The Best Movies To Celebrate Summer


Whatever your summer mood, there’s a movie to suit it.

What is summer? A time for cold drinks and warm laughter, for sailing and swimming and enjoying time with friends and family – and one of the best things that come along with the season are the nights perfect for outdoor cinema revels. Summer is fast approaching, so get your sunscreen and swimsuits, and enjoy these summer hits with a cold beer and the company of your loved ones.

Summer Romances

When the temperature rises, so does the propensity for extreme emotion – be it love or hate, summer has a way of bringing out the wildest ways in people, especially when it comes to falling in love. Whether you’ve had your own summer fling or not, these movies will make you long for the magic of summer romance.

Before Sunrise


(Image from Indiewire)

Richard Linklater’s dreamy 1993 romance is the first in a trilogy, and the most unencumbered by the trials of adulthood, as the main characters are both twenty-somethings trying to find their place in the world. With two characters awkwardly trying to navigate through socialising and falling in love within the course of a day, the film captures the magic of unlikely connections in the midst of the summer heat.




(Image from Flavourwire)

When recent university graduate James Brennan is ready to embark on a trip to Europe, his parents drop a bombshell – they can’t pay for it. What results is a madcap scramble to take and keep a job at the local amusement park, a struggle that quickly becomes intertwined with the bewildering experience of falling in love for the first time. Toby Young (Times UK) comments that ‘the whole enterprise is infused with a quality of feeling, an integrity, that is rare in such a commercial film’ – the 80s atmosphere also helps to add a nostalgic touch to this tale of summer love.


(500) Days of Summer


(Image from Storypick)

Although not necessarily connected to the season through much more than the name, this quirky little film is a must-see in the summer, if only to enjoy the tale of two people struggling to understand what it means to be in a relationship in a devastatingly relatable way. It’s an inventive look at how people move around the world and interact with the people who matter to them, and a great watch no matter what the season – but watch it in the summer to best understand the connection between the season and the name.


Soundtrack to the Season

With the heat of summer, the temptation of an outside barbeque for your loved ones becomes all too tempting. And what better way to create the perfect mood than through a carefully-curated summer playlist? Take a cue from these movies and their well-loved soundtracks:



(Image from The Hollywood Reporter)

This seminal hit is iconic for so many different reasons – flashy cars, the Pink Ladies, the greaser-inspired wardrobe that lends its name to the movie itself. With a stunning soundtrack that includes gems like ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ and ‘You’re The One That I Want’ and brilliant performances from Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, this adolescent tale of love and discovery is definitely one to revisit this summer.


Dirty Dancing


(Image from Vox) 

Another takeaway from the twentieth century’s roster of endearing coming-of-age stories, Dirty Dancing is most notable for the brilliant ending scene – a wonderfully choreographed dance routine to the eternal hit, ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’. The soundtrack is just one part of a supremely well-oiled machine, with a zany script, sizzling chemistry between the lead actors, and a whole array of spectacular dance performances.


American Graffiti


(Image from The Dissolve) 

Rather than being a movie-musical like the other movies in this category, American Graffiti deserves a place on this list for its incredibly nostalgic soundtrack. The first hit of famed director George Lucas, it combines a few of his life-long passions – movies, music, and driving fast around familiar streets. It was a directorial debut that perfectly captured the atmosphere of a time gone by, along with providing a glimpse at the youth who inhabited it.


Nostalgic Throwbacks

Although a lot of movies in our previous category evoke memories of the golden days of youth, these movies deserve a special mention for being especially good at harkening back to the confusion and chaos of our teenage years.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


(Image from Empire)

The perfect depiction of childish rebellion, Ferris Bueller’s quest to comfort and encourage his best friend through cutting school and borrowing a Ferrari is one that appeals to people of all ages. However, the story of an adolescent on the cusp of adulthood is well worth a look back in retrospect. The movie’s feverish and excitable tone definitely makes one to watch for the simple enjoyment that comes with having a day off school.


Almost Famous


(Image from Amazon) 

Given a 4/4 from the legendary film critic Roger Ebert, you can be sure this is one film not to be missed. Following the journey of a teen journalist covering a rock band, it’s a brilliant look at both the rock n’ roll lifestyle and the difficulty of being a young person trying to grow up in the wake of parental expectations. The film also won an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay, and it was an award well-deserved.


The Kings of Summer


(Image from The Hollywood Reporter)

A more recent movie than the rest, but no less evocative for it. This coming-of-age story is a speculative and humorous look at the spectacle of children taking on their wildest fantasy – running away from home to build their own elsewhere. Ultimately, the film is about celebrating the possibilities that come with being young, while offering a frank and realistic look at how children and parents interact and come to terms with differences in opinion.


Surf’s Up

Australia is one of the best places in the world to go surfing, so it’s obvious that any self-respecting summer movie list has to pay homage to one of our nation’s favourite pastimes. A pastime wrought with both exhilaration and danger, these movies take on different elements of a sport that contributes to defining Australia’s place in the world.


The Endless Summer


(Image from TCM)

Based on the idea of following warmth to create an ‘endless summer’, this documentary is carefully crafted to great impact with its light, casual style. It depicts the journey filmmaker Bruce Brown took while tagging along with two professional surfers – It’s a whirlwind look at the world’s surfing scene, wrapped up in endearingly simple and beautiful cinematography, and approached with the seriousness and dedication of someone truly invested in the subject manner.

And if that’s not enough to convince you to give it ago, it has the lofty title of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.


Soul Surfer


(Image from Plugged In)

Released in 2011, this feel-good movie about the triumph of Bethany Hamilton, a real-life surfer who emerged from a shark attack unscathed bar for the loss of her left arm, is heart-warming and invigorating. Inspired by the real-life story of Hamilton, AnnaSophia Robb plays the character to great effect and with a warmth that’ll leave you feeling confident that no matter what the summer throws at you, you’ll find the strength to continue.




(Image from CNN)

The perfect movie for summer, for those who like to throw caution to the wind – an unusual choice for a surfing category, but if you’re still keen to go out into the surf after this, you’re probably brave enough to handle anything the waves could throw at you.

This Spielburg-directed thriller will have you on the edge of your seats, as a town ravaged with shark attacks attempts to subdue the shark, with attempts going awry in a variety of ways. Jaws is also notable for the nature of its creation – the film was made using both footage of real sharks and use of large mechanical sharks, and was the first major motion picture to be shot on the ocean.