One of the most anticipated movies of the summer opens this weekend. Besides Star Trek Into Darkness, that is. It’s called Frances Ha, and it’s the latest from Noah Baumbach, writer and director of The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding as well as cowriter of the Wes Anderson films Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. And it stars and is cowritten by his girlfriend, indie darling Greta Gerwig, who previously collaborated with the filmmaker on Greenberg. With stellar reviews and otherwise strong buzz since its festival appearances at Telluride, Toronto and New York last fall, it’s long been a dependable film to look forward to.
Many of the summer’s small movies, the counterprogramming alternatives to tentpoles like Star Trek and all the superhero pics, are similarly sure things. They’re festival successes, having previously garnered critical love and/or awards. Maybe this week you caught the first trailer for Fruitvale Station, which impressively won both the jury and audience prizes at Sundance in January. Other Sundance hits you hopefully have on your radar include The Kings of Summer, The Spectacular Now, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Twenty Feet from Stardom and The Way, Way Back, all of which land in theaters over the next few months.
Ironically enough, one of the small movies with big expectations is directed by The Avengers helmer Joss Whedon — the modernized Shakespeare adaptation Much Ado About Nothing. Another is a long-awaited sequel that fans have been trying to stay spoiler-free on: Richard Linklater’s Before Midnght, which opens next week. Again, both of these already have been well-received by critics and fest-goers.
Some of the nonblockbusters we’re looking forward to are not certainties just yet, however. Only God Forgives, the Drive follow-up from Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling, is about to have its premiere at Cannes next week. And we’re only today beginning to see full reactions to The Bling Ring, which debuted at the same festival this morning.
For me, the one small movie I’m most eager to see is The Act of Killing, a documentary copresented by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris that is completely stunning audiences and critics so far. It’s my main reason for being jealous of fest attendees of the past nine months and I can’t wait to see it for myself. Other nonfiction films that people are excited about include Blackfish, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, Cutie and the Boxer, Far Out Isn’t Far Enough, Dirty Wars and, sure why not, One Direction: This Is Us. I may not be a fan of the boy band, but I am anxious to see what director Morgan Spurlock does with his first concert film.
Which smaller movie are you most anticipating this summer?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter: