“Movies are a fad. Audiences really want to see live actors on a stage.” -Charlie Chaplin
Ok so Charlie was a little off. Not only have movies proven to not be a fad, they have evolved into these grand events in society. The summer movie season has been king since the late 1970’s and today I’m going to examine what I would consider to be the top 10 years for summer movies. As this year’s crop of summer movies is entering full swing I thought it was an appropriate time to do these rankings. I think the biggest deciding factor I used in evaluating them was the longevity of the movies that were released that summer. The other main factor I used was the impact the specific movies had on the times in which they were released.
1. 1986- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Aliens, Top Gun, Stand by Me, The Fly, Big Trouble in Little China, Back to School, Cobra, Labyrinth, Short Circuit, and Transformers: The Movie.
2. 1980- The Empire Strikes Back, The Shining, Airplane!, Caddyshack, The Blues Brothers, Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie, Dressed to Kill, Fame, Friday the 13th, Used Cars, and The Big Red One.
3. 1984- Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Karate Kid, Gremlins, The Neverending Story, Once Upon a Time in America, Purple Rain, Red Dawn, Revenge of the Nerds, Top Secret, Bachelor Party, and The Natural.
4. 1985- Back to the Future, The Goonies, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Teen Wolf, Weird Science, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, The Black Cauldron, Cocoon, Fletch, Fright Night, and St. Elmo’s Fire.
5. 1982- Blade Runner, E.T., The Thing, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Poltergeist, The Road Warrior, Rocky III, Tron, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Conan the Barbarian, An Officer and a Gentleman.
6. 1989- Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, When Harry Met Sally, Dead Poets’ Society, Do the Right Thing, The Abyss, Ghostbusters II, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Lethal Weapon 2, License to Kill, Parenthood, Uncle Buck, and Road House.
7. 1979- Alien, Apocalypse Now, The Muppet Movie, Manhattan, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Rocky II, The Amityville Horror, Breaking Away, Escape from Alcatraz, Game of Death, The In-Laws, Meatballs, and Moonraker.
8. 1994- Forrest Gump, Speed, The Lion King, True Lies, The Mask, Clear and Present Danger, The Crow, Maverick, Natural Born Killers, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Spanking the Monkey.
9. 1998- Saving Private Ryan, The Truman Show, Armageddon, There’s Something About Marry, The Mask of Zorro, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Can’t Hardly Wait, Buffalo 66, Out of Sight, and Blade.
10. 1995- Braveheart, Apollo 13, Babe, The Usual Suspects, Crimson Tide, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Pocahontas, Batman Forever, Clueless, Species, Waterworld, and Desperado.
Bits of Banter from the Balcony with Joseph Williams: Look, Clayton. I know you thought you’d buy my approval by making the year I was born #1, but it’s just the wrong decision. 1986 should be towards the bottom of the list, most definitely NOT at the top. There are many tragedies on this list. To name a few… 1) Well, I would have put every single one of #2 – #10 above what you put as #1. 2) At least you put The Lion King summer ahead of the Pocahontas summer… 1994 is one of the best years for movies period, although many of the greats didn’t release in the summertime. 3) The fact that you don’t mention 1977 as a summer worth at least honorable mention is beyond me! 4) No 1993? NO 1993?!?!? Jurassic Park, The Fugitive, The Firm, Sleepless in Seattle (R.I.P. Nora Ephron), Cliffhanger, Free Willy, Rookie of the Year, Hocus Pocus, Dennis the Menace, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. First place it is not… but nor should it be out of the Top 10. 5) Ultimately, I have to agree with the majority of what you’ve done here. Despite your #1 pick where you must have been jonesing for Ferris Bueller after that something-of-a-Super Bowl ad, your list is strong and your order is commendable. Your 2 through 10 contains some of the best summers in film history that can’t be denied. We’d all be better off if our summer movie seasons were more like these. You’ve chosen admirably and done a heckuva job. P.S. If you were going to try to bias me with your #1 pick, why on earth did you not go 1985? Back to the Future AND Teen Wolf? Goonies AND Pee Wee? Just too much to love… perhaps that’s its only fault.
Past “The Ten” Posts