Before I get into the summer’s biggest winners and losers, it’s time for me to share the Top 10 movies I saw and loved this summer, clearly the most biased and opinionated section of this piece, so your tastes may vary.
The only criteria I’ve made is that the movies had to have gotten a wide release sometime between the start of May and the end of August, which unfortunately rules out my favorite movie of the summer and year, the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, which still managed to score over $4 million despite its limited release in select cities.
1. Before Midnight (Sony Pictures Classics) – Richard Linklater reunited with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for the third installment of their relationship drama, this one giving them kids and having them traveling around the scenic Greek countryside. Some of the best writing and performances of the year for sure and not necessarily implying that this will be the last movie they do together either.
2. The Wolverine (20th Century Fox) Director James Mangold teamed with Hugh Jackman for Wolverine’s second solo movie, which was heavily influenced by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s mini-series that took Logan to Japan and had him fighting ninjas and samurai. While it didn’t make as much money it deserved, it was easily the best superhero movie of the summer and one that really struck a chord by including elements of all the things I love: Asian crime thrillers, samurai movies, ninjas and of course, Wolverine!
3. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.) Baz Luhrmann’s ambitious take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic piece of literature was just another fantastic piece of work from the Australian filmmaker, one that offered lavish parties, heartbreaking drama and fine performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton. Even at 2 hours and 40 minutes it was well worth the time invested into Luhrmann’s vision.
4. Pacific Rim (Legendary/WB) My #1 most anticipated movie of the year had Guillermo del Toro directing battle scenes between giant robots and even bigger monsters and boy did it deliver on everything I loved on all those classic monster movies of yore, but it also offered some great characters played by Ron Perlman, Charlie Day and Rinko Kikuchi that really makes me hope they can get a sequel off the ground.
5. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount) J.J. Abrams’ sequel to his 2009 Star Trek reboot may not have gone over well with Trek fans–of which I’m mostly definitely not one–but it offered the exact type of escapist fare that I really needed this summer and I just really love the cast they put together for these movies so I can’t wait to see a third movie.
6. We’re the Millers (Warner Bros.) Easily the funniest movie of the summer, this high concept road comedy offered some great raunchy laughs thanks to the likes of Jason Sudeikis, Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn and it ended the summer on a high note similar to Tropic Thunder a few years back.
7. The Conjuring (Warner Bros.) – Saw and Insidious director James Wan helmed this supernatural thriller more grounded in the real life cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren, as played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, and the results were fantastic, one of the richest horror films in recent memory.
8. Monsters University (DisneyPixar) I was a huge fan of the original Monsters, Inc., which was the first Pixar movie I ever saw, so I was excited to see Mike and Sully’s return even if the movie was somewhat sullied by a reused “Geeks vs. Greeks” plot that dates back to Revenge of the Nerds.
9. The World’s End (Focus Features) My second most anticipated movie of the year also delivered as it reunited Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright for a pub crawl through a tiny village where the residents start acting weirder and weirder. Like a classic episode of Tom Baker’s “Doctor Who” with the type of laughs the trio have delivered in past movies, it was a nice way to end the summer.
10. 2 Guns (Universal) – I wasn’t sure if I’d like this crime comedy team-up of Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, but it was really the kind of movie that I dig, mixing aspects of the Coens and Elmore Leonard with more traditional action tropes. The whole thing was very entertaining and much better than I expected.