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The Best Movies of 2018 So Far

We’re a little bit past the halfway point of 2018, and in spite of the swirling maelstrom of chaos currently consuming our planet, there have been a ton of excellent movies released this year. So while things outside can seem hopeless, there is still plenty of art being made and many reasons to be grateful for the brief respites that good cinema can offer. So on today’s episode of The Dan Cave, we’re celebrating the best movies of 2018…so far.

Editor’s note: The following movies are listed in order of release.

Black Panther

Image: Disney/Marvel Studios

The King of Wakanda’s first solo outing didn’t just smash box office records; it obliterated them. It didn’t just introduce the world to characters like Erik Killmonger, Okoye, Nakia, and Shuri; it created a cultural movement. And for good reason: writer-director Ryan Coogler didn’t just give us Soundcloud jokes, high-tech superhero battles, and armored rhinos; he gave us a meditation on imperialism, identity, and isolationism that you rarely seen in a blockbuster. It’s a superhero movie with brains AND brawn. And it wasn’t afraid to ask the toughest question of them all:

Paddington 2

Image: Warner Bros.

Legitimately the best movie of the year, Paddington 2 is an effervescent, heartwarming, and straight-up wonderful story of everyone’s favorite guileless bear Paddington, who winds up going to prison after being framed for the theft of a rare pop-up book by a villainous actor played by Hugh Grant, who is clearly having the time of his life. Easily one of the greatest sequels ever made, Paddington 2 is so impossibly sweet and pure that it’s hard to believe it exists in the cynical, brutal world in which we live. This one isn’t up for debate. Paddington 2 is mana from heaven. It’s chocolate and peanut butter. It is orange marmalade on toast. It’s just that good.

A Quiet Place

Image: Paramount

The first ten minutes of A Quiet Place are among the most anxiety-inducing and self conscious I have ever felt seeing a movie. That’s because every crinkle, crunch, and scrape of the straw reached deafening heights in contrast with the whisper-soft world John Krasinski created in A Quiet Place. Suspenseful, exceedingly well acted, and tense until the bitter end, A Quiet Place’s story of a family dealing with loss and trying to survive in a world overrun by murderous monsters will stay with you long after the credits roll. It’ll also make you realize just how quickly you would die in this world. For example, I would be killed no fewer than 7 times walking from my bed to my kitchen to get a glass of water at night.


Image: Paramount

With an exceptionally talented cast, trippy visuals, and the second-greatest bear to appear in a major motion picture in 2018, Annihilation is a mind-bending bit of cosmic horror with Lovecraftian undertones that forces us to question not only our own self-destructive tendencies and if what we’re seeing is really happening. With a nausea-inducing soundtrack, a pervasive sense of dread, and fresh horrors lurking around every corner, Annihilation is the feel-bad movie of the year. And one that you’ll be watching over and over and over again.

Avengers: Infinity War

Image: Disney/Marvel Studios

It’s hard to believe, but Marvel accomplished the impossible. No, I’m not talking about making a sizeable chunk of the Internet refer to Thanos as a thicc daddy. Or making us think about pagers for the first time in, conservatively, a decade. Or even remaining steadfast in their refusal to admit Hawkeye is dead as hell. Not, it’s because they managed to tie together plot threads from across 17 films to create a wildly ambitious piece of interconnected superhero storytelling. It felt like the cherry on top of a sundae made from a lifetime of loving comics, drizzled with cosmic hot fudge, and liberally sprinkled with the dust of every character I knew and loved.

First Reformed

Image: A24

Have you ever woken up one morning and wondered what the hell you’ve been doing with your life? And no, I don’t mean in an “Oh god, I ate my body weight in carne asada fries at 3AM” kind of way. An existential, soul-shaking sense of unease. That’s precisely what happens to a minister played by Ethan Hawke in First Reformed. With a megachurch down the road siphoning most of his flock, Hawke’s character experiences a dark night of the soul when he meets a pregnant parishioner and her extremist environmentalist husband. This may well be writer/director Paul Schrader’s best work since Taxi Driver, and it’s a case study in exactly what happens when you gaze into the abyss for too long. Spoiler alert: It gazes back. Gazes real hard.


Image: A24

Truly one of the most excruciating and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in a movie theater, Hereditary tells the story of a family haunted not only by the loss of their grandmother, but by sinister supernatural forces. Toni Colette proves that she is an international treasure who must be protected at all costs with her stunning performance. Every frame of this movie is more unsettling than the last as this deeply uncomfortable family drama escalates into something truly terrifying. The less you know, the better because when every thing clicks, you’ll have an “ohhhhh” moment followed by an “OH NO” moment.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Image: Focus Features

The world can seem like a dark and scary place but for decades, one man made it his mission to spread cheer, goodwill, and politeness to a generation of children. That man was Fred Rogers and there was a kindness and empathy within him that he felt compelled to share with the world through his TV series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. With a deft blend of archival footage and interviews with the people closest to Rogers, this documentary serves as a much needed reminder that we could all stand to be a little kinder.

Sorry to Bother You

Image: Annapurna

In a surreal near-future version of Oakland, a black telemarketer named Cassius Green discovers the key to success in business: using a white voice. Overnight he becomes a massive success, raking in gigantic deals, climbing the corporate ladder and selling things that probably shouldn’t be, like his soul. Boots Riley’s directorial debut is a scathing satire of America, eviscerating not only the corporate rat race, but economic inequality, race, and so much more. It’s a relentlessly funny, frequently horrifying film anchored by a truly tremendous cast. And if you can predict the ending, then you’re a goddamn witch, and I also have questions for you about what lottery numbers I should choose because holy smokes did I not see that coming.

Eighth Grade

Image: A24

What Ladybird was for people who went to high school in the mid-2000s, Eighth Grade is for anyone who has grown up in the social media age. Comedian Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is an incredibly self-assured look at the anxieties and discomfort that come with growing up in an era where your every move is scrutinized, posted, dissected, retweeted, and shared on social media. It’s the story of 13-year-old Kayla, who is nursing a crippling social media addiction and trying to get through the final days of middle school. If you thought trying to decipher your crush’s away message on AIM was stressful, just wait until you see what Kayla goes through.

And those are the best films of 2018 so far. Which are your favorite? What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.

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Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of books about Star Wars and the Avengers. Follow him on Twitter (@DanCasey).

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