“My son [Maddox] became a teenager,” Jolie, 39, tells PEOPLE. “That was a marker in my year.”
In this week’s exclusive cover story, the actress and director looks back at 2014 and reflects on how much her life has changed since her 20s, admitting she never thought she could be this happy when she was growing up.
“More than anything, like any mom, I’m just happy the kids are healthy,” Jolie says. “I married their dad. My health is good.”
Jolie talks about how her six kids are growing up – and how they played a big role in the couple’s August nuptials, acting as wedding planners for the big day.
“They did a really good job!” Jolie raves about the wedding, held at their estate in France. “The eight of us celebrated, and Brad and I committed our lives to the children.”
The director of the World War II drama Unbroken, out Dec. 25, also discusses her future and says she’ll do just a few more acting jobs before making a permanent move behind the camera.
“I’ve loved being an actor, but I’m happier shining a light on other actors,” she says.
The star can even see herself getting into politics in the future. “I do want to make change, so I’m open to whatever role that may take,” she says.
Jolie tackled several major projects in 2014, including executive-producing and playing the lead role in Disney’s $700 million hit Maleficent, hosting a summit to fight sexual violence and taking on what she called “the hardest thing I’ve ever done” professionally: directing Unbroken, which chronicles the life of Olympic runner and prisoner of war Louis Zamperini.
The challenge of the biopic, says Jolie: “How do you get this man’s huge life into one film?”
The movie played a role in another one of Jolie’s notable memories of this year: “Sitting with Louie in the hospital, showing him Unbroken, that was probably one of the greatest moments of my life,” she says. Zamperini died in July at age 97.
Jolie says the war hero taught her how to rise to a challenge – and another important lesson.
“We’re not alone in the world,” she says. “I don’t know if there’s a name for that – religion or faith – just that there’s something greater than all of us, and it’s uniting and beautiful.”
For much more from Angelina Jolie, pick up the newest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
• Reporting by MARY GREEN