Actually, with computer controls, the line between manual and automatic transmissions is starting to blur.
The Ferrari F1 system first found on the F355 sports car is the beginning of the development of transmissions that look like manual transmissions physically but have automatic clutch engagement. This even allows full automatic operation; the F1 and BMW's SMG system works this way also.
As for automatics, CVT systems are finally capable of handling far more power than in the past. Audi's Multitronic CVT that uses a drive chain instead of a metal belt can handle 220 bhp easily; Nissan has produced a CVT based on series of toroidal rollers in a variable-viscosity fluid first on Cedric/Gloria models for the Japanese market (the Infiniti M45, which is based on the Nissan Cedric/Gloria, may have this transmission after the first model year in the USA), and now on the Nissan Murano SUV will definitely have this new CVT.
Yes, the CVT does take some getting used to due to the slipping clutch feel, but it makes it up by being incredibly smooth during acceleration, even more so than the advanced five-speed conventional automatics found on high-end luxury cars nowadays.