Best Summer Movie: The Dark Knight - this movie was head and shoulders above all of the rest, save for one. Perhaps, this one alone reached a pinnacle for comic hero movies in story, actor performances (individual and ensemble), direction, and comment for our times. I'll be very surprised if this film doesn't generate a buzz for Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Director, Actor [and Supporting Actor], and Original Screenplay).
Worst Summer Movie: The Happening - I'm old enough to remember when M. Night Shyamalan only made simply great, underrated movies. Okay, maybe it wasn't the worst. Perhaps, it's really Fly Me to the Moon and its animated concept of flies and maggots, in any form.
Best Animation Movie: Wall•E - the close second best summer movie of the year from Pixar. The most genuine love story of this year (or any near year). As blogger Jonathan K wrote back in June: "The film isn't just a love story. It's a story about learning to love." And since it starts off so dystopian, it is simply amazing by story's end. This is also our last film we took in (2nd viewing), on Labor Day. If this one doesn't win this year's Oscar for animation, well...let them meet with EVE's blaster. The not so close honorable mention would be Kung Fu Panda.
Best Actor of the Summer: Robert Downey, Jr. - Heath Ledger may have gotten the most attention (rightly so) for his intensely great performance as The Joker in TDM, but Downey was it for his varied, wonderful performances in Iron Man, Tropic Thunder, and (fun cameo) in The Incredible Hulk.
Most (Pleasantly) Surprising Movie: Iron Man - turned out the best movie to start the summer movie season was this one. Simply a fun, action comic book hero movie with a perfectly cast actor for the lead. Honorable Mention: The Incredible Hulk.
Most Disappointing Movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - I wanted to love this movie--mostly due to the fun and concept of the first film (the sequels are an uneven bunch). Where to start? Lead too old, not enough of Karen Allen (for this film and the series), disappointing villain, etc. Honorable Mentions, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Narnia: Prince Caspian
Met Expectations Movie: too many times, movies (especially those of the summer variety) come into the season with all of this buzz (part of the marketer's job), only to fail to live up to it. This year, the movie that met its buzz was Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. An entertaining story, brought to great visual acclaim by an under-rated, great director, and a perfect cast (without one A-grade actor) made this an easy pick. Where's The Dark Knight or Wall•E? They don't count simply because they exceeded all of their hype.
Best Laughs Movie: Get Smart - seems so long ago, now. But, I cracked up the most during this one. Honorable Mentions: Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express.
Best Future Cult Film: Pineapple Express - took this in with my golf partner while we were in Santa Barbara for our annual summer golf trip. Some of the scenes and sequences were un-real, man...
At Least I Didn't Fall Asleep Movies: my 'meh' catchall category - Hancock; Wanted, Journey to the Center of the Earth, 3D; Don't Mess With the Zohan; Kitt Kitrredge: All American Girl; X-Files: I Want to Believe.
My Top Five: