It’s August now, which means summer is nearly over, which is a fact that’s too painful for me to currently contemplate. So, instead of looking ahead to the temperature dropping and the leaves falling and oh God, snow, let’s do something way less depressing and at least mildly more productive. Let’s hand out awards to the summer’s best movies. (Please note: these are entirely arbitrary, so please don’t @ me about how I overlooked Teen Titans Go! To the Movies for Best Meta Post-Credits Sequence.) Also, since technically, summer movie season now starts in early spring, we’re counting everything released from Avengers: Infinity War on as a “summer movie.” Got it? Good. OK, let’s go!
Best Trailer Moment
Henry Cavill’s gun show, Mission: Impossible – Fallout
According to Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie, this instantly GIF-able moment was entirely improvised by Cavill, so really, he has only himself to blame for the fact that fans will be asking him to do the now-signature move on red carpets and at Comic-Cons and while standing in line at coffee shops for the rest of his natural life.1
Best Fight Scene
The bathroom fight, Mission: Impossible – Fallout
See above. This is not even remotely up for debate.
Best Chase Scene
The helicopter chase, Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Coming in a close second: “Literally any chase from Fallout.” And a distant third: Ant-Man and the Wasp’s Hot Wheels-inspired car chase down Lombard Street.
Best Use of a Household Object as a Weapon
The fondue pot, The Spy Who Dumped Me
Apologies to The Equalizer 2, which sees Denzel Washington’s super-assassin make use of everything from a credit card to bags of flour to dispatch his enemies. But you expect to see creative weaponry in an Equalizer movie. You don’t in a Mila Kunis movie.
Best Use of CGI
Jeremy Renner’s arms, TAG
Infinity War turned Josh Brolin into an aggro purple alien, Fallen World brought entire extinct species back to life, but credit TAG with the summer’s most impressive special effects work: covering for the fact that professional action movie star Jeremy Renner broke both his armsfilming a studio comedy about grown-ass adults playing tag.
Best Costume Design
Tessa Thompson’s earrings, Sorry to Bother You
The Coup frontman Boots Riley makes every inch of every frame count in his feature debut, but if costume designer Deirdra Elizabeth Govan doesn’t at least get an Oscar nomination for her work on Sorry to Bother You — which includes the very definition of “statement earrings” — I will take to the streets. (Honorable Mention: Cate Blanchett’s A+ jacket game in Ocean’s 8.)
Best Breakout Performance, Lead
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
At times, Eighth Grade feels more like a documentary about an eighth grader’s last week in middle school than a scripted film, and that’s largely thanks to Fisher, who delivers a performance that is so good and so natural and so real, it’s borderline hard to watch at times.
Best Breakout Performance, Supporting
Zazie Beetz, Deadpool 2
It takes talent, not luck, to steal scenes against a character who never, not even for one second, shuts up, and Beetz’s Domino was easily the best new addition to the Deadpool 2 squad.
Best Breakout Performance, CGI
Stiggy the Stygimoloch, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
I know falling in love with artificially-created dinosaurs is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place — just to be clear, I’m talking about yet another lame Jurassic Park sequel, not the park itself — but I don’t care. I rooted harder for that plucky little headbutting dinosaur than any other character in Fallen Kingdom, human or otherwise.
Best Breakout Performance, Facial Hair
Chris Evans’ beard, Avengers: Infinity War
A surprisingly tight race, considering Henry Cavill’s Fallout ‘stache almost singlehandedly (or is it singlefollically?) torpedoed Justice League earlier this year. Gallons of digital ink have been spilled on each, but Cavill’s mustache was garden-variety dastardly villain stuff. After the events of Civil War, Cap suddenly showing up with a teacher-on-summer-vacation beard in Infinity War instantly conveys that the most by-the-book Avenger has suddenly run out of fucks, and that counts as important character development, people.
Best Performance by a Hollywood Chris
Chris Hemsworth, Avengers: Infinity War
After Ragnarok and now Infinity War, I am 100 percent here for Hemsworth taking the mantle from Robert Downey Jr. as the Marvel-verse’s new team leader.
Best Performance by a Fast and the Furious cast member
Jason Statham, The Meg trailer
In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s no Fast and the Furiousmovie releasing this summer – which, boo – but luckily, we’ve got the next best thing thanks toThe Meg. AKA the movie where Jason Statham fights a giant shark. I haven’t actually seen it yet, but I’m willing to award this one early, based on the trailers alone. The way Statham flatly delivers the line “Oh my God. It’s a megalodon.” should be taught in acting schools.
Best Performance by a Supervillain
Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War
With an honorable mention going out to the skyscraper in Skyscraper.
Best Performance by a Superhero
Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible – Fallout
I know Ethan Hunt’s technically not a superhero, but considering Cruise filmed like 90% of Fallout’s action scenes on a still-shattered ankle, I’m pretty sure Tom might be.
Best On-Screen Chemistry
Thor and Rocket, Avengers: Infinity War
Ninety-nine percent of the appeal of Marvel’s massive superhero mashup was getting to see how the MCU’s various superstars played together, which makes it hard to choose any one duo. But the odd couple pairing of Hemsworth’s Thor and Bradley Cooper’s Rocket was the peanut butter and jelly of Infinity War’s infinite superhero combos. We knew they’d be funny together, but then things got surprisingly sweet. (Also, considering one of them was fully CGI, that’s an added degree of difficulty the human pairings can’t match.)
Best Off-Screen Chemistry
The entire cast of Ocean’s 8
Like all Ocean’s movies, part of what this breezy heist franchise tick is feeling like the cast is enjoying themselves as much (or even more) than you are. Even though, in this case, that came across better on the press tour than in the actual movie.
Best Third-Act Mindfuck
Sorry to Bother You
It was a neck-and-neck race between Infinity War’s finger snap and the completely batshit insane (but in a good way) Sorry to Bother You — with an honorary mention going out to Hereditary (hail Paimon!). I’m going to give the slight edge to the Oakland-set surrealist comedy though, since it’s been out for almost a month now and the amazing hard left turn the movie takes in its final half hasn’t been spoiled on Twitter yet. (And no, I’m not about to do so here. You really need to see it for yourself.)
Best Attempt at Giving Audiences a Feature-Length Panic Attack
A three-way tie between Skyscraper, Mission: Impossible — Fallout, and Eighth Grade
It may sound like a joke, but it’s not: watching a socially-awkward 13-year-old go to her first middle school pool party in Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is every bit as stressful as seeing Cruise dangle off a helicopter in Fallout, or The Rock leap into a burning building from a construction crane.
Best Movie About the Current Administration that Isn’t Technically About the Current Administration
Sorry, The First Purge. This one goes out to Spike Lee’s Cannes-winning true story, which is officially about a detective who successfully infiltrates the white supremacist Klu Klux Klan (despite not being, you know, white), but also openly winks at modern audiences with lines about how “America would never elect a racist President.”
Best Elaborate Troll Disguised as a “Real” “Movie”
Starring Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen (and Turtle from Entourage) in a Toronto-set, Romeo and Juliet-style rom-com about warring pizza places.2 Really. It’s on IMDB and everything.
Most Pointless Sequel
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
It wouldn’t be summer movie season without plenty of unnecessary sequels, but I have to give this one to Day of the Soldado, which followed up the tense, gorgeously-shot 2015 crime thriller with some particularly ugly fear-mongering and an entirely transparent attempt to turn Benicio Del Toro’s hitman into a franchise anti-hero, minus the three best things the original Sicariohad going for it: Emily Blunt, Denis Villeneuve directing, and Roger Deakins behind the camera. Hooray?
Most Pointless Prequel
Solo: A Star Wars Story
To be fair, it’s not like Solo had a ton of competition in this department this year. But if you ever wanted to spend over two hours to find out how Han got his spaceship, blaster and last name, this is the summer movie for you!
Best Titled Sequel
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
I know it’s part of the song lyrics, but I don’t know why every summer franchise doesn’t adopt this format for their sequels. Just try to tell me you wouldn’t watch Mission: Impossible — Here We Go Again.
Most Confusingly Titled Sequel
The First Purge
Again, I know The First Purge is a prequel about, naturally, the very first purge, but it’s also now the fourth movie in the horror franchise, and just thinking about trying to talk to someone about “the first Purge movie” versus “The First Purge movie” gives me enough of a headache that I momentarily wish the purge was real.
Best Movie, Non-Blockbuster Edition
Sorry to Bother You
It’s probably no coincidence that in a season largely defined by studios (and filmmakers) playing it safe, both these movies feel downright dangerous by comparison.
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|1.||↑||Chadwick Boseman feels your pain, Henry.|
|2.||↑||Even better: I recently found out someone already made a movie with this exact plot in 2005, only it was called Pizza My Heart and set in New Jersey. Great minds, etc.|