Honorable mentions: Alexander Payne's well-cast, funny, adult, uncorrupt, unavaricious, somewhat overrated Sideways; Jafar Panahi's limpid depiction of an ambiguous act of violence, Crimson Gold; Norman Jewison's subdued manhunt thriller, The Statement, with a capable cast of Britishers in the roles of Frenchmen; Cédric Kahn's one-man womanhunt thriller, Red Lights, with the year's finest, most atmospheric cinematography (Patrick Blossier); a pair of very personal documentaries, as their titles would indicate, Nathaniel Kahn's My Architect, about the filmmaker's famous father, the architect Louis Kahn, who never publicly acknowledged his illegitimate son in his own lifetime, and Maximilian Schell's My Sister Maria, about the incandescent career and dimming later years of his actress sister, Maria Schell; Gavin O'Connor's Miracle, a surprisingly rousing and fulfilling buildup to a foregone conclusion, the triumph of the U.S. hockey team over the Soviet at the 1980 Winter Olympics; and Joel and Ethan Coen's proficient and idiosyncratic, if markedly inferior, remake of The Ladykillers, the brothers' first actual remake, after a number of mere pastiches, and the first of their films I would see only once. Given enough time, that could still change.
And the list would not be complete without an entry for the latest and least of Alain Resnais's full-length features, Not on the Lips, a remarkably straight staging of an entre-les-guerres operetta, which I saw, up north, at the City of Lights/City of Angels festival in Los Angeles. Even that, I don't feel any strong urge to re-see. I suppose I would need to, just to refresh my memory, should it ever make its way to San Diego. I'll cross that bridge when they build it.