The Great Performances: 2000

Posted by · 7:14 pm · November 13th, 2009

Tom Hanks in Cast AwayMichael Douglas was robbed.

The already Oscar-christened actor gave a career-best performance in 2000 in Curtis Hanson’s “Wonder Boys,” but he got no love from the Academy. Worse, his performance was easily among the five best of the year and won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Actor prize.

That having been said, I don’t think Douglas actually deserved the Oscar in 2000.  That honor belonged to Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” for a performance that was nothing less than astounding. For two and a half hours Hanks commands the screeen, moving into silent film territory for a stretch, the actor using strictly his body and face for the performance. Anyone who has ever, and I mean ever, doubted his range needs to take a hard look at this film.

The five nominees for Best Actor in 2000 were Hanks, Russell Crowe for “Gladiator,” Ed Harris in “Pollock,” Geoffrey Rush in “Quills” and Javier Bardem in “Before Night Falls.” For me, Douglas was the most glaring omission, followed by George Clooney’s Gable-esque work in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” which I think remains one of the actor’s very best pieces of work.

Ethan Hawke was quite wonderful in “Hamlet,” which was a bold modern take on the troubled young prince’s life, and certainly worth a nomination, while Christian Bale was brilliant in “American Psycho.” And Morgan Freeman gave one of his finest performances ever in “Nurse Betty” and certainly deserved some attention.

Crowe got the Oscar because he should have won the thing a year earlier for “The Insider.” But Hanks was top of the crop for me.

Julia Roberts won the Academy Award for “Erin Brockovich,” a great performance, displaying her unique talents in a way they had never before been seen. But seriously, Best Actress?  Ellen Burstyn gave one of the most extraordinary performances I have ever seen in “Requiem for a Dream,” the year’s best film.

The legendary actress was astounding as Sarah, a lonely woman battling wicked addictions throughout. Watching her downward spiral is profoundly disturbing throughout this dark and remarkable work, and I am mystified that Burstyn lost not only the Oscar but failed to win any of the year’s major critics’ awards!

It sas easy to see why Laura Linney was nominated for her wonderful work in “You Can Count on Me,” just as it was understandable that Joan Allen got a nod for “The Contender.” But Juliette Binoche (whom I adore) for “Chocolat?” Seriously?  Over Bjork for her bold work in “Dancing in the Dark?” Over Kate Winslet for her small, though impressive role in “Quills?” Over the heartbreaking Renee Zellweger in “Nurse Betty?”

Coming around to the supporting categories, there is no question Benicio Del Toro deserved his Oscar for a marvelous, intense performance in a brilliant film, Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic.” In fairness, his co-star Michael Douglas could just as easily have been nominated along with him.

I fully agreed with Joaquin Phoenix being cited for “Gladiator” as his vile Emperor was treachery incarnate.  Jeff Bridges in “The Contender” and Willem Dafoe in “Shadow of the Vampire,” each richly deserving. However, we could have seen Richard Harris nominated for “Gladiator” as well as Oliver Reed for what would be his final performance.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was drop dead brilliant in “Almost Famous” and Gary Oldman stole “The Contender” every time he was on screen. Tobey Maguire was superb in “Wonder Boys” and John Turturro was very good in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” again, all deserving of a nomination, making the category for Best Supporting Actor somewhat flush with talent.

Add to that Chris Rock in “Nurse Betty” or his co-star Greg Kinnear.  I loved that the Academy nominated the great Albert Finney for his supporting work in “Erin Brockovich,” but they could have also nominated Aaron Eckhart for his work in the same film.

Best Supporting Actress should have gone to Jennifer Connelly for her harrowing turn in “Requiem for a Dream,” but sadly she wasn’t even nominated. The winner was Marcia Gay Harden for her riveting work in “Pollock,” something of a surprise as most had called Kate Hudson as the winner in “Almost Famous” (a wonderful breakthrough performance).

Hudson’s co-star Frances McDormand was nominated along with her, with Julie Walters in “Billy Elliot” and the bizarre mention of Dame Judi Dench in “Chocolat” filling out the five nominees. Connelly blew them all away.

Other nominees could have been Holly Hunter in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” the seething Catherine Zeta-Jones (her best work) in “Traffic” or the wonderful Elaine May in “Small Time Crooks.” And is it not astounding that Zhang Ziyi was not nominated for her extraordinary work in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?”

That’s how 2000 shook down for me.  What about you?  Have your say in the comments section below!

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39 responses so far

  • 1 11-13-2009 at 7:35 pm

    Marshall said...

    I loved Erika Christensen in “Traffic.” For me as a teen, it really hit home.

  • 2 11-13-2009 at 7:45 pm

    Silencio said...

    Yeah, I didn’t love “Dancer In the Dark” but if it were going to get a big nom and/or win, it’d have been Bjork.

    And I’m not mad about Hanks losing (as I’m a Gladiator/Crowe fan) but he certainly was deserving. Just remembering his grief at losing Wilson got me going just now.

  • 3 11-13-2009 at 7:45 pm

    Lev Lewis said...

    For me 2000 is all about Bjork, Javier Bardem, Benicio Del Toro and Willem Dafoe. And of course Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung if you count “In the Mood for Love” as a 2000 film.

  • 4 11-13-2009 at 7:57 pm

    Casey Fiore said...

    billy crudup shouldve won supporting actor for Almost Famous

  • 5 11-13-2009 at 8:02 pm

    Andy said...

    The biggest snubs of the year were Jamie Bell and Bjork, who gave all time great performances.

    My nominees.

    Jamie Bell – Billy Elliot *
    Christian Bale – American Psycho
    George Clooney – O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    Billy Crudup – Jesus’ Son
    Javier Bardem – Before Night Falls

    Laura Linney – You Can Count on Me
    Ellen Burstyn – Requiem for a Dream
    Bjork – Dancer in the Dark *
    Kirsten Dunst – The Virgin Suicides
    Julia Roberts – Erin Brockovich

    Albert Finney – Erin Brockovich
    Tim Blake Nelson – O Brother Where Art Thou?
    Philip Seymour Hoffman – Almost Famous
    Benincio Del Toro – Traffic
    Mark Ruffalo – You Can Count on Me *

    Kate Hudson – Almost Famous *
    Frances McDormand – Almost Famous
    Catherine Deneuve – Dancer in the Dark
    Julie Walters – Billy Elliot
    Samantha Morton – Jesus’ Son

    An AMAZING year for Acting and so many snubbed. Other favourites snubbed include…

    Michael Douglas – Wonder Boys
    Gary Oldman – The Contender
    Renee Zellweger – Nurse Betty
    Fairuza Balk – Almost Famous
    Catherine Zeta Jones – Traffic
    Johnny Depp – Before Night Falls
    Gary Lewis – Billy Elliot

  • 6 11-13-2009 at 8:38 pm

    Encore Entertainment said...

    Okay. Ed Harris was and Javier Bardem impressed me most for Best Actor, with Bardem edging out in front. Only Geoffrey Rush came close to the two IMO.

    And I actually had no problem with Julia’s win, but I won’t even go into that, cause people don’t like it, and I can’t make them. Oscar worthy is just an elusive phrase, but I thought Binoche and Dench were both good in Chocolat. Oscar worthy? Who knows. Whatever.

    Marcia Gay Harden deserved her Oscar so that’s good.

    And as good as Del Toro was, I was ver impressed with Dafoe.

  • 7 11-13-2009 at 8:44 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    It’s not that surprising Zhang Ziyi – my choice for Best Supporting Actress – was snubbed that year. The Academy Awards, with a few exceptions, ignore Asian actresses (Kieu Chinh, Gong Li, Faye Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung).

  • 8 11-13-2009 at 9:00 pm

    Chris said...

    Benecio Del Toro deserved the win for ‘Traffic”, but Jack Black was deserving of a nomination for “High Fidelity”. He stole that movie. Stole it.

  • 9 11-13-2009 at 9:04 pm

    Zac said...

    Maybe it was a good thing that Kate Hudson didn’t win the Oscar, considering her post Almost Famous work. Don’t get me wrong, I think she should have won.

    I revisit Cast Away and Wonder Boys a few times a year and still can’t believe the Hanks didn’t win and Douglas didn’t get nominated. Hank’s performance might be the best male performance of the decade.

    Maybe the Academy has something against old guys play pot smokers? Douglas ignored this year and Bridges ignored for Big Lebowski.

    This is kind of off-topic, but we’re 6 weeks away from the end of the decade and we’ve yet to see Kenneth Lonergan’s followup to his brilliant directorial debut, You Can Count on Me. IMDb says Margaret was filmed a little over 4 years ago and isn’t slated for release till next year.

  • 10 11-13-2009 at 9:08 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    I still don’t understand how Ellen Burstyn did not win.

  • 11 11-13-2009 at 9:19 pm

    Patryk said...

    “Requiem for a Dream” was not only the best film of 2000, but it may stand as one of the 5 best of the decade for me. Incredible. All hail Aronofsky.

  • 12 11-13-2009 at 9:25 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    @ Zac: It’s not like Kate Hudson had to do THAT much in Almost Famous, other than look cute and be appealing.

    @ Matthew Starr: It was Julia Roberts’ “time.” I thought everyone knew that.

  • 13 11-13-2009 at 9:32 pm

    Cameron said...

    Two of the best leading male performances of the year were from youngin’s-Jamie Bell and Patrick Fugit. Why weren’t either of them nominated?

  • 14 11-13-2009 at 10:04 pm

    The Dude said...

    Every time I see Kate Hudson in some crappy rom-com I think “What the HELL do people see in her to keep hiring her!?” And then I watch “Almost Famous” and remember that, somewhere deep down in there, there is actually a good actress. Loved her in that movie, and I loved Billy Crudup in it as well (I agree with other posters that he deserved a nom).

    Regarding Zhang Ziyi-I don’t think she should have been nominated. She had a tough role, and she did well in a breakthrough performance, but she was the weakest link in the cast. She has, however, improved with each movie she does.

  • 15 11-13-2009 at 11:06 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Uh, surely Winslet is supporting in “Quills,” no?

    I also still fail to understand why Del Toro won for his good but hardly exceptional work in “Traffic,” a film I otherwise adore. Probably my least favorite Supporting Actor win of the decade.

    And I think Ed Harris gives his best performance ever this year, in “Pollock.” Should have won.

  • 16 11-13-2009 at 11:31 pm

    Brooke said...

    I have to give my love to the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon ladies, and although Zhang Ziyi was better; Cheng Peipei deserved notice for her amazing portrait of rage and loss.

  • 17 11-14-2009 at 12:41 am

    par3182 said...

    I’ll always love ‘You Can Count On Me’ for making stars of the lovely Laura Linney and the fabulous Mark Ruffalo (she should’ve won and he shoulda been a contender)

    ‘Best In Show’ could have had a slew of supporting nominees – Jennifer Coolidge is my pick for the win

    James Woods played against type brilliantly in ‘The Virgin Suicides’

  • 18 11-14-2009 at 12:48 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Ruffalo in You Can Count on Me is maybe the male performance of the decade. Deserves a mention in this article.

  • 19 11-14-2009 at 12:48 am

    theeurocentric said...

    love the Zhang Ziyi shout-out. How she didn’t garner a nomination is beyond me. I still think that, one of these days, she’s gonna get that ever-elusive (at least for Asian actresses) nod.

  • 20 11-14-2009 at 1:08 am

    SHAAAARK said...

    Chocolat is a wretched movie. That the Academy embraced it shows just how “respectable” the Oscars are.

  • 21 11-14-2009 at 3:22 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Like Chad, I’m very surprised not to see Ruffalo mentioned. But forget Hanks … Bardem towers above the Best Actor competition.

    Of the names that haven’t yet been mentioned, I’d suggest:

    Gael Garcia Bernal in “Amores Perros”
    John Cusack and Iben Hjejle in “High Fidelity”
    Michelle Rodriguez in “Girlfight” (very surprised no one’s suggested her)
    Colin Farrell in “Tigerland” (even more surprised)
    Lena Endre in “Faithless”
    Cate Blanchett, “The Gift”
    Jenna Elfman, “Keeping the Faith”

    PS. Am I the only a little bored of the relentless “Chocolat” hate from all corners? The film knows its audience, and is right on the money.

  • 22 11-14-2009 at 4:21 am

    Mike said...

    Tom Hanks and Bjork are light-years away from everybody, except maybe Jamie Bell.

  • 23 11-14-2009 at 4:21 am

    Michael W. said...

    I would like to throw in a name that hasn’t been mentioned yet. Bruce Greenwood in Thirteen Days. A sure nominee if it had been up to me.

    In supporting actor I would also have nominated Gary Oldman for The Contender and Phoenix would have gotten the nod for Quills instead of Gladiator.

    I like Gladiator and it’s in my top 10 of the year but I would have a very hard time finding a place for Russell Crowe when Hanks, Rush, Douglas and Clooney are locks in my book. A shame that he didn’t win for the two better performances he was nominated for. Hell, he was much more deserving for L.A. Confidential, Master and Commander and Cinderella Man, so I don’t feel too bad about leaving him out for Gladiator even though I’m a big fan of him.

    Someone mentioned Erika Christensen. I would also have nominated her. A wonderful performance and I really thought she would have been a much bigger name now than she is.

  • 24 11-14-2009 at 5:24 am

    John H. Foote said...

    Robert Hamer — on your Kate Hudson comment — look deeper my friend, there is an inherent wisdom in her performance as Penny Lane, a confidence that masks a sad little girl who is forced to grow into a woman over the course of the movie — I think it’s a marvelous piece of acting and of the nominees, the better choice as a winner — seriously man, look deeper…watche her eyes.

  • 25 11-14-2009 at 5:33 am

    Michael W. said...

    I agree. While not the best, Hudson is probably my favorite performance of that year.

  • 26 11-14-2009 at 5:35 am

    Simon Warrasch said...


    Dancer in the Dark
    Almost Famous
    Erin Brockovich


    Lars von Trier – Dancer in the Dark
    Steven Soderbergh – Traffic
    Cameron Crowe – Almost Famous
    Julian Schnabel – Before Night Falls
    Darren Aronfosky – Requiem for a Dream

    Leading Actor:

    Michael Douglas – Traffic
    Javier Bardem – Before Night Falls
    Billy Crudup – Jesus’ Son
    Patrick Fugit – Almost Famous
    Sean Patrick Thomas – Save the Last Dance

    Leading Actress:

    Björk – Dancer in the Dark
    Julia Roberts – Erin Brockovich
    Renee Zellweger – Nurse Betty
    Julia Stiles – Save the Last Dance
    Ellen Burstyn – Requiem for a Dream

    Supporting Actor:

    Benicio del Toro – Traffic
    Willem Dafoe – Shadow of the Vampire
    Peter Stormare – Dancer in the Dark
    Jared Leto – Requiem for a Dream
    Albert Finney – Erin Brockovich

    Supporting Actor:

    Kate Hudson – Almost Famous
    Catherine Deneuve – Dancer in the Dark
    Catherine Zeta – Jones – Traffic
    Erika Christensen – Traffic
    Jennifer Connelly – Requiem for a Dream

    Alt.: Samantha Morton – Jesus’ Son

  • 27 11-14-2009 at 5:47 am

    M.Harris said...

    John,I for one have never questioned Tom Hanks range.But I guess that some have – where some came up with this notion – I don’t know?

  • 28 11-14-2009 at 6:47 am

    JJ said...

    Some of my faves from that year include Blanchett (Gift), Douglas (Wonder Boys), Gibson (Patriot) … yes, Gibson. And Christensen (Traffic).

  • 29 11-14-2009 at 7:15 am

    Edward L. said...

    For me, Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys was the Best Actor of 2000 and one of the finest performances I’ve seen. Though I don’t mind Crowe’s win – it’s one of my favourite of his performances.

    For Best Actress, the two who I think were unfairly snubbed were Bjork for Dancer in the Dark and Gillian Anderson, wonderful in The House of Mirth.

  • 30 11-14-2009 at 8:51 am

    JAB said...

    Ellen Burstyn and Kate Hudson gave two of my favorite performances of the decade, the fact that neither of them won baffles me.

  • 31 11-14-2009 at 10:10 am

    Bing147 said...

    Best Actor:

    1. Christian Bale-American Psycho
    2. Daniel Auteuil-The Widow of St Pierre
    3. Tony Leung-In the mood for Love
    4. Emilio Echevarria-Amores Perros
    5. Mark Ruffallo-You Can Count On Me

    Best Actress:

    1. Lena Endre-Faithless
    2. Juliette Binoche-The Widow of St Pierre
    3. Laura Linney-You Can Count On Me
    4. Maggie Cheung-In the Mood for Love
    5. Charlotte Rampling-Under the Sand

    Best Supporting Actor:

    1. Ben Kingsley-Sexy Beast
    2. Emir Kusturica-The Widow of St Pierre
    3. Jeff Bridges-The Condendor
    4. William H Macy-State and Main
    5. Fred Willard-Best in Show

    Best Supporting Actress:

    1. Goya Toledo-Amores Perros
    2. Amanda Peet-The Whole Nine Yards
    3. Ludivine Sagnier-Water Drops on Burning Rocks
    4. Parker Posey-Best in Show
    5. Rebecca Pidgeon-State and Main

  • 32 11-14-2009 at 1:24 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    My Line-up:

    -Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls (Winner)
    -Jamie Bell, Billy Elliot (Runner-up)
    -Michael Douglas, Wonder Boys
    -Ed Harris, Pollock (Runner-up)
    -Geoffrey Rush, Quills
    Alt: Christian Bale, American Psycho and George Clooney, Oh Borther, Where Art Thou?

    -Björk, Dancer in the Dark (Runner-up)
    -Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream (Winner)
    -Laura Linney, You Can Count On Me
    -Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovitz
    -Renee Zellweger, Nurse Betty
    Alt: Gillian Anderson, The House of Mirth

    Supporting Actor:
    -Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire
    -Benicio Del Toro, Traffic (Winner)
    -Robert Downey Jr., Wonder Boys
    -Joaquin Phoenix, Quills (Runner-up)
    -Brad Pitt, Snatch
    Alt:William H. Macy, State and Main

    Best Supporting Actress:
    -Jennifer Connelly, Requiem for a Dream (Winner)
    -Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock (Runner-up)
    -Kate Hudson, Almost Famous
    -Julie Walters, Billy Elliot
    -Ziyi Zhang, Crouching Tigger Hidden Dragon
    Alt: Frances McDormand, Wonder Boys

  • 33 11-14-2009 at 1:25 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    Oh… I forgot Kate Winslet, Quills—

    Best Supporting Actress:
    -Jennifer Connelly, Requiem for a Dream (Winner)
    -Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock (Runner-up)
    -Kate Hudson, Almost Famous
    -Kate Winslet, Quills
    -Ziyi Zhang, Crouching Tigger Hidden Dragon
    Alt: Frances McDormand, Wonder Boys and Julie Walters, Billy Elliot

  • 34 11-14-2009 at 5:03 pm

    Paul Outlaw said...

    Christian Bale – American Psycho
    Michelle Yeoh – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    Guy Pearce – Memento
    Colin Farrell – Tigerland
    Robert Downey, Jr. – Wonder Boys

  • 35 11-15-2009 at 10:11 am

    Erik said...

    Agreed that Wonder boys should have gotten several acting nominations, first and foremost Douglas, but also Downey Jr. or Maguire, and McDormand was equally good in this and Almost Famous.

    Personally, I’d add the ladies from Crouching Tiger, and moreover: Zeta-Jones for Traffic.

    I have to say this though: Ethan Hawke for Hamlet? No way, no how. He was t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e in that. I don’t dislike Hawke, he’s good when he has the right part, but he was completely lost in that role. I don’t mind the energetic approach: Mel Gibson wasn’t terrible when he tried it, Jude Law is pulling it off quite well right now (even if the rest of the production falls a bit flat), and it even reminded me of DiCaprio’s successful approach to the far less daunting role of Romeo (as in: playing it big in an ‘updated’ version ofthe story).

    I honestly count Hawke-as-Hamlet as one of the most misguided – if not worst- performances of the past decade.

  • 36 11-15-2009 at 2:38 pm

    austin111 said...

    Gosh yes, Hanks would have deserved everything thrown at him. He was everyman in that movie and then some……his best role, imo. The workaholic guy who finds himself on a desert island and has to think outside of the box just to survive on a daily basis. A simple human story but with an actor capable of mainlining humanity beautifully. I’ve watched that movie a dozen times and it’s all because of him.

  • 37 11-15-2009 at 4:41 pm

    John H. Foote said...

    The love for “Cast Away” makes me very happy…I have always loved that film and Hanks brilliant performance…great, great acting.

  • 38 11-15-2009 at 5:08 pm

    Ivan said...

    Almost Famous
    Billy Elliot
    In the Mood for Love
    Requiem for a Dream*

    Darren Aronofsky/Requiem for a Dream*
    Cameron Crowe/Almost Famous
    Stephen Daldry/Billy Elliot
    Wong Kar Wai/In the Mood for Love
    Lars Von Trier/Dancer in the Dark

    Christian Bale/American Psycho
    Javier Bardem/Before Night Falls
    Jamie Bell/Billy Elliot*
    Geoffrey Rush/Quills
    Forest Whitaker/Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai

    Bjork/Dancer in the Dark
    Ellen Burnstyn/Requiem for a Dream*
    Maggie Cheung/In the Mood for Love
    Julia Roberts/Erin Brocovich
    Laura Linney/You Can Count on Me

    Billy Crudup/Almost Famous
    Willem Dafoe/Shadow of the Vampire
    Benicio Del Toro/Traffic*
    Brad Pitt/Snatch
    Mark Ruffalo/You Can Count on Me

    Jennifer Connelly/Requiem for a Dream*
    Kate Hudson/Almost Famous
    Samantha Morton/Jesus´ Son
    Frances Mc Dormand/Almost Famous
    Julie Walters/Billy Elliot

    Almost Famous*
    O Brother Where Art Thou?
    Things You Can Tell Just Looking at Her
    The Virgin Suicides

    Almost Famous
    Billy Elliot
    Dancer in the Dark
    Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai
    You Can Count on Me

    American Psycho
    High Fidelity
    Requiem for a Dream*
    Wonder Boys

    Amores Perros/Mexico
    Burnt Money/Argentina
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon/Taiwan
    In the Mood for Love/Hong Kong*
    Italian for Beginners/Denmark

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    In the Mood for Love*
    Requiem for a Dream
    The Virigin Suicides

    Almost Famous
    Billy Elliot
    Requiem for a Dream*

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon*
    In the Mood for Love
    O Brother Where Art Thou?
    The Virgin Suicides

    Almost Famous
    The Cell
    In the Mood for Love*

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    The Perfect Storm
    Requiem for a Dream
    What Lies Benneath

    Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon
    The Perfect Storm
    X Men

    The Cell
    Requiem for a Dream
    Shadow of the Vampire*
    X Men

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    In the Mood for Love
    Requiem for a Dream*
    The Virgin Suicides

    Dancer in the Dark
    Dancer in the Dark
    O Brother Where art Thou?
    The Virgin Suicides*
    Wonder Boys

    Almost Famous*
    Dancer in the Dark
    In the Mood for Love
    O Brother Where art Thou?
    The Virgin Suicides

  • 39 11-16-2009 at 8:42 pm

    Marvin said...

    Hellooo, the entire cast of Yi Yi!! That adorable kid Yang Yang (Jonathan Chang) and the actor who plays his Dad NJ (Nianzhen Wu) give quite considerable performances.

    I find it quite sad how small an audience this film seems to have encountered, almost 10 years after its release.