The longer you go on watching and writing about film, the more you start to feel like one of those jaded vampires in Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive." It's as though art's power to surprise and amaze you is nowhere near what it was when you were fresh to it. "Gone Girl" and "Interstellar" were both good films, but how good you rate them might depend on whether you've already seen "Basic Instinct" and "To Die For," or "Contact" and "2001," respectively. Amid the many decent films of 2014, there were a few that I can honestly say were as powerful and astonishing as anything I've seen in my life.

1. The Broken Circle Breakdown

A Belgian bluegrass film? Dispel all doubts: This cinematic firebomb follows a bluegrass musician and a tattoo artist who fall madly in love, face the loss of their child, and then fall apart. It's a straight-over-the-edge romance, as passionate about music as love, and desperately tragic, the type that only comes along once in a generation (e.g., "Betty Blue" from 1986 or "Head-On" from 2004).