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Top 100 critically acclaimed films of 2013

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Last month, the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) announced 12 Years a Slave as their pick for 2013’s best film. Not to mistrust the WAFCA’s choices, but with a pool of only 50 members, how can the public be certain they got it right? Have no fear. The year-ending list to end all year-ending lists is here. This following catalog of 100 film recommendations acts as a guide for 2013’s best films that you may need to catch up on (as well as a few titles you might have never even heard of before).

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It was a great year at the movies, and not just critically, as box office experts are anticipating 2013 to be the highest-grossing year in history. With just a few more hours before 2014, it’s a great time to look back at the past year’s best films.

Here’s how the list is generated: A copious amount of critic’s top 10 lists were scraped through and all the movie titles were gathered together. Each movie was given a particular number that was an average of scores gleaned from three different movie review aggregate websites: RottenTomatoes, Metacritic and Movie Review Query Engine. The films were then ranked in this list. Unfortunately, Movie Review Intelligence, the best aggregate movie review website to have ever existed, was shut down this past June. R.I.P.

Because of that little snag, the films on this list had to be weighed differently than in years past. Any resulting ties (and there were plenty of them) would be ranked in accordance with how many critics had the film on their list.

Additionally, no art films, installations, festival events or remastered films from the past are eligible for the list. Only feature films that opened in theaters in the U.S. this year will make the cut. This removes short subjects from the list, although they have still been compiled and given a small space underneath the list proper. It must also be mentioned, that for the second year in a row, Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day would have ranked high on the list. It was disqualified from the 2012 list for technically being a short feature (with a runtime of one hour). In retrospect, its exclusion was a poor decision. It has been mentioned here to give it one last sendoff.

The final rule: No films from last year’s list will be included in the new list, which gives the axe to the following: Zero Dark Thirty (R) (2012), Lincoln (PG-13) (2012), Django Unchained (R) (2012), Amour (PG-13) (2012), Cloud Atlas (R) (2012), Consuming Spirits (NR) (2012), The Gatekeepers (PG-13) (2012), The Waiting Room (NR) (2012), I Wish (Kiseki) (PG) (2011), Tabu (NR) (2012) and Neighboring Sounds (O som ao redor) (NR) (2012).

One final note. Certain independent and foreign productions have such a minuscule release, even they get overlooked by the majority of critics. With too few reviews to draw from, a short list near the bottom of this posting has been allocated for films that are either unreleased or very hard to find. So, without further ado, here is the top 100 (in descending order) most critically acclaimed films that made at least one critic’s top ten list for the year ending 2013:

  1. Gravity (PG-13)
  2. 12 Years a Slave (R)
  3. Before Midnight (R)
  4. The Act of Killing (NR) (2012)
  5. Stories We Tell (PG-13) (2012)
  6. The Square (Al Midan) (NR)
  7. Stranger By the Lake (L’inconnu du lac) (NR)
  8. Let the Fire Burn (NR)
  9. Inside Llewyn Davis (R)
  10. These Birds Walk (NR)
  11. Drug War (Du zhan) (R) (2012)
  12. The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza) (NR)
  13. Her (R)
  14. 20 Feet from Stardom (PG-13)
  15. Gloria (R)
  16. Short Term 12 (R)
  17. American Hustle (R)
  18. Blue Is the Warmest Color (La vie d’Adèle) (NC-17)
  19. The Selfish Giant (NR)
  20. The Past (Le passé) (PG-13)
  21. Wadjda (PG) (2012)
  22. All Is Lost (PG-13)
  23. At Berkeley (NR)
  24. Behind the Candelabra (NR)
  25. Blackfish (PG-13)
  26. Fruitvale Station (R)
  27. Nebraska (R)
  28. Ernest & Celestine (Ernest et Célestine) (PG) (2012)
  29. Captain Phillips (PG-13)
  30. Mother of George (R)
  31. The Unspeakable Act (NR) (2012)
  32. A Hijacking (Kapringen) (R) (2012)
  33. Museum Hours (NR) (2012)
  34. Call Me Kuchu (NR) (2012)
  35. Frances Ha (R) (2012)
  36. No (R) (2012)
  37. Dallas Buyers Club (R)
  38. Mud (PG-13) (2012)
  39. Gimme the Loot (NR) (2012)
  40. Paradise: Hope (Paradies: Hoffnung) (NR)
  41. Viola (NR) (2012)
  42. The Hunt (Jagten) (R) (2012)
  43. Beyond the Hills (Dupa dealuri) (NR) (2012)
  44. Enough Said (PG-13)
  45. Lore (NR) (2012)
  46. The Spectacular Now (R)
  47. Blue Jasmine (PG-13)
  48. Blue Ruin (NR)
  49. Room 237 (NR) (2012)
  50. Our Children (Á perdre la raison) (NR) (2012)
  51. Leviathan (NR) (2012)
  52. Philomena (PG-13)
  53. In the Fog (V tumane) (NR) (2012)
  54. The Wind Rises (Kaze tachinu) (PG-13)
  55. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (R)
  56. The World’s End (R)
  57. Caesar Must Die (Cesare deve morire) (NR) (2012)
  58. Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay (NR) (2012)
  59. Upstream Color (NR)
  60. Berberian Sound Studio (NR)
  61. After Tiller (PG-13)
  62. This Is Martin Bonner (R)
  63. Night Across the Street (La noche de enfrente) (NR) (2012)
  64. A Touch of Sin (Tian zhu ding) (NR)
  65. In a World… (R)
  66. Fill the Void (Lemale et ha’halal) (PG) (2012)
  67. In the House (Dans la maison) (R) (2012)
  68. The Punk Singer (NR)
  69. Inequality For All (PG)
  70. The Attack (R) (2012)
  71. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (PG-13)
  72. Frozen (PG)
  73. Rush (R)
  74. The Wolf of Wall Street (R)
  75. An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (NR) (2012)
  76. Much Ado About Nothing (PG-13) (2012)
  77. Sun Don’t Shine (NR) (2012)
  78. What Maisie Knew (R) (2012)
  79. Side Effects (R)
  80. Blue Caprice (R)
  81. Like Someone In Live (NR) (2012)
  82. I Killed My Mother (J’ai tué ma mère) (NR) (2009)
  83. Prisoners (R)
  84. Child’s Pose (Pozitia copilului) (NR)
  85. Lenny Cooke (NR)
  86. Sightseers (NR) (2012)
  87. Prince Avalanche (R)
  88. The Conjuring (R)
  89. Laurence Anyways (NR) (2012)
  90. Something In the Air (Après mai) (NR) (2012)
  91. Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (R) (2012)
  92. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (R)
  93. Computer Chess (NR)
  94. Reality (R) (2012)
  95. The Armstrong Lie (R)
  96. The Way Way Back (PG-13)
  97. Drinking Buddies (R)
  98. You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (Vous n’avez encore rien vu) (NR) (2012)
  99. The Place Beyond the Pines (R) (2012)
  100. The Broken Circle Breakdown (NR) (2012)

A New Year’s gift to you. Presenting numbers 101-120:

  1. The Immigrant (R)
  2. The Invisible Woman (R)
  3. Hannah Arendt (NR) (2012)
  4. I Used to Be Darker (NR)
  5. This Is the End (R)
  6. Ginger & Rosa (PG-13) (2012)
  7. Saving Mr. Banks (PG-13)
  8. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (NR)
  9. Don Jon (R)
  10. Bastards (Les salauds) (NR)
  11. Monsters University (G)
  12. The Grandmaster (Yi dai zong shi) (PG-13)
  13. Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus (NR)
  14. Iron Man 3 (PG-13)
  15. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (PG-13)
  16. The East (PG-13)
  17. You’re Next (R) (2011)
  18. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (PG-13)
  19. Paradise: Faith (Paradies: Glaube) (NR) (2012)
  20. The Kings of Summer (R)

And the rest of the “best.” These films made someone’s list as well, although they received mixed-to-negative reviews from most critics. In descending order from 121: Pacific Rim (PG-13), Kill Your Darlings (R), Go For Sisters (NR), Despicable Me 2 (PG), Trance (R), It’s a Disaster (R) (2012), Stoker (R), The Unknown Known (PG-13), C.O.G. (R), Spring Breakers (R) (2012), The Bling Ring (R), Fast & Furious 6 (PG-13), The We and the I (NR) (2012), About Time (R), World War Z (PG-13), Terraferma (R) (2011), Lone Survivor (R), Faust (NR) (2011), The Heat (R), Post Tenebras Lux (Light After Darkness) (NR) (2012), For Ellen (NR) (2012), Thor: The Dark World (PG-13), Out of the Furnace (R), The To Do List (R), The Great Gatsby (PG-13), To The Wonder (R) (2012), Riddick (R), The Lords of Salem (R) (2012), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (PG), Pain & Gain (R), Dark Skies (PG-13), The Counselor (R) and Only God Forgives (R).

To be fair, some films are either too new or too under-reviewed to be added to the list. Here are some notable films that would have been on the list if only there were more data to cull from: Age of Panic (La bataille de Solférino) (NR), The Battery (NR) (2012), First Cousin Once Removed (NR) (2012), Golden Slumbers (Le sommeil d’or) (NR) (2011), Ida (NR), In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter (NR) (2012), La jalousie (NR), The Last of the Unjust (Les dernier des injustes) (PG-13), Manakamana (NR), The Missing Picture (L’image manquante) (NR), Nobody’s Daughter Haewon (Nugu-ui ttal-do anin Haewon) (NR), Snowpiercer (NR), Stray Dogs (Jiao you) (NR), Valentine Road (NR), Visitors (NR), Winter of Discontent (El sheita elli fat) (NR) (2012) and You and the Night (Les rencontres d’après minuit) (NR).

Short films good enough to make someone’s top 10: Aningaaq, Like a Rolling Stone, Redemption, and Street of Dreams.

Critics always want their voice heard, and when the end of the year comes, sometimes leaving your list to stand at just 10 or 20 of the year’s best films feels far too constricting. Here are the leftovers that were given one last shout-out by critics outside of their official list: A Band Called Death (NR) (2012), All the Light In the Sky (NR) (2012), Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (PG-13), The Best Man Holiday (R), Blancanieves (PG-13), The Canyons (R), Centro Histórico (NR) (2012), Concussion (R), The Congress (Le congrès) (NR), Les coquillettes (NR) (2012), Cutie and the Boxer (R), Dirty Wars (NR), Elysium (R), Ender’s Game (PG-13), A Field In England (NR), Filth (NR), Greetings from Tim Buckley (NR) (2012), Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (R), Labor Day (PG-13), Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (PG-13), Man of Steel (PG-13), Medora (NR), Night Moves (NR), Now You See Me (PG-13), Oldboy (R), Old Dog (Khyi rgan) (NR) (2011), Only Lovers Left Alive (NR), Paradise: Love (Paradies: Liebe) (NR) (2012), The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (NR) (2012), The Purge (R), Seduced and Abandoned (NR), The Spirit of ’45 (NR), Starred Up (NR), Star Trek Into Darkness (PG-13), The Stone Roses: Made of Stone (NR), The Stuart Hall Project (NR), Tim’s Vermeer (PG-13), Tom at the Farm (Tom à la ferme) (NR), Warm Bodies (PG-13), We Are What We Are (R) and The Wolverine (PG-13).

Here are some more critically acclaimed films of 2013 that didn’t make the cut: The Angels’ Share (NR) (2012), Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (PG-13) (2012), Birth of the Living Dead (NR), The Crash Reel (NR), Fire In the Blood (NR), God Loves Uganda (NR), Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (NR) (2012), Hava Nagila: The Movie (NR) (2012), The History of Future Folk (NR), I Am Breathing (NR), I Am Divine (NR), The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete (R), In Fear (R), Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? (Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky) (NR), Koch (NR) (2012), Le Week-End (NR), Metro Manila (NR), Muscle Shoals (PG), My Brother the Devil (NR) (2012), One Life (NR) (2011), Our Nixon (NR), Paradise: Hope (Paradies: Hoffnung) (NR), A Place at the Table (PG) (2012), Sound City (NR), Still Mine (PG-13) (2012), Storm Surfers 3D (NR) (2012), Sunshine on Leith (NR), What Richard Did (NR) (2012), White Reindeer (NR) and You Will Be My Son (Tu seras mon fils) (R) (2011).

Did the critics get it wrong? Is your favorite film of 2013 not on the list? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below.


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