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10 Movies to Watch After You’ve Seen the Biggest Movies of Summer 2015

By  · Published on August 28th, 2015

Universal Pictures

Labor Day weekend may be arriving late this year (it’s still a week away) but for all intents and purposes the summer is now over, especially for the movies. How did you stack up with your blockbuster watching? Did you manage to contribute to the 10 highest grosses of the season? If so, we have some recommendations for you. Below is a list of the biggest US releases from May through August 2015, each one paired with an essential title that must be watched next.

You Saw: Jurassic World
Now See: The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

If you liked Jurassic World, you should go back and re-watch Jurassic Park to see how much better (and similar in story beats) the original is. And you should go watch Jaws 3D to appreciate how much worse (while similar in scenario) another sequel to a Steven Spielberg horror blockbuster sequel can be. But first, check out this early monster movie involving a giant dinosaur on the loose in modern times and at least a climax set at an amusement park. Even if no more believable, the special effects by Ray Harryhausen are a lot more enjoyable.

You Saw: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Now See: The Golden Key (1939)

I thought about making Disney’s Pinocchio the movie to see after Jurassic World, due to its early employment of an amusement park of doom. But Carlo Collodi’s classic story of a puppet come to life is more appropriate to the Avengers sequel with its story of a robot come to life. As I noted in my list of movies to watch after Age of Ultron, the 1940 animated feature is necessary. But now I’d like to also recommend a loose adaptation of the story from one year earlier by “the Soviet Walt Disney,” Aleksandr Ptushko. It’s another masterpiece for its stop-motion effects alone. And like in Age of Ultron, The Golden Key has a flying ship show up just in the nick of time. You can watch it in full here:

You Saw: Inside Out
Now See: Osmosis Jones (2001)

If you want to stick with the workings of the brain and memories in particular, fans of Pixar’s latest should move on to movies written by Charlie Kaufman, especially Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And the Japanese feature Poison Berry in My Brain if it becomes available over here. However, for another (mostly) animated work cleverly turning human insides into various worlds and characters, then I recommend Osmosis Jones, primarily the imaginative cartoon stuff directed by credit-shafted geniuses Tom Sito and Piet Kroon. I’d say skip the live-action stuff helmed by the over-credited Farrelly brothers but Bill Murray is still a hoot even in gross-out moments.

You Saw: Minions
Now See: Troops (1997)

If you’ve seen Minions, you might want a break from movies for a while. Maybe all visual media. If you can find room for a short before you go on your cinema sabbatical, though, make it Troops. Credited as a pioneer of online Star Wars fan films, this parody of the TV show Cops also focuses on bad guys, specifically minions, and also features little creatures – Jawas – who sound just like the yellow blobs who got their start in the Despicable Me movies. Watch it in full below.

You Saw: Pitch Perfect 2
Now See: Sounds Good to Me (2009)

While not the most attractive documentary, this real-life Pitch Perfect may have just come about too soon. Now, with the success of the original college a-cappella comedy and its recent sequel, a film about actual groups like the Barden Bellas would probably have more support. Still, if you’re now hooked on music comprised only of vocals, particularly those based at university campuses and competing against each other, you’ll at least enjoy the doc’s content.

You Saw: Ant-Man
Now See: The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981)

If there’s one thing worth complaining about with this summer’s second MCU installment, it’s the disservice it does to women by having Evangeline Lilly’s character, Hope, be perfectly suited to be the miniaturized superhero but rejected for the gig for no good reason. It made me recall a favorite feminist comedy starring Lily Tomlin (and is written by her now-wife Jane Wagner) as a housewife who literally shrinks in size via the chemicals in cleaning products, to metaphorically go with how she feels as a person – or how her role is changing in a post-feminist world (either one works). And it’s got Rick Baker playing a gorilla!

You Saw: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Now See: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1936)

Many critics and also nonprofessional viewers noted the similarity between the opera scene in the latest Mission: Impossible movie and the Royal Albert Hall climax of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. But most of them were thinking of the 1956 remake, and that’s just silly because it doesn’t even have Peter Lorre in it. Actually, both of Hitchcock’s versions are essential, as are many other movies with assassination sequences set in arts and entertainment venues. R.I.P. Nova Pilbeam.

You Saw: San Andreas
Now See: San Francisco (1936)

Although I mention W.S. Van Dyke’s Depression era disaster flick in my list of movies to watch after San Andreas, San Francisco wasn’t one of the official selections. Now I want to amend that with this here recommendation. The movie, which is partly directed by D.W. Griffith and stars Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald and Spencer Tracy, is based on the real Bay Area earthquake of 1906, which makes it at least somewhat more genuine than the ridiculous new blockbuster starring The Rock. It does take a lot longer to get to the destruction, but when it reaches the devastating event it does so with some incredible effects for its time. A thousand times better looking than the CG stuff in San Andreas.

You Saw: Mad Max: Fury Road
Now See: Stagecoach (1939)

Really, if you need to see anything after Fury Road, it’s Buster Keaton’s The General, which I featured in my list of movies to watch following a viewing of the Mad Max sequel. But if I don’t want to totally repeat myself, another essential is this classic John Ford and John Wayne collaboration about a stagecoach trying to make it to its next stop while being defending itself and its cargo from an Apache attack. In the other list I said it was too obvious to include (I also didn’t want to overlap too much with another bunch of related recommendations at another site), but that’s just because it’s so necessary.

You Saw: Straight Outta Compton
Now See: Chris Rock: Never Scared (2004)

As I spotlighted in my list of movies to see after you watch Straight Outta Compton, the N.W.A. and gangsta rap satire CB4 is a must, especially as it now really plays like a parody of this new biopic. But since that list there have been more and more criticisms of the treatment of women in Compton and the music it honors. To fit that conversation, I have to add another Chris Rock feature, this one a stand-up concert film where he addresses the violent, misogynistic representation of women in rap music and how women like it anyway – something noted by Selma director Ava DuVernay in her response to Compton, too.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.