The Best and Worst Movies of 2013

  • Comments: ↓ 5 user comments
  • Publish Date: January 6, 2014

12 Years a Slave is the best-reviewed movie of 2013

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2013 12 Years a Slave 97
2012 Zero Dark Thirty 95
2011 A Separation 95
High Scoring Movies by Year
(Minimum 7 Reviews)
2010 The Social Network 95
2009 The Hurt Locker 94

For the third time in four years, the year's best-reviewed movie was a wide release, rather than the arthouse fare that previously had a near lock on that top slot. (In fact, the top three 2013 films were released on over 600 screens nationwide). Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free man captured and sold into slavery in the 1840s, 12 Years a Slave surpassed all other films released theatrically during 2013 with a 97 Metascore. The film is also cleaning up on the awards circuit, and looks like the clear best picture frontrunner heading into next week's Academy Award nominations.

Director Steve McQueen's third feature (following two other well-reviewed films, Hunger and Shame), 12 Years a Slave actually has the second-highest Metascore for any new film released since 2000, behind only 2006's Pan's Labyrinth 98. It's a mark of just how good 2013's film slate was that Alfonso Cuaron's technical marvel Gravity 96 finished with a higher score than any film released in the previous six years, but could muster only second place in last year's rankings.

At the high end of the quality scale, 2013 was a good year, indeed. Out of the 561 releases with seven or more reviews from professional critics, 41 received a Metascore of 81 or higher, the cutoff we use to indicate "universal acclaim" from critics. That's up considerably from 2012's total of 34 great films.

However, only 42.6% of films released in 2013 were reviewed positively by critics (scoring 61 or higher), down from the previous year's 44.7% success rate. (And that 2012 mark was already the lowest percentage since 2008). The average Metascore for all releases also fell in 2013, from 57.2 in 2012 to just 56.5 last year. The number of terrible movies also increased slightly, with eight films scoring below 20 last year (after just seven and five such films in 2012 and 2011, respectively).

Below, we rank 2013's highest-scoring films in a variety of genres. On the following two pages, you can find more complete lists of the year's best and worst wide and limited releases, respectively. If you are looking for even more of 2013's best movies, be sure to check out our annual compilation of film critic top-ten lists as well as our 2013 Film Awards Scorecard elsewhere on our site.

2013's Best-Reviewed Dramas (English-Language, Live Action)
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
97 94 87 85 84
12 Years a Slave
Fox Searchlight
Before Midnight
Sony Pictures Classics
All Is Lost
Lionsgate
Fruitvale Station
The Weinstein Co.
Dallas Buyers Club
Focus Features
2013's Best-Reviewed "Dramedies" (Somewhere between comedy and drama)
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
92 91 90 86 82
Inside Llewyn Davis
CBS Films
Her
Warner Bros.
American Hustle
Columbia
Nebraska
Paramount
Frances Ha
IFC Films
2013's Best-Reviewed Comedies (English-Language, Live Action)
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
81 79 78 74 69
The World's End
Focus Features
In a World...
Roadside Attractions
Much Ado About Nothing
Lionsgate
Computer Chess
Kino Lorber
Sightseers
IFC Films
2013's Best-Reviewed Documentaries
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
91 89 86 83 83
Stories We Tell
Roadside Attractions
The Act of Killing
Drafthouse Films
Let the Fire Burn
Zeitgeist Films
Blackfish
Magnolia Pictures
20 Feet From Stardom
RADiUS-TWC
2013's Best-Reviewed Foreign-Language Films (Dramatic Films Only)
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
88 86 86 84 84
Blue Is the Warmest Color
Sundance Selects
Drug War
Variance Films
The Great Beauty
Janus Films
The Wind Rises *
Touchstone
War Witch
Tribeca

* Critics reviewed the original Japanese version with subtitles; the film will be released again in the U.S. next month with new English-language dialogue.

2013's Best-Reviewed Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Superhero Films
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
96 75 72 68 66
Gravity
Warner Bros.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Lionsgate
Star Trek Into Darkness
Paramount
Europa Report
Magnet
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Warner Bros.
2013's Best-Reviewed Horror Films and Supernatural Thrillers
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
80 69 68 66 66
Berberian Sound Studio
IFC Midnight
We Are What We Are
Entertainment One
The Conjuring
New Line
Byzantium
IFC Films
You're Next
Lionsgate
2013's Best-Reviewed Animated Films
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
84 76 74 71 70
The Wind Rises
Touchstone
Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?
IFC/Sundance
Frozen
Disney
From Up on Poppy Hill
Gkids
The Painting
Gkids

For this and all tables in this article, only movies with seven or more reviews released between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013 were considered. Re-releases are excluded. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Although scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number, movies are ranked prior to rounding. All scores in this article are from January 5, 2013.

On the next page ...

Continue reading for a look at the best and worst wide releases of 2013.

Comments (5)

  • AGK  

    Oh that's right, people prefer rubbish over comedy gold...

  • AGK  

    where's movie 43?

  • davidernst11  

    I hate to be a buzzkill, but clearly Metacritic forgets a lot of films exist. Where is InAPPropriate Comedy? It received an esteemed score of 1/100 on the Metacritic scale. You would think they would remember that movie existed. It was released in over 200 theaters after all. Also, Jewtopia had a score of 8, and was released in 26 theaters.

  • Soapert  

    Other than Frozen it was a weak year for the big animation studios.

  • Medley  

    Best (In alphabetical order):

    1) Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
    2) Captain Phillips
    3) Gravity
    4) Krrish 3
    5) Man of Steel

    Worst (in alphabetical order):

    1) G.I. Joe: Retaliation
    2) Thor: The Dark World
    3) Walking with Dinosaurs

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