As the summer movie season is slowly coming to an end, I thought now would be a perfect time to pick out my favorite summer releases of 2016. These are films that were released on May 1, 2016, and August 31, 2016. Please note, I have not seen Gleason, De Palma, The Infiltrator, Anthropoid, and Blood Father. I make mention of these films because I heard a lot of great buzz about these titles but I somehow missed them, mostly likely due to a very small and limited release that only lasted for only a week or two
5. Florence Foster Jenkins – Just a simple little film with a wonderful story and great performances.
4. The Conjuring 2 – James Wan does it again. This second entry is just as good as the first, if not a tad bit better. I loved all the atmosphere, and the film had me on edge the entire time.
3. Cafe Society – Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg’s chemistry is to die for. The story of old Hollywood was a lot of fun as well.
2. Don’t Breathe – Intense, Different, and Scary. Fede Alvarez’s follow up to the Evil Dead remake proves that he is here to stay.
1. Finding Dory – One of the best-animated sequels in quite some time. I loved seeing Dory back on the big screen.
The 10 Best Films of Summer 2016
10. The Secret Life of Pets
This is probably the most controversial pick on this list because almost every other review for this film labeled it like Toy Story with animals. As someone who has owned dogs all my life, I enjoyed this film from the animal storyline alone but also the attention to detail in regards to the different types of animal behavior. The film has two stories going on at the same time and, I found both of them to be highly entertaining and engaging. I love the voice cast and found the entire film to just be a fun time at the movies regardless if it wasn’t groundbreaking storytelling or animation.
9. Don’t Think Twice
After having a fairly awkward interview experience with Mike Birbiglia, I was kind of hesitant to put this film on my list. I decided when looking back at all the films released this summer that this one belonged here regardless of how Birbiglia treated me in real life. I thought the film was a love letter to stand up comedy but also showcased the hard work and suffering that comedians go through on a daily basis. The cast was superb especially Gillian Jacobs who just killed it as Samantha. If you are a fan of comedy, this is a must see.
8. Central Intelligence
Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are a match made in comedic heaven. These two bounce off one another with such ease. They are both incredibly funny and charismatic. The film is just a total blast from start to finish. It has a great mixture of laughs, action, and heart. It is a great summer comedy because unlike a lot of comedies nowadays it doesn’t rely on crude humor but instead relied on the chemistry between the two leads and that’s why it worked so well.
7. The Shallows
Simple yet effective. The Shallows is suspense thriller done right. The film relies very heavily on Blake Lively’s performance to sell the film. The Shallows is filled with plenty of suspenseful moments and my eyes were glued to the screen the entire time. The Shallows hooked me right away, and I love that the film was smart enough to give the audience a reason to care about this girl stuck in the middle of the ocean. While it might not be the new Jaws, I can safely say that it is one of the best films about sharks attacks in the past decade.
6. Lights Out
This is the perfect example of taking a concept and running with it. Lights Out is a perfect mixture of drama and horror. There is a real story being told about mental illness while also being entertaining. The film is incredibly scary and is a total blast to watch with a crowd. The use of light in this film is astounding. The performances all around are great especially Teresa Palmer, Alexander DiPersia, and Maria Bello. After seeing the creativity found in this film, I can’t wait to see what David F. Sandberg does next.
5. Hell or High Water
Hell or High Water is a throw back to the slow burn Western classics. The film may not be for everyone, but if you are a big fan of cinema or have an appreciation for a well-made film, I think Hell or High Water is one of this year’s best. The performances by Chris Pine and Ben Foster are excellent and could very well be the best performances of their careers thus far. Jeff Bridges plays Jeff Bridges, but because the role totally fits him, it works out perfectly. The film opens with action but there is a lot of build up and character development in-between the rest of the action. There is a shootout scene that will have audiences talking about for weeks. If you are a fan of Westerns, this is one of the best films of its kind to be released in quite some time.
4. Kubo and the Two Strings
The latest film from Laika Animation makes up greatly for the horribly mediocre Boxtrolls from 2014. This latest film from Laika ranks up there as one of the best films that they have brought to the big screen thus far. Kubo is a wonderful tale about storytelling and believing in yourself. It’s wildly imaginative and just a joy to watch from start to finish. The entire film gives off a Miyazaki vibe making it seem as though is it playing as an homage to his films and what he believed in. Kubo is the second best family film of the summer and the third best family flickof the year.
3. The Nice Guys
Shane Black is the master of R-rated buddy action comedies and that is proven once again with The Nice Guys. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe make a great odd couple and play off one another with such ease. Newcomer Angourie Rice is a welcome surprise and has no problem holding her own up against two big names as her co-stars. Its sad that a film like Nice Guys doesn’t bring in a lot of money at the box office because it is not only a great mixture of action and comedy but honestly, a great film with a well written story too boot. In a summer with so few great comedies, I am happy to say that Nice Guys is one of the best that any major studio can offer.
2. Pete’s Dragon
I absolutely adored Pete’s Dragon. I think its magical, beautiful, and everything that a family film should be. Oakes Fegley is an absolutely joy to watch as Pete. Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard are perfect as two of the stories supporting characters that help tell this tale. David Lowery‘s visuals are absolutely stunning and he is able to capture so much emotion throughout the film. Its been a very long time since I sat in a film and about half way through it leaned over to my wife and said, “I love this movie.” I did that with Pete’s Dragon because above everything else, it made me feel something emotionally while also making me feel like a kid again. I don’t get to say that too often so when I do, it means I just witnessed something truly special.
1. Swiss Army Man
I am giving Swiss Army Man the top bill this summer because I think the film is something truly unique and bold. It tells a story with multiple layers and is nothing like you have ever seen before. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are terrific and their performances are some of the year’s best. The use of music is perfection and works as though it is a character in this weird story. While Swiss Army Man may not work for everyone, I do believe it is the perfect change of pace from the standard summertime fare. Films as imaginative and different like this one serve as a breathe of fresh air. This is a rare film that can be viewed multiple times and be appreciated more and more each time. For all these reasons and several more, I am calling Swiss Army Man as the best film of summer 2016.
Well, those are my picks of my 10 favorite films of summer 2016. Do you agree? Disagree? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts. My overall view of the summer movie season isn’t as negative as a lot of people make it out to be. There were quite a few films that I didn’t care for but as a whole, most of the films that I saw in summer 2016 were decent films. I don’t think that this was a particularly great summer but at the same time, there have been several summers prior that have been far worse.