The big winners of this batch of films are LANTANA (known, in Spanish speaking countries, by the far more accurate title of COUPLES IN CONFLICT), CERTIFIED COPY, and FROST NIXON. All of those are just for varying reasons captivating and highly recommended viewing experiences.
A notch below, but still good if not great films are THE HIDDEN BLADE and FAREWELL. THE HIDDEN BLADE, the follow-up to TWILIGHT SAMURAI, continues the examination of the setting of the age of samurai, as seen but dimly through the life of a common, lowly samurai. FAREWELL tells a tale I was unaware of, of the end of the cold war. Highlighted by a riveting story, understated performances, and some inventive camera angles and shots. Both films can only grow stronger with repeated viewings.
And under the heading of major disappointment is THE RUSSIAN ARK. Filled with accolades, unfortunately the film fails to live up to them. Becoming a boring, muddily filmed walking tour of one of the world’s great museums.