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Top Five

Published Sep. 2, 2005

Current movies recommended by the Times.

1. Pieces of April _ An estranged daughter (Katie Holmes) suffers preparing Thanksgiving dinner for a family that won't care. A gift of a film in a small, digital video package.

2. The Human Stain _ A disgraced professor (Anthony Hopkins) begins an affair with a younger woman (Nicole Kidman) leading to the revelation of a lifelong secret. Based on the novel by Philip Roth.

3. Runaway Jury _ A wrongful death suit against a gun manufacturer gets manipulated, first legally by a jury consultant (Gene Hackman) then illegally by a juror (John Cusack).

4. The Gospel of John _ The rise, fall and rise again of Jesus is depicted verse-by-verse (the Living Bible version) in compelling fashion.

5. Elf _ Will Ferrell is the whole show as a human raised by North Pole elves. Jon Favreau's comedy is as sweet-natured as it is agreeably dumb.