It’s the end of summer which means it is time to look back on all of the best films to have come out since June (Sorry Mad Max and Avengers fans). Compared to last year, which saw great films in a lot of the blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, How to Train Your Dragon 2, as well as great indie films like What If and the monumental Boyhood.
This year saw only a few good big blockbusters, some brilliant independent films, and quite a few shockers that more or less came out of nowhere. Nevertheless, despite all of the flops like Pixels, American Ultra, Hitman: Agent 47, Fantastic Four Vacation, and others, this year proved that some series can still remain, new directors can make names for themselves, and even the smallest films can have the biggest impacts. Let’s get started!
10. Mr. Holmes
Mr. Holmes was a drastic departure from the action-packed Sherlock Holmes films and television series’ we’ve been inundated with since the Guy Ritchie adaptation back in 2009. It not only portrays a drastically different Holmes than we’ve seen before, but it also packs a lot of emotion behind the role. Ian McKellen is quietly heartbreaking as Holmes. There is no Watson, no high-speed chases, and very little excitement, rather it is a deliberate, thought-out film that is more concerned with character than story. We watch him suffer from mental ailments and the once brilliant mind is slowly breaking down. Though it does not always feel coherent, it is the performances that drive the film, especially those of McKellen, Laura Linney, and newcomer Milo Parker.
9. The Visit
Like I said in my original review, “Never would I have thought that I would actually be writing a positive review for a Shyamalan film—let alone have it be one where I strongly encourage you to see it for its authentically horrific moments and welcoming comedy.” It’s pretty much the whole truth with The Visit, a film that managed to bring back positive vibes for Shyamalan’s name. The Visit is scary, funny, excellently paced, and did I mention scary? When two kids go off to their grandparent’s house, one would expect fun times, baking, and board games–which all happens in the movie along with horrifying incidents in the middle of the night, enough scares to shake you to your core, and a plot twist that happens so suddenly and is executed with such precision, that it might actually forgive Shyamalan for The Last Airbender (probably not though.)
There were two great spy films to come out this summer: One was Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation and the other was this. It was an extremely difficult decision picking which one to include because both are great films, but only one could hold the honor of being on the list. I decided on The Man From U.N.C.L.E mostly because of the wonderful cast that had more chemistry and humor than the cast of MI. With the likes of Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant, and Jared Harris, there is no shortage of laughs, explosions, and suave spies. Though the plot got a bit hectic during the second act, it made me crave a sequel so we can spend more time with this riotous bunch.
Ant-Man was the Marvel movie of the year that I had the lowest expectations for (yeah, even Fantastic Four was one I was excited for.) The trailers made it look hokey, childish, and just plain boring. What the trailers didn’t show, though, was the truly funny moments, the Mission: Impossible-esque heists, and the thrilling fight scenes with Thomas the Tank Engine, giant ants, and microscopic brawls. Paul Rudd might not necessarily fit well into the broader Marvel Universe, but he certainly inhabits the Ant-Man suit with boisterous charm, sarcasm, and heart. Here’s to more Ant-Man, maybe some Wasp too? There is certainly room for some female superheroes in this series.
Straight Outta Compton is one of the most timely movies to come out all year. Its focus on the lives of the members of the rap group NWA also shows the harsh truth of growing up in Compton with gangs, drugs, and racist cops who torment even those who are just sitting on the curb. SOC has some excellent moments to it–the concert scenes are pure electricity, making you want to get up on your feet and shout “F*** the police!” SOC also represents a huge surprise in terms of films coming out this summer, drawing in massive crowds for several weeks in a row. This was done thanks to its powerful performances, non-candy-coated representations of life in Compton, and the promise of more to come. Like I said in my original review, SOC is more of a rallying cry than anything.
What? You want the rest of the top 10? Wait until tomorrow and it will be yours! See you then.