What do "Unforgiven" and "Saving Private Ryan" have in common? They're Oscar-winning hits that surprisingly came out during the Summer -- a time of year you don't expect to find awards contenders. Many more great films came out during blockbuster season, so here are some of your favorites you may have forgot were summer hits.
Release Date: May 25, 1979 The original “Alien" proved that it’s possible to tell a haunted house story in the cold vacuum of space. Everything in the film, from the frightening creature designs to the claustrophobic sets to the general sense of impending doom, adds up to a truly legendary sci-fi/horror classic.
'The Fly' (1986)
Release Date: August 15, 1986 Few directors can conjure up horror movies as unsettling (and downright gross) as David Cronenberg. With revolutionary creature effects, a haunting love story, and one of Jeff Goldblum’s most Goldblum-y performances, this hit became an instant classic.
Release Date: June 3, 1988 If you haven't seen this '80s classic, then honestly you're doing it wrong. This movie helped put Tom Hanks on the path to Oscar-winning, leading man status. Not too bad for a movie about a little kid who makes wish to be an adult-sized toy company employee.
'Midnight Run' (1988)
Release Date: July 20, 1988 This movie is both a hit and under-appreciated. It's not the first or fifth classic action comedy you think of, but the effortless chemistry between its two leads and the way they mine the road-trip premise for laughs should put it at the top of your list.
Release Date: August 3, 1992 Clint Eastwood's Western to end all Westerns surprised everyone in August of 1992, with its dour but stirring story of one out-to-pasture killer's attempt at redemption that ends with bloody revenge. This movie arguably set the trend for major studios to look at the summer corridor for times to release more awards-friendly fare.
Release Date: May 7, 1993 As underrated comedies go, you don't get much more "hidden gem" than "Dave." Who doesn't love a doppelganger comedy about an average Joe/dead ringer for the President being put in the Oval Office?
'The Firm' (1993)
Release Date: June 30, 1993 Arguably the best of the '90s string of John Grisham adaptations, this legal thriller is the very definition of "thinking man's" action movie -- with plenty of twist and turns to keep the popcorn crowd at the edge of their seats, mixed with strong character beats delivered by an impressive ensemble.
Release Date: Aug. 4, 1995 Yes, the talking pig movie that scored a crazy amount of love from Oscar was a summer sleeper. More than 20 years later, this charming family film still holds up.
'Out of Sight' (1998)
Release Date: June 26, 1998 One of the best adaptations of an Elmore Leonard novel to hit the big screen, this slick, funny caper centers on a fugitive bank robber who falls for the U.S. Marshal tracking him. The film also kicked off a fruitful partnership between Soderbergh and star George Clooney.
'Saving Private Ryan' (1998)
Release Date: July 24, 1998 The opening D-Day invasion sequence is generally considered the most realistic, and most horrific, combat sequence ever filmed. But the rest of "Saving Private Ryan" is a quietly gripping epic, a thoughtful meditation on loyalty, sacrifice, and humanity amid overwhelming bloodshed.
'The Others' (2001)
Release Date: Aug. 10, 2001 Nicole Kidman delivers an all-timer performance here, in this WWII-era tale of a troubled mother trapped with her two children in a remote and very haunted country estate. Scares, and twists, ensue.
Release Date: May 24, 2002 Al Pacino and Robin Williams headline a great ensemble, and give truly underrated performances, in Nolan's first (and only) remake. Unable to sleep in an Alaskan town where the sun never sets, Pacino's detective struggles to find a killer who may or may not have proof that Pacino killed a fellow cop. This slow-burn thriller is equal parts procedural and morality play; it's one of Nolan's least talked about films, and, also, one of his best.
'Road to Perdition' (2002)
Release Date: July 12, 2002 "Perdition" puts a tommy gun in Hanks' hand when his oldest boy witnesses a murder he wasn't meant to see -- and, in an attempt to cover his tracks, the killer slays Sullivan's wife and youngest son as a result. The confident script achieves almost Greek levels of tragedy, and Hanks' understated performance anchors it all as Michael cuts a bloody swath of vengeance to ultimately save his son's soul at the cost of his own.
'500 Days of Summer' (2009)
Release Date: July 17, 2009 This very meta, very heartbreaking rom-com is a near-perfect examination of what happens when we put the potential of love on so high a pedestal, we can't bear the weight of its inevitable letdown. Don't watch this summer hit if you recently went through a break-up.
'The Conjuring' (2013)
Release Date: July 19, 2013 James Wan's stylish film didn’t exactly break new ground for horror movies, but thanks to a solid cast and inventive/scary set pieces, it did manage to put a fresh spin on tropes like haunted houses and demonic possession.