This was a transformative year for cinema, where blockbuster releases like Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War co-mingled with critically acclaimed hits such as A Star Is Born and A Quiet Place at the box office, while streaming platforms debuted some of 2018's most-talked-about films in Roma and To All the Boys I've Loved Before. For viewers, that meant more options, more platforms, and more conversation around movies than ever before. But even the most devoted cinephile couldn't have kept up with the quality releases over the last 11 months. Fortunately, while there are still some excellent theatrical options to check out (including our personal favorite, The Favourite; don't miss that one), some of the year's biggest movies are available right this second — without having to leave the house. Ahead, the best movies of 2018 to stream right now.
It was the snap heard 'round the galaxy, a simple gesture that had game-changing consequences for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The end of Avengers: Infinity War, when Thanos literally snapped half of life in the universe out of existence, wound up being one of 2018's biggest shockers, the kind of dark conclusion reserved for Empire Strikes Back. The good news: because of the upcoming Marvel schedule, we know heroes like Star-Lord, Black Panther, and Spider-Man will return to theaters despite the fact that they're currently dust. The bad news: We have to wait until April, when Avengers: Endgame debuts, to find out how Earth's Mightiest Heroes get out of this mess. In the meantime, relive the exhilarating horror of Infinity War at home and marvel (pun) at the scale of this massive blockbuster.
dir. Alex Garland
Released way back in February, Alex Garland's Annihilation has stood tall throughout the year as one of 2018's finest works. Come for the trippy and expected science-fiction tomfoolery, stay for the thought-provoking way Annihilation uses genre tropes to explore the notion of how people can evolve and change throughout their life to become something else entirely.
The latest masterpiece from the Coen brothers takes an anthology approach to filmmaking, featuring six short stories about death in the Old West. The section with Tom Waits is a particular standout, but don't sleep on the Zoe Kazan one either. Neither actors received the Oscar buzz they deserved for this one.
Available on: Netflix
dir. Ryan Coogler
The biggest domestic hit of 2018 and a legitimate Oscar contender, Black Panther still rules even 10 months after its debut. Much has already been written about this industry-adjusting hit, but let's just use this space to highlight Michael B. Jordan, who plays the film's main antagonist, Killmonger. Jordan is one of Hollywood's top young stars, and his work in Ryan Coogler's Marvel film is some of his most captivating.
dir. Spike Lee
Spike Lee's biggest success in 12 years is also one of his best films in recent memory. Based on the hard-to-believe true story of Ron Stallworth, a police officer who infiltrated the KKK in 1970s Colorado, BlacKkKlansman is history written with lightning — a timely, piercing look at racial tension in America built upon a star-making performance from John David Washington, Denzel's son.
dir. Kay Cannon
Pitch Perfect and 30 Rock writer Kay Cannon made her feature directorial debut with this winning one-crazy-night comedy about three friends who make a hasty sex pact on prom night and their parents, who haphazardly try to stop them. Blockers was one of the funniest and sweetest movies of the year, a coming-of-age comedy that flips expectations at every turn and includes two of the best unheralded 2018 performances from Ike Barinholtz and Leslie Mann.
dir. Jon M. Chu
The romantic comedy had a renaissance in 2018 thanks to a handful of big Netflix original films (including one that appears later on this list) and Jon M. Chu's blockbuster adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians. A historic film, the first to feature a predominantly Asian cast since 1993's Joy Luck Club, Crazy Rich Asians won audiences' hearts this summer. For those who missed the glitz and glamour, now's the perfect time to catch up.
dir. Bo Burnham
Bow at the altar of Elsie Fisher, the young star at the center of Eighth Grade who turned in one of 2018's best performances. As Kayla, an awkward teen navigating social media and social events with equal amounts of cringe, Fisher brings so much humanity to the screen that Burnham's directorial debut often feels like a straight-up documentary. A heartbreaking work of staggering genius — or, in the movie's parlance, gucci.
dir. Paul Schrader
Ethan Hawke turns in a god-level performance in Paul Schrader's scathing character study about a clergyman who starts to wonder if God will ever forgive us for what we've done to the world. Think Taxi Driver but about climate change and without as much graphic violence. A movie for our time.
Thank you, Rachel McAdams, for providing us with the year's most important line-read.
dir. Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson's stop-motion animated feature is the director's most political work yet — an allegory about an authoritarian strongman who scapegoats the local dog population to curry favor with his country's voters. But because it's an Anderson movie, the whole thing is coated in a layer of charming whimsy. That it works at all is a testament to Anderson and his impressive voice cast, especially Bryan Cranston as the lead dog and Jeff Goldblum as one of his trusty followers.
The best action movie since Mad Max: Fury Road, the best Tom Cruise movie since Edge of Tomorrow and the best Mission: Impossible movie ... ever? (Though we'll always stan for Mission: Impossible III.) Fallout is a prime example of what happens when a Hollywood franchise decides to lean into the skid and give people what they want: Tom Cruise doing increasingly dangerous and death-defying stunts and living to tell the tale. The action here is peak, with Cruise leading a cast of actors who work so well together that Fallout should be in the awards conversation for its ensemble. But despite the team effort, let's highlight Henry Cavill, erstwhile Superman, who finally gets to have a little fun in Fallout as — spoiler — a villain with an actual mustache to twirl.
The Other Side of the Wind
dir. Orson Welles
Leave it to Netflix to use its massive clout to finish Orson Welles' final film decades after his death and then just release it to millions of people around the world on a random Friday. The Other Side of the Wind is a bizarre curio about toxic masculinity and a meta-commentary on Welles own life, but it's a recommended watch — especially if seen in conjunction with the making-of documentary They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (also available on Netflix).
Available on: Netflix
dir. Paul King
All that's good in the world starts with Paddington 2.
dir. Tamara Jenkins
The perils of Netflix: Because the platform creates so much content, sometimes it feels like great movies get lost in the algorithm. That's Private Life, Tamara Jenkins' funny, dark, achingly human drama about a couple (Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti) struggling to keep their lives together amid fertility issues. It's a shame more people didn't see this one, if only because Hahn gives such an incredible performance that she should be up for every single award available to her.
Available on: Netflix
dir. John Krasinski
Is A Quiet Place a thriller about the fear that comes with having children and knowing you can't protect them from the world's ills? Is John Krasinski's third film a clever Cloverfield riff without the Cloverfield? Is one of the year's sleeper hits a gimmick movie that doesn't try to do anything other than shock as things go bump in the night? The best part of A Quiet Place is that it's all of those things and more. This thoughtful family drama that just so happens to feature messed up monsters works just as well at home as it did in the theaters. Just make sure your phone is on silent.
dir. Alfonso Cuarón
Alfonso Cuarón's semi-autobiographical drama about the domestic worker who helped raise him and kept his family together is one of the most remarkable releases of recent memory: a foreign language art-house film in the heart of the Oscar race produced and distributed by Netflix. There's a chance more people will be exposed to Roma than even Cuarón's previous film, the blockbuster hit Gravity. That's a remarkable flag in the ground for inclusive cinema — and that's before factoring in the quality of Roma, a once-in-a-lifetime movie that lives up to its immense hype. Watch it anywhere, even on a laptop. The best movies play anywhere (where did you first watch Casablanca, for instance?) and Roma is no different.
Available on: Netflix
dir. Boots Riley
Boots Riley's social satire was a sleeper hit this past summer and features a cast of breakout stars, including Lakeith Stanfield, Steven Yeun, Tessa Thompson, and Armie Hammer. Check out why Riley's screed against capitalism appeared on so many critics' year-end lists.
dir. Susan Johnson
Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky 4eva. (Sorry, couple from Set It Up, you lost!)
Available on: Netflix
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
dir. Morgan Neville
Morgan Neville's hit documentary about Fred Rogers made audiences weep throughout the summer. For those who missed the chance to shed tears next to complete strangers, now you can watch Won't You Be My Neighbor? in the privacy of your home and really let out the ugly cry.