Nine official adaptations, three moving romances, two historical dramas, and one horrifying storybook are among some of the films on HuffPost Entertainment’s list of 2014′s best movies. In a year where 17 of the 20 highest-grossing films hail from franchises or adaptations, we’ve filtered out the noise to determine the best the cineplex had to offer. And there was a lot. Our list doesn’t include “Into the Woods,” “Under the Skin,” “Only Lovers Left Alive,” “Snowpiercer,” “Godzilla,” “The LEGO Movie,” “Starred Up,” “Ida,” “The Imitation Game” or “Neighbors” — but it easily could have. Which means there’s more than enough to fill the next few months’ wintry weekends with the movies you didn’t manage to catch in theaters. Any of the aforementioned titles will do, but we especially recommend the following 20 gems (plus two more personal favorites):

The Case For “Edge of Tomorrow”

Tom Cruise’s best movie in nearly a decade had a terrible title and some pretty uninspiring trailers, but none of it mattered when it came to the film itself. As directed by Doug Liman, “Edge of Tomorrow” is like a Road Runner cartoon mixed with “Jerry Maguire” and some lost John Wayne movie about World War II (except with aliens replacing Nazis). Cruise is inspired as the cowardly lieutenant colonel, but it’s Emily Blunt who steals the show. Playing a true war hero (and propaganda symbol) who helps Cruise through his time-travel loop, Blunt is the year’s most awesome action star. “Edge of Tomorrow” was one of the summer’s biggest surprises, and it remains a standout on the list of 2014 features. If only all action movies took as many risks as Liman and his cast do here. – Christopher Rosen

The Case For “Chef”

 
This delightful charmer written, directed by and starring Jon Favreau can feel like blithe, feel-good fair. And it is, but it’s also an artful tale of a man (Favreau) determined not to let his stature dwindle. That goes for his status as a respected California chef and his relationship with his doting preteen son (darling breakout star Emjay Anthony), with whom he sets out to start a bustling food truck. Their road trip takes them to Miami, Austin and New Orleans, giving us a mouth-watering cultural fusion that turns into a heartfelt look at familial bonds and midlife self-discovery. With a supporting cast that includes Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale and Robert Downey Jr., a kicker here about how “Chef” is delicious fun would be corny, but also appropriate. – Matthew Jacobs
 

20. “Top Five”

 
What a year for R-rated comedies not named “A Million Ways to Die In the West”: “Neighbors,” “22 Jump Street,” and “The Interview” were all surprisingly thoughtful, unnecessarily well made and, oh, super effing funny. But none had the sustained laughs and auteur stamp of “Top Five.” Chris Rock’s stab at the kind of personal filmmaking Woody Allen has trafficked in for decades is, for lack of a better word, hilarious. It’s also the kind of movie that asks tough questions about fame, addiction and race relations in a way few comedies dare dream. Rock has never had a platform like this before, but the hope is that he will again. As Allen’s films fade into a kind of dusty obscurity (“Magic in the Moonlight” was so bad that any goodwill leftover from “Blue Jasmine” was lost), maybe Rock can pop out one talky, profane comedy a year in his stead. – CR
 

19. “The Boxtrolls” 

 
“The LEGO Movie” and “Big Hero 6″ gave us action-packed charisma, but “The Boxtrolls” is the animated film that softened our cynical hearts the most this year. That’s what happens when a movie’s protagonist is a subterranean kid named Eggs who’s been raised by a pack of benevolent trolls with no concept of species, gender, race, age or sexuality. If that sounds like the basis for a utopia or perhaps just another think-piece, fear not: The stop-motion film, made by “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Coraline” director Henry Selick, is fun to experience and look at. Its underworld and the aristocracy that wants to squash it provides some of the year’s most imaginative escapism for those of all species, genders, races, ages and sexualities. – MJ
 

18. “Beyond the Lights”

 
Fourteen years after its release, “Love & Basketball” had a bit of a resurgence this year (Roxane Gay and Lena Dunham are fans). Maybe it won’t take so long for director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s latest film, “Beyond the Lights,” to catch on with the zeitgeist. An old-school Hollywood romance that doubles as a modern investigation about how the music industry over-sexualizes female performers, “Beyond the Lights” was one of the year’s best love stories. It features what should be a star-making turn from Nate Parker (get him a Bond movie) and transformative work from Gugu Mbatha-Raw. In a better world, Mbatha-Raw would be in the thick of the Best Actress race for playing Noni, a pop star who strips away the artifice of her record label (and her stage mother, played by Minnie Driver) to find an honesty that she has avoided since youth. Put her in all the movies. – CR
 
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