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The Best Movies of 2018: Audiences’ vs. Critics’ Top Three Must-Watch Films of the Year

by Maia Muttoo Dec 31, 2018

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There’s no denying that 2018 has been an exceptional year for film, from ground-breaking crowd-pleasers like Marvel’s Black Panther, to indie darlings like Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap. Here are the three must-watch movies of the year, from critics’ and audiences’ perspectives.

The Critics’ Choices


Image via The New Yorker

After the success of 2013’s technologically groundbreaking film, Gravity, critics eagerly awaited Alfonso Cuarón’s next offering. They weren’t disappointed; Roma earned Best Film of 2018 in Indie Wire’s poll of 200 critics from across the world. The movie has been called Cuarón’s most personal yet – a love letter to his childhood domestic worker, who inspired the protagonist, Cleo. The film’s portrayal of one middle-class Mexican family during a time of socio-political tumult speaks to the wounds that all humans experience.


Image via Variety

Based on a 1992 story by Haruki Murakami, Lee Chang-dong’s Burning captivated critics at the Cannes Film Festival and received Screen Daily’s highest critics’ grid score. The slow-burning film tells the story of aimless South Korean writer, Jong-su, who reconnects and begins a relationship with his old classmate. When she returns from a trip with the Gatsby-esque Ben, Jong-su is drawn into Ben’s dark world of arson and possibly, violence. Burning is an unconventional thriller that slowly unfolds themes of paranoia and working class frustrations.

First Reformed

Image via The Times UK

In First Reformed, Ethan Hawke plays the solitary pastor of a Dutch-Reform church in upstate New York. When a pregnant parishioner asks him to counsel her environmentally radical husband, he is forced to confront his own past and a crisis of faith that leads him to violence. First Reformed has been praised by critics; the Guardian called it “passionately focused” and a “beautifully made” film, while Empire called it “Schrader’s best in yonks, a powerful meditation on faith’s place in the modern world.”

The Audiences’ Choices

The Avengers: Infinity War

Image via Wired

The latest installment in Marvel’s Avengers series was long-awaited by fans worldwide. The story of Thanos’ quest for the Infinity Stones, and our heroes’ failed attempt to stop him, was a huge success; the movie pulled in one billion at the box office faster than any in history. We can only hope that the movie’s second act, The Avengers: End Game will be equally as good (and successful) when it drops in April 2019.

A Quiet Place

Image via the Hollywood Reporter

John Kransinki made his directorial debut with the thriller, A Quiet Place. It is the story of a family desperately trying to live in complete silence in order to avoid monsters with tremendous sound-sensitivity.  Audiences are proven to love dystopian stories (think the Hunger Games, the Matrix and the Terminator), and they loved this one too – it received a 95% positive score on Rotten Tomatoes.

A Star is Born

Image via Variety

Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star Is Born tugged at heartstrings with its portrayal of alcoholism, lost-love and the pressures of celebrity. Lady Gaga’s performance as struggling singer-songwriter Ally, and Cooper’s performance as alcoholic country-star Jackson, were both praised by audiences and critics alike, earning them Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor and Best Actress respectively.

There you have it. What movies make your 2018 top-three?

Sources: Meta Critic, Indie Wire, Hollywood Reporter, Screen Daily, Ranker, Rotten Tomatoes, The Guardian, AV Club, and A24 Films.