The 40 Best Movies of 2018, Ranked

Becky Bracken | Dec 21, 2018 Movies
The 40 Best Movies of 2018, Ranked

A Quiet Place Movie
Jonny Cournoyer/Paramount Pictures

The year that was 2018 will be remembered for many things: Beychella, Meghan Markle's wedding to what's-his-name, "Thank U, Next," and everything Trump all the time. But besides a few standout pop culture moments, this year graced us with a slate of fantastic films to help us forget all about the chaos in the real world. We went to Wakanda in Black Panther and got to experience a world where awesome power is in capable and thoughtful hands -- which also just happen to be black and beautiful. We watched boundaries for Asian actors crumble while loving every joyous second of Crazy Rich Asians.

It's like Hollywood wanted to transport everyone to a better, kinder, fairer place at a time when the present just seems so ugly.

( Better late than never, right?)

Rotten Tomatoes has ranked the best movies of 2018, a tough job in a year that offered so many stand-outs. Classics -- like A Star Is Born and Marry Poppins -- were lovingly and carefully reimagined and arguably turned out better than the originals.

There were also an incredible slate of documentaries that dropped in 2018. The love letter to Mr. Rodgers, Won't You Be My Neighbor, left audiences in sentimental puddles on the floor, and RBG honored feminist icon and legal powerhouse, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just in time to give p*ssy-hat-wearing women everywhere something to rally behind.

There was also no shortage of straightforward family fun films, films like Paddington 2 and Incredibles 2. 

It was a year at the movies with something for everyone. So for anyone looking for the best 2018 had to offer, here are the year's 40 best films, ranked.

  • 40.) 'The Favourite'

    1

    Rated: R

    Set in 18th century England, a new servant named Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives to work for a sickly Queen Anne, played by Olivia Colman. She wins the attention and affection of Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) who's in charge of the country and the frail, temperamental monarch.

  • 39.) 'Incredibles 2'

    2

    Rated: PG

    The Parr family is back! Bob, voiced by Craig T. Nelson, and Helen, voiced by Holly Hunter, have to manage life not just with their own superpowers, but that of baby Jack-Jack. Elastigirl takes on a new super villain, Screenslaver, who threatens the world's safety -- becoming a family affair.

  • 38.) 'Private Life'

    3
    Rated: R

    This Netflix movie stars Kathryn Hahn and tells the story of Rachel Beigler, a writer struggling with fertility issues, with her husband (Paul Giamatti) which is putting their marriage under tremendous strain. 

  • 37.) 'The Endless'

    4

    Rated: Not Rated

    As kids, two brothers were somehow part of a UFO death cult. They eventually escaped, but now as adults -- played by directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson -- they look for answers about their past.

  • 36.) 'Western'

    5

    Rated: Not Rated

    German construction workers are dispatched to the remote Bulgarian countryside for a job. They quickly develop a rivalry for the admiration and loyalty of the local villagers.

  • 35.) 'Blaze'

    6
    Rated: R

    Ethan Hawke wrote the screenplay and stars in this biopic on the life of musician Blaze Foley, a country musician with signature duct tape shoes and a uniquely American story.

  • 34.) 'Sweet Country'

    7
    Rated: R

    Set in the Australian outback, an Aboriginal man shoots a white man in self-defense and is forced to flee with his family across the forbidding desert. As a manhunt is launched to bring him to justice, more details about the murder are revealed -- with people starting to ask questions about the so-called crime.

  • 33.) 'Foxtrot'

    8
    Rated: R

    Michael and his wife, Dafna, are informed their son, Jonathan, was killed in action while serving in the Army. While Dafna retreats to her bed to deal with her grief, Michael works himself into a rage and experiences something unbelievable.

  • 32.) 'A Quiet Place'

    9

    Rated: PG-13

    Hollywood dream couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski star in this horror thriller about a family threatened into total silence by a creature that hunts if it hears ya.

  • 31.) 'Blackkklansman'

    10

    Rated: R

    Spike Lee tells the true-life story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first black detective of the Colorado Springs Police Department. Set in the 1970s, Stallworth recruits a fellow cop, played by Adam Driver, to help him infiltrate and bring down the KKK.

  • 30.) 'Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind'

    11
    Rated: Not Rated

    This HBO documentary uses intimate footage and interviews with Robin Williams's closest friends to tell the full story of the extraordinary late comedian and actor's life.

  • 29.) 'Filmworker'

    12
    Rated: Not Rated

    Leon Vitali gave a well-received performance as Lord Bullingdon in Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, but walked away from fame to serve as the genius director's assistant. This documentary tells the story of Vitali's devotion to Kubrick and his role in his monumental creative legacy.

  • 28.) 'Zama'

    13
    Rated: Not Rated

    After giving up on a transfer order from the king, which never arrives, despite his unquestioning service, Spanish Crown officer Zama joins a group of soldiers sent to hunt a bandit.

  • 27.) 'The Death of Stalin'

    14

    Rated: R

    Known for wicked writing and satire, Armando Iannucci -- also behind the hit HBO show Veep -- tells the story of three underlings who backstab and maneuver to take over Russia after Stalin drops dead. Bumbling contenders for power include Nikita Khruschev (Steve Buscemi), Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), and Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale).

  • 26.) 'Three Identical Strangers'

    15

    Rated: PG-13

    Three identical twins are separated at birth, only to reunite later in life. As they reconnect and piece together their past, secrets come to light that change everything.

  • 25.) 'Roma'

    16
    Rated: R

    Director and Academy Award Winner Alfonso Cuaron tells the story of domestic worker Cleo in Roma, named after a middle-class neighborhood in Mexico City. The film is a nod to his childhood, the turmoil, and class warfare during the 1970s in the city -- and the women who loved and raised him.

  • 24.) 'The Hate U Give'

    17
    Rated: PG-13

    Torn between her neighborhood and the white prep school she attends, everything changes for Starr Carter -- played by the incredible Amandla Stenberg -- when she witnesses the murder of her childhood friend at the hands of police. Now, she's got to find the courage to fight for what's right.

  • 23.) 'I Am Not A Witch'

    18
    Rated: Not Rated

    Shula, an 8-year-old, is accused by her fellow villagers of being a witch. After they convict her, she's sent to be locked up and live in a camp for witches.

  • 22.) 'The Rider'

    19
    Rated: R

    After losing his career as a rodeo star to an accident, Brady Jandreau tries to find a new identity and searches America's heartland for answers about what it means to truly be a man.

  • 21.) 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout'

    20

    Rated: PG-13

    Tom Cruise is back as Ethan Hunt with a new mission and an all-star cast of friends and foes including -- Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, Ving Rames, Henry Cavill, and Angela Bassett, to name a few.

  • 20.) 'Black Panther'

    21
    Rated: PG-13

    After Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to Wakanda and his throne. As soon as he returns, the Black Panther is challenged, and the fate of Wakanda hangs in the balance.

  • 19.) 'Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse'

    22

    Rated: PG

    The latest from the Spider-Man universe introduces a new character, a teen from Brooklyn named Miles Morales -- proving more than one person can wear the superhero mask. The fresh look at a timeless character is from the brains behind hits like The Lego Movie, and 21 Jump Street, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.

  • 18.) 'The Cakemaker'

    23
    Rated: Not Rated

    German baker Thomas lives in Berlin and is having an affair with a married businessman from Israel (Oren) who's in the city frequently for work. After Oren is killed in a car crash in Israel, Thomas travels there for answers. What he couldn't have predicted is his entanglement in the life of Oren's widow, Anat.

  • 17.) 'In Between'

    24
    Rated: Not Rated

    Writer and director Maysaloun Hamoud tells the story of three Palestinian women living in Tel Aviv trying to navigate the pull of their religious faith and traditions with modern life.

  • 16.) 'Science Fair'

    25
    Rated: PG

    Audiences are raving about this Sundance award-winning documentary that follows nine high school students who are competing at the International Science and Engineering Fair. Facing and overcoming all sorts of challenges, 1,700 of the brightest kids from across the globe compete for the ultimate "Best in Fair" prize.

  • 15.) 'Free Solo'

    26
    Rated: PG-13

    This documentary follows free soloist climber Alex Hannold on his journey to accomplish his ultimate goal in the sport: climbing El Capitan -- a 3,000-foot wall in Yosemite National Park. Oh, and by the way, he's going to do it without a rope. Acclaimed documentarian E. Chai Vasarhelyi and mountaineer and photographer Jimmy Chin bring audiences along for the amazing feat that will end in one of two ways: perfection or death.

  • 14.) 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?'

    27
    Rated: R

    Funny lady Melissa McCarthy departs from slapstick films in this dark, dramatic comedy about celebrity biographer Lee Israel, who, after finding herself unable to get published, turns to forgery to make ends meet.

  • 13.) 'Tea With The Dames (Nothing Like a Dame)'

    28
    Rated: Not Rated

    In this documentary four legendary actresses -- who also happen to hold the title of "Dame": Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, and Joan Plowright -- let audiences join them on a country weekend getaway where they catch up and reflect on their incredible careers in the spotlight.

  • 12.) 'Shoplifters'

    29
    Rated: R

    In this latest film from Hirokazu Koreedda, Osamu and his family barely make ends meet through their petty theft. One day after a shoplifting outing, Osamu and his son stumble on a freezing girl and agree to take her in. Eventually, a secret comes out that changes everything and threatens to rip the family apart.

  • 11.) 'The Guilty (Dem Skylidge)'

    30

    Rated: R

    Police officer Asger Holm is demoted to desk duty as an emergency dispatcher when he answers a call from a kidnapped woman that's disconnected before he can get details. His limited reach and personal demons work against him as he tries to solve the mystery and save the woman's life.

  • 10.) 'McQueen'

    31
    Rated: Not Rated

    Interviews with friends, archival footage, and the incredible work the wildly brilliant designer left behind paint a moving look at the life and times of Alexander McQueen, a creative force and life cut far too short.

  • 9.) 'Won't You Be My Neighbor? '

    32
    Rated: PG-13

    This documentary from Oscar winner Morgan Neville is a look at the life of America's best cardigan-wearing neighbor, and the generations of America's children inspired by Fred Rodgers's imagination and kindness. 

  • 8.) 'Eighth Grade'

    33

    Rated: R

    The film follows the last week of middle school for 13-year-old Kayla, the end of a terrible eighth grade year, and a depressing send-off to high school.

  • 7.) 'Night Comes On'

    34
    Rated: Not Rated

    Just released from a juvenile detention center ahead of her 18th birthday, Angel LaMere teams up with her 10-year-old sister to find the person responsible for their mother's death and get revenge.

  • 6.) 'Shirkers'

    35
    Rated: Not Rated

    Three friends (Sandi Tan, Jasmine Ng, and Sophie Siddique) made a film in 1992 that would've become a cult classic in Singapore, had the 16mm not been ripped off by their American partner, Georges Cardona. Tan, now a novelist living in Los Angeles, returns to Singapore more than two decades after Cardona vanished and rediscovers her memories and the movie itself.

  • 5.) 'Oh Lucy!'

    36
    Rated: Not Rated

    Stesuko is bored with her life in Tokyo until a friend convinces her to take an English class where she's required to wear a blond wig and take on the character of American "Lucy." She develops romantic feelings for her instructor that lead her on a raucous adventure in the US.

  • 4.) 'Minding the Gap'

    37
    Rated: Not Rated

    This Hulu original documentary covers 12 years in the lives of a group of friends in Rockford, Illinois, and how their tough childhoods have impacted their manhood -- and the gap that exists for them between childhood and adulthood.

  • 3.) 'Summer 1993'

    38
    Rated: Not Rated

    This film from Carla Simon is based on her own life and follows 6-year-old Frida, who lives in Barcelona and struggles to accept the reality that her mother has died, and her future is with her aunt, uncle, and cousin.

  • 2.) 'Leave No Trace'

    39

    Rated: PG

    This film is the story of a father named Will (Ben Foster) who, along with his daughter Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), have lived off the grid in the wilderness surrounding Portland, Oregon. Ultimately, they're found and put into social services, where they struggle and eventually escape back to the forest.

  • 1.) 'Paddington 2'

    40
    Rated: PG

    Paddington 2 finds the adorable bear happy and settled with the Brown family. On the hunt for the ultimate gift for Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday, Paddington finds the perfect pop-up book. While he picks up jobs to earn the money to buy it, the book is stolen. Paddington, with the help of his friends, sets out to find the thief.

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