Best Movies Released in June Every Year Since 2010

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As Summer 2021 gets into gear, people across the country are becoming increasingly comfortable heading back out into the world, trying to rebuild a sense of normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic brought everything to a standstill. Having been closed for a large chunk of last year – or with just very little to market – movie theaters are on the upswing with big movies heading back to the big screen, with this June being poised to see the biggest attendance levels in over a year after the stellar opening of A Quiet Place Part II just last weekend.

With June officially here and the aura of summer love and heavily applied tanning lotions in the air, I thought it was as good a time as any to celebrate a return to theaters by taking a look back at the last full decade of June at the movies. If May means the start of the summer movie season, June means it’s in high gear, with tons of blockbusters and indie darlings coming out and enticing moviegoers of all ages. Here, I look back at every June from 2010-2020, picking the very best film released from each month, doting on praise, and offering up a list of other notable releases to both poke at your nostalgia bone and inspire healthy debate.

Without further ado, jump into a sun-soaked time machine as we bounce back to June’s past, and be sure not to make eye contact with Green Lantern on the way back. He’s very lonely.

2010: Toy Story 3

Toy-Story-3-movie-image

Image via Pixar

Even after a slew of animated mega-hits came from the house of Pixar in the 11 years following the release of the hugely successful Toy Story 2, there was still an air of mystery around whether the studio could recapture the magic and heart of the first two toy-driven classics for Toy Story 3. Not only did Pixar slip back into the humor and charm of the characters without missing a single piece, but thanks to a story that found the toys (particularly Woody) struggling to find meaning after being stuffed into the toy box for ages, the premise itself was more refreshing and poignant than ever. With a story perfectly tailored to the audience that grew up with the original movies, a wonderful assembly of old and new characters, and several heart-wrenching moments (chief among them the ingenious audacity of the filmmakers to almost kill them all off via garbage furnace), Toy Story 3 stands triumphant not only over fellow June release and Best Picture nominee Winter’s Bone, but over most movies of the last decade.

Other Notable Releases:

Get Him to the Greek

Splice

Winter’s Bone

Knight & Day

Dogtooth

2011: Super 8

super-8-movie-ending

Image via Paramount Pictures

In between director J.J. Abrams’ intergalactic voyages into the world of Star Trek ,he took a nostalgic voyage to his childhood with his first and only original film to date, Super 8. Initial teasers going back to 2010 teased a sci-fi film steeped in mystery, and in June 2011 when the movie hit theaters, audiences were treated to a callback to the Amblin films of the 80s such as E.T. and The Goonies. Combining the relatable feeling of spending summer with friends tearing it up on bikes with the less relatable feeling of encountering an other-worldly alien-invasion, Abrams handles the former better than the latter, but altogether his movie makes for an ultimately heart-warming tale of a boy learning to move on after his mother’s death. Super 8 is not Abrams’ best film, but it’s certainly his most personal, which makes it stand out more in the sea of mostly-space-themed franchise hits that make up his directorial resume.

RELATED: J.J. Abrams Looks Back on ‘Super 8’, Working With Kids, and Crafting a Monstrous Metaphor

A weak month (and overall year) for summer movies, Super 8 easily ranks high above R-rated comedies like Horrible Bosses and Bad Teacher and the aforementioned (and best forgotten) Green Lantern.

Other Notable Releases

Bad Teacher

Cars 2

Green Lantern

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Horrible Bosses

2012: Beasts of the Southern Wild

beasts-of-the-southern-Quvenzhané Wallis

Image via Fox Searchlight

Magic and wonder were truly the themes of June 2012: Brave was Pixar’s take on a Scottish fairy tale; Ted was all about one boy’s wish bringing to life his teddy bear; and Magic Mike was able to exist in theaters without everyone’s brains exploding from so many good-looking people onscreen at once. It’s fitting, then, that one of that year’s most talked-about movies, Beasts of the Southern Wild ,also had a home in that month. A modern American fable set against the backdrop of post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana, Benh Zeitlin’s adaptation of Lucy Alibar’s play (who also co-wrote the script) is an often wondrous saga about a young girl’s journey towards independence while fighting against a harsh terrain and difficult circumstances. An imperfect film, Zeitlin’s approach can at times be heavy-handed, but the flaws are outweighed by a surrealness that comes with feeling swept off to a world that is entirely unique from our own, bolstered by a fantastical score by Dan Romer and Zeitlin and commanding work from young star Quvenzhané Wallis.

Other Notable Releases:

Safety Not Guaranteed

Brave

Prometheus

Ted

Magic Mike

2013: This Is the End

Image via Sony Pictures

What happens when you take some of the funniest people working in Hollywood and force them to survive together in a house as the world (and most of their other funny friends) burn in a blaze of ultimate fiery destruction just outside? You get a movie that remains, eight years later, endlessly funny as f**k. Embracing doomsday mythos and using it as the setting of an apocalyptic playground, This Is the End relies entirely on the chemistry between the leading ensemble of Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, James Franco, and Danny McBride, each playing exaggerated versions of themselves as they hopelessly try to survive the end of the world. In that way, it acts as a perfect comfort film, leaping from one hilarious interaction (McBride being called out for jerking off around the house) or set-piece (The Exorcism of Jonah Hill) to another, while also anchoring the film with a story of friendship (between Seth and Jay) that gives the movie some heart. It stands out particularly well among June 2013 releases, because while movies like Man of Steel, White House Down, and World War Z relished in their overly-budgeted destruction, This Is the End came during the pinnacle of CG-enhanced devastation but focuses squarely on a couple of buffoons fighting over water at dinner.

Other Notable Releases:

Man of Steel

Monsters University

World War Z

The Bling Ring

White House Down

2014: Edge of Tomorrow

edge-of-tomorrow-tom-cruise-emily-blunt

Image via Warner Bros.

For some countries, Edge of Tomorrow counts as a May release as it was rolled out overseas in the final week of May to get ahead of that year’s World Cup. But for all of us stateside, the sci-fi time loop blockbuster from Doug Liman and starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt kicked off June 2014, and everything else that followed (sans a very close runner-up, How to Train Your Dragon 2) failed to meet its level. Fast-paced, funny, and impeccably well-made on nearly every level, Edge of Tomorrow (adapted from the manga All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka) embraces a complicated concept and comes out clean as an effortlessly enjoyable popcorn flick that never wears out its welcome. Blunt is incredible, out-action-starring Cruise as she flies through the air with her Buster Sword, turning the chaotic, tentacled aliens into sushi. As for Cruise, the leading man does more with a single character than he has in ages, evolving him from a self-centered coward into a grizzled veteran with nothing to lose over the course of the film’s run time and turning in some of his best work to date. With only Transformers 4 being the real stinker of the lot, June 2014 was an exceptional month at the movies, but Edge of Tomorrow reigns supreme as one of the best sci-fi blockbusters in recent memory, and the reason we’re all holding out hope for that sequel.

Other Notable Releases:

The Fault in Our Stars

How to Train Your Dragon 2

22 Jump Street

Obvious Child

Transformers: Age of Extinction

2015: Inside Out

inside-out-social-featured

Image via Disney

This year is no contest, with Inside Out taking the prize almost too easily. Not only is it the best movie of June 2015, but it’s also the best movie of 2015 (sorry, Mad Max: Fury Road), and Pixar’s very best movie to date, period. Weaving a rewarding story that explores the complexity of human emotion into a vibrant, imaginative world that doesn’t skimp on the laughs and the warmth, Inside Out is Pixar bringing the absolute best from their catalog of movies and putting it all into one perfectly refined package. Fantastical highs are matched by how well director/co-writer Pete Docter, and co-writers Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley mine its emotional depths, with masterful voice acting from stars Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Richard Kind and more giving it life. Tack on numerous heart-wrenching moments that have made this grown man cry several times – and often around other grown adults – and films like Spy and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl are fighting for second place here.

Other Notable Releases:

Spy

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Dope

Jurassic World

Insidious: Chapter 3

2016: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

popstar-andy-samberg

Image via Universal Pictures

Much like This Is the End, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a comedy comfort film of the highest order: Insanely quotable? Check. A plethora of funny people crushing it from scene to scene? Check check. A sweet story examining the pitfalls of fame that in the end reaffirms the magic of friendship? Check check and check. Oh, and on top of all that good stuff is a soundtrack of original songs from musicians/filmmakers/stars The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer) that whips from top to bottom, brought to life in absurd, candy-colored stage performances and music videos that recall the trio’s famed SNL Digital Shorts. A music mockumentary that’s not too far off from the brilliance of This Is Spinal Tap, Popstar manages to be wildly silly and subtly smart at the same time, with songs like “Mona Lisa” and “Finest Girl” catchier than anything breaking the charts today. June 2016 was mostly filled with a cacophony of sequels that were expected to hit big despite being step-downs from their predecessors, so Popstar was probably poised to tank at the box office anyway, despite being far and away the superior movie of the month. But achieving almost instant cult status, those who know Popstar know its brilliance, embracing the siren song that is the “I’m So Humble” intro as an inescapable lure into 80+ minutes of comedy gold.

RELATED: Exclusive: The Lonely Island Reflect on ‘Popstar’ and Why the Bieber-Centric Marketing Wasn’t Their Favorite

Other Notable Releases:

The Conjuring 2

Finding Dory

The Shallows

Independence Day: Resurgence

The Neon Demon

2017: The Big Sick

the-big-sick-social

Image via Amazon Studios

Look at the June 2017 calendar and you’ll see perhaps the most crowded June of the last decade, with blockbuster hits like Baby Driver and Wonder Woman tearing it up with critics and audiences, while The Mummy and Transformers 5 proved that Tom Cruise and alien robots could definitely still fail with both. Tucked amidst all the explosions and heroics was the sweet Sundance darling The Big Sick, a semi-autobiographical rom-com from the minds of husband-and-wife duo Kumail Nanjiani (who also stars) and Emily V. Gordon, who co-wrote the script together. Equal parts hilarious and sweet, Nanjiani and Gordon used the early days of their own relationship to examine the cross-cultural differences between Nanjiani (playing a fictionalized version of himself) and Emily Gardner (Zoe Kazan, playing a fictionalized version of Gordon) as they begin to date, with Emily becoming ill soon after, bringing her family into the mix. A breath of fresh air in a genre that all too often settles for conventions, The Big Sick is a huge ray of warmth and humor that injects insight into tired waters, with one of the best ensembles of that year (Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Anupam Kher, and Zenobia Shroff to name a few) giving it life.

Other Notable Releases:

Wonder Woman

Baby Driver

Okja

The Mummy

It Comes at Night

Transformers: The Last Knight

Cars 3

2018: Hereditary

hereditary-toni-collette-molly-shapiro

Image via A24

Ah, Hereditary. Ask anyone in any film class what their favorite horror movie of the last several years is, and if at least 66 percent of them don’t say this movie, then I’ll legally change my name to any of your choosing. That’s not a dunk on film fans, but rather a testament to the mastery of Ari Aster’s haunting debut. Alluring in its grim precision, Aster crafted a ghost story with surgeon-like focus, never showing too much of the movie’s hand and squeezing every ounce of tension from each frame. In only a few short years, Hereditary’s brand of slow-burn, atmospheric dread has influenced countless horror films, with distributor A24 seemingly on an endless hunt for similar-feeling movies they can place alongside it to make themselves the patron saint of moody modern horror. Again, that’s not an insult, but rather an enduring testament to the shocking, horrific genius of the movie – which is all the better thanks to a gobsmacking Toni Collette in the lead role. June 2018 had some great releases – Upgrade, Incredibles 2, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – but none of them can trump the iconic delivery of Collette’s “that f**king face on your face!”

Other Notable Releases:

Upgrade

Ocean’s 8

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Incredibles 2

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

2019: The Last Black Man in San Francisco

the-last-black-man-in-san-francisco-jonathan-majors

Image via A24

As expected as a neighbor saying, “It’s about to get hot!” on a day that’s already hot, June 2019 was all about sequels, remakes, and reboots. Also as expected, most of them were awful, and the lone exceptions – Annabelle Comes Home and Toy Story 4 – were good, but less so than their predecessors. Much like The Big Sick two years before, tucked between the super-powered people and whatever Men in Black: International was, the Sundance gem The Last Black Man in San Francisco stood out from the pack. With not nearly enough room to pile on the appropriate amount of praise that this film deserves, Joe Talbot’s directorial debut is nothing less than pure visual poetry. The story centers on Jimmie Fails (playing himself in a semi-autobiographical role) as he reclaims his family house in a San Francisco that’s becoming increasingly gentrified, getting more and more expensive and forcing out people who have been living there for years. A meditative, peculiar, and funny tale of place and identity, Talbot and Rob Richert’s script shines alongside the director’s precise style, with Adam Newport-Berra’s cinematography making San Francisco look almost fantastical, and Emile Mosseri’s score standing as one of the best of the last decade. Factor in star-making work from Jonathan Majors alongside Fails, and there’s not a moment that goes by where The Last Black Man in San Francisco doesn’t remain an enrapturing piece of work.

Other Notable Releases:

Toy Story 4

Men in Black: International

Dark Phoenix

Annabelle Comes Home

The Dead Don’t Die

Child’s Play

2020: Da 5 Bloods

Jonathan Majors and Delroy Lindo in Da 5 Bloods

Image via Netflix

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging with no end in near sight, studios pulled their planned summer releases from the schedule in 2020, instead opting to allow several movies to hit digital markets. It was the Summer of Streaming for sure, but even if it wasn’t and summer movie season had gone according to plan, I can’t imagine there would’ve been a better release in June 2020 than Spike Lee’s Netflix film Da 5 Bloods. As electrifying as some of Lee’s most memorable work (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X), Bloods’ present day-set story about five Vietnam veterans who return to the country in search of a hidden treasure and the remains of their fallen squad leader (Chadwick Boseman) is a passionate examination of the Black experience during the war that has been so woefully overlooked. A phenomenal score from Terence Blanchard, arresting cinematography from Newton Thomas Sigel and captivating work from its star ensemble of Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, and Isiah Whitlock Jr. are all combined to rank this among Lee’s top-tier directorial entries – making it all the more tragic that it was entirely overlooked last awards season.

Other Notable Releases:

The King of Staten Island

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Artemis Fowl

Shirley

My Spy

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