Another summer movie season has come and gone, and once again it delivered massive box-office returns and some of the year’s best damn films. Our office is staffed by movie-lovers of varied tastes, from the high-brow among us to Kieran Fisher, and the past four months have gifted us with all manner of fantastic films covering genres as varied as dramas, comedies, horror, and rom-com musicals.
As the calendar turns a page and we head into fall’s movie season — and the award chatter that comes with it — we wanted to take a beat and acknowledge the movies we loved from the past few months. Below, you’ll find the 25 best movies of summer 2018.
25. Ocean’s 8
After the initial promotional image for Ocean’s 8 released, we weren’t exactly sure if we needed another Ocean’s film, but we definitely knew we _wanted_ to see a movie with all of our favorites together. And really, when you put Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina in the same room, they do not disappoint. While the story idea was pulling from an existing franchise, the characters truly made it feel fresh and honestly, thrilling. It made for the perfect heist film this year, on an evening when the heat was too hard to beat but you still wanted to have some summer fun hanging with some of the best in the business as they steal some prized jewels. (Natalie Mokry)
24. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
I don’t think there was another movie this summer that I was less excited about. I’m a comic book maniac, but the Cartoon Network series never appealed to me. The only reason I stumbled into this film towards the end of the Summer was because a few trusted friends urged me to give it a try. They weren’t wrong. Teen Titans Go! To The Movies is a rampant assault on fandom. The jokes come fast and severe. Do they all land? No. But when there are a million of them and a thousand hit, that’s a damn good time at the movies. Robin, the Boy Wonder, is desperate to see his name in lights, but he’ll never escape the shadow of Batman. Hell, Alfred gets more play. Sorry, little bird. The references cut deep and no Challenger of the Unknown, Swamp-Thing, or Aquaman can escape the knife of the Teen Titans. For all its R-Rated savagery, I don’t think even Deadpool 2 houses a joke as brutal or ugly as what Teen Titans Go! To The Movies throws away during one particular montage. As children giggled around me, my jaw dropped to the floor. Did they do what I thought they did? Yes. Yes, they damn well did. (Brad Gullickson)
23. The Equalizer 2
Denzel Washington is an incredibly accomplished dramatic actor and a director in his own right, but the pairing of him with action films directed by Antoine Fuqua is an undeniable combination. From Training Day to The Magnificent Seven to The Equalizer franchise — and I do so hope it continues — their union is a highly entertaining one. Their latest joint venture delivers plenty of action beats and satisfying antics, but its biggest draw for me is in its atypical structure. Most sequels jump right in with more of the same, but here we instead ease into our hero’s life exploring his daily routine, the people around him, and the transgressions that lead him to level punk asses. The plot doesn’t really kick in until the halfway mark, and while it proceeds in some fairly familiar ways it does so with Washington’s effortlessly cool style and persona as well as an engaging third-act set-piece. It’s satisfying despite being far from the usual Hollywood follow-up. (Rob Hunter)
Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs — who star in, produce, and wrote Blindspotting — are childhood friends who began working on this script in the mid-2000s that centers on Collin (Diggs), a convicted felon who has three days left in his probation when he witnesses a police shooting while out after curfew. Along with Miles (Casal), his friend and co-worker, Collin struggles to understand his position in relation to what he witnessed against the backdrop of Oakland, California, a city becoming more gentrified by the minute. Though the film has elements of a buddy comedy that suit the natural chemistry between Diggs and Casal, there’s tension running throughout that crescendos into one of the most riveting and memorable climaxes I’ve seen on screen all year. Blindspotting is wholly original, invigorating, and confrontational in the best way. (Anna Swanson)
21. First Reformed
Paul Schrader’s meticulously crafted masterpiece is not only the best of the summer season, it’s a shoo-in to be considered the best film of 2018. Ethan Hawke — in what is probably the best performance of his career — stars as a priest who begins to question his position in the world, his relationship to his church, and the environmental destruction that surrounds him after an encounter with a radical environmental activist. As the film grapples with the loss of faith and the fear that humans have damaged the earth beyond reparation, First Reformed is no easy watch. It’s challenging, devastating, and deeply moving. The final moment is one that has stayed with me for months and likely will for years. First Reformed is a profoundly affecting experience that absolutely must be experienced firsthand. (Anna Swanson)