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Best Films of Summer 2016

2016 as a whole has been rather disappointing, to say the least. A lot of the major films I was greatly looking forward to, such as “Batman v Superman,” “Suicide Squad,” “The Legend of Tarzan,” etc., let me down quite a bit. However, I think the Summer has been slightly better than many have made it out to be. A handful of great blockbusters came out, but mainly some truly fantastic indies that you may have missed!

Honorable Mentions (no particular order):
  • Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
  • The Neon Demon
  • Ghostbusters
  • Central Intelligence
  • Love & Friendship
  • Star Trek Beyond
15. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
“Popstar” was intended to be one of Universal’s biggest hits of the Summer, but, due to murky marketing and an overly crowded slate of giant blockbusters, I think it missed its mark in finding an audience. I do firmly believe that this will find a cult following over the years, just as “Hot Rod” thankfully did, but seeing it in a packed theater back in June was a great experience for me. This is entirely my kind of humor, and has infinite replay value. Some of the most fun I’ve had all year.

 14. Lights Out
David F. Samberg directs an extension of his debut short-film with the same title. “Lights Out” was one of the biggest gambles of the Summer, considering it was WB’s prime July date, but it paid off for them greatly as the film went on to gross $126 mil. worldwide, despite only having a $5 mil. budget! Not only does that make my heart happy in the sense that studios are continuing to realize that smaller budgets usually pay off in the long run, but I’m happy that it came from a wonderfully original and immensely entertaining horror film such as “Lights Out”!
13. The Conjuring 2

Unlike “Lights Out,” this was a guaranteed hit for WB. “The Conjuring” was a massive hit and killed it in the Summer of 2013, so it was no surprised that “The Conjuring 2” did equally as well and that a third film is supposedly already in the works. One of the best aspects of this film is simply how well-directed it was. James Wan made sure to make this different from your usual studio horror flair by making something that is genuinely well-written, incredibly shot, surprisingly gripping in its mystery, and above all else: actually scary!


12. Pete’s Dragon
Disney’s live-action remakes have been getting better and better, as “The Jungle Book” was a massive hit that managed to stay in theaters for many months, and nearly made a billion dollars worldwide. “Pete’s Dragon,” in my opinion, is even better in quality and one of the absolute best Disney films that I’ve seen in quite some time. This should come as no surprise, as Disney went to get David Lowery, a fantastic indie director, who transfers greatly into this scene. “Pete’s Dragon” has the heart and feel of a classic Disney movie that we don’t see too often anymore. Delicately lacing its subject matter and emotion with a grand adventure. This should’ve gotten way more attention than it did.
11. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Taika Waititi is currently directing the upcoming Marvel flick “Thor: Ragnarok,” so before that comes out – see his greatly original and wildly hilarious “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” in preparation! A surprisingly touching story that is full of unlimited imagination and genuine, witty laughs. Sam Neill truly hasn’t been this good since “Jurassic Park,” (Editor’s Note: He’s incredible on “Peaky Blinders”), and it is one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen all year. So darn fun, and if your kids are cool take them along to see it too!
10. The Meddler
Out of all the films on this list, I think “The Meddler” is the one that got the least amount of attention. It wasn’t commercially successful, it only stayed in my local theater for a couple of weeks, and while it was well reviewed it seems to have been forgotten by the end of the Summer movie season. However, I personally loved this film. It revolves around grief and death, but is one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year. Susan Sarandon gives one of her best performances in quite sometime, and Rose Byrne works with her well. I should also mention that JK Simmons shows up in this for a bit, and completely warms the screen with a kind of happiness that I haven’t seen him portray in a while. PLEASE seek this one out.
9. Kubo and the Two Strings
Laika has always had an issue with finding a voice in their marketing. These are greatly experimental and original films that deserve to find an audience, but never quite find mass success. “Kubo and the Two Strings” just might be my favorite of theirs. It is one of the most beautiful looking films of the year, and above all else one of the rare family films that touches on a deep subject matter in a perfect way. One of the best sleeper hits of the year. It’s crazy to think that it’s not even my favorite Animated film of the year!

8. Sausage Party
While certainly not for everyone, “Sausage Party” is the craziest film I’ve had the pleasure of viewing this year, and there’s no reality where it wouldn’t have had a spot on this list. I totally understand why one wouldn’t enjoy this, and I even have a few issues of pacing at points. However, as a film lover who constantly loves to see how far something can be pushed, this pushes the animation genre as far as it can possibly go with the wildest third act turn I’ve seen in years. I laughed, I laughed, and then I laughed a hell of a lot more.

7. Captain Fantastic
“Captain Fantastic” was easily the biggest surprise of the year for me. I wasn’t expecting too much from this, as the trailers never really grabbed me, but it is one of the most emotionally investing and gripping dramas I’ve seen in quite some time. Viggo Mortensen gives one of the best performances of his career, as a father challenging himself and his unique abilities. This is a film not afraid to tackle social issues, while perfectly blending in its personal story and drama. It asks the best questions, and answers them in an unbiased manor. A change of pace from other Summer flicks, but well worth seeking out.

6. Finding Dory
Pixar has been riding the sequel train pretty heavily for the past few years, to great financial success, but they tend to fail to live up to their predecessor or even the usual standard for the company. “Finding Dory” is far and away their best sequel (although the competition is limited) and amongst “Kubo” and “Sausage Party,” is still my favorite animated film of the year. If “Inside Out” was Pixar’s attempt to dive into emotions, this was their attempt to dip their feet in the water of addressing mental illness and disabilities; How we treat and live with the people in our lives that have one, and finding value inside of it. It doesn’t set them back, but makes them who they are. One of the rare sequels that I’d argue is just as good as the original. Funny, sincere, and beautifully animated.

5. The Nice Guys
Out of all the franchise starters that have came out this year, and all the films that are bound to cross a billion dollars world wide, “The Nice Guys” is the one that deserves it the most, but couldn’t find a stable audience or legs over the course of a bloated summer. I may be a tad bit biased, considering I love Shane Black, but do films get as witty and enjoyable as this? Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling give two of the best comedic performances of the year, and have excellent banter and chemistry with one another. A film that relies heavily on its writing and chemistry between two people could fail easily, but “The Nice Guys” succeeds in being one of the year’s best.

4. Hell or High Water
“Hell or High Water” is one of the most satisfying films I’ve seen in a while in the sense that they really, truly, don’t make them like this anymore. It’s so purely inspired and wonderfully plotted. It manages to be a throwback to Westerns and classic bank robber flicks, as well as entirely its own thing. Intelligent, surprisingly humorous, beautifully shot, exciting, and unbelievably intense. Once again, one of the BEST films I’ve seen this year. Chris Pine and Ben Foster have never been better.

3. Swiss Army Man
Whether you like it or not, the most original movie to come out all summer is about a farting corpse who helps a lost soul discover his way back home and get his shit together. “Swiss Army Man” might not be the original movie that people were asking for or expected to get, but it’s the one that I needed and the one that the summer movie season let pass-by. Weirdly existential, hilarious, and beautifully shot; “Swiss Army Man” is an absolutely wonderful journey of imagery, awesome sounds, and lots of farts!

2. Don’t Breathe
As a massive horror buff, it was inevitable for this to be so high up on this list for me. This year has been rather great for the genre, and I’ll be surprised if “Don’t Breathe” isn’t still the absolute best by the time the year ends. Probably the most tense I’ve been in a theater since “Mad Max: Fury Road” last year. As a fan of film making, and someone who’s constantly intrigued by the art of the craft, I was constantly mesmerized by how this film builds tension and uses perfect sound design, visual scares, and plotting to create one of the scariest and most tense films of the decade. I absolutely adored this one, and I’m happy it’s doing as well as it is.

1. Captain America: Civil War
For someone who has been talking down to blockbusters for this entire article, I know that it’s nearly hypocritical for me to put this in my first spot. I’ve seen “Civil War” about five times now, and I’m certain that it’s my favorite Marvel film to date, the best film of the Summer, and one of the best films of the year; one of the golden standards that the genre will try to meet. It manages to blend spectacle and personal storytelling near perfectly. A great exploration of morals, consequences, and emotions in the heights of explosions, capes, and monsters. Somehow this is both the most entertaining Marvel film to date, as well as the most mature. Here’s to Infinity War!

Hopefully this brought your attention to one or two films you may have missed this Summer. Remember to comment below and tell me what your favorites of the Summer are, and if you agree with my list!

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