Did you enjoy yourself at the movies this summer? Is that a "yes"? Well, congrats, because, unlike you, most of Hollywood had a miserable time.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the North American box office revenue totals for this summer will be just north of $4 billion over—that's an eight-year low. Factor inflation into those numbers and you're looking at a 17-year low. Which, all said, should make Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller feel slightly less bad about Sin City: A Dame to Kill For taking over a week to make what its predecessor did in its opening day, because, you know, most of this summer's movies under-performed.
Those low stats, fortunately, don't mean that quality suffered along with studios' financial reports. Earlier this month, Marvel's atypical and altogether dynamite Guardians of the Galaxy instantly staked its claim as one of the year's best movies, as well as the best thing Marvel Studios has released to date. It's also 2014's highest-grossing movie so far, having raked in a whopping $275 million already. In the independent scene, Richard Linklater's unprecedented coming-of-age film Boyhood did gangbuster business, giving art-house frequenters another reason to retreat into their beloved air-conditioned cinemas after they'd basked in the gloriously over-the-top action of Snowpiercer.
Those are just three of summer 2014's cinematic highpoints. Here, we rank the 25 best of the lot, which, even if most of them didn't set banks on fire, prove that, sometimes, Hollywood's profit losses coincide with cinephiles' gains.