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by Steve Greene and Eric Kohn
December 30, 2013 9:07 AM
51 Comments
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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

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)


51 Comments

  • justin | December 30, 2013 8:26 PMReply

    ACADEMY MUST NOMINATED TO PAULINA GARCIA AT BEST ACTRESS FOR HER BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE WORK IN GLORIA.

  • lmao | January 5, 2014 11:28 PM

    Jajajaja yeah right!

  • Allen | December 7, 2013 5:20 PMReply

    I'm pretty open-minded and yeah sure different people dig different movies. But Spectacular Now beats films like Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and The Hunt? Please tell me this is a joke.

  • Sarah | December 7, 2013 12:49 PMReply

    I hate dallas buyers club because always the LGBT community is in silk underground movies. Homophobia. Don't awards for that stupid film.

  • Andrea | July 4, 2014 8:42 PM

    I recently watched Dallas Buyers Club with mixed emotions. On one hand I appreciated the film for the increased awareness regarding the struggles of those suffering from HIV/AIDS, on the other hand there are many aspects of the film and the homophobic characters that make the film difficult to watch. While I understand this to be an indie film (by Truth Entertainment and Voltage Productions), it is also a social problem film that explores what was previously considered taboo, in which many directors are too afraid to explore the human side of the LGBTQ community. Not to underscore the whole point of this social problem film, it would be nice to see more films showing LGBTQ characters without focusing on the character for being LGBTQ. As I recently learned when watching The Celluloid Closet, there are far too few films in which the LGBTQ community can identify with. For example, the earliest films hinting towards lesbian sexuality came in European lesbian vampire films and other horror films where the cross-dresser is a psycho killer. Films and other forms of media shape how we view our world in many ways, and I find it appalling to know that these are the characters presented for the LGBTQ community to relate to. Just may thoughts...

  • Sherman Brooks | November 16, 2013 5:54 PMReply

    What happen to the "The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister and Pete"?

  • Caemen Sawing | November 9, 2013 10:22 AMReply

    The Real Jamaican Girls????

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  • silvana | November 8, 2013 12:40 PMReply

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  • FXCOOL | October 25, 2013 1:17 AMReply

    Since when "Captain Phillips" is an indie film? Its production cost is around 55 million dollars, not so sure it's an 'indie' budget and also distributed by Columbia.

  • enrico | October 24, 2013 12:36 PMReply

    3. Upstream Color???????

  • Daniel Delago | October 23, 2013 5:38 AMReply

    'Spring Breakers' was garbage.

  • marcia.jones72@yahoo.com | October 18, 2013 1:55 PMReply

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  • me | October 18, 2013 10:17 AMReply

    Mother of George

  • me | October 18, 2013 10:15 AMReply

    Um, Concussion?

  • Olivia | October 18, 2013 10:08 AMReply

    I agree with a number of these, such as After Tiller, Kings of Summer but agree with below commenters in saying this is a broad definition of an independent film. Also, where is the Way Way Back? Most importantly, where is THE DIRTIES by Matt Johnson?!! This movie has so many layers, the most real and complex characters in any movie I've seen this year, and touches on an important and timely issue in our society. I would reconsider this list if I were you.

  • Eric | October 18, 2013 10:43 AM

    We invite commenters to provide their own definitions of independent film. We tend to treat it as an expansive term because any objective criteria limits certain films that might deserve a spot on the list. We include some studio films that we believe represent a certain indie quality, but again, remain flexible as much as possible.

    http://www.indiewire.com/film/the-dirties

    "The Dirties" has only received 5 grades form our Criticwire Network. Once it received 15, if it has a B+ average or higher, it will absolutely make the cut.

  • Daniel | October 17, 2013 3:52 PMReply

    Are you freaking kidding me? Where the hell is GRAVITY?

  • thunders | April 28, 2014 1:24 AM

    Gravity was a pile of shite !!!!!!!!

  • Cat | October 24, 2013 3:53 PM

    Gravity isn't an indie film dumbass

  • Mike White | July 19, 2013 9:36 PMReply

    Seems like a pretty broad definition of "Independent."

  • JJ | July 19, 2013 12:34 PMReply

    A Field in England is my favorite of the year.

  • howard | July 5, 2013 6:23 PMReply

    Is This is the End an indie? IMDB lists Columbia as one of the producers.

  • Eli | July 5, 2013 2:07 PMReply

    What about Slamdance co-founder Dan Mirvish's "Between Us"?; it has a Criticwire average of A-
    Any reason that doesn't count?

  • tmack | July 5, 2013 1:46 PMReply

    What's happening with Blue Caprice?

  • Solid | June 14, 2013 12:14 PMReply

    The first half of Berberian Sound Studio was superb, full of menacing atmosphere, intriguing situations, and original characters. But having assembled these great elements, Strickland didn't know what to do with them and, minus a thought-through plot or structure, the whole thing fizzled out at the end. All set-up, no payoff.

    And anyone in a long-term relationship should go see Before Midnight with their SO. Be prepared for ascerbic glances, nudges, and pointing. Or maybe that's just us.

  • blue | April 25, 2013 4:48 PMReply

    How many critics are involved in reviewing films of this list?

  • Eric | May 4, 2013 2:44 PM

    There are nearly 500 critics who grade films on a weekly basis. You can browse the list of their names here: http://www.indiewire.com/critic/directory

  • blue | April 25, 2013 4:38 PMReply

    How many critics are involved reviewing films of this list?

  • enrique | April 25, 2013 12:13 PMReply

    Nice list. very rational grading. Thanks

  • jensen | April 25, 2013 11:46 AMReply

    I haven't seen it yet, but I'm pretty surprised that Ain't Them Bodies Saints isn't on the list, I've heard nothing but rave reviews about it.

  • Eric | May 2, 2013 6:19 PM

    Only films that have opened in theaters or VOD are included.

  • John | April 11, 2013 1:26 PMReply

    BLANCANIEVAS has lots of repeats of the same critic.

  • Eric | May 2, 2013 6:19 PM

    This has been fixed. Thanks.

  • scobro | March 28, 2013 11:15 AMReply

    Appreciate the list, but think it's a little strange to have two entries with 7 or less reviews in the same camp as most that average over 60. Especially EDEN, a fine little movie from SXSW last year but probably not in the same camp as many of the others. It's ranked so high due to it only being reviewed by a few people who saw it at the festival itself. Maybe those with so few reviews should be categorized separately? Still, this is a great list to update throughout the year. Thanks for putting it together!

  • Eric Kohn | March 28, 2013 3:37 PM

    Thanks for the suggestions. We'll take them into account with the next iteration of the list.

  • Damian | March 24, 2013 1:02 AMReply

    There might be a worse movie this year than Spring Breakers but there will not be a movie this year with a worse ending than the illogical, nonsensical, preposterous ending of Spring Breakers. And they gave this a B+?

  • Eric | March 24, 2013 10:49 PM

    Collectively, yes, but if you're looking for a more nuanced reaction we recommend you click the "Details" button here: http://www.indiewire.com/film/spring-breakers

    To date, while nearly 50 critics have graded the film with a "B" or higher, a sizable minority of 13 critics have graded it with a "C" or lower.

  • Daphne | March 22, 2013 5:36 PMReply

    Why isn't "Magic Camp" on here?

  • Paul | March 22, 2013 5:20 PMReply

    one of the best movies I've seen coming out this year is "Along the Roadside" ! Bold , Sharp and Funny with Great Music!!!

  • Ryan | March 21, 2013 6:48 PMReply

    The ranking system here is complete crap.

  • goren | March 21, 2013 1:28 PMReply

    This is a very intriguing list . I am trying to find were to watch one of the movies in the list

  • cinedyne | March 21, 2013 11:14 AMReply

    It's kind of easy to post 20 movies so early in the year, especially when all of them played big fests and/or were nominated for Oscars.

    I don't see Red Flag listed (which isn't either of the above). Thought that was a great indie comedy.

  • Eric | March 21, 2013 12:26 PM

    While I personally enjoy RED FLAG quite a bit, in general critics have been mixed on it. You can browse reactions here: http://www.indiewire.com/film/red-flag

  • Eric | March 21, 2013 12:26 PM

    While I personally enjoy RED FLAG quite a bit, in general critics have been mixed on it. You can browse reactions here: http://www.indiewire.com/film/red-flag

  • katy kern | March 21, 2013 10:50 AMReply

    About to watch one listed today. So excited. Many of the others are on my list to see. So many movies, so little time. ;-)

  • jimbo | March 21, 2013 9:55 AMReply

    the omission of lore is v v peculiar. while i know you hand pick critics and bloggers, it's one of the best reviewed films overall of the year, at least in terms of metacritic and rotten tomatoes.

  • jm | July 5, 2013 12:13 PM

    LORE should be much higher.

  • Eric | March 21, 2013 10:15 AM

    Look again. LORE made the cut.

  • Leo Arriagada | March 21, 2013 9:54 AMReply

    "No" is a great film. It's a shame that there lost the Oscar.