Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving in The Matrix RevolutionsTHE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS

The Matrix was, for me, mostly hooey, and this summer's The Matrix Reloaded seemed, at best, visually resplendent nonsense, so imagine my surprise when I attended The Matrix Revolutions and found myself really enjoying it.

Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo in In the CutIN THE CUT

Jane Campion's erotic thriller In the Cut is, for the most part, an unholy mess, but as messes go, it's certainly one of 2003's more intriguing ones.

Anna Faris and Drew Mikusa in Scary Movie 3SCARY MOVIE 3

With Scary Movie 3, the assignment of directing has been passed from Keenen Ivory Wayans to Airplane!'s David Zucker, which is a big step forward right there. (Zucker isn't much of a director, either, but at least he has ideas on how to shape a scene, and is actually pretty adept at making his film parodies look like the films they're parodying.) Plus, any time Zucker and company are satirizing the outrageous pomposity of M. Night Shymalan, whose Signs receives - and deserves - particularly harsh treatment here, Scary Movie 3 is everything you want a movie spoof to be: smart, funny, and more than a little mean. (And heartening - until now, I thought I was the only one who detested Shymalan's "Hitchcockian" appearance as the vet who accidentally kills Mel Gibson's wife in Signs.) The wide-eyed, appealing Anna Faris returns as the lead, ably satirizing Naomi Watts' reporter from The Ring, and comic actors such as Charlie Sheen, Jeremy Piven, Queen Latifah, Camryn Manheim, and legendary spoofster Leslie Nielsen all score some laughs. So why is Scary Movie 3 still so disappointing?

Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn in Mystic RiverMYSTIC RIVER

It's tempting to say that in Mystic River, Clint Eastwood's complex, heartbreaking adaptation of Dennis Lehane's terrific murder mystery, Sean Penn gives the most nuanced approximation of grief to be found anywhere in modern movies.

Documentaries BALSEROS In the summer of 1994, a team of public-television reporters filmed and interviewed seven Cubans and their families, beginning a few days before their risky venture of setting out to sea in homemade rafts to reach the coast of the United States.

Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Volume IKILL BILL: VOLUME I

Miramax's decision to release Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill in two installments was probably smart, as it'll inevitably boost the film's collective box-office intake and doesn't require audiences to commit, all at once, to a three-and-a-half-hour homage to Japanese samurai flicks.

Jack Black in The School of RockTHE SCHOOL OF ROCK

I've seen Sidney Poitier do it. I've seen Robin Williams do it. I've seen Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Edward James Olmos ... hell, I've seen Dame Maggie Smith do it. But I have never seen an actor playing The Inspirational Teacher connect with his students as believably, and oddly beautifully, as Jack Black does in The School of Rock.

Harry Altman in SpellboundSPELLBOUND

I have always considered it a personal mission to convince people that documentaries can actually be fun - recently, I enjoyed a hard-won victory when my mother (who, as she is wont to say, "gets enough drama in life") acceded to watch Bowling for Columbine and found herself liking it - and, bless their hearts, the folks at the Brew & View appear to as well.

Jason Biggs and Woody Allen in Anything ElseANYTHING ELSE

As a lifelong fan of Woody Allen's cinematic oeuvre, the last five years have been rather painful. Sure, Small Time Crooks was a lot of fun and Sean Penn delivered a truly inspired performance in Sweet & Lowdown, but The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, though intermittently amusing, felt pretty stale, and Celebrity and last year's Hollywood Ending were just plain awful. (Part of being a true fan includes admitting when your heroes fail, and feeling somewhat heartbroken when they do.)

Nicolas Cage and Alison Lohman in Matchstick MenMATCHSTICK MEN

Ostensibly, Ridley Scott's dramatic comedy Matchstick Men deals with Roy (Nicolas Cage), a professional con artist, connecting with Angela (Alison Lohman), the 14-year-old daughter he never knew he had, and trying to better himself as a father figure.

Pages