As last year, I want to use this space to highlight some terrific films that came down the pike in the first six months of the year -- and merrily continued down the pike without anyone giving much of a damn. This happens to a host of deserving movies every year; given how much of a miracle it is when an indie actually takes off, there's no avoiding it. But these seven are eminently worth your time; at the very least, I promise they're interesting. Give them a shot.

1. Two Lovers (James Gray) -- Actually my favorite film of the year, this melancholy character study is carried out with such painstaking attention to detail that it becomes akin to one of Henry Selick's stop-motion miracles -- watching it inspires a sort of awe. This is James Gray's follow-up to We Own the Night, and Gray has announced himself as one of our most important newcomers, a master at creating living, breathing, populated, real universes for his characters to inhabit. [Now on DVD.]

2. Julia (Erick Zonca) - This movie barely saw theaters at all -- I saw it in a one-week run courtesy of our local Film Society -- but it might have been a decent investment for an actual distributor. Though it has someone profoundly unpleasant at its center -- the perpetually drunk and nasty title character, played by the incredible Tilda Swinton -- it eventually turns into a remarkably tense little thriller, complete with a classic kidnapping scenario and a chance for the rotten protagonist's redemption. [On DVD August 18th.]