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Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle

  1. Elegy 2008 Spanish director Isabel Coixet displays what is almost reverence for the material. You can imagine her whispering on the set. She brings out the absolute best in her top-notch cast. full review
  2. Cidade dos Homens (City of Men) 2007 A compelling and visually arresting drama from Brazil. full review
  3. Mr. Bean's Holiday 2007 An only intermittently funny sequel that finally livens up in the last third. But that part -- a hilarious putdown of the pretension at the Cannes Film Festival -- is worth sticking around for. full review
  4. Outsourced 2007 The problem with making a movie on topical subjects is that by the time of its release, it can seem awfully stale. full review
  5. Reign Over Me 2007 Reign Over Me isn't nearly as arresting as it should be given its powerful subject matter. full review
  6. Charlotte's Web 2006 Charlotte's Web, a splendid new screen adaptation of White's 1952 children's book, gloriously brings the classic to life. If you've never read it, this is a perfect introduction. full review
  7. Venus 2006 The suggestion that Peter O'Toole is playing some version of his real self in Venus adds a bittersweet poignancy to this quietly affecting British drama. full review
  8. The Wind That Shakes the Barley 2006 The humanity that Loach and his compassionate screenwriter bring to their story prevents it from being another polemic about how the British screwed Ireland. full review
  9. Old Joy 2005 Slow moving but ultimately quite touching. full review
  10. Rent 2005 If nothing else, the movie reveals Jonathan Larson's musical to be an illuminating time capsule of a wild period immediately before and after the scourge of AIDS. full review
  11. Me and You and Everyone We Know 2004 Totally original yet filled with familiar human frailties, Everyone leaps off the screen to become one of those rare movie-going experiences that linger in the part of the brain reserved for celluloid memories. full review
  12. The Battle of Shaker Heights 2003 The movie is bad in a boring way: tepidly paced, disjointed and lacking any emotional hook. full review
  13. People I Know 2003 The movie is weighted down with an excess of plot points that fail to coalesce. full review
  14. The Station Agent 2003 As touching and original a movie as you're likely to see this year. full review
  15. The United States of Leland 2002 Besides being puffed up with its importance, it's also inert and totally implausible -- one of those movies where nobody behaves in a way that seems remotely human. full review
  16. A Walk on the Moon 1999 full review
  17. Phantoms 1998 full review
  18. Shakespeare in Love 1998 The cast is near perfect. full review
  19. Picture Perfect 1997 Aniston comes across like an imitation of a movie star instead of the real thing. She gets less attractive as the film goes on. full review
  20. Smilla's Sense of Snow 1997 full review
  21. Love Serenade 1996 full review
  22. Unhook the Stars 1996 full review
  23. /titles/199840 Playing an eccentric beautician who changes her look everyday, the incandescent Alfre Woodard shows she's as adept at comedy as drama. full review
  24. /titles/197663 Beguiling. full review
  25. /titles/197191 Artful enough to intrigue adults and far more original than other versions of Cinderella portrayed onscreen with alarming regularity. full review
  26. /titles/199704 A frothy comedy with the most adorable buddies since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. full review
  27. /titles/199838 Where the original soared, the new version hugs the ground. It's like the difference between Fred Astaire's dancing and Richard Gere's. full review