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The 10 best movies of 2018 (so far), ranked – USA TODAY

The world gets crazier every day, but Hollywood has given us some great escapes already this year — some scary, some super.
It’s been an interesting first six months of the year on the big screen: The young Han Solo “Star Wars” film disappointed at the box office — and did a little more money than “A Quiet Place,” a creepy little treat directed by Jim from “The Office.” Deadpool and the Incredibles returned, “Fifty Shades” (thankfully) said goodbye and Steven Spielberg made a tribute to, well, himself. But then again, The Rock faced off with a genetically mutated and monstrous gorilla, crocodile and wolf, so that’s pretty normal.
The second half of the year already looks strong with Oscar-ready fare like “First Man” and “A Star Is Born” — not to mention the long-awaited reappearance of Mary Poppins — but here are the best movies so far (through June):
Is it a dramatic brotherly journey or a freaky-deaky supernatural feature? Well, the indie sci-fi flick starring and directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead is an insightful combo of both as it follows two brothers who, not feeling they’re on the right path in their lives, end up returning to the UFO death cult they escaped 10 years earlier. The situation gets crazy for them as they learn the group’s true nature, but “The Endless” is just as effective as a sincere family tale as a horror one.
Where to see it: On iTunes and Vudu Tuesday
Like an awesome mix of old-school Muppet movies and Wes Anderson quirk, the Paddington franchise is the definition of all-ages entertainment since everyone’s likely to find something fun (or a favorite British actor, since there’s a bunch). In the sequel, the beloved Peruvian bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is so dang lovable that he finds a bunch of jail pals after being wrongly imprisoned because of a pop-up book, and Hugh Grant earns awards-season cred as a wonderful bad guy with multiple personalities.
Where to see it: On iTunes, Amazon and digital platforms
It’s totally OK if you feel like putting together your own band after watching this feel-good musical comedy. Nick Offerman puts aside his grumpy Ron Swanson act to play a loving dad who creates a rockin’ duo with his teenage daughter (Kiersey Clemons) during a period of upheaval: He’s closing his Brooklyn record store, she’s getting ready to head to UCLA, and they become closer than ever thanks to a catchy original tune that, like this poignant and funny slice of cinema, hits all the right notes.   
Where to see it: In theaters now
Throwing dozens of superheroes into a Marvel movie isn’t hard — the miracle here is crafting a superb, harrowing and deep narrative that isn’t a complete trainwreck. Led by OGs like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), “Infinity War” is a wowing culmination of 10 years of storytelling, with a memorable villain (Josh Brolin’s standout Thanos) and a cliffhanger with chutzpah that leaves you worrying about the fates of your favorites going forward.
Where to see it: In theaters now
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year so far is this clever, crazy and quotable comedy/murder-mystery mashup. A group of friends’ game night goes askew when one gets kidnapped and the rest of the evening is spent bumbling through dangerous situations, running across an upper-crust fight club and taking down an airplane with a sports car. The true winner of “Game Night,” however, is Rachel McAdams, who reveals herself as a powerhouse of funny when you stop chuckling long enough to notice.
Where to see it: On iTunes, Amazon and digital platforms
If one thing’s clear from the superb, tearjerking and sometimes melancholic documentary, it’s that children’s TV icon Fred Rogers was probably the last of his kind: a genuinely guileless, sweet man who understood kids on their level, struggled with his own insecurities and, more importantly, always taught that being you was all right and everyone is capable of love and being loved. Fifteen years after his death, Mr. Rogers still stands as inspiration for us all.
Where to see it: In theaters now
Toni Collette gives the most grueling performance of her career in the top-notch fright fest that starts as a family drama, reveals curses, harrowing relationships and violent tragedy along the way, and devolves into an insane dip into the perversely occult. As jawdroppingly out there as “Hereditary” gets, it’s also a wonderfully artistic affair with metaphors about losing control as well as poisonous mistrust among loved ones. The highest compliment I can give? Its utter darkness is hard to shake when the credits roll.
Where to see it: In theaters now
While it took forever for the first teen film centered on a gay romance, the results are pretty great. With “Simon,” director Greg Berlanti plays John Hughes 2.0 for today’s generation by giving them — and, really, anybody who’s ever wrestled with love — a complicated and magnetic boy to really root for in Nick Robinson’s Simon. Afraid of being outed, he keeps his homosexuality secret from those closest to him, yet ultimately finds strength and freedom in just being himself.
Where to see it: On iTunes, Amazon and digital platforms
“Hereditary” offers two hours of relentless doom but Alex Garland’s horrifically gorgeous sci-fi film does a whole rope-a-dope with your mind. Natalie Portman stars as one of the female scientists who trek into a swatch of Florida swampland that’s been turned otherworldly courtesy of a mysterious alien force. Contained within are beauties and nightmares of gene splicing and one seriously hair-raising bear. These visual thrills accompany a thought-provoking narrative very much about mankind’s evolution. 
Where to see it: On iTunes, Amazon and digital platforms
Believe every bit of the hype. With Chadwick Boseman unleashing dignity and swagger as its central hero, “Black Panther” is both an inclusive blockbuster and a rousing cultural movement that satisfies like no other. Real-world issues including isolationism share screen time with memorable heroes, strong women (Letitia Wright’s Shuri for the win!), a dastardly villain (Michael B. Jordan) with a point, crazy-neat technology and even armored rhinos in as masterful a superhero story as we’ll likely get in 2018. 
Where to see it: On iTunes, Amazon and digital platforms


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