The 10 Best Movies in Theaters Right Now

For all of the at-home movie-watching options available to today’s audiences, none quite compare to the experience of going out to catch a film in a theater. Paste’s monthly guides for NetflixHBO and Amazon cover the best of what’s out there if you’re an unrepentant couch potato, but we also want to recommend the best of what’s in theaters right now, because for some of these films seeing them on a big screen in public is the best way to support a small film most people wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to see.

So, instead, try to find the following in a cineplex near you. It’s a beautiful time for movies, and below are some of the absolute best of the year so far.

Check out the 10 best movies in theaters:

sorry-to-bother-you-movie-poster.jpg10. Sorry to Bother You
Released: July 6, 2018
Director: Boots Riley
Sorry to Bother You has so many ideas busting out of every seam, so much ambition, so much it so urgently wants to say, that it feels almost churlish to point out that the movie ends up careening gloriously out of control. This is rapper and producer Boots Riley’s first movie, and it shows, in every possible way—good, bad, incredible, ridiculous—as if he didn’t know if he’d ever be able to make another one, so he threw every idea he ever had into this. There are moments in Sorry To Bother You that will make you want to jump giddily around the theater. There are also moments that will make you wonder who in the world gave this lunatic a camera. (Some of those moments are pretty giddy too.) The former far outnumbers the latter. Lakeith Stanfield plays Cassius, a good-hearted guy who feels like his life is getting away from him and thus tries his hand at telemarketing, failing at it (in a series of fantastic scenes in which his desk literally drops into the homes of whomever he is dialing) until a colleague (Danny Glover, interesting until the movie drops him entirely) recommends he use his “white voice” on calls. Suddenly, Stanfield sounds exactly like David Cross at his most nasally and has become a superstar at the company, which leads him “upstairs,” where “supercallers” like him go after the Glengarry leads. That is just the launching off point: Throughout, we meet a Tony Robbins-type entrepreneur (Armie Hammer) who might also be a slave trader, Cassius’s radical artist girlfriend (Tessa Thompson), who wears earrings with so many mottos it’s a wonder she can hold up her head, and a revolutionary co-worker (Stephen Yeun) trying to rile the workers into rebelling against their masters. There are lots of other people too, and only some of them are half-horses. It’s quite a movie. —Will Leitch / Full Review

mcqueen-movie-poster.jpg9. McQueen
Release Date: July 20, 2018
Directors: Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui
The first fashion collection from Lee Alexander McQueen, titled “Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims,” announced an artist who wasn’t going to play around. Models walked down the runway, horror on their faces, sometimes stumbling out onto the catwalk, the garments as provocative as textiles as the shows were transgressive. This was McQueen’s MA graduation collection from 1992, and he was 23. More than 25 years later, directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui have achieved the nearly impossible, crafting a documentary almost as stunning as the artist it profiles. While McQueen, structured around the fashion “bad boy”’s five most important shows in his career, could be argued (rather reductively) to follow a “tortured genius” narrative, perhaps what makes it such ravishing filmmaking—biographical documentary filmmaking, at that—is not only its ability to embody and manifest the same kind of indenciary qualities as the works of McQueen, but that it actively probes at the ways in which mental illness and addiction shaped his life and work, without resorting to cheap sentimentality. McQueen is a moving testament to a once-in-a-lifetime artist, and, even moreso, an examination of just how human his art was. —Kyle Turner

eighth-grade-movie-poster.jpg8. Eighth Grade
Released: July 13, 2018
Director: Bo Burnham
In Eighth Grade, the feature debut of comedian-singer-songwriter Bo Burnham, you’re either a Kayla (Elsie Fisher) or you know a Kayla from your days as an over-it-all punk-ass. The distinction is key to your experience. The film stages a too-real reenactment of middle school’s rigors, but it’s the people we endure those rigors with who shape our turbulent pubescence. Sure, sitting through Ms. Hawking’s ornithology lessons was hell, but hell’s preferable to striking up conversation with your classmates. Burnham uses the awkward terrain of juvenile social interaction as Eighth Grade’s focal point, painting the daunting exercise of talking to other kids as a stairway to embarrassment. We meet Kayla pre-humiliation, recording clips for her YouTube channel in her room, dispensing life advice in the coltish manner of a newly minted teen. She’s extraordinarily inarticulate, but in her ramblings we find the profound insight only a 13-year-old can offer. “Aren’t I always being myself?” she says to her camera, the sage instructing the benighted. “Well, yeah, for sure.” She’s a self-help layman, but her sincerity is charming. Don’t change who you are to impress others. Words to live by. Kayla, like anyone else trying to stay afloat in the sometimes cutthroat world of middle school, sells out her ideals almost immediately, a defensive posture to deflect her loneliness. Being a teenage girl isn’t easy. Occasionally, it’s perilous. That Eighth Grade so genuinely conveys those difficulties and dangers is miraculous considering its source. Burnham invites us to recall our own adolescence, and also to consider how adolescence has changed in the time of social media. It’s compassionate, radiating retroactive kindness for the children we all were to soothe the adults we are now. —Andy Crump / Full Review

madelines-madeline-movie-poster.jpg7. Madeline’s Madeline
Release Date: August 10, 2018
Director: Josephine Decker
To call Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline “not for everyone” is to cheapen the enigmatic power of the film, which revolves around Madeline (Helena Howard), a young woman addressing her pronounced behavioral health issues via experimental theater and a hearty medication regimen. She maintains a fragile, temperamental home life with her mom, Regina (Miranda July), and bonds with her theater director, Evangeline (Molly Parker), on an equally maternal level. But the question of whether Evangeline actually has Madeline’s best interests at heart arises when the troupe’s roleplay exercises begin incorporating details of Madeline’s relationship with Regina. Madeline’s Madeline stages a tug-of-war between two people vying for governance over a girl searching for an identity to call her own. She is what others perceive her to be, until she isn’t, until she realizes she has all the control in the world over her sense of self. Shot through a disoriented lens and composed with alternatingly jagged and dreamlike edges, the film will leave you questioning how much of what you’re seeing on screen is “real” and how much is imagined. Call it heady, or avant garde, or bizarre, or opaque: Whatever your moviegoing proclivities, you won’t soon get this film out of your head. —Andy Crump

night-is-short-movie-poster.jpg6. The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Masaaki Yuasa’s The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl marries the appealing exaggerations of its style with the heightened atmosphere of romantic comedy, layering screwball antics with anime’s vibrant liveliness. It’s a fitting combination, often loony, always lovely, and damn near hallucinatory, a delightful mosaic of nighttime misadventure. Everyone has made an occasional bad decision in the wee hours. The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl feels like a paean to those decisions, a memorial to mischievous, carefree youth going out on the town and staying out until the town wakes up. Like those nights, the film is dizzying. Its title refers to the lead character, credited as “The Girl With Black Hair,”(Kana Hanazawa), a plucky lower classman at university who embarks on a wild and blotto caper across Kyoto with friends and associates because that’s what you do when you’re on campus and in need of an excuse to be anywhere else. Embarking on her drunken spree, she’s pursued by an older male student, Senpai, or “Senior” (Gen Hoshino), madly in love with her and incapable of telling her so. He contrives random meet-cutes with her in accordance with his grand romantic plan, Operation AHO, or “Appear Before Her Often”: Yuasa introduces us to Senpai through a montage of such moments, the girl proclaiming their encounters coincidence, Senpai correcting her by calling them chance. Lodged somewhere between “painfully shy” and “total creeper,” the poor lovestruck bastard is not the film’s focus. He’s a reactive rather than proactive character, ever on the trail of the girl’s dust as she gallivants about Kyoto, followed by a train of merrymakers each in relative states of drunken stupor. And anyway, Yuasa doesn’t care much for substance, so beyond the film’s surface charms there’s not much to hang onto. Those surface charms are substance enough. Colorful, madcap, and surprisingly sweet, The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl is the best nocturnal romp you never had, and a dizzying reignition of rom-com formula. —Andy Crump / Full Review

skate-kitchen-poster.jpg5. Skate Kitchen
Release Date: August 10, 2018
Director: Crystal Moselle
Crystal Moselle’s first film, The Wolfpack, is a work of observation: She mostly captures life in progress, that life being confined to an apartment in New York City’s Lower East Side. A fascinating enough premise, but the film says very little about it. Moselle’s follow up, Skate Kitchen, is similar in nature, a film borne from her real life encounters with real life characters, but here she architects a plot and furnishes it with a narrative about young Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), a lonely girl who stumbles upon an all-girl skateboarding crew (Skate Kitchen, in case you can’t guess) via Instagram and joins their number. Her friendships with the crew pressures her relationship with her mother (Elizabeth Rodriguez), and her eventual flirtation with a boy (Jaden Smith) from a rival crew jeopardizes her friendship with Skate Kitchen. The movie orbits relationships between women more than it focuses on skateboarding as an art an an aesthetic; it’s character based rather than action based. Still, the skating we do see is as real as the camaraderie and chafing we see more of, and both lead to their own kinds of injury—physical for the former, emotional for the latter. (We see Camille get “credit carded” at the start of the film, which frankly looks infinitely less preferable to workaday tiffs with your besties. You decide.) Moselle’s style is loose and unanchored, fostering an easy hangout vibe and a sensory experience. Watching Skate Kitchen, you can smell NYC’s summer air (a combination of sun baked trash, burnt rubber and gasoline), feel the heat rising off the asphalt and the sweat trickling down your back, taste the endless smorgasbord of the city’s food culture. More than Moselle’s evocation of New York, though, you’ll be struck by the raw honesty of the characters she’s culled from the city’s streets. —Andy Crump

blindspotting-movie-poster.jpg4. Blindspotting
Release Date: July 27, 2018
Director: Carlos López Estrada
Movies like Blindspotting, kitchen sink movies in the business of tackling as many subjects and relevant social issues as they can squeeze into two hours, tend to risk overstuffing: They try to be about everything, so end up being about nothing. Let Blindspotting serve as an object lesson in keeping the sink tidy and organized, its “about everything” narrative built around an anchor, being Oakland, that holds the “everything” in place, from police violence, to gentrification, to cultural appropriation and code switching, to workaday prejudice and systemic racism. Blindspotting is about Oakland first, the contemporary woes weighing Oakland down second and the overarching problems of the time we live in a close third. Above all else it is about the vigor of Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, its co-leads and authors, who, having spent nine years writing the script, have finally realized their vision, an ode to their hometown and a timelapse snapshot of America. The film is uplifted by Diggs’ and Casal’s raw talent as storytellers, poets and MCs—Diggs’ hyperkinetic rapping is one of the film’s best merits—but its backbone is a product of the emphasis put on its backdrop. —Andy Crump

blackkklansman-poster.jpg3. BlacKkKlansman
Release Date: August 10, 2018
Director: Spike Lee
BlacKkKlansman begins, in vintage Spike fashion, with a big Oliver Stone-esque set piece featuring a racist “scholar” named Dr. Kennebrew Beaureguard (Alec Baldwin) delivering a demented, bigoted speech straight to the camera, but then, for a brief while, the movie settles down to tell its real-life story. In 1970s Colorado, a man named Ron Stallworth (John David Washington, son of Denzel) joins the police department and, after dealing with discrimination within the force itself, decides to go undercover and take down the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, talking to its members on the phone while using his white, Jewish partner Flip (Adam Driver) to serve as his in-person representative. The two slowly infiltrate the Colorado KKK and end up corresponding with the KKK’s grand wizard, David Duke (Topher Grace), who becomes so infatuated with Ron that he comes to Colorado to meet him. Meanwhile, Ron falls for a local radical (Laura Herrier) and attempts to figure out whether he can square the circle of being a good police office and a conscientious, vigilant black man. This is a Spike Lee movie, so the straightforward story you might have gotten from Get Out’s Jordan Peele—who was originally going to make this film as his follow up but instead produces here—keeps taking all sorts of detours, mostly with the intent of reminding you that there’s a direct line between the shithead Klansmen of this time period and the shitheads in Charlottesville…and the White House itself. Lee shook himself out of his brief academic torpor with 2015’s Chi-Raq, a wildly unfocused but deeply passionate movie, and he evolves further here, his outrage and sadness seeping out of every frame. It can be a little on the nose sometimes—one discussion of racism in the Oval Office is so overt you half expect the word “TRUMP” to just start flashing on the screen—but Spike Lee is at his best when he’s on the nose. Lee is too urgent, too furious, to have time to lull you in with subtlety and nuance: When the house is on fire, you don’t worry about what kind of hoses you have, you just spray that shit with everything you have. Lee is shaking with rage at what he sees in the world right now, and for crissakes, he should be. His excesses don’t just seem powerful; they’re necessary. You can sort out all the particulars later: The house is on fire right now—Will Leitch / Full Review

mission-impossible-fallout-movie-poster.jpg2. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Release Date: July 27, 2018
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
At some point midway through Mission: Impossible – Fallout—the sixth entry in the franchise and director Christopher McQuarrie’s unprecedented second go at helming one of these beasts—CIA brute Austin Walker (Henry Cavill) asks his superior, CIA Director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett), how many times she thinks Übermensch Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) will put up with his country screwing him over before he snaps. Walker’s question is rhetorical, intended to convince Sloane that Hunt is actually John Lark, the alias of a shadowy conspirator planning to buy stolen plutonium whom he and Hunt also happen to be chasing, but the question is better put before Cruise, the film’s bright, shining star. It’s a question that hangs over this dependably mind-blowing action flick more obviously than any installment to come before: How long can 56-year-old Cruise keep doing this before he, truly and irrevocably, snaps? Fallout never offers an answer, most likely because Cruise won’t have one until his body just completely gives out, answering for him by default. Fallout shows no real signs of that happening any time soon. What it does show is a kind of blockbuster intuition for what makes our enormous action brands—from Fast and the Furious to the MCU—thrive, behind only Brad Bird’s Ghost Protocol as the best of the now 22-year endeavor. Where Bird leaned into the franchise as a literalization of its title, redefining the series by balancing the absurdity of what Cruise was impossibly doing (the Burj Khalifa scene is one of the greatest action sequences ever) with the awe of bearing witness to what a human person could accomplish if devoid of all Thetans, McQuarrie considers the two pretty much the same thing. The only reaction worthy of such absurdity is awe—and the only American tentpole films worth our awe anymore are those deemed Mission: Impossible. It’s all so goddamned beautiful. I love these movies. —Dom Sinacola / Full Review

crazy-rich-asians-poster.jpg1. Crazy Rich Asians
Release Date: August 15, 2018
Director: John M. Chu
Chinese-American professor of economics Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is Chinese-American, and the adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s best-selling book Crazy Rich Asiansstarkly makes that point, repeatedly. Rachel’s college best friend Peik Lin (an ebullient Awkwafina) calls her a “banana”: “Yellow on the outside, white on the inside,” and attaches a superlative when she says this. Her mother (Tan Kheng Hua), on the occasion of finding out Rachel will be traveling to Singapore to meet her hunky boyfriend’s family, tells her a somewhat uncomfortable truth: “You are Chinese, you speak Mandarin, but in here,” she says, pointing to Rachel’s heart, “You are American.” It is a bittersweet, but rather perceptive observation, one that finely articulates a compounded sense of otherness Rachel feels throughout the film, particularly once the plot gets rolling and Rachel realizes that her debonair Nick Young (Henry Golding) is the son of an obscenely wealthy Singaporean family who leans heavily on traditional Chinese family values and matriarchy. She is middle class, raised by a single mother and, as everyone has been quick to point out, Chinese-American. If Crazy Rich Asians is not as barbed in its satire about the bourgeoisie as one might want in a cultural landscape where it has become more popular to be vocally anti-capitalist (or at least skeptical of capitalism as a system and ideology), it nonetheless sparkles in its in-jokes about Asianness and Chinese families and the interconnectedness of other Asian people. In the skin of a very competent romantic comedy, it is slickly directed by Chu, whose strength in making champagne on a beer budget lies not in the objects on display in and of themselves, but in the color correcting and cinematography by Vanja Cernjul. However, in its keen and sensitive and moving observations about the uncertainty in being Asian-American, it’s always drifting, and Wu’s incredible ability to convey all those ideas wordlessly is what makes the film more than just about a material China girl. —Kyle Turner / Full Review


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