User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 252 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 27 out of 252

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  1. Jun 27, 2012
    10
    All I have to say is Give That Little Girl an Oscar. Her performance alone should be the reason why people need to see this film. She has a long career waiting for her.
  2. Jun 28, 2012
    10
    This movie is so good. Beasts is able to tackle so many huge issues - extreme poverty in America, environmental upheaval, family relations - without ever feeling obvious or didactic, because it has a light, poetic, surreal touch. The performances are all top notch, the music (also co-created by Zeitlin, apparently) is a powerful addition, and the story is deeply affecting. Zetlin takes so many artistic leaps with astounding confidence, and lands every one of them. Go see it. Expand
  3. Jul 11, 2012
    9
    Beasts of the Southern Wild is in a club of one. One of the most unique films I have ever seen. With images of post-Katrina New Orleans, and the poverty of the Southern Wild, you would expect some high-nose social criticism, but you don't get any. The result is an honest narrative of beautiful simplicity. A coming-to-age story that uses no clichés as crutches, and tells the story that ultimately all of us will experience. Although I can't say I was enjoying it throughout, the ending, is one of the most moving sequences in cinema I have ever seen. With its powerful score and beautiful images, this film will leave you feeling fulfilled. Expand
  4. Nov 25, 2012
    9
    Incredibly imaginative film making. Visually unique and dramatically resonant, a colorful blend of fantasy and poignant realism. The film's young lead actress is outstanding as are her scenes with her characters' father. Impossible to categorize, think Hayao Miyazaki in live action.
  5. Jul 2, 2012
    9
    Beasts of the Southern Wild is not only a wonderful film, but a surprisingly uplifting experience as a whole. Our main character, Hushpuppy, the 6-year old daughter of an alcoholic (and possibly leukemia affected) aggressive father, embarks on an imaginary adventure as a flood takes over her region of Louisiana, known as The Bathtub. Through her journey, she learns, from her friends, family, and nature, how to take care of herself, and eventually become "King of the Bathtub." The movie seamlessly and effortlessly delivers strong liberal messages about devastation, poverty, alcoholism, etc. But more importantly, the film introduces a new kind of heroine in live-action film: the small but strong female independent heroine, played astoundingly flawlessly by Wallis. The cinematography is beautiful and moving, the symbolism is pitch-perfect and never layered in excess (although may become confusing and redundant to the point of being unnecessary over time), the film never lags, and the score is remarkably beautiful, becoming one with the film (something that very rarely happens in small-budget films). This film is a must see for everyone who has a heart (be careful for teary moments, though). Expand
  6. Jul 23, 2012
    9
    I have never written a review but after seeing Beasts of the Souther Wild, felt compelled to write something. I am sure the cinephiles have heard the hype about the movie but to be clear it is totally justified. It is hard to describe as most say but the best way for me to describe it is a magical, lyrical and visually sumptuous film. The leading actress, Quvenzhane Wallis, who was only six years old when it was shot, is simply amazing in the role of Hushpuppy. Probably one of the best child performance I've ever seen. Academy, please give her the Oscar because I can tell you we will not see a performance like this very often. She completely owns this movie. Dwight Henry also another non-professional actor amazes in his performance. I understand this movie might not be for everyone but I suggest take ride and immerse yourself in the Bathtub because it is a very special film. Expand
  7. Jul 15, 2012
    9
    It Rocked
    compared to everything else out there it was original from the get go
    that alone gave it an 8
    hushpuppy and her dear ole dad pushed it to a 9
    read some of the back story about the director and "actors "it will add to your appreciation of this great movie
  8. Dec 30, 2012
    10
    This is quite a magical movie, with poetry all throughout the film, along with great lessons to be learned. The acting is also pretty good, considering that most of these actors have never had any experience acting in movies. One of the best movies of 2012, and definitely worth seeing.
  9. Aug 12, 2012
    10
    This film is so fantastic and moving at the same time. The cinematography is amazing. The performances by Quvenzhané Wallis (Hushpuppy) and Dwight Henry (Wink) are spectacular. Their performances make the movie in my opinion. Everything about this movie is great and it's definitely a must-see.
  10. Jul 28, 2012
    10
    This movie is brilliant. Raising questions of our responsibility to our fellow man and to the planet we share, Beasts of the Southern Wild allows no easy answers. As her father dies of leukemia, a young girl must learn the spiritual strength to carry on living. Hushpuppy as she's called believes herself so attuned to the world and the animals she can hear them speak to her when she listens closely. She can do the same for people too, as she comforts a dying old man reassuring him with a kind word though he is in a coma and cannot respond. Facing life without her father, however, is too much and she sets out to find her mother.
    Does she? Is the woman who comforts her and cooks fried alligator really her mother? Or is her wisdom and kindness the final lesson in Hushpuppy's growth? The characters of this film live in squalor, drinking constantly and eating things many of us wouldn't touch. Is it our duty to save them from this life when such salvation is unwanted, even a denial of their freedom? And if it is what freedoms do we allow that cannot be taken from us "for our own good?" And what duties, if any, do we have top the planet? Is it there for us to use without regard to the consequences, or are we transients living at nature's pleasure and only for so long as she sees fit? Are we the Aurochs, the unnatural beasts devouring their own? Or are we Hushpuppy? Do we have the courage to stand, admit we are a small part of a big universe and find value and meaning in that life?
    Expand
  11. Aug 2, 2012
    10
    Oh my God, this movie took my breath away! I consider myself a movie buff AND live in Louisiana (where I presume it was filmed) yet I knew nothing about it. About the closest thing I can compare it to is "Pan's Labrynth" but because of the subtexts that are all about what's happening in America in 2012, it's even better. I would not be the LEAST surprised if 8-year old Ms. Wallis is nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. The directing is magnificent. It's as though someone put a security camera inside a fisherman's shack and let the thing run for us to view. You and your friends must go. Expand
  12. Aug 6, 2012
    9
    Every year there is a dozen or so smaller films that garner a large amount of hype. While these films usually end up being great, they don
  13. Nov 22, 2012
    10
    What was truly spellbinding about this shocking and powerful film, at least for me, was the way it pulled me into a world which I knew nothing about. You don't just watch Beasts of the Southern Wild- you live it.
  14. Jan 24, 2013
    9
    I experienced BotSW as incorporating several themes without pushing a "message". Like viewing a painting, you can step back and see the whole thing and not try to justify or critique each stroke. Ugliness and chaos are juxtaposed with beauty and community. There is a sense that the characters are intensely holding on to their life in the "Bathtub", and yet the Beasts of Change and Death have been awakened, and the inevitability of their arrival is undeniable. Many viewers may not get past a feeling that the child, Hushpuppy, needs her life to be upgraded, that she lives in unacceptable conditions. The film emphasizes her adaptability and capacity for learning hard and simple truths about the nature of life on earth as she is living in a setting that does not shield children in all the ways we "civilized" people have come to expect. There is harshness from her father, for example, and yet his intense love for her is also apparent along with his desire that she be strong enough to deal with the realities of their life. "Everybody loses the thing that made them. It Expand
  15. Jun 29, 2013
    10
    It has been a long long time since a film made me cry and this one pulled it off despite my watching it on a screen in the back of the seat in front at 30,000 feet in the middle of the night. A moving glimpse into a world of poverty and stuggle that is (thankfully) alien to most of us.
  16. Jan 10, 2013
    9
    An extraordinary film, a cinematic miracle, a film that shows us a child's optimistically poetic view of life even in the hardest of conditions. You will be truly captivated by 7 year old Wallis, chosen ahead of 3,500 candidates to play the tiny folk hero who narrates and leads the story pitched between realism and fable and deservedly gets the youngest ever lead actress Oscar nod.
  17. Dec 30, 2012
    10
    What a terrific movie. The creativity and imagination that is on display is just stunning. All the below the line stuff was so great. From the cinematography to the brilliant art direction. Still cannot believe this movie was made for only 1.8 million. Quvenzhane Wallis aka "Hushpuppy" is so incredible words won't do her justice. 10 out of 10 .
  18. Jan 5, 2013
    9
    A beautiful movie full of poetry and (somehow) optimism. Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry are superb and very moving. What could have been a boring documentary-like film turns out to be a real moment of elegance.
  19. Nov 21, 2012
    9
    Beasts of the Southern Wild was an unforgettable tale. Blending high drama and traces of fantasy, the movie is an allegory of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina; and it also highlights the power of community and change. After a devastating storm sinks a young girl's underdeveloped (yet happy) community, her ill fated father grooms her to become self sufficient and menacing, ancient creatures are thawed from the polar ice caps. The tumultuous relationship between Hushpuppy and her father Wink was extremely well executed, thanks to Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry's soulful performances. I found, first timer, Ben Zeitlin's manipulative direction to be quite effective in this emotional journey. Part of me wished the fantastical elements were much more heightened and the film itself wasn't such a downer; but any movie that's able hit someone on such an emotional level deserves much praise. It's also technically good; the deft sounds and pulses of nature are well mixed; and Zeitlin's (along with Dan Romer) score was quite an accomplishment. Beasts was a truly moving experience that should be taken in small doses; it's one of the years finest. Expand
  20. Dec 12, 2012
    9
    Directed by Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild is an absolute treat to watch! We watch a lot of mainstream films everyday which are made by the people who we know so well, but it's surprising and inspirational at the same time, how unknown or very little known people can do something so big that it gets them all the recognition they deserve. First of all, Quvenzhané Wallis' performance is outstanding which becomes very clear from the fact that she has already won so many critics awards, she has a huge career waiting for her in the future. Her character Hushpuppy is a 6-year-old girl who lives with her father in a cut-off community called 'The Bathtub". Throughout the film, she learns how to take care of herself and people around her, how to be strong and what to do in difficult situations. Moving on to the plot of the film and the main storyline, it discusses a lot of topics such as poverty, survival, one's own imagination and most importantly family. Hats off to Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar (co-writer) for their strong vision and making it possible. This is Zeitlin's directional debut and the odds are in his favour this year, he has been getting a lot of appreciation lately. The film does not offer any shocking scenarios, but what it does is quite breathtaking especially the climax where Hushpuppy confronts the Aurochs which is wonderful and I can't get enough of it. Despite the fact that this is a slow-paced film, it is equally excellent and unique, I have never seen something so beautiful and well-crafted like this before. Expand
  21. Dec 29, 2012
    10
    A fantastical, magic revelation of film that demands to be seen. This movie can't be classified beneath any mere genre, for it transcends them all and can only be described as a breathtaking work of art. I have seen it three times now (admittedly, it did not 'click' cohesively upon the first viewing) and I can proudly say that it is one of the best films of the year, if not one of the best of all time. The movie really captured me in the way it balanced realistic drama with fantasy elements, as if it were seen through the eyes of a child. The set design (apparently constructed by members of the cast and crew) appears thoroughly lived in and the visuals, while not dominating the narrative, are beautiful and seamless considering the budget constraints of independent features. The actors (all untrained and cast locally) capture a sense of community in this world known as 'The Bathtub' which takes the abstract elements of the movie and make them feel real. This film also marks the arrival of some very promising new talent. Never in my memory has the debut of any director been so ambitious, and equal parts fulfillled, as 'Beasts of the Southern Wild', crafted out of love by director Benh Zeitlin. His voice is a secular one, distinctive, yet clear in delivery and always well-intentioned. He wants nothing else than to envelop us in the medium of film as far as we can go and move us. And I can't leave out the fiery performance by young Quvenzhane Wallis. She is the burning life of this movie, portrayed so realistically that it is damn near unbelievable. I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that she was only six years old upon filming. Wow. To describe it in comparison to other films, it is like a blend of Terrence Malick's 'The Tree of Life' and Hayao Miyazaki's 'Ponyo', with trace elements of 'Winter's Bone' and 'Precious' (both past Grand Jury Prize winners). Well, I can't really describe it any further without becoming redundant so I'll leave it at this: 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' is a magical, funny, and at times deeply moving experience that should be given the chance to challenge and inspire you. Expand
  22. Nov 19, 2012
    10
    I can't say enough good about this film: Visually brilliant, I love the metaphors, Great acting by Dwight Henry, Never seeks drama from the obvious places. It deals with real issues without getting too dark or heavy and ultimately has an optimistic message. The style might be compared to Terrence Malick's 'Tree of Life', but i'd say its a more accessible film.
  23. Nov 26, 2012
    9
    I'm seeing some people struggle with the many peculiar yet delightful choices in this surprisingly solid film. The first thing any viewer should realize is that this film fights desperately to avoid cliche -- and succeeds. For instance, it's not always clear if the starring young lady is a girl. Most writer/directors would make the mistake of making her the sweetest little thing this side of sunshine. And her Dad the most endearing man you've ever met. I don't want to spoil, but as you'll learn -- that's not even close. The director does this (I believe) to avoid the dated liberal notion of angelic black folk in cinema -- a painful art house cliche. The movie must make a baker's dozen of such surprise choices -- including the lead's mother in spades.

    Another choice in this film is presenting countless mysteries that aren't nice and neatly tied up. One is where our star lives in comparison to her Dad. We see it but we don't know why. In poor writing this is known as a loose end. In great writing -- as in BEASTS -- it captures our curiosity without being detrimental to the story. The resulting effect is a terribly realistic story where not everything ties up nice and neat with a bow -- like in the Hollywood movie world. Terribly realistic despite being a fable of sorts.

    Speaking of fables, I've seen the preview for highly rated LIFE OF PI. I fear that everything that is raunchy and wonderful in BEASTS will be CGI glossed and Disney-fabled in PI. That is: PI may make viewers feel more comfortable -- but great movies aren't suppsed to be over-stuffed couches.

    The mark of a great movie is if you can and will view it again at some point. BEASTS is one of those movies. It reminds me a little of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, even though it has little in common with it -- except for the totally 'fresh' feeling of the story and it's masterful execution. This may not be the year's best picture, but it would be crime to quality cinema if it wasn't nominated.
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  24. Jan 17, 2013
    9
    rough, ready, yet magical! the storyline is endearing and harrowing and rather original; though there are slight references to winters bone. the screenplay and dialogue is spectacular and very well thought out! loved the 'Bath-tub' island; a reflection of the uneducated environment in which 'Hushpuppy' lives. Quvenzhane Wallis is unbelievable - her performance is honest, mature and beautiful. Behn Zetlin has true talent as a director and deserves the academy recognition. If you love honest art house films, you will love this. Expand
  25. Jan 18, 2013
    10
    Much like "The Impossible", "Beasts" views a natural disaster through the eyes of a small group of people. In that sense, it succeeds brilliantly - it is a film of amazing creativity and inspiration, capturing the lives of a forgotten tribe of people living on the edge of our society. Beautifully acted and expertly directed, "Beasts" is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. To criticize the film for its honest portrayal of a small group of people living on the fringe of society just isn't fair. Expand
  26. Jan 30, 2013
    9
    One of the best movies of the year. It is very hard to watch because of the intense storytelling in the bathtub. The acting is phenomenal and all the parts of the movie come together in an enormous fashion that will be remembered as on of the best indies ever.
  27. Jan 24, 2013
    10
    Beasts of Southern Wild is a beautiful and inspiring piece of filmmaking, and made me our world in a completely new image. Nowadays our lives are so simple and easy, we have television, a government, and everything we need to survive in a society. But we watch the citizens of this small island called the "Bathtub" and it
  28. Feb 11, 2013
    10
    A masterpiece that came out of nowhere. Earthy, dense and fully formed mash up of New Orleans magic realism and Days of Heaven esque imagery. The film equivalent of The Band's debut "Music from the Big Pink"
    A magnificent debut.
  29. Jul 19, 2013
    10
    A wonderful movie. The performance of the girl is wonderful from start to finish. she makes you feel in the story. for me this was coupled with Amour, the best movie of last year.
  30. Sep 15, 2013
    10
    This movie is beyond good. It has the magic the novels of García Márquez or Ben Okri have. The only thing I can add is that it's one of the best movies I've watched in my entire life.
    Enjoy it.
  31. Sep 4, 2014
    9
    You like it or you don't, this movie isn't for everyone. Personally I loved it and I love the "hidden" message.
    The first few minutes I wondered what the hell I was watching - it all seemed rather weird, but it got better and better. I cried like a baby when the movie ended; it was so touching and I have no idea why.
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 44 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 44
  2. Negative: 0 out of 44
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Oct 19, 2012
    80
    Beasts of the Southern Wild is a vividly poetic and maybe even therapeutic response to one of the most painful and mortifying episodes in modern American history, second only to 9/11.
  2. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Oct 3, 2012
    100
    Beautiful, funny, timely and tender, this is the American arthouse movie of the year.
  3. Reviewed by: Kate Stables
    Oct 1, 2012
    80
    Despite its hard-scrabble setting, eco-gloominess and dystopian story, this dark fairytale is engagingly vivid and life-affirming. An ambitious love letter to a Louisiana way of life that's being literally washed away.