Better-than-expected:
“American Gangster”

Ridley Scott’s mob epic “American Gangster” was the most talked about movie of the year back in early fall, but it’s largely been forgotten since. A bit preachy, overly long and overacted, the film is still a jarring, ambitious and intriguing foray into the life of a crime boss who was a little too perfect, even for Denzel Washington to pull off.

IMRAN SYED

Niftiest movie:
“Disturbia”

An air-light thriller that appropriates the technology of the YouTube generation, “Disturbia” fashions one of the year’s swiftest and most economic narratives based on the classic there’s-something-wrong-next-door template. While on house arrest for the summer, Kael (an expertly cast Shia LaBeouf), joined by the resident hot blonde and his best friend, is out to expose his next-door neighbor as a killer.

JEFFREY BLOOMER

Coolest monster movie:
“The Host”

The brilliance of the Korean monster film “The Host” is that it doesn’t really seem like a monster movie. Detailing a quirky clan’s desperation to save their young daughter from the clutches of a – what else? – chemically-spawned mutant, the film’s focus on familial relationships and honest-to-God human emotions gives it far more impact than had it been just another escape-from-the-city-before-the-monster-eats-us action fest.

BRANDON CONRADIS

Not just for the kids:
“Enchanted”

Light-hearted, hilarious and as obliviously charming as its star, Amy Adams, “Enchanted” is easily the most fun Disney film in years. Implausible plot aside, the real magic here is in the film’s ability to morph a tired premise into something you can’t stop smiling about.

IMRAN SYED

Best unwanted baby:
“Waitress”

A movie as sweet as the pies its protagonist (Keri Russell) bakes, “Waitress” was quickly overshadowed by the more mainstream “Knocked Up” and “Juno.” But Russell’s smile lights up the screen as she deftly plays Jenna, a waitress who unhappily gets pregnant with her abusive husband’s baby. See it for the delicious pie ideas, the hot doctor and writer/director/co-star Adrienne Shelly, who, in an ironic twist, was tragically murdered before the film’s release.

SARAH SCHWARTZ

Overlooked adaptation:
“The Namesake”

Beautiful, evocative and breathtakingly genuine in both narrative and aesthetics, Mira Nair’s “The Namesake” is a stellar adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel. An immigrant’s story in a time when immigration has become commonplace, the film stays true to the signature unsettling oddities of Lahiri’s novel.

IMRAN SYED

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