Summer Movies: An Official Guide to the Non-Blockbusters, From Plus One to Ready or Not

We can’t let the superhero franchises and family-friendly animated flicks have all the fun this summer.

The Farewell - Still 1
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

On the lineup of summer movies to keep on your radar this year—including Men in Black: International, Spider-Man: Far From Home, The Lion King, and Toy Story 4—there is certainly no shortage of blockbusters. These big-budget movies are sure to make bank at the box office and generate enough memes and fan theories online to keep people busy for the next few months. But, we can’t let the superhero franchises and family-friendly animated flicks have all the fun this summer—especially when there are plenty of underrated smaller films to see, too.

Here, six character-driven indie comedies, horror tales, and acclaimed festival films that are not necessarily guaranteed to be blockbusters that still deserve your attention at the theater this summer.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

When The Last Black Man in San Francisco premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January, it was almost instantly revered as a critical darling. Based on the true story of Jimmie Fails, the film follows Jimmie as he and his best friend Mont dream of reclaiming Jimmie’s grandfather’s Victorian home in San Francisco.

When you can see it: June 7

Plus One

If you’re a fan of PEN15, you can rejoice this summer when Maya Erskine (one of the show’s stars and co-creators) appears on the big screen opposite Jack Quaid in Plus One. The film follows two single best friends who realize they have finally hit the year in their life when seemingly everyone they know is getting married. The duo devises a plan to team up to be each other’s wedding dates for each ceremony to help each other get through the end of the year. There’s also a quick PEN15 reunion when Anna Konkle shows up during one funny scene in the film.

When you can see it: June 14

American Woman

Sienna Miller steps into the role of a mother on the lookout when her teen daughter (played by Sky Ferreira) goes missing in rural Pennsylvania. Christina Hendricks, Amy Madigan, and Aaron Paul co-star in Jake Scott’s third feature film.

When you can see it: June 14


Ari Aster’s highly anticipated follow-up to Hereditary stars Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor as a couple who travels to rural Sweden for a traditional folk festival. Things go south, however, once they get there, and realize they may be embroiled in a pagan cult. As far as horror films go, Midsommar will probably be unlike anything you’ve seen before.

When you can see it: July 3

The Farewell

You can finally see the 2019 Sundance film that had everybody talking about Awkwafina: The Farewell. In Lulu Wang’s semi-autobiographical second feature film, Awkwafina stars as Billi, a Chinese-American woman who visits Changchun to see her grandmother live out her final days. However, there’s a caveat: Billi’s extended family has decided not to let their matriarch know she only has a few more weeks left to live. Everybody knows about Awkwafina’s comedic chops (just watch Crazy Rich Asians or Ocean’s 8 to get a taste), but The Farewell had critics praising her dramatic performance when the film had its world premiere in January.

When you can see it: July 12

Ready or Not

Samara Weaving in Ready or Not

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Samara Weaving stars as a young woman who joins her in-laws (played by Andie MacDowell, Adam Brody, and Henry Czerny) for a sinister family game night.

When you can see it: August 23

Related: What is Midsommar Even About?