Top 10 Summer Movies: What Blockbuster Is Best?

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It is a sad time for fans of the warmer months as Labor Day arrives. But, it is a chance to look back on what was the hottest in film for the summer movie season.

Movie Fanatic has seen it all and yes, this summer was not on par with the legendary summer of exactly four decades ago. 1982 saw E.T., Blade Runner, The Road Warrior, Rocky III, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Poltergeist, The Thing and Fast Times at Ridgemont High delight audiences.

This past season was still pretty solid and possessed some serious surprises. Here are the Top 10 Summer Movies of 2012:

10. The Bourne Legacy
Jeremy Renner effortlessly stepped into a franchise made famous by Matt Damon. The Bourne Legacy was a leaner effort than the first trilogy and effectively set up the series for the Renner era. Rachel Weisz was astounding as Renner’s helper/love interest and the action continued to push the envelope as the series has always done.

Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy

9. ParaNorman
Fans of stop motion animation will cheer and those who don’t think they liked the format will be completely shocked at how astounding ParaNorman is to witness. The film about a little boy who sees the supernatural and will try to save his town from invading ghouls hits all the right beats and is easily the family movie of the summer. 

8. People Like Us
Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks are marvelous as a brother and sister pair who only learn of that fact when their father passes away. People Like Us is a story for our time and packs an emotional punch that is oh so good. The film was a refreshing adult-centered drama in the midst of the summer blockbuster explosions.

7. Ted
Seth MacFarlane shocked the world with his first full-length feature film. The comedy starring Mila Kunis and Mark Wahlberg with MacFarlane voicing the foul-mouthed teddy bear of the title was by far the funniest film of the summer. We have the Ted quotes to prove it! Let's get more big screen laughs from MacFarlane and soon.
Seth MacFarlene is Ted

6. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson achieved his best film in years with Moonrise Kingdom. No wonder, as his cast (Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Jason Schwartzman) was top notch and the story about two tweens (sensational debuts by Jared Gillman and Kara Hayward) finding love was touching and pure.

5. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Who would have thought that a film about the senior set beginning a new chapter of their lives in the Indian titular establishment would break box office records? But, that is exactly what the Bill Nighy, Judy Dench and Maggie Smith-starring vehicle did. It was one of the first summer flicks to hit $100 million in global gross and is easily one of the greatest joys of this past summer.

4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Oprah Winfrey has been going on and on about this film and we don’t blame her -- we did too in our Beasts of the Southern Wild review. The first film to truly have a shot at a Best Picture Oscar, we hope, is not forgotten come nomination time. Especially with the recent storm devastation that hit New Orleans, this NOLA-set film is as timely as it is moving.

3. Lawless
The true story of the bootlegging Bondurant brothers closed out the summer with a bang. Director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave combine forces again after their incredible The Proposition and give the classic 1930s gangster flick new blood by taking the action to Appalachia. Tom Hardy gives a performance that is worthy of Oscar love and Shia LaBeouf comes into his own as an actor as the youngest brother seeking to make a name for himself in Lawless.

Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf in Lawless

2. The Dark Knight Rises
A fitting end to Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, The Dark Knight Rises managed to wrap up the series with a nice, albeit explosive bow, and also leave the future of the franchise open for more from another helmer. Some argued that The Dark Knight was a better film with a better villain (The Joker), but Tom Hardy's Bane from The Dark Knight Rises does the trick as the actor scores again in summer 2012 by turning in his second stellar Top 10 movie performance.

1. The Avengers
The biggest blockbuster of the summer was also its best film. Joss Whedon did the impossible by bringing together the worlds of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk and the mythology of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a two-hour film that fired on all cylinders. Movie Fanatic knew when The Avengers debuted back in early May that the rest of the summer would be downhill because we had just witnessed the finest Hollywood had to offer this season.
The Avengers in Action

Honorable Mentions: The Campaign, Killer Joe, Katy Perry: Part of Me, Magic Mike and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.

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