When I think about summer nostalgia and activities that align with that, my first thought after things like beach, pool, and vacation tends to be movies. Do y’all remember going to a cold movie theater on a hot summer day, loading up on popcorn, candy, and soda while watching the latest summer blockbuster? It’s a mood.
While you won’t find any blockbusters on this list, I’ve compiled ten movies that always put me in a summery mood and remind me of all the things that are great about this season from travel and beautiful weather to summer camp and bike rides. Funny enough, the two films that tie for my all-time favorite movie are on this list (and marked by an asterisk)!
call me by your name* //
Elio and Oliver fall in love in the Italian countryside in the ‘80s. This movie is one of the most visually stimulating when it comes to summer imagery and makes me want to buy an old villa to live in.
mamma mia //
Perhaps the ultimate summer movie, this one has all the great Abba songs, cheesy but satisfying musical numbers, multiple love stories, and it’s all set on the most stunning Greek island of your dreams.
my neighbor totoro //
I picked this one because the whole story is centered around nature and what’s more summer than that? Two young girls move to the countryside of Japan with their father and there are so many good scenes outdoors.
the parent trap //
The ultimate summer camp movie had to be included on this list, no? From fencing to pranks, all of the scenes of Annie and Hallie at camp are so nostalgic.
midnight in paris //
Summer in Paris is something I dream about often and when I get that feeling, I always turn to Midnight In Paris. Gil is an American writer who gets lost in Paris one night and finds himself taken back in time to hang out with Ernest Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, and a beautiful muse of Picasso’s with whom he falls in love.
the descendants //
This isn’t necessarily a lighthearted pick, but the film is set in Hawaii and has such great shots of the island and that whole vibe. The story is about a man who is dealing with his wife being in a coma as well as deciding what to do with his family’s enormous land trust.
the florida project //
Another pick that isn’t a lighthearted summer tale, but it really captures the darker sides of Florida which I have never seen before in a film. This is about a young girl who lives in a motel with her mother and paints a picture of poverty that I think is something everyone should see. It also takes cues from Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows”.
dazed and confused //
Back to the more lighthearted films, this movie is an iconic tribute to the last day of school. It follows several different characters around Austin, Texas including Matthew McConaughey’s character with the iconic line: “Alright, alright, alright.”
roman holiday* //
This classic follows Audrey Hepburn, a princess visiting Rome who runs away from her caretakers and hangs out around the city with an American journalist who first tries to covertly write a story about her for the press.
moonrise kingdom //
”Moonrise Kingdom” is to summer what “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is to winter. Wes Anderson’s ode to summer is set in 1965 and follows the residents of Penzance, a New England island when a storm approaches and the community mobilizes to find two young kids who have fallen in love and run off together. This is the creme-de-la-creme of quirk.