1. Almost Famous -- How could critics not love a movie about a critic who, while still a teenager, saves the soul of rock and roll and gets deflowered by a gang of groupies to boot? That surely accounts for some of the extremes of praise heaped on Cameron Crowe's coming-of-age boast.
2. Requiem for a Dream -- A dazzlingly directed and acted meditation on addiction, adapted from the Hubert Selby novel. This sophomore effort by director and co-adapter Darren Aronofsky marks a big leap from his debut feature, Pi.
3. Nurse Betty -- Neil LaBute's grim satire about the blurred line between TV and real life has a lot more texture and purpose than his previous exercises in nastiness. Renée Zellweger is touching in the title role, and Morgan Freeman hasn't had this good a part in years.
4. Hamlet -- Even despisers of Ethan Hawke were amazed at the force and raw grief of his Dane in this ingenious modern-dress adaptation. Flawed -- how could any production of Hamlet not be flawed? -- but full of good performances, most notably by Sam Shepard as the Ghost.
5. Best in Show -- Not as good as director-co-writer-star Christopher Guest's earlier effort, Waiting for Guffman, but still hemorrhage-inducingly hilarious for most of its length. Great dogs, too.
6. Shaft -- Samuel L. Jackson lacks Richard Roundtree's sexual mojo, but his star quality, the superb turn by Jeffrey Wright as the villain, and the good, jangling dialogue by Richard Price, Shane Salerno, and director John Singleton make this fine macho entertainment.
7. State and Main -- David Mamet bounces Hollywood glitz off of the small-town mythos that Hollywood itself created. An intricate satiric notion, perhaps, but the actors have fun with the Mamet-speak.
8. Keeping the Faith -- The ads and trailers made this triangle between priest Edward Norton, rabbi Ben Stiller, and Jenna Elfman as the girl they both loved as kids look deadly. But it's a pity, because it is actually a strong, spirited romantic comedy with rich characters, inventively directed by Norton.
9. Bring It On -- Bafflingly underrated. This comedy about cheerleading is fast and furious, cut with a sweet humor that keeps it from feeling assaultive. Though it's not remotely as good a teenflick as Amy Heckerling's Clueless, it has something of that film's generous spirit and sly verbal wit.
10. Godzilla 2000 -- Laugh if you want, but this visually elegant, deliberately low-tech monster entry is about as fun a mindless diversion as the movies afforded this summer, and it takes amusing subtextual shots at our Yank version of Godzilla, too.
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