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Top five movies and upcoming releases

STEVE PERSALL
Published December 25, 2003

Top Five

1. House of Sand and Fog - Ben Kingsley, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role, and Jennifer Connelly are extraordinary as rivals for a piece of seaside real estate, a situation symbolizing tragic elements of the American Dream.

2. In America - The best tearjerker of 2003, a story of Irish immigrants coping with grief in a strange land in the 1980s. Sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger are the real deal among child actors, unlike automatons such as Dakota Fanning. Nominated for two Golden Globes.

3. 21 Grams - Three depressed souls (Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts) collide after an auto accident in an impressive plot shuffle by director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu (Amores Perros).

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - The concluding chapter of Peter Jackson's epic trilogy is nominated for four Golden Globes including best dramatic film. Finally, the story and emotions match the spectacular special effects.

5 . The Last Samurai - Disillusioned Civil War veteran (Golden Globe nominee Tom Cruise) is pressed into teaching Japanese soldiers about then-modern warfare. Directed in sweeping Braveheart style by Edward Zwick.

Upcoming releases

Jan. 1: Calendar Girls

Jan. 9: Big Fish; The Company; The Cooler; Chasing Liberty; My Baby's Daddy

Jan. 16: The Barbarian Invasions; Along Came Polly; Teacher's Pet; Torque

Jan. 23: Girl with a Pearl Earring; The Butterfly Effect;Mindhunters; Win a Date with Tad Hamilton

Jan. 30: The Big Bounce; The Perfect Score

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