Summer normally deserves its reputation for offering explosive lightweight fare, but the hot months of 2012 produced some of the best films of the year, including “The Dark Knight Returns,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “The Avengers.”
The period typically known as “awards season,” those last months leading up to the holidays and the cutoff date for Oscars, generally is packed with more thoughtful fare, but the best films of summer set a high bar for the prestige acts coming in the fall.
Just based on pedigree and buzz, autumn's offerings look stellar, including Paul Thomas Anderson's “The Master,” Disney's “Wreck-It Ralph,” the 50th anniversary James Bond entry, Rian Johnson's “Looper” and the long-awaited adaptation of David Mitchell's “Cloud Atlas.” And for viewers who cannot get that fizzy summer feeling out of their systems, the studios are rolling out a new version of “Dredd,” the final installment of “The Twilight Saga” and yet another “Resident Evil” creepfest.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick play parents whose young daughter (Natasha Calis) encounters a malicious spirit after buying an antique box at a yard sale. Billed as based on a true story, the horror-thriller carries Sam Raimi's (the “Spider-Man” and “Evil Dead” movies) production stamp.
‘Celeste and Jesse Forever'
In this comedy-drama, a couple (Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg) in the midst of a divorce try to stay friends while simultaneously seeing other people.
Director William Friedkin (“The Exorcist”) teams again with Tulsa native playwright/screenwriter Tracy Letts; the pair previously worked on the 2006 film “Bug.” In this NC-17-rated black-as-pitch comedy, a Texas drug dealer (Emile Hirsch) hires a hit man (Matthew McConaughey) to kill his mother.
‘Robot & Frank'
In the near future, a humanoid robot (voice of Peter Sarsgaard) moves in with a retired cat burglar (Frank Langella) in order to help take care of the aging man's needs. The film, which played at the 2012 deadCenter Film Festival, co-stars Oklahoma native James Marsden.
Bradley Cooper stars in a romantic drama about an up-and-coming novelist who didn't actually write his breakout book. Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Jeremy Irons and Dennis Quaid also star in the movie, which got people talking at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
‘Searching for Sugar Man'
Two South African fans go on a search for 1970s folk singer-songwriter Rodriguez, who became big in South Africa but was relatively unknown in the U.S. and was rumored to have killed himself. This documentary won the 2012 Sundance Film Festival's prestigious Special Jury Prize and World Cinema Audience Award.
‘The Cold Light of Day'
Soon-to-be Superman Henry Cavill stars as Will Shaw, a man on vacation in Spain whose family is kidnapped. Sigourney Weaver and Bruce Willis co-star in this action thriller.
Kirsten Dunst plays an overachieving maid of honor named Regan, whose best friend Becky (Rebel Wilson) is about to wed. Becky wants a tame bachelorette party, but her friends Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher) have other plans in this raunchy comedy. Oklahoma native James Marsden (“X-Men”) co-stars.
Co-starring Max von Sydow, Leelee Sobieski and Jeffrey Tambor, this sci-fi thriller is set in a dystopian near-future where corporate brands have created a disillusioned, dependent and passive populace. One man (Ed Stoppard) embarks on a mission to uncover the truth behind the conspiracy and stop it from destroying our world.
‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark: The IMAX Experience'
The cinematic classic that introduced the world to adventurous archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) rolls into IMAX theaters for an exclusive one-week engagement.
‘Finding Nemo 3D'
This Academy Award-winning film will be rereleased in a 3-D version. In the Oscar-winning 2003 Pixar film, a clown fish (voice of Albert Brooks) goes searching for his missing son.
‘Resident Evil: Retribution'
Milla Jovovich returns as Alice in the fifth installment of the sci-fi/zombie film franchise based on the video game “Resident Evil.” In “Retribution,” Alice goes worldwide in a hunt for those responsible for the outbreak of the zombie-causing virus.
Richard Gere plays Robert Miller, a hedge fund magnate attempting to sell his business before his double-dealings are uncovered. Susan Sarandon plays Miller's wife; Tim Roth is a New York police detective on Miller's case.
‘For a Good Time, Call'
Finances force straight-laced Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) and flirty Katie (Ari Graynor) to move in together, and Lauren finds out Katie is a phone-sex operator.
Recently single Jesse Fisher (Josh Radnor), in his mid-30s, goes back to his college campus to speak at the retirement dinner of his favorite professor. While there, he falls for a sophomore, Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen). Radnor directs and wrote the film; Zac Efron, Allison Janney and Richard Gleason co-star.
Karl Urban stars as the ultraviolent “judge” of Mega City One. Lionsgate hopes fans of the violent comic like this more than the 1995 Sylvester Stallone-Rob Schneider version. Lena Headey and Olivia Thirlby co-star; “Dredd” co-creator John Wagner consulted.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the founder of a faith-based group in the post-World War II era, and two-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix is a Navy veteran who becomes enthralled with the charismatic leader in this drama. Amy Adams, Lara Dern and Jesse Plemons co-star.
‘Trouble With the Curve'
Clint Eastwood comes out of his acting retirement to star as Gus, an aging baseball scout who may be losing his touch. Needing insight on a hot prospect in the draft, Gus takes his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) on a scouting trip, potentially putting her legal career in jeopardy. Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Robert Patrick and Matthew Lillard also star.
‘End of Watch'
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena play Los Angeles police officers in a found-footage-style film set in south-central L.A.
‘House at the End of the Street'
“The Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence co-stars with Elisabeth Shue, who plays her mom, in the horror thriller. The film takes place when the two move to a new town, across the street from a house where a double murder occurred.
This film follows a group of friends at their 10-year high school reunion, including Jake (Channing Tatum), who's about to propose to his girlfriend (Jenna Dewan-Tatum), until running into his high school ex (Rosario Dawson). Chris Pratt, Justin Long, Oscar Isaac and Kate Mara co-star.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Joe, a time-traveling hired gun, in this sci-fi action-thriller in which time travel is possible, but illegal. When criminal organizations want to make someone disappear, their targets are sent to the past, where they encounter specialized assassins known as “loopers.” Joe is a successful looper until one day he sees himself staring into the face of his next target — and it's himself, 30 years older. Bruce Willis plays the older Joe.