Wide releases: The best
|Good (Metascore ≥ 61)||44 films|
|Mixed (40-60)||63 films|
|Bad (≤ 39)||35 films|
|2013 Average Metascore||52.4|
|vs. 2012 average||52.9|
Though the average Metascore for wide releases (films screening in at least 600 theaters) dropped by half a point in 2013 compared to the prior year, the percentage of films receiving positive reviews (a score of 61 or higher) remained almost identical, at just under 31%. There were a few more bad films released in 2013—35, compared to just 27 in 2012—but the films at the high end of the score chart were so good as to compensate for the increase at the low end.
Indeed, some of 2013's best films played at the multiplex, not the art house. Ten different wide releases met or exceeded the 81 cutoff denoting "universal acclaim" from critics, the highest such total in over five years. And five of those films scored 90 or higher. It's the first time since we initiated our film coverage in 1999 that so many wide release films have scored in the 90's in a single year.
Note that even though one of those films, Spike Jonze's Her, has yet to open nationwide (it will do so this Friday), most critics have already reviewed the film, and thus we don't expect its final Metascore to change much (if any) from its current 91, good for fourth place among all wide releases. Other films in the same situation (opening in a few cities in December and everywhere else in January) include Lone Survivor and Labor Day. Neither one is close to placing among the year's highest-scoring films, though the latter's score could conceivably change by more than a few points, since it will likely receive 30 or so additional reviews.
Only three sequels landed among our top 25 wide releases of 2013: Richard Linklater's Before Midnight, Star Trek Into Darkness, and the second chapter in the Hunger Games saga, Catching Fire. Many of the other high-scoring films were based on books (including 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, and The Spectacular Now) or on true events (American Hustle, Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, for example). And a few even featured original stories, including Gravity, Her, The World's End, Enough Said, and Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine.
Nineteen of the 44 positively reviewed wide releases—that's 43%—were released after Labor Day, with the biggest chunk (45%) arriving during the summer movie season.
|1||12 Years a Slave||Drama||+ Queue||97||8.0|
|3||Before Midnight||Drama||+ Queue||94||8.0|
|4||Her *||Drama, Comedy, Sci-Fi||+ Queue||91||8.6|
|5||American Hustle||Comedy, Drama||+ Queue||90||8.0|
|6||Fruitvale Station||Drama||+ Queue||85||7.7|
|7||Dallas Buyers Club||Drama||+ Queue||84||7.9|
|8||Captain Phillips||Drama, Thriller||+ Queue||83||8.2|
|9||The Spectacular Now||Drama||+ Queue||82||8.1|
|10||The World's End||Comedy, Action||+ Queue||81||7.7|
|11||Enough Said||Comedy, Drama||+ Queue||79||8.0|
|12||Blue Jasmine||Comedy, Drama||+ Queue||78||7.8|
|15||Rush||Drama, Sports||+ Queue||75||8.4|
|16||The Hunger Games: Catching Fire||Sci-Fi, Action-Adventure||+ Queue||75||8.2|
|17||The Wolf of Wall Street||Drama||+ Queue||75||7.6|
|18||Side Effects||Thriller||+ Queue||75||7.1|
|19||Frozen||Animation, Family||+ Queue||74||8.2|
|21||The Grandmaster||Foreign, Action||+ Queue||72||6.8|
|22||Star Trek Into Darkness||Sci-Fi, Action||+ Queue||72||7.9|
|23||The Conjuring||Horror||+ Queue||68||7.6|
|24||The Way, Way Back||Comedy, Drama||+ Queue||68||8.1|
|25||The Place Beyond the Pines||Drama||+ Queue||68||7.7|
Wide releases: The worst
Comedies, action films, and Tyler Perry movies dominate our list of 2013's worst-reviewed wide releases. The year's worst-reviewed movie (with at least seven reviews) was Scary Movie 5, the first release in seven years in the sadly still ongoing horror parody series. If it's any consolation, it was the lowest-grossing film in the series by a wide margin, though it did collect over $78 million at the box office. Another genre parody, The Starving Games, looked like it had a chance of taking the worst film of 2013 title away from Scary Movie 5, but even critics couldn't make themselves sit through the film, and it finished the year with only three reviews.
Note that after somehow failing to land in our bottom 10 in 2012, Adam Sandler made his triumphant return last year, starring in the third-worst film of 2013, Grown Ups 2. Of course, like most critically reviled Sandler films, it grossed well over $100 million.
Also note that the presence of a movie on this list doesn't actually impact the real world. Both Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and A Haunted House have sequels in development (the latter's follow-up, A Haunted House 2, hits theaters on March 28 of this year), while the terribleness of A Good Day to Die Hard wasn't enough to finally kill off the Die Hard franchise; a sixth film is being planned.
|1||Scary Movie 5||Comedy, Horror||11||2.6|
|3||Grown Ups 2||Comedy||19||3.2|
|4||A Haunted House||Comedy, Horror||20||5.1|
|5||Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters||Fantasy, Action||21||5.6|
|8||Tyler Perry's Temptation||Drama||27||2.8|
|9||Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas||Comedy||28||4.0|
|10||A Good Day to Die Hard||Action||28||4.9|
On the next page, we reveal the best and worst limited release films of the past year, including many of the year's best documentaries and foreign films as well as some additional Oscar best picture contenders.