I hate to tell you this, but 2018 is very nearly over. While we still have a couple of months to go before the end of the year, as Christmas draws closer, it's definitely not too early to start talking about the best movies of 2018. There's still a few more films to come out that will no doubt make our final list, but in the meantime, let's start whittling down the movies we've already seen to try and make the decision easier. There's already been so many great releases this year, from Black Panther and A Quiet Place, to Love, Simon and Paddington 2, that it's no easy task picking the best movies of 2018. Oh well, someone's got to do it, right?
When it came to judging the best movies of 2018, we spoke to the whole GR team, our freelancers, and the film experts over at our sister publications Total Film and SFX magazines before settling on the ranked list below. GR broadly focuses on superhero and sci-fi movies, but we've extended our scope for the best movies of 2018. You’ll spot some of your favourite blockbusters in our list, and hopefully some lesser-heralded - perhaps more offbeat - movies which deserve your attention.
Defining which movies came out ‘this year’ isn't as easy as it sounds due to staggered regional release dates. Ultimately, we decided to go with whatever the first release date for each movie was. If you’re based in the US and wondering why brilliant horror film The Ritual isn’t one of our best movies of 2018, it’s because it actually came out in 2017 in the UK before heading to Netflix this year.
As with all best movie countdowns, opinions are subjective, but we trust there’s something here for everyone. Think we’ve missed out on a modern classic? We encourage healthy discussion of your favorites in our comment section below - just please keep it civil. Read on for our best movies of 2018 so far.
25. The Death of Stalin
What is it? Ever wondered what happened when Russian dictator Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin)’s inner circle found him dead in 1953? This hilarious and very weird movie imagines just that, complete with ridiculous going-ons and British accents.
Why should you watch it? Because you’ll never see another movie like it. It’s true, The Death of Stalin isn’t for everyone (you’ll either think it’s genius or stupid), but no matter how you feel once the credits roll, you can’t argue that it’s one hell of a unique movie. And with a fantastic cast too! Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Andrea Riseborough, Jason Isaacs, and so many more great and surprising actors take on roles in this ridiculous imagining of one of the most important events in world history. Plus, one of the best things about this black comedy is that it in no way tries to be serious or authoritative, while still staying accurate to events. It’s a fantastical mix of history and humour and, honestly, it’s batshit crazy to boot, but you’ll still be thinking about it days later. Lauren O’Callaghan
24. Ghost Stories
What is it? Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman) is a skeptic who’s spent his life debunking fraudulent cases of paranormal activity and dodgy psychics. Upon receiving a mysterious package in the mail he starts looking into three unexplained cases, all of which point to the existence of the paranormal.
Why should you watch it? If you’re a fan of horror movies, you get three for the price of one here. The first of the tales features Tony Matthews (Paul Whitehouse), a nightwatchman in a disused asylum, and is a classic high tension, dark corridors, mysterious noises affair. But the second and third chapters take a slightly different approach. Which story gets to you the most depends on what you’re most afraid of, but there’s enough ‘things’ in each chapter to make sure at least one will stick with you once you’ve gone to bed (I just hope it’s not the first story...). To say more would spoil what makes Ghost Stories one of the best movies of 2018, but suffice to say the film doesn’t end once the third act is done. James Jarvis
23. Deadpool 2
What is it? The long-craved sequel to Deadpool’s surely-impossible-to-follow 2016 debut, which introduces Cable (Josh Brolin), expands the anti-hero’s dysfunctional superhero circle, and breaks down any wall left standing.
Why should you watch it? Because while Deadpool 2 doesn’t, ultimately, manage to beat its predecessor - the first movie’s distinct, out-of-nowhere freshness made a second lightning strike effectively impossible - by carefully scaling up and evolving Deadpool’s world without going remotely near MCU levels of superheroic spectacle, it still delivers the best sequel that can realistically be delivered. Deadpool 2 manages to grow everything you loved about the original film in a slightly different direction while maintaining the essence of intimate, character-driven, DNGAF verve that made it such a refreshingly small-scale, rule-breaking hoot. Brave enough to reset and redirect a few things along the way, and with a genuine focus on personality and humanity among all the brutal gore and even more brutal jokes, Deadpool 2 is, simply, nothing but a good time from start to finish. David Houghton
What is it? Resolutely analogue mechanic Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) suffers a tragic car crash and finds himself recovered by way of cybernetic upgrades to his body and mind. Connected to his digital world on a level never before imagined, he discovers that he’s on the precipice of a very deep rabbit hole.
Why should you watch it? Packing Matrix-level ideas and action choreography alongside the wit and charisma of an MCU movie, Upgrade is about the freshest, most exciting and energetic sci-fi movie of the year. Making reverent nods to the genre’s late ‘80s and early ‘90s heyday while delivering a resolutely modern, refined story treatment amid all the chunky, stylised, cyberpunk world-building, and gloriously creative violence, Upgrade is a perfect balance of exhilarating excess and warm humanity. Driven by a magnetic central performance from Logan Marshall-Green, it walks a whole bunch of tightropes perfectly, dancing between dark hilarity, staggeringly cool action, potent pathos, cleverly layered storytelling, and a drum-tight pace with absolute finesse. It’s one of the zestiest, most effervescently ideas-driven action movies in a long time, and will become an instant favourite as soon as you see it. David Houghton
21. Crazy Rich Asians
What is it? Based on the popular books, this romantic comedy is a Hollywood rarity thanks to its all-Asian cast. Things are getting serious between Rachel (Constance Wu) and her beau Nick (Henry Golding), so they're taking things to the next level with a trip to Singapore to meet Nick's family. What he fails to mention is that his family is… crazy rich, and his mother (Michelle Yeoh) is an ice-cold matriarch who will not give up her son so easily.
Why should you watch it? It can't be overstated how refreshing it is to see so much positive Asian representation in an American-made film, which was a hit with audiences and at the box office. For many, Crazy Rich Asians is more than just a fun rom-com full of glitzy, obscenely expensive galas - it taps into deep cultural touchstones like filial devotion and the tension that arises when old traditions clash with new values. If you've ever fawned over an extravagant wedding or a life-changing party, some scenes are pure wish fulfillment, and there are plenty of juicy subplots surrounding Rachel and Nick's drama. Personally speaking, I could watch an entire movie revolving around Rachel's hilarious friend Peik Lin (played by rapper Awkwafina) and her madcap dad (Ken Jeong). Plus, how many movies can lay claim to working in a climactic mahjong scene? Lucas Sullivan
20. Mission: Impossible - Fallout
What is it? The sixth spy thriller following Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), this time he must save the free world from international terrorists the 'Apostles'. Ethan's joined by his loyal cohorts Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg), but must also contend with a ruthless CIA agent (Henry Cavill) who's been unwillingly assigned to the team by high command.
Why should you watch it? Mission: Impossible movies are mainly about two things - incredible stunts and delightful bits of masked misdirection - and Fallout delivers the goods in every regard. The action spans the globe in some gorgeous locations, with set piece scenes that'll leave you in awe, wondering ‘How on Earth did they do that without dooming Tom Cruise to an untimely death?’ Fallout is also a welcome continuation of story threads from the previous film, Rogue Nation, though Jeremy Renner is nowhere in sight. Between the breakneck pacing, intense stunt work, and some perfect bits of comic relief, Fallout fires on all cylinders, and stands as a high point for the series and action flicks at large. Lucas Sullivan
19. To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before
What is it? Only the most perfect teen romantic comedy since John Hughes put down his pen. Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) writes letters to all her crushes - including her sister's ex-boyfriend - and stores them safely in a box in her bedroom. Guess what happens next?
Why should you watch it? It’s warm and wholesome, and tinged with just enough heartache to stop the sweetness from rotting your teeth. Lara Jean is a relatable heroine, her little sister Kitty (Anna Cathcart) is a scene-stealer, and no matter your sexual preference, Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) will make your knees feel funny. It's hilarious, it's hot in a PG-13 way that means you can watch it with your mom without being scarred for life, and it'll take you back to a time when you crushed so hard on people that you thought you'd never recover. Even better, this is the first of a trilogy by author Jenny Han, so there could be more on the way. Rachel Weber
18. Assassination Nation
What is it? Four high school girls are at the centre of a hack, which reveals the secrets of almost half their town with murderous consequences. While the townsfolk take out their rage on the younger generation who are ‘always on their phones,’ the girls must try and survive the night as the town goes Purge-style mad.
Why should you watch it? Writer and director Sam Levinson might be fairly new to the big blockbuster game, but with the Avengers: Infinity War directors producing and a talented cast that make it look easy, he manages to craft an elegantly simple yet scary tale about a town gone mad. Dealing with issues surrounding the fear of technology and the generational war which often becomes a part of it, it’s hard to think of a movie which is more of its time than Assassination Nation. Seriously disturbing in places and often hard to watch, it’s nevertheless a must-see movie of the year, if only for its relevance to current affairs. If you’re sick of the message that Millennials are to blame for everything, this is the movie for you. Or if you just like to watch films with a lot of blood and violence, it has that too. Lauren O’Callaghan
17. Incredibles 2
What is it? The long awaited follow up to Disney Pixar’s superhero movie of 2004, as the Parr family struggle to adapt to a world unwelcoming of the vigilante lifestyle. Incredibles 2 picks up immediately where the first film left off, in which the latter’s cliffhanger becomes the former’s action-packed opening sequence.
Why should you watch it? If you’ve already seen The Incredibles, I probably don’t even need to make the case for its sequel. Brad Bird’s retro-futurist ode to the comic books of his childhood remains as visually impressive as any blockbuster Marvel joint, but the franchise’s lasting appeal has always been the superhero family sitcom at its heart. And while Bob (Craig T. Nelson), Helen (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), and Dash (Huck Milner) are as endearing as ever, it’s little baby Jack-Jack who really steals the show in Incredibles 2. Now that he’s completely cognizant of his god-like powers, every one of the toddler’s scenes are an inspired melange of Buster Keaton-esque physical comedy, mustering more laughs per minute than a Dreamworks movie could ever hope for. If you see Incredibles 2 for one thing this year, make it Jack-Jack. Alex Avard
16. Game Night
What is it? A black comedy featuring an all-star ensemble cast, where a weekly game night amongst a group of friends takes a dark, hilarious turn for the worse. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are the leading married couple at the story’s centre, hopelessly stumbling from one crime scene to the next as they attempt to apply their board game skills of deduction to solve a real life whodunnit.
Why you should watch it? On the face of it, Game Night doesn’t look particularly exceptional. Another R-rated US comedy with a high concept conceit and Jason Bateman’s bemused face plastered across the poster? Hmm… But, in a surprise to almost everybody, Game Night turns out to be one of the best comedies of the year, thanks to a pointed script, stellar performances from all of its cast, and a genuinely intriguing story that could easily have worked as a straightly played David Fincher crime thriller. With more twists and turns than a round of Snakes and Ladders, you owe it to yourself to watch Game Night as soon as possible, particularly if you need to break the tension after a high-stakes match of Christmas Monopoly with the family... Alex Avard