The best movies of 2018 created their own kind of history. The streaming giant Netflix became a major player in the Oscar race with Roma, proving that the future of film-watching will no longer be defined by its delivery system. Marvel made its strongest impact ever with Black Panther, a celebration of diversity and black power that raised the bar on what a comic-book epic could accomplish. That movie — along with A Star Is Born, Green Book and Widows — helped the studio system make a comeback after years of creative lethargy.
There were also wonders of exploration as First Man blasted off to the moon with Neil Armstrong and Eighth Grade took us inside the head of a 13-year-old girl lost in the digiverse. Harsh truth tangled with sharp humor as Spike Lee took on race in BlackKklansman and Adam McKay took down Dick Chaney in Vice. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse started a new revolution in color-blasting animation and inclusive storytelling. And a documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, showed us how children’s TV host Mister Rogers, who died 15 years ago, still had lessons to teach a divided nation about civility. Here are the 20 movies that prodded, provoked and entertained to make a difference this year.