Stylist staff pick their favourite films for summer

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Stylist Team
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Summer, summer, summertime (to quote the inimitable DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince).

It's our favourite time of year - and also the most film-friendly. Where would our lives be without the snap crackle of Fried Green Tomatoes, the ominous baseline of Jaws, the steamy passion of Dirty Dancing, the cheesy delights of Grease or the unforgettable vision of Forrest Gump running through the woods and fields of rural Alabama?

These movies bring to life that mysterious blend of hedonism and reckless opportunity that only summertime can bring. They capture the power and delicious temptation of new romances, new opportunities and the possibility to re-invent yourself. In short, they're a delight.

Come check out our favourite seasonal flicks to cheer in the sun with, from age-old classics to modern offerings and stalwarts of the early 90s:

  • Grease (1978)

    "Tell me about it, stud"

    From Summer Lovin' to You're The One That I Want, Grease brings to life everything we love about summer to a toe-tapping, singalong beat. Beach romance, movie drive-ins, Ford convertibles and gelled-up quiffs: it has all the ingredients needed for an ultimate feel-good movie.

  • Jaws (1975)

    "We’re going to need a bigger boat."

    Millions of film fans gave up hours of the sunlight to watch the thriller about a shark terrorising a local beach, in Steven Spielberg's hit cult classic. It was movieland's first ever summer blockbuster, breaking box office records on its release thanks to its tempting blend of blood, gore, sun and suspense.

  • Dirty Dancing (1987)

    "I carried a watermelon!?"

    Meek Baby has the time of her life (and accesses her inner sex appeal along the way) at Kellerman's resort one fateful summer. Dirty Dancing has everything you could ask for from a summer film - erotic dancing, a great soundtrack, bad guys put in their place and good guys vindicated. And of course, the late, great, Patrick Swayze. Yes, we'll be watching it for the umpteenth time this summer, but can you blame us?

  • Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

    "A heart can be broken, but it will keep beating just the same."

    This uplifting, moving tale of the power of female friendship - set during the Great Depression and early 1990s - is played out against the magical and oppressive backdrop of sun-baked Alabama.

    You'll be drawn in by its irresistible blend of humour, tragedy and mischief (including an infamous barbecue scene where the bad guy gets his comeuppance), all of which is imbued with an overwhelming sense of summer at every turn.

  • Beaches (1988)

    "I don't even remember what it was I was mad about and I don't care. Whatever it was that you did, I forgive you"

    Ah, Beaches. Who could fail to be seduced by this delightful story of two best friends whose bond spans thirty years, but always is drawn back to the first summer they met on holiday at the beach? CC (Bette Milder) and Hillary (Barbara Hershey) go through marriage, pregnancy, and numerous career issues, before being reunited at the beach, with the emotional soundtrack song Wind Beneath My Wings playing. Sob.

  • Bridesmaids (2011)

    "You're like the maid of dishonor."

    Ladies, rejoice. The summer comedy blockbuster of 2011 was, for once, a female-centric one. Kristen Wiig's film about the hilarious outcomes that can come by being made part of a group of bridesmaids is still popular, and we're eagarly anticipating her next film. Just make sure you don't visit a Brazillian restaurant before watching it...

  • The Graduate (1967)

    "Mrs Robinson, you're trying to seduce me - aren't you?"

    Summers between university and the rest of your life are often significant in the movie world. None more so than Dustin Hoffman's character Ben in The Graduate. He begins an affair with his father's business partner's wife - the infamous Mrs Robinson - and subsequently stops doing anything else. Cue a lot of lazing around in the pool, which would be a lot more difficult over the Christmas holidays...

  • Forrest Gump (1994)

    "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

    The heartwarming tale of Forrest Gump, and his adventures throughout recent US history may not be set during summer alone, but the ups and downs, including Forrest's service in the Vietnam War and his coast-to-coast marathon of the USA make it an ideal choice to watch at an outdoor screening. Not to mention the opportunity to enjoy it with some Bubba Gump shrimp, if that choice doesn't prove too unpopular with your neighbours...

  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

    "Maria Elena used to say that only unfulfilled love can be romantic."

    This quirky rom com is set to the sensual beat of summertime Barcelona. Just before her wedding, sensible Vicky (Rebecca Hall) jets off to Barcelona with her friend Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) and both become romantically entangled with beautiful, Bohemian artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Somewhere along the way, his passionate, wonderfully unstable ex-wife (Penelope Cruz) gets involved and things get a whole lot more complicated.

    But the film ends just as the summer season does - was it all just in the heat of the moment?

  • Adventureland (2009)

    "My theory is you can't just avoid everybody you screw up with. You can trust me on that because I'm a New Yorker."

    Summer camps, and jobs taken during the summer are a favourite narrative technique of filmmakers. Few achieve that as well as this eighties-set comedy about a college graduate who takes a job at a local theme park for the summer. He makes new friends, experiences romance and learns about the 'real world'. And all in a convenient time frame. Go summer!

  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

    Summer also gives a lot of scope for hedonism - it's sunny, why not run away from your life for a day? Teenager Ferris Bueller does just that, bunking off high school for a day and taking his two best friends with him. He joins a parade, blags a free meal, and again, learns a few things along the way.

    Classic viewing.

  • The Beach (2000)

    "I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it's not some place you can look for."

    It would be a crime not to include Danny Boyle's classic adaptation of Alex Garland's tale of travelling tribulations in Thailand in a list of summer movies. Starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio, there are a lot of swimming topless shots to enjoy before the horror of the island paradise he visits kicks in...

  • Before Sunrise (1995)

    "After tomorrow morning, we're probably never going to see each other again, right?"

    Warm summer nights often prompt us to stay up a lot later than we mean to. And in the case of Jesse and Céline that ends up being all night, as they meet on a train, before spending the night wandering around Vienna, getting to know each other. They think they won't meet again, but sequels Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013) - prompted by the popularity of this film - prove them wrong.

  • Roman Holiday (1953)

    "At midnight, I'll turn into a pumpkin and drive away in my glass slipper."

    And in another incident of the sun making you want to escape your life is the Audrey Hepburn classic about a princess who is sick of her schedule, and runs away to explore Rome for the day as a 'commoner'. We can't imagine Kate Middleton managing to get up to the same tricks incognito today...

  • The Great Gatsby (2013)

    "He gives large parties, and I like large parties - they're so intimate. Small parties, there isn't any privacy."

    Naive young Nick Carraway moves to the outskirts of New York in the summer of 1922, ready to make his fortune. He meets eccentric millionaire Jay Gatsby - who happens to be his neighbour, and gets swept up in his love affair with the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, who he courts away from her husband Tom at several of his lavish summer parties. That level of glamorous excess - with dancers in the pool - just wouldn't be possible in any other season.

  • (500) Days of Summer

    "This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story."

    The key is in the name. While the Summer of the title is Zooey Deschanel's character who Joseph Gordon Levitt's Tom falls in love - and out - of love with, the season certainly influences the romance. Scenes in the park, at an outdoor party, at a wedding fluctuate as the film shows the progress of their relationship from the day they meet until... well, we won't spoil it. 500 days may be a little longer than a summer, but if you're in the throes of a summertime fling, it's a worthy watch for more than one reason.

  • The Seven Year Itch (1955)

    "Ohh, this feels just elegant. I'm just not made for the heat"

    A lot of films make use of the summer heat as a driving plot force. With his wife headed out of town to the beach, businessman Richard Sherman meets Marilyn Monroe's character (known only as The Girl) and believes he is falling victim to the 'seven year itch' that married men get, leading them to cheat. The hot summer adds fuel to this fire - creating Marilyn Monroe's famous subway grate scene as The Girl attempts to keep cool. If only we all looked that elegant in the height of a heatwave...

  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

    "Take a streetcar named Desire, transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at – Elysian Fields!"

    The steamy backdrop of New Orleans is the setting for this famous adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play. With powerful performances from both Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh - who won an Oscar for her part - in the leading roles of Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois, the heat of the Deep South provokes the central family conflict. Not the lightest of viewing, but a classic none the less.

  • Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

    "Does it concern you that your daughter's just run away from home?"

    When we were younger, summer was the time to climb trees and camp outside. Quirky director Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom embodies some of that feeling, but with a little more vigour. Penpals Sam Shakusky and Suzy Bishop - both 12 - run away together, to the concern of their parents, who end up tracking them down. It makes us wish we were young enough to be sent camping all summer again.

  • Rear Window (1954)

    "When two people love each other, they come together - WHAM - like two taxis on Broadway."

    With a broken leg meaning he is stuck in a wheelchair for the summer, photographer Jeff (James Stewart) begins spying on his neighbours who have left their windows open during a heatwave. He starts a theory that one of his neighbours has murdered his wife, which he explains to his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) who he gets to investigate for him. A great thriller if a summer downpour ruins your picnic plans.