As an editorial team, we’re very proud of the work we do here. We have loads of fun writing articles here on FSR, curating the beautiful and interesting over on One Perfect Shot, and we like keeping it real with Nonfics. To keep all of these things running independently, it takes a village. It requires a team of dedicated curators, columnists, contributors, editors, interns, and even the occasional guest. In 2018, our gang of nerds grew considerably and has become considerably more diverse. Which means that our taste — insomuch as a diverse group of people can have a singular taste — has evolved. As our team got a little younger and more diverse this year, the kinds of movies we gravitate toward have changed, as well. It makes for a very interesting list of the 50 Best Movies of the year, which you’ve undoubtedly already begun skimming below.
Before you get to the big list, here are some recommendations to maximize your enjoyment of the experience:
- Remember that this is our list. It’s probably different than your list. And that’s okay.
- This list was compiled using a survey of 23 of our contributors. All the ones who didn’t take off early for the holiday. We then run it through a complex algorithm and a rigorous editorial review process to ultimately arrive at the ranked list.
- Remember, this is our list. It’s definitely different than your list. It’s still okay.
- This list wasn’t made by bots or on a content farm, it was hand-crafted by us, for you. Our hope is that it inspires you to seek out some of the lesser-known films on the list. We also hope that you can use it as a starting point for discussions with people in your life about the best movies you saw in the last year.
- It’s possible that we missed something. We’re a big group that includes at least a few people who have seen north of 300 new theatrical releases this year, but even we can’t see everything. We’d love to hear from you on Twitter if you’d like to make the case for your favorite movie that we missed. Just remember: it’s telling the world why you liked it that really matters. We try to do that for our picks below.
- There were too many honorable mentions to list. We very much enjoy movies.
- While we appreciate all the feedback we’ll receive, please also note that this list is not subject to change. Attempts to convince us that we’re wrong are futile, but again, we’d love to hear what would be on your list and why.
We had a wonderful year at the movies. We hope you did, too. Here’s the best of what we saw.
50. Love, Simon
The history of mainstream YA movies and romcoms is filled with releases that are accessible, entertaining, and a little bit sappy. These movies aim to capture the awkwardness of growing up and finding young love in a way that’s easy to digest and fun. However, Love, Simon was monumental because it was the first film of this kind to be told from a queer point-of-view. Here we have a story about a teenage boy coming out that presents being gay as normal and something that should be celebrated. As it should be. We need more LGBTQ movies that are designed to make audiences leave the theater feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Love, Simon is a crowd-pleaser, but it’s an important movie that will hopefully inspire many more in the same vein. (Kieran Fisher)
49. Support The Girls
It was a good year if your name is Regina. We’ll undoubtedly mention Regina King before this list is up. Even Regina George got a dope podcast episode by our fave Shea Serrano. This is about Regina Hall, who has been solving the dry-eyes epidemic the festival circuit with several consecutive efforts. You should watch her in 2015’s People Places Things. But first, watch her performance in Andrew Bujalski’s Support The Girls. It’s among the best you’ll see all year. Plus, with this one, you get a lively supporting cast and an honest story about people just trying to make it in a very real modern American situation. (Neil Miller)
48. Borg vs. McEnroe
Sports movies are as ubiquitous a subgenre as you’ll find, but no matter the sport they typically focus on one underdog team or performer as the preferred champion. In addition to being a rare film about tennis, Borg vs McEnroe also dares to suggest we should be cheering for both sides. Both players give the sport their all, and as the film moves between their respective childhoods and adult lives intercut with their first championship match together we can’t help but root for what each of them brings to the sport itself. (Rob Hunter)
47. The Endless
The UFO suicide-cult film The Endless is a career culmination for multi-hyphenates Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead. Written, directed, shot, and starring themselves the movie interweaves the duos past work with their present to create a daringly personal cross-genre film, stretching the boundaries of conventional narrative storytelling. Resolution and Spring were underground cult hits embraced by the horror community, but now with The Endless, the pair are finally getting the wide acclaim they’ve worked so hard for. Their approach of distilling larger, headier concepts through the emotional realism of their characters is electrifyingly fresh and the perfect example of why prestige horror ruled 2018. (Jacob Trussell)
46. Let The Sunshine In
No one expected Claire Denis to follow up her 2013 film Bastards with a romantic comedy, but that’s one of the reasons that Let The Sunshine In works as well as it does. The French master explores new territory with this story of Isabelle (Juliette Binoche), a divorced artist who is going from relationship to relationship searching for a real, true love that has so far evaded her. Each romantic tryst briefly satisfies Isabelle, but nothing truly fulfills her. Denis works humor into the story, but at its core Let The Sunshine In feels deeply tragic. Not the tragedy of a love lost but the tragedy of a love never found. The film is melodic, melancholic, and as one would expect from Denis, utterly incomparable. (Anna Swanson)
45. Night Comes On
In turn as dark as the night it promises and as tentatively hopeful as the break of dawn, Night Comes On is the best movie you didn’t see in 2018. A poetic powerhouse and a drama presented with the lightest of touches, Jordana Spiro’s feature directorial debut is about as stunningly raw as a movie can get. The movie stars inimitable young actress Dominique Fishback as Angel, a single-minded, emotionally distant young woman who leaves juvenile detention with revenge on her mind. After she tracks down her sister (Tatum Marilyn Hall, funny and perfectly cast) in foster care, Angel begins a mission to find and kill her father. Despite the description, this isn’t a bloody revenge flick, but instead a solemn girl’s odyssey through an unforgiving world. With the emotional honesty of Moonlight, the insight and empathy of Short Term 12, and a journey all its own, Night Comes On is a can’t-miss story. (Valerie Ettenhofer)
44. A Simple Favor
After his superb spoof of spy movies with Spy, you’d expect Paul Feig to make a much broader and laugh out loud lampoon of Gone Girl type movies even while working from a similar, serious novel. Instead, his adaptation of A Simple Favor is a mix of comedy and crime thriller that shouldn’t work but ultimately comes out on top. Part of its success is that it piles twist on top of twist and offers some terrific red herrings (or are they?) and plays cliches straight yet knowingly, allowing fans of the genre to delight in both the surprises and their correct predictions. Another thing in its simple favor is the casting. Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick are almost too perfect for their parts as the enigmatic beauty and the suspiciously straight-laced woman. It’s also a stunningly stylish film but one where the martinis you drink while you watch are more fittingly dirty with a twist than overly precise and fancy. (Christopher Campbell)
43. A Star is Born
Even beyond the official remakes, the premise of A Star is Born is one of the most basic stories in cinema. The well-established celebrity actor or singer discovers a new face/voice and as the fresh talent rises in success and fame, the mentor falls out of favor. So simple, you don’t really have to put much effort into making another copy, especially if you have a big name on the bill like Lady Gaga. Music icons rarely get to star in masterpieces. And yet, Bradley Cooper, in his feature directorial debut, has made another version of A Star is Born that feels like it’s a one of a kind original. It’s the care he puts into his new craft, showing an immediate knack for incredibly economic storytelling. Despite being a fictional story, the main characters in this melodrama feel more like real people than most choppy rock biopics, such as Bohemian Rhapsody. Cooper uses shorthand and trusts that audiences will find some familiarity in the film’s plot to cut unnecessary fat. Oh, and then on top of all that, Lady Gaga is sensational, giving one of the best performances of the year. (Christopher Campbell)
42. The Tale
The Tale, an autobiographical film from director Jennifer Fox, is undoubtedly 2018’s bravest work. Laura Dern plays Fox, and the film entails her re-examination of the sexual abuse she endured as a child. Eventually, she comes to terms with the way she was preyed upon by adults she trusted, and how those experiences have continued to affect her life in insidious ways ever since. The brilliance of the film can be exemplified by one small directorial decision from Fox. At the beginning of the movie, when Fox still considers her abuse simply a relationship she once had with an older man, the flashbacks depict the 13-year-old Jenny as young, but still quite sophisticated looking. However, as the current day Jennifer begins to interpret that time in her life in a new way, the actress playing young Jenny in the flashback scenes is suddenly replaced by an actress who looks much more like a 13-year-old: innocent and childlike. It is a haunting and powerful choice which allows Fox to create an incredibly profound exploration of memory and trauma. She accomplishes something impressive and difficult by making viewers experience some fraction of the emotions she must have felt as she made these intense discoveries. The Tale is a must see 2018 film –Fox’s fearlessness in telling this deeply personal story is simply unparalleled. (Madison Brek)
In a world of Venoms, be Upgrade. No offense to the Tom Hardy Spider-verse film, but Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade takes a similar premise and upturns it with sharp writing, a quasi-believable futuristic setting and, almost most importantly, visceral gore. The blood-drenched action sequences pulsate with perfect precision and inventive camera work where you feel every gouge of a knife or break of an arm. With a visual flourish that harkens to nostalgia-drenched memories of Robocop and Blade Runner, Whannell’s genre mashup is just as exhilaratingly fun as anything it reminds us of. We’ve seen the future of science fiction, and it’s Upgrade. (Jacob Trussell)