Film_Mad Max_Belt

Last month, I recommended some 2014 films to watch at home in case you were tired of going the multiplex. Today, I’m singing the praises of the summer movies of 2015. Some of them anyway.

If I had to make a top ten of this summer’s releases it would probably go something like this:

  1. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. Spy
  4. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
  5. Mistress America
  6. Magic Mike XXL
  7. Trainwreck
  8. Mr. Holmes
  9. Pitch Perfect 2
  10. Ant-Man

On any given day, the exact order might change, but this is pretty much it. And yes, I did see Avengers: Age of Ultron and Inside Out. Blockbusters I didn’t see include Jurassic World, Minions, San Andreas, and Terminator: Genisys, none of which I suspect would make it on this list. Movies I haven’t yet had a chance to see but hope to catch soon include Dope (see comments below), The Gift, Love & Mercy, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and (maybe) Straight Outta Compton.

If one thing stands out on this top ten list, it’s the feminism of it all. Women—their abilities, choices, desires, and friendships—are at the forefront of most of these films. From the more blatantly feminist Spy and The Diary of a Teenage Girl (directed by newcomer Marielle Heller), to the stealth feminist attack of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (seriously, go see this one and be shocked and amazed to see a woman treated as a peer in every way), to the body-positive Magic Mike XXL, it was a great summer to be a woman at the movies. In fact, one reason Ant-Man is so low on this list is that its patriarchal bent seems rather out-of-touch in comparison—though it’s still light years ahead of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel really needs to get their act together.

In any case, I hope the Hollywood studios are taking notice of the fact that these kinds of films have legs: As of this week, less than one-third of the total box office of Mad Max: Fury Road (30%), Magic Mike XXL (20%), and Spy (26%) is from their opening weekends. Despite opening lower than many tent-pole films, they have risen through the rankings and come out with very respectable numbers. Compare that to a movie such as Age of Ultron, whose opening weekend box office represents 42 percent of its total take.

But enough with statistics, let’s get to specifics!

—If you don’t know what you’re selling, no one will know how to buy it.
—What are you selling?
—So many things!

Mistress America

Here are twenty items to sell you on my top ten.

Most Fun: Spy

Most Charm: Mistress America

Most Tension: Mad Max: Fury Road

Most Pleasant Surprise: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Most Thought-Provoking: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Best Cinematography: John Seale for Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Screenplay: Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig for Mistress America

Best Production Design: Jonah Markowitz for The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Best Trailer: Ant-Man

Best Ensemble: Magic Mike XXL

Outstanding Female Performance: Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Outstanding Male Performance: Ian McKellen in Mr. Holmes

Outstanding Comedic Performance: Jason Statham in Spy

Best Cameo: Snoop Dogg in Pitch Perfect 2

Best Extended Cameo: LeBron James in Trainwreck

Best Use of Thomas the Tank Engine: Ant-Man

Best Villain: Das Sound Machine in Pitch Perfect 2

Woman I Most Want to Be: Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Inspector Clouseau Master of Disguise Award: Tilda Swinton in Trainwreck

Stuart Smalley Positive Affirmation Award: Magic Mike XXL

Catch them if you can!