You want more good films, you got it. In a lesser year, these might have made my honorable mentions:
AMERICAN SPLENDOR (Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini)
ANNIE HALL filtered through the world of midwestern underground comics. Strong performances from Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis. Has one of the year's funniest scenes in the discussion of REVENGE OF THE NERDS.
BAD SANTA (Terry Zwigoff)
As vulgar as it can be, but funny, funny stuff if you go for it. Is there anyone more perfect than Billy Bob Thornton to play an alcoholic thief posing as a department store Santa?
BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (Gurinder Chadha)
The familiar underdog sports movie gets new life in focusing on an Indian girl (Parminder Nagra) living in England with her conservative family. She wants to play soccer and is encouraged to do so, except from mom and dad. A warm, funny movie with a lot of energy.
BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (Justin Lin)
Overachieving high school Asian students gone bad.
CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES (Eric Byler)
I remember being impressed with Byler's debut film when I saw it at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival. Can't say I recall a lot about it now except for solid characterization, Jacqueline Kim's very good performance, and artful DV cinematography.
DAREDEVIL (Mark Steven Johnson)
A really entertaining comic book film.
DEMONLOVER (Olivier Assayas)
One of those films that lingers, especially the haunting final shot that casts everything preceding it in a new light.
ELF (Jon Favreau)
This instant holiday classic is full of the Christmas spirit. Will Ferrell is hilarious too.
THE FLOWER OF EVIL (LA FLEUR DU MAL) (Claude Chabrol)
A quintessentially French film exploring family and politics.
HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT (A LA FOLIE...PAS DU TOUT) (Laetitia Colombani)
Audrey Tautou performs a wicked riff on the AMELIE persona by which she is strongly identified.
THE HULK (Ang Lee)
THE HULK took a beating from the public and some critics maybe because it's one of the most artfully made and intellectual comic book films. Lee's innovative use of the frame like the comic book page makes the film sizzle.
MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD (Peter Weir)
A rousing adventure on the ocean.
MONDAYS IN THE SUN (LOS LUNES AL SOL) (Fernando Leon de Aranoa)
A sobering view of unemployment and the effect on these individuals. A beefed up Javier Bardem commands the screen.
PHONE BOOTH (Joel Schumacher)
Colin Farrell is trapped in a phone booth with a sniper waiting to strike him down if he won't confess his sins. A thriller with an Old Testament worldview.
RAISING VICTOR VARGAS (Peter Sollett)
A coming of age film that makes THIRTEEN look like a sham. Strong, natural acting from all, with the most memorable performance coming from Altagracia Guzman as the grandmother.
THE SCHOOL OF ROCK (Richard Linklater)
As a washed-up rocker who lies about his background to be a substitute teacher, JacK Black gets the role he was born to play. The film is instructive about rock's history and how songs are formed, and it's very funny too. Good performances from the kids in the classroom as well.
SEABISCUIT (Gary Ross)
A well made film that overstates the historical importance of the race horse. Smooth, mainstream moviemaking that tells an interesting story.
THE SON (LE FILS) (Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne)
Christian ideals in practice. A powerful film that shows how tough it can be to forgive and the need for it.
STONE READER (Mark Moskowitz)
Dow Mossman wrote a well-received book in the Seventies and then wasn't heard from again. Documentary filmmaker Moskowitz searches for the writer to learn what happened to him. A film that understands the impact a great book can have on the reader.