The defin­i­tive sum­mer movies list

Sweat your way through the dog days of summer with these extremely seasonal movies.

The Beach (2000)

If any film can teach you that a secret island of beau­ti­ful peo­ple isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, it’s this gem. Star­ring Leonar­do DiCaprio, the dra­ma thriller sees the 90s heart­throb as a back­pack­er who ends up on a hid­den beach in the Gulf of Thai­land. How­ev­er, it’s not just par­adise that he has to nav­i­gate – there’s vio­lence (gun-tot­ing mar­i­jua­na farm­ers), a haughty island leader (Til­da Swin­ton), and a love tri­an­gle thrown into this pack­age hol­i­day. —Alexan­der Aplerku

Ghost World (2001)

Ter­ry Zwigoff’s movie about out­cast teens put the word funky” back in the teenage lex­i­con. It made Scar­lett Johans­son cool (until she ruined it by try­ing to be a lit­er­al everywoman/​tree). It became the blue­print for Bar­bie Ferreira’s char­ac­ter Kat on HBO’s Eupho­ria. And the whiplash crack of humour is prob­a­bly too harsh for today’s dish­wa­ter polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. This film takes place over one sum­mer after high school grad­u­a­tion, as two best friends nav­i­gate sum­mer jobs, reme­di­al class­es and new romances, con­se­quent­ly drift­ing apart and dis­cov­er­ing who they real­ly are. —Trey Taylor

3 Women (1977)

Shelly Duvall’s hair should be the star of this film, but it’s her mouth that steals the show as the chin-wag­ging Mil­lie Lam­more­aux. She is a geri­atric care­giv­er who trains Pinky (a young Sis­sy Spacek) on the job. Pinky is seem­ing­ly obsessed with inse­cure Mil­lie, and the two begin liv­ing togeth­er. Mil­lie plays the socialite, but has no friends, and when Pinky becomes more pop­u­lar amongst their cowork­ers and neigh­bours, Mil­lie does the most to try and wres­tle atten­tion back on her­self – to dis­as­trous effect. —Trey Taylor

Gum­mo (1998)

Attempt­ing to explain Gum­mo is hard. Real­ly hard. Even after sev­er­al watch­es, you’ll be won­der­ing what the fuck just hap­pened. Was it real? Was it a night­mare? Thank­ful­ly, it’s not real. It’s direc­tor Har­mo­ny Korine’s sick­ly, hyper­re­al vision of Amer­i­ca – pros­ti­tutes, drug addicts, racists, mur­der­ers and rapists notwith­stand­ing. You’ve prob­a­bly seen the image of Solomon sat in a filthy bath eat­ing spaghet­ti – but did you notice the bacon strapped on the wall? Weird. If that’s not enough to entice you, in the year of its release, The New York Times called it the worst film of the year.” How joy­ful! —TJ Sidhu

What’s Eat­ing Gilbert Grape? (1993)

On this set, Leonar­do DiCaprio and John­ny Depp became friends. Depp was reel­ing from his breakup with Winona Ryder, and was most­ly drunk while film­ing it. That may sound sad, and it is, because the film is a tear­jerk­er star­ring Leo as a devel­op­men­tal­ly delayed tween son of an obese, bed-bound mum. John­ny plays his old­er broth­er, and just wants to live his life and date Juli­ette Lewis! If you’re stuck at home and can’t escape, this one’s for you. —Trey Taylor

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Las Vegas is quite the head-fuck as it is. Bright lights, fake build­ings and Celine Dion res­i­den­cies. It’s like the par­ty that nev­er goes to sleep. Which is kind of what hap­pens when Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo (John­ny Depp and Beni­cio del Toro) embark on a drug-fuelled jour­ney across the Neva­da desert, ini­tial­ly with jour­nal­is­tic inten­tions… until the acid kicks in. The scenes are vivid, head-spin­ning and a bit sick­ly (thanks to Depp’s hand­held cam­era seg­ments), but it’s the lead actor’s nar­ra­tion which real­ly steals the show here. Emo­tive, at times hilar­i­ous and very real. —TJ Sidhu

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Whether it is the sounds of trick­ling water and sum­mer­time or Suf­jan Stevens’s melan­cholic bal­lads, Call Me By Your Name pulls you back to the feel­ing of sum­mer lust. Elio, stay­ing at his family’s Ital­ian vil­la, meets Oliv­er, a vis­it­ing stu­dent for the sum­mer of 1983. The ten­sion and humil­i­ty between Elio and Oliv­er leaves a pang as their rela­tion­ship teeters between hot and cold. You will feel the warmth and the con­fu­sion of the affair as vivid­ly as you can imag­ine the feel­ing of seduc­ing a ripe peach. —Syd­ney Bradley

Mid­som­mar (2019)

2019’s break­through hor­ror has us scared of the light. As direc­tor Ari Aster’s sec­ond film after Hered­i­tary (we’re still shak­ing at Toni Colette’s per­for­mance), it’s every bit as messed up as his debut last year. With the plot revolv­ing around a mur­der­ing Swedish cult, this film lures you in, spits you out, then swal­lows you whole. Crit­ics have been furi­ous­ly attempt­ing to untan­gle the hid­den mean­ings. Is it a nar­ra­tive on the com­plex­i­ties of man­hood? Is it a Wiz­ard of Oz for per­verts,” as Aster said, or is it just his dark twist­ed fan­ta­sy played out on the big screen? What’s going on with the sym­bol­ism of that end­ing? What­ev­er the analy­sis, this isn’t a film for a weak stom­ach. —TJ Sidhu

The Sand­lot (1993)

The nos­tal­gic, com­ing-of-age genre at its best. Based in the sum­mer of 62, The Sand­lot fol­lows Scot­ty Smalls as his fam­i­ly relo­cate to Los Ange­les. Being a bit of a lon­er, Smalls finds base­ball as his tick­et to friend­ship. The Sand­lot kids, ini­tial­ly hos­tile, wel­come Smalls and the film fol­lows the group of pre-teen boys as they embark on the kind of adven­tures you’re only able to get away with before the age of 13. It’ll leave you yearn­ing for sim­pler times. The all Amer­i­can styling is great, too. —TJ Sidhu

Mud (2012)

In the deep South, two boys find a boat that hous­es a rugged fugi­tive named Mud (Matthew McConaugh­ey). Run­ning from boun­ty hunters after a mur­der, Mud lives on an island in the Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er, hid­ing from the law and stay­ing just close enough to his ex-love in the neigh­bor­ing town. The two boys get wrapped up in pro­tect­ing his loca­tion and rekin­dling his love, but risk their lives and inno­cence in the process. The dan­ger­ous allure of Mud, with McConaughey’s sexy South­ern drawl, and the dan­ger of the river­bank make for a sus­pense­ful sto­ry that’ll make you sweat like you’re under the Mis­sis­sip­pi sun. —Syd­ney Bradley

A Big­ger Splash (2015)

Direc­tor Luca Guadagnino’s sun-baked update of the clas­sic French film La Piscine (1969) is pos­si­bly the paragon of sum­mer flicks. It has every­thing: brat­ty Dako­ta John­son, ele­gant Til­da Swin­ton swan­ning around din­ner par­ties in her nos­tal­gic resort wardrobe” by Dior, a lot of fan­tas­tic music and a pool­side mur­der wor­thy of Big Lit­tle Lies. Guadagni­no is a mas­ter of this spe­cif­ic genre of Ital­ian post­card film, and if you’re not trawl­ing Sky­scan­ner for dis­count tick­ets on an Ali­talia flight then I just don’t know what to tell you. —Trey Taylor

The Flori­da Project (2017)

Dur­ing a hot sum­mer in Orlan­do, just across the free­way of the mag­ic of Dis­ney World, a young moth­er and her daugh­ter, Moonee, live in a bright pur­ple cas­tle. Their cas­tle: a motel run by a man strug­gling to keep it from falling to sham­bles. From child­ish mis­chief to fam­i­ly trau­ma, The Flori­da Project illus­trates the col­or­ful lives of the peo­ple in the motel and shows the endur­ing, uncon­di­tion­al love between a moth­er and daugh­ter. —Syd­ney Bradley

Kids (1995)

When we think of the real­ism move­ment of the 90s, Kate Moss’ Calvin Klein cam­paign, Corinne Day and hero­in chic all come to mind. Then, Kids. Bru­tal in its hon­esty and a big pill to swal­low at the best of times, Lar­ry Clark’s con­tro­ver­sial film debut tells the sto­ry of a group of teens in the midst of hedo­nism in mid-’90s New York. Sex, drugs and a fuck-you-atti­tude are on the menu, but HIV is also at the cen­tre of the plot, abrupt­ly bring­ing it back down to earth. As Chloë Sevigny’s first for­ay onto the big screen, Kids is every bit as raw and jagged as it is hon­est­ly bru­tal. —TJ Sidhu

Pride & Prej­u­dice (2005)

Two sis­ters. Two gen­tle­men. And a lot of beau­ti­ful hous­es. The Jane Austen clas­sic is brought to life with full vigour as Eliz­a­beth Ben­net (Keira Knight­ley) and Mr. Dar­cy (Matthew Mac­fadyen) quar­rel and chal­lenge their own notions of love. The green hills of the Eng­lish coun­try­side and the dra­mat­ic mono­logues are bound to make you swoon and exclaim, Mr. Dar­cy!” —Syd­ney Bradley

My Neigh­bor Totoro (1988)

When two sis­ters and their father move out into the coun­try­side, they didn’t expect to have such strange neigh­bours. The youngest sis­ter, May, finds her way into a mag­i­cal world of spir­its that only she and her sis­ter can see. Here they meet Totoro, the fluffy, tall, unknown crea­ture who lives in a very large tree and loves to sleep. From neigh­bours to friends, the sis­ters become close to Totoro as he helps them find each oth­er and vis­it their ill moth­er. —Syd­ney Bradley

The Grad­u­ate (1976)

Elaine! Elaine! Elaine! This clas­sic will bring you back to the post-grad­u­a­tion stress­es of not know­ing your plans for the future and that time you had an affair with the moth­er of the girl you are in love with. Giv­ing new mean­ing to the somber songs of Simon & Gar­funkel, young Dustin Hoff­man puts on a time­less per­for­mance of angst, lust, love – per­fect for your sum­mer. —Syd­ney Bradley

Sexy Beast (2000)

The suc­cess of this sun-soaked, Cos­ta Del Geezer film can be summed up in just two words: Don Logan. Or maybe just the word no.” The per­ma-tanned peanut-shaped head of the ter­ri­fy­ing mob psy­chopath, played by the phe­nom­e­nal Ben Kings­ley — draws the Piz Buin soaked Ray Ray­mon­do’ Win­stone out of his well-earned crim­i­nal retire­ment, and back into the path of chaos. Set against the back­drop of the beau­ti­ful Alme­ria coast, this one will draw you out of your sum­mer slouch by the pool and onto the edge of your seat. —Alex O’Brien

I Know What You Did Last Sum­mer (1997)

I Know What You Did Last Sum­mer was para­mount to revi­tal­is­ing the hor­ror genre towards the end of the 90s along with Scream. With an impos­si­bly good-look­ing cast includ­ing Jen­nifer Love Hewitt, Fred­die Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Geller and Ryan Philipe, …Last Sum­mer is the ulti­mate teen slash­er film with a stalk­er-style plot revolv­ing around numer­ous oh come on now!” moments. It’s pret­ty sil­ly, but well worth the watch. 90s slash­er hor­ror at its peak. —TJ Sidhu

The Tal­ent­ed Mr. Rip­ley (1999)

If only for the bath­tub scene, watch this. The adap­ta­tion of crime priest­ess Patri­cia Highsmith’s nov­el of the same name, The Tal­ent­ed Mr. Rip­ley is peak 90s Gwyneth, Matt and Jude. It chas­es Tom Rip­ley, an entre­pre­neur­ial wart who grows increas­ing­ly obsessed with this guy Dick­ie, so much so that he goes to Italy to track him down, meets him, befriends him and dress­es up in the mir­ror pre­tend­ing to be him. You can only guess what hap­pens next. —Trey Taylor


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