Well, The Queen made me do something I don't do a lot. It made me cry at the movies. And with one scene. It's near the end of the film, it features Helen Mirren, and it's a glowing, hard-won moment when a human being, knowing they have done wrong, is offered a brief, casual gesture of sympathy at a time they need it most. And, since I am not, in fact, a communist robot, I cried. It's not like I was expecting it; I'd spent a goodly portion of the first half of the film wondering if watching The Queen was, for Canadian audiences, a brief reminder of the days when there were $1 bills. And The Queen snuck up on me. Some of the dialogue is a bit too on-the-nosey, and Michael Sheen's Tony Blair feels a little broad in some moments, but the film still left me wishing that an American filmmaker would look at the more recent past with The Queen's fearlessness and humanity. As much as I love their work, it's interesting to note that with The Good German and The Fountain, two of our most interesting directors are looking back and ahead instead of the here-and-now. (And yes, I'm sure both will be loaded with allegorical meaning for our times, but, come on.) The Queen is also a bit of a time capsule -- a brief immersion in a different world than the one we have now, like the time I found a bunch of Pre-9/11 New Yorkers in a vacation rental, and was reminded that Rudy Giulani used to be a fussbudget adulterer who disliked complicated art, as opposed to America's Mayor ™. But The Queen works thanks to a real and beating heart: Right now, the Best Actress Oscar is Mirren's.

J.