The best movies of 2018

5. Hereditary

What is it? The most profoundly terrifying horror film of this year, or most years. As troubled sculptor Annie (Toni Collette) tries to make sense of her difficult upbringing in the wake of her mother’s death, darkness seems to circle her family like a wraith. What seems like grief-stricken delusion and long-repressed pain might or might not be something else entirely.

Why should you watch it? Spending most of its time dancing the line between profound, supernatural dread and metaphorical depictions of very real, human trauma, Hereditary is that rare horror film that manages to be as relatable and emotionally upsetting as it is uncannily unsettling. That is, very, in both cases. Directed with a primal instinct to disturb, and defined by searing, no-holds-barred performances by a uniformly flawless cast led by a transfixing Toni Collette, Hereditary is a dazing assault on the intellect and the emotions with a great deal to say about personal fears, interpersonal responsibilities, and the damage we can all wreak when isolated and in pain. It might not stick the landing, ultimately losing something of itself during the final reel, but regardless of its ultimate thematic unravelling, Hereditary is all-time-great horror that will leave you deeply troubled for a good long time after watching it. David Houghton 

Read more: Intelligent, emotional, and terrifying, Hereditary is near-perfect horror. With a little more restraint, it would have been flawless

4. Mandy

Nic Cage in Mandy

(Image: © Universal)

What is it? A hallucinatory migraine of a revenge movie, with star Nicolas Cage turned up to 11 as a logger chasing a cult and a gang of unholy bikers after they accidentally kill his girlfriend during an unholy ritual. 

Why should you watch it? You won't see anything else like Mandy this year, or for a few more. It's colorful, it's gory, it's got a touch of the Lynch about it, it switches between subdued and over the top and even throws in some animated sections to really keep you on your toes. The dialogue feels sparse, but only because the visuals speak so loudly on their own. Cage is given free reign to do enraged despair, while his girlfriend is played so delicately by Andrea Riseborough you feel like she could shatter in front of you. Director Panos Cosmatos also made cult favorite Beyond the Black Rainbow, but this is a much more accessible and satisfying ride. Rachel Weber

Read more: Nic Cage "bottles the essence of every whack-job he’s ever played" for his most wild-at-heart performance yet in Mandy

3. Molly's Game

What is it? The true story of olympic hopeful Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) who, for reasons that become clear in the first five minutes, leaves the sloops behind to run a high-stakes poker game which eventually hosts some of the most well known names in Hollywood.

Why should you watch it? Although the focus of Molly’s Game is the poker, you don’t need to know anything about the game to follow what’s going on. It’s really a story about money, power, and the relationships that are formed because of it. Perhaps most interesting of all is that these events actually happened (although we have to assume there’s a little embellishment) and the players were real Hollywood stars. They’re not named explicitly in the film for obvious reasons, but a touch of research will tell you Player X is reported to be Tobey Maguire and other players at the table included Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s an incredible story full of twists and turns, with even the Russian mob getting involved at one point, but it’s really the award-worthy performances from Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba which make this one of the best movies of 2018. And if you fancy a glimpse behind the Hollywood curtain, this is a bet that’s certain to come off. James Jarvis

2. A Quiet Place

What is it? The indie horror written, directed, and starring The Office’s John Krasinski tells the story of a family trying to survive the apocalyptic events of an alien invasion in which the slightest sound can mean an untimely death.

Why should you watch it? A Quiet Place came out of nowhere to become one of the best films of the year due in most part to its simple storyline, expert performances, and, ironically, its use of sound. While it’s technically a sci-fi film, the aliens are few and far between and it’s really more a tale about family life and how complicated familial relationships can be at times… especially post-apocalypse. Add to that a strong horror element as the family are stalked by the invaders and remain in an almost constant state of fear at the sound of any noise whatsoever, and it’s a thrilling ride from start to finish. The movie barely puts a foot wrong, but it’s the soundtrack - which both emphasises the lack of noise and makes you paranoid when there is sound - that puts A Quiet Place head and shoulders above other movies this year. Lauren O’Callaghan

1. Black Panther

What is it? After making his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther got his own solo film this year, which introduced us to the colourful world of Wakanda as a civil war breaks out, which threatens to change the country (and the rest of the world) forever. 

Why should you watch it? Black Panther isn’t just one of the best movies of 2018, it’s one of the best Marvel movies period and that’s saying a lot coming from a film franchise as prolific and high-quality as the MCU. Never before have we seen such a rich and vibrant world than the one we were introduced to in Black Panther, and the fact that it was the first time we witnessed a majority black cast tell a positive and powerful black story within the shell of a mainstream superhero blockbuster just made it all the better. It’s the film we were all waiting for, and with its impressive cast and simple yet effective story, it’s a near perfect movie, which manages to avoid many of the pitfall of previous Marvel films, while injecting new characters, stories, and excitement into franchise. Lauren O’Callaghan

Read more: Black Panther ending explained - everything you need to know after watching