All year we dream of the luxury of summer nights: bonfires, pool parties, long sunset walks, barbecues, baseball games. Summer is also the season of movies—nights out for the newest blockbuster (and tubs of popcorn), nights in with Netflix and a cozy blanket in the A/C. This year, we've compiled five of the best new releases and new streaming options for your summer viewing pleasure.
1. Friday Night Lights (full series streaming on Netflix)
If you're looking for a TV series to binge-watch on a rainy day, look no further than Friday Night Lights. If you've held out this long because "it's a football show," be assured: this is not a show about football. It's about family, and marriage, and love, and growing up, and life in a small town that, yes, happens to be obsessed with high school football. I have never met anyone who regretted jumping in to this five-season series—or anyone who didn't plow through the entire thing in surprisingly short order. Bonus: Connie Britton's Tami Taylor is one of the most complete female characters of the past decade, and her marriage with Kyle Chandler's Coach Eric Taylor is one of the best ever captured on screen.
2. 20 Feet from Stardom (streaming on Netflix)
This documentary, which won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, tells the story of the backup singers of the 1950s and '60s and the legends they support. You may remember the rousing impromptu performance of "His Eye Is On the Sparrow" by Darlene Love during the acceptance speech for that award, and the standing ovation it elicited from the A-list crowd; that was a small glimpse of the world the film explores. Gospel music and church plays a large role in the lives and careers of these women who made significant contributions to many of the great rock and roll hits, and their Christian faith is a common source of hope and inspiration as they process their pasts and move forward with their futures.
3. Maleficent (wide release May 30th)
In the absence of a Pixar or animated Disney release, Maleficent is the big family movie of the summer. Angelina Jolie (with the help of prosthetic cheekbones) plays the title character in this "untold" origin story of the iconic Sleeping Beauty villain—the "Wicked" of the Disney universe. If Lana Del Rey's haunting version of "Once Upon a Dream" that plays over the trailer is any indication, this one will be a haunting spin on a beloved fairy tale.
4. Get On Up (wide release August 1st)
The next in a line of music biopics that includes Walk the Line and Ray, Get On Up tells the story of the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown, and how he rose from extreme poverty to worldwide superstardom. Directed by Tate Taylor (who directed The Help) and with a stellar cast that includes Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, as well as Chadwick Boseman (who played Jackie Robinson in 42) as James Brown, this film is sure to feature stunning performances and infectious musical numbers that will make you want to get up and dance.
5. The Hundred-Foot Journey (wide release August 8th)
Helen Mirren stars in this film, based on a novel by the same name that was selected by Oprah as a favorite summer read in 2010. Mirren plays the proprietress of a Michelin-starred French restaurant whose world is upset when a resettled Indian family opens a restaurant across the street. It has a drool-worthy setting (the food culture of France), an admirable subject matter (cultural coexistence and exchange), and respectable pedigree (it was produced by Winfrey and Steven Spielberg), so you can expect a light-hearted but meaningful tour through the South of France.