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The Best Directorial Debuts Of 2018, Ranked

Updated April 8, 2019 1.5k votes 158 voters 4.0k views32 items

List RulesOnly 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.  

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  • 1
    Eighth Grade
    84
    39

    Eighth Grade

    Bo Burnham

    ActorsElsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Daniel Zolghadri, Greg Crowe

    Released2018

    Eighth Grade is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Bo Burnham. An eighth grader (Elsie... more on Wikipedia

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  • 2
    A Star Is Born
    47
    19

    A Star Is Born

    Bradley Cooper

    ActorsBradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle

    Released2018

    A Star Is Born is a 2018 American musical romantic drama film directed by Bradley Cooper. A... more on Wikipedia

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  • 3
    Hereditary
    46
    19

    Hereditary

    Ari Aster

    ActorsToni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Ann Dowd, Milly Shapiro

    Released2018

    Hereditary is a 2018 American horror film directed by Ari Aster. As an overwhelming terror... more on Wikipedia

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  • 4
    Sorry to Bother You
    43
    17

    ActorsLakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews

    Released2018

    Sorry to Bother You is a 2018 American sci-fi fantasy comedy film directed by Boots Riley. In... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    12 Strong
    48
    26

    12 Strong

    Nicolai Fuglsig

    ActorsChris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes

    Released2018

    12 Strong (also known as 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers) is a... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Mid90s
    42
    21

    Mid90s

    Jonah Hill

    ActorsSunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Waterston

    Released2018

    Mid90s is a 2018 American comedy drama film directed by Jonah Hill. A thirteen-year-old (Sunny... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    Thoroughbreds
    41
    24

    Thoroughbreds

    Cory Finley

    ActorsOlivia 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... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Wildlife
    34
    16

    Wildlife

    Paul Dano

    ActorsJake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Zoe Margaret Colletti, Bill Camp

    Released2018

    Wildlife is a 2018 American drama directed by Paul Dano. Set in 1960, a boy (Ed Oxenbould)... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Blockers
    58
    46

    Blockers

    Kay Cannon

    ActorsLeslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Kathryn Newton, Graham Phillips

    Blockers is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Kay Cannon. When three parents stumble... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Searching
    35
    28

    Searching

    Aneesh Chaganty

    ActorsJohn Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, Michelle La, Sara Sohn

    Released2018

    Searching is a 2018 American thriller film directed by Aneesh Chaganty, shot from the... more on Wikipedia

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  • 11
    Blindspotting
    28
    18

    Blindspotting

    Carlos López Estrada

    ActorsDaveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Ethan Embry, Wayne Knight

    Released2018

    Blindspotting is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Carlos López Estrada. With only three... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Den of Thieves
    27
    19

    Den of Thieves

    Christian Gudegast

    ActorsGerard Butler, Curtis Jackson, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Evan Jones

    Released2018

    Den of Thieves is a 2018 American heist action thriller film directed by Christian Gudegast. A... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Cam
    23
    16

    Cam

    Daniel Goldhaber

    ActorsMadeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, Devin Druid, Imani Hakim

    Released2018

    Cam is a 2018 American psychological horror-thriller film directed by Daniel Goldhaber. A... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Mortal Engines
    27
    23

    Mortal Engines

    Christian Rivers

    ActorsHera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae, Stephen Lang

    Released2018

    Mortal Engines is a 2018 post-apocalyptic adventure film directed by Christian Rivers, based... more on Wikipedia

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  • 15
    Pacific Rim: Uprising
    27
    26

    Pacific Rim: Uprising

    Steven S. DeKnight

    ActorsJohn Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Jing Tian, Adria Arjona

    Released2017

    Pacific Rim Uprising is a 2018 American science fiction monster film directed by Steven S.... more on Wikipedia

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  • 16
    Summer 1993
    2
    2

    Summer 1993

    Carla Simón

    ActorsLaia Artigas, Paula Blanco, Etna Campillo, Bruna Cusí, Jordi Figueras

    Released2018

    Summer 1993 is a 2017 Catalan-language Spanish drama film directed by Carla Simón. After her... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Jonathan
    10
    6

    Jonathan

    Bill Oliver

    ActorsAnsel Elgort, Suki Waterhouse, Patricia Clarkson, Matt Bomer

    Released2018

    Jonathan is a 2018 American drama science fiction film directed by Bill Oliver. Two brothers... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Book Club
    21
    25

    Book Club

    Bill Holderman

    ActorsJane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Diane Keaton, Richard Dreyfuss

    Released2018

    Book Club is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Bill Holderman. Four lifelong friends... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    The Happy Prince
    15
    19

    The Happy Prince

    Rupert Everett

    ActorsRupert Everett, Colin Firth, Colin Morgan, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson

    Released2018

    The Happy Prince is a 2018 British biographical drama film directed by Rupert Everett. The... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Hotel Artemis
    9
    11

    Hotel Artemis

    Drew Pearce

    ActorsSterling K. Brown, Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum

    Released2018

    Hotel Artemis is a 2018 thriller film directed by Drew Pearce. After their armed robbery goes... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    2
    5

    Custody

    Xavier Legrand

    ActorsDenis Menochet, Lea Drucker, Thomas Giol

    ReleasedJun

    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.

  • 22
    The Oath
    10
    16

    The Oath

    Ike Barinholtz

    ActorsIke Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, Carrie Brownstein, Billy Magnussen

    Released2018

    The Oath is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Ike Barinholtz. In a politically divided... more on Wikipedia
  • 23
    Skate Kitchen
    12
    18

    Skate Kitchen

    Crystal Moselle

    ActorsRachelle Vinberg, Jaden Smith, Nina Moran, Dede, Kabrina Adams

    Released2018

    Skate Kitchen is a 2018 American drama film directed by Crystal Moselle. A teenaged...
  • 24
    Tag
    11
    18

    Tag

    Jeff Tomsic

    ActorsEd Helms, Jeremy Renner, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis

    Released2018

    Tag is a 2018 comedy film directed by Jeff Tomsic, based on a story published in The Wall... more on Wikipedia

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  • 25
    In a Relationship

    ActorsEmma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Dree Hemingway, Patrick Gibson, Jay Ellis

    Released2018

    In a Relationship is an 2018 American comedy drama film directed by Sam Boyd. As long-term... more on Wikipedia