Enter into a movie theater and you’re transported into a world of fantasy. The best movies are the ones that get you absorbed and entirely involved in the story, making you forget you’re merely watching a film, but actually feel as a witness to their events. These are the movies from this stacked summer that did it the best, topping my list as the ones to see.
5. “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”
Tarantino’s newest effort was a little slow paced for my taste, and I wouldn’t say it’s his greatest — hence the relatively low placing on this list. However, that doesn’t discount the fact that it’s still full of his usual fun, outrageous style. Set in late sixties Hollywood, the film features a magnetic dynamic between its stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. And being a Tarantino film, it’s a given that the soundtrack is solid.
4. “Official Secrets”
The surprise hit for me at the Seattle International Film Festival, this political thriller covers the true story of whistleblower Katharine Gun in the immediate prelude to the Iraq War. When faced with a memo implicating the US government in blackmailing other nations to go to war, Gun is conflicted over where her conscience lies. The film asks questions to its viewers that may not be easily answered — such as where the line is drawn between duty to your government, and duty to your country.
I will admit, being a Beatles fan makes me slightly biased, but this film has such a unique premise and satisfying hilarity that it proved irresistible. A struggling musician gets into a bike accident, and upon waking, finds that apparently nobody remembers the music of the Beatles. Using their treasure trove of hits, he finally rockets up in fame to become a big time rock star, but will that get in the way of his romance with his long time best friend? A perfect balance of romance and comedy, this is a charming little flick that both mocks the Beatles’ success, yet also celebrates the reason they’re so indelibly stitched into our pop cultural fabric: that their music is pretty darn good.
2. “When They See Us”
Too often Hollywood makes movies concerning racism from a white perspective, and it leads to stories that have good intentions but poor execution. This Netflix mini-series — based on the true story of five youths of color wrongfully convicted of rape — has the ingredients of a poor ‘racism is bad’ aesop movie like “Crash” or “The Blind Side.” But thanks to a great script and the deft direction of Ava DuVernay, “When They See Us” explodes even on the small screen of your TV. Coupled with superb performances and a raw shooting style, viewers can be promised a gripping drama of racial prejudice that unfortunately really happened, and even more unfortunately, could still happen today.
1. “Toy Story 4”
The list of movie series that are still running strong after the fourth installment is microscopically small, and yet Pixar’s flagship franchise defies all odds to deliver the best film of the summer. Not only does the original cast return to voice these iconic characters, but it even found a new way to explore Woody’s character. The adult fans who were kids when the original came out now see stories that they can relate to in ways they never would have thought possible from a movie for children.