From Memorial Day to Labor Day, movie lovers get the usual assortment of big, things-go-boom blockbusters and I.P. franchise extensions — your sequels, your prequels, your Chapter 117 of the Ongoing, Endlessly Metastasizing Marvel Cinematic Universe Saga. This summer isn’t any different, with everything from a new Top Gun movie (finally!) to a new Thor entry, the origin story of Buzz Lightyear to the final entry in the Jurassic World trilogy. Ever wanted to see Brad Pitt shoot up a train full of assassins or learn about the adventures of Superman’s dog? You’re in luck, folks!
But pull back a bit to see the bigger picture, and you’ll notice there’s actually a wider variety of stuff to check out besides the usual superheroes and brand-name characters you know and love. For the next three months, you’ll also get some family-friendly comedies, costume dramas, tender romances, big-deal biopics, triumph-of-the-underdog sports stories, genuinely creepy horror movies, docs on subjects ranging from Leonard Cohen’s best-known song to a longstanding love affair between volcanologists, not one but two Idris Elba joints and a few things that genuinely defy description but are definitely worth your attention.
Here are the 40 movies you should be paying attention to — and seeing in an honest-to-goodness theater; the bigger the screen, the better — this summer. There’s something here for everybody.