It won the Camera d'Or at Cannes. Slant Magazine gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says, "Hushpuppy's struggle to determine her place in the world, to understand the repercussions of her words and actions, to distinguish between the real and the fantasy, drives the film and propels it toward ecstasy." Rolling Stone gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says "it creates a world to get lost in, a world of beauty, terror and mythic wonder." EW says it's "a thing of beauty and originality — and for that, sustained huzzahs are in order" and gives it a grade of A.
Slate doesn't care for it, saying, "It’s nothing if not original. But that doesn’t mean it’s good." NPR has a mixed review.
Roger Ebert gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says, "Sometimes miraculous films come into being, made by people you've never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is one of the year's best films." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 86%.