Little Misses

Introducing the best movies of 2005 you probably didn't see

The War Within -- This thoughtful drama, which follows an Islamic militant on a terrorist mission to New York City, garnered far less attention than the similarly themed Paradise Now (which concerned two Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel). Yet The War Within goes places Paradise Now didn't dare go, with none of that film's ambiguity in its conclusion. The screenplay loads up on believable tension and suspense while eschewing melodrama, and director/co-writer Joseph Castelo is more than willing to follow through on the grim setup. -- Jean Oppenheimer

Chinese delight: The Year of the Yao documents Yao Ming's rise to basketball celebrity.
Chinese delight: The Year of the Yao documents Yao Ming's rise to basketball celebrity.

The Year of the Yao -- In this delightful, warmhearted documentary about Chinese basketball sensation Yao Ming, directors James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo follow their subject through his 2002-'03 season with the Houston Rockets, his first in the NBA. The film begins as Yao prepares to leave China and ends as he returns for the off-season. In between, we watch as the world-famous recruit is thrust into a maelstrom of culture shock, media attention, and intense professional pressure. In fact, Yao is really the story of two rookies, Yao and his translator, Colin Pine, a charmingly green twentysomething equally stunned by the blinding headlights of obsessive media attention. -- Melissa Levine

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