11 best summer movies and where to watch them

Roy Scheider tries to get people out of the water in a scene from the 1975 film "Jaws."

The summer heat is like many unpleasant things in life. First you try to pretend it doesn’t exist, then you ignore it, next you act like it’s not all that bad until finally you just give in and admit it’s unbearable.

Admission is the first step toward acceptance. Or something.

Summer movies help, too.

They won’t bring the temperature down, but the right ones can make things a lot more pleasant. They also serve as a reminder that no matter what the climate, summer is a time when big things happen. It’s a marker, a transitional period, sometimes between grades, sometimes youth and adulthood. Sometimes it’s just fun.

These films reflect that. 


It’s maybe the perfect summer movie. It’s pretty much a perfect movie all the way around. It’s arguably Steven Spielberg’s best film, a full-on nightmare scenario of a shark snacking on swimmers while incompetent bureaucrats ignore the reality in front of them — and the efforts of a few to make things right. Amity means friendship, indeed.

How to watch: Streaming on Peacock.

‘Do the Right Thing’

A scene from Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing."

Spike Lee’s masterpiece, set on a blisteringly hot day in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Mookie (Lee), a pizza delivery guy, moves warily through racial strife between Black residents and Italian-Americans. It’s funny, it’s honest, it’s moving, it’s frustrating and it’s brilliant. The filmmaking is technically flawless; you can practically feel the heat radiating off the streets. You can also feel the tension, building toward heartbreak.

How to watch: Available to rent on iTunes and Prime Video.

‘Summer of Soul’

Ahmir Khalib Thompson (better known as Questlove) won an Oscar for this jaw-dropping documentary, which chronicles six summer Sundays in 1969 when the Harlem Cultural Festival took place. Footage sat around for 50 years; Questlove finally got hold of it and edited it

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