BEST - 1. 'Boyhood'
Ever since I locked eyes, mind and heart on Richard Linklater's gamechanger at Sundance back in January, I had a hunch that 2014 movies weren't going to get better than this unassuming masterpiece. So far, at the year's midpoint, I haven't been proved wrong. Using his own boyhood as a blueprint, the Austin-based writer-director cast the mesmerizing Ellar Coltrane, then six, as Mason, a Texas child of divorce. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette excel as his parents. And Lorlei Linklater, the director's daughter, is a hellraiser as Mason's older sister. Carving out time each year for 12 years (39 days and 143 scenes total), Linklater filmed these actors until he had assembled a tapestry of growing up like nothing else in cinema. Out of the specifics of one boy's life, from first-grade to the brink of college, Linklater creates a universal coming-of-age story, a risky stunt that morphs right in front of us into something unique and unforgettable.