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This 2019 horror film from Hereditary director Ari Aster reminded us, among other things, that everlasting sunshine isn't always a happy prospect.
This sumptuous 2018 big-budget adaptation of Kevin Kwan's 2013 novel was not only the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority cast of Asian descent in a modern setting since The Joy Luck Club in 1993, but it also became the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade. We loved to see it.
Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio together on screen for the first time. A star-studded recreation of the year that shattered Hollywood's innocence. A role that earned Pitt his first acting Oscar. What's not to love about this 2019 filck from Quentin Tarantino, billed as potentially his last?
Not only did this 2017 film introduce audiences to the splendor that is Tiffany Haddish, but it also became the first film by an African-American female screenwriter—Tracy Oliver, sharing credit with Kenya Barris—to gross over $100 million at the box office. And if it didn't make you want to immediately spend some time in New Orleans, you were watching it wrong.
The No Man's Land sequence in this 2017 film was worth the price of admission alone. But the way it proved to the world that a female-fronted superhero film could go on to gross over $800 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film by a solo female director (Patty Jenkins) ever, sure was an added bonus.
Take note, future DC and Marvel installments: This was everything we wanted in a summer movie and a superhero movie. There was hype, but no over-saturation. The flick was dark, but not so dark as to make us question why we watch these movies in the first place. And Christian Bale made for a great hero we could all get behind. In other words, this was the summer movie we all needed, but not the one we deserved.
Summer is normally a place for gaudy comedies and over-the-top action flicks, which is what made this July, 2009 release stand out even more. Then-newcomers Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie starred in a heavy hitter about a bomb disposal unit in the Iraqi War that went on to win six Oscars (and be nominated for another three on top of it). By accolades alone, this has to take at least one of the top spots. After all, just because it's summer doesn't mean that audience members couldn't use a good life lesson on the perils of war and mental repercussions that soldiers face.
It was May 13, 2011, and America was readyyyy to partyyy. This was the kind of flick that you found excuses to see (in the theater!) several times during the course of its run. Your dog walker's sister hasn't seen Bridesmaids? Time to hit the AMC.
Humans fighting aliens will always make for a stellar summer movie—as long as it's not a sequel, of course. Men In Black, for its part, even had a Top 40-ready soundtrack to really lean in on that whole branding thing. "The galaxy defenderssss."
It seems like there may be a theme here: If you're looking to release a movie during the summer months that has a momentum that lasts through awards season, make sure it's about war.
Ugh, we can't even look at this photo without ugly-crying. And thus, into the record books it goes.
The lucky moviegoers who were old enough to see There's Something About Mary had no idea that they were about to witness history. Never before, and never again, has a single chunk of hair made such a lasting legacy on the film industry.
This is kind of still war, right? The awards season rule stands. We're also going to go out on a limb and say this was the last honestly amazing summer movie. Your move, August slate.
So not every good summer release has to be good in the technical sense. There are other boxes to check, too, like did the movie make me feel more feelings than the world's most intense therapy session? The Blair Witch Project certainly counts for that, as long as the feelings you're talking about are every single type of fear known to the civilized human.
Fight scenes? Check. Chase scenes? Check. Secret government cover-ups? Check. Hot young actor with a chiseled jaw? Check please!
We're going to give credit here almost entirely to Robert Downey, Jr. If you want to make a comic book movie that's actually (gasp!) fun, call on RDJ. There's a strong possibility that our sentimental feelings for this flick stem at least somewhat from the fact that Marvel mania hadn't yet come to a head in 2008, but whatever.
This movie single-handedly disproved the belief that animated movies shouldn't have sequels—or trilogies, for that matter. Sometimes an audience just needs a quality hang with Buzz, Woody and the gang.
Humans fighting aliens. Enough said.
As it turns out, the secret to summer movie success might actually just be hiring Christopher Nolan to direct. The guy knows what he's doing. Some may have found this film a little bit frustrating, but at least you'll always have the did-the-top-stop-spinning debate to lean on in a conversation drought.
Choosing just one Harry Potter installment is like choosing which Weasley twin we like better: It's an impossible feat. Luckily some of them came out over the Thanksgiving holiday, thus eliminating them from this particular argument. And nothing gathers a summer movie-watching crowd better than the culmination of a decades-long pop culture phenomenon. Oh, and hot Neville Longbottom. That transformation will go down in history.
We're going to ignore that this movie was probably just an elaborate ploy to convince America that we all needed to take a trip to Disney World, and just focus on the fact that Jack Sparrow is perfection.
Ryan Gosling. Emma Stone. The lift from Dirty Dancing. Case closed.
Every summer needs a heart wrenching tearjerker, and Fault delivered in spades. Watching Shailene and Ansel's teenage love (and some other things we won't mention for fear of spoiling) was the most cleansing thing we did during the summer of 2014.
Summer blockbusters are as American as apple pie, which means this movie was the most patriotic thing to happen to the late '90s.