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So, how many movies did you see this year? By my count, just under 500 movies opened in the Seattle area in 2014 (“opened” defined to mean that they had at least a week’s run in a local theater); despite what seems like a year spent in Cinema 5 at Pacific Place, I saw barely half of them. (My popcorn total for the year shall, I’m sorry to say, remain private.)

It’s impossible to see every movie, or even almost every movie, and that’s why I always resist calling my end-of-year list a “10 best” list — surely there were some wonderful films that I missed, and maybe will catch up to someday. Instead, it’s an alphabetical list of my favorites of the year from what I saw, restricted to 10 because of tradition and convenience.

As usual, my list is a varied lot, ranging from a Hollywood blockbuster to a movie that, I believe, can’t be legally shown in a for-profit theater. Each of them left me dazzled and wanting to watch it again immediately; each transported me to a place I’d never been, as all great movies do. I hope you all saw 10 films this year that you enjoyed as much as I did these. Without further ado …

Birdman.” Wildly original (its seemingly one-shot cinematography is a wonder), Alejandro González Iñárritu’s backstage comedy/drama is both an actors’ showcase and a gloriously wandering examination on life and art.

Boyhood.” Twelve years ago, surely anyone who heard Richard Linklater’s plans for this movie thought he was nuts. Now, here it is: the simple, magical story of a child growing up, quite literally, before our eyes. Nothing this year moved me more.

Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen.” Speaking of insane endeavors: Hungarian filmmaker György Pálfi meticulously edited together clips from 450 classic films (yes, you heard me; most are only a few seconds long) to create this unique love story. You won’t find it available for rental or streaming, due to rights issues, but its brief run at SIFF earlier this year was a mesmerizing treat; it’s a crazy, invigorating burst of movie love.

Gone Girl.” Did any movie this year have bigger expectations on it than this ice-cold thriller, based on Gillian Flynn’s you-must-read-this-NOW novel? David Fincher, Flynn herself (as screenwriter), Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck knocked it out of the park. I’m still shivering.

The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Art theft, highly skilled pastry-making, a thrilling snow chase, imprisonment, romance, unexpected friendship, secret societies of hospitality employees and the discovery of a character named Monsieur Chuck — Wes Anderson’s latest was pure, inventive pleasure, in every whimsical and beautifully composed frame.

Life Itself.” Steve James’ documentary about the late Roger Ebert is so vividly done that you leave it feeling that you lost a friend — if you didn’t have that feeling already when Ebert died last year. It’s a writer’s story, a love story, and a moving depiction of the final days of a life well lived. Ebert’s final public written words: “I’ll see you at the movies.” He was right.

Like Father, Like Son.” Hirokazu Kore-Eda, whose gentle, lovely films often focus on children (“I Wish,” “Nobody Knows”), here examines parenthood: What do you do when you are told, as are two contemporary Japanese couples, that your beloved 6-year-old isn’t biologically yours? Every moment in this quietly soulful film rings true, with every character treated with kindness.

Love Is Strange.” My favorite love story this year was Ira Sachs’ low-key tale of a longtime couple (John Lithgow, Alfred Molina) finally able to be married, only to be separated by the realities of Manhattan real estate. Wonderfully acted (you saw the ease these two have with each other) and perfectly understated.

Mood Indigo.” Over the top? You bet? Out of control? Maybe. But nothing in cinema this year was anything like Michel Gondry’s irresistibly goofball fantasia, a marvel of curlicue surrealism — deep inside of which, somehow, a love story bloomed.

Selma.” Generally I restrict this list to movies that open in Seattle during the calendar year — but I’m making an exception for Ava DuVernay’s remarkable and timely slice of history, opening here Jan. 9 (but Oscar-eligible, and -worthy, this year). It’s not a biopic, but a mesmerizing depiction of a crucial moment in the civil-rights struggle; and you can see the passion that went into this film in every scene.

Ten more movies I loved: “Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil LeClerq,” “A Birder’s Guide to Everything,” “Finding Vivian Maier,” “Get On Up,” “The Imitation Game,” “National Gallery,” “Only Lovers Left Alive,” “Pride,” “Two Days, One Night” (opening here in late January), “Under the Skin.”

Ten big disappointments (though a few of these had their moments): “And So It Goes,” “Bad Words,” “Horrible Bosses 2,” “The Judge,” “Magic in the Moonlight,” “Men, Women and Children,” “The Monuments Men,” “Tammy,” “Third Person,” “Winter’s Tale.”

As always, I’ll close with a wish for happiness, laughter and peace in 2015 — at the movies, and elsewhere.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or