The consensus for blockbuster movies this summer was less than enthusiastic. According to film critic Joe Neumair, box office ticket sales were down nearly twenty percent as of July 25. While there were some films that critics agreed were worthy of praise, such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, many movies were declared flops. Many argued that “sequelitis” plagued the mainstream movie scene—with good reason. Of the top ten highest-grossing movies at the box office, seven were sequels, two were remakes, and one was based off of another movie.
Some critics argue that the rise in critically acclaimed TV and Netflix series such as Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, and House of Cards is responsible for the decline of movies. Others argue the failure of Hollywood to successfully create blockbuster movies that integrate gender and racial equality is responsible for failing to bring big or diverse audiences. Either way, the failure of blockbuster movies to entice viewers doesn’t mean there weren’t gems out there; they were just hidden under movies like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Despite many of the top movies of the summer being formulaic and badly written, many of the indie movies of this summer were stellar.
The most critically acclaimed summer movie with a 99 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes was the indie drama Boyhood, followed closely by the indie action flick Snowpiercer. The flops of the mainstream box office don’t necessarily translate to the indie and foreign films of the summer, so if you’re thirsty for a good experience, don’t despair yet.
Among the top dramas this summer, Boyhood stands out in terms of movie-going experience and originality. A film which follows the same cast over the span of twelve years, it tells the story of a young boy growing up, complete with road trips, birthday parties, and graduations set to a lovely soundtrack with the slightly melancholy music of artists like Arcade Fire. Another drama worthy of note include The Immigrant, the tale of a Polish woman seeking a better life for her sister set in the 1920s.
Another noteworthy fact of the mainstream box office was the lack of successful comedies. Movies like Tammy, a slapstick comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, and A Million Ways to Die in the West, a movie written by the successful television comedy writer Seth McFarlane both fell flat with reviewers. However, the indie comedies of the year were prolific and well done. Chef, a comedy film about a man who starts a food cart starring Jon Favreau, received good reviews, and Obvious Child, a feminist comedy about pregnancy and abortion starring Parks and Recreation actress Jenny Slate was one of the highest-rated comedies of the summer.
So save the disappointment and start the fall by watching all those good summer movies that weren’t talked about nearly enough by the media this year. The majority of summer films are available on On Demand or will become available on Netflix in the next few months. Some are even still in local theaters such as the Bijou Arts Cinema and the David Minor Theater.