There was actually some magic in the air in 'Now You See Me' and 'Burt Wonderstone' (Photo: Summit/WB)
There tends to be a lot of overlap in year-end movies lists, with the same 10 or 15 movies turning up time and time again.
You will not see "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle" on this list, though. (For that, turn to our list of The 25 Best Movies of 2013.)
This is a list of the movies this year that didn't get the critical (and in some cases, audience) support they needed, yet are well worth your time. The criteria we used: All films included needed to have an approval rating of 75 percent or less on the go-to reviews aggregators).
If you missed them in theaters, check them out on DVD, Blu-ray or on-demand. They might just surprise you.
13. "You're Next"
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75 percent
A violent cross between "Funny Games" and "August Osage County," this home-invasion horror movie should have been a summer sleeper — but wasn't, grossing only $18 million at the box office. A family reunion goes awry in a fancy country house as one by one the family members are felled until a female guest (Sharni Vinson) goes all survivalist on the violent villains. Make this smart shocker the next addition to your queue. — Thelma Adams
12. "The Iceman"
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 67 percent
Completely disappearing into his role, Michael Shannon is both provocative and terrifying as an infamous cold-blooded contract killer for the mob. Based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski — dubbed "The Iceman" because he froze his many victims — Shannon captures a killer's palpable rage, always brewing just beneath the surface. It's also pretty great to see Winona Ryder's pitch-perfect performance as Kuklinski's ever-loving, naive wife. — Meriah Doty
11. "The Heat"66 percent
Is "The Heat" a completely original concept? No, there have been plenty of buddy cop comedies before it, but not ones that involved the unique comedic talent that is Melissa McCarthy and her easy chemistry with Sandra Bullock. Their cinematic antics, under the direction of "Bridesmaids" helmer Paul Feig, were much more fun to watch than the vast majority of the comedies released in 2013 (ahem, "Grown Ups 2" and "The Internship"). — Kara Warner
[Related: The 25 Best Movies of 2013]
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 62 percent
Savvy, powerful vampire heroines. An Oscar-winning director (Neil Jordan, "The Crying Game"). An epic, complex story that masterfully weaves in and out of eras — and gritty underworlds. Why this engrossing, beautiful film didn't find a proper audience in theaters is beyond us. Forget the critics, Byzantium is a haunting, thoughtful masterpiece waiting to be discovered. — M.D.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 60 percent
After seven years governating, Arnold Schwarzenegger finally got back to doing what he does best: actionating. While Arnold may be noticeably older, he embraces those years while still mightily displaying everything that made him THE man of action in the first place: self-referential one liners, a stoic sense of justice, and fist-pumping fun. Add a dash of Jaimie Alexander, an easy-to-root-for team of misfits, Forest Whitaker, big guns, and fast cars, and you've got yourself a good-time, throwback actioner that fits perfectly within Schwarzenegger's canon. — Adam Pockross
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 50 percent
We all know that going to see any movie, particularly one about magic, requires a suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy the story and go with the flow. And while there were some moments that seemed more far-fetched than others, "Now You See Me" was a very pleasantly surprising and playful caper, further enhanced by its likable cast: Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco. It deserved its $117 million box-office haul and less judgmental/cranky reviews from critics. — K.W.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 49 percent
Based on Markus Zusak's affecting international bestseller, this period drama narrated by Death about a young orphan (rising teen star Sophie Nelisse) and her German foster parents (Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson) scratching to survive while harboring a Jewish runaway in their basement seemed like it was Oscar bound. And then the critics swarmed in. But don't be deterred: This is a brilliantly acted, heartbreaking and insightful story about humanity in wartime. — T.A.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 49 percent
It takes watching the Michael Bay crime romp to marvel over the fact that most of its events actually happened. The volume gets turned up to ludicrous as Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Anthony Mackie play Miami bodybuilders attempting the dumbest kidnapping-for-money scheme in history. Drinking game idea: Take a swig every time the newbie crooks make an egregious error in judgment. — M.D.
[Related: The 10 Worst Movies of 2013]
5. "Last Vegas"
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 45 percent
"Last Vegas" is everything a contemporary studio movie is supposed not to be: a bunch of well-past-their-prime actors aimlessly and formulaically drifting around Sin City in a weekend free of call girls, sensational gross-out scenes, or buzzy stunt casting. And for all those reasons, it is a delight. It is impossible not to love just hanging out in the presence of four great stars like Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline. Predictable though the plot may be, its surprise comes in just how much emotional depth comes from these lions of the screen genuinely grappling with aging and facing the sunset of their lives. Not to mention, whatever age he is, Kline's comic timing remains a precision-guided missile. — Richard Rushfield
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 36 percent
We'll admit, the trailer for this one made it look pretty craptastic; so expectations were set firmly at bay going in. But what a trick Steve Carell and company pull off in this comedy clearly inspired by Kris Angel's feats and Siegfried and Roy's hair. A bit schmaltzy, yes, but there are a surprising amount of genuinely laugh-out-loud moments here, and in a bit part, it's the funniest Jim Carrey has been years (turns out he can be better served in small doses). The definitive "worth a rental" pick. — Kevin Polowy
3. "Gangster Squad"
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 32 percent
Here we blame the barrage of shaky press Ruben Fleischer's late-'40s mob flick received, namely around its delay (in part due to recuts around a scene involving a movie theater shooting, in response to the Aurora, Colorado, tragedy) and move from out of the prestigious fall awards season into the dumping ground of January. No, it is not Oscar-worthy, but it is a beautiful sort of a mess, an entertaining (if slight) movie full of zoot suits and shoot-em-ups, and featuring a gloriously over-the-top performance by Sean Penn as Micky Cohen. It feels more like "Dick Tracy" than "L.A. Confidential," and that's not always a terrible thing. — K.P.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 26 percent
Sure, Dane Cook is in it. Fine, it kinda looks like "Cars" in the air. And yeah, it was only supposed to be a straight-to-video job. But after Jon Lasseter realized how good "Planes" could be, he put it through the Disney multi-point flight safety inspection test and created a visually stunning, heart-on-its-sleeve underdog story that soared way beyond our expectations. — A.P.
1. "Girl Most Likely"
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 19 percent
There are two types of people in this world: those who think Kristen Wiig is hilarious, and those who do not. The latter should probably stay away from this dark comedy, originally titled "Imogene," about a failed playwright hitting rock bottom. But the former should not miss this underseen, underappreciated indie that's thoroughly funny and tender, features a side-splitting turn from Annette Bening as Imogene's free-spirited mother, and showcases Wiig's dramatic chops, also currently on display in "Walter Mitty" and a couple projects to come in 2014. — K.P.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Michael Shannon
- Richard Kuklinski