2018 was an incredible year for movies–as long as you love Marvel superheroes and horror. In other words, the GameSpot entertainment team’s bread and butter. But it wasn’t just about genocidal purple aliens, uncolonized African countries, and monsters that can hear you fart into a pillow. This year truly had something for everyone in cinema, which made it especially fun and challenging to select GameSpot’s 10 best movies of 2018.
These ten movies were selected not just because they were the best, but also because they most accurately portray the breadth of our interests as a team. We love superheroes and horror, yes, but we’re also into lovable English bears, weird science fiction, and heavyweight boxing, among many other things.
There were plenty of great films in 2018, but these were the most creative, engrossing, thrilling, funny, scary, and original. These movies had us glued to our seats or teetering on the edge, cowering in fear or shaking with laughter.
Presented in order of release–but not otherwise ranked–here are our 10 favorite movies of 2018. Since first being published, we’ve revealed our absolute top movie of 2018, and don’t forget to read our list of the 10 best TV shows of 2018 as well.
Lastly, as always, let us know what movies you loved this year in the comments below.
US release date: January 12
How important is simple goodness? The world is a forest fire, both literally and figuratively. While there are plenty of major action, drama, and horror films that thrill and chill us as viewers, they don’t always send you away from the theater with a smile on your face. And honestly, that’s something we desperately need sometimes.
First and foremost, if you haven’t seen the first Paddington movie, don’t worry. It’s not necessary, though you should totally watch it right now. And for fans of the first, if you thought sending Paddington the bear to prison would be too drastic a turn for a sequel, you will be pleasantly surprised. Instead of letting jail change the titular bear, Paddington 2 is instead somehow a story about prison reform and the need for generosity and understanding in a cruel world.
Paddington’s life motto, as told to him by his Aunt Lucy, is, “If we’re kind and polite the world will be right.” It’s a message he spreads throughout the jail he’s sent to after being wrongfully convicted of stealing a pop-up book–which is apparently a big deal in London–in his short time there, making a lasting impact on his fellow inmates. It’s also a message he spreads to his friends and neighbors outside of prison, whether it’s helping the garbage man study for an upcoming test or making sure one particularly forgetful neighbor doesn’t forget his keys when leaving home.
What makes Paddington 2, and Paddington himself, so engaging is that this way of life is so simple. He is good and he’s doing his best to put good into the world. The universe being what it is, he doesn’t always get that goodness in return immediately. But his positive spirit makes an impact on those around him, changing things for the better. Who couldn’t use a little more of that in their lives? It’s such an easy idea, but also one that’s easy to forget. Luckily, we’ve got that little Peruvian bear to remind us that literally anyone can make a change for the better in some way, big or small. You just have to try. — Chris Hayner
US release date: January 29
Black Panther is immensely brilliant for a plethora of reasons. It’s Marvel’s first movie–Blade aside–starring a black actor. In fact, the vast majority of the cast are people of color, and there were plenty of stories, tweets, and videos of black people around the world proclaiming their excitement after seeing the film. That was simply great to see.
As for Black Panther as a MCU movie itself, that’s a whole other story. Marvel played with its character’s personalities for this one. Your titular hero wasn’t a wise-cracking jokester, something we’ve become accustomed to with Marvel’s movies. He’s overly serious, comes from a loving family, has bodyguards, and runs his own country. He is the exact opposite of everything we’ve seen in other Marvel films. Chadwick Boseman is transformative and a breath of fresh air for the superheroes in this role, bringing something completely different to the table. Then, there’s the villain for the movie, Erik Killmonger, played by the retainer-breaking Michael B. Jordan. He’s despicable, ruthless, and evil–right up until you learn more about his character and start to understand the method for his madness and feel sympathy for him. A great villain is one who is defined well enough that the viewer could agree with the antagonist’s motives if they were in his or her shoes, and that’s exactly what Black Panther does with Killmonger.
While there’s some mediocre CGI in the boring final battle, elsewhere there is a great scope and scale there that we haven’t seen in a Marvel movie, and the cast of important secondary characters keeps things pretty exciting. More than anything else, it’s a great establishing moment for Wakanda as a force, which helps set the stage for the Wakanda fight in Infinity War.
It’s 2018, and Marvel has perfected its formula for bringing in new characters without delivering an origin story. Black Panther is a phenomenal success not just for being a great movie, but for reaching all corners of the planet, getting the world to shout “Wakanda forever” together in an awesome cultural event. — Mat Elfring
US release date: February 23
It’s tricky to describe Annihilation in any way that does it justice. Part cosmic horror, part sci-fi thriller, part existential meditation on the nature of personhood, director Alex Garland took Jeff VanderMeer’s experimental novel of the same name and pushed it to its absolute limits. With an all female starring cast made up of powerhouse actors like Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson, supported by Oscar Isaac doing his best trope-reversed damsel in distress, Annihilation is at once a minimalist art piece and robust creature-feature with tension to spare.
Ostensibly the story of a team of scientists setting out to explore the mysterious “Area X,” an anomalous area of swamp land struck by what may or may not have be an alien artifact, Annihilation rapidly warps itself into a dream-like, surrealist painting where animals and plants have mutated into impossible hybrids. Worse yet, as the team soon discovers, the same phenomenon is happening to them–and there’s nothing they can do to stop it. The end result is as bloody and as horrifying as you might expect.
Despite being more than a little challenging to watch at points for the squeamish among us, Annihilation never stops being beautiful, and never forgets its own desperately human core–even when that human element is rapidly transforming into something else entirely. — Meg Downey
US release date: April 6
A Quiet Place is a strange horror film because, well, it’s very quiet. The title says it all, really. This is a movie that lives and dies based on the room you see it in. If you watched at home alone or in a theater full of people that managed to stay silent for 90 minutes, it’s an incredibly tense and horrifying ride, filled with moments that will make you anxious about what’s to come, even if it’s nothing at all.
Beyond the tension built throughout, where A Quiet Place excels is in its creature design. The mysterious monsters that have killed off so much of the world’s population are used sparingly in the beginning of the film, but once fully revealed are downright terrifying. They have elements of the Cloverfield monster, the Demogorgon from Stranger Things, and even a scaly and tough skin that brings dinosaurs to mind. Whatever they are, it’s scary, and they helped make A Quiet Place one of the best movies of the year. — Chris Hayner
US release date: June 8
The last few years have seen the release of several acclaimed independent horror movies that feel different from the fun, commercial scares of studio moves like The Nun or It. The likes of The Witch, It Follows, and Get Out have placed equal emphasis on characters as on scares and gore, and replaced predictable jump scares with atmosphere and dread. Hereditary is one of the best of this new wave of scary movies, and 2018’s best horror film. It’s both an exploration of grief and family dysfunction as well as a terrifying movie about possession and pagan cults, and it’s an unforgettably intense experience.
The movie marks the writing/directing debut of Ari Aster and is anchored by some incredible performances. Toni Collette delivers a devastating performance as Annie Graham, a woman trying to keep her sanity together after a pair of family deaths, who becomes convinced that it might be possible to use clairvoyance to speak to her loved ones from beyond the grave. She’s ably matched by Gabriel Byrne as her husband Steve, who internalises his pain. Having a pair of actors of this calibre elevates the movie well beyond the low budget roots of much indie horror. There are also some great performances from Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro as their teenage kids, and veteran star Ann Dowd as Annie’s sinister new “friend” Joan.
But while Hereditary is a serious, sad adult drama, it doesn’t forget to also be a truly scary movie. The horror builds slowly over the course of two hours; there is a truly horrifying sudden cut about 30 minutes in–if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know the one. From there, it becomes clear that Aster has no interest in holding back from delivering what fans want. Slow-building drama only gets you so far, and sometimes you need severed heads, people bursting into flames, crazed Pagan cults, and possessed people crawling across the ceiling. Luckily Hereditary gives us all that–and more–making for a incredible final 30 minutes. The horror scene is stronger than it’s been for a long time, and Hereditary shows the genre at its peak. — Dan Auty
US release date: July 6
On the surface, Sorry to Bother You sounds simple. Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) gets a much needed job as a telemarketer, where he quickly learns to adopt a distinctively funny “white voice” (played by comedian David Cross) to get ahead. He wrestles with his identity as a black man in the face of this success, especially as his co-workers revolt against the company’s broken systems while he rises through the ranks.
But Sorry to Bother You ultimately becomes much more than simply social or racial satire, especially when it careens into full on dystopian science fiction. And yet it somehow never loses its sense of humor, either. Sorry to Bother You raises questions about identity, personal responsibility, corporate ethics, workers’ revolutions, and the nature of art, while also being a movie about–slight spoilers–people snorting magical cocaine and being very literally transformed into something both more and less than their original selves.
Stanfield is exceptional in the lead role, and his success is bolstered by a supporting cast that includes Tessa Thompson (in yet another fantastic performance this year), Steven Yeun, Danny Glover, and more. Whether you’re in it for the comedy, the science fiction, or the biting social commentary, director Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You was one of the best movies of 2018. — Mike Rougeau
US release date: October 26
When it comes to remakes, the horror genre has the all around best track record of any category. John Carpenter’s The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly, and Zakk Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead are among the best remakes ever. Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of Dario Argento’s classic 1977 Italian Horror genre film is arguably the greatest to date. In a Kubrickian fashion, Guadagnino borrows the pieces he personally finds most alluring from the original, discards the rest, and brings them to life with his own vision. The result is that Suspiria is a fundamentally new and original masterpiece in its own right.
The centerpiece–or pieces–of this achievement are the several performances by Guadagnino’s long-time collaborator Tilda Swinton. Her gender-bending performance as Dr. Josef Klemperer, an old German man, is fantastic and has garnered the most attention among the media. However, her commanding performance as Madame Blanc, the visionary matriarch of Suspiria’s central dance cult, is intensely capitaviting and among the strongest in her career. Take her mentor role in Dr. Strange and dial it up ten times.
Suspiria’s myriad achievements and quirks should not be overlooked by any serious cinephile. While many of the crew leads responsible for executing the film’s vision from cinematography to production design are alums of Guadagnino’s standout film of 2017, Call Me By Your Name, Thom Yorke of Radiohead makes his film scoring debut which admirably holds up against Claudio Simonetti’s famous Goblin score of yore. The film also thrives on a near-100% cast of actresses with barely a man before the lens, save a couple of bumbling detectives, who fill the Markos Dance Academy with a host of colorful personalities.
Finally, no horror film is complete without the horror itself. To this end, Suspiria gracefully turns dance into gruesome torture, depicts people or objects as twisted as any Cronenberg film, and paints an outside post-war world fraught with tragedy that mirrors the inner turmoil of its characters to an almost stifling degree. — Ryan Schubert
US release date: November 21
Following up on the critically acclaimed Creed, the Rocky franchise continues, this time pulling from Rocky IV. The original film in this reboot focused on Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis Creed, and the emotional struggles he faced being the son of a legend and entering into the boxing world. It’s fitting, then, that the sequel would focus on the man who killed his father: Ivan Drago. While there are many ways this could have gone drastically wrong, instead, Ivan Drago is given far more character than in Rocky IV, and his and his son’s story is made to feel tragic. What you end up with is fully fleshed out characters bound for a bittersweet ending no matter which way the final bout between Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago’s progeny plays out.
In our review, we called Creed 2 “a worth Rocky sequel”: “From the opening scenes, you know exactly where Creed II is headed. Creed II is to the original Creed what Rocky II was to the movie that started it all: Adonis Creed starts out on top of the world, which means he has nowhere to go but down. He’ll hit rock bottom, linger there for a while, then drag himself back up for a triumphant return. That’s the basic outline of Creed II. It’s intimately familiar, and it’s so well executed that you won’t mind the story’s inevitability.”
While the follow-up is lacking in the slick single shots of the first Creed film, director Steven Caple Jr. does a brilliant job putting the viewer right into the action. The fight choreography is excellent and the weight of the punches feel real. While the film is ultimately formulaic–as is the entire Rocky franchise–that doesn’t stop the emotional beats from hitting and the film absolutely resonating as it progresses. — Dave Klein
US release date: December 14
Let’s be honest–it’s kind of hard to surprise us when it comes to superhero movies these days. After ten years of the MCU, there’s just not a lot of room for major innovations. We’ve been spoiled by the golden age of the genre, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And the silver lining is it makes movies like Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse all the more stunning.
It’s not just that Into The Spider-Verse is the first animated Marvel movie to hit big screens with a wide release ever (unless you count Big Hero 6), it’s the fact that it managed to make itself so completely unique in the process. We’ve seen our fair share of Spider-Man stories, but none of them have come even close to this. One part origin story of new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, one part introduction to Sony’s “Spider-Verse,” a multiverse that connects different alternate realities (and subsequently, their respective Spider-people), Into The Spider-Verse isn’t a movie based on comic book characters, it is a comic book come to life.
Into The Spider-Verse is a wild, psychedelic love letter to superheroes and the stories that originally brought them to life, wrapped in a hilarious and relentlessly stylish shell. It’s candy for your eyes, and a shot of pure, neon-splashed joy aimed directly at your heart. — Meg Downey
While the rest of this list was presented in chronological order rather than any particular ranking, we wanted to save the full reveal of our absolute, number 1, top, best movie of the year for a separate article, so we could fully express why we loved it so much.
Check it out here.