Actually, some of the best parts I think were ones that weren't in the book--the scenes where Elrond tells Arwen what awaits her if she stays in Middle-Earth with a mortal were, for me, absolutely wrenching--the cinematography was beautiful, looked like a Pre-Raphaelite painting, all flowing black veils and marble. (And I managed to get through almost all of it without thinking "You can't...marry my daughter...Mister...Aragorn...") Much as I respect Tolkien, I think this is the first time I actually understood what happened in the Two Towers so clearly--previously it was just a blur of fight, fight, Ents, fight, Gollum, fight, fight, Wormtongue, fight. Now it actually made sense, even if they cropped it a bit early to avoid cliff-hanging as badly as the book. Jackson did a profoundly good job all around.
Legolas did a one-handed swing-around-the-horse's-neck mounting scene that left James and I going "WHOAA! Go, elfboy!" Gimli was fantastic--the joke is that James is really a dwarf at heart, (at least, he always plays one in RPGs) and this reinforced that completely--he'd've been right there hacking up orcs. (A friend suggests that Gimli's comic relief-ness might've been annoying otherwise, but knowing our personal dwarf as we do, it fit so well!) I realize that being female, I am obligated to pass judgement on who was the cutest male in a primarily all male line-up (at least, it seems to be traditional) and I'm going to vote Faramir. I liked Boromir, I like his brother, and while Aragorn is ungodly cool, some people are too noble to live with comfortably. Emer and poor Glorfindel were also fantastic--I'm wondering where the hell Jackson found dozens of long-haired guys who are all handsome in completely different ways. Actually, while I'm on the subject, all the actors were superb--Theodan was amazing, and I actually felt bad for Wormtongue when he realized that he sold out humanity to the enemy.
But absolutely, and positively, the most impressive part?
They got Ian McKellan to ride a bloody horse bareback at a gallop for at least twenty scenes. My nether regions ache with sympathy, and I'm less than half his age and the wrong gender.
It was worth the wait.