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Best Movies of 2013 Critics Poll: 'Before Midnight,' 'Upstream Color' and 'Spring Breakers' Deemed Best at Mid-Point

Photo of Steve Greene By Steve Greene | Indiewire June 25, 2013 at 10:37AM

We asked critics, "What were the ten best films of 2013 so far?" These are their many, varied answers.
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"Before Midnight"
Sony Pictures Classics "Before Midnight"

Halfway through the year, critical acclaim for Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight" keeps getting stronger. The third installment of the Celine/Jesse saga has been named the best movie of 2013 in Indiewire's mid-year critics poll.

Over 100 critics in Indiewire's Criticwire Network submitted their picks for the best films of 2013 so far and "Before Midnight" came out on top by a significant margin.

Rounding out the top five were a pair of films that also played in Park City back in January, Sarah Polley's family chronicle "Stories We Tell" and Shane Carruth's abstract sci-fi/fantasy/romance "Upstream Color." Two others that premiered in Toronto last fall, the ever-provocative "Spring Breakers" and the black-and-white twenty-something dramedy "Frances Ha," rounded out the list.

FULL RESULTS: The Best Films of 2013 So Far

In order to qualify for the list, a film needed to have received a theatrical or VOD release in the first six months of the year. (Critics were also allowed to submit overall comments on the year in film; many used that space to highlight their favorite festival films that haven't yet made their way to public consumption.) The results page has the final poll outcome, complete with links to everyone's ballots.

As for the rest of the overall list, a pair of the most polarizing films of the year ranked highly as well. Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines" and Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder" both faced bumpy receptions during their festival runs. But considering their respective placements at 8th and 12th place on the list, it's clear that they now each have developed a number of fervent supporters. 

Two documentaries made the top ten: "Stories We Tell" and Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel's "Leviathan," an immersive look at the day-to-day operations of a fishing boat. Another six made the top 50, although a few of them (like Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's "Caesar Must Die") blend the traditional line between fiction and non-fiction filmmaking. 

Leviathan

Both 2013 efforts from director Steven Soderbergh made the top 25, with "Side Effects" slotting in ninth and "Behind the Candelabra" tied for 22nd. Soderbergh was the only filmmaker to have two films in the upper tier, but there are plenty of impressive follow-ups that placed high on the list. Jeff Nichols' "Mud" came in 6th after his previous film "Take Shelter" fared extremely well at the end of 2011. Abbas Kiarostami, the man behind "Certified Copy," one of the other highly regarded films from that year, returned strongly in 2013 with the inter-generational Japanese drama "Like Someone in Love."

For all the derision directed toward some of this year's summer blockbusters, a handful of them garnered enough votes to make the cut in our poll: "Man of Steel," "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "Iron Man 3" all appeared on multiple ballots.

Finally, what do "Something in the Air," Olivier Assayas' tale of student revolution in 1970s Paris and "Pain and Gain," Michael Bay's adaptation of the true-life story of bodybuilders-turned-criminals have in common? They both  tied at 17th. As with all of these polls, critics' varied interests and sensibilities make for some strange results bedfellows. 

The Criticwire Network's Top 10 Movies of 2013 So Far

1. Before Midnight
2. Upstream Color
3. Spring Breakers
4. Frances Ha
5. Stories We Tell
6. Mud
7. Leviathan
8. The Place Beyond the Pines
9. Side Effects
10. Like Someone in Love

To see the complete list, visit the survey results page here.

This article is related to: The Best Indie Movies of 2013, Before Midnight, Upstream Color, Spring Breakers, Frances Ha, Stories We Tell, Mud, Leviathan, The Place Beyond the Pines, Side Effects, Like Someone In Love