Illustration of popcorn, film and 3D glasses Credit: Kaley Schneider / Mustang News

Neta Horesh-Bar is a business junior and opinion columnist for Mustang News. The views expressed in this piece don’t necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.

Ah, summer 2022. Characterized by monotonous work shifts for some, romantic European adventures for others and air conditioned movie theaters for me. And I’d have it no other way – as a movie-loving college student, summer break is prime time to stay up-to-date on up and coming film releases. With the temporary absence of looming midterms and piling deadlines, one can actually enjoy the movie-watching experience, void of anxiety and productivity guilt. And this summer of movies did not disappoint (except when it did). Here lie all of the films I watched this summer, reviewed and ranked.

5. Lightyear 

To start with the most painful of watches, at the bottom of the list comes Pixar’s Lightyear. Not only was it the most subpar film I sat through this summer, it might just be the worst movie that Pixar has ever made. The Toy Story franchise should have died with Toy Story 3, with every subsequent movie being an offensive cash crab. Don’t ruin Toy Story! Let it rest in peace! Lightyear was a fabulous concept with horrific execution. Pixar invites us into a niche pocket of the Toy Story Cinematic Universe by showcasing Andy’s favorite movie, and more importantly, Buzz Lightyear’s backstory. The first twenty minutes are vaguely tolerable, but as the film progresses, the plot gets increasingly messier and less engaging. I do not say this lightly: I actually could not sit through the movie. I couldn’t tell you at what point I stopped, because there was not one coherent plotpoint that comes to mind. Really, Pixar, you expect us to believe this was Andy’s favorite?

4. Minions: The Rise of Gru

A cultural phenomenon, a moment in time; young adults showing up to movie theaters in full suits and evening gowns, entire audiences erupting in applause. This description feels like it shouldn’t be the opener to a minion movie review, but alas, here we are. The promotion for this film was out of this world – with a soundtrack comprising of Phoebe Bridgers, Tame Impala and Kali Uchis, just to name a few. It’s evident that the Minions marketing team was working overtime. But the movie itself? I hate to say it: moderately underwhelming. More minion screen time was needed, but instead we saw an unnecessary amount of Gru. We don’t care about his storyline; we came here for the little yellow guys. Don’t get me wrong: this movie was hard not to enjoy, with the entire audience laughing out loud and a handful of clever bits sprinkled in. The Rise of Gru was an overall enjoyable minion film, despite slowing down at points and, unfortunately, leaving much to be desired.

3. Elvis 

I have the most turbulent love-hate relationship with this film, its grotesque editing job and its exquisite cast performances. Austin Butler absolutely embodied Elvis Presley to an almost freakish extent, with every movement and mannerism mirroring Elvis with charming precision. Unfortunately for the film as a whole, in quite an unexpected turn of events, it was Tom Hanks who dulled the sparkle of the movie with a borderline laughable supporting actor performance. It pains me to say it, but it must be said: this may very well be Tom’s first ever flop. None of it was believable—not a word. It felt like a second-rate Adam Sandler-esque impression every time he spoke. With that said, I did spend the entirety of the third act of Elvis in tears. Impressively, the film had enough of a tone shift towards the end to evoke quiet sobs from me in the theater. The editing improved as the film progressed, the writing became more believable, and the overall flavor of the movie had suddenly shifted to one that was much more raw, and in turn, found the ability to move an audience. 

2.  Nope

I need to see an alternate ending for this one. I have to believe that it’s out there and that it saves the movie. Because there was so much potential—devastatingly wonderful potential. Amazing performances! Some serious misses with this screenplay. There’s no real satisfaction, no real character attachment that allows us to be moved in any capacity by that final frame. I will go as far as to say there was a vague feeling of dread that overcame me when I realized the ending was upon us in the last few moments of the film… “oh no.. is this ending right now? This is how he’s going to end it?” Undoubtedly, a great movie with a plethora of innovative shots and ominously chilling moments. Jordan Peele is in many ways a mastermind. But if not for fabulous performances by the entire cast, I fear this movie would’ve been extraordinarily forgettable. Cinematography and generic “we live in a society” commentary can only take you so far. That’s not to say I did not enjoy Nope. It had its successes, but I simply cannot turn a blind eye to the blunders.

1. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On 

In an unexpected turn of events, a mockumentary about a stop-motion shell tops this list as my favorite movie of the summer. In the name of full transparency, I will now paint you a picture of how my Marcel the Shell watch went: I got home, nonchalantly said hello to my family, who asked how I liked the movie, to which I responded by promptly breaking down in tears. This film is somehow simultaneously a stunning examination of optimism in the face of grief and also genuinely funny – like, clever, laugh-out-loud funny. The movie is absolutely packed with terrific writing, with hard hitting lines and themes coming at you so fast and with such abundance that you feel you need to watch it again as soon as the end credits roll. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is poignant, hopeful, devastating, and all the while, modest and sweet. It takes a powerful piece of cinema to bring an entire theater with people across all ages and walks of life to tears and to laughter, and that little shell accomplished this feat with style, creativity, and an irresistibly heartwarming singing voice.