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See the flicks that make the summer the best time to hit the theater

Shaun Harrison
best-summer-movies-wizard-oz1.jpg
1 of 20 MGM/The Kobal Collection

The Wizard of Oz

Released in the Toto days of 1939, it provided the template, in a way, for all summer movies: Dramatic effects, a mix of jittery drama and light comedy, and characters we love enough to revisit again and again. And many a summer night has been lost to watching it synced to Dark Side of the Moon.
2 of 20 Universal/The Kobal Collection

Jaws

Operating on a simple, terrifying premise — and delivering on it flawlessly — it ushered in the era of the blockbuster.
3 of 20 Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox/The Kobal Collection

Star Wars

Hollywood's biggest hit at the time created the gold standard for every summer movie to come.
4 of 20 Paramount/Kobal Collection

Grease

C'mon, it has a song called "Summer Nights."
5 of 20 Warner Bros/The Kobal Collection

The Shining

Set in mountains during a devil of a snow storm, Stanley Kubrick's creepy adaptation of Stephen King's classic novel is a summer movie that feels nothing like a summer movie. Which is the least unsettling thing about it.
6 of 20 Universal/Kobal Collection

ET

Capturing both our hearts and our imaginations, this was a movie kids — and adults — saw again and again. It's proof that blockbusters can make you cry.
7 of 20 Columbia/The Kobal Collection

Ghostbusters

The perfect blending of SNL, SCTV, and ghosts.
8 of 20 Amblin/Universal/Kobal Collection

Back to the Future

The '80s was the first full decade that really let the summer blockbuster flourish, and this is the charming epitome of an '80s movie with its skateboards, life-preserver vests, and, of course, '50s nostalgia. Never have we wanted so badly to turn our cars into time machines.
9 of 20 Paramount/The Kobal Collection

Top Gun

This one's come closer than perhaps any other to having something for everyone: great action scenes, unforgettable music, sweeping romance, and, of course, beach volleyball.
10 of 20 20th Century Fox/Kobal Collection

Big

The funny tale of a teenager who becomes an adult overnight, this critically acclaimed summer movie made Tom Hanks what he is today.
11 of 20 Lucasfilm LTD/Paramount/The Kobal Collection

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The first three Indiana Jones movies were spectacular, and Last Crusade provided the perfect capper to what maybe kinda should have remained a trilogy. It was the rare third part in a series that is better than the second, and worthy of the first. The fourth wasn't a total embarrassment, but nothing could live up to the originals.
12 of 20 Warner Bros/DC Comics/Kobal Collection

Batman

Today the summer box office is crammed full of superhero dramas. For that, you can thank this film, in which Tim Burton proved that comic book characters can be brought to the big screen without camp.
13 of 20 Universal/Kobal Collection

Do the Right Thing

We had to have one serious movie, right? This one is a perfect reminder that summer can be a tense time. (So does Lee's also-excellent Summer of Sam.)
14 of 20 Carolco/The Kobal Collection

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

A massive summer event that raised the special effects ante for years to come — for better and worse. It's also one of the few blockbuster sequels so good it improves the (classic) movie that inspired it.
15 of 20 Amblin/Universal/The Kobal Collection

Jurassic Park

Steven Spielberg's dinosaur epic pushed special effects even further into the future by looking back at creatures long gone from the earth.
16 of 20 20th Century Fox/Kobal Collection

There's Something About Mary

When you tire of seeing robots and aliens and explosions, it's nice to have a few laughs during the summer. This Farrelly Brothers' flick was pure joy.
17 of 20 20th Century Fox/Marvel/Kobal Collection

X-2

It's hard to think of a superhero movie that stayed more true to its (brilliant) source material.
18 of 20 Marvel/Sony Pictures/The Kobal Collection

Spider-Man 2

A blockbuster with heart, this Spider-Man flick is the franchise's best. With all the origin story out of the way, the film was able to explore the danger and pain associated with leading a double life. And, like its predecessor, it was a load of web-spinning fun.
19 of 20 Warner Bros/DC/Kobal Collection

The Dark Knight

Thanks to its sweeping cinematography, superior script and a chillingly sinister performance from Heath Ledger, this became the biggest summer blockbuster ever.
20 of 20 Marvel Enterprises/Kobal Collection

The Avengers

How do you make fans of a long-awaited film about a dream team of superheroes fighting together even more excited? Put that film in the hands of writer and director Joss Whedon. His trademark wit permeates the film, which both honors a group of beloved characters and shows that, despite their individual powers, they are better as a team. The movie, which was the biggest release of 2012, grossed more than $1.5 billion worldwide