Keith Simanton's Top 25 Films of 2018

by keithsim | last updated - 29 Apr 2021

I'm IMDb's Senior Film Editor and, though I haven't seen every film 2018 had to offer (like THE MULE) I have seen a LOT of films. This list has changed over the year, as it should, as movies have surfaced, risen up, and fallen off the list. Just outside of this 25 include titles such as LEAVE NO TRACE, SHOPLIFTERS, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, INFINITY WAR, BOOK CLUB (really! quite sweet) and WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? -- by Keith Simanton

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1. The Sisters Brothers (2018)

R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Western

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
78 Metascore

Eli and Charlie Sisters, an infamous duo of gunslinging assassins, chase a gold prospector and his unexpected ally in 1850s Oregon.

Director: Jacques Audiard | Stars: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed

Votes: 64,057 | Gross: $3.14M

Arnaud’s THE SISTER BROTHERS has the heart of LONESOME DOVE, the brains, guts, grime, and grit of UNFORGIVEN, and the backdrops of Sergio Leone (much of the film was shot in Spain and Romania). John C. Reilly once again crafts a nuanced role from what could have been a bone-head "star" part, playing the decent foil to the once-again excellent, crazed, Joaquin Phoenix, as the hired-guns Eli and Charlie Sister, respectively. They're killers staked to a bygone world, one that is barbaric and unreasoning. They're hired to kill Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed's characters, two partners who provide a counterpoint as the civilized and unrealistic team, the way of the future, which bears its own concomitant terrors.

2. The Rider (2017)

R | 104 min | Drama, Western

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
92 Metascore

After suffering a near fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.

Director: Chloé Zhao | Stars: Brady Jandreau, Mooney, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau

Votes: 18,633 | Gross: $2.42M

No film reminded me of what our current film isn't as this one. There's nothing like it. These characters feel as real as rain, with stories true as those of your oldest friends, unvarnished, funny, uncomfortable, and the most human.

3. The Favourite (2018)

R | 119 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
91 Metascore

In early 18th-century England, the status quo at the court is upset when a new servant arrives and endears herself to a frail Queen Anne.

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos | Stars: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult

Votes: 196,434 | Gross: $34.37M

Most quotable screenplay of the year, from Davis & McNamara, with three of the best performances of the year. It's also the ultimate expression of themes that Lanthimos has been exploring for years, particularly the establishment of arbitrary rules and the power structure behind them that must obeyed.

4. Roma (2018)

R | 135 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
96 Metascore

A year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón | Stars: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta

Votes: 155,606

A garage too narrow, a wall of mounted dogs’ heads, a riot, a tragic birth, all rise up in memory long after Cuaron’s movie, ROMA, ends. But it is slow, slow, sloooow going in-between.

5. A Quiet Place (2018)

PG-13 | 90 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
82 Metascore

In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.

Director: John Krasinski | Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe

Votes: 511,010 | Gross: $188.02M

Clean, sharp, and a throwback to silent films, showing you what's happening because "monologuing" isn't an option. Why do I have a feeling that an ALIENS-like offering is next? I welcome the inevitability with open arms.

6. Paddington 2 (2017)

PG | 103 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
88 Metascore

Paddington, now happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community, picks up a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen.

Director: Paul King | Stars: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins

Votes: 75,285 | Gross: $40.44M

This was a 2017 film in the UK but didn't appear in the U.S. until this year. Inventive, delightful, tender, heart-felt, this is a movie to cherish for years and years to come. Thanks Paul King et al.

7. Cold War (2018)

R | 89 min | Drama, History, Music

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
90 Metascore

In the 1950s, a music director falls in love with a singer and tries to persuade her to flee communist Poland for France.

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski | Stars: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza

Votes: 56,226 | Gross: $4.57M

Makes you want to smoke too much, drink too much, stay up to a gray dawn in a seedy club, travel to exotic, seedier countries, wreck your life for love, shake it off, pick the sad confetti and cocktail napkins off of your suit, and do it all again.

8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

PG | 117 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
87 Metascore

Teen Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his universe, and must join with five spider-powered individuals from other dimensions to stop a threat for all realities.

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman | Stars: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali

Votes: 498,847 | Gross: $190.24M

The best superhero movie of the year. The best animated film of the year.

9. Black Panther (2018)

PG-13 | 134 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
88 Metascore

T'Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country's past.

Director: Ryan Coogler | Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira

Votes: 729,410 | Gross: $700.06M

Coogler makes the most non-Marvel movie in the MCU with a political and social statement. This film, however, is a force of nature, a perfect culmination of many roads leading to a perfect moment in time.

10. Green Book (2018)

PG-13 | 130 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
69 Metascore

A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver for an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

Director: Peter Farrelly | Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco

Votes: 469,521 | Gross: $85.08M

This film reminds us that mature decency and common sense (versus youthful, naive, carte blanche whatever acceptance) matters. One can't really ask more from a film. Two of the best realizations of characters this year.

11. First Man (2018)

PG-13 | 141 min | Biography, Drama, History

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
84 Metascore

A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Director: Damien Chazelle | Stars: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

Votes: 185,598 | Gross: $44.94M

Chazelle & Gosling are heads-down, in shirt-sleeves, for the excellent FIRST MAN, about a breed of men, stoic, driven, emotionally walled-off, who fought two wars, got us to the moon, and raised two generations. They employ great restraint in the telling, putting us always in the pilot’s seat with Armstrong, eschewing easy emotional cues. Justin Hurwitz's, score docks magnificently with cinematographer Linus Sandgren and Chazelle’s visuals, often tight, fogged, and isolated views of what, in another director's hands would be great vistas, the expanse of the earth and space. The film, straight-backed, solemn, about a very real marriage as well, lacks the approach-ability as a result, earning our respect, as those men did, while remaining distant and inscrutable. That, in itself, is a dangerous choice and laudable for a filmmaker.

12. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

PG-13 | 120 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
74 Metascore

This contemporary romantic comedy, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend's family.

Director: Jon M. Chu | Stars: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan

Votes: 168,421 | Gross: $174.53M

Chu gives us the best comedy of the year. Best date-night movie of the year. Introduced us to Henry Golding (and me to the wonderful Awkwafina and Gemma Chan). A grand and imposing turn by the stately Michelle Yeoh. Most of all it features humorously observed, universal themes of family, wealth (and what it amplifies in some people), tradition, class, & culture.

13. Free Solo (2018)

PG-13 | 100 min | Documentary, Adventure, Sport

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
83 Metascore

Alex Honnold attempts to become the first person to ever free solo climb El Capitan.

Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi | Stars: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin, Cheyne Lempe

Votes: 66,222 | Gross: $17.54M

More than just a pulse-raising, sometimes gasp-inducing film about climbing without ropes. It’s about Alex Honnold whose internal makeup is just not like most people (like another subject this year, Fred Rogers). Directors E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin give us the background to start to understand a different breed and what propels someone like Honnold to risk everything for perfection.

14. Mid90s (2018)

R | 85 min | Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
66 Metascore

Follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 1990s-era Los Angeles who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop.

Director: Jonah Hill | Stars: Sunny Suljic, Katherine Waterston, Lucas Hedges, Na-kel Smith

Votes: 62,757 | Gross: $7.36M

Jonah Hill has made one great damn movie. A reminiscence that feels honest and true, including the ugly and nasty bits. This film has teeth and this guy is a filmmaker.

15. Widows (2018)

R | 129 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
84 Metascore

Four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities take fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

Director: Steve McQueen | Stars: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki

Votes: 96,602 | Gross: $42.40M

This film proves the greatness of Steve McQueen, taking a straight-up genre pic and turning it into an exciting, emotionally-involving heist flick. Viola Davis is ferocious & all business. Eizabeth Debicki does what she does best, turning what could have been a one-note role into a remarkable one. This film is why the Academy opened up the Best Picture category.

16. Three Identical Strangers (2018)

PG-13 | 96 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
81 Metascore

In 1980 New York, three young men who were all adopted meet each other and find out they're triplets who were separated at birth. But their quest to find out why turns into a bizarre and sinister mystery.

Director: Tim Wardle | Stars: Robert Shafran, Michael Domnitz, Howard Schneider, Ellen Cervone

Votes: 35,043 | Gross: $12.32M

Publicist hype labeled this film as "jaw-dropping." That's publicist speak, Pete Travers hyperbole employed carelessly. Except in this case. This film is jaw-dropping. And not only that, it contemplates huge themes such as the methods of science and nature vs. nurture.

17. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

PG-13 | 135 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
62 Metascore

Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in an epic action-adventure that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga's most unlikely heroes.

Director: Ron Howard | Stars: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover

Votes: 336,055 | Gross: $213.77M

I went to SOLO with great reluctance. It was thus much to my great surprise that I enjoyed it so much, much more than any of the most recent lugubrious, po-faced STAR WARS efforts, save the first nostalgia-sopped half of FORCE AWAKENS. SOLO achieves lilt and lift by its superb casting of Ehrenreich, Glover, Clarke, and Harrelson. It also creates a rogue’s world of bandits and thieves, only flirting with the solemnity that has doped up the others. Entertaining all around.

18. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

R | 133 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
79 Metascore

Six tales of life and violence in the Old West, following a singing gunslinger, a bank robber, a traveling impresario, an elderly prospector, a wagon train, and a perverse pair of bounty hunters.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen | Stars: Tim Blake Nelson, Willie Watson, Clancy Brown, Danny McCarthy

Votes: 143,691

The audience in Venice watching BALLAD burst into spontaneous applause twice, once in each of the first two segments. The first time for a surprising bit during a showdown between Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson, better than he’s ever been) and Clancy Brown. The second was for a line of dialogue delivered by James Franco, in a movie packed with Coen wit. There’s two nods to TRUE GRIT (“Grandma Turner” and the Midnight Caller get a mention) and many allusions to other Westerns and the evolution of the genre over the years. It's a celebration of a genre we don’t even get to see anymore. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

19. Minding the Gap (2018)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary, Sport

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
89 Metascore

Three young men bond together to escape volatile families in their Rust-Belt hometown. As they face adult responsibilities, unexpected revelations threaten their decade-long friendship.

Director: Bing Liu | Stars: Keire Johnson, Bing Liu, Zack Mulligan

Votes: 9,544 | Gross: $0.01M

This first time documentary effort by Bing Liu is this year's BOYHOOD. It's a time-capsule wherein youth, hope, and the clouds of future disappointment reside. Emotionally resonant and Liu's camerawork is starkly gorgeous.

20. Eighth Grade (2018)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
89 Metascore

An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.

Director: Bo Burnham | Stars: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan

Votes: 74,577 | Gross: $13.54M

What does Bo Burnham know about being a pubescent girl in 2018? A lot, apparently. So truthful it’s uncomfortable bordering on painful, so funny it's forgivable.

21. Beautiful Boy (I) (2018)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
62 Metascore

Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.

Director: Felix van Groeningen | Stars: Steve Carell, Maura Tierney, Jack Dylan Grazer, Oakley Bull

Votes: 73,387 | Gross: $7.65M

Contains two of the year’s most powerful performances. Chalamet continues to astound as a lying, broken son, caught up in his own youth, brilliance, and incandescent flameout, while Carell nails the helpless bewilderment & impotent rage of the father of an addict.

22. Annihilation (I) (2018)

R | 115 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
79 Metascore

A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply.

Director: Alex Garland | Stars: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong

Votes: 317,347 | Gross: $32.73M

Garland's Book of Revelations continues with a new chapter devoted to our ultimate evolution/destruction. And no one is a better John the Apostle than Garland.

23. A Star Is Born (2018)

R | 136 min | Drama, Music, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
88 Metascore

A musician helps a young singer find fame as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

Director: Bradley Cooper | Stars: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Greg Grunberg

Votes: 375,429 | Gross: $215.29M

Three-fourths of this movie are one of my favorite movies of the year. The last fourth betrays everything that came before it (and I'm not referring to the big dramatic moment) taking this film down several pegs. But nearly everything else in this big movie, particularly Lady Gaga, is excellent. Kudos to Cooper.

24. Prospect (2018)

R | 100 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
68 Metascore

A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They've secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon's toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest's other ruthless inhabitants, but with her own ... See full summary »

Directors: Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl | Stars: Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Pedro Pascal, Luke Pitzrick

Votes: 27,693

Aces first feature by Caldwell & Earl. Part RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND, part Duncan Jones’s MOON, with a DYI feel that lends it even more authenticity. The young leading lady, Sophie Thatcher, is magnificent. Strong yet vulnerable, petulant yet steely. A star.

25. The Ghost of Peter Sellers (2018)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
74 Metascore

A comedy genius, a hot new director and a 17th Century pirate film. What could possibly go wrong?

Director: Peter Medak | Stars: Peter Medak, Joe Dunne, Simon van der Borgh, Peter Sellers

Votes: 471

Not since LOST IN LA MANCHA have I seen anything so heartbreaking as this behind-the-scenes expose of a Peter Sellers/Peter Medak film that was shot but then shelved in 1973. GHOST ups the ante over LA MANCHA, however, by having the man at the center of the matter, Medak, directing, narrating, exorcising the guilt over a truly insane shoot, and laying to rest his animosity towards a troubled genius 45 years after the fact.

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