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Published Feb. 25, 2000|Updated Sep. 26, 2005

Recent releases recommended by Times film critic Steve Persall

1 The Cider House Rules _ Seven Academy Award nominations secured a wider release of Lasse Hallstrom's drama. Michael Caine shines as an orphanage doctor with a protege (Tobey Maguire) learning the world on his own.

2 Wonder Boys _ Michael Douglas does his first true acting in years, as a prize-winning author suffering through a very bad day. Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey Jr. co-star in a warmly odd film from Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential).

3 The Hurricane _ Denzel Washington is the current Oscar favorite for best actor, playing convicted boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.

4 Sweet and Lowdown _ Sean Penn and Samantha Morton are Oscar-nominated for the roles in Woody Allen's "mockumentary" about a 1930s jazz guitarist. Tampa Theatre and Beach Theater only.

5 Magnolia _ Tom Cruise is a best supporting actor Oscar favorite in this profane ode to fate and family skeletons. P.T. Anderson's original screenplay and Aimee Mann's closing-credits song Save Me are also nominated.


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