Can I level with you folks? I love going to the movies in the summer like few other things do. The huge budgets, the spectacles, the stars, the sheer capitalistic excess of imagination that gets plastered across the multiplex every summer is why I do what I do.

Except this summer.

Summer 2016 seems to be one of the deadest in a long time, offering so little in the way of imagination, spectacle, or even fun. Just a lot of entertainment that ranks cynical at best and jaw-droppingly stupid at worst. I dread every major release, and even the ones I’m liking tend to arise pretty tepid reactions overall.

2016 is so far a year of small films, the little engines that could chugging along and bringing a certain verve, vibe, and life that makes me remember why I love going to the movies.

This fall is bringing a bit more big ticket excitement, but as we slog through the rest of this summer, let’s take a look back at the top 5 of the year so far and the 5 I’m most looking forward to.


5) Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping


Pitch-perfect parody with commitment galore and an infectious spirit.

4) Green Room


Sheer unrelenting tension with masterclass filmmaking skill.

3) High-Rise

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A dark heart wrapped in a dark exterior; Clever, brutal, and inducing a level of self-reflection that makes the mirror uncomfortable. 

2) Captain America: Civil War


The apex of the shared-universe model creates a film that is exciting and emotional in way that only 8 years of history could make it. 

1) The Witch


Like standing in the presence of sheer evil, a film that is terrifying and beautiful in every frame.


5) Suicide Squad

While I won’t let myself get attached just yet, there’s a creativity and a life here sorely missing from its predecessor.

4) Kubo and the Two Strings

A proven track record melds with a distinctive style and an epic-seeming story.

3) Manchester by the Sea


If this movie has half the emotional power the critics have mentioned and half the skill this cast can put on display, welcome to the Best Picture winner.

2) La La Land


How could I not be in love with an old-school jazz musical by the Whiplash director starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone?

1) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

An expansion of the Star Wars universe in a way that Force Awakens wasn’t seems the unstoppable juggernaut of this year.