Bob MondelloBob Mondello reviews movies and covers the arts for NPR News, seeing at least 250 films and 100 plays annually, and shares critiques and commentaries on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine All Things Considered.
Descent Of A Man: After the loss of his daughter Annie (Martha West), the naturalist Charles Darwin (Paul Bettany) found the strength to order his ideas about nature into the landmark treatise On the Origin of Species.
Liam Daniel/Newmarket Films
In the Lord of the Rings films, director Peter Jackson fused computer-generated images with motion-capture footage of actor Andy Serkis to create the decidedly nonhuman Gollum.
New Line Cinema
Serious impact: Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, with Jeremy Renner, was one of three 2009 films in which moviemakers finally came convincingly to grips with the Iraq War.
Jonathan Olley/Summit Entertainment
Hard Target: Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes update (with Robert Downey Jr. and Rachel McAdams) looks to put a bullet in the idea of the deerstalker-wearing detective — though who Ritchie's hero is, exactly, remains something of a mystery.
When Walls Come Down: Daniel Day Lewis plays Guido Contini, a famous film director struggling with writer's block — and looking for inspiration in the assortment of women who have shaped his life.
David James/Weinstein Co.
Love's Loss: Colin Firth (with Julianne Moore) plays George Falconer, a closeted British professor in 1960s Los Angeles grieving over the sudden death of his partner. Unable to cope with the despair of his solitude, Falconer plans to end his life.
Eduard Grau/The Weinstein Company
Madiba Unconquered: Winning the South African presidency was one thing for Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman). Bringing the racially divided country together was a bigger battle — and one in which Mandela deployed some unexpected troops.
Ties That Bind: Sam (Tobey Maguire), a Marine presumed lost in combat, returns home to find that his once-wayward brother (Jake Gyllenhaal) has found a new purpose — looking out for Sam's wife and children.
That's A Wrap: Screenwriter-turned-director Mateo Blanco (Lluis Homar) clings to his actress muse — played by Penelope Cruz, the real-life muse of Broken Embraces director Pedro Almodovar.
Emilio Pereda & Paola Ardizzoni/Sony Pictures Classics