11 Best Summer Movies of 2013

Now that the fall movie season is underway, it’s time to look back at the summer season that was…

Frankly, this summer was a lot of hype and disappointment. The season started out with such promise but many films fell short of expectations. A few of our talented writers got together to sort out just which summer movies lived up to the hype or maybe even surpassed them. There were also some unexpected gems in there as well. Check out which films we considered the best of the best, and which ones you need to see if you missed them.

11. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

A haunting eulogy to 35mm photography, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a subtle, oftentimes entrancing combination of Walter Hill and Terrence Malick. While the rhythms of the film are indeed idiosyncratic (it moves almost like a proggy folk song), interested in tone and time signature than straightforward narrative, the emotional core of this doomed outlaw romance is hard to deny. With Saints, Lowery is getting at the way mythology is born — not only in terms of folk tales, but self-mythology. And his quiet film takes on an ethereal quality that almost seems impossible to describe. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a reminder of the American cinema that has gone by the wayside as we embrace the bombastic instead of the lyrical; a truly promising little picture that should be seen on as big a screen as possible. – Jacob Knight

Best Summer Movies

10. Blackfish

I was mostly disappointed with the summer blockbusters this year, finding many of their plots even more nonsensical or unmotivated than usual. However one of the most exciting and gripping films I saw in cinemas was actually a documentary; Blackfish has more in common with a psychological thriller that your basic documentary, and watching it will not only make you question going to Sea World again, but ponder about humanity’s relationship with all other species of strong intelligence. Need more convincing? Read my review here. It’s a great watch, but not for the faint of heart. – Daniel Johnson

Read our review here.

before midnight

9. Before Midnight

Transience becomes permanence, but that doesn’t mean romance has to die. An utterly perfect ending to what might be the greatest cinematic trilogy of all time. Few works capture what it actually means to be in love (and, more importantly, stay in love) like Linklater’s Before films. I’ve said numerous times that don’t like to rank films, but I’d be surprised if anything knocks this off of my #1 spot for the year. Just beautiful, achingly personal filmmaking. – Jacob Knight

Read our review here.


8. Star Trek Into Darkness

It was a much darker toned film compared to the first one and in my opinion it was much better than the first. There was so much more screen time for the other characters and it made me appreciate the film more. The Captain Kirk and Spock bromance was so much better in this one. I shed tears!!!! – Karin Abcarians

Read our review here.

Monsters University

7. Monsters University

This marked a return to for for Disney/Pixar after a 2-year slump with Cars 2 and Brave. Monsters Inc. is among my favorites from the studio, so I was happy to return to this world and these characters and they did not disappoint. Crafting a beautiful, inventive world for monsters that parallels our own, this may be my favorite film in the “college lifestyle” genre (see: Old School, 21 & Over, Pitch Perfect, and the 80s hits Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds.) Providing heart, humor, and a non-traditional lesson that — SPOILER — you don’t always achieve the dream you had as a child and don’t always need college to succeed, Monsters University was a bright spot in a summer of hype and disappointment. – Kristal Bailey

Read our review here.

The Wolverine

6. The Wolverine

While the third act leaves something to be desired, the strength of the first 2/3rds keep this among the best of summer for me. It plays unlike any other superhero film to date, showcasing Logan as he is dragged out of his self-imposed isolation by a spunky side kick in to the world of Japan’s mafia and major corporations. – Kristal Bailey

Read our review here.

5. Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 stands out from the other super hero flicks this season because it choose a much more personal story to explore. Rather than being about a superhero vs. a super villain, it delved in to how Tony Stark and the world reacted the major battle that took place in Avengers in New York City. Where do you go after an intergalactic battle? Apparently, you make it a personal story about love and loss that just so happens to include a villain. – Kristal Bailey

Read our review here.

4. Fast & Furious 6

The latest installment of our favorite street racing movie franchise scorched movie screens around the nation this past summer. This time around, Vin Diesel and The Rock were on the same side, and made for a ass kicking combination.  Along with the usual amazing car stunts that are prevelant in all of these movies, there is the secondary storyline of Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) reuniting. While I personally prefered Fast 5, there is no doubting that Fast & Furious 6 delivered on all points and was easily one of the most action packed summer blockbusters. – Kevin Taylor

Read our review here.


3. Pacific Rim

This is what happens when you let incredibly talented filmmakers play in the largest sandbox possible. Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim is smashing action figures together writ large; a giddy tribute to kaiju that contains enough heart for six pictures. Impeccably crafted for your local IMAX screen, it’s the movie that also acts as the “exception to the rule” when it comes to arguments regarding 3D post-converts (granted the studio lets the filmmaker meticulously oversee the project). And let’s not forget about Idris Elba, turning in a performance that dwarfs Gypsy Danger herself. Some of the most fun I’ve had in a theater this year. – Jacob Knight

Going to film school can sometimes make you a little, well, “snooty” when it comes to summer blockbusters. Once you learn about stuff like mise en scene, diegetic vs non-diegetic sound, and Eisenstein’s dialectical montage, it can be hard to get all that excited about popcorn flicks where the main conflict seems to be “how much stuff can we blow up before the credits roll?” But the best summer movies make you forget all that and just have a good time. Pacific Rim is an incredibly silly movie, but watching it I felt like I was eight years old again, smashing plastic toy monsters together in my parents’ living room while making “fwoosh, roar, toof toof!” noises. Is it a little dumb? Yeah. Did I pay to see it three times? Totally! So much fun. – Daniel Johnson

Read our review here.

best summer movies

2. This Is The End

When you put a cast full of hilarious guys together and make the plot of the film be about the end of the world happening while at James Franco’s house you expect it to be ridiculous, funny, and down right inappropriate and it totally was. It was an awesome concept. Also the ending of the film is the best ending to any film in years. – Karin Abcarians

1. The World’s End

The Cornetto Trilogy came to a close with quite a bang. This film had comedy, heart, beer and robots! It was fantastically written and Simon Pegg delivered a heck of a performance. Also, the bathroom fight scene and bar fight scene are two of the greatest fight scenes I’ve ever seen. – Karin Abcarians

I’ve seen this one three times now, and I love it more and more with each viewing. What begins as Edgar Wright’s This Is 40 quickly evolves into Edgar Wright’s They Live; a multi-layered alien invasion film that also works as a sly commentary on the destructive nature of nostalgia and arrested development. Pegg is incredible as the strung out junkie of a friend who nobody wants to remember (but, due to his insane antics, can’t forget), and Nick Frost is an absolute animal, devolving from being the straight “family man” to a suplex wielding maniac once the pints start flowing and the alien robots begin attacking. Easily one of the funniest, most heartfelt pieces of cinematic asskicking I’ve seen in a long time, and a perfect capper to Wright, Pegg & Frost’s “Cornetto Trilogy”. – Jacob Knight

Read our review here. 

Keep reading on page 2 for a few great films that you may have missed in theaters this summer and all our writers’ picks >>


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The Author

Kristal Bailey

Kristal Bailey

With a soft spot for movies that fall into the “So Bad They’re Good” category, Kristal Bailey regularly watches B-movies, 80s comedies, and sci-fi from the 50s and 60s. She also refuses to grow up if that means she has to hide her love for Disney and Pixar films.

In her free time, she enjoys reading graphic novels or books that are soon to be turned into movies, watching hours and hours of television, and spending way too much time on Twitter.