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The Individual Top Tens of 2018

We’ve been releasing the top ten lists of our regular critics all week, and wanted to bring in the rest of our incredibly talented contributors, providing an overview of the entire year of film. There are hundreds of films cited below as the best of 2018, a sign of both the quality of the overall year and the diverse opinions of our staff. There are also dozens of links back to our original reviews and the standalone pieces by our regular critics. Just for visual purposes, the people who just submitted lists are first, followed by those who went into more detail, both groups alphabetical.

1. “Roma
2. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
3. “Sorry to Bother You
4. “First Reformed
5. “If Beale Street Could Talk
6. “Shirkers
7. “Annihilation
8. “BlacKkKlansman
9. “Burning
10. “Cold War

SIMON ABRAMS (read more here)
1. “Bisbee ‘17”
2. “Sorry to Bother You”
3. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
4. “Pow Wow”
5. “24 Frames
6. “Bodied
7. “Shoplifters
8. “The Guardians
9. “Have a Nice Day
10. “Jeanette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc”

NICK ALLEN (read more here)
1. “Hereditary
2. “Shirkers”
3. “Madeline’s Madeline”
4. “Leave No Trace
5. “Mandy
6. “Cold War”
7. “Makala
8. “John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection”
9. “Searching
10. “Bird Box

MONICA CASTILLO (read more here)
1. “Roma”
2. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?
3. “Cold War”
4. “Shirkers”
5. “Shoplifters”
6. “Private Life
7. “Sorry to Bother You”
8. “Zama
9. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
10. “Annihilation”

1. “Roma”
2. “The Rider
3. “Western”
4. “First Reformed”
5. “A Bread Factory”
6. “24 Frames”
7. “Green Book
8. “Vice
9. “En el Septima Dia”
10. “Crime + Punishment

1. “Roma”
2. "Shoplifters"
3. "Leave No Trace"
4. "First Reformed"
5. "Private Life"
6. "The Rider"
7. "Cold War"
8. "BlacKkKlansman"
9. "Hereditary"
10. "Annihilation"

Runners-up (in alphabetical order): "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," "Black Panther," "Blindspotting," "Custody," "The Death of Stalin," “Eighth Grade,” "Lean On Pete," "Paddington 2," "A Star is Born," "We the Animals," "You Were Never Really Here

Animation (in alphabetical order): "Early Man," "Incredibles 2," "Isle of Dogs," "The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl," and "Teen Titans Go! To the Movies"

Documentary (in alphabetical order): "Crime + Punishment," "Jane Fonda in Five Acts," "Shirkers," "They Shall Not Grow Old," and "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

1. "Shoplifters"
2. "The Death of Stalin"
3. "First Man"
4. "Paddington 2"
5. "Eighth Grade"
6. "You Were Never Really Here"
7. "BlacKkKlansman"
8. "First Reformed"
9. "If Beale Street Could Talk"
10. "Blindspotting"

MATT FAGERHOLM (read more here)
1. “Eighth Grade”
2. “Minding the Gap
3. “Roma”
4. “First Reformed”
5. “Muppet Guys Talking”
6. “Leave No Trace”
7. “Custody”
8. “The Tale
9. “Life and Nothing More
10. “Mary Poppins Returns”

ODIE HENDERSON (read more here)
1. “Blindspotting”
2. “If Beale Street Could Talk”
3. “BlacKkKlansman”
4. “Black Panther”
5. “Amazing Grace
6. “Paddington 2”
7. “Roma”
8. “Leave No Trace”
9. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse”
10. “I Am Not a Witch"

1. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
2. “Hereditary”
3. “Mandy”
4. “Leave No Trace”
5. “BlacKkKlansman”
6. “A Star is Born”
7. “You Were Never Really Here”
8. “Cam
9. “Madeline’s Madeline”
10. “The Other Side of the Wind

1. "Roma"
2. "The Other Side of the Wind"
3. "Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?"
4. "Support the Girls"
5. "Classical Period"
6. "You Were Never Really Here"
7. "Thoroughbreds"
8. "Western"
9. "The Favourite"
10. "Monrovia, Indiana"

GLENN KENNY (read more here)
1. “Zama”
2. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
3. “The Other Side of the Wind”
4. “Mandy”
5. “Hale Count This Morning, This Evening”
6. “Shirkers”
7. “Madeline’s Madeline”
8. “Skate Kitchen
9. “Support the Girls”
10. (tie) “Sorry to Bother You” & “Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc

TOMRIS LAFFLY (read more here)
1. “Roma”
2. “You Were Never Really Here”
3. “Burning”
4. “Private Life”
5. “First Man”
6. “Cold War”
7. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
8. “Custody”
9. “1985”
10. “Hereditary”

CHRISTY LEMIRE (read more here)
1. “The Favourite”
2. “Roma”
3. “Burning”
4. “First Reformed”
5. “Suspiria
6. “Sorry to Bother You”
7. “Eighth Grade”
8. “Hereditary”
9. “Support the Girls”
10. “A Star is Born”

1. “Blindspotting”
2. “On the Basis of Sex”
3. “Bad Times at the El Royale
4. “A Simple Favor
5. “The Favourite”
6. “Widows
7. “Black Panther”
8. “Hereditary”
9. “A Quiet Place
10. “Sorry to Bother You”

NELL MINOW (read more here)
1. “If Beale Street Could Talk”
2. (tie)
“Black Panther”
“Eighth Grade”
“Green Book”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“Sorry to Bother You”
“A Star is Born”
“Support the Girls”

1. “First Reformed”
2. “Support the Girls”
3. “The Other Side of the Wind”
4. “Burning”
5. “Private Life”
6. “Shirkers”
7. “Amazing Grace”
8. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"
9. “Cold War”
10. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

SHEILA O’MALLEY (read more here)
1. “First Reformed”
2. “Roma”
3. “BlacKkKlansman”
4. “Shirkers”
5. “Shoplifters”
6. “The Rider”
7. “Mandy” 
8. “A Star is Born”
9. “Eighth Grade”
10. “The Other Side of the Wind”

1. “The Other Side of the Wind”
2. “Dogman”
3. “Roma”
4. “The Last Family”
5. “Won't You Be My Neighbor”
6. “Summer 1993
7. “McQueen
8. “Dovlatov
9. “Shirkers”
10. “The Death of Stalin”

1. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
2. “The Favourite”
3. “Paddington 2”
4. “The Little Stranger
5. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse”
6. “Border
7. “Eighth Grade”
8. “Hereditary”
9. “American Animals
10. “A Wrinkle in Time

“The Area”
“Ash is the Purest White”
“Minding the Gap”

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ (read more here)
1. “A Bread Factory”
2. “Annihilation”
3. “Sorry to Bother You”
4. “Private Life”
5. “Shoah: Four Sisters
6. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
7. “Hereditary”
8. “Searching”
9. “Minding the Gap”
10. “Bodied”

1. “Eighth Grade”
2. “The Favourite”
3. “Roma”
4. “Annihilation”
5. “Shoplifters”
6. “If Beale Street Could Talk”
7. “Leave No Trace”
8. “Madeline’s Madeline”
9. “Paddington 2”
10. “Shirkers”

Honorable mentions: "Wildlife," "Cold War," "Burning," "A Bread Factory," "Support the Girls," "Hereditary," "Widows," "Can You Ever Forgive Me?," "Minding the Gap," "The Rider," "Mandy," "Blindspotting," "To All The Boys I've Loved Before," "You Were Never Really Here," "The Death of Stalin," "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," "Sorry to Bother You," "All About Nina," "Capernaum," "Game Night," "Disobedience," "Black Panther," "A Simple Favor," "A Star is Born"

Documentaries: "Shirkers," "Minding the Gap," "Won't You Be My Neighbor?," "The Price of Everything," "Kusama: Infinity," "McQueen," "Boom for Real"

1. “First Reformed” 
2. “Padmaavat” 
3. “Genèse”
4. “Annihilation”
5. “Hereditary”
6. “Cam”
7. “Black Mother”
8. “Profile”
9. “The Rider”
10. “Birds of Passage" 

HMs: "Thunder Road" (Jim Cummings), "Ray & Liz" (Richard Billingham), "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" (Joel & Ethan Coen), "Let the Sunshine In" (Claire Denis), "Srbenka" (Nebojša Slijepčević), "Hale County This Morning, This Evening" (RaMell Ross), "Balangiga: Howling Wilderness" (Kahn), "Relaxer" (Joel Potrykus)

Best Short Films: "Norman, Norman" (Sophy Romvari), "The Men Behind the Wall" (Ines Moldavsky), "Reneepoptosis" (Renee Zhan), "Brotherhood" (Meryam Joobeur), "My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes" (Charlie Tyrell), "Milk" (Santiago Menghini), "Fauve" (Jérémy Comte), "Krzyzoki" (Anna Gawlita)

PETER SOBCZYNSKI (read more here)
1. “Annihilation”
2. “Madeline’s Madeline”
3. “First Reformed”
4. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
5. “Roma”
6. “Cold War”
7. “The Favourite”
8. “BlacKkKlansman”
9. “Mandy”
10. “A Simple Favor”

1. “Roma”
2. “Blindspotting”
3. “The Death of Stalin”
4. “Eighth Grade”
5. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse”
6. “Lean on Pete
7. “Hereditary”
8. “BlacKkKlansman”
9. “Minding the Gap”
10. “Paddington 2”


1. “Black Mother”
2. “Personal Problems”
3. “Widows”
4. “24 Frames”
5. “Barbara
6. “Piu Piu”
7. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
8. “High Life”
9. “Scarred Hearts”
10. “First Reformed”

BRIAN TALLERICO (read more here)
1. “Roma”
2. “If Beale Street Could Talk”
3. “Leave No Trace”
4. “Burning”
5. “Widows”
6. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
7. “Annihilation”
8. “Shoplifters”
9. “You Were Never Really Here”
10. “Sorry to Bother You”


“Ant Man and the Wasp”
Most movie fight scenes are about the “wow,” but this one is about the “how?” As in, if your superpower was to shrink to bullet size or grow to duplex height, how could you decimate a room full of baddies? "Ant Man and the Wasp'"s endlessly creative fight scene choreographies are the best of any Marvel movie.

It’s dismissive for Western critics to lean on the Japanese concept of mono no aware to extoll Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s work—the truth is, this director, who has never made a bad movie, is an art form unto himself. This exquisitely tear-jerking and joyous meditation on a makeshift family, whose love is impulsively extended to a stranger in need, maintains his unbroken track record.

“Wild Wild Country”
Directors Chapman and Maclain Way have assembled the definitive, shocking, stranger-than-fiction record of how a New Age guru’s cult established a foothold over acres of rural Oregon, only to implode from its own corruption in a few short years. It is the rare documentary that does not confuse being objective with being dispassionate, as we come to understand every player’s personal reality—and skin in the game—with empathy and agreement.

“Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like”
The least polarizing and yet most radical personality ever to appear on television was Fred Rogers, and this unstinting documentary highlights the determined, defiant, Christ-like love behind the gentle songs and puppets. Bring a whole box of tissues, and prepare to be permanently changed.

Diablo Cody encapsulates the female experience with more wit and candor than any American screenwriter; this unsparing valentine of brutal kindness for every woman devastated by what they’ve paid in selfhood to become a mother is unlike any other story told on screen.

Spike Lee’s most masterful stroke in the retelling of this true story of a Black undercover officer who infiltrates the Klan in the ‘70s is to not let us leave the theater thinking “ain’t that a hoot?” by reminding us in a shocking epilogue that what’s past is present.

Avengers: Infinity War
What lingers in this film is not the nuance of a villain who “must bomb the village to save it,” or the willingness of Marvel to expose the fragility of its core pantheon (a coda made more poignant by Stan Lee’s joining Kirby and Ditko this year). Instead it's the visual poetry, of quiet moments of despair and then, acceptance, and beaches lit with impossible magenta moonscapes.

An exquisite, staggering portrait of the haute couture savant/enfant terrible/lost boy, who channeled the terrible beautiful voodoo loa of his talent into his all-too-human vessel that couldn’t hold its supernatural power forever.

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
No one makes anthology movies, anymore, but no one could make this anthology Western like the Coen Brothers. Their familiar obsessions—regional dialect, whimsical visuals, and wry gallows humor heartbreak—come together in this mix of original stories and of-the-era Western short fiction.

“Black Panther”
What lingers is not the superhero spectacle or the groundbreaking title character or the thrilling “what if?” of a thriving, futuristic, self-possessed African nation. "Black Panther" is a movie from an alternate timeline, in which the rhythms of the Hero’s Journey fueling every popcorn pleaser in our culture come not from a Western tradition but from Africa, complete with a hero whose triumph is inseparable from, not in opposition to, community, history, and the bedrock of women.

1. ”Blindspotting” 
Such a full movie, with such vivid characters, with such emotion, humor, horror, heart. Everything. Too bad it will be overlooked in awards season. 

2. “Searching”
Takes a gimmick of storytelling and a conventional story and merges them into something more and more captivating with each scene, erasing gimmicks and conventions. 

3. “BlacKkKlansman” 
Unflinching. I watched it in a theater in Klan territory and was unsettled from the opening scene. 

4. “Annihilation”
A journey deep into the dark well of our personal unknowns. Where “First Man” was the story of men running away from their internal ghosts, this film is about women walking to them, and without the racist absurdities.

5. “Crazy Rich Asians” (minus the South Asian security guards) 
In addition to all the applause it earned for representations of East Asians, despite the stereotypical depictions of South Asians, it is such a delicious, preposterous romantic comedy that even I was feeling all kinds of feelings. 

6. “Black Panther” (minus the CIA Agent character)
Like "Blindspotting," it is packed with all kinds of wonderful moments and ideas that it rewards on multiple viewings. 

7. “A Quiet Place” (despite taking some ideas and monster-design from the Marvel character Venom) 
So suspenseful and so tender at the same time. 

8. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”
The best action film in years.

9. “Widows” 
Everyone in Chicago is corrupt, and every single one is interesting. 

10. Russell Hornsby in “The Hate U Give” 
I watched this movie multiple times just to watch him. 

Expected movies to upset this list, once I get around to watching them: “The Rider,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Roma,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse”

1. "First Reformed"
No line this better captured the hopelessness and lack of certainty of 2018 than this: “Can God forgive us for what we’ve done to this world?” In “First Reformed,” writer/director Paul Schrader pulls together everything he’s ever attempted to say about faith, guilt, social alienation and exploitation while tapping into the desperation that comes with facing a potential end of the world. His magnum opus echoes his own past works, as well as Bergman, Tarkovsky and Bresson, but its depth of feeling and immediacy is unmistakable, as is the truthfulness of Ethan Hawke’s career-best performance as the soul-searching, desperate man at the film’s center. It is a diary of a man of God in despair.

2. "Burning"
Uncertainty also permeates “Burning,” Lee Chang-dong's first film since 2010’s lovely “Poetry.” It is not unclear that both Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in) and Ben (a smugly creepy Steven Yeun) are poisonous men in their own rights. How far that extends is less immediately knowable, and Lee’s genius is in delicately balancing the known and unknown while illustrating perfectly how capable the two men are of jealousy, possessiveness and casual cruelty. Lee does this while serving up some of the most exhilarating filmmaking of the year. 

3. "The Other Side of the Wind"
Undoubtedly the cinematic event of the year, the released version of Orson Welles’ radical final film is a truly strange object. It is both "finished" and fragmented (intentionally and otherwise), mixing aesthetics while diving into Welles’ interests in art, failure, betrayal and self-loathing in a way that’s both revealing and self-obfuscating ... not unlike another great film of his. Questions of authorship will be debated for some time, but whether or not it’s Welles film or a “Welles” film, it’s great.

4. "Madeline's Madeline"
Josephine Decker explores the thin line between art and exploitation, therapeutic expression and uncomfortable wound-bearing, in “Madeline’s Madeline.” Her subjective aesthetic is both disorienting and intoxicating, greatly aided by Helena Howard’s spectacular live wire performance. Those with a background in creative arts and knowledge of the difficult, sometimes strained relationships of young artists and their mentors will find this particularly rewarding.

5. "Zama"
Lucrecia Martel’s long-awaited return shows there’s no heroism in colonialism, and no good in hoping. Martel’s visual elegance and sonic overload work together to both clearly document and mimic of the feeling of dreadful people being torn at from all ends, all while being both empathetic and dryly funny.

6. "BlacKkKlansman"
Don’t call it a comeback—Spike Lee’s been great for years. But “BlacKkKlansman” is simultaneously one of Lee’s most purely entertaining films and vibrant, vital work. The clashing tones the director specializes in work like gangbusters here, giving crowd-pleasing “got ‘em” busts as a set up to swing us wildly into moments of total defeat and pain. Far from a straightforward celebration of “good cops,” “BlacKkKlansman” illustrates how the police wrongly treat "Black Power" as a threat while dismissing “White Power” as isolated until it’s clear that it isn’t.

7. "You Were Never Really Here"
While the broad strokes of Lynne Ramsay’s fourth film seem to, on their surface, hew too closely to “Taxi Driver,” it is more illustrative of how impulses, both heroic and self-destroying, are near-impossible to shake, and how indulging them is almost inevitably unsatisfactory. And she proves herself yet again to be one of the most exciting filmmakers working today, marrying jagged editing and uneasy soundscapes to Joaquin Phoenix’s soulful performance.

8. "Support the Girls"
The funniest and warmest movie of the year, with three of the best performance (Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson and especially Shayna McHale). Andrew Bujalski’s oddball comic rhythms and generosity of spirit have been compared, fairly, to those of the late, great Jonathan Demme, but “Support the Girls” is in no way derivative. Truly lovely.

9. "Roma"
Alfonso Cuarón’s latest is as bravura, in its way, as “Children of Men” and “Gravity,” but as personal and intimate as “Y Tu Mama Tambien.” Shooting in gorgeous black-and-white, Cuarón shows the genuine affection between maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio, superb) and the family she serves without erasing the clear class divide and inequality that separates them.

10. "Lean on Pete"
Andrew Haigh’s look at life on the knife’s edge of poverty shows his continuing growth as a dramatist and a visual storyteller, finding spectacularly lived-in details (Charlie Plummer’s heartbreakingly vulnerable protagonist keeps the Cap’n Crunch box in the fridge to protect it from cockroaches) and life-or-death stakes in a Boy and His Horse tale. Few films this year managed to be as unsparing for so long before finding hard-won mercy.

Runners-up: "The Favourite," "Leave No Trace," "Private Life," "Minding the Gap," "Let the Sunshine In," "24 Frames," "The Captain," "A Star is Born," "Happy as Lazzaro," "Shirkers"

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