The Great Performances: 2002

Posted by · 9:45 am · November 27th, 2009

Chris Cooper in Adaptation2002 was probably one of the greatest years for performance excellence in film history, from leading actor right through all the supporting players. They could have easily nominated 10 actors in each of the four acting categories, and still missed some.

Though Adrien Brody won the Oscar for “The Pianist,” which was a huge shock, I have always felt that Jack Nicholson gave one of his finest performances in “About Schmidt.” I suspect he and Daniel Day-Lewis in “Gangs of New York” may have split the vote in some way, allowing for Brody’s win.

Michael Caine was up for “The Quiet American” after that film scored with critics at many precursor fests, and Nicolas Cage was the fifth nominee in “Adaptation.” Great performances all, deserving performances all, but there were so many other noteworthy turns.  Like Robin Williams’s chilling performance in “One Hour Photo” as a deranged photo lab worker obsessed with a family. Equally brilliant was Leonardo DiCaprio as the young fraudster in “Catch Me If You Can” while Tom Cruise gave one of his very best performances in Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report.”

One of the year’s very best films, “Road to Perdition,” contained one of the year’s best leading performances from Tom Hanks, as a lethal killer on the run from his own mob.  And though I loathe the work of Richard Gere, I must confess he did some of his finest work in “Chicago,” winning a Golden Globe for his performance, but no Oscar nod.

Many admired Adam Sandler in “Punch Drunk Love” and felt him worthy, while Greg Kinnear gave a career-defining performance as Bob Crane in “Auto Focus.” Few noticed. I know some loyalists will say Adam Sandler was deserving of a Best Actor nomination, but I never agreed. It was a good performance, different yet the same, muted yet using what Sandler did best, and though it was thrilling to see him reach as an actor…this was not Oscar material.

The supporting men were conquered by Chris Cooper, who was astonishing in “Adaptation,” and I doubt anyone else could have won pitted against him, but there were an equal number of other performances deserving of at least the nod.

Dennis Quaid won the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as countless others for his remarkable performance in “Far from Heaven,” but incredibly he was snubbed by the Academy. His co-star Dennis Haysbert was equally brilliant in the film, though few noticed except the critics. That flawless film might have been the film of the year.

Alfred Molina was also quite good in “Frida,” and of the Oscar nominees, which included Cooper, Paul Newman gave an electrifying performance as an old mobster in “Road to Perdition,” Ed Harris was great in “The Hours,” John C. Reilly was surprising in “Chicago” and Christopher Walken (a sentimental favorite for some that year) was excellent in “Catch Me If You Can.”

And yet there are so many more, beginning with Jude Law in “Road to Perdition” as the wildly out of control crime photographer who is also a hit man — a brilliant performance on every level.

Martin Sheen was outstanding in “Catch Me If You Can,” Max Von Sydow wonderfully sinister in “Minority Report,” Jeff Daniels excellent in a small role in “The Hours.” The scene between Daniels and Meryl Streep in the kitchen is a showcase of great acting as the two of them go toe-to-toe with one another and show us their best. Incredibly Daniels would do even better work in the years to come.

Talk about an abundance of great male performances!

With the ladies, I would say Julianne Moore was ultimately robbed of the Academy Award for her stunning turn in “Far from Heaven” by Nicole Kidman in “The Hours,” a good performance, not a great one.  And how, how, how did Paramount blow the campaign for Best Actress for Meryl Streep, who should have been nominated, perhaps even in place of Kidman for the same film?  I loved that Salma Hayek got nominated for “Frida” as well as Renee Zellweger in “Chicago.”

And the critics darling of the year was obviously Diane Lane in “Unfaithful.” But other than Streep, who got left out?  Where to start?

Any one of the ladies from “Talk to Her” or the great Maggie Gyllenhall in “Secretary” to begin with. God help me for saying so, but should Nia Verdalos have been a nominee for “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” Many thought so. Isabelle Huppert’s haunting performance in “The Piano Teacher” earned rave reviews and could have easily been a nominee for Best Actress. Cate Blanchett could have earned a nod for “Heaven” just as Jennifer Aniston was quietly remarkable in “The Good Girl.”

The category for Best Supporting Actress was equally ripe with possibilities far beyond the five nominees. Catharine Zeta-Jones was the eventual winner for her show-stopping work in “Chicago,” though I found her performance full of attitude rather than reality. She was far too aware of what she was playing rather than why.

I thought Streep’s work opposite Cooper in “Adaptation” was the year’s best-in-show in the category.  How she lost is beyond me. Kathy Bates was also terrific in “About Schmidt” and so nominated, along with Julianne Moore in “The Hours” and Queen Latifah in “Chicago.”

Certainly Susan Sarandon should have gained some attention for “Igby Goes Down” and Emily Watson deserved a nod for “Punch Drunk Love.” Patricia Clarkson won the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Supporting Actress in “Far from Heaven,” but she was not nominated for an Oscar despite a brilliant, unsettling performance.  “The Sopranos” star Edie Falco, meanwhile, won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for her work in John Sayles’ “Sunshine State.”

The wonderful Hope Davis gave a brilliant performance in “About Schmidt” but everyone was talking about Nicholson (rightly so) come Oscar time. Surely Samantha Morton deserved a nomination for her unique work in “Minority Report” along with Amy Adams in “Catch Me If You Can?” And finally, Oscar winner Kim Basinger gave a fine performance in “8 Mile” as a trailer park mom, proving again that the lady can act.

Amazing year.

What are your thoughts on the turns of 2002?  Have your say in the comments section below!




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50 responses so far

  • 1 11-27-2009 at 9:58 am

    /3rtfu11 said...

    I love Kidman’s Oscar win – her performance had a very showy clip.

    Streep was the weakest of The Hours performances – that crying scene in the kitchen is bullshit. I could see her getting worked-up.

  • 2 11-27-2009 at 10:09 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Kim Basinger in 8 Mile is the worst performance by an Oscar recognized actor I’ve ever seen in a major motion picture. Period.

  • 3 11-27-2009 at 10:10 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Kim Basinger in 8 Mile is the worst performance by an Oscar recognized actor I’ve ever seen in a major motion picture. Period.

    Eminem was fantastic though.

  • 4 11-27-2009 at 10:10 am

    Pablo (Col) said...

    The problem with Streep is that they love her too much and sometimes think her performances are great when they are only good.

    I love that Kidman won and i was very surprised Salma Hayek got in.

    Richard Gere is also a mistery for me. Although he’s good in Chicago and i don’t know if he had deserved a nod.

    Best Picture to Chicago? … I think that was because the movie is a combination of many things but the movie lacks some things that others have (my money was in The Hours).

  • 5 11-27-2009 at 10:22 am

    Andrew R. said...

    Michelle Pfeiffer in White Oleander. End of story.

    But seriously how the hell was the divine one snubbed? She should WON for that icy, hypnotic performance, I felt like one of her prey watching her.

  • 6 11-27-2009 at 10:27 am

    Andrew R. said...

    Also Y Tu Mama Tambien was released in the US in 2002 right? Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and especially Maribel Verdu all deserve mentions. All of them so sexually charged, but with so many painful layers.

  • 7 11-27-2009 at 10:34 am

    Gustavo H.R. said...

    I’m glad to see Spielberg’s actors praised, for a change.

  • 8 11-27-2009 at 10:34 am

    red_wine said...

    This was the year of Julianne Moore. Its unimaginable that she left the ceremony without an Oscar. But I’m really grateful that Kidman won. Do people realize how badly Kidman has been snubbed throughout her career? I seriously think that if she did not win then, she would never win. She hasn’t even been nominated since inspite a string of masterful performances in challenging roles from wide-ranging auteurs.

    Moore is gonna win someday. They are definitely going to give it to her. Maybe even this year as a career achievement oscar like they gave to Winslet last year. But no Monique’s presence cancels out that possibility.

  • 9 11-27-2009 at 10:39 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Strange that you mention the women of “Talk to Her” (who are surely supporting, not lead), but not Javier Camara, who owns the film. Glad to see it mentioned, though.

    Really pleased to see you mention Blanchett in “Heaven” and Aniston in “The Good Girl,” who should have been fighting it out for the win, for my money. Speaking of the latter film, John C. Reilly should have been nominated for it rather than “Chicago.” Zooey Deschanel too.

    Meanwhile, while I like the mention of Samantha Morton in “Minority Report,” her work in “Morvern Callar” completely dwarfs that performance. Incredible.

  • 10 11-27-2009 at 10:40 am

    R.J. said...

    All of the lead women in “The Hours” gave worthy performances, but Nicole Kidman gave the best and deserved her Oscar. I was a bit shocked that Gere did not receive a nomination, not just because I thought he was deserving but also because it seemed so set that he would be nominated.

  • 11 11-27-2009 at 10:47 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I must say, I agree with Red Wine: while “The Hours” wasn’t Kidman’s greatest work (still very fine, though), I’m relieved she has an Oscar to show for a remarkable decade’s work between 1995 and 2004. It’d be an injustice for the ages if she was still Oscar-less.

  • 12 11-27-2009 at 10:57 am

    Cameron said...

    Chad-you must have forgotten Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Daddy Day Camp

  • 13 11-27-2009 at 11:00 am

    Ivan said...

    BEST MOTION PICTURE
    City of God
    The Hours
    Punch-Drunk Love
    Talk to Her
    25th Hour*

    BEST DIRECTOR
    Pedro Almodovar/Talk to Her
    Paul Thomas Anderson/Punch-Drunk Love
    Todd Haynes/Far from Heaven
    Spike Lee/25th Hour*
    Fernando Meirelles/City of God

    BEST ACTOR
    Adrien Brody/The Pianist
    Nicolas Cage/Adaptation
    Javier Camara/Talk to Her
    Daniel Day Lewis/Gangs of New York*
    Edward Norton/25th Hour

    BEST ACTRESS
    Nicole Kidman/The Hours*
    Diane Lane/Unfaithful
    Julianne Moore/Far from Heaven
    Meryl Streep/The Hours
    Renne Zellweger/Chicago

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
    Chris Cooper/Adaptation
    Ed Harris/The Hours
    Nicholas Hoult/About a Boy
    Paul Newman/Road to Perdition
    Barry Pepper/25th Hour*

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
    Rosario Flores/Talk to Her
    Samantha Morton/Minority Report
    Meryl Streep/Adaptation*
    Emily Watson/Punch-Drunk Love
    Catherine Zeta Jones/Chicago

    BEST ENSEMBLE
    Adaptation
    Chicago
    The Hours*
    Lovely & Amazing
    25th Hour

    BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
    Far from Heaven
    Igby Goes Down
    Punch-Drunk Love
    Talk to Her*
    24 Hour Party People

    BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
    About a Boy
    Adaptation
    City of God
    The Hours
    25th Hour*

    BEST FOREIGN FILM
    City of God/Brazil*
    Dolls/Japan
    Hero/China
    Irreversible/France
    Talk to Her/Spain

    BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
    City of God*
    Road to Perdition
    Punch-Drunk Love
    Talk to Her
    25th Hour

    BEST FILM EDITING
    Chicago
    City of God*
    The Hours
    Talk to Her
    25th Hour

    BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
    Chicago
    Far from Heaven*
    Gangs of New York
    Hero
    Road to Perdition

    BEST COSTUME DESIGN
    Chicago
    Far from Heaven*
    Gangs of New York
    Hero
    The Hours

    BEST SOUND MIXING
    Chicago
    City of God*
    8 Mile
    Hero
    Signs

    BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
    Hero
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    Minority Report*
    Spiderman

    BEST DOCUMENTARY
    Bowling for Columbine*
    Dogtown and Z-Boys
    The Kids Stay in the Picture
    Spellbound
    Winged Migration

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
    Far from Heaven
    The Hours
    The Pianist
    Punch-Drunk Love*
    25th Hour

    BEST SONG
    The Hands That Built America/Gangs of New York
    Here to Stay/24 Hour Party People
    Lose Yourself/8 Mile*
    Silent Sigh/About a Boy
    Something to Talk About/About a Boy

    BEST SOUNDTRACK
    About a Boy
    Chicago
    Igby Goes Down
    Talk to Her
    24 Hour Party People*

  • 14 11-27-2009 at 11:26 am

    JAB said...

    no mention of Two Towers at all? I mean it’s clearly the weakest of the trilogy, but the acting was admirable

  • 15 11-27-2009 at 11:38 am

    Scott said...

    The most notable misses for me are Moore not winning and Quaid not being nominated. I actually liked Brody’s win. And I agree that Blanchett and Sarandon certainly merited more attention. I also like Andrew R’s mention of Verdu.

  • 16 11-27-2009 at 12:06 pm

    David said...

    Isabelle Huppert’s performance in The Piano Teacher will stick with me forever. She was absolutely astounding.

    I also agree with Meryl Streep in Adaptation. It was such a unique, odd role, and she handled it amazingly.

  • 17 11-27-2009 at 12:08 pm

    Ross said...

    I didn’t feel Streep’s performance in The Hours. It was good, but for me to overblown.

    I do, however, want to gather together a hundred Oscars and give them all to Julianne Moore. And a few to Patricia Clarkson. I think they’re both so under-recognised.

  • 18 11-27-2009 at 12:18 pm

    Simon Warrasch said...

    Picture

    The Hours
    Chicago
    The Pianist
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    Talk to her

    Director

    Roman Polanski – The Pianist
    Rob Marshall – Chicago
    Pedro Almodovar – Talk to her
    Michael Haneke – The Piano Teacher
    Peter Jackson – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    Lead Actor

    Richard Gere – Chicago
    Eminem – 8 Mile
    Adrien Brody – The Pianist
    Andy Serkis – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    Jack Nicholson – About Schmidt

    Lead Actress

    Meryl Streep – The Hours
    Isabelle Huppert – The Piano Teacher
    Maggie Gyllenhaal – Secretary
    Diane Lane – Unfaithful
    Renee Zellweger – Chicago

    Alt.

    Cate Blanchett – Heaven

    Supporting Actor

    John C. Reilly – Chicago
    Ed Harris – The Hours
    Chris Cooper – Adaptation
    Dennis Haysbert – Far from Heaven
    Viggo Mortensen – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    Supporting Actress

    Nicole Kidman – The Hours
    Julianne Moore – The Hours
    Annie Girardot – The Piano Teacher
    Catherine Zeta-Jones – Chicago
    Meryl Streep – Adaptation

    Alt.

    Queen Latifah – Chicago

  • 19 11-27-2009 at 12:22 pm

    Jeremy said...

    Daniel Day-Lewis gave the performance of the year for me, and one of the best of the decade. Just a ferocious and ferociously compelling portrayal.

    I think it’s worth nothing that DiCaprio’s work in “Catch Me If You Can” essentially signified his return to acting prominence. He’d basically been invisible for the five years since “Titantic”, and he faltered somewhat in “Gangs of New York”, but he’s brilliant in Spielberg’s movie. Since then, he’s proven himself one of America’s best actors in “The Aviator”, “The Departed,” “Blood Diamond,” and “Revolutionary Road”.

    I’d also throw out nods to:
    Kieran Culkin, Igby Goes Down
    Mel Gibson, Signs
    Jake Gyllenhaal, Moonlight Mile
    Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man
    Sam Rockwell, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, 25th Hour
    Andy Serkis, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    Jena Malone, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
    Anna Paquin, 25th Hour

  • 20 11-27-2009 at 12:47 pm

    Marlowe said...

    “Road to Perdition” is maybe the only movie I can think of where I didn’t see a single performance that wasn’t nomination-worthy.

  • 21 11-27-2009 at 12:50 pm

    voland said...

    Ed Harris was robbed. He ‘destroyed’ Streep in every scene.

  • 22 11-27-2009 at 1:28 pm

    Patryk said...

    Edward Norton should have received his 3rd nomination for “25th Hour.”

  • 23 11-27-2009 at 1:42 pm

    Frank Lee said...

    I thought Ed Harris was dead weight in The Hours. I get embarrassed watching his scenes now. And I like the movie a lot.

  • 24 11-27-2009 at 1:46 pm

    mark said...

    my 2002 noms * wins
    actor

    day lewis
    brody*
    norton
    nicholson
    kinnear

    actress

    moore*
    streep
    lane
    zellweger
    kidman

    s/actor

    walken*
    cooper
    harris
    quaid
    newman

    s/actress
    zeta jones
    pfeiffer*
    clarkson
    streep
    sarandon

  • 25 11-27-2009 at 2:01 pm

    Maxim said...

    Just one comment:

    Between Minority Report/Catch Me if You Can, Two Towers, Signs, Spirited Away, Millenium Actress, Pianist, etc. – 2002 is my pick for the strongest movie year of the decade.

  • 26 11-27-2009 at 2:19 pm

    Nigel Bridgeman said...

    The only thing I liked about The Hours was Julianne Moore. Nothing else about it should have been anywhere near the Oscars.

    I’m very surprised at all the Kidman love here. She’s never done anything for me except her performance in The Others. Maybe it’s a case of familiarity breeding contempt – she’s been in our face here in Australia since, when, BMX Bandits? At least. I’ve never been a fan.

    Some notes, then, in one poorly-worded paragraph:

    I was glad that Adrien Brody won that year – excellent work. Brian Cox should have been nominated for 25th Hour (along with the film itself in many categories). Richard Gere probably would have been nominated if they had campaigned for in Supporting Actor instead of lead – big mistake. Dennis Quaid, if I remember correctly, was the shock of the year when the nominations were announced. There were no other noticeable omissions if I remember correctly, although it is a shame they didn’t have the balls to nominate Andy Serkis. Trivia note: I still haven’t seen Frida or The Quiet American.

  • 27 11-27-2009 at 2:49 pm

    Markku said...

    This must be one of the strongest years ever in the lead actor category: I can think of around 20 performances worthy of nomination, maybe even win. To the ones already mentioned I would add:

    James Nesbitt – Bloody Sunday
    Timothy Spall – All or Nothing
    Aurelien Recoing – Time Out
    Benoit Magimel – The Piano Teacher
    Edward Norton – 25th Hour

    And, although I usually cannot stand him, Richard Gere had an excellent year, topping even his acclaimed Chicago turn in dramatic roles, first as a cuckolded husband in Unfaithful and as a widower haunted by paranormal activity in the underrated The Mothman Prophecies.

  • 28 11-27-2009 at 3:39 pm

    Isaac Richter said...

    No mention of About a Boy anywhere? I think that is probably Hugh Grant’s strongest performance to date (and a great use of his charsma) and I also think Toni Collette was fantastic in that movie. It’s lighter fare, certainly, but I truly believe there are some worthy performances in that film.

    I agree that 2002 is a really strong year, for many actors. Toni Collette was also fantastic in her small scene in The Hours, John C. Reilly was in four films and excellent all around, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moor both doubled up as well, I also enjoyed Tom Hanks in Catch Me If You Can (not his best, but still very good) and Robin Williams also had Insomnia, a truly surprising performance (I really liked Al Pacino in that one too).

  • 29 11-27-2009 at 3:44 pm

    Harry said...

    Kidman was given the Oscar for losing the year before to the blubbering mess that was Halle Berry’s wildly overblown performance in Monster’s Ball. Kidman shined in The Hours, but it was a supporting role. Her performance in Moulin Rouge! was iconic. End of story. The best actress category was truly ripe with unbelievable performances, that i agree with. Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Maggie Gyllenhall, Meryl Streep, all brilliant. But in a perfect world, Maribel Verdu would have been nominated for her gutwrenching turn in Y tu Mama Tambien. I agree with Scott on that one. And Isabelle Hubbertt. woah. It really was an acting year like no other.

    And John…Catherine Zeta Jones was fierce as shit in Chicago. That was not a subtle movie, nor was it a nuanced performance, but in terms of showmanship, Jones brought so much energy to her work. Not to mention that voice and those dance numbers (Cellblock tango, still one of the great musical numbers in movies).

  • 30 11-27-2009 at 3:47 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    My line-up:

    Lead Actor:
    1. Adrien Brody, The Pianist -WINNER-
    2. Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York -Runner-up-
    3. Campbell Scott, Roger Dodgers
    4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch me if you can
    5. Nicolas Cage, Adaptation
    Alt: Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt

    Lead Actress:
    1. Julianne Moore, Far from Heaven -WINNER-
    2. Isabelle Huppert, The Piano Teacher -Runner-up-
    3. Samantha Morton, Movern Callar
    4. Cate Blanchett, Heaven
    5. Renee Zellweger, Chicago
    Alt: Diane Lane, Unfaithful

    Supporting Actor:
    1. Chris Cooper, Adaptation -WINNER-
    2. Christopher Walken, Catch me if you Can -Runner up-
    3. Dennis Quaid, Far from Heaven
    4. Paul Newman, Road of Perdition
    5. Ed Harris, The Hours
    Alt: Jude Law, Road of Perdition

    Supporting Actress
    1. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago -WINNER-
    2. Nicole Kidman, The Hours -Runner-up-
    3. Julianne Moore, The Hours
    4. Meryl Streep, Adaptation
    5. Michelle Pfeiffer, White Oleander
    Alt: Edie Falco, Sunshine Cleaning

  • 31 11-27-2009 at 4:10 pm

    par3182 said...

    i wish jack nicholson had been passed over for the dreadful as good as it gets so he could’ve won for his against type performance in about schmidt but i can’t begrudge brody’s win

    ed harris was awful in the hours; the supporting actor nomination for that film should have gone to stephen dillane (or even that ridiculously beautiful child that played julianne moore’s son)

    giovanni ribisi deserves as much praise as cate blanchett in heaven

  • 32 11-27-2009 at 5:13 pm

    Zodiac said...

    Julianne Moore was robbed in the best actress cathegory. She was by far the best of the noms. Blanchett in Heaven and Streep in The Hours were superb as well. I have not yet seen The Piano Teacher but I guess since it is a Haneke picture, the movie is of high quality.
    My noms in that year would be:

    Julianne Moore – Far from Heaven
    Cate Blanchett – Heaven
    Meryl Streep – The Hours
    Maggie Gyllenhaal – Sherry Baby
    Salma Hayek – Frida

    Daniel Day Lewis should have won. Stephan Dillane and Dennis Quaid should have been nominated along with Toni Collette ,Michelle Pfeiffer and Giovanni Ribisi. To me Kidman is supporting in The Hours

  • 33 11-27-2009 at 5:59 pm

    Zodiac said...

    Oh no!
    How could I forget the brilliant haunting performance from Oksana Akinshina in the Swedish movie Lilja 4 -ever!
    Hey John Foote, have you seen the movie?

  • 34 11-27-2009 at 6:41 pm

    Nine Fan said...

    lol. Meryl Streep was laughable in The Hours. I thought you were joking.

  • 35 11-27-2009 at 7:44 pm

    Adrianna said...

    I was so happy when Chris Cooper won. A wonderful working actor for so many years finally gets recognition! And I was pleased with Adrien Brody’s win as well (but not jumping up and down in the same way).

    I agree with the mentions for Michelle Pfieffer for “White Oleander” (how did that get missed?), Dennis Quaid and Patricia Clarkson in “Far From Heaven”, Edward Norton in “25th Hour”, Hugh Grant and Toni Colette in “About a Boy”. I also loved Jet Li in “Hero”.

    I thought both Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser were excellent in “The Quiet American”, one of my favorite movies of the year. What is it about adaptations of Graham Greene’s novels that stays so fresh? Was it the combination of being both a film critic, a screenwriter, a journalist, and a novelist, that lets him get right to the heart of the matter?

  • 36 11-27-2009 at 9:43 pm

    SJG said...

    I’m always amazed that NO ONE has ever won an Oscar for a performance in a Steven Spielberg movie, and this year alone (2002) shows how tragic that is. Think how many fantastic performances were given that year in just his two movies alone! Tom Cruise, Samantha Morton, Max Von Sydow, Kathryn Morris in Minority Report; Leonardo DiCaprio, Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks, Amy Adams, Martin Sheen in Catch Me If You Can; can anyone say that of all these performances the only one that deserved to be nominated was Walken?

    I even favored a win for Walken, though maybe a bit sentimentally, and I think Samantha Morton’s performance should have blown everyone else out of the water in Best Supporting Actress… she makes the parts of previous sci-fi nominees, like Melinda Dillon in Close Encounters or Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, look sort of pedestrian. Of course, I don’t think Samantha Morton could act badly if you told her to, but this has to have been one of the more challenging roles she’s ever taken on… not just anyone can turn a whimpering, confused (psychic) kidnapping victim in a sci-fi picture into a serious and introspective dramatic role.

    Anyway, I’m rambling… at any rate, my point is that not only was this a great year for performances in general, it was an especially good year for Spielberg films, and it never ceases to amaze me how many great performances in his films have been overlooked.

  • 37 11-27-2009 at 10:22 pm

    Marvin said...

    I love Emily Watson so much. She never has seemed to get due respect. I still adore her performance in Gosford Park, only one of the many great supporting performances that movie turned a year previous.

    As much as I loved the ladies of Hable con ella, it was the men in that Almodovar picture who broke your heart and should’ve received nods for their work.

    Does Y tu mama tambien count as an ’02 film or was it nominated a year after?

  • 38 11-28-2009 at 12:47 am

    Ross said...

    Well, actually I think that Meryl’s performance in The Hours was incredible and absolutely the best in the film. Nicole Kidman’s performance wasn’t even that good technically speaking. She nailed the voice…. and nothing more. That train station scene was a total wreck. She was pushing for the emotion, but it wasn’t there and I think Daldry was in really bad position, because after all, the guy playing Woolf’s husband was totally stealing the scene by doing nothing.

    And Meryl — she nailed something essential to her character (in the book) and I loved the way she didn’t push for every emotion and it worked for her character. I think that it’s the second most impressive female performance that year (with Julianne Moore winning it for Far From Heaven).

    About the supporting actress category — I think Meryl lost to Zeta-Jones mainly because the Academy didn’t warm up to Adaptation. Chris Cooper won, because his field was extremely weak and with Meryl they knew she would be back. And I believe they want her to win in lead.

    My favorite performances from that year:

    Lead Actor — Daniel Day-Lewis (absolutely brilliant), I’m not a huge fan of Nicholson’s performance — with him you’re always aware you’re watching Jack Nicholson pretending to be a retired man with an estranged daughter etc etc….

  • 39 11-28-2009 at 1:28 am

    filmy said...

    Ross @ You’re funny with your nonsense.

  • 40 11-28-2009 at 5:20 am

    John H. Foote said...

    Some thoughts — no I was not joking about Streep in “The Hours” – she was superb — I disagree rather strongly that Nicholson always plays the same character — line his films up on DVD back to back since his breakthrough in “Easy Rider” and watch them one by one through to “The Departed” and you will see one of the screen’s greatest actors — fearless, bold and willing to do just about anything to nail a character — does he have fun sometimes, sure, but when push comes to shove there are few better than he. And for the record I loved Day-Lewis in “Gangs of New York” though I thought from time to time he approached being over the top, which in fairness worked for the character, whereas Nicholson slipped under the skin of Warren Schmidt and became him, flesh and soul.

  • 41 11-28-2009 at 9:32 am

    aristo said...

    To me Kidman has been better since The Hours, most notably in Dogville, Birth and Margot at the wedding, three amazing performance unjustly overlooked.

  • 42 11-28-2009 at 4:37 pm

    Ross said...

    @ filmy,
    if you disagree with a statement, you could say what you disagree about and why. Not just telling names. Thanks.

  • 43 11-28-2009 at 4:37 pm

    Ross said...

    @ filmy,
    if you disagree with a statement, you could say what you disagree about and why. Not just calling names. Thanks.

  • 44 11-28-2009 at 5:04 pm

    Chris said...

    A few that I thought were worthy;

    Scott Campbell – Roger Dodger
    Ray Liotta – Narc
    Sean Astin – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    Bebe Neuwirth – Tadpole

    and of course…

    Bruce Campbell – Bubba Ho-Tep

  • 45 11-28-2009 at 10:37 pm

    Joel said...

    “Minority Report” is the best film of the decade. Tom Cruise not getting nominated is a travesty.

  • 46 11-29-2009 at 4:42 am

    Marc said...

    Diane Lane gave the best lead female performance. She OWNED that “Unfaithful” film and was in almost every scene. She she have beaten Nicole Kidman.

  • 47 11-29-2009 at 10:02 pm

    Patrick said...

    2002 was the year that I began following the oscar, mostly on the strength of Road To Perdition. A lot of the major turns have already been covered, but I’d add a few:

    Allen Arkin: 13 Conversations About One Thing
    Edie Falco: Sunshine State
    Hugh Grant: About A Boy
    Jennifer Aniston: The Good Girl.

  • 48 11-30-2009 at 6:42 pm

    Eunice said...

    John, thanks again for another one of these insightful pieces. I’ve been busy, so I’ve only been reading and not commenting, but I couldn’t pass this one up, because 2002 is one of my favorite years.

    I agree with those who have been saying that Julianne Moore should have won for “Far from Heaven” or “The Hours”. Granted, Nicole Kidman gave a good performance, but out of the three ladies of The Hours, I think Moore gave the most complicated, most powerful, and most affecting performance. I would also have had Streep win for “Adaptation.”, giving more than just justice to an unusual role.

    For the men, I think Dennis Quaid should have been nominated (and won) for “Far From Heaven”, and John C. Reilly and Ed Harris performed spectacularly in “Chicago” and “The Hours”, respectively, that they deserved to be nominated.

    All in all, though, such a great year for actors.

  • 49 11-30-2009 at 8:13 pm

    John Travolta said...

    So Dicaprio, Walken, Sheen, and Adams for Catch Me if You Can all deserved nominations- That I truly agree with. I’ve been saying that since i saw it.

    I could throw Tom Hanks in there as well.
    It just goes to show you how great that movie was amongst all the other successful films of 2002.

  • 50 12-04-2009 at 4:50 pm

    nanoush said...

    I still don’t understand why people keep on saying Adrien Brody’s win was a shock.

    People, he was the ONLY nominee of the group that hadn’t won before, so that’s the perfect excuse (alongside with a unforgettable performance) for making HIM WIN THE OSCAR. What if Nicholson or Day-Lewis won Globe and SAG, Bafta, xtc? The buzz is the buzz and also Polanski was a shock because he didn’t won the precursors???? No, a shock would have been if Pedro Almodóvar had won BEST DIRECTOR, or even PETER WEIR.