We’ve officially hit July, which means the summer movie season is half over! What movies are the best of the best?

Quick note: I haven’t seen every single film to be released and am sorely lacking in the independent films, but oh well.

1. Inside Out: Pixar’s return to form. This is an emotional roller coaster that is every bit as good as the studio’s best efforts. The voice cast, headlined by Amy Poehler, is spot on. And one character not featured in any of the trailers absolutely steals the show. This film is more for adults than it is kids. But it’s absolutely worth seeing and is the best blockbuster film of the summer by far.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road: Maybe the biggest surprise of the summer, Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy help make Mad Max’s return to the big screen an amazing trip. It’s thrilling and beautiful to look at. There’s a shocking amount of narrative heft to it, despite limited dialogue. Director George Miller proves he still knows how to craft a unique and amazingly entertaining action film.

3. Spy: It’s easy to write this Melissa McCarthy vehicle as the same as all the films she’s done. That would be a mistake. This hilarious spy comedy is spot on, with comedy gold performances from Jason Statham and Rose Byrne to boot.

Biggest disappointment: Avengers: Age of Ultron: Look, this film had its entertaining moments. But it was essentially the same as the first Avengers right down to the teaser scene at the end. For maybe the first time since Marvel Studio’s cinematic universe began, this film felt more like a chore to get through than a joy.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

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