Top 40 Films of 2018
As we wrap up December, it’s time to go over the top 40 films released in 2018. To clarify, I qualify a “2018 film” as a film that premiered in 2018. Therefore, films like First Reformed, Paddington 2, and You Were Never Really Here - all incredible films -won’t be on this list as their premieres were in 2017.
40. THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME (dir. Susanna Fogel)
Despite a formulaic script, The Spy Who Dumped Me is a ton of fun. Kate McKinnon is always a joy to watch, and Mila Kunis is an incredible comedic force. Susanna Fogel also delivers some taut, fun direction.
39. THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS (dir. Nicole Holofcener)
The Land Of Steady Habits — one of the many Netflix original films released this year, offered some of the best character writing of the year. Nuanced performances and confident direction also helps counteract some of the weaknesses of the script.
38. OUTLAW KING (dir. David Mackenzie)
It struggles with pacing and doesn’t offer much new in terms of its storytelling, but it makes up for this with thrilling action and memorable performances. Rounding this out is gorgeous cinematography and confident direction.
37. DEADPOOL 2 (dir. David Leitch)
Deadpool 2 has some thematic issues (its family theme never quite hits home), but Ryan Reynolds is as funny as ever. The inclusion of Zazie Beetz and Josh Brolin as Domino and Cable, respectively is another plus, along with some great action sequences.
36. GAME NIGHT (dir. John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein)
Game Night is a ton of fun. Hilarious comedy, an all-star cast, taut direction, and some impressive cinematography. The mystery aspect of the story falls apart from incredulity in the third act, but this film is a fun, wild ride.
35. CALIBRE (dir. Matt Palmer)
Calibre is another Netflix original film that took me by surprise. This European thriller is very impressive in a number of ways - it’s tense, suspenseful, and has some genuinely heartbreaking moments. Its script and direction are a bit formulaic, but it overcomes these faults with stellar acting and gorgeous visuals.
34. HOLD THE DARK (dir. Jeremy Saulnier)
Hold the Dark was marketed as more of an action/thriller, but instead we got an eerie, suspenseful crime drama. There are some pacing issues present, but I adored the setting and the lead performances. Saulnier’s direction is also confident and direct.
33. THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD (dir. Dominique Rocher)
The Night Eats the World took me by surprise; it is a zombie film that thrives without showing much action, blood, or gore. Rather, it’s an introspective look at one man attempting to survive desperate loneliness. Not only do I like those kinds of films more than bland zombie action, the film as a whole was a breath of fresh air in a genre that became stagnant and dull years ago.
32. HEREDITARY (dir. Ari Aster)
Hereditary has stuck in my mind since seeing it. It’s a very refined horror film that gets better the more you watch it. I do have some issues with the final act, but some imagery from this film still haunts my dreams. Very effective, even if imperfect.
31. PACIFIC ANGELS (dir. Douglas Reese)
Douglas Reese’s Pacific Angels is an impressive low-budget effort, one that prides itself on long takes, introspective dialogue, and freeform structuring. What’s most impressive about it, beyond its visual style, is its impressive character work and writing.
30. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
directed by ANTHONY RUSSO & JOE RUSSO
Second only to Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War was one of the biggest blockbusters of the entire year. For the most part, the Russo brothers’ hard work paid off; Infinity War was exciting, funny, and surprising in a number of ways. It did have some issues, but it asserted itself as one of the most memorable films of 2018 with ease.
29. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
directed by PEYTON REED
Serving mostly as a palate cleanser after the release of Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp was just a lot of fun. Bringing Peyton Reed’s trademark humor back to the MCU, complete with exciting action, impressive CGI, and a surprisingly sympathetic villain this film was what Marvel fans needed after the snap heard round the world. Again, not perfect. It has some issues with its characterization and pacing, but it works for the more often than not.
28. ISLE OF DOGS
directed by WES ANDERSON
Wes Anderson is one of the most unique directors in Hollywood. In fact, I am consistently surprised his films garner the social appeal that they do, given how unique they tend to be when compared to other Hollywood projects. Isle of Dogs succeeds largely because of its stop motion animation and its impressive voice cast.
27. THE BLEEDING EDGE
directed by KIRBY DICK
The Bleeding Edge is a Netflix documentary that explores the terrifying side-effects and health hazards that come with new (often not tested) medical technology. It’s often difficult to watch, as you learn about the different ways this technology has affected the lives of so many women. However, it’s an important one to see, and a well-made documentary at that.
directed by GARETH EVANS
While a lot of people are mad that Gareth Evans isn’t focusing on a third film his popular The Raid franchise, Apostle presents the director at his most creatively ambitious and interesting. Combining elements of The Wicker Man and Black Death, along with other inspirations, this horror film is engaging, tense, and bloody.
25. LOVE, SIMON
directed by GREG BERLANTI
Love, Simon is a lot of fun. Not only does it exude easy charm and accessible comedy throughout every second of its runtime, its lead character, Simon, is effortlessly likable. It’s the kind of rom-com I’m sure many gay men and women have been waiting for, and I’m glad it’s garnered such social and critical acclaim since its release.
24. BLACK PANTHER
directed by RYAN COOGLER
Black Panther dominated pop-culture this year. Since its release it has made a name for itself as the biggest blockbuster of the year, one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2018, and (possibly) a Best Picture nominee — if Disney gets its way, that is. For the most part, it manages to live up to the massive hype surrounding it. Michael B. Jordan is one of the most compelling villains the MCU has ever had, and Ryan Coogler’s precise direction sets this film apart in an exciting and fresh way.
It does have some issues, mainly in its final act. However, there is no doubt in my mind that we will be talking about this film in the years to come. It’s important and it’s well made.
23. CRAZY RICH ASIANS
directed by JOHN M. CHU
Crazy Rich Asians is similar to Love, Simon insofar as it is effortlessly likable and easily accessible. The humor hits, the characters have a decent amount of depth to them (even if a couple are relegated to clichés) and it is directed with confidence. Even those who dislike rom-coms may find themselves charmed by this films effervescent affability.
directed by JULIE COHEN and BETSY WEST (dir. Julie Cohen, Betsy West)
Few public figures, let alone Supreme Court justices, have had the kind of social attention and presence that Ruth Bader Ginsberg has had. It’s only fitting, given her legendary status as a fierce champion for women’s rights, that two women direct a documentary about her story. RBG is a bit by-the-numbers in terms of its construction, but it provides a deep understand of Ginsberg, her background, her beliefs, and her importance in American culture.
21. THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
directed by ETHAN COEN and JOEL COEN
Netflix brought their A-game in the latter half of 2018, delivering some memorable original films from very impressive and renowned filmmakers. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was one of those films. Combining the Coen brothers’ unique and recognizable brand of dark humor with taut action, some surprising musical numbers, and even a return to Barton Fink-esque suspense, this anthology film manages to avoid the pitfalls it could have descended into and emerge as one of the best films of 2018.
20. LEAVE NO TRACE
directed by DEBRA GRANIK
Leave No Trace had a modest theater run this year, making just over $6 million
directed by STEVEN SODERBERGH
Shot entirely on an iPhone, Unsane is an impressive display of tension and fear, all through the eyes of a woman who has been wrongfully imprisoned in a mental health facility. Claire Foy continues to prove she’s one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood right now, and the supporting cast is strong. There’s also some gorgeous, eerie lighting interspersed throughout this film.
18. THE NIGHT COMES FOR US (dir. Timo Tjahjanto)
17. MANDY (dir. Panos Cosmatos)
16. SAY HER NAME: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SANDRA BLAND (dir. Kate Davis, David Heilbroner)
15. SEARCHING (dir. Aneesh Chaganty)
14. INCREDIBLES 2 (dir. Brad Bird)
13. A QUIET PLACE (dir. John Krasinski)
12. THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER (dir. Sara Colangelo)
11. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT (dir. Christopher McQuarrie)
10. ANNIHILATION (dir. Alex Garland)
9. THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD (dir. Morgan Neville)
8. EIGHTH GRADE (dir. Bo Burnham)
7. WIDOWS (dir. Steve McQueen)
6. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND (dir. Orson Welles)
5. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (dir. Boots Riley)
4. A STAR IS BORN (dir. Bradley Cooper)
3. THUNDER ROAD (dir. Jim Cummings)
2. BLACKKKLANSMAN (dir. Spike Lee)
THE TALE (dir. Jennifer Fox)