Entertainment

The Best Comedies of 2018

crazy rich asians
<em>Crazy Rich Asians</em> | Warner Bros. Pictures
<em>Crazy Rich Asians</em> | Warner Bros. Pictures

There's a lot of bleakness in the world these days, and sometimes you just need to hunker down with a great movie that will make you smile -- or at least laugh through the pain. The good news is that 2018 gave us a lot of entertaining cinematic comedies, from the gushy romances of Book Club to the lewd gags of Blockers.

That's not to say that all of our selections here necessarily make for good escapist fare. For every Paddington 2, a thoroughly heartwarming fantasy about kindness and cute bears, there's The Death of Stalin, reminding us that even the worst people can be absurdly funny. And yet you will find chuckles in every selection listed here. When you're done laughing, check out our Best of 2018 lists for action movies, sci-fi movies, and horror movies.

venom
Sony Pictures

21. Venom

Released: October 5
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Why it's great: Is Venom a comedy? Not really, but this quasi-Spider-Man spinoff does feature a brilliant comedic performance from Tom Hardy opposite Tom Hardy, so it's going on here. There's too much set up, but the minute Hardy starts in on his dual performance as both Eddie Brock and his parasitic alien friend named Venom, it becomes truly impossible to resist. As the symbiote starts to overtake Eddie's body, Hardy barrels full throttle into physical humor, consumed by Venom's insatiable hunger. (A scene involving a lobster tank should make you double over.) When Venom's rubbery form ultimately does appear, he speaks with a low growl that is more quotable than menacing.
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Google Play or buy on Amazon (watch the trailer)

20th Century Fox

20. Love, Simon

Released: March 16
Cast: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford
Director: Greg Berlanti
Why it's great: As revolutionary as Love, Simon is given its focus on a gay lead, its comic tropes are practically Shakespearean. There are mistaken identities, ill-conceived matches, and betrayal, which all makes sense for a movie about a bunch of theater kids. Berlanti and his game cast of rising stars executed all of these beats with an abundance of warmth. When it does get serious, Love, Simon tugs at your heartstrings in all the right ways. Bonus points for Natasha Rothwell as a fed-up drama teacher, who elicits a guffaw every time she speaks.  
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, and Google Play (watch the trailer

book club
Paramount Pictures

19. Book Club

Released: May 18
Cast: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen
Director: Bill Holderman
Why it's great: For a while there, it seemed like Book Club would never be able to top the Instagram of its four legendary stars looking at the eclipse, but never underestimate the likes of Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, and Candice Bergen. Book Club is by no means a great movie -- hell, it's not even a particularly good one on a technical level -- but it is a deliriously silly joy to watch. Our protagonists play a group of longtime friends who read Fifty Shades of Grey and decide to spice up their romantic lives by getting on dating apps, hanging out with old flames, and flirting with sexy pilots played by Andy Garcia. It's packed with innuendo and moments that are downright goofy, including some really terrible CGI and a sequence in which Steenburgen tap dances to Meatloaf. However -- through all of that -- it also treats its leads with such dignity that you can't help but get invested. Pairs best with a glass of rosé. 
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, and YouTube (watch the trailer)

set it up
Netflix

18. Set It Up

Released: June 15
Cast: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs
Director: Claire Scanlon
Why it's great: As a part of the great Netflix rom com revival of summer 2018, Set It Up was not as universally fawned over as To All the Boys I've Loved Before. However, it may actually be the funnier option, if not the stronger movie. That's largely thanks to two old pros: Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs. They play two bosses from hell, Kirsten and Rick, whose demanding natures make the lives of their underlings (Deutch and Powell) miserable. These loyal -- if terrorized -- assistants decide to alleviate the burden on their social lives by playing matchmaker, orchestrating ways for Kirsten and Rick to fall madly in love. Deutch and Powell's palpable chemistry does a lot of the lifting, but it's Diggs and Liu who bring the laughs with their over-the-top antics.
Where to see it right now: Netflix (watch the trailer)

to all the boys
Netflix

17. To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Released: August 17
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, John Corbett
Director: Susan Johnson
Why it's great: Of all the entries in the rom com revival, this one is heavier on the rom than the com. But even though it won't make your sides hurt, it will make your heart flutter. The plot is ripe with high school movie hijinks that arise when the love letters of Lara Jean Covey (the wonderful Lana Condor) accidentally get mailed to her crushes, namely the contractual faux relationship she starts with heartthrob Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). Like its heroine, it's big hearted but skeptical in all the right places.
Where to see it right now: Netflix (watch the trailer)

ocean's 8
Warner Bros. Pictures

16. Ocean's Eight

Released: June 8
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna
Director: Gary Ross
Why it's great: Anne Hathaway. Anne Hathaway. Anne Hathaway. Need we say more? I mean, sure, we will, but Anne Hathaway's gloriously over-the-top performance as a image-obsessed movie star is what truly elevates this spinoff to the Ocean's franchise. Not that the cast isn't stacked with comedic talents. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett have crackling chemistry that unfortunately is never acknowledged as sexual; Awkwafina, the year's comedy MVP< is handy with a quip; Rihanna is the coolest hacker you've ever seen. Hell, even Anna Wintour wrings a laugh out of her brief cameo. The actual heist takes a backseat to the joy of watching these stars work their magic while strutting around in high fashion, and that's totally fine.
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, YouTube, or Google Play  (watch the trailer)

juliet naked
Roadside Attractions

15. Juliet, Naked

Released: August 17
Cast: Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd, Ethan Hawke
Director: Jesse Peretz
Why it's great: In spite of a title that makes it sound like a porno -- it's not -- Juliet, Naked is a lovely little romantic comedy about music fandom and life's big regrets. Rose Byrne -- always excellent -- is Annie, a woman who runs a local museum in her small English town and is in a monotonous relationship with a college professor Duncan (Chris O'Dowd). Her boyfriend is obsessed with a musician named Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), a Kurt Cobain-esque figure who made only one album and then disappeared from public life. When Annie -- in anger -- posts a negative comment on the online Tucker forum Duncan runs, Tucker himself ends up reaching out and they develop a correspondence. Hawke, who embodied grunge rock allure in his youth, morphs this persona into a human compendium of regrets. In this form Tucker is a perfect match for Annie, who has fewer exes but just as much of a sense that her life is meaningless. And through all this malaise their courtship ends up being one that makes perfect sense. 
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, YouTube, or Google Play  (watch the trailer)

ant-man
Marvel Studios

14. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Released: July 6
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña
Director: Peyton Reed
Why it's great: The Marvel Cinematic Universe was sitting on comic gold in Paul Rudd. And while the first Ant-Man was charming and worthy of a chuckle, the second was a downright laugh riot. That's because -- rid of the need to explain any powers -- director Peyton Reed doubled down on the gags, making use of Rudd's superlative timing. Michael Peña once again steals the show with his energetic monologues this time going long-ish on Morrissey, but don't underestimate supporting players David Dastmalchian and Randall Park. This is the most lively the MCU has ever been.
Where to see it right now: Rent iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, and Google Play (watch the trailer)

ralph
Walt Disney Pictures

13. Ralph Breaks the Internet

Released: November 21
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot
Director: Rich Moore and Phil Johnston
Why it's great: The sequel to Wreck-It Ralph manages to outdo the original by offering some savvy commentary on the way we live now by taking its video game heroes in to the World Wide Web. But don't worry it's still wonderful to watch the mismatched pair Ralph (Reilly) and Vanellope (Silverman) traipse through this digital landscape with not-embarrassing personifications of internet tools like viruses and search functions. Plus, there's a truly great song, and oddball creations like academic search engine and a little blob named Gord.
Where to see it right now: Available for preorder. (watch the trailer)

mamma mia
Universal Pictures

12. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Released: July 20
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Cher, Andy Garcia, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Meryl Streep
Director: Ol Parker
Why it's great: The sequel to 2008's Mamma Mia! languishes in its ridiculousness. Oh, you want a reprisal of "Dancing Queen," ABBA's catchiest hit? Well, you'll get it, and you'll see Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård imitating Titanic on the bow of a boat. You'll also find yourself cackling with glee as Cher and Andy García perform "Fernando" in a sultry fashion as fireworks explode. And what about the sight of the patrons and employees of a French restaurant bursting out into "Waterloo"? Sure, there's some sadness (Meryl's dead!), but mostly it's, to quote 30 Rock's assessment of the original, "a madcap musical romp... fun... good."
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, and YouTube (watch the trailer)

charlize theron tully
Focus Features

11. Tully

Released: May 4
Cast: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston, Mark Duplass
Director: Jason Reitman
Why it's great: Diablo Cody and Reitman's third collaboration -- and their second with Charlize Theron -- is maybe not the most laugh-out-loud entry on this list. At times, it's a searing examination of the struggles of motherhood, specifically homing in on postpartum mental health. But Cody's brutal wit courses through the narrative about an overtaxed mother of three who receives a reprieve in the form of a night nanny with a twinkle in her eye and a secret. Theron plays the weary Marlo with a wry edge, injecting humor into every exasperated glance. 
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, and Google Play (watch the trailer)

melissa mccarthy
Fox Searchlight

10. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Released: October 19
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Jane Curtin
Director: Marielle Heller
Why it's great: Can You Ever Forgive Me? is not the slapstick material you might come to expect from Melissa McCarthy. (For that, you can seek out the much, much, much worse The Happytime Murders.) Instead, the laughs here are slier, taking their cues from the writers McCarthy's real life character Lee Israel emulates, like Dorothy Parker and Noël Coward. Heller's film traces Lee's journey from struggling biographer to accomplished forger. It's a story that has an underlying sadness, but all filtered through Lee's uncompromising, acerbic point of view. When she teams up with Richard E. Grant -- an underrated performer -- their rapport invites you to join in on their nasty fun. 
Where to see it right now: Buy on Amazon and iTunes (watch the trailer)

crazy rich asians
Warner Bros. Pictures

9. Crazy Rich Asians

Released: August 15
Cast: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh
Director: Jon M. Chu
Why it's great: Crazy Rich Asians is many things: A historic moment, a gorgeous romance, a convincing reason to take a trip to Singapore. But we're talking about comedy here, so let's discuss how director Jon M. Chu brought out some of the funniest people and let them do their thing. Sure, the central couple Nick (Henry Golding) and Rachel (Constance Wu) might steal a lot of the spotlight, but don't count out Peik Lin, played by Awkwafina, and her loving, effusive, ridiculous family. Rachel's initial trip to the gold-covered Goh home is a showcase not just for the perfect duo of Ken Jeong and Awkwafina, but also for Singaporean comedian Koh Chieng Mun as Peik Lin's ostentatious mother Neena and newcomer Calvin Wong as her awkward teen brother P.T. The film works as well as it does because of the way it translates book author Kevin Kwan's array of characters onto the screen, from the bon mots of Nico Santos' stylish Oliver to the belly out antics of Jimmy O. Yang's Bernard Tai.
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, YouTube, or Google Play  (watch the trailer

spiderverse
Sony Pictures

8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Released: December 14
Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, John Mulaney, Nic Cage, Hailee Steinfeld
Director: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Why it's great: Any movie that features John Mulaney as Spider-Ham is bound to end up on a best comedies of the year list. But Spider-Verse deserves its spot on this list not just because it features a cartoon pig named Peter Porker voiced by one of our favorite stand-ups. Executive by Phil Lord and Chris Miller -- the dudes behind The Lego Movie -- with a script by Lord and Rothman, it's a twisty introduction to the Spider-multiverse that mines inherent comedy from a plethora of Spider-People that appear in the Brooklyn that's home to Miles Morales (Moore), the newest teen bitten by an arachnid. Spider-Verse riffs on the fact that we've heard the Spider-Man origin story a million times, while still taking the material very seriously. There are a ton of visual and verbal gags, still, credit is also due to the immensely talented voice cast that includes Jake Johnson and Nic Cage. 
Where to see it right now: In theaters  (watch the trailer)

death of stalin
IFC Films

7. The Death of Stalin

Released: March 9
Cast: Simon Russell Beale, Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin, Jeffrey Tambor
Director:Armando Iannucci
Why it's great: Iannucci, the brilliant Veep creator, set his sights on Russia with this savage political satire. Based on a graphic novel, the film dramatizes the madcap, maniacal plots of the men jostling for power after their leader, Joseph Stalin, keels over. From there, backstabbing, furious insults, and general chaos unfolds. Anchored by performances from Shakespearean great Simon Russell Beale and American icon Steve Buscemi, it's a pleasure to see what the rest of the cast -- from Star Trek: Discovery's Jason Isaacs to Homeland's Rupert Friend -- do with Iannucci's eloquently brittle text.
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, YouTube, or Google Play (watch the trailer)

blockers
Universal Pictures

6. Blockers

Released: April 6
Cast: Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz
Director: Kay Cannon
Why it's great: Kay Cannon slid narratives about female friendship and middle-aged anxiety into her ridiculously funny sex comedy about three teens that plan to lose their virginities on prom night. Two of their parents (Mann and Cena) lose their minds when they discover this pact, and decide to make it their mission to stop it from ever taking place. A third dad (Barinholtz) tags along -- not because he thinks what they are doing is right, but because he's lonely and needs some pals so he can riff about Ron Howard's Inferno. (Barinholtz deserves a prize for the most random movie callback of all time.) Meanwhile, the girls -- played by Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon -- are experiencing their own uneasy awakenings as they forge ahead during the raucous night. Viswanathan, a newcomer, gets some of the best punchlines, and Adlon, daughter of Pamela, navigates her character's coming out with delicacy. There are crass gags galore, but you're also likely to leave thinking about Blockers' melancholy threads about adulthood. 
Where to see it right now: HBO Go and rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, YouTube, Google Play (watch the trailer)

jesse plemons game night
Warner Bros.

5. Game Night

Released: February 23
Cast: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Jesse Plemons
Director: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Why it's great: I have been thinking about Jesse Plemons' bizarro performance in Game Night ever since I saw it back in February. But the Breaking Bad actor's turn as an uncomfortably intense next door neighbor still wounded from his divorce is merely just one of the gifts contained within this surprisingly dark comedy-action-thriller hybrid. There's a genuine tension behind the antics, which really kick off when Kyle Chandler's suave Brooks, the obnoxious brother to Jason Bateman's neurotic Max is actually kidnapped during what is supposed to be a fake game night adventure. The bits are memorably specific -- from a tangent about Denzel Washington to a bullet extraction gone awry. Meanwhile, everyone in the stacked cast is in peak form, Rachel McAdams especially. Her delivery of one line in particular is genius. 
Where to see it right now: HBO Go or rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, YouTube, or Google Play (watch the trailer)

sorry to bother you
Annapurna Pictures

4. Sorry to Bother You

Released: July 6
Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Steven Yeun
Director: Boots Riley
Why it's great: Sorry to Bother You is disarmingly hilarious. One minute you're giggling along with bits about masturbation and Michel Gondry parodies, the next you're blindsided with a stark, dystopian picture of the true evil of America's corporate entities. The movie thrives on absurd imagery, like telemarketer Cassius Green (played by Atlanta's Stanfield) getting plopped, desk and all, right in front of his potential customer when he makes a sales call, even if they are having sex or sitting on the toilet. But all of this is in the service of Boots Riley's vision, which goes to extremes to show the stranglehold of racism and abuses of labor in this country.
Where to see it right now: Hulu or rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, YouTube, or Google Play  (watch the trailer)

favourite
Fox Searchlight

3. The Favourite

Released: November 23
Cast: Emma Stone, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Why it's great: The latest from the master of uncomfortable giggles Yorgos Lanthimos is, like his other work, a stiff slug of a comedy that isn't afraid to roll around in the mud. Don't be fooled by the farcical surface, in this tale of Queen Anne (Colman) and the two women (Weisz and Stone) vying for her attention. Underneath that there's a burbling sense of dread that tackles the tricky relationships between women. But while all that is unfolding, the bon mots are excellent, the dance numbers are insane, and the ducks (yes, ducks) are fast.
Where to see it right now: In theaters (watch the trailer)

paddington 2
Warner Bros. Pictures

2. Paddington 2

Released: January 12
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville
Director: Paul King
Why it's great: When the first Paddington hit our shores in early 2015, it was appreciated as a charming, thoughtful antidote to grating children's programming. The second installment in the saga of the bear from Darkest Peru, who preaches the gospel of "if we are kind and polite the world will be right," is an improvement on even that, and one of the best movies of the year. Director Paul King -- a veteran of the UK's beloved cult TV show The Mighty Boosh -- crafted a luminously colorful world, a visionary whirligig of imagery. The film catches up with our friend Paddington settling into his London neighborhood -- bringing good cheer to all of his neighbors -- but things start to go awry when he's wrongly accused of stealing a pop-up book from the local antiques store he frequents. The true perpetrator is Phoenix Buchanan, a washed-up actor played by Hugh Grant in what is -- no joke -- one of the best and funniest performances of the year. Phoenix is truly a ham, who does his dastardly deeds in his old costumes, considering each crime a triumphant act worthy of applause. Meanwhile, our friend Paddington is imprisoned, but making the best of it by introducing his fellow inmates, including Brendan Gleeson's particularly grumpy cook, to the wonders of marmalade. Like that sticky substance, Paddington is sweet, but in a way that's soothing. 
Where to see it right now: HBO Go or rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, YouTube, Google Play (watch the trailer)

eighth grade
A24

1. Eighth Grade

Released: July 13
Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson
Director: Bo Burnham
Why it's great: The horrors of being 13 may make you laugh -- or cry out of empathy -- but that dichotomy is the beauty of Bo Burnham's directorial debut, Eighth Grade. Burnham, despite being a stand-up, doesn't pepper his plot with punchlines. (Although, it should be said, the sight of a school administrator dabbing in lackluster fashion to impress a group of unenthusiastic kids is very funny.) Still, the core of the Eighth Grade experience is getting to see life as lived by Kayla, the quietest girl in her eighth grade class. Some of the terrors of her age are amusing in retrospect; others are downright grim. It makes for powerful viewing.
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, YouTube, or Google Play  (watch the trailer)

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.