During the final four months of 2013, Hollywood studios will release films that stand the greatest chance at winning year-end glory from critics and awards groups. Which movies, however, from the first two-thirds of the year have had the biggest impact among the cognoscenti? Not, as it turns out, "Iron Man 3," "Despicable Me 2" or "Man of Steel," 2013's top three box office hits to date. Ahead, the 10 best-reviewed movies of 2013 thus far, as judged by Rotten Tomatoes scores.
10. "Drug War"
9. "The Act of Killing"
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97 percent (from 101 reviews)
Sample Review: "To describe 'The Act of Killing' as a riveting documentary about Indonesian death squads that terrorized that country’s citizens in the 1960s might be factually accurate. But it doesn’t get nearly to the heart of it. This audacious, horrifying, boldly experimental plunge into the mind-set of murderers and the culture of impunity breaks so many rules of documentary decorum that it virtually creates its own genre: investigative improv, perhaps. Or, better yet, Brechtian nonfiction." -- Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
8. "Cutie and the Boxer"
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98 percent (from 41 reviews)
Sample Review: "It' unusual to see a documentary as emotionally full-bodied as 'Cutie and the Boxer,' a visual feast that portrays one extraordinary marriage and reflects countless others." -- Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
7. "Short Term 12"
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98 percent (from 58 reviews)
Sample Review: "'Short Term 12,' probably the year's most powerful feature film to date, could have gone wrong in many, many ways. It could have been an after-school special, or a mawkish social-problem film. It could have been smug, exploitative or politically self-righteous." -- Stephen Silver, Tell
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98 percent (from 93 reviews)
Sample Review: "It not only delivers astonishing, suspenseful footage that makes it a legitimate thriller, but also serves up thoughtful meditations about using wild animals for our own entertainment." -- David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98 percent (from 158 reviews)
Sample Review: "Even when it feels like 'Mud' is drifting off to sea, the director finds a way to keep the movie –- and its audience –- exactly where he wants them." -- Adam Nayman, Globe and Mail
4. "Before Midnight"
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98 percent (from 162 reviews)
Sample Review: "One of the best films of 2013 and the irresistible climax to Richard Linklater's trilogy of on-the-run amour." -- Peter Howell, Toronto Star
3. "20 Feet From Stardom"
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99 percent (from 72 reviews)
Sample Review: "This generous, fascinating documentary about the careers of backup singers, most of them African-American women, seeks to rewrite the history of pop music by focusing attention on voices at once marginal and vital." -- A.O. Scott, New York Times
1. "Sound City"
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100 percent (from 34 reviews)
Sample Review: "High-spirited, emotional and funny, 'Sound City' is, of all things, a mash note to a machine. Not just any machine, however, but one that helped change the face of rock 'n' roll." -- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times