Last year’s summer offerings may have been affected by COVID-19, but that means that a number of long-anticipated films will finally be coming to screens near you. Some are blockbusters chock-full of A-listers — The Suicide Squad, F9 and Black Widow come quickly to mind. But we’re here to give you some of our top picks from this summer season that have the potential for breakout performances. Keep reading for our roundup of highly anticipated movies that feature rising actors and are coming soon.
1. In the Heights
Fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda have had to wait a long time for the movie version of his musical In the Heights. Jon M. Chu directed the film adaptation, another victim of the “pandemic push” that saw it bumped from the 2020 release calendar. But come June 11, it will finally drop in theaters, as well as on HBO Max. According to the official Warner Bros. synopsis, In the Heights centers on “the likable, magnetic bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines, and sings about a better life.” Ramos’ singing and acting chops can be seen on Disney+ in the filmed version of Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton, in which he plays both John Laurens and Philip Hamilton. If that experience wasn’t enough to inspire his In the Heights casting, the fact that Ramos had already played the lead role in a performance at the Kennedy Center greatly helped his chances. Miranda, who originated the role of Usnavi onstage, saw the performance and gave his ringing endorsement of Ramos. “It fits him better [than me],” Miranda recently told The Hollywood Reporter. And besides its lead actor, also keep an eye out for performances from names like Melissa Barrera and Corey Hawkins in the upcoming film adaptation, as well a cameo from Miranda as “Piragua Guy.”
This animated summer offering is fit for the whole family and releases on Disney+ on June 18. The original feature film is labeled a coming-of-age story, which centers on its title character (Jacob Tremblay). Luca shares his adventures in the Italian Riviera with his new friend named Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), but there’s a fun twist to it all. Both young boys happen to be sea monsters from another world in disguise. Tremblay’s breakout performance came at the tender age of seven in Lenny Abrahamson’s critically acclaimed Room, and while Grazer has appeared in series like We Are Who We Are and films such as It, we’re excited to see what he does with a lead voice role in an animated feature.
The title of Siân Heder’s family drama refers to its central character, Ruby (Emilia Jones), a teenager who is a child of deaf adults. The 17-year-old is the only hearing member of her family and helps her parents (Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur) and brother (Daniel Durant) with their Gloucester fishing business each morning before school. After joining her school’s choir club, Ruby realizes she has a talent and a passion for singing, which leads to a desire to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. But the newfound dream leaves the high schooler feeling torn between helping keep the family business afloat and pursuing what she loves. Some may know Jones from her role as Kinsey Locke on Netflix’s Locke & Key, but her portrayal of Ruby may be the young actor’s true breakout performance. According to a Variety review of CODA, Jones’ acting in the film is marked by “a captivatingly authentic purity of feeling.” And she’s surrounded by a strong cast that reflects Heder’s dedication to telling the story authentically with deaf actors. You can take in all the performances when CODA releases in theaters and on Apple TV+ come August 13.
Also arriving on August 13 is the Jennifer Hudson-led biopic of Aretha Franklin named after one of her well-known hits. On that date, fans of the Queen of Soul can watch in theaters the film that follows Franklin’s journey of finding her voice amidst the social justice issues of the 1960s. Besides Hudson, the cast list is stacked with name talent — Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald, Marlon Wayans and Mary J. Blige, to name a few. But we’re also excited to see what Gilbert Glenn Brown does with his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. in the film, which could be the actor’s breakout role.
From In the Heights to Respect, a number of long-awaited films are finally making their debut this summer. And these are just our picks, thanks to the potential breakout performances that they house. You can find a full list of noteworthy films releasing this summer season here.