The Great Performances: 2003

Posted by · 9:14 am · December 4th, 2009

Sean Penn in Mystic RiverThere is little doubt in my mind I am going to take some heat this week, so let’s kick it off right away with my belief that Sean Penn deserved his Best Actor Oscar for “Mystic River,” a performance of overwhelming ferocity and staggering emotional power.

Yes, I too loved Bill Murray in “Lost in Translation,” and would have loved to have seen him win, but he didn’t, and frankly he lost to a stronger performance (in my opinion). I know it is a cliche to say the nomination is the reward, but I would hope that Murray would be happy with that.

But there were so many great male performances in 2003!

Robert Duvall was superb in “Open Range” as the wily old rancher who ends up in a gunfight for his life with his friend, played by the also fantastic Kevin Costner, by his side. Tom Cruise gave a great performance in “The Last Samurai” for director Edward Zwick, while Russell Crowe was again brilliant in “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” adding to his string of stunning performances.

Paul Giamatti was criminally ignored (the first time) for “American Splendor” while William H. Macy suffered the same fate for “The Cooler,” a daring and fine performance from a veteran character actor.

You’ve got to like that the Academy had the guts to nominate Johnny Depp for his wonderfully inventive performance in “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” because that was an example of pure actor’s genius and creation.  I also admired Jude Law’s performance in “Cold Mountain,” a film much better than it was given credit for.

Ben Kingsley was riveting in “House of Sand and Fog,” earning his nomination, but without Jennifer Connelly he does not get there and curiously she was snubbed. There was very strong support for Jack Nicholson in the wonderful comedy “Something’s Gotta Give” but all the love for that film went to Diane Keaton.

And I will end my Best Actor rant with the fact Sean Penn could have also been nominated for “21 Grams.”

Where was Scarlett Johansson for “Lost in Translation?” How did this splendid performance opposite Bill Murray get ignored when Murray and Sofia Coppola and that great screenplay were nominated?  Would Murray have given that performance opposite another actress? Doubtful, because the chemistry between the two of them was perfect. PERFECT.

How would anyone have bettered the astonishing performance Charlize Theron gave in “Monster?” It was a performance Roger Ebert called “among the greatest in the history of the cinema.”  Her closest competition was likely Diane Keaton in “Something’s Gotta Give” or Naomi Watts in “21 Grams.” Though Samantha Morton’s nomination for “In America” was deserving, she had no chance, nor did Keisha Castle-Hughes in “Whale Rider.”

I was stunned Nicole Kidman was not nominated for “Cold Mountain” as it is perhaps the actress’s best performance! Evan Rachel Wood gave a searing performance in “Thirteen” but the Academy did not notice, nor did they find Jennifer Connelly worthy of a nomination in “House of Sand and Fog.”

Hope Davis was once again on the out looking in, ignored for her sublime work in “American Spelndor” with Paul Giamatti. Much was made of Uma Thurman’s excellent physical performance in “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” and she was deserving of a nomination.

The supporting actor category was loaded with strong performances, but also those left off the list could have easily filled another category entirely. For me the most glaring omissions were from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” where both Viggo Mortensen and Sean Astin deserved nominations for the final film, bringing to it great heart.

And Sean Astin, my God, when he carries Frodo as he has in some sense the entire trilogy, we realize who the true hero of the film is. Certainly Ian McKellan was deserving for the first of the films, but these two actors dominated the final film with astounding work.

Though Tim Robbins won the Oscar for “Mystic River,” his cast mate Kevin Bacon was equally deserving for his performance as a conflicted cop on the hunt for a killer. The great Bruce Dern was outstanding in “Monster” in a small part as a killer’s lone human connection, richly deserving of a nomination. Dern is one of those greats who has always been passed over.

Both Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper could have been nominated for “Seabiscuit,” as well as any one of the young actors in “City of God,” while Paul Bettany was outstanding in “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” at least as good as any one of the five nominees.  Same goes for Albert Finney in “Big Fish.”

Of the nominees, I cheered Alec Baldwin’s work in “The Cooler,” Benicio Del Toro in “21 Grams,” Ken Watanabe in “The Last Samurai” and Djimon Honsou in “In America,” though there was little doubt that Robbins was going to win. However, with a different field, would things have gone differently?

Renee Zellweger was going to win the Oscar from the moment she was cast as Ruby Thewes in “Cold Mountain.” It was as sure a thing as Jessica Tandy for “Driving Miss Daisy.” The actress gave a rough-and-tumble performance of a woman of little education yet widely knowledgeable in matters of survival. It was a brilliant performance and the best of the nominated turns, though an argument could be made for Holly Hunter’s heartbreaking mother in “Thirteen.”

As fine as Zellweger was, a strong argument could be made for Natalie Portman’s heartbreaking single mother trying to make a life after the death of her husband in “Cold Mountain.” The manner in which she tries to make a human connection with soldier Jude Law is extraordinary, deeply moving and finally, tragic.

I loved Laura Linney’s chilling wife to Sean Penn in “Mystic River” as the actress created a modern day Lady MacBeth, and I was shocked that she was not nominated. Her cast mate Marcia Gay Harden was for her work in the film as the shell-shocked, terrified wife of Tim Robbins, a richly deserving nomination.

Jessica Lange deserved some attention for her performance in “Big Fish” as did Christina Ricci in “Monster.” I was pleased to see Shohreh Aghdashloo nominated as the wife in “House of Sand and Fog” as well as the great Patricia Clarkson in “Pieces of April,” a nod no doubt for being looked over the year before in “Far from Heaven.”

Hope Davis could have been a nominee for her work in “American Splendor,” while the voice work of Ellen DeGeneres in “Finding Nemo” was, I think, Oscar worthy. For her performance in the Oscar-winning Canadian film “The Barbarian Invasions,” Marie Jose Croze won an award at Cannes, and the Canadian Genie Award, but was ignored for an Oscar nod.

That’s my perspective on the performances of 2003.  What about you?  Have your say in the comments section below!




→ 47 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

47 responses so far

  • 1 12-04-2009 at 9:58 am

    Liz said...

    Peter Sarsgaard for “Shattered Glass.”

    The Academy’s biggest mistake that year.

  • 2 12-04-2009 at 10:01 am

    the other mike said...

    scarlett johansson whould have been nominated u are right there John, and she is the most underrated actress in fil today cause the backlash that ineveitably followed her rise. Saw her in Vicky Christina and she was great and nowhere near as wack as i though she had become going off the haters.

  • 3 12-04-2009 at 10:05 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Yeah, how do you miss Sarsgaard here??

  • 4 12-04-2009 at 10:08 am

    Holden said...

    Like others here, where the f*** is Peter Sarsgaurd here? His performance in Shattered Glass was amazing, and was arguably a co-lead. The only love he got was at the Globes and the Spirit Awards with some critic awards mixed in. He should have been nominated and won.

  • 5 12-04-2009 at 10:17 am

    Hero said...

    Frankly, I think Lost in Translation is the most overrated movie of the decade.
    However, I’m with you on the mentions of Russell Crowe and Sean Astin–they were both robbed big time.

  • 6 12-04-2009 at 10:18 am

    mark said...

    2003 nominees
    winner*
    actor
    paddy considine
    ben kingsley
    sean penn
    hayden christensen
    bill murray*

    actress
    charlize theron*
    evan rachel wood
    jennifer connelly
    gwyneth paltrow
    diane keaton

    s/actor
    benicio del toro
    peter sarsgaard*
    paul betttany
    tim robbins
    ken watanabe

    s.actress
    emma thompson
    marcia gay harden*
    maria bello
    holly hunter
    shoreh agdhashloo

  • 7 12-04-2009 at 10:20 am

    JJ said...

    I, too, found Kidman absolutely wonderful in ‘Cold Mountain’, but I feel that she was ignored by the Academy a) because she won the year before. and b) it’s hard to praise a beautiful woman playing a beautiful woman, even though Ada goes through an incredible emotional transformation.

  • 8 12-04-2009 at 10:29 am

    chutneylix said...

    I’m so glad you mentioned Ellen Degeneres here. It was fantastic stuff and I hope one day soon the academy will add a category for voice work at the very least. Dory is one of my favorite fictional characters of the decade and most of that is due to Ellen’s work.

  • 9 12-04-2009 at 10:36 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Hold the phone, you think Nicole Kidman’s best performance is in “Cold Mountain?”

    I’ve made no secret of my admiration for Kidman, but that I just don’t comprehend. Would love to hear you explain that statement a little bit.

  • 10 12-04-2009 at 10:45 am

    Simon Warrasch said...

    2004
    (inklusive Dogville)

    Picture:

    Dogville
    In America
    The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the Ring
    21 Grams
    Finding Nemo

    Director:

    Lars von Trier – Dogville
    Peter Jackson – The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King
    Alejandro Gonzale Inarritu – 21 Grams
    Jim Sheridan – In America
    Sofia Copoloa – Lost in Translation

    Alt.: Quentin Tarantino – Kill Bill Vol. I

    Leading Actor:

    Ben Kingsley – House of Sand and Fog
    Paul Bettany – Dogville
    Bill Murray – Lost in Translation
    Sean Penn – 21 Grams
    Pad Carradine – In America

    Leading Actress:

    Naomi Watts – 21 Grams
    Charlize Theron – Monster
    Uma Thurman – Kill Bill Volume I
    Samantha Morton – In America
    Nicole Kidman – Dogville

    Supporting Actor:

    Benicio del Toro – 21 Grams
    Djimon Hounsou – In America
    Tim Robbins – Mystic River

    Supporting Actress:

    Scarlett Johannson – Lost in Translation
    Patrica Clarkson – Dogville
    Shoreh Agdashloo – House of Sand and Fog
    Mellisa Leo – 21 Grams
    Christina Ricci – Monster

  • 11 12-04-2009 at 10:52 am

    John said...

    For actor, Capt. Jack is one of the screen’s great creations. No problem with the guy who won, but this is a performance we’re going to be watching in 50 years.
    For lead actress, who knew Charlize could do that? This wasn’t typical deglamming, I know that woman. Melissa Leo is one of the few other examples where I saw a Hollywood actress be believably blue-collar. And to think earlier that year I saw her in THE ITALIAN JOB and simply couldn’t buy this glamour-puss doing that, I never would have expected her to pull off this. Since then, I thought she was excellently Middle-american in NORTH COUNTRY and IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH. Hope she keeps up the good work.
    How can you vote against THE LAST SAMURAI? Ken Watanabe was the MAN in that one! I don’t know if they were nomination-worthy but John Billingsley in OUT OF TIME and Seth Green in THE ITALIAN JOB were wonderful comedic side-kicks to their higher paid hero.
    Supporting Actress: Liked Shoreh, she’s done well since. That 24 arc rocked! My two girls who didn’t get any love that year were Christina Ricci as Charlize’s horribly fickle young lover and Laura Linney as a tragically doomed activist in THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE.

  • 12 12-04-2009 at 10:53 am

    Frank said...

    I would aruge for Bill Murray, but hell, at least he was nominated. Meanwhile, both supporting categories didn’t even include the best supporting turns of the year.

    As mentioned above, Sarsgaard deserved the win, but if not that, the nomination. And Laura Linney should’ve taken that supporting actress award in a landslide. How does she not have an Oscar at this point?

  • 13 12-04-2009 at 11:10 am

    al b. said...

    You’re right about the Lord of the Rings snubs: How Astin, Mortensen, Serkis, and McKellen didn’t land a nomination is beyond me!

  • 14 12-04-2009 at 11:31 am

    Adam Smith said...

    John, I will read the rest of the column later, but first I just have to say this: thank you.

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for pimping for Sean Penn. I couldn’t agree more–Penn’s performance is one of my favorites of the past decade. Frankly, if Return of the King had been out of the equation, Mystic River would have deservingly won Best Picture–for me, it is far and away Eastwood’s best film of the decade (which isn’t hard, considering Gran Torino and the overhyped Million Dollar Baby).

  • 15 12-04-2009 at 11:57 am

    Zac said...

    I wouldn’t have given the Oscar to either Sean Penn or Bill Murray’s wonderful performance, instead I would have voted for Johnny Depp’s wonderful, loony, bizzare turn as Captain Jack Sparrow. I remember telling a friend after we saw Pirates of the Caribbean that Depp would get a nomination; he didn’t think so; I told him I would make a bet of it, but he didn’t bite.

    Charlize Theron’s performance is for me, not just the best of 2003, but the best performance of the decade, male or female. Absolutely breathtaking, astonishing work from an actress who had given no indication in previous work of how great she is.

    While I thought Tim Robbins was the most worthy of the nominees, my choice wasn’t even nominated: Sean Astin for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Willing to stick by his friend no matter what happens, Samwise Gamgee is one of the greatest friends ever.

    While Marcia Gay Harden was terrific, and better in Mystic River than in her Oscar winning turn in Pollock, I thought Laura Linney was even better. When her final scene was playing out, I was thinking that she would make a great Lady MacBeth and from reading other comments about her, I’m not alone in that sentiment.

    If ScarJo had been nominated in Supporting, she would be my pick for that category.

  • 16 12-04-2009 at 12:23 pm

    Encore Entertainment said...

    Ha Ha Ha. Whoa. It’s so weird that I agree with you on this year. Definitely agree about Penn and especially on Cold Mountain. it’s given less than it deserves. I won’t say it’s Nikki’s best but I believe it warranted a nomination and although Marcia’s Mystic River is one of my favourite supporting performances I didnt’ hate Zellweger for win. I felt Lange, Bonham Carter and especially Finney and McGregor deserved notices for Big Fish.

  • 17 12-04-2009 at 12:28 pm

    Clarence said...

    I completely disagree with you regarding Renee Zellweger’s performance in Cold Mountain. I felt she cared more about her accent than the entire performance. Plus, I really felt she was just…vacant in most of her screen time. Holly Hunter’s performance was by far the greatest in the nominees but Shoreh Aghdashloo was wonderful. Anyway, Lucy Liu in Kill Bill was pretty scary so I liked her there :)

  • 18 12-04-2009 at 12:39 pm

    Ivan said...

    BEST MOTION PICTURE
    Dogville
    Kill Bill vol. 1*
    Lost in Translation
    Love Actually
    X2: X Men United

    BEST DIRECTOR
    Sofia Coppola/Lost in Translation
    Peter Jackson/The Lord of the Rings: TROTK
    Andrew Jarecki/Capturing the Friedmans
    Quentin Tarantino/Kill Bill vol. 1*
    Lars Von Trier/Dogville

    BEST ACTOR
    Jack BLack/The School of Rock
    Johnny Depp/Pirates of the Caribbean:TCOTBP
    Paul Giamatti/American Splendor
    Bill Murray/Lost in Translation*
    Sean Penn/Mystic River

    BEST ACTRESS
    Scarlett Johansson/Lost in Translation
    Sarah Polley/My Life Without Me
    Charlize Theron/Monster
    Uma Thurman/Kill Bill vol. 1*
    Naomi Watts/21 Grams

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
    Alec Baldwin/The Cooler
    Benicio Del Toro/21 Grams
    Djimon Honsou/In America
    Bill Nighy/Love Actually
    Peter Sarsgaard/Shattered Glass*

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
    Shroreh Agdashloo/House of Sand and Fog
    Patricia Clarkson/Dogville
    Holly Hunter/Thirteen
    Samantha Morton/In America*
    Emma Thompson/Love Actually

    BEST ENSEMBLE
    Dogville
    In America
    Love Actually*
    Mystic River
    X2: X Men United

    BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
    Bad Santa
    Dogville
    Kill Bill vol. 1*
    Lost in Translation
    Love Actually

    BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
    American Splendor
    The Barbarian Invasions*
    My Life Without Me
    Shattered Glass
    X2: X Men United

  • 19 12-04-2009 at 1:05 pm

    Calan said...

    Best Supporting Actress: Emma Thompson in Love Actually.

  • 20 12-04-2009 at 1:46 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    You said that you didn’t like Penn’s performance in I am Sam because you could see him acting – but how in the hell you couldn’t see him acting in Mystic River in the scene where he’s on the porch or the famous “Is that my daughter in there?” – no it was someone else’s.

  • 21 12-04-2009 at 1:59 pm

    Pablo (Col) said...

    I know she wasnt great but what about Liv Tyler in Lord of the Rings?

    Elijah Wood and Sean Astin were also great in the movie and deserved to be in the acting categories.

    Ricci and Johansson deserved to be there but hey were snubbed. BAFTA knew better in best supporting actress.

    Sorry to say this now but i didnt remember when you did 2001: i think Star Wars Episode I deserved a nomination in best costume design and it should have won. Portman’s outfits were simply great.

  • 22 12-04-2009 at 1:59 pm

    Michael W. said...

    Two earth shattering snubs in the same year. Peter Sarsgaard and Evan Rachel Wood. Terrible mistakes by the academy.

    And I really don’t have any problem with Sean Penn winning either. Mystic River is fantastic, but my vote goes to Bill Murray.

    (* = my winners)

    Best lead actor:
    Russell Crowe – Master and Commander
    Johnny Depp – Pirates of the Caribbean
    Paul Giamatti – American Splendor
    Bill Murray – Lost in Translation *
    Sean Penn – 21 Grams & Mystic River

    Best lead actress:
    Diane Keaton – Something’s Gotta Give
    Sarah Polley – My Life Without Me
    Charlize Theron – Monster
    Naomi Watts – 21 Grams *
    Evan Rachel Wood – Thirteen

    Best supporting actor:
    Alec Baldwin – The Cooler
    Paul Bettany – Master and Commander
    Benicio Del Toro – 21 Grams
    Tim Robbins – Mystic River *
    Peter Sarsgaard – Shattered Glass

    Best supporting actress:
    Marcia Gay Harden – Mystic River
    Holly Hunter – Thirteen
    Scarlett Johansson – Lost in Translation *
    Laura Linney – Mystic River
    Renée Zellweger – Cold Mountain

    Best director:
    Sofia Coppola – Lost in Translation
    Clint Eastwood – Mystic River *
    Jim Sheridan – In America
    Gus Van Sant – Elephant
    Peter Weir – Master and Commander

    Best picture:
    21 Grams
    Finding Nemo
    In America
    Lost in Translation
    Mystic River *

  • 23 12-04-2009 at 2:05 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    My line-up:

    Best Actor:
    1. Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean – WINNER –
    2. Bill Murray, Lost in Traslation – Runner-up –
    3. Jude Law, Cold Mountain
    4. Sean Penn, 21 Grams / Mystic River
    5. Ben Kingsley, House of Sand and Fog
    Alt: Tie Russell Crowe, Master and Commander and Paddy Considine, In America

    Best Actress:
    1. Charlize Theron, Monster -WINNER-
    2. Uma Thurman, Kill Bill – Runner-up –
    3. Naomi Watts, 21 Grams
    4. Diane Keaton, Smoething’s Gotta Give
    5. Evan Rachel Wood, Thirteen
    Alt: Tie Samantha Morton, In America and Jamie Lee Curtis, Freaky Friday

    Supporting Actor:
    1. Peter Sarsgaard, Shattered Glass – WINNER –
    2. Paul Bettany, Master and Commander – Runner-up-
    3. Alec Baldwin, The Cooler
    4. Benicio Del Toro, 21 Grams
    5. Tim Robins, Mystic River
    Alt: Djimon Hounsou, In America

    Supporting Actress:
    1. Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog -WINNER-
    2. Patricia Clarkson, Pieces of April / The Station Agent -Runer-up-
    3. Holly Hunter, Thirteen
    4. Marcia Gay Harden, Mystic River
    5. Maria Bello, The Cooler
    Alt: Hope Davis; American Splendor

  • 24 12-04-2009 at 2:10 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    John, I got to be honest, this is the biggest head-sctratcher of your “Great Performances” columns. The lack of mention to Sarsgaard and the calling Kidman’s work in Cold Mountain her best have already been mentioned, but I was puzzled at a few other things you wrote – or didn’t write.

    Renee Zellweger gave a “brilliant performance?” Are you kidding me? That may be the worst performance to ever win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. In fact, it’s almost unwatchable.

    /3rtfu11, I completely agree with you. Totally hammed up performance in an overrated, overwrought, misogynist movie. Meanwhile, two for-the-ages comic performances from Depp and Murray suffer from Academy bias. It’s funny, because I love Sean Penn as an actor, but I disagree with both of his Oscar wins. That seems to happen a lot with AMPAS.

  • 25 12-04-2009 at 2:26 pm

    carlo said...

    Cold Mountain is Kidman’s best perf ?

    What’s next ? Scent of a woman is Pacino’s best ?

  • 26 12-04-2009 at 2:36 pm

    Mike said...

    Theron’s performance was the best of the decade for me. Absolutely astounding. Glad to see the love for LOTR and Finding Nemo. John I think that you are the only Oscar blogger out there who even remotely likes Zellweger’s performance.

  • 27 12-04-2009 at 2:39 pm

    Mike said...

    Oh and I agree that Lost in Translation is extremely over rated. It just didn’t work for me.

  • 28 12-04-2009 at 2:41 pm

    Danny King said...

    I completely agree with you. This is Penn’s career-best performance to date, much more powerful than his work in Milk.

  • 29 12-04-2009 at 2:42 pm

    Mike S. said...

    Here’s what I want to know: Did Bill Murray really walk out after he lost to Sean Penn? Seems like they glossed over what really happened.. As much as I love Bill, he comes off as the type who might do something like that.

  • 30 12-04-2009 at 2:52 pm

    John H. Foote said...

    On Saarsgard, no excuse, I got my year mixed up and thought it was an 04 film — he should be here of course — as for Kidman, I thought the manner in which she captured the lonliness she was feeling, and the beauty and purity of the love that evolved with Zellweger was astounding — she broke my heart throughout the film, because she was prepared for nothing but grew into a self supporting person with the help of Ruby — rarely in movie history have I seen such a deeply moving love story as this, a love borne out of a moment or two, a kiss, and a gaze, but a love nonetheless, perhaps living on the idea of what could be instead of what was — she was incredible in this film, and should have gotten nominated.

  • 31 12-04-2009 at 3:04 pm

    SHAAAARK said...

    Cold Mountain…has supporters? That’s really depressing. :(

  • 32 12-04-2009 at 4:15 pm

    Silencio said...

    As someone else said earlier, I could see Penn acting in the porch scene. I would have been happier with Murray winning, but in retrospect I would be down with Depp winning as well.

  • 33 12-04-2009 at 5:06 pm

    SJG said...

    Since no one else seems to be doing it, I’m going to voice my agreement with the idea that Jennifer Connelly was HORRIFICALLY SNUBBED for her career-best work in “House of Sand and Fog”.

    So I worded it a little more strongly than John Foote, but… it needed to be said.

  • 34 12-04-2009 at 5:10 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain is a nightmare performance. Horrible in every way imaginable and an embarrassment to herself and the Academy.

  • 35 12-04-2009 at 5:16 pm

    SJG said...

    Oh, and I have to say that, while I understand Charlize Theron’s win, I’m the sort of person who would rather have seen Samantha Morton walk away with the little gold guy. I can’t quite put my finger on why… but it must be the same thing that makes me wish Viggo Mortensen had beaten Daniel Day Lewis a few years back.

    Not that I have anything against DDL or Charlize’s magnificent performances… I just have a soft-spot for human drama that doesn’t feel this need to go all out on the “transforming into the character” stuff… but maybe that’s more a flaw with me (it’s certainly not a flaw with those performances!).

  • 36 12-04-2009 at 5:16 pm

    Jim T said...

    Chad, always so sweet. :p
    I’m curious about your favourites of that year

  • 37 12-04-2009 at 6:09 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Ben Kingsley – House of Sand and Fog
    Nicole Kidman – Dogville
    Paul Bettany – Master and Commander
    Emma Thompson – Love Actually

  • 38 12-04-2009 at 6:30 pm

    Andrew R. said...

    I so agree about Emma Thompson. Even if Love Actually is practically leaking excess sugar, Thompson brought an overwhelming emotional whallop. A masterclass on acting that brings me to tears every time.

    On the other side of the spectrum Jamie Lee Curtis is absolutely comedic gold in Freaky Friday. Completely nailed it. On the same level of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde (which I think is great)

    Connie Nielsen is also highly underrated in demonlover. Such a strange fascinating film.

    Also does Spider qualify for 2003? If so Ralph Fiennes and especially Miranda Richardson deserve mentions.

    And finally Bill Murray is in the running for my favorite performance by an actor for the decade. Still can’t get over his loss.

  • 39 12-04-2009 at 6:51 pm

    Pablo (Col) said...

    I didnt wanted to said it earlier but some of you here are SO right about Cold Mountain.

    Zellwegger’s win was just to make up for her snub for Nurse Betty and not winning in 2002. And also to tell her that they like her as an actress (so who’s sorry now)…

    Kidman best work Cold Mountain ? Ok please let me recover from my stroke. I will take that as a joke. Didnt you see The Hours ? She is even better in those Nine clips. Or Moulin Rouge, or the Others… Please reconsider.

    I still praise for Scarlett’s work for Lost in Translation. She was great. The only thing its that she was as leading as she was supporting, á la Winslet.

  • 40 12-04-2009 at 7:13 pm

    Chris said...

    I may be in the minority here, but I could not stand watching Charlize Theron in ‘Monster’, She looked the part completely and that is all. I have the same problem with her that I did with Jamie Foxx in ‘Ray’ – they play the part, but both performances felt so hollow and weak.

  • 41 12-04-2009 at 7:29 pm

    Joel said...

    Wow. Only one mention of Jack Black in “The School of Rock”? Can somebody else back me and Ivan up here? His was a comedic masterpiece of a performance.

    Also, Nic Cage in “Matchstick Men.”

    “House of Sand and Fog” had great performances, but I’m not that big a fan of the film itself.

    Sean Penn was the year’s best.

  • 42 12-04-2009 at 8:27 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Let me add my voice to the chorus in praise of Emma Thompson in “Love Actually.” She’d have been my Best Supporting Actress winner, quite comfortably.

  • 43 12-04-2009 at 10:59 pm

    Derek 8-Track said...

    The omission of Sean Astin is something i get worked up over on a weekly basis. I’m not sure if i can ever forgive them for that. Easily the best supporting performance of ’03.

  • 44 12-05-2009 at 12:27 am

    Gabe said...

    Yeah, leaving out Sarsgaard just plain stings.

    Also, no room to remember Peter Dinklage in “The Station Agent” or Maria Bello in “The Cooler.” Or Catherine O’Hara in “A Mighty Wind.” Or Frances McDormand in “Laurel Canyon.”

    And it was way off a lot of folks’ radars, but… Zooey Deschanel was an eye-opener to me in “All the Real Girls.”

  • 45 12-05-2009 at 12:52 am

    par3182 said...

    best actor: johnny depp (pirates…)
    best actress: frances mcdormand (laurel canyon)
    best supporting actor: peter sarsgaard (shattered glass)
    best supporting actress: catherine o’hara (a mighty wind)

  • 46 12-05-2009 at 3:06 am

    richard said...

    should have been nominated:
    Paddy Considine
    Emma Thompson

    should have won:
    Shorheh Aghdashloo
    Paul Bettany

  • 47 12-05-2009 at 7:01 am

    jw said...

    to me, sarsgaard not being on there was a killer, but what was even worse was the lack of love for The Station Agent. All three of the actors (Dinklage, Clarkson for lead, Cannavale) could/should have been nominated.

    Also: Laura Linney was SO fierce in Mystic River.

    Not a bad year in retrospect!