The Best Popcorn Movies of the 2010s

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Oh ho, we have reached a true milestone here now. So shortly after shifting from parts of movies and their advertising to listing actual movies, now we have come to the lists where RANKINGS come into play. And I think, at least in this instance, it should be acknowledged that the ranking is based on the movies’ function as popcorn cinema rather than as cinema in and of itself, although that did have some factor. I hope this explanation will account for how low certain entries are on the list compared to when my 150 Best Movies of the 2010s List finally gets posted here.

In the meantime, the popcorn movie? Everybody sees them. They are a mainstay of the summer movie season, one of my favorite seasons of the movie year to both jump into the cinema to catch whatever is the big talking point AND to get a gauge on how I feel the movie year is progressing in my view* (and it is indeed a shame that 2020 now looks to be a year that will not have a popcorn movie season, if it happens to have a movie year at all).

Anyway, even despite my penchant for austere foreign art-films that have extremely limited releases and my general allergy to the overglut of superhero movies taking up filmgoing conversation, I do enjoy the pure spectacle and comfortable genre trappings of a good popcorn like any other. And for one thing, I think if the 2010s haven’t necessarily proven to be an extraordinarily good decade for popcorn cinema, they have been so for action cinema which makes up the grand majority of popcorn cinema. So much so that this list ended up with 35 whopping entries that I decided on. I am not made of stone.

So – anticipating that my upcoming Best Movies of the 2010s list is not really going to have a lot of easily recommendable entries – I wanted to acknowledge the times when crowd-pleasers really did please me amongst the crowd. So for those of you who aren’t waiting to hear about 13-hour Argentinian pictures and quiet musings on crises of faith, I present…

The Best Popcorn Movies of the 2010s

Honorable Mentions I Wish I Had Room to Mention:
Pokémon Detective Pikachu, but then again I feel like I said all I’ve had to say in the Guiltiest Pleasures list, so I’m not too torn.
Baby Driver, but I still weirdly held up by how everything not driven by the music fails to me. Still definitely feature the second-best chase setpieces (not even necessarily just the car chases) of the decade.
Resident Evil: Afterlife and Retribution, I go hard in the motherfucking paint. Just not that hard.

Mentions That I Was Not Sure Qualified: Logan, DunkirkDredd, The Raid movies, The Conjuring-verse, Brawl in Cell Block 99, WidowsThe VillainessHaywireThe GreySnowpiercer, and Godzilla Resurgence
In which horror, political satire, gangster epic, surly bloodletting, and war picture are all at least somewhat dubious propositions to being popcorn cinema in my flawed eye.

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35. The BFG (2016, Steven Spielberg, USA)

Maybe the biggest reason this list is 35 strong, it would feel criminal to make a popcorn movies list without at least one Spielberg on it. And admittedly, while it was no less a great decade for Spielberg (what with Lincoln and Bridge of Spies standing as all-timers), it also still gave us a warm and gentle treatment of maybe Roald Dahl’s least angry children’s story. And it’s a shame that it was so undercelebrated compared to Tintin and Ready Player One, as it hit the sweet spot of motion-capture animation for these giant limber creations with its relaxed CGI camerawork and Mark Rylance’s gentle presence. The perfect mix between the wonder of early Spielberg and the bleeding-edge visual work of Spielberg.

34. Pacific Rim (2013, Guillermo Del Toro, USA)

Every English-language Del Toro film is due to get blowback for not being as good as his Spanish-language films and certainly I understand that this movie really doesn’t bother with having a decent script or decent actors outside of Idris Elba, but all I came for was the “oh my wow, that’s so cool!” imagery of giant robots battling giant monsters and I received it, no matter how ridiculous it is that they would wait until literally dragged into space to activate the robot’s overpowered sword. On top of which, the implausible world-building around the existence of these beasts is a lovely bit of creativity from one of the most inspired fantasy filmmakers (and wonderfully realized by Andrew Neskoromny and Carol Spier), from the diverse designs of the Kaiju to the dual-minded interiors of the Jaegers.

33. Godzilla (2014, Gareth Edwards, USA)

Again, I got the complaints. I get where they’re coming from. That’s the exact opposite of my attitude, though, as I feel like the fact that Edwards wants us to feel the incomprehensible enormity of the beast for most of the movie’s runtime is facilitated by those teasing shots where we watch shadows and body parts of the beast and explore the aftermath of its presence before giving us that great weighty monster battle at the climax in San Francisco. Do I wish they had picked a better everyman lead than Aaron Taylor-Johnson? Certainly, but I also don’t know that the character needs to function as anything but the unluckiest guy in the world who happens to keep running right into the spot where the MUTOs attack. He’s our view from below.

32. Star Trek Beyond (2016, Justin Lin, USA)

The only one of the reboot series that brought active enjoyment out of me, maintaining the swashbuckling standalone adventure tone of some of my favorite Star Trek episodes while still finding room for some moral or existential interrogations (even if they’re not as in-depth as the tv show was). The perfect balance between modern summer filmmaking and quiet humanist optimism that I look for in one of my favorite sci-fi franchises.

31. Alita: Battle Angel (2019, Robert Rodriguez, USA)

Iron City is a complete miracle of a detailed world-building, feeling like a chaotic hodge-podge of mechanics and bazaar energy and lovingly aided by some of the finest CGI that James Cameron and Martin Landau could throw away post-Avatar. But what I really feel is underappreciated is Rosa Salazar’s leading performance as a protagonist, emoting behind some powerful CGI animation to balance earnest naivete with steadfast learn morality and then put that on a bedrock of what a violent machine she essentially is. These two things make the material of Alita – however rushed in its structural delivery – a lot more interesting than it is given credit for and frankly I wish we had a chance to re-explore this again.

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30. Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012, John Hyams, USA)

Remember when post-JCVD, Jean-Claude Van Damme started trying to reinvent himself as a dramatic actor distanced from all the direct-to-video action movies and then that didn’t work out so he started going back to stuff like Universal Soldier? Who would have thought that it would lead to something again to the verbose mindfuck stuff of The Matrx while also trying to find new ways to mess with perspective based action setpieces. For a decade of incredible action cinema, I think the one-two-three-four punch of this movie, The Grey, Haywire, and The Raid may have had me leaving 2012 realizing we are entering a new age.

29. The Captain America trilogy (2011-’16, Joe Johnston/Anthony & Joe Russo, USA)

Look, it’s kind of impossible that we’re not going to run into at least one Marvel Cinematic Universe thing, let’s just get this over with. Admittedly even while it stood for more than half of the MCU’s run as the only mini-franchise I enjoyed within it (dethroned by a later entry), I feel diminishing returns with each entry. But there’s still enough to admire in each installment – Civil War has better chemistry and creativity in its action scenes to function as the secret best Avengers movie while even though the “political thriller” label on The Winter Soldier brings me to hearty laughter, it remains the movie finally leveled the previously shaky MCU on quality of crisp writing and weighty action up until it had to repeat that flavor over and over. But the real winner of this for me is the very First Avenger, which adopted that old-timey adventure serial style (improving on Johnston’s previous approach to The Rocketeer) and had a sense of gee-whiz comic book atmosphere that we do not get much of these days.

28. Deadpool 2 (2017, David Leitch, USA)

Quite possibly the most fun I had with a superhero movie prior to 2018 when a certain movie destroyed the game. But prior to that, it made a marginal step up from its annoying predecessor in practically every direction: it got a boost in humor from welcoming Julian Denisson and Zazie Beetz (among others) to its cast, it got a boost in action by having David Leitch and his reliable crew (including Jonathan Sela and Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir), and somewhere down the line even it got a touch bit more engaging in its emotions. Not too engaging because it’s Deadpool but the boost in quality was staggering regardless.

27. TRON: Legacy (2010, Joseph Kosinski, USA)

Is it shallow? Yes. Is it overlong? Absolutely. But it remains one of the most impressive accomplishments in visual effects, featuring all the toys that Disney money could buy in the 2010s to provide something sleek and appealing and fast so that it’s something like experiencing a walk through a super clean nightclub glowing in whites and blues while they’re shooting a music video to Daft Punk, whose score I will have no small praise shortly. It seriously feels more surrounding and fun – even during Jeff Bridges pseudo-philosophical rambles – than Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King, which used technology 9 years evolved to miserable results. Like Avatar, it is my solemn belief that anybody who did not see this movie in IMAX 3D did themself a serious disservice. And while I get that that’s the reason people didn’t like Avatar, I can’t hear you over the sensory overload going from Banshee flying in the skies of Pandora to lightcycle racing on the surfaces of the Grid.

26. Aquaman (2018, James Wan, USA)

This has already been said a billion times by so many people, including me, but it really can’t be more on the nose: it’s basically underwater Jupiter Ascending as directed by a straight man. That probably has several people out the door, whether it’s the Jupiter Ascending part of the description or the straight man part of the description, but for me… it fulfills the promise of all this cosmic cartoonish operaness and that gives us the brightest and most enthusiastic entry of the DC Extended Universe to date. It’s the most I’ve been able to stand Jason Momoa on-screen and there’s an octopus playing drums and a sea monster voiced by Julie Andrews, guys. What do you want me to say?

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25. Hotel Artemis (2018, Drew Pearce, USA)

Basically a nice sizzling little mix of dystopian…. world-building? (Most of it takes place in one location, but what a location!) and pulp novella attitudes. An ensemble of hardened burly brawny types that makes for excellent company while waiting for everybody to start getting at each other’s throats, with Jodie Foster providing a nice and tetchy human thorough way to visit each room and find out what everyone’s deal is. It is a tiny bit overwritten to me, but I think the sets and the characters play well with all the material thrown at them to make it an excellent summer respite.

24. Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7, and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2011-’19, Justin Lin/James Wan/David Leitch, USA)

And none for F. Gary Gray, bye! I don’t know what went in the water but just around the turn of the decade, Vin Diesel and Neal Moritz’s long-time baby franchise NOS’d itself up to a globe-trotting adventure where Dominic Toretto took time between racing to deliver bromides about his ever-growing family with familiar faces recruited for all sorts of prior entries and also the combined antagonistic screen personalities of The Rock and Jason Statham. And that would be charming enough on its own, but then the way that the franchise also began gained a complete makeover into being an extended heist franchise that is so dedicated to remaining cars-oriented that it will bring about ridiculous setpiece concepts like skydiving cars, driving cars between buildings, having a blackhawk chase cars through downtown LA, drive a car through the cockpit of a crashing jumbo jet, battle a tank on the highway, and my personal favorite: dragging a safe through the streets of Rio de Janeiro with Looney Tunes physics. The best mix of sincerity and wackiness – something I think has been lost lately but hopefully will return with F9 – it’s hard not to fall in love with the franchise if you’re willing to take yourself less seriously.

23. The Nice Guys (2016, Shane Black, USA)

Shane Black doing his Shane Black thing as we’ve expected from him and for some, that isn’t going to be much, but I can’t think of any other filmmaker I want making buddy mysteries. And even if it lacks the intense character stakes of Lethal Weapon, what The Nice Guys makes up that up for is with a nice shaggy hang-out vibe with Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe putting their physical comic talents to work on a prickly chemistry with each other. It even has the best of Black’s precocious child characters in the form of Angourie Rice’s Holly being a voice of conscience against Gosling’s pathetic posture and Crowe’s violent presence. But complexity is only a nice side dish to a good old fashioned detective comedy.

22. Ready or Not (2019, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett, USA)

It is fucking mad to me that Knives Out got more attention than this: it’s more vicious against the wealthy elite without even trying. Mostly because that’s not Radio Silence’s M.O. in making this picture, it’s more using that as a pretext for a big bloody mousehunt through a creepy sickly looking mansion and in the middle of that allowing us to see just how comically lost the antagonists are as the protagonist without undercutting the threat they present. It’s more slapstick than satire but that’s all I wanted to begin with. Anyway, I can’t decide if the ignorance behind this movie is why Samara Weaving isn’t an instant star or if it’s because we can’t tell her apart from Margot Robbie.

21. Unstoppable (2010, Tony Scott, USA)

How could I possibly use a Tony Scott film as the header here without paying tribute to his tragically last movie, maybe the one that worked most to warm me up to him as an auteur? After all, if you’re going to make a movie about a runaway train, you better bring a sense of momentum and Scott does so leaving behind any other concern – storytelling, character, arguably morality – so that the movie can briskly be in and out. Denzel Washington helps by being able to just let loose and play a more action movie inverse of his Taking of Pelham 123 character and Ben Seresin makes this working-class nightmare have enough visual grit to let it usher in enough silly action cinema thrills so soon after The Dark Knight demanded every action movie has grit or die.

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20. Machete and Machete Kills (2013, Robert Rodriguez, USA)

More so the latter than the former. I don’t know if it was stretching out the grindhouse aesthetic to apply to a concept that used to be more trailer than movie or the deeply burning political core of the movie to begin with, but Machete was perfectly satisfying popcorn cinema with training wheels attached. Machete Kills blew those training wheels right the fuck off and I think it’s the fact that it has no shame about being purely vapid cartoonery that kept people from liking it but that’s exactly the sort of approach that enchants me about this. Everything about it is just a pretext for one of two things to happen: Danny Trejo gets to say something badass or he kills a man in gory fashion and if any actor had a more suitable or enjoyable vehicle given to them on a silver platter, I don’t want to know it.

19. Piranha 3D and Crawl (2019, Alexandre Aja, USA)

Any other film snob would consider going from the New French Extremity to American creature feature B-movies to be a significant downgrade, but I think it gave us Aja’s two best movies in a pretty underrated horror career. And in different flavors too: Piranha 3D satisfies the tasteless gimmick-based tawdriness of my lizard brain while Crawl is pretty straightforward meat-and-potatoes monster movie that also happens to capture life in Florida in some stereotypical Disneyland way that brings it closer to my heart.

18. Black Panther (2018, Ryan Coogler, USA)

Probably the closest we will ever get to a director having complete control over their Marvel project while still feeling like something Coogler wasn’t entirely behind the wheel of (you really expect me to buy that the director of Creed is responsible for action sequences THIS garbage?) but the fact remains that it is the single most aesthetically enjoyable of all the Earthbound MCU films, utilizing afrofuturism to invite color into the designs of Ruth Carter’s costume work and the utopia of Wakanda as a setting. Plus, it has the best supervillain performance since The Dark Knight in Michael B. Jordan’s charged version of Killmonger. It significantly the least of Coogler’s pictures and it’s not even a movie I am particularly enthusiastic about, but it felt somewhat dishonest to not recognize this as the first time in years that the MCU recognized “hey, maybe we can have our movies look good rather than cruise through it?”

17. The Martian (2015, Ridley Scott, USA/UK)

It’s pretty nice that amongst the numerous space program pictures we’ve received this past decade – Ad AstraFirst ManGravityInterstellar are the ones that immediately pop into my head – we got at least one that didn’t try to be a cerebral mood piece but just wanted to be something of a crowd-pleaser. Whether you consider it a feature or a bug of the lack of true tension in the story of a man stranded on Mars, spending time watching Matt Damon figure out solutions to stay alive and contact another planet turned out to be a real fun time at the movies and arguably the last time the elder Scott brother turned in a movie that wasn’t painfully misanthropic. I would have sworn that this movie would have evaporated from my mind once 2015 was over, but somehow it’s grown on me.

16. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016, Gareth Edwards, USA)

Pointedly the only Disney-era Star Wars movie that I enjoyed despite it wearing as many scars of those troubled productions as the rest of them – including the fact that its third and best act feels very divorced from the movie preceding it – but it is the first Star Wars movie since the 1977 original that truly feels lived-in and unpolished in its settings and attitudes that I find a breath of fresh air from space opera stylings. And quite frankly, I don’t think the Death Star has ever felt bigger.

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15. Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2014-’17, James Gunn, USA)

Undeniably the two movies I’ve most enjoyed out of the MCU, largely out of the sense of surprise that something visually pulpy could come out of a sausage grinder of a comic book franchise. Part of that is how I think out of all the MCU sub-franchises, the Guardians of the Galaxy films have wriggled their way free out of being narratively connected as trailers for the next movie (barring appearances of Thanos in the first movie) but it’s mostly just the misfit energy of it all – Dave Bautista had not given any indication that he was this talented of an actor prior to 2014, Vin Diesel built a personality out of repeating three words, and there’s a zippiness here that is not received in any other MCU film besides Captain America: The First Avenger. And while I consider the second movie a serious downturn in narrative, it happens to boast the most deliciously colorful Kirby-esque setpieces of the whole MCU, basically delivering wondrous and irreverent music videos with every possible sequence it can so like… what part of a movie do you think I’m really interested in?

14. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014, Bryan Singer, USA)

Fuck Bryan Singer and we are not going to miss his ass but there was once upon a time where he could make the best X-Men movies around and Days of Future Past is the last instance of that. Does it get by basically by copying a lot of the beats of X2 (including itsincredible opening chase scene)? Yes, sure. But that also gives a lot more of its operatic weight and stakes without feeling like it’s not fun seeing James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart finally interact and witness Evan Peters’ Quiksilver go to work as the most overpowered speedster ever needed for an extended joke. And it’s telling that no other X-Men movie has been able to deliver that between or since, whether Singer’s later overlabored fart Apocalypse or Kinberg’s attempt to cash in on non-existent character sentimentality Dark Phoenix or whatever the fuck The Last Stand was on about. Something went right with X2, the makers of the movies decided to mulligan it for Days of Future Past and that was that.

13. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017, Luc Besson, France)

I have to admit this is a movie I deeply feel could be better than it is with just two small changes, hell maybe even just one. But let’s not focus on the negative: this has one of the most dazzling word designs I’ve seen in sci fi cinema since… well, the last time Besson made a space opera in The Fifth Element. It’s a bubbly and sloppy bit of space pulp that just wants to look for ways to provide imagery more comic book than anything else on this list and the odd energy of it all only endear me further and further.

12. Skyfall (2012, Sam Mendes, UK/USA)

Even the best Craig-era Bond film – Casino Royale – had a bit too much grim seriousness and devotion to the (admittedly excellent) thriller plotting to function as pure spectacle. But Craig’s third outing in the role, benefitting by throwing away the thorough arc until Spectre went and ruined that, finally got to be a breathtaking standalone action-adventure from the word go: the very opening sequence where Bond chases a man through the roofs of Istanbul into an ill-fated fist fight atop a train stands as one of the franchises best openers and the broad characters (particularly Judi Dench’s M) brought some of the biggest stakes to each surprising setpiece. And also, most action cinema does not have the benefit of being shot by Roger Deakins of all people so who could resist that?

11. The Shallows (2016, Jaume Collet-Serra, USA)

It’s basically All Is Lost except maybe a tiny bit less sophisticated (basically in the areas where it has to define Blake Lively’s character backstory) and now it’s a shark that will kill you instead of the sea. And because Collet-Serra is wise enough to rely on the basic fundamentals of a person trapped in a sea of blue and red – duration, compositions where the sea gets to fill out most, Blake Lively’s underrated skills as an actor – what we end up with is the first good shark movie since Jaws nailed that coffin 41 years prior. And all the better because The Shallows is less than 90 minutes long, which anybody who has ever had to tolerate my company will tell you makes it my favorite movies to ever exist. It’s the simple things in life like making friends with a seagull on a rock that will keep you from a shark’s gullet.

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10. Atomic Blonde (2017, David Leitch, USA)

Pure cool, but delivered with a purpose that should ostensibly make this one of the more miserable summer releases. And maybe an collection of the most European-sounding 1980s classics, some of the eye-candiest costumes playing with the exterior blues and whites and the interior neons, and the most brutal sounding dirty fighting sequences doesn’t keep things peppy on your end to ignore the ramification of what’s going on throughout this movie. For me, it’s like sinking into a cold bath of ice water on a summer day and losing mind of any bruises left.

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9. Wonder Woman (2017, Patty Jenkins, USA)

I mean, it’s largely on the power of a single scene but what an iconic scene it turned out to be: The No Man’s Land sequence as first proper big-screen introduction of Wonder Woman as character takes hold of all the DCEU’s bad habits – grey color scale, slow-motion, etc. – and brings it together to an undeniable singular moment of titanesque stature. And if the rest of the movie feels like Captain America: The First Avenger with DCEU clothes, it still manages to surpass by the weight with which it treats each moment: the “wow” where we see the shimmering Themyscira all the way down to the pain of watching WWI tear Belgium apart. And it’s all kept together by Gal Gadot and Chris Pine’s chemistry together as swashbuckling screen partners.

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8. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, George Miller, Australia)

It feels like the matter of contention would be less this movie’s entry and more this movie’s placement. I mean, if any movie turned popcorn cinema into an art, it’s Miller’s full-on 30-year-gestating ouevre of mechanical carnage in the hot desert sun and letting a simple tale of point A to B and back expand into a giant collage of sand and steel that delivers high octane thrills with no brakes. That there happen to be 7 movies I get purer unchallenging popcorn cinema enjoyment from should not take away from what an humbling accomplishment this movie turned out to be.

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7. Jupiter Ascending (2015, Lana & Lilly Wachowski, USA/Australia)

The only possible list where I can put this above Mad Max: Fury Road and… ok, I don’t think I’ll get away with it, but I’m not sure I care. I maintain that it is the best Star Wars movie of the entire decade, nay… of the century, nay! Of the last 40 years! Its visual ambitions know no bounds, its cheesy narrative knows no shame, it is entirely infatuated with itself and every insane decision it has made and the results are thrilling space opera moments from the Chicago cityscape chase to the speeding descent into Jupiter to the Brazil homage of ridiculous bureaucracy. And I think we need more movies willing to make such ridiculous choices and being in love with itself for it, if only we hadn’t punished the Wachowskis for accomplishing this.

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6. Incredibles 2 (2018, Brad Bird, USA)

I don’t know how many people allow themselves to factor animation when discussing action cinema, but frankly this has the best action setpieces of any animated movie I can name (honestly the only movie I think gets close is Kubo and the Two Strings) and I don’t know how memory has evaporated so quickly as to dismiss miracles like Elastigirl’s motorcycle-monorail chase where she physically expends herself all over the cityscape or the headache-inducing hurts-so-good pleasure of the strobe light trap battle or even the pure Looney Tune-ry of Jack Jack facing off against a raccoon. I think working in live-action easily stretched out Brad Bird’s feel for live-action physics enough that he got to have a lot of fun once animation got back in his doorstep and the results is a movie that I found a surprising blast.

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5. Edge of Tomorrow (2014, Doug Liman, USA)

The movie that convinced me that maybe Tom Cruise is back. Certainly the fact that it’s the most video game-like experience that one can have in a cinema is a big part of it, but the manner that the editing efficiently delivers the progress of that journey is one of this decade’s miracles of the cut and the willingness to have a sense of humor about itself and unexpectedly Cruise’s sycophantic presence as a movie star is a huge part of what makes this feel so comforting a summer watch.

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4. The Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy (2011-’17, Rupert Wyatt/Matt Reeves, USA)

Brainy action cinema, I called Day of Reckoning above? Say hello to the brainiest action cinema on this list and it’s the trilogy of movies about talking CGI monkeys that treats the concept as the basis for novel-esque speculative apocalypse storytelling. Not for nothing as that CGI lends itself to the steadily-improving peak of character animation work since Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies recognizing the personalities of the likes Caesar (the career-height of Andy Serkis) and Koba and all the others too. And what different flavors we get: the science-gone-wrong of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the tense tribalism of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and the cold prison escape picture of War for the Planet of the Apes all deliver the sort of big operatic drama to match with the underspoken spectacle of watching CGI animals take over the world that it makes total sense one moment we can shed a tear for Caesar finding his legacy filled with death and the next we can watch Koba firing semi-automatics off a galloping horse.

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3. The John Wick trilogy (2014-’19, Chad Stahelski & David Leitch, USA)

There is just something absolutely satisfying in the way that we have a trilogy that – like climbing up steps – has gotten better and better with each subsequent entry especially where John Wick already started off by delivering emotionally impressionable gun fu, followed by Chapter 2 becoming this European art film with blood splattering on reflective surfaces and finally Chapter 3 explodes into this extended globetrotting brawl where everybody wants a piece of Keanu Reeves’ unstoppable assassin (the best performance of his career where he turns his lack of emotiveness into a boon of growing exhaustion and physical dedication) who can turn anything into a deadly weapon from a horse to a book to a fucking pencil. Sometimes all you need to make epic action cinema is a network of assassins and one really bad day.

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2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018, Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, & Rodney Rothman, USA)

It’s as simple as this: this is the best superhero movie ever made. And it gets that way by delivering all the goods that superhero movies are asked for in a breezy and propulsive manner that amplifies all the feelings I’ve had for Spider-Man since the original Sam Raimi movie (which this movie beats out). It is effortless, it is fun, it is engaging, and it’s all those things while performing some of the most ambitious animation works since The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Which is another thing, this is an amazing animated film (one that expands on all the things that The Lego Movie teased on four years prior) on top of being an amazing superhero film and an amazing popcorn film, so… basically every time I walked out of the movie theater after seeing this felt like I had just spent 2 hours swinging in the skies.

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  1. Mission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, & Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2011-’18, Brad Bird/Christopher McQuarrie, USA)

I don’t know what else I can possibly say. Tom Cruise is a fucking maniac and he is one day going to die on-camera and that will be the best movie ever made. In the meantime, we will have to settle for a collection of the best action setpieces ever assembled on-screen, containing all the adrenaline-based verisimilitude needed to make the audience fly all around the world with the world’s biggest reject of Jackass. That each subsequent film has stripped itself of any thriller-based shoe leather and gone straight into the kineticism is what sets the last three Mission: Impossible films apart from the first three Mission: Impossible films, which look like confused children compared to this big boi shit.

*It is a significant aid that the Cannes Film Festival (another major gauge in how I feel the year is going) immediately precedes the summer movie season and oh what a shame that’s not happening this year either.

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