ACCORDING TO STATISTICS, newspaper readership is declining, but how can this be? Life has many pleasures, but few can compare with the joy of reading the entertainment section of a paper and studying the critics’ blurbs in the movie ads.

There is so much to cherish, such as the many imaginative things Ebert & Roeper can do with their digits (“Two thumbs up,” “Two thumbs way up” or “Two big thumbs up”).

And in such a cynical age, it’s great to see unbridled enthusiasm — even if it’s from unfamiliar people who are working for organizations you’ve never heard of.

You gotta love such generically named orgs as Entertainment Report (whose Bill Tush said “Hostage” “Ranks with the best suspense thrillers … even ‘North by Northwest!’ “) and Newschannel 5 (whose Jim O’Brien saw “Sahara” and gushed “Get the BIG popcorn and enjoy the ride!”).

Here they are then, the greatest blurbmeisters of 2005. And thanks to all of them.

PREMATURE EXCLAMATIONS

Staci Layne Wilson, Horror.com, “Cursed” — “The most terrifying movie of the year.” (Feb. 20)

Shawn Edwards, Fox-TV — ” ‘Hitch’ is the comedy of the year.” (Feb. 6)

Shawn Edwards, Fox-TV, “Be Cool” — “The coolest movie of the year!” (March 3)

MINORITY REPORT

Pete Hammond, Maxim — “Wow! ‘Stealth’ takes your breath away. For sheer non-stop action and aerial thrills this movie just soars above the rest!”

Paul Fischer, Dark Horizons, “XXX: State of the Union” — “The best action film of the year!”

Todd David Schwartz, CBS Radio, “The Island” — “May not only be the hottest action film of the summer, but quite possibly of the entire year.”

Tony Toscano, Talking Pictures “Bewitched” — “The most magical movie of the year.”

THE DANGERS OF FILMGOING

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, “King Kong” — “What you will see will spin your head six ways from Sunday.”

Washington Post — ” ‘War of the Worlds’ rips you along, seizes you in its first seconds, holds you spellbound and expels you, breathless and spent.”

MOVIES ARE BETTER THAN EVER

Pete Hammond, Maxim, “Land of the Dead” — “This is the movie we’ve been waiting for!”

JP Sarni, Sirius Satellite Radio, “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” — “One of the best films I have ever seen.”

Larry King, “Two for the Money” — “The best movie about gambling ever made!”

SUPPLY YOUR OWN PUNCHLINE HERE

Danielle Nussbaum, Nylon, “D.E.B.S.” — “It’s like nicotine to a jonesing quitter.”

BREATHLESS & SIDE-SPLITTING

Earl Dittman, Wireless, “Into the Blue” — “It will leave you breathless.”

Earl Dittman, Wireless, “Derailed” — “It will leave you breathless!”

Earl Dittman, Wireless, “Guess Who” — “An extraordinarily funny, laugh-a-minute, side-splitting comedy!”

Earl Dittman, Wireless, “King’s Ransom” — “A gut-busting and side-splitting comedy!”

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Shawn Edwards, Fox-TV, “Batman Begins” — “It’s the film of the year!”

Shawn Edwards, Fox TV, “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” — “The most charming and wonderful movie you’ll see all year.”

Shawn Edwards, Fox TV, “Waiting…” — “The craziest comedy of the year!”

Shawn Edwards, Fox TV, “The Skeleton Key” — “The best thriller of the year.”

Shawn Edwards, Fox TV, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’ ” — “The most powerful movie of the year!”

ESPECIALLY THE PART ABOUT THE MARTIAN DEATH RAY

Gene Shalit, “Today,” “War of the Worlds” — “It’s an extraordinary story because it’s believable.”

FULL OF SHALIT

Gene Shalit, “Today” — ” ‘King Kong’ is so gargantuan that I must create new words to describe it: fabularious … a brilliantological humongousness of marvelosity.”

SUMMING UP THE YEAR’S BLURBS

Taryn Brill, Moviefone, “Stay” — “It really makes you question your perception of reality.”

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