That masked figure flapping behind Michael Keaton was the most obvious special effect in the film, but it was far from the most interesting. Birdman, shot on an $18 million budget in thirty days, used long, panning shots and hidden cuts to create the appearance of one long continuous take. All that chicanery has a purpose—it drags you by your collar through the story, creating a moviegoing experience unlike anything else we’ve seen this year.

This stub is part of our “Best Of 2014” special effects package. You can check out the creativity and tech that went into other amazing films from this year here.