From big-screen action thrillers to indie romance flicks, these movies will stand the test of time.
Summer may have come to an end, but a great summer movie is forever. And this year, Hollywood finally released a slew of highly-anticipated films that had been sitting on shelves due to the pandemic. The wait was worth it.
From Top Gun: Maverick to Bullet Train, 2022 marked the return of the big summer blockbuster. And while these major movie events offered adventure-fueled rides, there were also a few smaller films like Marcel the Shell with Shoes On and streamers like Fire Island to captivate audiences.
Whether you’re looking for a frothy rom-com or a terrifying horror movie to watch this weekend, here are 10 of the best summer flicks you should watch right now (if you haven’t already!).
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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Jordan Peele’s latest embraces spectacle in terrifying and thrilling ways. The story follows two siblings who run a California horse ranch and encounter something unusual in the skies above. No spoilers, but stars Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya give memorable performances as a brother and sister who will do anything to capture the otherworldly phenomenon. It’s exciting, tense, and memorable.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
The long-awaited sequel to 1986’s Top Gun doesn’t disappoint. Tom Cruise returns as the title character, who is now a test pilot. He is tasked with training a group of pilots, which includes the son of his late pal Goose, for a challenging mission. Expect spectacular action sequences and surprising emotional heft.
Genre: Period Drama
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
The Crawley family returns in Downton Abbey: A New Era, the second sequel film to be released following the conclusion of the popular TV series. As usual, writer Julian Fellows marries light-hearted comedy with heart-wrenching drama, which will delight and devastate viewers in equal measure. The best storyline is given to Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), who welcomes a silent film crew into Downton and inadvertently becomes the voice of its star when they’re forced to turn talkie. Bring tissues.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Fans of Bridgerton will love Mr. Malcolm’s List, a mannered period piece set in the Regency era. Like Bridgerton, the film, directed by Emma Holly Jones, embraces colorblind casting to give us an inclusive, diverse cast that includes Freida Pinto, Zawe Ashton, and Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù. It’s a will-they-or-won’t-they romance that has you rooting for the unlikely couple.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Although it’s been promoted as a horror flick, Bodies Bodies Bodies is more like Agatha Christie via Instagram. A group of rich kids gather in a mansion during a blackout hurricane and one of them winds up dead. How and who killed them becomes the central mystery as fingers are pointed and tensions rise (and, of course, the bodies begin to pile up). The cast, which includes Amandla Stenberg and Maria Bakalova, is especially convincing as entitled Gen-Zers who just might deserve what’s coming for them.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Ada Harris, winningly played by Lesley Manville, is a working class cleaning lady in 1950s London. After she receives a war widow check, Ada sets off an adventure to Paris to buy a Dior couture gown. It’s a beautiful, charming story that reminds you why kindness is the best quality one can possess. Fans of Emily In Paris will enjoy Lucas Bravo‘s role as a Dior employee who helps Ada discover her dream.
Genre: Comedic Drama
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
If you’ve never been introduced to Marcel, a tiny stop-motion animated shell created and voiced by Jenny Slate, stop everything and go watch his feature debut. The character has appeared in several short films and books since Slate and writer/director Dean Fleischer-Camp first imagined him, but this finally gives Marcel a fully rounded life. The twee character lives with his grandmother Connie in an Airbnb where a documentary filmmaker (played by Fleischer-Camp) is staying. After he learns that Marcel’s family went missing, the filmmaker helps the tiny shell find them. Again, bring tissues.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Imagine Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but with gay men vacationing on the summer hot spot of Fire Island. It may seem like an unlikely adaptation, but in the hands of writer and star Joel Kim Booster and director Andrew Ahn, it really delivers. Although there are comedic moments (SNL‘s Bowen Yang co-stars), the best moments are dramatic and emotional, especially as Booster explores millennial friendships and the challenges of staying connected into adulthood.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 54%
Sometimes you just need a fun, high-octane action movie to distract from the stress of everyday life. That’s where Bullet Train delivers. An ever-charming Brad Pitt stars as an operative code-named Ladybug, who is tasked with acquiring a briefcase on a high-speed train in Japan. Little does he know, the train is filled with assassins, each with their own agenda. It’s bloody and sometimes silly, but highly entertaining.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 31%
The much-maligned Netflix adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion deserves far more credit than it’s been given by critics (tellingly, its Rotten Tomatoes audience score is over 70%). The quirky reimagining stars Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, a protagonist who breaks the fourth fall and intimately converses with the viewer, often using modern-day language.
While some Austen devotees might want more of a traditional take, director Carrie Cracknell‘s version feels relevant, compelling, and emotionally wrought. Plus, Henry Golding is a snack for the eyes.
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