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The year isn’t quite over yet, but unless everyone reading this (and The New York Times, for that matter) stops now and goes to the movies, the box office receipts aren’t going to change too much. Here are the top-grossing films for 2014: Guardians of the Galaxy; The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; The LEGO Movie; and Transformers: Age of Extinction. As a feminist and a mother, I might applaud the fact that the second title features a courageous young woman, but my satisfaction is marred, for two reasons. First, heroine Katniss Everdeen spends the bulk of the movie in a PTSD haze, and second, the recent Sony hacks have revealed that even box-office-gold actresses like Jennifer Lawrence aren’t compensated as well as their male costars.

Even with Hunger Games, the list has little to recommend it to mature, thinking women like ourselves. Where are our movies?

Superheroes, special effects, dystopian drama—it was certainly a year in which bigger did better at the box office, at least. But box office receipts measure only money. Some of the year’s best films appear far lower on the list—or not at all. But they’re worth tracking down at the theater (if you’re lucky) or on demand through your cable operator, Netflix, or Amazon Prime.

Two of my favorite 2014 films did post respectable profits. Richard Linklater’s remarkable Boyhood comes in at 94, while Michael Keaton’s tour de force, Birdman, follows close behind at 98. In fairness, Boyhood had a limited release and Birdman wasn’t released until October. With so much awards buzz surrounding their casts and creators, their receipts will surely grow.

Birdman is a strange, mythic tale of an over-the-hill action star who is making one last attempt to legitimize himself as an actor. Michael Keaton’s performance as Riggan is a revelation, and he’s well matched by an ensemble that includes Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, and Andrea Riseborough. Much of the movie takes place backstage at a Broadway theater, where the camera moves through labyrinthian hallways, dressing rooms, and the stage. Time outside the theater is suspended as the cast muddles through previews and prepares for Riggan’s career-defining opening night. The line between rehearsal and reality—between sanity and superpowers—is always blurred, and the film’s ending is at once sorrowful and satisfying. Since seeing Birdman with my mother (who also loved it), I’ve recommended it to many, with the caveat that “It’s wonderful, but not like anything else. Be prepared for a wild ride.”

Boyhood, on the other hand (and, indeed, I’d be hard-pressed to choose between them—they’re both so marvelous and unusual, and so very different from each other), finds the extraordinary in the ordinary. Director/writer Linklater follows the life of a young boy, Mason, from age 5 through 18. This is not so unusual, in and of itself, but where Linklater blurs the lines is that he actually spent 13 years making the movie. Along with a small central cast, he revisited the story for a few weeks every summer. So, as we watch Mason’s story, we’re also witness to magnetic young actor Ellar Coltrane as he grows up. Parents Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette age naturally, and the story itself is shaped by real events, like 9/11, woven into the narrative. While I didn’t know whether to cry or exult when Birdman ended, I felt bereft as I left Boyhood. It was as though I had watched a nephew or beloved godson grow up and would now—quite unfairly—be shut out of his adult life. What an incredible and extremely successful filmmaking experiment!

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