Last summer was a good (not great) movie season. Granted, there were some notorious duds with Robin Hood, Jonah HexAvatar: The Last Whatever-It’s-Called, the one where Jake Gyllenhaal talked real funny and had his shirt off a lot, and many, many others. And, of course, there were some rather disappointing missed opportunities (*COUGH* Iron Man 2 *COUGH*). But overall, it was a solid time for both big event films and the smaller ones. There were two excellent high profile films (Toy Story 3, Inception) and a handful of great little-seen ones (Animal Kingdom, Cyrus, Solitary Man, etc.). And who could forget about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World?

This summer will most likely be no different. There are a few films not to get too excited about, but there are plenty of other films to get tingly about. There are two Marvel films, a new frickin’ Terrence Malick epic, a great looking new X-Men…the list goes on and on.

In fact, the list goes on right now with the 15 Must See Movies of Summer 2011:

15. Crazy, Stupid, Love

The Pitch: Long time writing duo Glenn Ficarra and John Fuqua became a strong directing duo as well last year with I Love You Phillip Morris. While it took that film quite some time to actually make it to the big screen, Ficarra and Fuqua delivered a cleverly hilarious film full of heart. Crazy, Stupid, Love looks to be far more commercial than Phillip Morris, but based on the trailer, it seems to feature that same non-cheesy heart, and Steve Carrell definitely can’t hurt.

Release: July 29th

14. Thor

The Pitch: Thor is about as commercial as most summer blockbusters get. It is simpleminded, features a lot of hit and miss comic relief, has a romance that lacks spark, and it hits a second act roadblock like many action films do… and yet why is it still exciting? Because despite its flaws, Branagh and Marvel have crafted a solid way to kickoff the summer.

Chris Hemsworth proves he’s far more charismatic than the so-so trailers had been leading on, and he does make for one helluva Thor. Tom Hiddleston gets right what so many of the other Marvel villains have gotten wrong: he actually features a sense of humanity and doesn’t come off as a cartoon character. And there’s Anthony Hopkins eloquently chewing the scenery in an eye-patch. Thor is another enjoyable Marvel film with an excellent hero and villain at the center of it.

Release: May 6th

13. Hesher

The Pitch: Spencer Susser’s Hesher features one of the most beautiful and moving moments you’ll see in theaters all year, and that’s not just the hyperbole speaking. Up until the final minutes, Hesher was good, but by the final scenes, it becomes something memorable. Susser showed great promise in his well-known short film, I Love Sarah Jane, and he capitalizes on some of that potential with Hesher. It’s a funny, dark coming of age story that features Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a narcissistic, and yet humanity-filled, man child.

Release: May 13th

12. Green Lantern

The Pitch: Green Lantern looks to be one of these two things: a crappy version of Flash Gordon or a cool riff on Star Wars. The first trailer made it look like the former. But the latest Cinema Con footage and newest trailer showed some promise, even though they still contained hints at a possible disaster.

The non-skeptics of Green Lantern always make sure to bring up how Martin Campbell successfully reinvented the Bond franchise, but they also forget to mention the darker side of his filmography: Vertical Limit, The Mask of Zorro, and the “meh” Edge of Darkness. Campbell isn’t a very consistent filmmaker, so it’s hard to jump completely onto the Green Lantern bandwagon just yet. Failure or success, it’s still rather exciting seeing a superhero film of this scope getting made.

Release: June 17th

11. Another Earth

The Pitch: After seeing the greatness of Sound of My Voice, I’ll just about watching anything with Brit Marling‘s name attached to it. Sound of My Voice was a wonderfully structured film — and with Marling having a co-writer credit on Another Earth – I’m hoping for something with the same level of audacity. It looks to be a personal sci-fi film more so about drama than the risk of another planet. The film received positive reviews at Sundance and got quickly picked up by Fox Searchlight.

Release: July 20th


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