at once).
The Dark Knight Rises: Irrefutably the most anticipated movie of the year. We cannot contain our excitement for Christian Bale's final turn as Batman, but you don't really need us to tell you about it, do you?
No Backup Options, Again: Really, you were going to skip the year's most anticipated movie? We don't recommend it. Because, then, what will you talk about with your co-workers, and your friends, and on dates, for the rest of summer?
Ruby Sparks (July 25): We really loved Stranger Than Fiction. This movie seems to owe a serious debt to the former, and of course, Pygmalion as well (a young novelist, played by Paul Dano, sees a meteoric rise to fame and then watches his career plateau, and then, inspiration strikes, but his inspired new heroine turns up in his real life, in the flesh). That said, it seems promising. Also, Zoe Kazan wrote this, and we quite like her.
Backup Option:
Step Up Revolution: Yes, they made another one. And yes, it's bound to be terrible. But you kinda want to go and see the dance battle scene anyway, don't you?

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