Well, it’s that time of year again. Now that the summer movie season has officially come to a close, I figured I’d do a reflection of some of the best movies and performances this summer had to offer.
Before I go a little further, I’ll just say that this summer was quite an eclectic moviegoing experience. From highly anticipated movie sequels to indie sensations that became specialty hits, there was an exciting crop of films that had me feeling a gamut of emotions. One could only hope that the fall movie season ends up being just as exciting.
On a side note, my criteria is films released from the beginning of May to the end of August. So, Avengers: Infinity War sadly did not make the cut. Anyhow, here are my Summer Superlatives:
Best Movie | Eighth Grade
All the movies I’ve seen during the summer had me feeling a spectrum of emotions: BlacKkKlansman left me angry over our current political climate; Hereditary scared me half to death; I laughed my arse off during Crazy Rich Asians and The Spy Who Dumped Me; Hearts Beat Loud left a huge smile on my face; And Won’t You Be My Neighbor? reduced me to a puddle. But ultimately, the film this summer that struck a chord with me the most was Eighth Grade.
Eighth Grade was like a bittersweet trip back to one of the most difficult periods of my lifetime and it is simultaneously humorous and heartbreaking. As Kayla Day, a middle schooler trying to live through her last week of middle school, Elsie Fisher handles the film’s balance of humor and heartbreak with absolute ease. Of course, credit should also go to Josh Hamilton as Kayla’s father. His monologue at the very end will surely go down as one of the best scenes of the year.
Best Performance | Toni Collette, Hereditary
I would say they should just cancel the Best Actress race and give all the awards to Toni Collette in Hereditary. But what wouldn’t exactly be fair to all the performances we have yet to see. Plus, the overdue Glenn Close is finally waiting for her turn with her powerhouse portrayal in The Wife. That being said, it’s hard to find a performance from this summer and this year that is more daring and detailed than Toni Collette’s. I’ve already talked about her brilliant work beforehand but I could go on about how damn pitch perfect her performance is.
“Star Is Born” Performance Of The Summer | Zazie Beetz, Deadpool 2
This category was such a tough one. I wanted to go with Elsie Fisher who was a breakthrough star in Eighth Grade along with Gemma Chan who quietly steals the show in Crazy Rich Asians. But ultimately, I went with Zazie Beetz as Domino in Deadpool 2. Admittedly, I wasn’t too crazy about Deadpool 2 because I thought the traditional schtick from its main character overstayed its welcome. But the one person who caught my attention every moment she was on screen was Zazie Beetz. Thankfully, we have more films from her to look forward to in the near future like the horror comedy Slice and the political thriller Against All Enemies where she stars opposite Kristen Stewart.
Best Sequel | Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Admittedly, this summer was a pretty mixed bag in terms of its sequel offerings. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Deadpool 2 were disappointments. Also, the less said about Sicario 2, the better. However, there were bright spots to be found. Particularly, Ant-Man And The Wasp, The Incredibles 2, Mission Impossible: Fallout, and my favorite summer sequel: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
Mamma Mia 2 may have the same escapist spirit as the first one with little emphasis on story and more focus on beautiful people singing and dancing to ABBA. But it’s still super enjoyable regardless. It also features an incredibly charismatic star turn by Lily James as young Donna Sheridan and of course, Cher.
Best Superhero | Ruth Bader Ginsburg, RBG
The documentary RBG brilliantly illustrates the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg who was and still is a strong advocate for gender and racial equality. The fact that she’s still in the Supreme Court despite being in her 80s is a testament to her tenacity and determination. The Notorious RBG is living proof that not all superheroes wear capes.
Best Film I Didn’t Expect To Love | Upgrade
The story of Upgrade is exactly how it’s advertised. It’s like John Wick meets Robocop. Yet, despite it being a B-movie pastiche, it wears its cheesiness like a badge of honor which makes it super enjoyable. Not to mention, Logan Marshall-Green gets to show off his movie star chops and prove he’s more than just Tom Hardy’s separated American twin. He has previously shown hints of his greatness in Devil and Prometheus, but they were still just hints. He’s a definite leading man.
Best Film To Surpass My Expectations | Crazy Rich Asians
Before Crazy Rich Asians came out, I’d seen the trailer like 50 times because it looked so fun. After I finally saw it in theaters, I then watched it a second time because it was such a fun experience. It is a traditional yet subversive take on the romantic comedy genre with a grade-A ensemble cast. Also, fingers crossed the cast ends up in the running for Best Ensemble at SAG.
Best Limited Performance | Jing Lusi, Crazy Rich Asians
Speaking of the grade-A ensemble in Crazy Rich Asians, one actress who was a standout even though she only had a couple scenes was Jing Lusi as Amanda, the ex-girlfriend of Nick (Henry Golding). When we first meet Amanda, we get an immediate idea of what kind of woman she is: airy, neurotic, and as it turns out, vengeful. The way she warms up to Rachel (Constance Wu) is like a snake slithering around its prey before it bites, feigning kindness before revealing her true colors with razor sharp line delivery.
While I enjoyed Cher’s grand entrance at the end of Mamma Mia! and found Harry Belafonte’s one scene in BlacKkKlansman to be impactful, I was mostly taken by Jing Lusi’s ability to create a three-dimensional character within a span of a couple scenes.
So, those are my quick summer superlatives. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section on what you think of these and feel free to share your own.