I’ll be making my Top Ten Movies of 2010 list in a few weeks, but in the interim here’s a blast from the past: my favorite movies of the past summer. This was a really lackluster summer for movies. Compared to 2008 where you had Iron Man, The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk, WALL*E, Get Smart, Hellboy 2, Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express or 2009 where you had Star Trek, Drag Me to Hell, Up, Public Enemies, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Inglourious Basterds and 2010 is surprisingly lightweight.
As a result of the mediocre offerings of this past summer, I haven’t checked out as many movies as I might have wanted. Regardless, here’s a list of my top favorite movies of the summer that I have seen:
1. Inception — Even though the year is not over, this not only is my favorite film of the summer but likely the year. An incredibly original, cerebral, intelligent tour de force from the genius that literally never disappoints, Christopher Nolan. Bring on The Dark Knight Rises.
2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. World — One of the most visually imaginative, inventive, and consistently hilarious films I’ve seen in a long while. Edgar Wright is a director, similar to Chris Nolan, that improves with every film that he does.
3. The A-Team — I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. Joe Carnahan delivers a relentlessly paced, well-acted, generally speaking well-put together thrill ride of a summer movie that is big, dumb but highly fun and entertaining. This is what those bloated and idiotic Transformers movies should have been.
4. Kick-Ass — I’m not sure if I can count this as a summer movie, since it came out in April, but because my list is so sparse I’m including it anyway. The better comic-book movie this year, which is also similar to Inception and Scott Pilgrim in the fact that it is highly imaginative and deeply entertaining. A great satire on the comic-book genre.
5. The Girl Who Played With Fire — I’m counting this even though it was released in Sweden in 2009, it was released in the US this summer so it counts for me. It’s definitely a highly effective thriller that deserves all the praise it gets. I had literally no expectations but I came out impressed and entertained. I’m curious about the sequels now as well as the planned US remake.
6. Cyrus — I had literally no expectations when I saw this movie but it was a really witty and clever comedy that is not built on slapstick or gimmicky gross-out humor but actually on genuinely awkward moments. The cast is unsurprisingly solid all across the board (John C. Reilly is dependably funny) but the real surprise here is Jonah Hill who plays a much more disturbed kind of character than I’m used to seeing from him.
7. The Other Guys — The first 30 minutes is a wonderful cop satire (what Kevin Smith’s Cop Out should have been) but quickly devolves into a generic action movie. While the action and most of the jokes that follow are effective, it quickly loses its flow that made it so great starting out.
8. Knight and Day — A lightweight, charming little summer action film that is pretty forgettable but still enjoyable and a nice diversion for 2 hours.
If I could include all the films I’ve seen this year I would include Shutter Island and The Ghost Writer (which would stack up toward the top of my list) but unfortunately those films came out in February. I still have a few films I want to see from this summer (The Expendables, Predators) and I’ll hopefully get around to seeing them eventually.
Editor’s Note: I just saw Toy Story 3, and had I seen it during the summer, it would have ranked probably right after Inception. However, have no fear, as it will definitely make my Top Ten list before the year is over.