Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Steve Greene and Eric Kohn
November 15, 2013 9:22 AM
12 Comments
  • |

'At Berkeley' the Latest Addition to The Best Documentaries of 2013, According to the Criticwire Network

Class Time in Frederick Wiseman's 'At Berkeley'

Throughout the year, Indiewire updates a master list of the highest-rated indie films released in 2013 according to members of our Criticwire Network. The following supplementary list singles out the top-rated documentaries that have an average of B+ or higher.

In order to be eligible for this list, a film must have received grades from at least ten critics in the network. Head to a film page to browse reviews and other information pertaining to each film. (Grade totals that have changed since the last update are listed in italics.)

1. The Act of Killing (Film Page), directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (2012 Telluride Film Festival; July 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: (48 grades)

2. The Square (Al Midan) (Film Page), directed by Jehane Noujaim (2013 Sundance Film Festival; October 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A (12 grades)

3. Stories We Tell (Film Page), directed by Sarah Polley (2012 Venice Film Festival; May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (64 grades)

4. Leviathan (Film Page), directed by Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor (2012 Locarno International Film Festival; March theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (47 grades)

5. The Gatekeepers (Film Page), directed by Dror Moreh (2012 Telluride Film Festival; February 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (40 grades)

6. After Tiller (Film Page), directed by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson (2013 Sundance Film Festival; September 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (26 grades)

6. Twenty Feet from Stardom (Film Page), directed by Morgan Neville (2013 Sundance Film Festival; June 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (26 grades)

8. Cutie and the Boxer (Film Page), directed by Zachary Heinzerling (2013 Sundance Film Festival; August 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (22 grades)

9. 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)

10. Dirty Wars (Film Page), directed by Rick Rowley (2013 Sundance Film Festival; June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (16 grades)

11. Call Me Kuchu (Film Page), directed by Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall (2012 Berlin International Film Festival; June 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (12 grades)

11. The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (Film Page), directed by Sophie Fiennes (2012 Toronto International Film Festival; November 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (12 grades)

13. At Berkeley (Film Page), directed by Frederick Wiseman (2013 Venice Film Festival; November 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (11 grades)

13. High Tech, Low Life (Film Page), directed by Stephen Maing (2012 Tribeca Film Festival; January 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (11 grades)

13. Muscle Shoals (Film Page), directed by Greg Camalier (2013 Sundance Film Festival; September 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (11 grades)

16. 56 Up (Film Page), directed by Michael Apted (January 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (10 grades)

17. Room 237 (Film Page), directed by Rodney Ascher (2012 Sundance Film Festival; March 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (93 grades)

18. Blackfish (Film Page), directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (2013 Sundance Film Festival; July 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (24 grades)

19. 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+ (18 grades)

19. Sound City (Film Page), directed by Dave Grohl (2013 Sundance Film Festival; February 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (18 grades)

19. We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (Film Page), Alex Gibney (2013 Sundance Film Festival; May 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (18 grades)

22. Our Nixon (Film Page), directed by Penny Lane (2013 IFFR; September 2013 theatrical release date)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (17 grades)

23. God Loves Uganda (Film Page), directed by Roger Ross Williams (2013 Sundance Film Festival; October 2013 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (13 grades)

23. Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (Film Page), directed by Sophie Huber (2012 Venice Film Festival; September 2013 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (13 grades)




You might also like:

12 Comments

  • jesse | November 29, 2013 5:26 PMReply

    What about "These Birds Walk"?

  • Greg | November 15, 2013 9:49 AMReply

    CASTING BY and ROOM 237 were my favorites of the year. I'm surprised the former isn't on here. AT BERKLEY was really good, but a bathroom break at the 9am press screening, post coffee binge, would have been nice. THE DOG was also good but felt a little sloppy at times. I'm dying to see PERVERT'S GUIDE--I love SUBLIME IDEOLOGY and seeing that man speak would be life altering. Alas, I'm too poor. I'm sure he would understand.

  • bobbie | November 3, 2013 2:16 PMReply

    Very good list. I really enjoyed Blackfish.
    Human thinks he can do what he wants.
    Human locks up wild animal.
    Animal kills Human.
    Everyone gets angry at the animal. Genius.

    I actually watched grizzly man on documentaryON.com the other day, and it reminds me of Blackfish.

    To sum it up, nature getting it's own back on Man.

  • Ronnie D. | November 1, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    How is Oxyana not on this list? One of the best, most honest, and hauntingly disturbing films let alone documentaries I've ever seen.

  • David Mertz | November 1, 2013 1:03 PMReply

    It's a nice list of films, many but not all of which I've seen. However, I think there is a glaring omission of _Fire in the Blood_, which is BY FAR the most important documentary I've seen this year, or probably any other year.

    Most of these documentaries take some interesting story, perhaps personal, perhaps political, perhaps somewhere between those, and come up with an interesting "take" on them within an interesting narrative. A few truly extraordinary documentaries in the history of the genre squarely and effectively address a pressing political topic and reveal fundamental things that most viewers do not already know. A few of Michael Moore's best films have done this. _Fire in the Blood_ does this far better than the best of Moore's work, and about an even more urgent, important, profound, and subtle matter (and one that matters *right now*, not only a documentation of something important that happened historically).

  • pepe | October 12, 2013 9:05 AMReply

    Good stuff, thanks. Wrong link for After Tiller though.

  • Doug S. | October 10, 2013 10:53 PMReply

    I don't understand this poll. There are several docs that, for example, got way higher ratings by TOP CRITICS on Rotten Tomatoes that are not on this list.
    The Crash Reel? Call Me Kuchu? Best Kept Secret? and a ton more -
    This is from Metacritic's top scores - http://letterboxd.com/mrlynch13/list/metacritics-2013-high-scores-updated-10-06/
    I feel like this is a very subjective list for something that is supposed to be objective data. PFFF. I really hate these lists.

  • DV | October 10, 2013 4:37 PMReply

    The Short Game - critics might be luke warm (that's your criteria right?) but audience awards at 3 major fests

  • Daniel | October 10, 2013 2:05 PMReply

    Narco Cultura. One of the best documentary not only of 2013, of the decade.

  • Tulse Luper | November 1, 2013 12:11 PM

    Yes!

  • mp | October 10, 2013 11:41 AMReply

    Interesting to note that 7 out of 10 are directed by or co-directed by women. Non-fiction filmmaking - the girl ghetto.

  • Penny Lane | October 27, 2013 11:39 AM

    MP: nonfiction filmmaking is not a ghetto, and I am not a "girl."