Critics’ Picks: The 10 Best Films of 2018 at the Midpoint

5:45 AM 6/21/2018

by Todd McCarthy, David Rooney, Jon Frosch, Sheri Linden , Leslie Felperin, and Jordan Mintzer

From a long-awaited Pixar sequel to a new horror classic, an indie drama about a boy and his horse to a French rom-com starring Juliette Binoche, here are THR film critics’ favorites from the first half of the year (in alphabetical order).

  • Annihilation

    YouTube Paramount Pictures/Screengrab

    Alex Garland's follow-up to Ex Machina is a scary, beautiful, female-centric update of monster classics like The Thing and Alien, with a strong Natalie Portman as a scientist investigating the cause of mysterious deaths in a Florida forest. — Todd McCarthy 

     

  • Beast

    Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival

    First-feature director Michael Pearce takes tired tropes and fashions something fresh, fierce and striking in this atmospheric British thriller about a young woman drawn to an enigmatic outsider (fabulous newcomers Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn). — Leslie Felperin 

  • Black Panther

    Photofest

    With intensity and invention, freshness and brio, Ryan Coogler delivers a fine superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character, starring Chadwick Boseman and boosted by a spirited supporting ensemble including Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya and Danai Gurira. - T.M.

  • En El Septimo Dia

    Courtesy of Charles Libin

    Our Song director Jim McKay's first feature in a dozen years is a Brooklyn-set comedy about a group of Mexican immigrants, their jobs and, not least, their soccer team. It's a neorealist marvel and proof that McKay's gifts are as vital as ever. — Sheri Linden 

  • Hereditary

    Courtesy of A24

    A superb Toni Collette plays a mother left grappling with a terrifying legacy following the family matriarch's death in writer-director Ari Aster's breathless and riveting horror debut, the most effective domestic chiller since The Conjuring and The Babadook. — David Rooney 

  • Incredibles 2

    Courtesy of Pixar/Disney

    Boosted by central characters that remain vastly engaging and a deep supply of wit, Brad Bird’s sequel to his 2004 Pixar hit certainly proves worth the wait, offering plenty of crackling entertainment value for viewers from 5 to 95. — T.M.

  • Lean on Pete

    Courtesy of Scott Green/A24

    Charlie Plummer gives a breakout performance as an at-risk Oregon teen whose yearning for family and devotion to a horse propel him on a frontier odyssey in 45 Years director Andrew Haigh’s lovely, compassionate, naturalistically observed tale. — D.R.

  • Leave No Trace

    Courtesy of Cannes

    Directed by Debra Granik (Winter's Bone), this drama about the widening rift between a woods-dwelling vet and his teen daughter (a beautifully matched Ben Foster and Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) is a model of unshowy intelligence and emotion. — Jon Frosch

  • Let the Sunshine In

    Starring a moody, moving Juliette Binoche as a 50-something artist who has a hard time getting what she wants romantically, French filmmaker Claire Denis’ latest is funny, light on its feet and perceptive about complicated lives and relationships. — Jordan Mintzer 

  • The Rider

    Courtesy of Telluride Film Festival

    A small, acutely observed portrait of lives on the windswept badlands in South Dakota, Chloe Zhao’s beautiful gem of a drama focuses on a young cowboy (Brady Jandreau) whose future as a rodeo rider is jeopardized by a head injury. — T.M.