Entertainment

The Best Directorial Debuts Of 2018, Ranked 

Ranker Film
Updated April 8, 2019 713 votes 157 voters 3.9k views 32 items

List Rules Only 2018 feature-length films.

With the long list of movies from 2018 comes a few directorial debuts as well, and some great debuts at that. In fact, you likely enjoyed some of these movies without even considering it was the director's first crack at a blockbuster film. Believe it or not, the films to follow were the all the directors' first movies—some of which had strong opening weekends at the box office and were even met with a positive response from critics. At the very least, none of them will find their movies on a list of the worst film debuts.

As you can imagine, starring in a film is one thing, but directing a movie is a completely different story. Be that as it may, the first-time directors here didn't fold at the challenge and ended up doing quite the job, perhaps even making some of 2018's best films. From Kay Cannon's Blockers to Steven S. DeKnight's Pacific Rim: Uprising, the silver screen clearly didn't frighten these directors. But of all these directors' first movies in 2018, who had the best debut? 

Check out all the 2018 directorial debuts below and vote up the films you liked most. Of course, you can also vote films down if you think they weren't quite up to snuff. If you are looking for more, here is the list for 2019 directorial debuts.  

list ordered by
1
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Ari Aster

Actors: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Ann Dowd, Milly Shapiro

Released: 2018

Hereditary is a 2018 American horror film directed by Ari Aster. As an overwhelming terror takes over their household, the Graham family's peaceful existence is ripped apart, forcing their ...more

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2
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Bradley Cooper

Actors: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle

Released: 2018

A Star Is Born is a 2018 American musical romantic drama film directed by Bradley Cooper. A movie star (Cooper) helps a young singer/actress (Stefani Germanotta) find fame, even as age and ...more

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3
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Boots Riley

Actors: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, + more

Released: 2018

Sorry to Bother You is a 2018 American sci-fi fantasy comedy film directed by Boots Riley. In an alternate reality of Oakland, California, a young African-American telemarketer (Lakeith ...more
4
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Carlos López Estrada

Actors: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Ethan Embry, Wayne Knight, + more

Released: 2018

Blindspotting is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Carlos López Estrada. With only three days of probation left, Collin (Daveed Diggs) witnesses a police shooting that tests his ...more
5
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Aneesh Chaganty

Actors: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, Michelle La, Sara Sohn

Released: 2018

Searching is a 2018 American thriller film directed by Aneesh Chaganty, shot from the point-of-view of smartphones and computer screens. When David Kim (John Cho) discovers that his daughter, ...more

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6
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Bo Burnham

Actors: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Daniel Zolghadri, Greg Crowe

Released: 2018

Eighth Grade is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Bo Burnham. An eighth grader (Elsie Fisher) struggles to finish her last week of classes before embarking for high school.

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7
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Jonah Hill

Actors: Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Waterston

Released: 2018

Mid90s is a 2018 American comedy drama film directed by Jonah Hill. A thirteen-year-old (Sunny Suljic) in 90s-era LA spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of ...more
8
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Paul Dano

Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Zoe Margaret Colletti, Bill Camp

Released: 2018

Wildlife is a 2018 American drama directed by Paul Dano. Set in 1960, a boy (Ed Oxenbould) watches his parents' (Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal) marriage fall apart after they move to ...more
9
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Cory Finley

Actors: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift

Thoroughbreds is a 2018 American drama thriller film directed by Cory Finley. After years of growing apart, upper-class teenagers Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) rekindle their ...more
10
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Blockers Kay Cannon

Actors: Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Kathryn Newton, Graham Phillips, + more

Blockers is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Kay Cannon. When three parents stumble upon their daughters’ pact to lose their virginity at prom, they launch a covert one-night operation to ...more

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11
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Cam Daniel Goldhaber

Actors: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, Devin Druid, Imani Hakim, + more

Released: 2018

Cam is a 2018 American psychological horror-thriller film directed by Daniel Goldhaber. A young camgirl (Madeline Brewer) discovers that she’s inexplicably been replaced on her site with an ...more
12
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Christian Rivers

Actors: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae, Stephen Lang

Released: 2018

Mortal Engines is a 2018 post-apocalyptic adventure film directed by Christian Rivers, based on the novel by Philip Reeve. In a future where gigantic moving cities roam the Earth, a disfigured ...more

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13
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Nicolai Fuglsig

Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, + more

Released: 2018

12 Strong (also known as 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers) is a 2018 American war drama film directed by Nicolai Fuglsig. Following the September 11 attacks, Task ...more
14
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Hotel Artemis Drew Pearce

Actors: Sterling K. Brown, Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, + more

Released: 2018

Hotel Artemis is a 2018 thriller film directed by Drew Pearce. After their armed robbery goes wrong, Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry) end up in a special hospital for ...more
15
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The Happy Prince Rupert Everett

Actors: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Colin Morgan, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, + more

Released: 2018

The Happy Prince is a 2018 British biographical drama film directed by Rupert Everett. The untold story of the last days in the tragic times of Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett), a person who ...more
16
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Jonathan Bill Oliver

Actors: Ansel Elgort, Suki Waterhouse, Patricia Clarkson, Matt Bomer

Released: 2018

Jonathan is a 2018 American drama science fiction film directed by Bill Oliver. Two brothers (Ansel Elgort) living in the same body agree to live life in shifts with one another, but when they ...more
17
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Bill Holderman

Actors: Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Diane Keaton, Richard Dreyfuss, + more

Released: 2018

Book Club is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Bill Holderman. Four lifelong friends (Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen and Diane Keaton) have their lives forever changed after ...more
18
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Christian Gudegast

Actors: Gerard Butler, Curtis Jackson, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Evan Jones, + more

Released: 2018

Den of Thieves is a 2018 American heist action thriller film directed by Christian Gudegast. A corrupt LAPD cop (Gerard Butler) is hellbent on taking down en elite crew of robbers as they plan a ...more
19
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Crystal Moselle

Actors: Rachelle Vinberg, Jaden Smith, Nina Moran, Dede, Kabrina Adams, + more

Released: 2018

Skate Kitchen is a 2018 American drama film directed by Crystal Moselle. A teenaged skateboarder (Rachelle Vinberg) makes friends with a bunch of other skateboarding girls in New York City.
20
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Ike Barinholtz

Actors: Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, Carrie Brownstein, Billy Magnussen, + more

Released: 2018

The Oath is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Ike Barinholtz. In a politically divided America, a man (Barinholtz) struggles to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday without destroying ...more
21
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Jeff Tomsic

Actors: Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, + more

Released: 2018

Tag is a 2018 comedy film directed by Jeff Tomsic, based on a story published in The Wall Street Journal. A group of ex-classmates meet up and organize a game of tag that finds them traveling ...more

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22
Summer 1993 is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of 2018, Ranked
JasonMarcel added Carla Simón

Actors: Laia Artigas, Paula Blanco, Etna Campillo, Bruna Cusí, Jordi Figueras, + more

Released: 2018

Summer 1993 is a 2017 Catalan-language Spanish drama film directed by Carla Simón. After her parents die of AIDS, a six-year-old orphaned girl goes to live with her uncle and his family.
23
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Sam Boyd

Actors: Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Dree Hemingway, Patrick Gibson, Jay Ellis, + more

Released: 2018

In a Relationship is an 2018 American comedy drama film directed by Sam Boyd. As long-term couple Haillie (Emma Roberts) and Owen (Michael Angarano) struggle with staying together, their friends ...more
24
Custody is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of 2018, Ranked
JasonMarcel added Custody Xavier Legrand

Actors: Denis Menochet, Lea Drucker, Thomas Giol

Released: Jun

A broken marriage leads to a bitter custody battle with an embattled son at the center in this tense family drama that will keep audiences guessing and leave them with their hearts in their throats.

25
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Jonathan Baker, Josh Baker

Actors: James Franco, Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor, Zoe Kravitz, Dennis Quaid

Released: 2018

Kin is a 2018 science fiction film directed by Jonathan and Josh Baker. An ex-convict and his brother are forced on the run by a vengeful criminal.