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5 movies you need to watch in July 2023

June has been a great month for Hollywood blockbusters and indie films alike. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse somehow surpassed everyone’s sky-high expectations and simultaneously delivered one of the best animated, best sequel, and best comic book movies ever made. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts was actually pretty decent, and Asteroid City turned out to be one of Wes Anderson’s best movies.

July holds even more promise as we finally get to see who will win the ultimate cinematic showdown: Barbie or Oppenheimer? There are also sequels in the Mission: Impossible and Insidious franchises that will take audiences from their streaming queues and into multiplexes. July truly is a month for everyone, and these five movies are at the top of our list.

Insidious: The Red Door (July 7)

INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR – Official Trailer (HD)

One of the most surprisingly durable franchises in modern times has been the Insidious franchise, which has made over $500 million on a combined budget of around $26 million. The first movie, an effective Poltergeist rip-off starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, has spawned three additional sequels, the last two of which deviated from the central story of the Lambert family to focus on supporting characters like Lin Shayne’s Elise Rainier.

With the fifth (and final?) installment, Insidious: The Red Door, the franchise goes back to where it all began and checks in on the Lambert family 10 years after their initial haunting. Everything that made the first film a hit — cheap yet effective jump scares, spooky music, that Lipstick-Face Demon — are all present. The movie promises to end the series on a high note by delivering some schlocky summertime scares. Hey, it beats watching The Flash again.

Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part 1 (July 12)

A man holds his hands up in the air in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One.
Paramount Pictures.

Aside from James Bond, there is no modern action franchise as revered or as respected as the Mission: Impossible series. First launched in 1996 with the excellent Brian De Palma installment, the Mission: Impossible franchise became must-see cinematic events with Ghost Protocol and never looked back. The latest entry, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1, is so highly anticipated that Paramount Pictures released a teaser a full year in advance of the film’s premiere just to appease the impatient fan base and remind everyone why Mission: Impossible still kicks ass after all these years.

It worked. The trailer shows one jaw-dropping stunt after another, with the usual crew of Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Rebecca Ferguson helping everyone’s favorite rogue agent, Ethan Hunt, save the world yet again. Christopher McQuarrie, the writer/director of the previous two entries, Rogue Nation and Fallout, returns, but the glue that holds everything together is Tom Cruise. As Ethan, Cruise undergoes all kinds of abuse to please action fans, and it’s what we expect from the death-defying Top Gun: Maverick star. With swordfights in Venice, motorcycles chasing runaway trains, shootouts at posh rave parties, and a Lawrence of Arabia-esque sequence in an empty desert, Dead Reckoning Part 1 promises to be the most epic action movie of all time … until Dead Reckoning Part 2 hits theaters in 2024, of course.

Barbie (July 21)

Ken holds up skates to Barbie in the Barbie trailer.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Are you ready to party with Barbie? It’s almost unbelievable that a movie about Barbie dolls has as much high-level talent as it does, but Greta Gerwig’s Barbie seems to have everything you could want and more. The movie is directed by Gerwig, who co-wrote the script with her husband and fellow auteur Noah Baumbach. It stars Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken. It also features Will Ferrell, Simu Liu, Kate McKinnon, Emerald Fennell, Issa Rae, Rita Aryu, Helen Mirren, Nicola Coughlan, Ncuti Gowda, Alexandra Shipp, John Cena, Emma Mackey, Sharon Rooney, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Scott Evans, Ana Cruz Kayne, and Michael Cera. Oh, and pop singer Dua Lipa pops up as multiple mermaids because, why not? It almost doesn’t even matter what Barbie is about; what more could a cinephile ever wish for?

Gerwig is well-known for her work on Little Women and Lady Bird, so her decision to take on one of America’s most iconic toys is an outstanding choice. Barbie follows Robbie’s Barbie and Gosling’s Ken as they leave Barbieland and embark on a journey to the human world to find true happiness. July 21 is sure to be an absolute treat for moviegoers, as both Oppenheimer and Barbie will be hitting theaters on the exact same date. If some brave souls see both movies on the same day, it will be the strangest double feature ever.

Oppenheimer (July 21)

A woman grabs a man by the collar in Oppenheimer.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s been three years since the mind-bending sci-fi thriller Tenet, and Christopher Nolan is finally back in the director’s chair with his latest movie. Oppenheimer follows the true story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb. Oppenheimer’s contributions to the Manhattan Project led to the creation of the atomic bomb, which would change the world forever, for better or for worse. Universal is betting on Nolan with all it has, daealing out a reported $100 million budget for Nolan’s nuclear epic. Nolan’s dedication to practical effects, especially the explosion of the bomb itself, will result in something that has to be seen to be believed.

The three-hour movie stars Cillian Murphy as the titular Oppenheimer, a role that very well may land the actor an Oscar nod. Alongside Murphy, Oppenheimer sports an impressive cast that includes Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, Jack Quaid, Dune: Part Two‘s Florence Pugh, Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman, Rami Malek, Alden Ehrenreich, and many others. Original dramas have struggled lately at the box office, but Nolan is practically a brand unto himself, and the trailer promises one of the most memorable theatrical experiences of the year.

Talk to Me (July 28)

Talk To Me | Official Trailer 2 HD | A24

Probably the least known movie on this list, Talk to Me has been creating a buzz on the festival circuit for a while now. That’s due in part to its killer premise: a group of friends unleash a powerful supernatural force after they discover an embalmed hand that can conjure spirits. It’s an updated version of W.W. Jacobs’ classic tale of terror The Monkey’s Paw, but with a modern edge and a cast of young Australian actors.

If you’re still not hooked by the premise, just watch the trailer, which is one of the most unsettling of the year. With its past hits Hereditary, Midsommar, and Lamb, A24 knows how to deliver a good horror movie, and Talk to Me promises to be their scariest yet.

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Jason Struss
Section Editor, Entertainment
Jason is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast whose love for cinema, television, and cheap comic books has led him to…
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