1. State of Play (BBC)
Starving for quality TV during the writers’ strike? Paul Abbott’s 2003 BBC miniseries is The Wire crossed with The Queen: a complex parliamentary mystery, as seen through the eyes of journalists (James McAvoy and Bill Nighy, among them).
Also New From the Beeb: Helen Mirren at the BBC.
2. Terror’s Advocate (Magnolia)
Left out of the Oscar noms, Barbet Schroeder’s doc on ego-tripping war-criminal defender Jacques Vergès reports from the outer reaches of rationalization.
More Oscar-Ignored Docs: The Devil Came on Horseback, Crazy Love, Lake of Fire.
3. Gone Baby Gone (Miramax)
In the biggest surprise of 2007, Ben Affleck bounced back from Gigli, Daredevil, Jersey Girl, and J. Lo with this foulmouthed and focused Boston noir, starring his bro Casey at his most badass.
More Casey Affleck: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
4. Lust, Caution (Universal)
Ang Lee’s occupation-era film has been embraced overseas, but here, it’s the film most screwed by the Oscars: Tang Wei, ripped off by Cate Blanchett; Tony Leung, robbed by Tommy Lee Jones; Lee, beat out by Jason Reitman. Not even Best Costumes…
Another Pied-à-Terre Affair: The Apartment.
5. Zebraman (Tokyo Shock)
A pathetic elementary-school teacher and underwear pervert dresses in zebra stripes and fights real evil in this hysterical superhero riff by Japanese cult god Takashi Miike.
Make a Miike Boxed Set With: the Dead or Alive trilogy, Ichi the Killer, Audition, Big Bang Love, Juvenile A.
… and the rest …
6. Pierrot le Fou Criterion revives Godard’s anti-bourgeoisie romance. 7. 2 Days in Paris Julie Delpy’s black-hearted romance doubles as a caustic, hysterical riff on Paris. 8. American Gangster Denzel versus Crowe. 9. Michael Clayton Tilda versus Clooney. 10. Redacted De Palma’s righteously angry jeremiad is just as anti-Bush as In the Valley of Elah (but half as contrived). 11. The Last Emperor A four-disc edition of Bertolucci’s epic. 12. Across the Universe Taymor’s misbegotten Beatles fantasia. 13. Margot at the Wedding Baumbach’s Hamptons dysfunction-o-rama. 14. Joan Crawford: Vol. 2 Camp paradise: Torch Song! Flamingo Road! A Woman’s Face!