By Steve Greene and Eric Kohn | Indiewire December 30, 2013 at 9:07AM
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.