So long, sunscreen. As Labor Day looms, we take a look at the pop culture triumphs--and tragedies--we've witnessed this season.

By Lindsey BahrJames HibberdStephan Lee and Kyle Anderson
Updated September 04, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT
The Fault in Our Stars
Credit: James Bridges

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Authentic teenage dramas were big winners at the cineplex. A movie chronicling a child’s growth over the course of 12 years (Boyhood) and another about terminally ill teens falling in love (The Fault in Our Stars) might seem like box office poison. But in the hands of loving filmmakers? Magic.

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Authentic Teenage Drama
A movie chronicling a child’s growth over the course of 12 years (Boyhood) and another about terminally ill teens falling in love (The Fault in Our Stars) might seem like box office poison. But in the hands of loving filmmakers? Magic.
Who knew a franchise (re)born out of the 1980s sewers (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and another spawned from a 60-year-old idea (Godzilla) would be runaway hits?
Truly Original Roles for Women
The complex, unique females we saw on screen, like Scarlett Johansson’s superpowered Lucy, Angelina Jolie’s vengeful Maleficent, and Tilda Swinton’s menacing, hilarious Minister Mason in Snowpiercer, captured our imagination and our entertainment dollars.

The Apocalypse
Global catastrophe? Count us in! Once again this year, annihilation drew a crowd, led by TNT’s virus thriller The Last Ship and FX’s gross neo-vamp horror series The Strain. Even HBO’s post-Rapture bummer The Leftovers got renewed for a second season of bleak and violent moping.
Underdog Networks
Watch out, HBO and Showtime: Cinemax (The Knick), Starz (Outlander), and Pivot (Please Like Me) stole your spotlight with some unconventional critic faves.
Kacy Catanzaro’s Forearms
NBC’s American Ninja Warrior is the only broadcast show to jump in the ratings this summer — and much of the credit goes to the ferocious five-foot-tall contestant who became an online sensation.

Nicki Minaj’s ”Anaconda,” Jason Derulo’s ”Wiggle,” and Meghan Trainor’s ”All About That Bass” filled the hottest months with booty-centric blasts of bum-positive funk.
Tag-Team Tours
The hip accessory for superstars looking to fill venues was a like-minded pal. The hot-selling runs from Jay Z and Beyoncé, Eminem and Rihanna, Drake and Lil Wayne, and even Kiss and Def Leppard provided more hits for your concert dollar.
Everybody in Iggy Azalea’s Orbit
The Australian MC’s ”Fancy” sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, and she had long, nattily tailored coattails: Her guest rap lifted Ariana Grande’s ”Problem” into heavy rotation, and ”Fancy” hook crooner Charli XCX made her own splash with ”Boom Clap.”

Books Your Dad Will Like
New titles by John W. Dean (The Nixon Defense), Rick Perlstein (The Invisible Bridge), and Ben Macintyre (A Spy Among Friends) were winning bets for bookish bros.
Brainy Fiction
It’s heartening when epic, beautifully crafted novels burn up the best-seller list, such as The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. We predict similar success for Matthew Thomas’ late-summer debut, We Are Not Ourselves.
Guilt-Free Beach Reads
Light enough for a beach bag but by no means literary lightweights, Emma Straub’s The Vacationers, Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, and Jojo Moyes’ One Plus One hit the spot this summer.

Overextended Franchises
Pack up those machine guns, propellers, and dancing shoes, Hollywood—and please consider the latest Expendables, Planes, and Step Up installments your last.
Charlie’s Angels Stars
Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz both belly flopped with their soul-crushingly formulaic and wholly unfunny comedy efforts in Blended and Sex Tape.
”Sure Thing” Directors
Clint Eastwood has won Oscars, Seth MacFarlane made one of the highest-grossing comedies ever (Ted), and Doug Liman helped define modern action flicks. But they can still make movies that are tone-deaf (Jersey Boys), tepid (A Million Ways to Die in the West), or just…baffling (Edge of Tomorrow).

”Revamped” Reality
ABC’s Rising Star flogged the singing-competition dead horse, ABC’s The Quest misfired at trying to merge fantasy and reality (ahem), and VH1’s Dating Naked didn’t exactly reinvigorate the dating game. (Okay, we admit it—we’re still watching that one.)
Faux Royalty
Fox viewers didn’t Wanna Marry Harry, Bravo fans rejected the aristocracy-crazed Ladies of London, and even U.S. ”royals” took a tumble: Ratings for the Kardashians’ signature E! series are sinking.
’90s Stars
Kirstie Alley’s Kirstie (TV Land) was axed, while Martin Lawrence and Kelsey Grammer’s dreadful comedy Partners (FX) is headed in that direction, as is the Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling sitcom Mystery Girls (ABC Family), a bomb watched by roughly 90,210 viewers.

Rock Fans
Do you love good old-fashioned rock & roll? This summer had nothing for you, then, unless you count the lukewarm wikka-wikka of Magic!’s ”Rude” as rock. (Excepting Paramore’s ”Ain’t It Fun,” guitars were on milk cartons this summer, not on pop radio.)
The Phrase ”Song of Summer” With a dull logjam in the top 10 and no consensus for a champ, the song of summer was whatever you thought it was—congratulations, Action Bronson’s ”Easy Rider”!
The Divas
They’re both legends—and onetime American Idol judges—but Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey each dropped albums (A.K.A. and Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse, respectively) with deeply underwhelming sales.

The Embarrassing New Cover for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
This British repackaging of the 1964 classic has Roald Dahl fans all over the world wondering why a whimsical tale about Willy Wonka’s candy dreamland looks more like a novelization of Toddlers & Tiaras.
Sure, the e-commerce giant is laughing all the way to the bank, but with its war on Hachette this summer, the ”Everything Store” has made enemies of book publishers, the German government, George Orwell’s estate, and Stephen Colbert—to name a few.
Hard Choices
Hillary Clinton’s account of her tenure as secretary of state didn’t wow critics, and its sales underdelivered on her rumored eight-figure advance.