The Start-of-Summer Movie List: 10 Must Sees

Mickey Sumner and Greta Gerwig in ‘Frances Ha’/Photo © IFC Films
Mickey Sumner and Greta Gerwig in ‘Frances Ha’/Photo © IFC Films

Wondering what to do with yourself at this moment as springtime makes its way to summer? If you’re looking for a little balance to your barbecue, a little air-conditioning to offset the summer sun, Signature offers you these, our picks from the already blossoming summer film season. From the blockbuster megamovie to the quirky-but-touching indie, we think we have something for each and every one of you.

For the Undying Romantic: “Before Midnight”
Richard Linklater resurrects his ongoing tale of fated love with “Before Midnight,” which revisits Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), who we first met in 1995’s “Before Sunrise.” In (what we think might be the conclusion to) the ongoing saga, we find Celine and Jesse in Greece – not so far off but a world away from their initial rendezvous in Vienna. Rotten Tomatoes gives “Before Midnight” a whopping 97%, proving that Linklater’s series has stood the test of time.

For the Soul-Searching Individual: “Frances Ha”
In the quirky, touching, and unexpected “Frances Ha,” Greta Gerwig as Frances charms audiences – and to a certain extent the people in her circle – in this independent film by Noah Baumbach, of “The Squid and the Whale” and “Greenberg” dark-comedy fame. If you’re looking for a movie that inspires and invigorates, and also justifies your quest for the life you’ve always dreamed of, this is it. Rotten Tomatoes shows a 93% critic score and a 95% audience score. And with substantial roles by Grace Gummer and Adam Driver (of “Girls”) to boot, grab your bestie and get yourself to a theater.

For the Thrill-Seeker: “Fast and Furious 6”
“Fast and Furious 6”? Really? Six? Yes. And audiences are eating it up. Adrenaline, speed, action, comedy, Vin Diesel, The Rock, and bad-ass Michelle Rodriguez will keep you on the edge of your seat. In this sixth installment, director Justin Lin has run with the formula that works; Rotten Tomatoes shows an audience score of 95% – a bit above what the critics thought. And apparently its reception was enough to move plans for a seventh installment into development.

For the Eternal Frat Boy: “The Hangover III”
Though it’s not been well-received by critics, audiences on Rotten Tomatoes gave “The Hangover III” a fairly decent score of 88%. Should this encourage or discourage you from seeing it? Well, with the triple threat of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis, you can expect mindless entertainment and heaps of irreverence. If you’re looking to laugh and be grossed out in equal turns, check it out – and we’re also told this is your last real chance to see the Wolf Pack on the big screen.

For the Conspiracy Theory Curious: “We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks”
Julian Assange has been in and out of headlines for years thanks to his work on the notoriously applauded and notoriously despised website Wikileaks. In this thrilling documentary, director Alex Gibney (“Magic Trip,” “Client 9,” “Enron”) sets his camera on the creation and astounding rise of Wikileaks. From the first big breach of security to and through Assange’s evolution as a media celebrity, Gibney offers what is one of the most thorough exposes of one of the U.S. government’s biggest adversaries.

For Undying Fans of the Zombie Apocalypse: “World War Z”
If you’re not a) terrified of zombies or b) tired of zombies, then this latest rendition of the zombie apocalypse is just the wild ride you're probably looking for. Brad Pitt stars as UN employee Gerry Lane just as the zombies land (or, more appropriately, arise) across the globe. As Lane tries to save the world and also save his family, gore, action, and the walking dead ensue. The adaptation-experienced Marc Forster (“Stranger Than Fiction,” “The Kite Runner”) directs this highly anticipated take on the novel by Max Brooks.

For the Nostalgic: “Tiger Eyes”
Fans of Judy Blume have been waiting for one of her novels to get the silver-screen movie adaptation treatment for what feels like eons. In the case of “Tiger Eyes,” it’s been thirty-two years to be exact. Ms. Blume has teamed up with her son, Lawrence, to bring her story of teen girl Davey Wexler, who moves with her family from Atlantic City to New Mexico after the tragic death of her father, to theaters – much to the delight of teen girls and not-still-teen girls everywhere. Willa Holland takes on the role of Davey and the movie hits theaters June 7.

For the Sensitive Type: “Stories We Tell”
Sarah Polley first caught our attention as an actress in 2003’s stunning “My Life Without Me.” Since, we’ve been keeping tabs on her and were excited to see her shift her talents behind the camera and take a seat in the director’s chair. Her latest film is the sort-of-documentary “Stories We Tell,” in which Polley examines the narratives that shape a family – and how they differ based on perspective. Out of the candid interviews with various members of her own family, arises a portrait of one woman who is no longer around for an interview: Polley's late mother.

For the Totally Out There: “Star Trek Into Darkness”
J.J. Abrams, perhaps best known for the television show “Alias,” builds on his legacy with this newest piece of the “Star Trek” franchise. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto have reprised their roles as Captain Kirk and Mister Spock, respectively – and man, we’re glad they did. Abrams does a great job with his second dip into the “Star Trek” universe – but ultimately it’s Pine and Quinto that are happy he's back with more. If you like your entertainment with a touch of retro and a heap of special effects, beam yourself up.

And for those of you who prefer to keep things indoors – in your doors, specifically – here's the home-viewing suggestion we're most ecstatic (yes -- ecstatic) about.

“Arrested Development Season 4”
If you were lucky enough in the early aughts to find your way to the brilliantly funny sitcom created by Mitchell Hurwitz, your calendar was marked ages ago for the return of Michael, Gob, Buster, Lindsay, and the rest of the Bluth family. Called by some "the greatest show you weren’t watching," “Arrested Development” shut down shop after its third season in 2006 – but now it’s back in the fanatically anticipated fourth season -- available all at once thanks to Netflix. Bonus for those who’ve not yet come to the series: You can catch up on the first three seasons on-demand on Netflix, too.