The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) ****
Or, The Empire Strikes Backin mail armor. Peter Jackson delivers this middle act of Tolkien’s Middle Earth saga with damn near perfect pitch: The Hobbiton flab of the first film is filched, leaving a lean narrative that’s both faster moving and more dramatically satisfying. The action set piece at Helm’s Deep stacks up to just about any battle scene. Ever. The cherry on top? Andy Serkis as the scheming, slobbering imp Gollum. Digital rendering or not, the Academy Awards sleepwalked by not giving the man a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.