We’ve been celebrating summer movies with a site-wide debate week focused on identifying the best summer blockbuster of them all [cough] Jaws [cough] and we even sent our picks out on Twitter to see which film would win based on thousands of votes. As everyone knows, though, the smaller the sample size the more accurate the results (this is not true), so in addition to the Twitter polling we’ve also conducted our own internal poll.
The results may surprise you, but only if you haven’t been paying attention.
Keep reading for our take on the eighteen best summer blockbusters of all time… as decided by sixteen members of FSR.
18. The Fugitive (1993)
Do you like iconic one-liners? How about seeing a prestigious doctor falsely accused of murdering his own wife? Getting to watch Harrison Ford in high-stress situations? Dramatic confrontations in lavish ballrooms? Classic gas station bathroom hair-dyeing scenes? Andrew Davis‘ The Fugitive has all of that and much much more. Come for Dr. Richard Kimble (Ford) and Samuel Gerard’s (Tommy Lee Jones) high stakes game of cat and mouse, and stay for Richard’s thrilling hunt for his white whale: the elusive one-armed man. – Madison Brek
17. Ratatouille (2007)
“Anyone can cook,” declares Chef Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett), the renowned French chef whose legacy shapes the plot of Brad Bird’s 2007 beloved animated blockbuster Ratatouille. Much like the movie itself, it’s a simple yet somehow profoundly heartwarming statement. When culinary-minded rat Remy (Patton Oswalt) learns that he can control the hands of hapless garbage boy Alfredo Linguini (Lou Romano), the unlikely team-up quickly transforms Linguini into a gourmet superstar – a setup that proves ripe for priceless physical comedy (which the film delivers expertly in lively, dynamic computer animation), but also a strikingly earnest message that reminds us that imagination and creative talent shouldn’t be discounted because it comes from an unlikely place (in this case, a literal sewer-dwelling rodent). It’s the cinematic equivalent of a gourmet five-course meal – both utterly delectable and full of substance. – Aline Dolinh
16. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
In the seven-year sojourn between T1 and T2, Arnold Schwarzenegger training-montage’d himself into a whole new kind of leading man; headlining the likes of Commando, Predator, and Total Recall to cement himself as a sympathetic action genre great. In turn, James Cameron‘s Terminator 2: Judgment Day needed a new kind of Terminator: a good guy, a protector, a capable beefcake to face off against the cutting edge CG metamorphic baddie of Robert Patrick’s T-1000. Throw in a gutsy teen and a newly gun-toting Linda Hamilton and you’ve got yourself one of the best summer blockbusters/sequels/action movies in cinema history. Humanity’s inevitable self-destruction has never been so goddamn fun. – Meg Shields
15. Bridesmaids (2011)
Summer means blockbuster season for Hollywood, but it also means wedding season. Bridesmaids offered something that many audiences hadn’t seen before in a summer blockbuster: an original female comedy, written by two women, with a scene involving Melissa McCarthy shitting into a sink. It’s now become the yardstick by which female comedies are judged, for better or for worse. – Sarah Foulkes
14. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Released near the end of summer 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy was no ordinary superhero blockbuster. As a film about a group of cynical outcasts who reluctantly answer the call to be heroes and never take themselves too seriously, it was a game-changer for the MCU and the superhero genre in general. By hitting on deeper themes regarding family and finding a connection with others, it not only accomplished making the heroes feel relatable but it also totally immersed us in their journey. Plus, it has everything you could hope for from a summer blockbuster including an adventurous story with lots of heart, smart comedy, and a killer soundtrack that takes you back to the 70’s even if you never lived during that decade. It’s entertaining and pure joy all the way through, making it a perfect summer movie. – Natalie Mokry
13. Ghostbusters (1984)
In May 1984, Columbia Pictures made a call to the world. They did so with a very catchy (if somewhat familiar) eponymous song by Ray Parker Jr. and its star-studded music video. The lyrics inquired, “Who you gonna call?” But the tune also asked, “What you gonna see?” The answer to both: Ghostbusters. The paranormal comedy offered a very fresh (if somewhat familiar) mix of jokes and special effects spectacle that hadn’t really been done so perfectly broad and accessible before and rarely has such a combo been done so well since. Bill, Dan, Harold and Ernie as Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston immediately became iconic in their costumes and their dialogue-driven personalities. Its release in June 1984 brought a cool new classic to the hot summer days, high in concept, simple in plot, just creepy and crude enough for the older kids while just light enough for the whole family, Ghostbusters killed so much with audiences, it shoulda been called Ghostmakers. Fortunately, it’s a lot funnier than I am. – Christopher Campbell
12. The Rock (1996)
Michael Bay is essentially a far more productive (but less talented) James Cameron. Just as Avatar has sucked up Cameron’s time, the Transformers movies have sucked up Bay’s, and it’s a damn shame too because when he’s not churning out giant sentient robot flicks he’s delivered some highly entertaining big-screen entertainment. Bad Boys, 13 Hours, and The Island (shut up, it’s great) are all exciting watches, but his action masterpiece is The Rock. There’s charisma to spare on both sides of the moral divide, there’s a suspenseful countdown scenario, and the stellar action set-pieces run the gamut of shootouts, car chases, and brawls. Everything about this movie rocks, and yeah, that pun was intended. – Rob Hunter
11. Star Wars (1977)
Forty years and eight sequels later, it’s easy to dismiss George Lucas‘ zippy hero’s journey as just the beginning of decades upon decades of Hollywood noise. You shouldn’t. Jaws may have invented the summer blockbuster, but Star Wars perfected it, leaping from set piece to set piece with the wild abandon of a ten-year-old dropping his action figures off of the backyard porch. Modern blockbusters can keep tossing explosions around; they’ll never top the pure exhilaration of that climactic trench run. – John DiLillo
10. Aliens (1986)
Most sequels follow in lock-step with their predecessor in every way but size, but James Cameron‘s sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic is every bit as fantastic even as it changes up the genre. The sci-fi is still here, obviously, but the slasher/horror aspect of Alien is traded in for blistering action and epic set-pieces. Sigourney Weaver delivers one of the screen’s most memorable kick-ass females. The film does a fantastic job introducing a broad selection of characters before setting their world ablaze with alien carnage, corporate fuckery, and incredibly suspenseful sequences. It’s over two hours of pure adrenaline, and it’s always a good time to enjoy it again. – Rob Hunter