5 Non-Blockbusters You Need to See This Summer

You may not have heard of these flicks yet, but you will.

Open Road Films

Summertime is blockbuster time. Every year, the giant money-makers are slated from May to August in hopes of box office glory. That's all well and good, but big budget films tend to block out the sun. Smaller movies get lost in the mix, ignored, and exiled to those huge box bins in the aisles of Best Buy. Not cool.

Blockbusters are a blast to see on the big screen. Obviously, people will always flock to the crazy action flicks because even if the movie sucks, the stunts and fantasy will at least look good. But what about some summer movies that will actually be worth your time without the huge action and half-dressed stars?

We've combed the 2015 summer movie schedule and found a number of smaller-budget movies you should rush to see in the coming months. They don't have the fanfare of the tentpole features, but they have something else: extreme goodness. Here are six non-blockbuster picks to seek out this Summer.

1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (June 12)

Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Connie Britton, Nick Offerman, Jon Bernthal, Molly Shannon

Winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic, and the Dramatic Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival this year, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is the sardonic answer to last year's weepy hit, The Fault in Our Stars

Revolving around a morose teen named Greg (Mann) whose parents suggest he spend time with a terminally-ill classmate, Rachel (Cooke), Me and Earl is a film about friendship more than anything else. Greg refuses to believe in it, and Rachel, along with his childhood bud, Earl (Cyler), make him face his fears of being a normal kid. The sentimental storyline, strong word of mouth, and some downright Gondry-esque home movie reboots of real films make Me and Earl and the Dying Girl one of the summer's most-promising entries.

2. Dope (June 19)

Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky, Tyga, Keith Stanfield, Casey Veggies, Vince Staples, Chanel Iman, Rick Fox, Forest Whitaker

Produced by Pharrell Williams and Sean Combs, Dope is another Sundance hit poised to win fans when it debuts June 19. Set in "The Bottoms," one of the worst neighborhoods in Inglewood, CA, the movie tells a familiar story in a new way. On one level it's an underdog story — the less popular kids become popular — and on another, it's a sharp commentary on the here and now.

Dope focuses on Malcolm, a high schooler just trying to survive his hometown while he figures out what to do with his future. Where he comes from, the SAT isn't a top priority. When he suddenly ends up with a backpack of Ecstasy, Malcolm sees trouble, but also a shortcut to Harvard if he can sell it. Unfortunately, things don't exactly work out the way he plans. 

3. The End of the Tour (July 31)

Starring: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Anna Chlumsky, Joan Cusack, Mamie Gummer, Ron Livingston

Based on David Lipsky's book, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, The End of the Tour contains the first onscreen portrayal of my generation's greatest writer, David Foster Wallace (Segel), an absolute genius who killed himself in 2008 after a long battle with depression. Obviously, a film based on any part of his life had to be created with delicate respect.

This, of course, makes The End of the Tour hugely compelling. How will the film treat Wallace? And is Jason Segel the right choice? The film takes place during Wallace's book tour for Infinite Jest when the author was just becoming famous. Jesse Eisenberg plays Lipsky and the movie works like a two-man play, the dialogue taken from actual interview transcripts. At the time, Lipsky was interviewing Wallace for Rolling Stone, but the article never ran. What happened? 

4. Grandma (Aug. 21)

Starring: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Nat Wolff, John Cho

Starring an irascible Lily Tomlin in a role that could earn her Oscar consideration, Grandma won hearts and minds at Sundance earlier this year. It's a comedic road trip drama that takes a similar approach to cross-generational dynamics that Alexander Payne took in Nebraska two years ago.

Tomlin plays Elle, a 75-year-old who's just broken up with her much younger girlfriend, a development that only enhances her acerbic view of the world. But she's forced to deal with it when her 18-year-old granddaughter (Garner, in another pregnant role after Electrick Children) shows up out of the blue looking for money for an abortion. Temporarily broke, Elle sets out with her to visit past lovers, friends, and other characters in search of $600. Directed by Paul Weitz (American Pie, Admission), expect an often funny story that leans heavily on the talents of Tomlin. 

5. Jane Got a Gun (Sept. 4)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro, Noah Emmerich

After a long pre-production process that saw directors (Lynne Ramsay) and actors (Michael Fassbender) come and go, Jane Got a Gun finally got rolling last year and will be released this September. The movie has been highly-anticipated within the industry since the script appeared on the 2011 Black List. Directed by Gavin O'Conner (Warrior), the movie is an old fashioned western, brewed in the violence and desperation of the time.

Portman stars as the title character, a frontierswoman faced with protecting her injured husband and their ranch from a ruthless gang of outlaws led by John Bishop (McGregor, in a rare villainous role). It's a story that suits O'Conner perfectly. The filmmaker has shown a talent for this type of raw, suspenseful storytelling, and the western genre seems a natural fit. His presence, and a great cast, should equal success.

5 Non-Blockbusters You Need to See This Summer
The Weinstein Company

Senior Editor at Zimbio. I'll take Johnny Clay, the Rev. Harry Powell, and Annie Savoy. You can have the rest.