Summer Top Twenty Movies

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but since the summer is over, I figured why not look back at the movies. It wasn’t the best summer, but it still had some great ones. I’m actually doing two lists, one for the big guns, the Hollywood heavy hitters. And another for the underdogs, the little guys, the Indie flicks.

Why the two lists? Well, narrowing to just ten films with so many to choose from is like picking your favorite children. That and it’s a case of apples and oranges. How do you put something like Blue Jasmine and The Wolverine on the same list? What’s the litmus test that compares these two films. And sure, some are harder to define (like The Great Gatsby and The World’s End), but two lists certainly works much better.

So…Indie first?

  • 10. Before Midnight
    • Great dialog, but not as good as the previous installments.
  • 9. Lovelace
    • Great performances all around. Plus the film took some a big risk with the narrative structure…and while it wasn’t always succesful, it was interesting.
  • 8. The Way Way Back
    • A solid bildungsroman, with great support from Steve Carrell and Sam Rockwell.
  • 7. Blue Jasmine
    • Cate Blanchett is amazing and elevates the movie, along with Sally Hawkins…but Woody Allen’s directing is a little all over the place. It’s never sure what kind of movie he wants it to be. A story of healing? A drama of struggling?
  • 6. The Butler
    • Pacing issues aside, it was a refreshing take on the civil rights movement, and a nice return for Forrest Whitaker.
  • 5. Fruitvale Station
    • I expect great things from Michael B. Jordan, who managed to make you care and be shocked for something you were told was going to happen in the opening of the movie.
  • 4. What Maisie Knew
    • Great child performances are hard to come by, and while Onata Aprile might not get the same accolades as Quvenzhane Wallis, she was still wonderful. As was the bitter-turned-sweet story.
  • 3. Mud
    • Matthew McConaughey could get his first Oscar win from this movie, depending on what we see in the fall. The only thing wrong with this movie was the pacing.
  • 2. Much Ado About Nothing
    • Honestly, 1 and 2 are interchangeable and were two of my favorite films this summer. But Much Ado proved that Shakespeare sounds great with American dialect and doesn’t have to feel like people reading Shakespeare. Amy Acker and Fran Kranz really stole the movie.
  • 1. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
    • Texan Noir is coming along, started by No Country for Old Men. This film is another great example. Stellar performances by Ronney Mara, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster anchor David Lowery’s steady pace and directing. Lowery is certainly on my watch list now.


  • 10. The Great Gatsby
    • This is an English Teacher’s confession: the movie was so Fitzgerald, it’s hard not to love. Dicaprio, Maguire, and Edgerton all portray their characters perfectly, but Mulligan was a little too sentimental and sweet for Daisy.
  • 9. Iron Man 3
    • Shane Black really went out of his way to make this Iron Man his own. In many ways, it was better than the previous two, but some of the risks were a little too Shane Black…and the ending being Lethal Weapon 2.5 held it back from achieving greatness.
  • 8. The Wolverine
    • Another superhero film that set out to be different from every other superhero film. Wolverine was more internal and quiet. But at the last moment, it devolves into a regular superhero slugfest complete with a giant samurai robot/armor. Still, a vast improvement over X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
  • 7. Fast & Furious 6
    • Balls Awesome
  • 6. The Conjuring
    • I don’t watch a lot of scary movies. Not because I am easily frightened, but because they suck. The Conjuring did not–at all. It was scary, fun, and excellent in every way.
  • 5. Elysium
    • Though heavy-handed on morality…and Matt Damon being a bit miscast as a thug…Elysium had two things going for it. One is visual appeal. Damn does the movie look good. The other is Shartlo Copely as Kruger, one of my new favorite villains of all time.
  • 4. Star Trek: Into Darkness
    • Not as good as the last one, but it has one thing that elevates the film drastically: Bennedict Cumberbatch as Kahn. Sure, they whitewashed Kahn, but Cumberbatch was so great, it;s hard to fault the filmmakers for choosing to do so. He’s great.
  • 3. This is the End
    • With Seth Rogen and friends playing themselves during the apocalypse, This is the End was one of the funniest films of the year, but not as funny as…
  • 2. The World’s End
    • Two comedies about the world coming to an end? In one summer? And they were both great? Yep. The World’s End was just a little better though, with Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and Edgar Wright bringing a wonderful end to the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy.
  • 1. Man of Steel
    • Ask my friends, and they will tell you that I am one of Superman’s biggest haters. Or, I was. I could just never believe him to be a hero worth caring about, I mean…he’s SUPERman. Just boring. But Nolan and Snyder changed that and humanized the boy scout wonderfully. Was there a lot of destruction? Yes. But it IS a summer blockbuster, and it still had meaning. Plus, I don’t think Batman is going to let him off lightly in 2015’s Superman vs Batman.

The Worst films this summer?

  • Lone Ranger
  • The Internship
  • The Iceman
  • You’re Next

And there you have it. It was still a great summer. I wish I could have seen more, but I got a good amount in. In total, I watched 53 first-run movies this summer and STILL missed a lot (In a World, The Kings of Summer, The Spectacular Now, etc.). And feel free to strike back, just keep it civil (I don’t want to hear how Shane Black hates Asians or that Zack Snyder is a fascist, or Woody Allen is a pedophile….keep it about film). And tell me what your favorites were.

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