Nerdist’s Top 10 Films of 2018

It’s been a funny ol’ year, 2018. Full of ups and downs in the world of reality, but also in the microcosm of entertainment, this year saw some truly excellent movies get released that ran the gamut in our range of emotions. We love movies, and had a hard time deciding on which were truly the best, but we managed to make a top 10, with five honorable mentions. We probably could have added several more to a list, because if you’re a fan of genre movies, 2018 was pretty boss.

Honorable Mentions

Game NightIt seems like the popularity of game nights, gatherings where you and your dear friends gather for an evening of board games, merriment, and doing your best to mercilessly defeat one another, have skyrocketed in popularly in recent years. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein’s Game Night is inspired by the social event, but the dark comedy takes the jovial occasion and fills it with twists, bloody turns, and betrayal. The humorous script about what happens when one game night goes seriously awry with a real-life mystery is lifted by sharp performances from the ensemble cast for a laugh out loud film that will keep you guessing. And second guessing. ( Full review!)

-Amy Ratcliffe, Nerdist’s managing editor

OverlordThere aren’t many films like Overlord. An exploitation movie that isn’t exploitative, a horror thriller which equally terrifies and thrills, a war film which includes zombie Nazis but never loses sight of the real horror: war. Julius Avery’s weird and wonderful movie might not have landed the way the studio wanted, but it’s honestly one of the most exciting, strange, and technically impressive movies of the year. Jovan Adepo leads a stellar cast through a blistering action adventure that’s unlike any other, and without giving too much away it also has one of the most incredible openings of any film this year. You might not have checked out Overlord yet, but that should change…now. ( Full review!)

-Rosie Knight, Nerdist staff writer

A Star is BornHollywood loves stories about itself. And what could be more Hollywood in 2018 than the story of a rising female star overtaking her mentor/romantic partner in terms of stardom and success? Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is warm, atmospheric, and energetic, and Lady Gaga is, simply put, a supernova in this adaptation. Injecting freshness in the fourth version of the tale we’ve seen onscreen, the soundtrack is also exceptional, full of emotional ballads, catchy pop songs, and Bradley Cooper crooning country-pop. Co-written by both Gaga and Cooper, “Shallow” should all but ensure A Star is Born Oscar gold come February.

-Erin Vail, Nerdist producer

SuspiriaThere was a lot riding on Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the 1977 Dario Argento horror film, Suspiria. That technicolor nightmare is iconic in every sense, a true horror classic revered by genre fans and considered, by many, just about perfect. But Guadagnino took the wise approach, using Argento’s film as a basic blueprint for a ballsier story about rebellion, history, and the sins of the past. Set in German Autumn, the film tracks talented dancer Susie Bannion as she’s accepted into the prestigious Markos Dance Studio, which is run, we quickly learn, by a coven of witches who feed their young to a dark, underground institution. It’s an imperfect film, hindered at times by its male lead (played by Tilda Swinton), but one that lingers in your mind like a wicked desire long after the credits roll. ( Full review!)

-Lindsey Romain, Nerdist staff writer

BlackKklansmanBlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s film about an African-American policeman who infiltrates the KKK in the 1970’s, is funny, poignant, and at times, gut wrenching. Addressing race, politics, gender, and class with a myriad of insightful and timely critiques, Lee weaves a cast of compelling characters through the monotony of daily policework, innuendo-laden phone calls, and an especially tense screening of Birth of a Nation. John David Washington and Adam Driver have wonderful chemistry, but Topher Grace is the ultimate scene stealer as KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, portraying a truly vile, evil person as curious and mild mannered. An utterly important film with a devastating (and controversial) end sequence, BlackKklansman will stay with you for good.

-Erin Vail, Nerdist producer

10. Eighth Grade

There’s nothing showy about Eighth Grade, Bo Burnham’s directorial debut about a 13-year-old girl growing up in the social media generation. Between this and American Vandal, I’ve never been more happy that Instagram and YouTube didn’t exist when I was coming of age. Elsie Fisher is stellar as Kayla, our protagonist, who fumbles through her middle school halls while living a performative and confident secret life on the internet. Burnham, who made his career on YouTube as a teen, is the perfect person to tell this story. Watching Kayla blossom is pointed, painful, but ultimately, transcendent. ( Full review!)

-Lindsey Romain, Nerdist staff writer

9. A Quiet Place

These days, it’s hard to sit through a theatrical presentation without people talking or pulling out their phones. But with A Quiet Place, you could hear a pin drop in the theater, because every single person in the audience was so invested. The way John Krasinski’s silent horror film played out was a master class in building tension, with incredible performances not only from Emily Blunt, but also the largely unknown actors who played their kids, specifically deaf actress Millicent Simmonds. We’re in a strong era for horror, but in 2018, A Quiet Place stood head and silent shoulders above the rest. ( Full Review!)

-Eric Diaz, Nerdist staff writer

8. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

It’s become increasingly hard to believe that good exists in the world. The oppressive cloud of strategic non-truths and hatred masquerading as political ideology has made each day a struggle for grownups. I can only imagine what it’s like for children, who shouldn’t have to deal with such things so early in life. It makes me wish more than ever we had someone like Fred Rogers to talk to the younger generation and make them understand that there’s always someone trying to help. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a beautiful documentary about a man who seemed anathema to the idea of television entertainment at the time, and I can only imagine how he’d be viewed today. Anyone under the age of 17 was born into a world without Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and that’s a truth I certainly wish were make believe. ( Full review!)

-Kyle Anderson, Nerdist associate editor

7. Hereditary

High-quality horror came at a break-neck pace in 2018, but nothing has haunted me quite like Hereditary, Ari Aster’s debut film about a family torn apart by impossible grief. The film soured some critics for its hard pivot to supernatural in the final act, but it didn’t feel left-field to me. From its opening shot of a dollhouse come to life, Hereditary is steeped in discomfort. The noises are wrong, things move unnaturally; like Kubrick’s The Shining, there is the feeling that something’s off. And also like The Shining, the family drama goes arch in several scenes, as the mania plaguing the family crescendos. Toni Collette is devastating as the matriarch, giving one of the best performances of the year, full-stop. I still can’t look at telephone poles the same way. ( Full review!)

-Lindsey Romain, Nerdist staff writer

6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best superhero movie of the year. Yes, I’m fully aware that 2018 was stacked, but Spider-Verse still manages to break through to bring us the story of Miles Morales. Spider-Verse’s strength lies in leaning into the uniqueness of Miles, what makes him different than Peter Parker, what makes him a Spider-Man for today. One of the most important aspects of Spider-Man is that no matter who you are, you can be the hero of your own story. And Miles lets us know that “anyone can wear the mask. You can wear the mask.†Excelsior. ( Full review!)

-Hector Navarro, Animation Investigation host

5. Mission: Impossible-Fallout

Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his team of operatives are back in one of the most bombastic action films ever made, and this time, they’re joined by Henry Cavill’s mustache. M:I-Fallout is a movie that pumped me up like no other this year, packed with thrilling sequences like a dizzying halo jump, a chase through the rooftops of London, and Tom Cruise piloting a helicopter (a stunt he learned to do for this film). While some franchises suffer from sequel fatigue, M:I-Fallout demonstrates that the MI series – much like Cruise himself – only gets better with age. ( Full review!)

-Erin Vail, Nerdist producer

4. Paddington 2

In a year full of ceaseless vitriol, fresh nightmares lurking around every corner, and rampant hostility underpinning every interaction (especially on social media), the world needed a hero. Not Captain America or Aquaman, but Paddington, an anthropomorphic bear with a deep and abiding love of orange marmalade who reminded us of one simple truth: “If you’re kind and polite, the world will be right.†This simple story of a young bear who gets sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit while trying to buy his Aunt Lucy an antique pop-up book for her 100th birthday will grab your heartstrings and use them to play an Yngwie Malmsteen guitar solo. One could point to its 215 fresh reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or its status as the best reviewed film ever made, but to do so ignores the beating heart and vibrant soul of this breathtakingly good film about the importance of kindness, empathy, and delicious sandwiches. ( Full review!)

-Dan Casey, Nerdist senior editor

3. Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War was the culmination of ten years and twenty MCU films, but really, what it was was the culmination of every geeky kid’s dream who grew up reading superhero comics, and imagined what it would be like if all their favorite heroes got together in a big ol’ fight with the universe’s worst villain on a movie screen. The fact that it wasn’t just indulgent fan service, and was actually a compelling sci-fi action adventure spectacle with dramatic and heart to spare, and a seriously ballsy ending is nothing to shrug off. Sure, we all know the dusted heroes will get better, but it won’t change how we felt when we heard Spidey say “I’m not feeling so good Mr. Stark.” ( Full review!)

-Eric Diaz, Nerdist staff writer

2. Annihilation

Of all the movies released in 2018, the one I’ve not been able to get out of my head is still Alex Garland’s Annihilation, a movie that deserved much more love from the world than it got. Seemingly a journey of five women into an unknown and dangerous portion of the Florida wetlands, beset by some otherworldly force, it ends up being an examination of what it means to be human, what it means to be alive, and what it means to be yourself. It’s a terrifying and highly effective example of Cosmic Horror, in which through understanding comes more terror. The world will seemingly never be the same thanks to this thing we can’t understand, and Garland depicted that through troubling and hauntingly beautiful, psychedelic images and an equally rattling electronic score by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury. ( Full review!)

-Kyle Anderson, Nerdist associate editor

1. Black Panther

Ryan Coogler broke the Marvel mold with his incredible entry into the MCU. If you can believe it, Black Panther did come out this year, and it broke box office records, changed the face of superhero movies with a predominantly black cast and truly introduced fans to the world of Wakanda and its super powered Monarch T’Challa. Vibrant, action-packed, filled with kickass women, and bursting with a roster of A-List stars that includes Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan and of course Chadwick Boseman. Black Panther is one of the best superhero movies ever made, and easily takes the top spot on our list of best films for 2018. ( Full review!)

-Rosie Knight, Nerdist staff writer

Images: Marvel, Paramount, WB, A24,

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