The 10 Must-See Movies of July

It's only the end of June, but it's already clear that one of the best things about this summer movie season is how many options there are: massive, big-budget blockbusters; sweet, tiny, indies; smart feminist comedies; thought-provoking YA dramas. These past few months, there've been films to fit every type of moviegoer, and, in a happy surprise, a whole lot of them have been good. Except for a few expected disasters ( A Million Ways , you had it coming), most of the movies that've been released in May and June, no matter the genre, have been genuinely great. So far, at least where movies are concerned, summer 2014 has been pretty fantastic.

And the next month looks like it'll be even better. July promises a ton of must-see movies, from quiet, musical dramas like Begin Again to big, loud comedies like Tammy . Everything a moviegoer could want is packed into this month, and while a few of the offerings still have us a little nervous — really, does anyone know what Earth to Echo is about? — the vast majority just have us hugely excited. The 10 movies you won't want to miss this July:

Begin Again (Jul. 2)

About: The musical collaboration between a singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley) and a former record company exec (Mark Ruffalo).

Starring: Knightley, Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Catherine Keener, and Hailee Steinfeld.

Why See It: It's a sweet, uplifting movie with likable actors and a gorgeous soundtrack. Sure, it's not the highest-quality movie you'll see this summer, but it will be one of the most enjoyable.

Tammy (Jul. 2)

About: A struggling woman (Melissa McCarthy) who embarks on a road trip with her hard-partying grandmother (Susan Sarandon).

Starring: McCarthy, Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Allison Janney, Mark Duplass, Nat Faxon, Sandra Oh, Dan Aykroyd, Toni Colette...

Why See It: Um, that cast. Even without it, though, Tammy is a Melissa McCarthy movie, and that's almost never a bad idea.

Life Itself (Jul. 4)

About: The life and career of Roger Ebert, the beloved film critic who passed away last year.

Starring: Ebert, with appearances by Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Ava DuVernay, and many more.

Why See It: Ebert led a remarkable life, and the movie got huge standing ovations when it premiered at film festivals. This will be a tearjerker, yes, but worth it completely.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Jul. 11)

About: The growing war between angry, genetically evolved apes and the last human survivors of a decade-old deadly virus.

Starring: Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, and Judy Greer.

Why See It: The first movie was pretty good, and the sequel's been getting great reviews. Dawn is being hailed as a thinking man's blockbuster — and in a time when most of the big-budget movies released are pretty damn terrible, that's reason to celebrate.

Boyhood (Jul. 18)

About: The life — girl troubles, parental separations, teenage rebellions — of a boy (Ellar Coltrane) as he ages from childhood to college.

Starring: Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Lorelai Linklater.

Why See It: It could've been a silly gimmick — director Richard Linklater filmed the same kid for 12 years — but, instead, is a thought-provoking, emotional film. Boyhood is one of the most interesting movies you'll see all year.

Wish I Was Here (Jul. 18)

About: The mid-life crisis of a struggling actor (Zach Braff).

Starring: Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Joey King, Jim Parsons, and Josh Gad.

Why See It: Admit it: you loved Garden State. Yes, this movie looks pretentious, but chances are high that it'll be just as good as Braff's first film.

A Most Wanted Man (Jul. 25)

About: A half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant (Grigoriy Dobrygin), whose arrival in a post-9/11 Islamic German community raises questions about his true identity.

Starring: Dobrygin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, and Daniel Bruhl.

Why See It: It's one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final films, and he's supposedly fantastic in it. Plus, the movie's based off John le Carré's acclaimed 2009 novel.

Happy Christmas (Jul. 25)

About: An irresponsible 20-something (Anna Kendrick) who moves in with her much more settled down brother (Joe Swanberg) and his family.

Starring: Kendrick, Swanberg, Lena Dunham, and Melanie Lynskey.

Why See It: Joe Swanberg is a talented director with a resume full of lovely little movies, and Happy Christmas, especially with that cast, looks it'll be another addition to the list.

Lucy (Jul. 25)

About: A woman (Scarlett Johansson) who is implanted with a drug that gives her superhuman abilities.

Starring: Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked, and Analeigh Tipton.

Why See It: Because it looks awesome, and Luc Besson has a history of making crazy great, female-fronted movies.

Magic in the Moonlight (Jul. 25)

About: The relationship between a British magician (Colin Firth) and a potential fraud (Emma Stone) in 1920's France.

Starring: Firth, Stone, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, and Jacki Weaver.

Why See It: Yes, it's a Woody Allen movie, and we all know that's a tricky area. But Magic in the Moonlight looks truly great, and it's hard to resist the charms of Colin Firth and Emma Stone.

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