The 10 Best Movies in Theaters (June 2016)

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The 10 Best Movies in Theaters (June 2016)

The best new movies playing in theaters this month include the latest from Pixar, an O.J. Simpson documentary, a Korean horror film, a Jane Austen adaptation and a Marvel Comics blockbuster. So visit your local art-house theater or megaplex chain, buy a tub of popcorn and settle in with these 10 recommended movies.

And if you’d rather stay home, check out Paste’s in-depth movie guides, including Netflix, HBO, Amazon, Showtime, Redbox and movies on demand.

Here are the 10 best movies in theaters right now:

10. The Meddler


Release Date: April 22
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Let it be said, right off the bat, that Susan Sarandon is magnificent as doting, well-intentioned mother Marnie Minervini in The Meddler, infusing the character with magnetism while still allowing us to grasp the neediness that fuels her behavior, for better and for worse. But Sarandon’s triumph here would not be possible without a screenplay that gives her plenty to work with. Even among films like this that style themselves as “character studies”—films that deign to closely observe a character’s behavior in order to get at his/her perhaps inexplicable psychological essence—the sheer amount of detail in writer/director Lorene Scafaria’s script is astonishing. Some of that attention to detail can be heard in Scafaria’s dialogue, both directly and implicitly. Marnie isn’t exactly the type of person to say what she truly means and feels. In the film’s opening scene—when Marnie is heard in voiceover talking about settling into her new Los Angeles surroundings, the images often contradicting her descriptions—one can already tell we’re in the presence of someone who is overcompensating for some inner pain. Gradually we get a sense of the source of that pain: chiefly, the recent loss of her long-time husband, Joe, which she deals with by basically becoming charitable to an extreme degree toward others, including her not-always-welcoming daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne), who herself is also dealing with the emotional fallout from a recent breakup. The result is a character portrait of genuine complexity.—Kenji Fujishima / Full review

9. The Nice Guys


Release Date: May 20
Director: Shane Black
Good performances can polish average movies with just enough elbow grease they end up looking like gems. Think Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, or Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Every advance that Shane Black’s The Nice Guys takes toward quality is made on the strengths of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Black is as quick with action scenes as with punchlines. The Nice Guys is funny. It’s exciting. If you find yourself growing tired of wordplay, Black will turn things around and slide in some Three Stooges slapstick. If you get tired of that, he’ll set off a gun or throw a few punches, though it is impossible to imagine anybody finding the clownish sight of Gosling tumbling off of balconies or crashing through plate glass tiresome. Gosling and Crowe are a great pair, so great that their team-up should justify funding for a buddy picture series where Holland and Jackson undertake jobs that spiral out of hand and above their pay grades. Crowe plays it straight and grumpy, and you half expect him to declare that he’s too old for this shit at any given moment. Gosling, on the other hand, shapes Holland through boozy tomfoolery and pratfalls. They’re a standout odd couple, but Black’s films are defined by great odd couples as much as they are by great scripting. In The Nice Guys, he leaves it up to Gosling and Crowe to use the former to fill in the gaps left behind by the lack of the latter.—Andy Crump / Full review

8. Jungle Book


Release Date: April 15
Directors: Jon Favreau
Jon Favreau’s new real-world re-imagining of the classic Disney animated film melds two cornerstones of the diretor’s career: venturing into the digital frontier, and having the courage to be warm. The curtain rises on the computer-generated animal kingdom as the camera pans across one of The Jungle Book’s many breathtaking virtual sets, which were built after recording the raw footage in an empty Los Angeles warehouse. Essentially, on set, actors in motion-capture suits ran around with Neel Sethi, who makes his movie debut as Mowgli, in front of blue and green screens. Where the level of technology in The Jungle Book has historically been used for maximizing the wow factor in Michael Bay explosion-packed action flicks, Favreau makes the case for special effects that actually affect. The Jungle Book hits the ground running as Mowgli darts through the grass and up trees, sharpening his survival skills through various flight techniques (fighting obviously not available to him). Sethi, 12, is the only truly live-action element of the movie, and carries the physically demanding role with both childlike charisma and the saucy attitude of an adolescent.—Melissa Weller / Full review

7. The Wailing


Release Date: June 3
Director: Na Hong-jin
The U.S. title of Na Hong-jin’s new film, The Wailing, suggests tone more than it does sound. There is wailing to be heard here, yes, and plenty of it, but in two words Na coyly predicts his audience’s reaction to the movie’s grim tableaus of a county in spiritual strife. Though The Wailing ostensibly falls in the “horror” bin, Na trades in doubt and especially despair more than in what we think of as “horror.” He isn’t out to terrify us. He’s out to corrode our souls, much in the same way that his protagonist’s faith is corroded after being subject to both divine and infernal tests over the course of the film. You may not leave the theater scared, but you will leave it scarred, which is by far a more substantive response than naked fear. Not that there isn’t enough horror in The Wailing to make our skin crawl, our stomachs churn, our eyes pinch shut. This is an incredibly creepy and oft-unsettling film, but Na finds the tug of disbelief far more upsetting than the sight of bodies cut apart and blood splattering the wall. What do you do when your holy authority figures fail you? What do you do when you can’t trust your perception? Na has made these ideas his film’s full purpose, and his conclusions are devastatingly bleak. Na denies us easy closure right up until his final, chilling shot. Gone are the film’s macabre sense of slapstick and its acknowledgment of adult ennui. All that remains is pure shock, not the kind that makes you jump out of your seat but rather the kind that keeps you glued there. In The Wailing, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in evil or not. Evil believes in you.—Andy Crump / Full review

6. Captain America: Civil War


Release Date: May 6
Directors: Joe & Anthony Russo
In my review of the first Avengers movie, I said Joss Whedon’s blockbuster represented “the most complete manifestation of the superhero team aesthetic yet seen on film.” Four years later, we have a new champion in the category of “best team film.” The way in which Captain America: Civil War brings together a dozen or so heroes, sorts them into not one but two teams and then flings them at each other is its own special delight for comic book fans long accustomed to such things on the printed or digital page. Civil War maintains the same balance of action and significant (if brief) character development/interaction that made Winter Soldier so enjoyable. The fight and chase scenes are frenetic without being confusing, while the comic relief, mostly supplied by our bug-themed heroes, provides a Whedon-flavored lightening of the otherwise dark proceedings. If one thinks of the each MCU film as a juggling act—and each hero’s origin, “flavor” and power set as its own subset of items that must be kept in motion and in proper relation with each other—then as a series both Avengers films and Captain America: Civil War can be seen as an escalation of the routine that’s as impressive as it is necessary. After all, with each additional hero added, with each additional demand placed on the script in both action and dialogue, Kevin Feige and company are building toward Infinity.—Michael Burgin / Full review

5. Finding Dory


Release Date: June 17
Directors: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Finding Dory picks up a year after the events of the 2003 Disney-Pixar blockbuster Finding Nemo. The adorably bumbling blue tang Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is still best friends and the third wheel to clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence), testing their patience on a daily basis. But this is fully Dory’s tale, as she searches for her parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy) and finds herself in the process. Finding Dory is the rare sequel that repurposes the original as a character foundation rather than as a cheap form of fan service. What could have been an easy cash-in becomes something surprising—a follow-up that reaches new emotional depths.—Michael Snydel

4. Weiner


Release Date: May 20
Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
“Why did you let me film this?” This simple question, posed at the end of Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s Weiner, is as baffling to the movie’s subject as it is to everyone else. Anthony Weiner gave a documentary crew incredible behind-the-scenes access to his 2013 New York mayoral campaign while his political career crumbled and his personal life turned to a shambles. He campaigned on (and the crew filmed on), refusing to acknowledge that he sunk himself by making the exact same mistake that sunk his career years earlier—maybe because he’s an egotist and couldn’t bear being out of the spotlight, or maybe because he’s an idealist, believing that people would see past his online indiscretions and vote based on his ideas. Or maybe he’s nothing more than a self-destructive glutton for punishment. Whatever the truth, the public will remember Weiner for his scandals, which fell from the sky like a host of divine gifts to late-night comedy. Directors Kriegman and Steinberg so superbly convey the sweeping excitement Weiner could generate that it makes things all the more depressing when he can’t even get five percent of the vote. The movie shifts from energetic editing, showing people’s love for the candidate, to a claustrophobic, drawn-out humiliation. If the filmmakers had an agenda besides studying Weiner’s character, they did a great job of hiding it. Weiner shows many facets of his personality: He can be charming and funny, but he can also be a petulant, entitled jerk. The veneer wears off as the stress mounts, making things increasingly uncomfortable—it’s excruciating to watch this man try to salvage respect from certain humiliation, but it makes for a devilishly intimate look into the madness of modern politics.—Jeremy Mathews / Full review

3. The Lobster


Release Date: May 13
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
The Lobster presents a baffling vision of the future, where baffling people do baffling things and obey baffling laws. But through all the movie’s idiosyncrasies shines a beautiful and devastating examination of the human condition. Co-writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) creates a vivid reality and trusts the audience to put the pieces together and deduce the rules of this strange society. Colin Farrell plays a newly single man who checks into a resort hotel/prison where he must find a mate within 45 days or be turned into an animal. In this future, conversation has become mechanical and stilted, but that doesn’t stop the cast—especially Farrell and Rachel Weisz—from communicating a great deal of emotions through their mannered performances.—Tim Grierson / Full review

2. Sing Street


Release Date: March 17
Director: John Carney
John Carney’s 2007 film Once was a surprising hit. Filmed for less than $200,000, the film grossed nearly $10 million in the U.S. alone thanks to the charm oozing from the story, its two unnamed lead characters and the music they perform. Carney’s latest—which follows a young Irishman in the 1980s trying to start a band and win the heart of a girl—delivers the same level of charm and much more humor. Newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo plays Cosmo, a student at the grim and oppressive Synge Street School, who’s struggling to find his identity while his parents (played by Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy) argue continuously. Jack Reynor is hilarious as his older stoner brother Brendan, Lucy Boynton gives Raphina a depth in a role that could easily have just been stock ’80s heartthrob, and Walsh-Peelo’s bandmates provide another top-notch soundtrack. Sing Street is a sweet, heart-on-its-sleeve coming-of-age movie with just enough edge not to drift into overly sentimental territory.—Josh Jackson / Full review

1. Love & Friendship


Release Date: May 13
Director: Whit Stillman
Whit Stillman has captured Jane Austen at her most gleefully wicked. The writer-director distills the acidic wit of Austen’s novel Lady Susan into a string of endless delights. (Stillman said the author was channeling Oscar Wilde before Wilde was born.) Kate Beckinsale absolutely nails the part of Susan, who is scheming and manipulative yet possesses a bold ingenuity that makes her difficult to dislike. Unabashed narcissism goes well with a sharp tongue, so long as you’re watching from a distance. If Beckinsale weren’t so good, Tom Bennett would steal the show as a mentally vacant suitor who is “a bit of a rattle.”—Jeremy Mathews / Full review

Coming Soon:

Free State of Jones – June 24
Independence Day: Resurgence – June 24
Hunt for the Wilderpeople – June 24
Right Now, Wrong Then – June 24
Swiss Army Man – June 24
Weiner-Dog – June 24
The BFG – July 1
The Legend of Tarzan – July 1
The Secret Life of Pets – July 1
Captain Fantastic – July 8
Ghostbusters – July 15
Star Trek Beyond – July 22