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'The Past,' 'The Unknown Known' and 'The Selfish Giant' Join Ten Others on Updated List of Best-Reviewed 2013 Films Among Criticwire Members

Indiewire By Steve Greene and Eric Kohn | Indiewire December 30, 2013 at 9:7AM

Four new films make the cut this week, as we update the list for one of the final times in 2013. As the collection passes 80, how many have you seen?
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According to the nearly 500 critics listed in Indiewire's Criticwire Network, there are over 70 indie films that have been released in theaters or on digital platforms this year worth checking out. Of course, 2013 still has a few more months to go. The following list, updated on a weekly basis, contains all films released in 2013 that currently hold a B+ average or higher on Criticwire as long as they have been graded by at least 15 critics. 

You can also browse a list of the top-rated documentaries released in 2013 here

Our recent end-of-the-year critics poll brought in a wealth of new grades and reviews for films all over the 2013 spectrum, from "Grown Ups 2" to festival favorites like Jafar Panahi's "Closed Curtain." As a result, our Best Reviewed Indies list underwent a bit of an overhaul, with grade totals shifting, grade averages changing and a number of new titles appearing amongst the collection. 

Some of the new arrivals to this list are no surprise: Asghar Farhadi's "The Past" might not have enjoyed the overwhelming response at Cannes that his previous effort "A Separation" enjoyed, but some reevaluation at TIFF and in anticipation of its recent release has it firmly in the upper echelon. Heavy hitters "American Hustle," "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Her" also have spots now, with the last of those becoming just the fourth film this year to achieve the mystical "A" average (joining "Before Midnight," "The Act of Killing" and the newly-"A"-minted "12 Years a Slave"). 

Documentaries from a pair of genre legends now have prominent placement on the list. "The Unknown Known," Errol Morris' conversation/examination of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and "At Berkeley," Frederick Wiseman's exhaustive look at one of the main institutions in the University of California system both enjoy a combination of positive reviews from recent theatrical and festival runs.

In the grades shuffle, "Fruitvale Station," "The World's End" and "Enough Said," which have all teetered on the "A-"/"B+" divide for a few months now, both vaulted into the Top 25 based on an influx of positive reviews.

But it's the new additions that make this particular update a notable one. Films from all over the 2013 release calendar now have a spot on the list after garnering enough reviews to qualify, including a pair of films released in the first quarter of the year. Eytan Fox's "Yossi," the follow-up to his well-received 2002 film "Yossi and Jagger," was in theaters nearly a year ago back in January, while Dan Sallitt's "The Unspeakable Act" was available as far back as March.

Two films from Sundance 2013 crack the list: Shaul Schwarz's "Narco Cultura," a documentary chronicling constantly evolving US/Mexico border relationships and Alexandre Moors' "Blue Caprice," a dramatization of the DC Sniper saga. "Prisoners," which made its debut at this year's TIFF, also got a boost from end-of-the-year votes, rising to an overall "B+."

Rounding out the diverse slate of new additions are films with literary pedigree. Matías Piñeiro's "Viola" takes place amidst a production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" while Clio Barnard's "The Selfish Giant" takes its inspiration from the Oscar Wilde short story of the same name.

READ MORE: The 10 Indies to Watch on VOD This December

Because critics can grade films at their leisure, all averages are subject to change; this list will grow or shrink on a regular basis to reflect fluctuating averages and new releases. The list is ordered in terms of letter grades first, followed by the number of grades a film has received. Duplicate numbers reflect ties in volume of grades and totals in italics reflect changes from the last update.

Head to a film page to browse reviews and other information pertaining to each film. For more rankings, check out the top documentaries of 2013 and the top foreign language films of 2013.

1. Before Midnight (Film Page), directed by Richard Linklater (2013 Sundance Film Festival; June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A (124 grades)

2. 12 Years a Slave (Film Page), directed by Steve McQueen (2013 Telluride Film Festival; October 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: (99 grades)


3. The Act of Killing (Film Page), directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (2012 Telluride Film Festival; July 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A (78 grades)

4. Her (Film Page), directed by Spike Jonze (2013 New York Film Festival; December 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: (62 grades)


5. Upstream Color (Film Page), directed by Shane Carruth (2013 Sundance Film Festival; April 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (104 grades)

6. Frances Ha (Film Page), directed by Noah Baumbach (2012 Toronto International Film Festival; May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (101 grades)


7. Inside Llewyn Davis (Film Page), directed by Joel & Ethan Coen (2013 Cannes Film Festival; December 2013 theatrical release) Average Criticwire Rating: A- (98 grades)

8. Stories We Tell (Film Page), directed by Sarah Polley (2012 Venice Film Festival; May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (82 grades)

9. Blue Is the Warmest Color (Film Page), directed by Abdellatif Kechiche (2013 Cannes Film Festival; October 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (79 grades)


10. Fruitvale Station (Film Page), directed by Ryan Coogler (2013 Sundance Film Festival; July 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (72 grades)

11. Blue Jasmine (Film Page), directed by Woody Allen (June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (67 grades)

12. All is Lost (Film Page), directed by JC Chandor (2013 Cannes Film Festival; October 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (66 grades)


13. No (Film Page), directed by Pablo Larraín (2012 Cannes Film Festival; February 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (63 grades)

14. American Hustle (Film Page), directed by David O. Russell (December theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (60 grades)

15. Leviathan (Film Page), directed by Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor (2012 Locarno International Film Festival; March theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (58 grades)

16. The Spectacular Now (Film Page), directed by James Ponsoldt (2013 Sundance Film Festival; July 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (54 grades)


17. Captain Phillips (Film Page), directed by Paul Greengrass (2013 New York Film Festival; October 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (51 grades)

17. Short Term 12 (Film Page), directed by Destin Cretton (2013 SXSW Film Festival; August 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (51 grades)

17. The World's End (Film Page), directed by Edgar Wright (August 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (51 grades)

20. A Touch of Sin (Film Page), directed by Jia Zhang-ke (2013 Cannes Film Festival; October 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (49 grades)


21. The Past (Film Page), directed by Asghar Farhadi (2013 Cannes Film Festival; December 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (43 grades)

22. Enough Said (Film Page), directed by Nicole Holofcener (2013 Toronto International Film Festival; September 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (41 grades)

22. The Gatekeepers (Film Page), directed by Dror Moreh (2012 Telluride Film Festival; February 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (41 grades)

24. Museum Hours (Film Page), directed by Jem Cohen (2012 Locarno International Film Festival, June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (34 grades)

24. Twenty Feet from Stardom (Film Page), directed by Morgan Neville (2013 Sundance Film Festival; June 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (34 grades)

26. Bastards (Film Page), directed by Claire Denis (2013 Cannes Film Festival, October 2013 theatrical/VOD release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (33 grades)

26. Blackfish (Film Page), directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (2013 Sundance Film Festival; July 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (33 grades)


26. The Great Beauty (Film Page), directed by Paolo Sorrentino (2013 Cannes Film Festival; November 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (33 grades)


29. The Wolf of Wall Street (Film Page), directed by Martin Scorsese (December 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (32 grades)

30. Wadjda (Film Page), directed by Haifaa al-Mansour (2012 Venice Film Festival; September 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (31 grades)

31. After Tiller (Film Page), directed by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson (2013 Sundance Film Festival; September 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (30 grades)

32. At Berkeley (Film Page), directed by Frederick Wiseman (2013 Venice Film Festival; November 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (28 grades)


32. Sun Don't Shine (Film Page), directed by Amy Seimetz (2012 SXSW Film Festival; April theatrical/VOD release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (28 grades)


34. Cutie and the Boxer (Film Page), directed by Zachary Heinzerling (2013 Sundance Film Festival; August 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (26 grades)

35. Drug War (Film Page), directed by Johnnie To (2012 Rome Film Festival, July 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (25 grades)


36. La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus (Film Page), directed by Mark Kendall (2012 SXSW Film Festival; May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (21 grades)

37. This is Martin Bonner (Film Page), directed by Chad Hartigan (2013 Sundance Film Festival; June 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (20 grades)


38. Dirty Wars (Film Page), directed by Rick Rowley (2013 Sundance Film Festival; June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (19 grades)

39. The Attack (Film Page), directed by Ziad Douieri (2012 Telluride Film Festival; June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (18 grades)


40. Night Across the Street (Film Page), directed by Raúl Ruiz (2012 Cannes Film Festival; July 2013 DVD release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (17 grades)


41. The Unspeakable Act (Film Page), directed by Dan Sallitt (2012 Sarasota Film Festival; March 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (16 grades)

42. Spring Breakers (Film Page), directed by Harmony Korine (2012 Venice Film Festival; March 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (115 grades


43. Room 237 (Film Page), directed by Rodney Ascher (2012 Sundance Film Festival; March 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (96 grades)


43. Side Effects (Film Page), directed by Steven Soderbergh (February 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (96 grades)

45. Mud (Film Page), directed by Jeff Nichols (2012 Cannes Film Festival; April 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (86 grades)

46. Like Someone in Love (Film Page), directed by Abbas Kiarostami (2012 Cannes Film Festival; February 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (73 grades)


47. Beyond the Hills (Film Page), directed by Cristian Mungiu (2012 Cannes Film Festival; February 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (72 grades)


48. Nebraska (Film Page), directed by Alexander Payne (2013 Cannes Film Festival; November 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (70 grades)


49. The Hunt (Film Page), directed by Thomas Vinterberg (2012 Cannes Film Festival; July 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (67 grades)


50. Berberian Sound Studio (Film Page), directed by Peter Strickland (2012 Edinburgh International Film Festival; June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (62 grades)


51. Something in the Air (Film Page), directed by Olivier Assayas (2012 Venice Film Festival, May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (61 grades)

52. This is the End (Film Page), directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (60 grades)


53. Sightseers (Film Page), directed by Ben Wheatley (2012 Cannes Film Festival, May 2013 VOD/theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (55 grades)

54. Prisoners (Film Page), directed by Denis Villeneuve (2013 Telluride Film Festival, September 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (54 grades)

55. Ain't Them Bodies Saints (Film Page), directed by David Lowery (2013 Sundance Film Festival; August 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (48 grades)


56. Dallas Buyers Club (Film Page), directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (2013 Toronto International Film Festival; November 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (47 grades)


57. Fill the Void (Film Page), directed by Rama Burshtein (2012 Venice Film Festival; May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (45 grades)


57. In a World... (Film Page), directed by Lake Bell (2013 Sundance Film Festival; August 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (45 grades)


59. Computer Chess (Film Page), directed by Andrew Bujalski (2013 Sundance Film Festival; June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (44 grades)


60. A Hijacking (Film Page), directed by Tobias Lindholm (2012 Venice Film Festival; June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (43 grades)


60. Prince Avalanche (Film Page), directed by David Gordon Green (2013 Sundance Film Festival; August 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (43 grades)

Magnolia Pictures "Blackfish"

62. Blancanieves (Film Page), directed by Pablo Berger (2012 Toronto International Film Festival; February 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (41 grades)


63. In the House (Film Page), directed by Francois Ozon (2012 Toronto International Film Festival; April 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (39 grades)


63. You're Next (Film Page), directed by Adam Wingard (2011 Toronto International Film Festival; August 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (39 grades)


65. The Conjuring (Film Page), directed by James Wan (2013 Nocturna: Madrid International Fantastic Film Festival; July 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (38 grades)


66. Lore (Film Page), directed by Cate Shortland (2012 Sydney Film Festival; February 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (38 grades)

67. War Witch (Film Page), directed by Kim Nguyen (2012 Berlinale; March 2013 VOD/theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (37 grades

68. The Kings of Summer (Film Page), directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (2013 Sundance Film Festival; May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (36 grades

69. What Maisie Knew (Film Page), directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel (2012 Toronto International Film Festival; May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (33 grades)


70. Drinking Buddies (Film Page), directed by Joe Swanberg (2013 SXSW Film Festival; August 2013 VOD/theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (32 grades)


70. You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (Film Page), directed by Alain Resnais (2012 Cannes Film Festival; July 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (32 grades)

72. Our Children (Film Page), directed by Joachim Lafosse (2012 Cannes Film Festival; August 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (31 grades)

73. Blue Caprice (Film Page), directed by Alexandre Moors (2013 Sundance Film Festival; September 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (29 grades)


73. I Killed My Mother (Film Page), directed by Xavier Dolan (2009 Cannes Film Festival; March 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (29 grades)

75. An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Film Page), directed by Terence Nance (2012 Sundance Film Festival; April 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (28 grades)

76. The Broken Circle Breakdown (Film Page), directed by Felix Van Groeningen (2013 Berlinale; November 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (26 grades)


76. Philomena (Film Page), directed by Stephen Frears (2013 Venice Film Festival; November 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (26 grades)


78. Hannah Arendt (Film Page), directed by Margarethe Von Trotta (2012 Toronto International Film Festival; May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (24 grades)

78. It's a Disaster (Film Page), directed by Todd Berger (2012 LA Film Festival; April 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (24 grades)


80. Our Nixon (Film Page), directed by Penny Lane (2013 IFFR; September 2013 theatrical release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (22 grades)


81. Augustine (Film Page), directed by Alice Winocour (2012 Cannes Film Festival; May 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (21 grades)


81. A Band Called Death (Film Page), directed by Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett (2012 LA Film Festival; June 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (21 grades)

83. The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld (Film Page), directed by Errol Morris (2013 Telluride Film Festival; December 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (20 grades)

84. Sound City (Film Page), directed by Dave Grohl (2013 Sundance Film Festival; February 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (19 grades)


84. We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (Film Page), directed by Alex Gibney (2013 Sundance Film Festival; May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (19 grades)

86. From Up On Poppy Hill (Film Page), directed by Gorō Miyazaki (2011 release (Japan); March 2013 release date (English-language version))
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (18 grades)

86. The Selfish Giant (Film Page), directed by Clio Barnard (2013 Cannes Film Festival; December 2013 theatrical release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (18 grades)


88. Concussion (Film Page), directed by Stacie Passon (2013 Sundance Film Festival; October 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (17 grades)

89. Graceland (Film Page), directed by Ron Morales (2012 Tribeca Film Festival; April 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (16 grades)

89. I Used to Be Darker (Film Page), directed by Matthew Porterfield (2013 Sundance Film Festival; September 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (16 grades)

89. In the Fog (Film Page), directed by Sergei Loznitsa (2012 Cannes Film Festival; July 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (16 grades)

89. Narco Cultura (Film Page), directed by Shaul Schwarz (2013 Sundance Film Festival; October 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (16 grades)


89. Paradise: Hope (Film Page), directed by Ulrich Seidl (2013 Berlinale; December 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (16 grades)

94. Viola (Film Page), directed by Matías Piñeiro (2012 Toronto International Film Festival; July 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (15 grades)


94. Yossi (Film Page), directed by Eytan Fox (2012 Tribeca Film Festival; January 2013 release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (15 grades)


This article is related to: Reviews, The Best Indie Movies of 2013, Criticwire, No, Leviathan, The Gatekeepers, Side Effects, Room 237, Beyond The Hills, Like Someone In Love, Spring Breakers, Upstream Color , War Witch (Rebelle), Blancanieves, Lore, J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother), Fruitvale Station, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, The Spectacular Now, Computer Chess, Blue Jasmine, Dirty Wars, Prince Avalanche, Cutie and the Boxer, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, The Conjuring, 12 Years a Slave, All Is Lost, Dallas Buyers Club, Concussion, The Broken Circle Breakdown, Nebraska, The Great Beauty, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet, Inside Llewyn Davis, Philomena, Paradise: Hope





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