This weekend marks the end of June and with it the end of the first half of 2013. It's hard to tell if at least half of the films of this year have been released already, so we can't pretend we've reached a midpoint in that regard, but it is an annual tradition to take a pause at this time and look back on what we've seen in the first six months.
Many movie websites have already begun posting their lists of the best of 2013 so far, and this morning Indiewire released its regular midpoint critics poll. The top five named there include Before Midnight, Upstream Color, Spring Breakers, Frances Ha and Stories We Tell. If that's a little too indie for your tastes, well, recent summer tentpoles that made the cut include This Is the End (#15), Man of Steel (#26), Star Trek Into Darkness (#36), Iron Man 3 (#37) and this weekend's box office champ, Monsters University (#47).
Compare that list to the also-critic-based Rotten Tomatoes list of the best (reviewed) of this year, and there are a few alternates in the mix. The five ranking the highest are, in order, Sound City, Mud, Before Midnight, A Hijacking and 20 Feet from Stardom. Just for fun contrast, here are the top five highest grossing films of the year so far: Iron Man 3, Oz the Great and Powerful, Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel.
That's interesting. Who would have guessed that threequels would top both the critic list and the box office for 2013?
If you don't see your favorite or pick for best of the past six months, maybe an international list would suit you better. The Guardian names The Place Beyond the Pines, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek Into Darkness and Mud in the top five as voted by readers (Django Unchained, which was a 2012 release in the U.S., is its number one).
Back on the mainly American Web, we've got the Playlist adding The Kings of Summer and Behind the Candelabra to the mix. Another Soderbergh, Side Effects, places well at RVA News, which also includes Warm Bodies. Screen Crush names Man of Steel its number two and also highly recognizes Room 237 and Stoker.
As usual, there are tons of documentaries on these midyear reviews, including 56 Up (number 10 at Arizona Republic), Leviathan, Call Me Kuchu and the actually not-yet-released The Act of Killing. It's always nice to see these acknowledged since they rarely survive to the majority of final end-of-year lists. The same goes for blockbusters, which often get a pass at this time of year, even when it's as disappointing a season so far.
If you want to know my pick, it's Sarah Polley's family documentary Stories We Tell. Although I'm really behind on indie and foreign releases this year, I can't imagine seeing anything better from the past six months or the coming half year.
What's the best film of the year so far?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter: