This was an impressive year for film. No matter the genre – from horror to heroes, awards-bait to animation – 2014 offered a buffet of challenging, disturbing, uplifting and rewarding cinematic excursions. This also was a diverse year for cinema. We had iconic storytellers working at the top of their individual games (Wes Anderson, David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson come to mind). And we saw relative newcomers like Ava DuVernay, Damien Chazelle and someone named Angelina Jolie announce their presence as directors to which we need to pay close attention. This was the year that the comic-book genre planted its deepest roots, inviting audiences on goofy interstellar adventures and expanding the scope of traditional "super" powers like the X-Men series. And what more can be said about the monumental achievement of Richard Linklater’s 12-year odyssey, Boyhood?

This, then, is my list of the 10 best films of 2014. All lists are subjective, and I’m sure we will disagree on certain selections. But these are the films that moved me most, the ones that either hit with the largest impact or stuck with the greatest intensity. They are the films I have revisited, analyzed, enjoyed and shared with fellow film geeks, and they are the ones I hold closest to the soul. Hit me up in the comments section with your reactions, and help me celebrate what ended up being an incredible year at the movies.

Chef
10. Chef
Much like Swingers (which he wrote, but didn’t direct), Jon Favreau’s Chef is a heartfelt, bittersweet and painfully honest story about existing at a certain age. It’s written, directed and acted by a man who actually experienced everything that we’re witnessing on screen – the good and the horrifically bad. Favreau's blood and sweat is in Chef, and I both admire and appreciate the candor he brings to his life, his career and his uncertain future. Try to watch the scene where Favreau’s chef character publically confronts a food critic without imagining the actual director screaming at the movie scribes who took down his Cowboys & Aliens or Iron Man 2. You can’t.

But beyond the Hollywood confessional, Chef also is a fantastic "foodie" movie, brimming with some of the best kitchen and food-prep scenes I’ve seen in years. It’s a tender father-son journey movie that cuts through conventional storytelling methods and finds the beating heart that drives creativity and passion. Chef is this year’s top crowd-pleaser.

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