Photo: Courtesy of Chicago Park District

Check the weather, pack a blanket, and watch a movie somewhere other than your living room this summer.

Movies in the Parks, one of Chicagoans’ favorite summer activities, starts this week and runs through September 14. While it’s up to you which of the 195 screenings you want to attend this year, there are a few recent releases playing that should probably be on your list, especially if you didn’t see them in theaters.

Here are our top five picks, along with when and where to watch them:

Life of Pi

Screenings: 6/18 (Harold Washington Playlot Park), 7/2 (Wentworth Park), 7/19 (Harrison Park), 7/20 (Loyola Park), 8/21 (Willye B. White Park), 8/22 (Ellis Park), 8/30 (Nichols Park)

With four Oscar wins and seven additional nominations, this dreamy, spiritual tale is worth withstanding its intentionally slow exposition. As Pi, first-time actor Suraj Sharma holds his own against mesmerizing CGI.


Moonrise Kingdom

Screening: 8/22 (Kelly Park)

Possibly the most Wes Anderson-y Wes Anderson film of them all, this is the story of two New England preteens who run away because of their forbidden love. It's equal parts charming, funny, and weird. Expect the usual Anderson actors (Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman) plus an almost-creepily convincing performance from Jared Gilman, who plays love-struck young protagonist Sam Shatusky.


Pitch Perfect

Screening: 8/23 (Golden Gate Park)

Don’t let the premise put you off—Pitch Perfect is as much about singing as Bridesmaids was about five women planning their friend’s wedding. That is to say, a capella is the foundation of this movie, but a host of quirky characters performed to perfection make it so much more. If you miss season-one Glee and dig Rebel Wilson’s dry, raunchy humor, you have no excuse for not seeing this.



Screenings: 6/15 (Jonquil Playlot Park), 8/9 (Oakdale Park), 8/13 (Fulton River Park)

The newest James Bond installment is probably the most depressing in recent memory. But if you’re still seeing Bond films just for the gadgets and girls, you’re missing the point. You have to respect Daniel Craig’s brooding, wayward 007, and marvel at the cinematography—particularly during a scene in the desolate Scottish countryside.


The Hunger Games

Screenings: 8/13 (Harold Washington Playlot Park), 8/27 (Fulton River Park)

Both critics and the general public loved The Hunger Games, the first movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ book trilogy. Starring pre-Oscar win Jennifer Lawrence and not one, but two love interests, this dystopian action movie has an element for everybody. It is both colorful and heartbreaking—plus, you’ll have to see it to understand what’s going on when the sequel opens in November.