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TOP FIVE

Current movies recommended by the Times

1. The Company _ Venerable filmmaker Robert Altman takes on another gloriously uncommercial topic: A backstage look at the ballet world. Great dance sequences, even if the plot is thinner than a prima ballerina.

2. House of Sand and Fog _ Oscar-nominated Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly are extraordinary as rivals for a piece of seaside real estate, a situation symbolizing tragic elements of the American Dream. Shohreh Aghdashloo got an Oscar nod for her supporting role as Kingsley's wife.

3. In America _ The best tearjerker of 2003 and winner of three Oscar nominations, a story of Irish immigrants coping with grief in a strange land during 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.

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King _ The concluding chapter of Peter Jackson's epic trilogy won Golden Globes for best dramatic film and best director, and 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Finally, the story and emotions match the spectacular special effects.

5. Monster _ Charlize Theron's Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning, extraordinary portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos almost makes viewers overlook the sympathetic slant of Patty Jenkins' film.

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