© St. Petersburg Times, published December 27, 2001
1. A Beautiful Mind -- Russell Crowe places himself in Oscar contention with a sterling portrayal of John Forbes Nash, a schizophrenic mathematician. Directed with workmanlike detail by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Cocoon).
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring -- J.R.R. Tolkien's massive novel becomes an enormous sensory experience created by director Peter Jackson. The story seems weaker on the screen but the action is state-of-the-art.
3. Vanilla Sky -- Cameron Crowe revisits a Spanish thriller, Abre Los Ojos, that was already weird enough. Tom Cruise is in good form as a playboy living a dream then trapped by one. Nice chemistry between Cruise and co-star Penelope Cruz, now his fiancee.
4. Ali -- Director Michael Mann (The Insider) delivers a knockout combination: The tumultuous life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Will Smith playing him. Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.
5. Spy Game -- The inevitable teaming of golden boys Robert Redford and Brad Pitt works like a charm in this CIA thriller.