It’s a huge summer for movies. And, yes, that could be said of every summer, but there’s something about 2018. Don’t believe us? Check out the box office receipts. Or check out our summer movie calendar: It’s stuffed full of superheroes and dinosaurs and super spies and master thieves and even the occasional person falling head over heels in love. And it’s stuffed full of big stars — and stars who are about to make it big. This year, we decided to look at the slate of summer movies coming our way and, based on what we’ve already seen (yes, they still let RT into the occasional preview!), and what we’re reading in the movie-season tealeaves (including early Tomatometer scores and reviews), predict which actors are going to own the summer. Some are the headliners of some of the year’s biggest films — while others are headlining a bunch of the year’s biggest films (we’re looking at you, Josh Brolin). Still others are delivering performances in genre flicks that are already drawing awards buzz, and others are about to parlay TV success into a big-screen breakthrough (Constance Wu, step right up). We think you’ll be talking about all of them by the time the season’s over.
Winter, spring, Brolin, or fall, all you got to do is call. Thought the season was called “summer”? Maybe once upon a time it was. But we’ve decided to totally rebrand the sweaty months of this year after Josh Brolin, who has starring roles in some of the season’s biggest films. He’s racked up Certified Fresh scores playing Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Cable in Deadpool 2, and returns in June for Sicario: Day of the Soldado. Think you’re safe at home? Think again. This summer, you can also see him in Netflix’s The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, the latest comedy from Danny McBride and Jody Hill. Brolin will be back next summer as the rubber-chinned Mad Titan — you know, if you’re craving more of that ashtray-filling bastard. That’s a bunch of tough fellas, so if you’re looking for a softer side to Brolin, you will have to wait for George and Tammy, in pre-production, where he plays George Jones to Jessica Chastain’s Tammy Wynette.
It’s been a while. Sandra Bullock’s last live-action movie, 2015’s Our Brand Is Crisis, might have been a let-down — just 34% on the Tomatometer — but that has not dampened our excitement to have her back on the big screen in Ocean’s 8, the all-female newest installment in the Ocean’s heist series. Bullock chooses her roles sparingly, but when she does show up on screen, it’s usually always an event (hello, Gravity). The Oscar winner leads the Ocean’s 8 ensemble cast, which includes Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, and more, but it’s Bullock who we think the crowds are going to go wild for. Bonus: She may just rule the winter, too. Bullock stars with Rosa Salazar and Sarah Paulson this December in the sci-fi thriller, Bird Box.
Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian dominated social chatter around Solo: A Star Wars Story long before the film’s release. Glover-loving Twitter folks have been asking, “Why wasn’t it Lando who got an origin story?” ever since Disney dropped its first Solo trailer earlier in the year and the world got its first eyeful of that coat. Rotten Tomatoes has seen the upcoming movie, which is currently sitting at 71% on the Tomatometer, and can confirm: Glover is as good as you imagined he’d be as the slick Lando Calrissian. And, yes, the coat is on point. As are the cloaks. Glover is also the Emmy-winning creator and star of Atlanta, which was No. 2 on our Winter TV Scorecard with a 99% Tomatometer score, and which many of us will be rewatching when it’s too damn hot outside. And this month he broke the internet — the kids are still saying that, right? — with his music video for “This Is America.” Next year he will literally rule the summer, starring as Simba in Jon Favreau’s live-action The Lion King, scheduled for July.
You know how some actresses just keep plugging away doing such excellent work you kind of take them for granted? Australian actress Toni Collette is that actress. Since breaking out in Aussie classic Muriel’s Wedding — which we just named one of the most essential movies of the ’90s — Collette has been slaying it in movies like Little Miss Sunshine, In Her Shoes, and About A Boy and on TV shows like United States of Tara, for which she won an Emmy. She’s also been building a résumé as quite the scream queen, having starred in The Sixth Sense, Fright Night, Krampus, and now, in this June’s Hereditary, the fiendishly scary new family-in-peril flick being released by A24. The movie is sitting at 100% on the Tomatometer with 29 reviews, and critics are singling out Collette for a “staggering performance.” Could this be the second year in a row that an acting Oscar nominee came from a horror movie?
Few people agree on who stole the show in Avengers: Infinity War, but few would argue with the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange totally held his own with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in the humans-lost-in-space plotline. He had charisma, wit, and felt even more relaxed in the role than he did in 2016’s Doctor Strange. And he probably holds the key to restoring the… OK, we won’t go there with the spoilers. On the small-screen, the British actor landed a one-two punch with April PBS film The Child in Time (80% with 15 reviews) and his now–Certified Fresh miniseries Patrick Melrose on Showtime, a passion project based on the novels of Edward St. Aubyn, about the damaged son of an extremely privileged British family. The prolific actor returns later in the year as the voice of Shere Khan in the Andy Serkis–directed Mowgli, and as the title character of Illumination’s animated take on a Christmas classic, The Grinch. And there’s always hope for a new season of Sherlock, starring Cumberbatch in the role our readers love the most.
Yes, Fred Rogers: Summer blockbuster season’s biggest star. The documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which takes an intimate look at the beloved children’s entertainer, may not make that MCU-level cash, but it’s already connecting big-time. Critics have so far given the film a 96% on the Tomatometer, and the internet exploded on the day the first trailer dropped, with fans across the country drying their eyes as they shared stories of how much they loved Rogers. The Rogers love-fest will continue next year, when Tom Hanks plays Rogers in the film, You Are My Friend. We’re investing in red cardigans, stat.
For four years, Constance Wu has been quietly stealing Wednesday nights on ABC as the hilarious matriarch of the Huang family, Jessica, on Fresh Off the Boat — just renewed for season 5. This summer, she headlines one of the most anticipated romantic comedies of the last few years, starring as one half of the couple at the center of Crazy Rich Asians, based on the hugely popular novel by Kevin Kwan. In the film, Wu’s Rachel Chu travels to Singapore for a wedding and to meet her boyfriend’s parents, and hilarity — and fireworks-punctuated romance — ensues. No word yet on whether the film does the novel justice, but we’re excited to see Wu in her first big-screen leading role and equally excited that we get to see her take this big step in the first American film with an all-Asian lead cast in 25 years.
Denzel Washington has never done a sequel. Ever. So we sat up and paid attention when it was announced he would return for Equalizer 2, from his frequent collaborator, director Antoine Fuqua. The first flick is just Fresh at 60%, but for fans of the actor, it will always be Certified Fresh in their hearts (no surprises that it has an Audience Score of 76%). The movie also made a healthy $102 million at the box office, so you can expect decent returns. Denzel in controlled and terrifying revenge mode might be our favorite Denzel. On a sidenote, Denzel’s son, John David Washington, is likely to be a breakout star this summer with a starring role in Spike Lee’s BlackKlansman, which just bowed in Cannes to raves and sits at 97% on the Tomatometer.
Disappointed that Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie did not show up in Infinity War? Dry your eyes: The actress can be seen virtually everywhere else. She’s back on HBO in Westworld and does a cameo in season 2 of Netflix series Dear White People (a nod to her leading role in the original 2014 film) — both Certified Fresh. And you can see her online in the “emotion film” accompaniment to Janelle Monáe’s latest album, Dirty Computer. And, if you wanna go there, you can see her on the excellent Twitter handle @tessaasgoats. Thompson will also be back in theaters this July in the big-screen mindf—k that is Sorry to Bother You (currently 92% on the Tomatometer), about a telemarketer who discovers a unique key to doing well at the job. Thompson plays Detroit, a whirlwind of an activist with pink hair and huge laser-cut earrings whose style we expect to be widely imitated when the film opens, and is being singled out by critics for her performance in the movie opposite Atlanta‘s LaKeith Stanfield. Later in the year she will land another 2018 K.O., returning in Creed 2.
Whether or not you agree that Star-Lord is responsible for the death of half the universe — or restoring perfect balance, depending on your POV — you have to admit it was a blast watching him doing it. Chris Pratt, as Peter Quill, was one of the highlights in Infinity War, particularly when facing off (and voicing off) with the God of Thunder. The actor is back in June as another quip-happy hero in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, seeking out his lovable raptor buddy Blue (not so lovable any more) and running away from exploding volcanoes and such. For sheer being-at-the-center-of-really-really-big-franchises, it’s hard not to give Pratt a laurel for his summer-ownership skills. And speaking of mega franchises, he will reprise his role as blocky everyman Emmet Brickowski in The Lego Movie Sequel next February.