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The Best Sleeper Hit Films of 2013  

Ranker Film
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List of the best sleeper hit films of 2013, as ranked by movies lovers and film critics. In the film industry, when a movie isn’t a huge franchise, an action film with a big name attached, or a highly anticipated sequel it’s not a guarantee that the movie will make any money. Smaller films,back by indie production companies, can only hope that word of mouth will make the audience and box office draw grow. A sleeper hit is when a movie starts off with very little buzz and develops into a massive success, often without much marketing. Many sleeper films have ended up being among the biggest movies of all time. In 2013, there were plenty of sleeper hits that surprised the entire industry.  

Most of the time, the reason a film is considered a sleeper hit is because it had very little promotion, no major stars, and a tiny budget.Movies like Frances Ha, Fruitvale Station, and All Is Lost fall under that category. However, other times movies are considered sleeper hits because the industry expects them to underperform. The Heat, for example, wasn’t expected to do well because of the two female leads, but ended up being one of the biggest movies of the year. The Purge got basically no marketing but ended up one of the highest grossing horror films of 2013.

What are the biggest sleeper hit films of 2013? This list features the top movies to surprise the whole entertainment industry with their success.

list ordered by
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Steve Carell, Amanda Peet, AnnaSophia Robb
The Way, Way Back is a 2013 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash in their directorial debut. The film stars Liam James, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison ...more
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Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello
Prisoners is a 2013 drama thriller film written by Aaron Guzikowski and directed by Denis Villeneuve.
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Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson
Now You See Me is a 2013 thriller film directed by Louis Leterrier and written by Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt .
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Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer
Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Ryan Coogler, based on true events. The story of Oscar Grant III (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, ...more
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Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling
The Place Beyond the Pines is a 2012 drama film directed by Derek Cianfrance. In 1997, Luke Glanton (Gosling) is a motorcycle stuntman. In Schenectady, New York, Luke reunites with his ex-lover ...more
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Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
Gravity is a 2013 science fiction thriller film directed, co-written, and produced by Alfonso Cuarón. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts, and sees them stranded in ...more
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Shailene Woodley, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jennifer Jason Leigh
The Spectacular Now is a 2013 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by James Ponsoldt, written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber and starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. The ...more
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Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman
Pacific Rim is a 2013 action sci-fi film directed by Guillermo del Toro.
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Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver, Michael Zegen
Frances Ha is a 2013 American comedy-drama film directed by Noah Baumbach and written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Gerwig also plays the title role. The film premiered at the Telluride Film ...more
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Alison Brie, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman
The Kings of Summer is a 2013 comedy film written by Chris Galletta and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts.
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George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon
The Monuments Men is a 2014 American-German film directed by George Clooney, written and produced by Clooney and Grant Heslov, and starring Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean ...more
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Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Joey King
The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and the first installment in the Conjuring series. Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are ...more
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Emma Watson, James Franco, Channing Tatum
The comedy "This is the End" follows six friends trapped in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles. As the world unravels outside, dwindling ...more
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Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Emma Thompson
Saving Mr. Banks is a 2013 period drama film directed by John Lee Hancock from a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Centered on the development of the 1964 Walt Disney Studios ...more
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Lena Headey, Ethan Hawke, Adelaide Kane
The Purge is a 2013 American social science fiction action horror film written and directed by James DeMonaco. It stars Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane and Max Burkholder. It is the ...more
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Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Wayans
The Heat is a 2013 American buddy cop comedy film written by Katie Dippold and directed by Paul Feig. The plot centers on Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn ...more
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Rachel Bilson, Aubrey Plaza, Connie Britton
The To Do List is a 2013 American comedy film, released on July 26, 2013. Written and directed by Maggie Carey in her feature film directorial debut, the film stars Aubrey Plaza, Christopher ...more
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Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren
Red 2 is an American action comedy film and sequel to Red. It was inspired by the limited comic book series of the same name, created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, and published by the DC ...more
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Pierce Brosnan, Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman
The World's End is a 2013 science fiction comedy directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike and ...more
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Robert Redford
All Is Lost is a 2013 survival drama film written and directed by J. C. Chandor. The film stars Robert Redford as a man lost at sea. Redford is the only cast member, and the film has very few ...more
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Nia Long, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan
The Best Man Holiday is a 2013 American comedy-drama film directed by Malcolm D. Lee, and a sequel to the 1999 film The Best Man. When college friends reunite after 15 years over the Christmas ...more
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Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode
Stoker is a 2012 Drama, horror, mystery and thriller film written by Wentworth Miller and Erin Cressida Wilson and directed by Chan-wook Park.
The Butler is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Sleeper Hit Films of 2013
Mariah Carey, Robin Williams, Oprah Winfrey
The Butler is a 2013 American historical drama film directed and produced by Lee Daniels and written by Danny Strong. Loosely based on the real life of Eugene Allen, the film stars Forest ...more
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Karla Souza, Eugenio Derbez, Jesús Ochoa
Instructions Not Included is a 2013 Mexican comedy-drama film co-written, directed by, and starring Eugenio Derbez.
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Lindsay Lohan, Gus Van Sant, James Deen
The Canyons is a 2013 American erotic thriller-drama film directed by Paul Schrader and written by Bret Easton Ellis. The film is set in Los Angeles and stars Lindsay Lohan, James Deen, Nolan ...more