The 3 Best Movies of 2013

Robert Downey Jr. thrilled audiences in Iron Man 3. Credit: Marvel Studios.

Last weekend we gave you a closer look at Hollywood's worst. Now it's time to review the best movies of 2013. Movies that thrilled, chilled, and spilled a whole lot of moola into the coffers of the studios that produced them.

Let's begin with the blockbusters. Below are the three best-performing movies that appeared in at least 1,000 U.S. theaters, according to data supplied by Box Office Mojo:

Movie
Worldwide Gross
Production Budget
Rotten Tomatoes Rating
Studio Distributor

Iron Man 3

$1,215.4 million

$200 million

79%

Buena Vista

Despicable Me 2

$918.6 million

$76 million

75%

Universal

Fast & Furious 6

$788.7 million

$160 million

70%

Universal

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Rotten Tomatoes.

What about the year's low-budget surprises? They're here, and they're just as profitable as you'd expect:

Movie
Worldwide Gross
Production Budget
Rotten Tomatoes Rating
Studio Distributor

The Conjuring

$316.7 million

$20 million

87%

Warner Bros.

Identity Thief

$173.9 million

$35 million

19%

Universal

Bad Grandpa

$139.3 million

$15 million

61%

Paramount Pictures

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Rotten Tomatoes.

Notice anything? Just as poor reviews tend to predict a poor box office, good reviews can drive traffic to the theater. No studio benefited quite so much from this dynamic as Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Buena Vista studios. Ironic, I think, when two of its films -- The Fifth Estate (made in concert with DreamWorks Studios) and The Lone Ranger -- ranked among the year's worst. Positive reviews for IM3, Thor: The Dark World, Monsters University, and Frozen, among others, helped the House of Mouse produce its best-ever year at the box office.

You could also make a strong argument for Universal and parent Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) , which reported a 163% increase in operating profit from filmed entertainment in the third quarter. Three Universal films make the list, including the widely panned winner Identity Thief. Melissa McCarthy may be Hollywood's most bankable comedy star right now.

Finally, I think Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) deserves a nod not only for backing the horror megahit The Conjuring and sci-fi Rule Breaker Gravity, but also for collecting $170 million in product placement for Man of Steel. Mix in more than $660 million in worldwide grosses and Warner's Superman reboot has to rank among the year's most profitable films.

Bring 'em the gold statue!
So which movies were the best of the best? I'd say:

3. Fast & Furious 6 for proving that an ensemble cast having a grand time can keep a franchise fun and fresh through -- count 'em -- six films. Impressive. If only we could have actor Paul Walker back for a seventh film (our condolences to Mr. Walker's friends and family).

2. Despicable Me 2 for figuring out how to turn nonsense-spewing yellow mascots into box office gold.

1. The Conjuring for reminding moviegoers that creepy beats gory when it comes to terrifying (and delighting) audiences.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. What are your picks for the best movies of 2013? Leave a comment in the box below to let us know what you think.

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  • Report this Comment On December 14, 2013, at 11:32 AM, nostatic wrote:

    "Best?" Since when did worldwide gross have anything to do with artistic merit? None of these movies were the best--other than in their box-office performance. The Fool should be ashamed for blurring this distinction.

  • Report this Comment On December 14, 2013, at 12:06 PM, junee wrote:

    1. Frozen

    2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

    3. Gravity

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