If you don't like Robert Altman, read no further... Why do you think Altman has the respect that he has? No one today can handle an ensemble cast of pros and make each one look like a star. Who else could've gotten old-pro Patricia Neal out of retirement? If you don't like Altman, you're obviously missing something that the rest of us already know...he's smart! It's no secret that Mr. Altman hates pretense. "MASH", "The Player", "Gosford Park", "Nashville" and on & on...the man has fun poking fun at phonies. "Cookie's Fortune" is no different. Almost exclusively working with original screenplays, he can play his game and say his piece. Anne Rapp's screenplay must've put him in director heaven. Glenn Close is pretty much the centerpiece here, a woman sure of her position and unwilling to bend. She's marvelous and totally unlikeable. The great Ms. Neal is on screen, alas, too short a time. Like an older version of her Oscar-winning role in "Hud", she's tougher than nails, and wonderful. Julianne Moore ditches the glamour, appearing mostly without make-up, belying her well-known beauty. Charles S. Dutton is customarily confident and endearing, as are Liv Tyler & Chris O'Donnell (though a previous reviewer didn't think so). Altman likes using Lyle Lovett, and he's reliable here in a small role. Ned Beatty and, especially, the great Courtney B. Vance fill out the big name cast effectively. Like all Altman films, one must pay attention to the script, because, though leisurely paced, the dialogue flies by. To reiterate the plot would be senseless, but one of my favorite lines was, in reference to the crime scene, they said Close's character has "negative blood"; when Beatty is asked why he's so sure Dutton didn't do it, he, matter-of-factly says "I fish with him!". (This is almost a running gag...I love running gags). Again, I must say, Altman is wonderful when he works with dozens of people at once, because he gives each one a distinct character and motivation, not to take away from the screenwriter, though Altman is also known for improv. "Cookie's Fortune" is subtly funny and endearing; the craziness of human nature is given full reign. This film was recognized by the Independent Film Awards, but the Academy somehow overlooked it, released too early in the year. (Most of those old geezers don't think that far back...) Glenn Close was deserving of a nomination, as was Altman. Attention to detail is an Altman trait, too, and he doesn't disappoint. Check it out...but, as a previous reviewer also said, if you like fake effects and unbelievable stupid plots populated with idiot super-heroes, pass on this one. All "Cookie's Fortune" offers is a clever character-driven script, very fine acting, GREAT direction and a lot of fun.