The 10 Best Movies in Theaters Right Now

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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 Netflix, HBO 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, a few titles of which are on our list of the 25 best movies of the year so far. And 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.

Oh, and our #10 pick is obligatory. It’s the biggest movie ever. You know this—it’s in theaters still. We think it’s a good movie. Go see it one last time if that matters to you. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too. No shame in sneaking in your own snacks.

Check out the 10 best movies in theaters right now:

avengers-endgame-movie-poster.jpg 10. Avengers: Endgame
Release Date: April 26, 2019
Directors: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
Where does one begin? When it comes to Avengers: Endgame, that question is not so much an expression of wanton enthusiasm as a practical challenge in evaluating the destination toward which Kevin Feige and company have been steering story and viewer alike for the past 11 years and 21 films. Though there have been plenty of three-hour-plus movies and even a few 20+ entry movie franchises, there’s really nothing to compare with what Disney and Marvel Studios have pulled off, either in terms of size, quality and consistency of cast (a moment of silence for Edward Norton and Terrence Howard), or in how narrow the chronological window, all things considered, those movies were produced. Though we’ve praised it often, casting remains the cornerstone of the MCU. Whether by pitch-perfect distillations of decades-old comic book characters (Captain American, Thor, Spider-Man) or charisma-fueled reinventions of same (Iron Man, Ant-Man, Star-Lord), the MCU’s batting average in terms of casting is not only practically obscene, it’s a crucial ingredient in ensuring the thematic and emotional payoff (and box office payday) of Endgame. Moviegoers have been living with these actors, as these characters, for over a decade. For many, this version of these characters is the only one they know. This is why the sudden ashification of so many heroes at the end of Infinity War hit even the most cynical comic book veterans right in the feels and left less hardened viewers confused and distraught. It’s also why, as Avengers: Endgame opens (after another swift kick to the stomach just in case we’ve forgotten the toll of that snap), the audience cares about not just what the surviving heroes are going to do, but how they are doing in general. It gives the film an emotional resonance that’s unusual not only in pulpier genre offerings but in films in general. This connection makes the quiet moments as valuable to the viewer as the spectacle, and for all the fireworks in the third act, Avengers: Endgame is very much a film of quiet moments and small yet potent emotional payoffs. Comic book fans know the thrill of following all your favorite characters through a multi-issue storyline that culminates in a “universe at stake” ending. Now, thanks to 21 movies in 11 years and one massive, satisfying three-hour finale, moviegoers do, too. —Michael Burgin / Full Review

late-night-movie-poster.jpg 9. Late Night
Release Date: June 14, 2019
Director: Nisha Ganatra
Early on in Late Night, an affable, sometimes candid dramedy about the various anxieties and exhilarations of writing for a late night talk show, comedy obsessed ex-chemical plant employee Molly (Mindy Kaling) has just scored her dream job writing for her favorite host, the cantankerous Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson). Molly enters her dumpy new office as if she’s walking through the gates of Olympus. She shares the already tiny space with Burditt (Max Casella), a paranoid writer who, like his other colleagues, doesn’t like the female and Indian-American Molly because he considers her strictly a diversity hire. When Molly asks Burditt why he doesn’t have any decorations on his side of the office, he replies with deadpan simplicity, “I’ve been working here for 27 years. I don’t hang anything up in case I get fired.” Even though Molly is clearly a token hire, Kaling deftly communicates the need for representation of different perspectives to facilitate any art form’s progression into new and exciting territories. An attempt to simply fill a politically correct quota results in the show’s salvation, yet Kaling somehow finds a way to remain grounded without appearing to spoon-feed her message. Kaling was an intern for Conan O’Brian, and spent considerable time in comedy writing rooms, penning almost two hundred episodes for shows like The Office and her own The Mindy Project. She obviously knows this world, and the direct insight she brings to the audience becomes Late Night’s raison d’etre. At its core, it’s a tough-love letter to the insane ordeal of pursuing an actual career in comedy, paired with an open thesis about the innate wholesomeness of making people laugh. Director Nisha Ganatra, who also comes from TV, doesn’t really create a cinematic experience that begs to be seen on the big screen, but treats the characters and the setting with enough depth to breathe life into an otherwise tired project. —Oktay Ege Kozak / Full Review

annabelle-comes-home-movie-poster.jpg 8. Annabelle Comes Home
Release Date: June 26, 2019
Director: Gary Dauberman
After five years and seven films, the Conjuring franchise has developed a glossy house style and nearly exhausted its repertoire of scares. There are, it turns out, only so many ways to make the same setups frightening: ghosts popping out of unlit corners to scare the willies out of unsuspecting humans, ghosts appearing right in front of unsuspecting humans who have just cast a cautious glance over their shoulders, ghosts gliding about in the background of a shot, ghosts stalking past windows and through walls in 360 arcs. Each tactic gets deployed with the same deliberate care in each movie, but the craftsmanship isn’t the issue. The routine is. So props to Annabelle Comes Home, the latest chapter in the Conjuring expanded universe and the third film to center on the creepy doll of the title, for playing all of the series’ hits with gusto. Compared to its predecessors in its spin-off trilogy, to The Nun, the disastrous lead-off for a second spin-off, to The Curse of La Llorona, and to The Conjuring 2, Annabelle Comes Home is lively, energetic and even fun. “Fun” is what most of these movies aspire to be: They’re carnival rides built to entertain , uniting audiences in shared terrified delight. But that funhouse energy fluctuates in each entry. Their common flaw is inconsistency. Annabelle Comes Home remains a hoot from start to finish, in part thanks to the joys of variety and in part because it pulls a fast one by reintroducing Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, once again playing famed demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, before quickly ushering them out of the picture. For the early going, it’s assumed that the story belongs to them, that they’ll do as the Warrens usually do and stumble upon supernatural shenanigans, and that they’ll send evil packing. But Gary Dauberman, stepping into the role of director after writing screenplays for just about every Conjuring spin-off project, pivots focus to Judy Warren (McKenna Grace), Ed and Lorraine’s daughter, who’s a good deal more compelling as a protagonist than her folks this many movies into the franchise. There’s not much to the film outside of ghoulish amusements; refreshingly, Judy’s struggles have nothing to do with being haunted but with living a haunted life. Dauberman understands how death isolates people who have experienced it from people who haven’t. This isn’t a movie in search of a greater meaning. It just needs to be entertaining. It does both, and better still, it bothers to be creative. —Andy Crump / Full Review

yesterday-movie-poster.jpg 7. Yesterday
Release Date: June 28, 2019
Director: Danny Boyle 
A struggling musician named Jack (Himesh Patel), still barely hanging onto his passion in life thanks to the unwavering support and encouragement from his best friend/manager Ellie (Lily James), gets hit by a bus and is knocked out on the night when all power mysteriously gets cut off across the globe for a minute. He wakes up in the hospital to a new reality where The Beatles never existed, and he’s the only one on the planet who remembers their songs. By introducing the world to John, Paul, George and sometimes Ringo’s genius, he becomes an overnight sensation as the greatest songwriter of all time. Thus is Yesterday’s high-concept comedy/musical premise. But it’s also a testament to how not only The Beatles, but great art in general, enriches the human soul and makes us grateful to be alive. While many might assume the introduction of The Beatles’ greatest work into a virgin universe would result in widespread acceptance, writer Richard Curtis and director Danny Boyle have a lot of fun with how the modern world would react to the songs and would tweak them to fit the times. The film is chock full of astute humor about, say, who the hell Sergeant Pepper is or how “Hey Dude” makes more sense than “Hey Jude.” (Thankfully, the “I used to beat my girlfriend” lyric from “Getting Better” isn’t mentioned.) While Curtis’ attention to character keeps us emotionally engaged, Boyle’s manic editing and quirky visual choices, such as names of locations floating around the frame, propels the story forward like a well-oiled narrative machine. With her effortless charisma and magnetism, Lily James proves herself to be a formidable rom-com star. Himesh Patel certainly fits Curtis’ archetype of melancholic and self-deprecating male protagonists, but also leaves a strong impression with his beautiful singing voice and stage presence. If it accomplishes nothing else, Yesterday lets us relive the grandiosity of The Beatles as if it’s our first time. A fab accomplishment indeed. —Oktay Ege Kozak / Full Review

crawl-movie-poster.jpg 6. Crawl
Release Date: July 12, 2019
Director: Alexandre Aja
Crawl, unlike Jaws, is actually just a movie about people vs. a natural predator. It is simple. It is effective. It is the most fun I’ve had in a theater since John Wick 3. Directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, High Tension, Horns) and written by Shawn and Michael Rasmussen, Crawl is a horror-thriller set in the heart of Florida. In it, Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) returns home from college during a category 5 hurricane, searching for her father, Dave Keller (Barry Pepper), whom she’s unable to get a hold of. Luckily for Haley, she is an aspiring collegiate swimmer so she probably won’t drown while she trudges through flooded street after flooded street. Not so luckily, she finds her dad stuck in a crawl space where the water is slowly rising. There is also their cute family dog, Sugar. And, as advertised, there are alligators—toothy and ravenous. Crawl’s heart thrums with the unique beat that is Florida itself. In the age of “Florida Man” stories that go viral on a near-daily basis, Florida is a seemingly mythic place. There, a man can rob a bank wielding two raccoons, so it just makes sense that a father and daughter could be beset by alligators in a house during a category 5 hurricane. It is just another day in our collective projection of what that humid little state can offer. Still, Crawl embraces the absurd with intense seriousness. There is very little levity to be found in the film, and emotions, blood and viscera flow forth when Crawl really kicks into gear. Both Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario sell the intensity of their situation and the fractured, emotional state of their relationship. Yes, as the plot demands it, they grow closer and have moments of revelation, but they also bicker and argue, the trauma of their past as alive and dangerous in the house as the alligators that lurk just below the water’s surface. Small details—faded, etched-in height measurements on the wall; a swing outside—help us care for these characters as things just get worse and worse. There was once joy to be found in this home. But now …there are alligators and a category 5 hurricane. In the sweaty, latter months of the season, in an age in which such horror is relegated to Syfy drivel, Crawl is a brilliant ode to the magical realism of Florida and how, when made with craft and care, few movie-going experiences are as good as creature-features in the hottest month of the year. —Cole Henry / Full Review

booksmart-movie-poster.jpg 5. Booksmart
Release Date: May 24, 2019
Director: Olivia Wilde 
Booksmart, the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde, is another journey down the halls of a wealthy high school days before graduation, but it’s different enough to be endearing. Written by an all-female writing team—Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman—it centers on life-long besties Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) as they attempt to party one time before the end of high school. Wilde and company draw from a whimsical, rainbow palate to explore friendship at diverging roads. Feldstein and Dever shine as an odd couple. Molly wants to be the youngest person ever elected to the Supreme Court, while Amy seeks to discover what possibilities life may open up for her. Easily feeding off of one another’s energy, as Amy and Molly travel around town, jumping gatherings, trying to reach the ultimate cool kids’ party, they cross paths with a diverse array of students also attempting to hide their painfully obvious insecurities. As the night progresses, those masks begin to slip, and the person each of these students is striving to become begins to emerge. The pendulum of teen girl movies swings typically from Clueless—girl-powered, cutesy, high-fashion first-love-centered—to Thirteen, the wild, angry, depressed and running from all genuine emotion kind of movie. Most of these films lay in the space of heteronormative, white, upper or middle class, and able-bodied representation. Even in films centered on otherness, like Bend It Like Beckham, the white best friend is given equal space in the advertising of the film, and the original queer angle was written out in favor of a love triangle. Visit nearly any segment of the internet visited by Millennial, Gen X, and Gen Z women, and the cry for better representation is loud and clear. There’s a fresh-faced newness of raw talent in Booksmart that begs to be a touchstone for the next generation of filmmakers. Like Wes Anderson’s Rushmore or Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides, Booksmart is an experience cinema enthusiasts will revisit again and again. —Joelle Monique / Full Review

spider-man-far-from-home-poster.jpg 4. Spider-Man: Far from Home
Release Date: July 3, 2019
Director: Jon Watts
Coming on the heels of the hefty hunk o’ cinematic event that was Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far from Home is, as one would expect, much lighter fare. That doesn’t stop this 23rd and final entry in the MCU’s initial Feige Phase barrage from serving as an effective coda for Endgame even as it presents what is, in many ways, a classic Spider-Man adventure. Far from Home takes place soon after the events of Endgame: Peter Parker’s school, like the rest of the world, is dealing with the practical challenges of having half a student body that vanished five years earlier suddenly return—at the same age they left. Everyone knows about the Avengers’ sacrifices—Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is mourned and mythologized in particular. For his part, Peter (Tom Holland), a guy whose father figures have an especially short lifespan, is trying to mostly ignore the big questions associated with trying to fill his mentor’s shoes in favor of keeping his eyes on a more personal, but no less daunting goal—telling MJ (Zendaya) how he feels about her. To do so, all he needs is an upcoming class trip to Europe, a Murano glass necklace and some time that doesn’t involve web shooters and saving the world. Along with having a Grade A capturing of a C-tier villain (Mysterio), Spider-Man: Far from Home is (relatively) small, sincere and funny, and has more than your usual MCU allotment of post-credit bombshells. Though a comparatively recent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is already Tom Holland’s fifth film as Spider-Man in three years. Like so many other casting decisions made in the MCU, he’s proven himself near perfect in the role. No Golden Age lasts forever, and the MCU will eventually stumble—but as long as they can spin box office (and audience) gold from relatively the Mysterios and Vultures of Spidey’s rogues gallery, it won’t be Holland’s Spider-Man that is the first to stumble. —Michael Burgin / Full Review

midsommar-movie-poster.jpg 3. Midsommar
Release Date: July 3, 2019
Director: Ari Aster
Christian (Jack Reynor) cannot give Dani (Florence Pugh) the emotional ballast she needs to survive. This was probably the case even before the family tragedy that occurs in Midsommar’s literal cold open, in which flurries of snow limn the dissolution of Dani’s family. We’re dropped into her trauma, introduced to her only through her trauma and her need for support she can’t get, and this is all we know about her: She is traumatized, and her boyfriend is barely decent enough to hold her, to stay with her because of a begrudging obligation to her fragile psyche. His long, deep sighs when they talk on the phone mirror the moaning, retching gasps Pugh so often returns to in panic and pain. Her performance is visceral. Midsommar is visceral. There is viscera, just, everywhere. As in his debut, Hereditary, writer-director Ari Aster casts Midsommar as a conflagration of grief—as in Hereditary, people burst into flames in Midsommar’s climactic moments—and no ounce of nuance will keep his characters from gasping, choking and hollering all the way to their bleakly inevitable ends. Moreso than in Hereditary, what one assumes will happen to our American 20-somethings does happen, prescribed both by decades of horror movie precedent and by the exigencies of Aster’s ideas about how human beings process tragedy. Aster births his worlds in pain and loss; chances are it’ll only get worse.

One gets the sense watching Midsommar that Aster’s got everything assembled rigorously, that he’s the kind of guy who can’t let anything go—from the meticulously thought-out belief system and ritual behind his fictional rural community, to the composition of each and every shot. Aster and his DP Pawel Pogorzelski find the soft menace inherent to their often beautiful setting, unafraid of just how ghastly and unnatural such brightly colored flora can appear—especially when melting or dilating, breathing to match Dani’s huffs and the creaking, wailing goth-folk of The Haxan Cloak. Among Midsommar’s most unsettling pleasures are its subtle digital effects, warping its reality ever so slightly (the pulsing of wood grain, the fish-eye lensing of a grinning person’s eye sockets) so that once noticed, you’ll want it to stop. Like a particularly bad trip, the film bristles with the subcutaneous need to escape, with the dread that one is trapped. In this community in the middle of nowhere, in this strange culture, in this life, in your body and its existential pain: Aster imprisons us so that when the release comes, it’s as if one’s insides are emptying cataclysmically. In the moment, it’s an assault. It’s astounding. —Dom Sinacola / Full Review

the-farewell-movie-poster.jpg 2. The Farewell
Release Date: July 12, 2019
Director: Lulu Wang
Family, falsehood and farce: all the comforts expected of a funeral—when the funeral isn’t a funeral but a wedding. Yes, two people do end up getting married, but no one cares about matrimony as much as saying goodbye to the family matriarch, stricken by a diagnosis with an inevitably fatal outcome. Here’s the trick: No one told her about it. She thinks all of the hoopla is just about the bride and groom to be. The Farewell, Lulu Wang’s sophomore film, is many things. It’s a meteoric leap forward from the tried-and-true rom-com formula of her debut, Posthumous. It’s a story made up of her own personal roller coaster of loss. It’s a neat and, 26 years after the fact, unexpected companion piece to Ang Lee’s underappreciated masterpiece The Wedding Banquet. Mostly, it’s a tightrope walk along the fine line between humor and grief.

Chinese-American Billil (Awkwafina) travels to China to see her grandmother (Zhao Shuzen) one last time, as grandma’s just received a death sentence in the form of terminal lung cancer, but the clan keeps mum because that’s just what they’d do for anybody. A wedding is staged. Cousins and uncles and aunts are convened. Masks, the metaphorical kind, are donned. Wang knows how to find the perfect tonal sweet spot from scene to scene in a sterling example of having one’s cake while also eating with gusto. With exceptions, moments meant to be uncomfortable and prickly on the surface are hilarious beneath, and moments meant to make us laugh tend to remind the viewer of the situation’s gravity. It’s perfect alchemy, yielding one of 2019’s most intimate, most painful and most satisfyingly boisterous comedies. —Andy Crump

toy-story-4-movie-poster.jpg 1. Toy Story 4
Release Date: June 21, 2019
Director: Josh Cooley
We were all concerned about Toy Story 4. How could we not be? This is perhaps the most beloved animated franchise of the last 50 years, and, in the eyes of many, each movie has been a little better than the last one. That final one, Toy Story 3, ended in such a perfect, emotionally devastating fashion that trying to follow it up felt like the ultimate fool’s errand. And in the nine years since that installment, Pixar, as a company, has changed, becoming more corporate, more sequel-focused, more …Disney. What a relief it is, then, that Toy Story 4 is such an immense joy. It might not reach the heights of Toy Story 3—which manages to be a prison escape movie that also happens to be a profound dissertation on grief and death and features a surrealist tortilla—but it is a more than worthy member of the Toy Story family. Like its protagonist, it’s less concerned with trying to do something revolutionary just because it’s done it in the past and instead worries about what comes next …what the next logical progression is. It finds the next step, for Woody (voiced as ever by Tom Hanks in what honestly has always been one of his best roles), and the franchise, while still being as hellzapoppin’ and wildly entertaining as you have come to expect from this franchise. The overarching theme in Toy Story 4 isn’t as much death as it is loss—loss of purpose, loss of meaning, loss of value. What do you do with yourself when the best thing you’ll ever be a part of is already over? How do you find drive in life when your lifelong goal has been accomplished? How do you handle getting old and not being needed anymore? If these seem like heady concepts for a Toy Story movie …you’ve never seen a Toy Story movie. —Will Leitch / Full Review

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