At the start of 2011, the summer movie forecast called for a storm of superhero movies, a few high-profile sequels, and female-led comedies with ample crossover potential. Marvel Comics’ three riskiest properties in years—Thor, X-Men: First Class, and Captain America: The First Avenger—had comic book heads on edge, and the science fiction crowd couldn’t stop speculating about the possibilities surrounding J.J. Abrams’ enigmatic, Spielbergian Super 8; meanwhile, Michael Bay was ready to unleash Transformers: Dark Of The Moon on audiences and win back intelligent action fans who rightfully shat upon 2009’s Revenge Of The Fallen, and Harry Potter’s most ardent supporters were enduring cold sweats brought on by the franchise’s impending final chapter.

Now that September has arrived, and the fall movie season is in our sights, we’ve come to an unexpected realization: The best movies to drop within the May-August frame were, for the most part, either total surprises or independent genre flicks that only the most tuned-in cinephile had been anticipating. The pre-summer buzz hovered around the major studio tentpoles and left a gory Japanese serial killer flick, a Spanish tale with killer clowns, and Woody Allen’s resurgence off the map. Perhaps the only predetermined outcomes were the mainstream breakthroughs of Kristen Wiig and Michael Fassbender and Harry Potter’s more than adequate finale.

For closure’s sake, we’ve ranked The 10 Best Movies Of Summer 2011; we’re quite certain that it’s not the ten you’d expect.

Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)