1. Love & Mercy (June 5)
While the Beach Boys brought the “surf’s up” southern California vibe to every record player in America, behind the scenes, lead singer Brian Wilson was grappling with addiction and mental illness. Covering two time periods in a parallel narrative, Love & Mercy debuted to critical praise at TIFF 2014. Indie star Paul Dano is a young Wilson in the ’60s, a successful but increasingly erratic young artist who creates the classic album Pet Sounds, while John Cusack plays a middle-aged Wilson in the ’80s, dependent on a predatory psychiatrist (played by Paul Giamatti) and straddled with pharmaceutical addiction and a controlling team. (Look for the newest inductee into the women’s comedy directors club, Elizabeth Banks, as Cadillac saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter, Wilson’s later-in-life love interest.)
2. Dope (June 19)
Straight-A student Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is trying to navigate life in the infamous Bottoms in Inglewood, Calif., playing in a punk band and applying for Ivy League schools. A fateful party leads him to the glorious Nakia (Zoë Kravitz) and a bag full of drugs, which must be disposed of without drawing the attention of cops, teachers, or neighbourhood bad boys. The trailer is funny and heartwarming, with just the right touch of ’90s nostalgia, plus the film boasts four new songs by Pharrell.
3. Amy (July 10)
Amy Winehouse’s soulful voice capitulated her to fame and critical acclaim, but her struggles with addiction, her tumultuous relationships with men, the demands of the music industry and the glare of the insatiable U.K. media led to an increasingly chaotic life, much of which played out in front of the paparazzi before Winehouse tragically joined the 27 Club in 2011. Amy looks to show us the person behind the beehive and the cat-eyes, and tell the story beyond the headlines.
4. Straight Outta Compton (Aug. 14)
The birth of mainstream rap music was one of the most tumultuous and exciting eras in pop culture history. Straight Outta Compton explores the early struggles of NWA, the South Central L.A. group that pioneered gangsta rap. Their success brought urban culture to every suburb in America, and their aggressive beats and cutting lyrics make for a perfect backdrop to the electric trailer. We’ll definitely dig up our old Raiders cap for this one.
5. We Are Your Friends (Aug. 28)
Zac Efron stars as an aspiring EDM DJ in this coming-of-age for millennials. With a laptop and group of party-promoting friends, Efron gets advice from his mentor (Wes Bentley) as he struggles to find his sound in the world of EDM (and his place in the world in general). Oh, and he’s falling for his mentor’s girlfriend (Emily Ratajkowski).