2018 was an exciting year for movies. We got big blockbusters that blew us away and some that disappointed us. There was also a tonne of indie gems that shook me to my core. I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer calibre of movies we got, and although I still have to watch a few, I think I’ve watched enough to finally make up my yearly list.
Hey everyone, I’m Andy, and today I’m going to countdown my top 18 movies of 2018. I found it near impossible to write a top 10 as there are so many movies I just want to talk about and I haven’t got time to do their own reviews. That’s why I’m doing a top 18 this time. From some of the greatest animated films I’ve ever seen, to emotionally hitting dramas, these are my personal favourites to come out in 2018.
As always, I have some honourable mentions to hand out. Many of these were on my list at one point, and there are actually some movies that I truly loved, but couldn’t even give an honourable mention to. These are all amazing, and I highly encourage to check them out at some point.
Revenge: An ultra-violent revenge tale that isn’t for the faint of heart.
Black Panther: It may be slightly overrated, but this Marvel gem is really good. Michael B. Jordan’s performance as Kilmonger is worth the price of admission alone.
Incredibles 2: A sequel 14 years in the making that managed to live up to the crazy expectations. Proves yet again why Pixar is one of the best movie studios of all time.
Beautiful Boy: An emotionally draining true story with career-best performances from Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet. You could also classify it as a sequel to The Office.
A Quiet Place: John Krasinki’s unique horror/thriller is an expertly crafted example of how unbearable tension can be significant and memorable.
Mandy: The ultimate hallucinogenic trip into hell itself is one of the craziest movies I’ve ever seen. Nicolas Cage is also phenomenal!
You Were Never Really Here: A hitman thriller with a twist, this Joaquin Phoenix led experience will stick with you long after the credits roll.
Green Book: Yes it may be Oscar bait, but this is a delightful film anchored by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali at their best.
Vice: Adam McKay’s darkly funny biopic is one of the craziest movies of 2018. Christian Bale gives what is arguably his best performance as Dick Cheney, and it’s phenomenal.
The Sisters Brothers: This unconventional western will make you laugh and cry, and it proves that the Western genre is making an excellent comeback. Also, John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix are a perfect duo.
The House That Jack Built: Another controversial movie from the king of controversy, this study of a serial killer with OCD is one of the darkest, yet surprisingly funniest movies of the 21st century.
Upgrade: Leigh Whannell’s sci-fi/body horror adventure may just be the most underrated movie of 2018. Seriously, you need to watch this. Hardly anyone has, and it’s incredible!
Now, let’s begin!
18. Eighth Grade
Kicking off the list is the most realistic coming of age movie I’ve ever seen. Comedian Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is an exceptional study of one of the most anxiety-filled, cringe-worthy times of everyone’s life.
Eighth Grade follows Kayla (Elsie Fisher), an introverted thirteen-year-old who is trying to survive the last week of eighth grade, which has been an awkward and disastrous time for her. That’s all I want to say as it’s incredibly rewarding to watch Kayla go through a series of relatable situations. Elsie Fisher gives a raw and heartfelt performance as this young girl that we can all relate to in one way or another. I can remember the times of being at that age in high school, having to go through the stages of acne, anxiety and just the stuff that makes puberty a horrible phase in life.
Thanks to Bo Burnham’s incredibly real writing and direction, Eighth Grade is an extremely awkward movie, but that’s the point. It’s a realistic look at what everyone goes through, and that’s why I now consider it one of the most significant coming of age movies of all time.
Alfonso Cuarón is one of my favourite modern filmmakers. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite in the Harry Potter series, and I consider Children of Men and Gravity two of the most essential pieces of Sci-fi. I’ve always loved his style of bringing a story to life, and that’s why I was so excited about his most personal movie yet.
Set in the early 1970s, Roma follows a year in the life of a middle-class family’s maid in Mexico City. First of all, Roma is a technical achievement thanks to Cuarón’s excellent direction and cinematography. It feels like you’re living with this family and experiencing the joys and problems that come to them over the year. The camera itself feels like a major character, thanks to its ability to transport you into this family’s life. It pans across the characters and settings (and it even does 360-degree movements), which almost feels like the camera knows something the characters on-screen don’t know. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even notice the editing for a majority of the run-time, that’s just how amazing the technical work is.
Roma is a modern-day masterpiece that I wasn’t emotionally prepared for, and it will stick with me until the day I die. It’s also easily the best Netflix film yet!
16. Bad Times at the El Royale
How has this become one of the most underseen movies of the decade? It had everything going for it. This was the next movie from Drew Goddard, who made the fantastic horror/comedy The Cabin in the Woods and has written a lot of other amazing films and TV shows. It also had a great cast with Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm and Dakota Johnson, just to name a few. It might be because it comes across as a Tarantino wannabe (you can’t help but compare it to The Hateful Eight). But this is easily one of the most unique and fun movies of 2018.
Set in 1969, Bad Times at the El Royale follows a group of strangers who meet by chance at the El Royale, a rundown hotel sitting on the border of California and Nevada. But as the sun goes down and the rain starts to fall, each of their secrets begins to come out. The script from Drew Goddard is easily one of the best in 2018. Every character has their own quirky and/or dark charms, and each of them gets the perfect amount of screen-time (although I would’ve loved just a little bit more of Chris Hemsworth’s Billy Lee). But the real standout was Cynthia Erivo as Darlene, who was just amazing in this significant role. There’s a long take that shows her singing, and it’s easily one of the best movies scenes of 2018.
Bad Times at the El Royale is a smart and memorable throwback to America during the Vietnam War, and it’s a movie that rewards you on repeat viewings. Also, Chris Hemsworth’s entrance with Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) by The Mamas & Papas playing over it is one of my favourite character entrances of all time.
You know 2018 was a fantastic year for movies when one of my favourite Sci-Fi/Horror films of all time is at 15. Alex Garland’s adaption of the Southern Reach trilogy is one of the most beautiful and terrifying pieces of Sci-Fi I’ve ever seen.
Annihilation follows a biologist (Natalie Portman), who signs up for a dangerous mission with four others to go into a mysterious area known as The Shimmer. A place where the laws of nature don’t apply. When this came out on Netflix back in March, I was full of excitement. I love the books the film is based on, and I was interested in seeing how Alex Garland (who made Ex Machina, another of my all-time favourite Sci-Fi movies) would transfer them into a singular film. The visuals are breathtaking, and as soon as we go into The Shimmer, it’s a treat for the eyes. The sound design and score are also incredible, with it perfectly suiting the tone of the film. The lighthouse scene, in particular, is one of the most beautiful pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen, and the score and visuals for that almost hypnotise you with its power and unsettling nature.
Annihilation is one of the most breathtaking pieces of Sci-Fi I’ve ever had the privilege· of seeing and if you don’t watch it on a decent television, you’re most likely going to hate it. Yes, I would’ve loved to see this at a cinema, but it’s still a beautiful piece of cinema that you won’t ever forget.
14. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Oh, Tom Cruise. You’re one of the craziest actors alive for doing stunts that get more and more dangerous, but damn it’s worth it! I don’t understand how the Mission: Impossible series manages to get better and crazier with each entry. The last couple of entries in the action series were terrific, and the stunts were unbelievable, but this is on a whole other level.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), as he and his IMF team join forces with the CIA to stop a nuclear disaster at the hands of a terrorist organisation known as The Apostles. Christopher McQuarrie is the first director to return for another film in this franchise, and he is arguably the best so far. He managed to raise the stakes and intensity of the set-pieces to such a high level, that I don’t even know how future entries will top it. The action set-pieces are beyond incredible, with the halo jump, chase through Paris and helicopter chase being some of the greatest of all time. Tom Cruise shows that he still has it with him pulling off some incredible stunts (you can see the moment he broke his ankle when jumping from one building to another, and just carries on), and he’s almost sixty years old! If that isn’t dedication for a role, I don’t know what is.
From Lorne Balfe’s incredible score to the bar-raising action set-pieces, this is the best entry in the Mission: Impossible franchise yet and it may be impossible for them to top this near-perfect achievement in the action genre. If that didn’t convince you, watch it just for Henry Cavill’s reloading arms. It’s worth it, trust me.
13. First Reformed
Ethan Hawke is one of my favourite actors of all time. I remember the first time I saw him in Dead Poets Society and seeing his talent. Then I got to watch the Before Trilogy and just loved his acting ability. His performance here as a priest who slowly spirals out of control is easily his best.
To describe First Reformed without spoilers is near impossible. This is a movie that needs to be seen without knowing much about it. If I had to explain it, I would say it’s a modern day Taxi Driver. Watching this character struggle with his inner demons and other problems results in a perfect character study. It’s a slow, unsettling and intense look into a character who just wants to do something about a problem our world is facing. Ethan Hawke gives all he can, and it’s an extremely memorable performance. If you’re looking for a slow-burn that will result in you being on edge for most of it, First Reformed is the perfect movie for it. Also, it’s another hit from A24, which may just be my favourite film company of all time.
12. Sorry to Bother You
Easily the craziest and most bizarre movie of 2018, Sorry to Bother You seems like your average comedy, but it’s so much more than that. The writing/directorial debut from Boots Riley is a movie I wasn’t prepared for, and you won’t be either.
Set in an alternate present-day version of Oakland, California, Sorry to Bother You follows Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a telemarketer who discovers a magical key to ultimate success. Yes, the plot description makes it sound normal, but it’s far from it. Boots Riley has crafted a film that is like the love child of Martin Scorsese and David Lynch but with a hint of Spike Lee. It’s original, hilarious and a smart political satire, which looks into the entertainment industry and slave-like jobs. Lakeith Stanfield continues to prove himself as one of the best up-and-coming actors in a memorable and funny performance as Cassius. His charisma and comedic timing are perfect, and you’ll want to know everything else he’s been in (watch Atlanta as he’s also great in that).
If you want a film that will surprise you with its originality and strangeness, Sorry to Bother You will not disappoint. As soon as Armie Hammer comes into the story, I guarantee you won’t be prepared.
11. Avengers: Infinity War
Ten years after Iron Man kicked off the marvel that is the MCU, we got the most ambitious superhero film of all time. The culmination of ten years worth of characters and their arcs, technical improvements and stories colliding, we got the beginning of the end of an era.
Avengers: Infinity War follows the Avengers and their allies, as they unite to battle Thanos, their most powerful enemy yet who plans to wipe out half of the universe. The Russo brothers know how to create a Marvel movie, and Infinity War is their best work so far. With so many characters, they manage to give everyone just the right amount of screen-time, which is unbelievable. Don’t get me wrong, a lot is going on in this, and if you haven’t seen most of the films in the MCU, this would be a tough movie to keep up with. But for long and short time fans of Marvel, this is the ultimate dream come true.
With the best MCU villain yet and an ending that has forever changed superhero films, Infinity War is a fantastic achievement in the film industry, and it will go down as one of the greatest comic book movies of all time.
10. A Star Is Born
The most recent movie I watched from this list effected me on so many different levels. Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is a raw and pulsating musical drama that managed to surpass my high expectations for it.
A Star Is Born follows seasoned musician Jack (Bradley Cooper), who falls in love with struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga), and helps her find fame despite his own life spiralling out of control. Firstly, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are at there best, and both give two of the best performances of 2018. Bradley Cooper really shocked me as he genuinely becomes this character suffering from alcohol addiction. It’s easily one of, if not the best performance of the year. Lady Gaga was also incredible as Ally. Her chemistry with Bradley Cooper and her ability to perform these songs with raw emotion are perfect. Sam Elliot is also fantastic as Jack’s older brother, and even though his role isn’t huge, it’s just as memorable and compelling as the leads.
Bradley Cooper has crafted one of the most emotionally connecting films of 2018, and it’s genuinely heartbreaking. Also, the performance of Shallow is really that good. It sent chills down my spine multiple times.
Spike Lee’s compellingly bizarre true story is an incredible return to form for the much-loved filmmaker. I was eagerly anticipating BlacKkKlansman all year, and when I finally sat down to watch it, I loved every step of the journey it took me on.
Based on the incredible true story, BlacKkKlansman follows African American police officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), who successfully manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1970s. Spike Lee chose the perfect time to release this movie, as racial issues are horribly high in America as of now. The KKK is still a significant player in these racist rallies, which are destroying many lives. Spike Lee’s storytelling here makes BlacKkKlansman a film that deserves to be seen just for its telling of a true story that is just as relatable today as it was in the early 1970s. With incredible performances and compelling direction, this is a film with a message that you won’t ever forget.
If you know me, then you know that I’m a huge fan of the original horror classic from visionary filmmaker Dario Argento. I loved Luca Guadagnino’s beautiful and soul-crushing film Call Me by Your Name back in 2017, and when I heard that he was doing a “reimagining” of Suspiria, I was ridiculously excited. I can tell you that this nightmarish film is the definition of beautifully terrifying horror.
Set in 1970s Berlin, young American Suzy Bannion (Dakota Johnson) joins a world-renowned dance company, where she, another young dancer and a grieving psychotherapist start to suspect that something dark lies within the school. Now, the plots of this and the original do sound similar, but this is an entirely different film. The dull and almost colourless look really suits the tone Luca Guadagnino was going for. Dakota Johnson proves that she is an excellent actress (yes, she was horrible in the Fifty Shades series, but that was awful writing and direction) with a commanding performance as our main protagonist. But it’s Tilda Swinton who is indeed a force to be reckoned with as three completely different characters. Then there’s Thom Yorke’s mesmerising score which is my favourite of 2018.
This is a grim and hypnotic horror masterpiece that I can tell some of you will hate. But those of you who are willing to take a leap of faith on a horror experience like no other, I promise that you won’t be disappointed.
Every year there’s a horror film that’s hailed as the best since The Exorcist. When this received that title, I was both excited and sceptical. But after watching it, Hereditary is one of the only horror movies that makes me feel physically sick during it.
After the death of the matriarch of the Graham family, her daughter’s family begin to discover a series of terrifying secrets about their ancestry. That plot description may sound cryptic, but that’s all you need to know to go into it, other than the stuff I’m about to write. Hereditary is a horror movie that really took me by surprise by how unpredictable and genuinely horrifying it is. This is the directorial debut from Ari Aster, and he knows how to make a fantastic horror movie. He doesn’t rely on jump scares (there’s one in the whole film, and it’s not really a jump scare). Instead, he taps into grief and the horrifying effects it has on a family. Yes, there is a supernatural twist, but this is still a horror movie that feels real, and if you don’t feel physically sick during one scene in particular (if you’ve watched it then you know what I’m talking about), then I don’t know what can scare you. It also rewards you on repeat viewings, if you can handle it that is.
6. American Animals
How do you turn one of the craziest real-life heists into a modern-day classic? Bart Layton answered this with a half movie, half documentary hybrid that resulted in the most audacious heist movie of the decade.
American Animals is the true story of four young men, who attempt to pull off one of the craziest heists in U.S. history. Bart Layton’s work here has resulted in a unique and original take on the true story format. You have the real people involved in this event being interviewed for the movie, as they explain how they believe the heist was planned and executed, and actors playing out their stories. It may sound rather strange, but it works tremendously well. This could’ve been a solid heist movie if it was like your average movie. But the documentary format elevates it onto another level.
Thanks to Layton’s stunning direction, incredible performances and unique storytelling, American Animals is a film that you may not hear many people talking about today, but in a few years, it will be considered as a modern day classic that everyone has to watch.
5. Isle of Dogs
When it comes to Wes Anderson, it’s hard not to love his work. His quirky filmmaking has evolved over his career, and many of his movies are some of my all-time favourites. I used to consider Fantastic Mr Fox as his best work with incredible use of stop-motion animation. Then his latest film, Isle of Dogs came out, and it somehow managed to top it.
Set in a near-future version of Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a young boy’s journey to Trash Island, the place where every dog was exiled to live out the rest of their days, to find his lost dog. This is easily Wes Anderson’s most heartwarming story yet, and this proves that his direction/writing and stop-motion animation is a match made in heaven. The animation is incredible and incredibly detailed, with singular hairs and even blades of grass flowing naturally with the wind. Then you have an excellent cast of characters, with each dog having their own unique and quirky personality. It’s hard not to love a gossip-loving dog played by Jeff Goldblum. The script and direction from Anderson are as fantastic as ever, and it proves that he is one of the best filmmakers of this generation.
Isle of Dogs is a loveable gem in the animation industry and one that will go down as one of, if not Anderson’s best work.
4. The Favourite
If you were to ask me which modern filmmaker will be soon considered as masterful as the late Stanley Kubrick, I would say Yorgos Lanthimos. I remember watching his Greek film Dogtooth back in 2012 and being totally in awe of his strange, yet fantastic style of filmmaking. Then he started to create some English language films with The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, two films I adore. I didn’t think it would be possible for Lanthimos to top his previous works. I was wrong.
Set in early 18th century England, The Favourite follows a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) who occupies the throne, while her closest friend, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone), arrives, a rivalry between the two women takes place to see who will be Queen Anne’s favourite. What I love about The Favourite, is the characters themselves. Each of the three leads is so different, and your alliance is always changing throughout. It results in an intense movie experience as you start to question the lengths these two women are going just to impress the Queen and gain that favouritism from her. These characters are only heightened by the incredible performances (everyone is at their best, with Olivia Colman being superb), and the direction from Yorgo Lanthimos.
I could keep going on about it, but I’ll just say that this is a movie you need to watch and it might even become your favourite film of 2018.
Just letting you know, I would say that these final three films are all on the same level as each other. In the days leading up to this list, these three kept on switching around so you may be able to tell that I consider these as the very best of 2018. To continue, I’m looking at a little gem that tackles racism and police brutality, while being both hilarious and incredibly thought-provoking.
Blindspotting follows Colin (Daveed Diggs), a man who is trying to make it through his last three days of probation, while the bond with his volatile best friend Miles (Rafael Casal), is put to the test. I was blown away by Blindspotting and how it tackled so many modern day issues in its ninety-minute run-time. The mixture of Carlos López Estrada’s raw direction and the writing from Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal makes one of the most powerful films of the decade. Watching Colin struggling to make it through his final days of probation as he has to put up with the problems of dealing with his best friend who is unpredictable and can snap in any situation, to the fact that he is an African American who is looked down upon by the police in his area, is just incredible.
Blindspotting takes these modern day issues and makes you think about how messed up our world really is while entertaining you with a smart and original story. If you have to pick one film that tackles racism, Blindspotting is the most intelligent choice.
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Throughout most of 2018, I was not that excited for an animated Spider-Man movie. I heard it was coming from Sony Pictures Animation, and after suffering through 2017’s The Emoji Movie, you can understand why I was sceptical at first. But in the weeks leading up to it and after playing and loving Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4, I was really excited. I can safely say that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the greatest Spider-Man movie yet!
The film follows Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a teenager who after a series of unforeseen circumstances, becomes the one and only Spider-Man. But when he crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions, he must team up with them to defeat an evil which could destroy their realities. As much as I love the other Spider-Man films out there (well, maybe not The Amazing Spider-Man entries), none of them come as close to this in understanding who Spider-Man really is. Into the Spider-Verse understands that anyone can be Spider-Man. Yes, superpowers may help out a bit more, but anyone (yes, even you and me) could become Spider-Man by just helping others. The filmmakers take this fundamental idea of who is and can be Spider-Man, and transform it into the most enjoyable movie of 2018. Then there’s the stunning animation used which I can already tell will be used a lot down the line, as well as some of the best writing and characters I’ve ever seen in a movie.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse isn’t just a fantastic Spider-Man film, it’s a fantastic film period.
1. First Man
Is it strange that every one of my number one picks in the last three years has been films with Ryan Gosling in the lead role? Maybe it is, but in all seriousness, Ryan Gosling has been in some of the greatest films of the 21st century. Damien Chazelle’s latest masterpiece, First Man, is a stunning exploration of Neil Armstrong, and the incredible dangers of the moon landing mission.
First Man is the true story of Neil Armstrong, and the legendary moon landing mission, which led to him becoming a legend. I’m a huge fan of Damien Chazelle, with Whiplash and La La Land as two of my all-time favourites, and I really enjoyed his debut Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench. Chazelle has moved away from the jazz scene with one of the most intense and emotionally hitting films of the decade. His direction is incredible, with the film almost feeling like a documentary. But the real strength is in the space scenes (well any scene involving a spacecraft), which are some of the most claustrophobic pieces of cinema since The Descent. These ships that are considered “technical achievements” are incredibly dangerous. I’d feel safer in a car without airbags and seatbelts compared to the spacecraft that NASA used during the Apollo missions.
The performances from everyone, especially Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, are incredible, with the latter being critical in bridging the gap between Gosling’s performance and the connection to his on-screen family. To all those people who say that Gosling isn’t acting because he isn’t speaking much, that’s not what acting is. Yes, dialogue delivery is essential, but the facial expressions from Gosling are beyond incredible. Justin Hurwitz is continuing to prove that he’s one of the best film composers of the 21st century with a stunning and memorable score. It’s a great mixture of his previous works, while also adding some Kubrick-esque tracks to the mix.
First Man is a movie which prefers to focus on the character of Neil Armstrong, instead of the moon landing itself. I can see why people would call this a tedious and slow film, but to me, this is a captivating and masterful study of a legend and the Apollo missions. First Man may not be my favourite movie from Damien Chazelle (Whiplash is still *mwah*), but it’s an incredible movie, and it’s my personal favourite of 2018.
There you have it, my Top 18 Movies of 2018 done and dusted. I hope you enjoyed reading this and hopefully, you have added a few movies to your must-watch list. As always, if there’s a movie I left off the list that you loved, please let me know in the comments. Also comment your favourite/s of 2018, as I’m interested to see what your picks are. Thanks!