9 Movies Perfect for the Summer

Some movies just have a certain feel to them, and summer movies are no exception. Summer movies can evoke the feeling we had when the school year would end, or bring to mind summer imagery like beaches, sunshine, and fireworks.

The best part of summer movies is that you can watch them year-round, whether it’s in comfy air conditioning in the middle of July, or reminding you of warmer times during an ice cold February blizzard. Here’s some summer movies that will always bring the sunshine:


The 1975 classic is the definitive summer movie, not only taking place on (and scaring people away from) the beach, but it was also the first summer blockbuster, making popcorn movies as much of a summer staple as ice cold lemonade. The shark-starring thriller also launched director Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams into the stratosphere.


One of the most famous summer love stories ever takes place before the musical film even starts, but watching the sparks fly all over again between Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny (John Travolta) makes this film an all-time classic.

National Lampoon’s Vacation

The ultimate road trip movie, Vacation was comic actor Chevy Chase in peak form as the head of the Griswold family on a doomed trip to theme park Walley World. The film, directed by Caddyshack director and Ghostbusters writer and star Harold Ramis, spawned three sequels starring Chase, as well as a fourth sequel that served double duty as a remake.

Lilo & Stitch

Academy Award nominee for Best Feature in 2003, the Disney film showcases the friendship between an adorable little girl and an even cuter alien creature. Even though the movie is animated, its Hawaiian setting will give you summer vibes while giving you all of the feels.

The Parent Trap

Both the 1961 and 1998 versions of the Disney family comedy are must-watches. Stars Hayley Mills in the original and Lindsay Lohan in the remake are perfectly cast in dual roles as identical twin sisters little ready to do whatever it takes to bring their divorced parents back together, even if it means pretending to be one another.

Dirty Dancing

The 1987 film tells the story of Frances (Jennifer Grey), a teenage girl who falls in love with her dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) at a summer resort in the Poconos. The film spawned timeless quotes, heated dance moves, and iconic track “(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life,” which won the Golden Globe, Oscar, and Grammy for Original song. Nobody puts this movie in a corner.

Mr. Bean’s Holiday

Rowan Atkinson reprises his iconic role as Mr. Bean in a family-friendly farce that also showcases the stunning vistas of France. Along the way, Bean finds true love and helps a young boy reunite with his father.

Little Miss Sunshine

If you’re looking for a little subdued dramedy in your summer films, Little Miss Sunshine is probably for you. The road trip indie stars Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano, and Alan Arkin (who won an Oscar for his role), and tells the story of an adorable little girl who wants nothing more than to win a pageant, and her miserable family stuck along for the ride.

The Great Outdoors

Another 80s vacation classic, The Great Outdoors shows off comedic greats John Candy and Dan Aykroyd as bickering, competitive in-laws sharing a summer cabin by the lake. Full of slapstick humor and barenaked bears, The Great Outdoors was written by John Hughes at the height of his Hollywood powers.

How to Style Your Cinematography like Steven Spielberg

From “Jaws” to “The Color Purple,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to “Schindler’s List,” Steven Spielberg has given us many of the most iconic moments in cinema. We have already extolled the genius of Spielberg in this previous NYFA article, but today we examine some of the specific cinematographic techniques he employs to achieve such spectacular results to help inspire your own cinematographic stylings.

Sideways tracking shot.

A sideways tracking shot follows the movement of the characters. Although it is a classic technique, Spielberg makes it his own. Spielberg adds considerable visual texture to the shots by putting all manner of objects and extras between the camera and the two main subjects, to enhance the richness of the frame and the visual perception of movement.

Spielberg also uses the variant of having the actors approach the camera after tracking, ending in a close-up, as exampled by the scene in “Jaws” when the camera tracks Brody and his wife to the fateful boat.

Introducing a character.

As the below video essay details, Spielberg often uses either action or fraction (glimpses of body parts or features) to introduce his protagonists, and some of his most memorable introductions employ both. Think of one of the most iconic character introductions of all film time: to Indiana Jones in the first “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

The long take.

A long take, aka a “oner,” is a continuous shot played out in real time. Unlike other directors, Spielberg’s long takes tend to be less stylized and more emotionally driven. As this No Film School article puts it, “Spielberg disguises these long takes in a number of ways, allowing audiences to become immersed in the dramatic energy of the scene without feeling the kinetic energy of the camera.” For some examples from everything from “Saving Private Ryan” to “Jurassic Park,” check out this video by Tony Zhou.

Over the shoulder.

Over the shoulder shots are common enough in cinema, but Spielberg uses dramatic and claustrophobic over the shoulder shots to create effects that push the boundaries of classic cinematographic framing. The dramatic shot uses a wide lens, making the character in the foreground look bigger than the other character, which conveys a feeling of dominance. The claustrophobic shot increases the amount of shoulder in the frame, pushing the main subject away from center. 

Frame within a frame.

A cinematic frame within a frame utilizes physical objects–mirrors, windows, doors, power lines–to divide the frame and create striking composition. In “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” Spielberg and his cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, use a circular lamp fixture, and in “Minority Report,” they use a headset held by one of the characters in the foreground. The novelty of these framing devices suggests how you can use everyday objects for brilliant aesthetic effects.

What are your favorite examples of Spielberg cinematography? Let us know in the comments. Learn more about cinematography at the New York Film Academy.

6 Movie Ad Libs that Became Classics — And What You Can Learn From Them

Some of the most well known lines from movies, and even scenes, are actually ad libbed, or improvised. Improvisation actually has many benefits for actors.

Below are six famous movie scenes that you may have not known were improvised.

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

“Casablanca,” 1942

Most people are familiar with Humphrey Bogart’s line from the 1942 movie, “Casablanca.” Bogart was teaching actress Ingrid Bergman how to play poker between takes when Bogart first said the famous line. Once they were back on camera, the line came out spontaneously during one of the flashback scenes in Paris.

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

“The Godfather,” 1972

Everybody loves cannoli! Francis Ford Coppola, the director of “The Godfather,” added the line, “don’t forget the cannoli,” last minute to the script. But Richard Castellano decided to take Coppola’s line and make it his own.

“Are you talkin’ to me?”

“Taxi Driver,” 1976

One sentence in the screenplay, which reads, “Travis looks in the mirror,” led to Robert De Niro improvising the entire scene in the movie.

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

“Jaws,” 1975

After Roy Schneider encounters the Great White shark, the scene was supposed to close. Instead, Schneider made up this line to help bring closure to the encounter.

“Son of a b****, he stole my line.”

“Good Will Hunting,” 1997

When Robin Williams goes to the mailbox to read a note, Williams said a different line for each take of the final scene in the movie because nothing was scripted. Co-star Matt Damon, who co-wrote the script, told Boston Magazine in 2015 that after Williams said the well-known line, “It was like a bolt, it was just one of those holy s*** moments, where, like, that’s it.”

Heeeeere’s Johnny!”

“The Shining,” 1980

Nothing is scarier than Jack Nicholson, who portrays Jack Torrance, busting a door down with an ax. During that scene, Nicholson’s character sticks his head through a hole in the door, and says, Heeeeere’s Johnny!” Nicholson’ joke, which referenced Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” was almost cut because director Stanley Kubrick, who is from England, didn’t know the reference.

What are some of your favorite movie ad libs? Let us know below! Want to learn more about acting techniques? Study acting at the New York Film Academy.

4 “Jawsome” Films to See During Shark Week

Who doesn’t love Shark Week? As usual, here at New York Film Academy, we’re thinking about our favorite films. This week, in particular, check out four fantastically scary and “jawsome” shark flicks.

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

This is potentially the film that caused the outbreak of shark-mania: a hybrid attitude toward sharks comprised of equal parts love, fear, and infatuation. Making Jaws was no ordinary challenge. Read an interesting reflection from Spielberg, here

Bait (Kimble Rendall, 2012)

Drama? Check. Romance? Check. Gore and heart-pounding suspense? You bet. Bait’s IMDb tagline is only the tip of the iceberg. “A freak tsunami traps shoppers at a coastal Australian supermarket inside the building – along with 12-foot Great White Sharks.”

The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2016)

This just in: critics are calling the newly released, highly anticipated film, The Shallows, “the best shark movie since Jaws” (The Wrap). Though you’ll go to the theater for Blake Lively, you’ll stay for the excitement of finding out if she can survive a vicious predator attack with nothing to help her but logic and courage.

Deep Blue Sea (Renny Harlin, 1999)

In the past three films, wild sharks with blood thirst and killer instincts gave audiences the shivers, but in Deep Blue Sea, an ever more menacing version of the predator – a genetically enhanced, hyper intelligent shark – will scare you silly. An isolated laboratory built to facilitate Alzheimer’s research becomes a haunting battleground as the sharks outsmart their constraints and head for the kill.