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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