The Best and Worst Movies of 2013

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

Limited releases

Breakdown of 2013 Limited Releases (Min. 7 Reviews)
Good (Metascore ≥ 61) 218 films
Mixed (40-60) 178 films
Bad (≤ 39) 77 films
Average Metascore 57.8

While most of 2013's very best-reviewed films landed in the wide release category last year, several notable films never hit the 600 theater mark, and thus remain in our "limited release" category. Included here are the Coen brothers' folk music drama Inside Llewyn Davis, the Robert Redford-starring shipwreck tale All Is Lost, and Alexander Payne's black-and-white road trip dramedy Nebraska, three films with potential to be major players when the Oscar nominations are announced next week.

As always, however, much of our list of 2013's best limited releases consists of foreign-langauge films and documentaries. The latter category is led by two striking examples of the form that wowed numerous critics last year: The Act of Killing, in which perpetrators of an Indonesian genocide re-enact their killings in the style of various Hollywood movies, and Stories We Tell, a surprising personal tale from filmmaker Sarah Polley. The year's best-reviewed foreign film was Blue Is the Warmest Color, a drama about a lesbian teen romance that dominated the awards at last year's Cannes festival.

In all, 46% of limited release films received positive reviews from critics in 2013. That is lower than 2012's success rate of 49%, and it is the fourth consecutive year that percentage has declined. (As recently as 2009, 58% of limited release films received positive reviews). One reason for the decline in positively reviewed films might be that more movies are being released. There were 473 limited releases (with 7 or more reviews from critics) last year, compared to just 421 the previous year.

The Best Limited Releases of 2013
  Title Genre(s) Netflix Metascore Users
1 Inside Llewyn Davis Drama, Comedy + Queue 92 7.4
2 Stories We Tell Documentary + Queue 91 7.8
3 The Act of Killing Foreign, Documentary + Queue 89 8.7
4 Blue Is the Warmest Color Foreign, Drama + Queue 88 8.1
5 All Is Lost Drama + Queue 87 6.6
6 Nebraska Drama, Comedy + Queue 86 7.9
7 Drug War Foreign, Thriller + Queue 86 7.1
8 The Great Beauty Foreign, Drama + Queue 86 7.5
9 Let the Fire Burn Documentary + Queue 86 n/a
10 The Wind Rises * Foreign, Animation + Queue 84 8.4
11 War Witch Foreign, Drama + Queue 84 8.1
12 Museum Hours Foreign, Drama + Queue 83 6.3
13 Blackfish Documentary + Queue 83 8.3
14 20 Feet from Stardom Documentary + Queue 83 7.6
15 The Selfish Giant Drama + Queue 83 n/a
16 La Camioneta: The Journey of
One American School Bus
Foreign, Documentary + Queue 83 n/a
17 The Past Foreign, Drama + Queue 83 8.4
18 56 Up Documentary + Queue 83 9.1
19 The Square ** Foreign, Documentary + Queue 83 n/a
20 Cutie and the Boxer Foreign, Documentary + Queue 82 8.4
21 These Birds Walk Foreign, Documentary + Queue 82 n/a
22 Viola Foreign, Drama + Queue 82 n/a
23 Short Term 12 Drama + Queue 82 9.0
24 Frances Ha Comedy, Drama + Queue 82 7.7
25 A Hijacking Foreign, Thriller + Queue 82 7.3

* Screened for one week in 2013 to qualify for awards; will return to theaters in February.
** Netflix-acquired film screened in a few theaters this fall; debuts on Netflix next week.
Only movies with seven or more reviews released between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013 were considered. Re-releases are excluded. A limited release film is one that screens at fewer than 600 theaters. 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. User scores represent an average of scores assigned by site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores in this article are from January 5, 2013.

Our list of the lowest-scoring limited releases of 2013 is dominated by low-budget horror films. The worst of these (though not quite as bad as Scary Movie V, the wide release that finished with 2013's lowest Metascore) was I Will Follow You Into the Dark, a thrill-less haunted house romance starring Mischa Barton and Ryan Eggold. Right behind it was the Anne Heche-starring Nothing Left to Fear, the first film produced by former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash. He may want to stick to his day job; his film grossed all of $7,886. (Not million; that's $7,886.00).

The Worst Limited Releases of 2013
  Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1 I Will Follow You Into the Dark Horror 12 n/a
2 Nothing Left to Fear Horror 12 n/a
3 Evidence Horror 14 4.6
4 Girls Against Boys Thriller 17 2.0
5 The Ultimate Life Drama 19 n/a
6 Would You Rather Horror 20 6.8
7 Ghost Team One Horror, Comedy 21 n/a
8 Saving Lincoln Drama 23 4.5
9 I'm in Love with a Church Girl Drama 23 n/a
10 Argento's Dracula 3D Horror 23 n/a

What are your favorites?

What are your picks for the best and worst movies of 2013? Let us know in the comments section below. If you are looking for even more of 2013's best movies, be sure to check out our compilation of film critic top-10 lists as well as our 2013 Film Awards Scorecard.

Comments (6)

  • ilveirinso  

    happy to see "Pines" in the top 25

  • 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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