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Curt Holman's top 10 films

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1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The crescendo of Peter Jackson's fantasy trilogy blazes the trail for epic film in the 21st century.

2. 21 Grams. Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro have never been better than in this chronologically shattered tale that sees stunning twists of fate unlock operatic emotions.

3. City of God. The interlocking stories of Brazilian drug dealers uses violent pulp fiction to expose the corrosive effects of inner-city poverty.

4. Capturing the Friedmans. The year's most provocative film -- nonfiction or otherwise -- reveals shameful secrets and social hysteria through contradictory interviews and almost unbearably personal home movies of a family's disintegration.

5. The Station Agent. Peter Dinklage stands out as one of 2003's most intriguing actors in this quirky story of an alienated dwarf who warily bonds with other lost souls.

6. Finding Nemo. A vegetarian shark, a humor-challenged clown fish and an aquarium rescue unit provide just some of the delights of Pixar's sunken treasure.

7. Lost in Translation. Sofia Coppola's elegant mood piece features Bill Murray's subtlest acting as a jaded star who rises above jet lag, insomnia and middle-aged angst to renew his joy in life.

8. Lost in La Mancha. Hilarity races heartbreak in this one-of-a-kind look at Terry Gilliam's quixotic attempt to make a Don Quixote movie.

9. American Splendor. Life dizzyingly collides with art in the career of comic book antihero Harvey Pekar, which features Hope Davis as his lovably neurotic third wife.

10. The Triplets of Belleville. France's cartoon feature embraces silent movie sight gags and scruffy, hand-drawn animation to become a kind of Gallic "Wallace & Gromit."

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