“I am no man.” The reason that Thomas would have been Eowyn had he been a girl. And you only think I’m kidding.

My Top 20:

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  2. Mystic River
  3. Lost in Translation
  4. City of God
  5. In America
  6. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  7. Finding Nemo
  8. Kill Bill Volume 1
  9. A Mighty Wind
  10. Whale Rider
  11. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  12. American Splendor
  13. The Station Agent
  14. Dirty Pretty Things
  15. The Triplets of Belleville
  16. Nowhere in Africa
  17. Tokyo Godfathers
  18. The Barbarian Invasions
  19. The Last Samurai
  20. Divine Intervention

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Director:  Peter Jackson  (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
  • Best Actor:  Bill Murray  (Lost in Translation)
  • Best Actress:  Charlize Theron  (Monster)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Tim Robbins  (Mystic River)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Patricia Clarkson  (Pieces of April  /  The Station Agent)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  American Splendor
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Lost in Translation
  • Best Cinematography:  Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • Best Foreign Film:  The Barbarian Invasions
  • Best Animated Film:  Finding Nemo

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Director:  Peter Jackson  (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
  • Best Actor:  Sean Penn  (Mystic River)
  • Best Actress:  Charlize Theron  (Monster)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Tim Robbins  (Mystic River)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Renee Zelwegger  (Cold Mountain)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Lost in Translation
  • Best Cinematography:  Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • Best Foreign Film:  The Barbarian Invasions
  • Best Animated Film:  Finding Nemo

How is City of God 20 spots below Lost in Translation in the decade, but 127 spots higher in the all-time list? Beats the hell out of me.

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. City of God  –  #591  (#27)
  2. Lost in Translation  –  #718  (#7)
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King  –  (#28)
  4. Mystic River  –  (#38)
  5. Finding Nemo  –  (#56)
  6. American Splendor  –  (#68)
  7. Kill Bill Volume 1  –  (#91)
  8. The Man Without a Past  –  (#108)
  9. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World  –  (#125)
  10. School of Rock  –  (#142)

note:  Because so much of the focus for the Top 1000 is on classic films, because they have had a longer time to sink into the critical consciousness, they have a separate list called the Top 250 of the 2000′s.  The first number is for those films that actually make their Top 1000, the second number in parenthesis is for their rank in the Top 250 for the 21st Century.  I don’t know their precise methodology, so I can’t explain why some films rank higher on one list than on the other.  But, since the Top 1000 is the more definitive list, a higher rank there is the trump.

Top 10 Films  (2003 Best Picture Awards):

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  2. Mystic River
  3. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  4. Lost in Translation
  5. American Splendor
  6. Seabiscuit
  7. Cold Mountain
  8. Big Fish
  9. The Last Samurai
  10. Finding Nemo

note:  Cold Mountain becomes the last film to date to get PGA, BAFTA, Globe and BFCA nominations for Best Picture but not an Oscar nomination.

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King  –  2609
  2. Lost in Translation  –  1874
  3. Mystic River  –  1588
  4. Cold Mountain  –  1309
  5. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World  –  1145
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  –  717
  7. Seabiscuit  –  687
  8. American Splendor  –  628
  9. The Last Samurai  –  542
  10. Finding Nemo  –  476

A shot that only appears in the Extended Edition of Return of the King.

Top 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King  –  $377.02 mil
  2. Finding Nemo  –  $339.71 mil
  3. The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  –  $305.41 mil
  4. The Matrix Reloaded  –  $281.57 mil
  5. Bruce Almighty  –  $242.82 mil
  6. X2: X-Men United  –  $214.94 mil
  7. Elf  –  $173.39 mil
  8. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines  –  $150.37 mil
  9. The Matrix Revolutions  –  $139.31 mil
  10. Cheaper by the Dozen  –  $138.61 mil

note:  I saw these films a combined 18 times in the theater.  Of course, 10 of those were King, 3 were Pirates and 2 were X2.  I’ve still never seen Bruce Almighty, Elf or Cheaper.  A phenomenal top 3 and then a very bad fall-off.  King becomes the only Lord of the Rings film to win the year at the domestic box office.

Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King  –  $1119.1 mil
  2. Finding Nemo  –  $867.9 mil
  3. The Matrix Reloaded  –  $742.1 mil
  4. The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  –  $654.3 mil
  5. Bruce Almighty  –  $484.6 mil
  6. The Last Samurai  –  $456.8 mil
  7. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines  –  $433.4 mil
  8. The Matrix Revolutions  –  $427.3 mil
  9. X2: X-Men United  –  $407.7 mil
  10. Bad Boys II  –  $273.3 mil

note:  Elf and Cheaper by the Dozen are replaced by The Last Samurai and Bad Boys II (Bad Boys had actually finished 11th in domestic, a mere $6100 behind Cheaper).  The Last Samurai takes over 75% of its gross overseas.  X2 and Bad Boys do slightly less than half overseas.  But that’s nothing compared to the two films not on the list – Elf (21.3%) and Cheaper (27.1%) – clearly they didn’t travel.  Return of the King becomes only the second film to gross $1 billion worldwide.  The first Pirates film does 53% of its business overseas, as compared to its progressively more worldwide sequels (60%, 68%, 77%).

Ebert Great Films:

  • Lost in Translation

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

I was expecting great performances from Wood, Mortenson and McKellen. But Astin’s performance just blew me away.

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Director:  Peter Jackson  (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
  • Best Actor:  Sean Penn  (Mystic River)
  • Best Actress:  Naomi Watts  (21 Grams)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Sean Astin  (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Sarah Bolger  (In America)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Original Screenplay:  In America

Comedy:

  • Best Picture:  Lost in Translation
  • Best Director:  Sofia Coppola  (Lost in Translation)
  • Best Actor:  Bill Murray  (Lost in Translation)
  • Best Actress:  Scarlett Johansson  (Lost in Translation)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Bill Nighy  (Love Actually)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Hope Davis  (American Splendor)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  American Splendor
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Lost in Translation

A truly heart-breaking performance from Sarah Bolger in In America. “Say goodbye to Frankie,” still makes me cry.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Director:  Peter Jackson  (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
  • Best Actor:  Bill Murray  (Lost in Translation)
  • Best Actress:  Naomi Watts  (21 Grams)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Sean Astin  (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Sarah Bolger  (In America)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Lost in Translation
  • Best Editing:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Cinematography:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Original Score:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Sound:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Art Direction:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Visual Effects:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Sound Editing:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Costume Design:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Makeup:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Original Song:  “A Mighty Wind”  (A Mighty Wind)
  • Best Animated Film:  Finding Nemo
  • Best Foreign Film:  Saraband

One last brilliant masterpiece from one of the world’s greatest directors.

Top 10 Foreign Films:

  1. Saraband
  2. The Triplets of Belleville
  3. Twin Sisters
  4. Tokyo Godfathers
  5. The Barbarian Invasions
  6. Divine Intervention
  7. Swimming Pool
  8. Oldboy
  9. Infernal Affairs
  10. Osama

Saraband, the final film of Ingmar Bergman, wouldn’t actually come to the States for another two years.  France would submit the okay Bon Voyage over the brilliant TripletsTwin Sisters did end up getting nominated (though, sadly, mostly ignored beyond that) and Barbarian Invasions won the Oscar.  Tokyo Godfathers was passed over by Japan for Twilight Samurai (which isn’t nearly as good) so that’s not the Academy’s fault.  But between Divine Intervention, Infernal Affairs, Osama and my #11, Spring Summer Fall Winter and Spring, the Academy blew four chances to nominate four very good films.  That just leaves Swimming Pool and Oldboy, and well, let’s just say if you don’t want a film with a poolside oral sex scene or a film that definitely wouldn’t get the ASPCA approval since a live octopus is eaten on film, they’re not for you.  But if that’s your cup of tea, well, maybe you’re my kind of film buff.

Veronica wouldn’t let me use the opening shot of her in Lost in Translation, so I’m going with this picture for Scarlett Johansson as the performance to fall in love with.

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Line  (Comedic):  “What exactly are you a professor *of*, ‘Professor Logan?’ ”  “Art.”  (Alf Humphreys and Hugh Jackman  –  X2)
  • Best Line  (Dramatic):  “Say goodbye to Frankie, Dad.”  (Sarah Bolger – In America)
  • Most Ridiculous Line:  “Are you a Mexican or a Mexicant?”  (Johnny Depp  –  Once Upon a Time in Mexico)
  • Best Opening:  Lost in Translation
  • Best Ending:  Lost in Translation
  • Best Scene:  the Rohirrim riding to Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Death Scene:  Wheezy Joe in Intolerable Cruelty
  • Best Use of a Song  (Comedic):  “Christmas is All Around” in Love Actually
  • Best Use of a Song  (Dramatic):  “Just Like Honey” in Lost in Translation
  • Best Ensemble:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Funniest Film:  The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Most Over-Rated Film:  Elephant
  • Worst Film:  The Cat in the Hat
  • Worst Sequel:  2 Fast 2 Furious
  • Worst Film I Saw in the Theater:  League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation
  • Sexiest Performance:  Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Volume 1
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Kate Beckinsale in Underworld
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  The Singing Detective
  • Best Soundtrack:  A Mighty Wind
  • Read the Comics, SKIP the Film:  League of Extraordinary Gentlemen  /  Daredevil
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  Cat in the Hat
  • Star of the Year:  Keira Knightley  (Bend It Like Beckham  /  Pirates of the Caribbean  /  Love Actually)
  • Coolest Performance:  Bruce Campbell in Bubba Ho-Tep
  • Best Trailer:  A Mighty Wind
  • Best Tag-Line:  “He doesn’t care if you’re naughty or nice.”  (Bad Santa)
  • Best Cameo:  Cate Blanchett in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Sexiest Cameo:  Claudia Schiffer in Love Actually
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Andrew Stanton in Finding Nemo  (Crush the Turtle)
  • Film I Was Dragged to That Still Pisses Me Off:  Matrix Reloaded  /  Matrix Revolutions
  • Film That Still Makes Me Cry Even Thinking About It:  In America

Scenes from the Year Worth Remembering (POTENTIAL SPOILERS) (and some of the clips aren’t great, but they’re the best I could do):

Film History:  Return of the King becomes the second film to gross over $1 billion worldwide and ties Academy records with 11 Oscars.  Finding Nemo becomes the highest grossing animated film of all-time (which only lasts one year).  Elephant wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes.  Lost in Translation wins Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Actor at the Independent Spirits.  Gigli wins 6 Razzie awards, including sweeping the big 5 amidst some of the most scathing reviews and biggest money losses in film history.  Conrad Hall dies a month and a half before winning his third Oscar for Best Cinematography.  Gregory Peck and Katharine Hepburn both die in June,  John Schlesinger and Bob Hope both die in August and Elia Kazan dies in September.

Academy Awards:  Return of the King ties the record by winning 11 Oscars and has the most wins without a loss, though its lack of acting nominations mean it doesn’t even make the Top 10 in points.  Sofia Coppola becomes the first American female to get nominated for Best Director and her win in Best Original Screenplay makes the Coppolas the second family to have three generations of Oscar winners (the Hustons being the other family).  Peter Jackson becomes the first director since Mervyn LeRoy in 1941-43 to earn Best Picture nominations three years in a row and the only director in the 5 Best Picture nominee Era to do so.  City of God ends up in an interesting position – in a slap to the Foreign Film nominating committee, it is nominated for several Oscars, when the year before it had been submitted but not nominated for Foreign Film – the first time this circumstance had happened since Fellini Satyricon in 1969/70.  It is also unique in that while it is the 16th Foreign film to get nominated for Director and Screenplay but not Picture, it is the only non-European film to ever do this.  The Barbarian Invasions becomes the only North American film to win Best Foreign Film.  Twilight Samurai is the first Japanese film nominated for Best Foreign Film since 1981 while for the first time since 1994 no film from France, Italy or Germany is nominated.  Only 31 films are nominated for feature film awards, the lowest number since 1991.  Return of the King becomes the first Best Picture winner to not earn any acting nominations since 1995; in an odd coincidence, it joins Gigi and The Last Emperor as the only films to win Best Picture, Director and Screenplay but not earn any acting nominations, and all three films won all of their nominations.  It is also the last Best Picture winner (as of mid-2012) to win Art Direction, Visual Effects or Makeup and the last winner to even be nominated for Visual Effects or Makeup.  For the first time since 1996, only one Best Picture nominee is released in December.  For the first time since 1994, John Williams is not nominated for an Oscar.

Well, they got it pretty damn right, handing out Oscar after Oscar to Return of the King.  Even the other choices are good – the only winner that doesn’t get a Nighthawk nomination is Renee Zelwegger (the other acting winners were all my #2).  There were some things I don’t agree with – their total lack of acting nominations for ROTK, their omission of several of the best Supporting Actress performances of the year (see below), the zero nominations for Kill Bill, and the choice of Seabiscuit over Down with Love for Art Direction and Costume Design.  The Foreign Film category is their biggest mess – they went with three lesser films (Evil, Zelary, Twilight Samurai), rather than several very good films that were submitted (Divine Intervention, Infernal Affairs, Osama, Spring Summer Fall Winter and Spring).

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Supporting Actress for Renee Zelwegger in Cold Mountain
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Animated Film for Brother Bear
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Supporting Actor for Sean Astin for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  House of Sand and Fog
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Kill Bill Volume 1
  • Best Foreign Film Submitted but Not Nominated:  Divine Intervention
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Foreign Film
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Director
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Picture, Director, Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium, Original Screenplay, Editing, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Costume Design, Makeup, Animated Film

Golden Globes:  Return of the King becomes the first film to win Picture and Director at the Golden Globes without a Screenplay nomination since Yentl in 1983.  For the first time in six years, the Picture, Director, Actor and Actress winners at the Oscars all win at the Globes first.  With 8 nominations, Cold Mountain becomes the only film in Globe history to get more than 6 nominations but fail to get a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars; with 1 win it becomes the biggest loser since Bugsy went 1 for 8 in 1991.  It also ties four other films for the second most nominations in Globe history – and the only film with 8 noms to not win Best Picture.  It is the second Drama film in a row to get Picture, Director and Screenplay nominations at the Globes but none of those at the Globes (after About Schmidt), which had not happened before that since 1989.  Return of the King gets the most awards (4 – Picture, Director, Score, Song) while Lost in Translation gets the most points (330 – winning Picture – Comedy, Actor – Comedy, Screenplay and getting Director and Actress – Comedy noms).  Mystic River is the last Picture / Director / Screenplay nominee and wins Actor – Drama and Supporting Actor.

Awards:  With 6 critics awards, (Picture – New York Film Critics, Picture, Director and Score – Chicago Film Critics, Director and Art Direction – LA Film Critics), Return of the King wins more awards than the previous three Oscar winners combined and becomes the only Oscar winner between 1999 and 2006 to win more than one Best Picture critics award.  The other four Best Picture awards go to American Splendor (LA, National Society of Film Critics, as well as winning Screenplay in New York, LA and Boston and Actress in New York) and Mystic River (Boston and the National Board of Review, as well as Director from NSFC, Actor from NBR and Supporting Actor from Chicago).  But, in spite of not winning a Best Picture award, the biggest hit with the critics is Lost in Translation: 5 Best Actor awards (all except NBR), Actress (Boston), Director (New York and Boston), Screenplay (Chicago) and Cinematography (Chicago).  (In a very odd coincidence, the 680 points for Lost in Translation is the most for a film without a Best Picture win since The Piano – the last film before Lost in Translation to have a female director who would be Oscar nominated).  The last big winner is Patricia Clarkson who wins four Supporting Actress awards, with three groups (NSFC, BSFC, NBR) citing her for Pieces of April and The Station Agent and Chicago citing her for only the former.

Thanks to the second year of the Visual Effects Society and the last year of the Makeup Guild awards, Return of the King sets new guild records for points (825) and wins (12 – tied with Two Towers) and is second to Two Towers in nominations (22) and Pirates of the Caribbean easily sets new guild records for a film that would not go on to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars: 495 points (later broken by Dark Knight), 19 nominations and 11 wins.  For the second year in a row, the DGA predicts the Oscars 4/5 for Director but 5/5 for Picture.  Peter Jackson becomes the second director to ever get nominated at the DGA three years in a row (after Sidney Lumet who did it four years in a row from 73-76).  For the third year in a row, the SAG winner for Best Actor doesn’t go on to win the Oscar (Johnny Depp); it is also the only three times this has happened to date.  Seabiscuit and Mystic River are nominated for a combined 22 awards, including, for both films, SAG Ensemble, PGA, DGA and WGA, but they each only win 1 award – Cinematography (Seabiscuit) and Supporting Actor (Mystic River).

Return of the King wins Picture and Screenplay at the BAFTAs but loses Director to Master and Commander (overall it wins 4 awards out of 12 nominations).  Meanwhile, two of the bigger losers in BAFTA history are The Girl With a Pearl Earring (0 for 9, incl. British Film) and Big Fish (0 for 7, incl. Picture and Director).  Cold Mountain earns the most nominations (14, incl. Picture, British Film, Director and Adapted Screenplay), but only wins 2 – the most loses at the BAFTAs since Hope and Glory went 1 for 13 in 1987.  Lost in Translation also earns Picture, Director and Screenplay noms and wins Actor and Actress.

In America and Big Fish become the first two films to earn Picture, Director and Screenplay nominations at the Broadcast Film Critics Association and not earn Best Picture nominations at the Oscars.  Mystic River sets a new BFCA record with 7 nominations, including Picture, Director and Screenplay, while winning Actor and Supporting Actor.  Like at the Oscars and Globes, Return of the King wins all its nominations, but only gets 3 awards, taking Picture, Director and Score.

Best Director:  Peter Jackson easily wins the Consensus Award and runs away with the Nighthawk Award, winning the LAFC, CFC, DGA, Oscar, Globe and BFCA and earning a BAFTA nom.  He’s followed by Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation (NYFC, BSFC, Indie Spirit wins, DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA, Satellite noms), Clint Eastwood for Mystic River (NSFC win, DGA, Oscar, Globe, BFCA, Satellite noms), Peter Weir for Master and Commander (BAFTA win, DGA, Oscar, Globe noms) and in a distant fifth, Jim Sheridan for In America (Satellite win, BFCA and Indie Spirit noms).  My other nominees are Eastwood, Coppola, Sheridan and Oscar nominee Fernando Meirelles (City of God).  My 6 through 10 are Weir, Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill Volume 1), Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things), Caroline Link (Nowhere in Africa) and Ed Zwick (NBR winner for Last Samurai).

Best Adapted Screenplay:  American Splendor, a film built around the strength of its script, wins three critics awards (LAFC, NSFC, BSFC) and the WGA, and even earns an Oscar nom to win the Consensus Award.  Return of the King wins the Oscar and BAFTA and earns a WGA nom to finish second.  The other Consensus nominees are Mystic River (Oscar, WGA, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA noms – the first script, adapted or original, to go 0 for 5), Cold Mountain (NBR win, WGA, Globe, BAFTA noms) and Seabiscuit (Oscar, WGA, BAFCA noms).  My own list is King, Mystic, City of God (Oscar nom), Splendor and Master and Commander (that Seabiscuit and Cold Mountain got all those noms and Master didn’t get any of them seems very odd to me).  My 6 through 10 are Whale Rider, Nowhere in Africa, Big Fish (BAFTA and BFCA noms), Matchstick Men and The Good Thief.

Best Original Screenplay:  Lost in Translation easily win the Nighthawk and the Consensus Awards, taking home the Oscar, WGA, Globe and CFC and earning BAFTA and BFCA noms.  It’s followed by In America (BFCA and NBR wins, Oscar, WGA, Globe noms), The Station Agent (BAFTA win, WGA nom), Dirty Pretty Things (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA noms) and a tie between The Barbarian Invasions and Finding Nemo (Oscar and BAFTA noms for both).  My own list is Lost in Translation, In America, A Mighty Wind, The Barbarian Invasions and Finding Nemo.  My 6 through 10 are The Station Agent, Dirty Pretty Things, Love Actually (Globe nom), 21 Grams (BAFTA nom) and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Best Actor:  Bill Murray is the big winner – taking five critics awards (all but the NBR), BAFTA and Globe – Comedy (as well as earning SAG, Oscar and BFCA noms) for Lost in Translation.  But Sean Penn beats him at the Oscars and BFCA, wins the NBR and Globe – Drama, earns two BAFTA noms (one for 21 Grams as well) and also gets a SAG nom for Mystic River.  The surprise winner at SAG is Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean, also earning Oscar, BAFTA, Globe and BFCA noms.  The final two consensus nominees are Ben Kingsley for House of Sand and Fog (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms) and Jude Law for Cold Mountain (Oscar, BAFTA, Globe noms).  My own winner is Murray, in a close win over Penn, followed by Depp and the two lead performances in Return of the King: Elijah Wood and Viggo Mortenson.  My 6 through 10 are Penn (for 21 Grams), Paul Giamatti for American Splendor (who got nothing – even passed up at the Globe in the Comedy category by Jack Black in School of Rock), Russell Crowe for Master and Commander (Globe, BFCA noms), Paddy Considine for In America and Peter Dinklage for Station Agent (SAG nom).

Best Actress:  Charlize Theron wins the Consensus by taking the NSFC, CFC, SAG, Oscar, Globe and BFCA (and a BAFTA nom) for her disturbing performance in Monster.  She is followed on the Consensus list by Scarlett Johansson (BSFC and BAFTA winner for Lost in Translation, Globe – Comedy nominee and BFCA supporting nominee for Lost and BAFTA and Globe – Drama nominee for Girl with a Pearl Earring), Diane Keaton (NBR and Globe – Comedy winner and SAG, Oscar and BFCA nominee for Something’s Gotta Give), Naomi Watts (LAFC winner, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA nominee for 21 Grams) and Keisha Castle-Hughes (SAG nominee as supporting and Oscar nominee for Whale Rider).  My own winner is Watts, for her human sense of loss, followed by Theron, Johansson, Castle-Hughes and Oscar and BFCA nominee Samantha Morten (In America).  My 6 through 10 are Uma Thurman for Kill Bill (BAFTA and Globe nominee), Keaton, Juliane Kohler for Nowhere in Africa, Evan Rachel Wood for Thirteen (SAG and Globe nominee) and Toni Collette for Japanese Story.

Best Supporting Actor:  Tim Robbins wins the CFC, SAG, Oscar, Globe and BFCA (and earns a BAFTA nom) for Mystic River, winning the Consensus Award.  He is followed by Alec Baldwin for The Cooler (NBR win, SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms), Peter Sarsgaard for Shattered Glass (NSFC, BSFC wins, Globe nom), Bill Nighy for Love Actually (BAFTA and LAFC win – though he is also cited for Lawless Heart, I Capture the Castle and AKA by the latter) and Benicio Del Toro for 21 Grams (SAG, Oscar, BFCA, BAFTA noms – as lead by the latter).  My own winner is Sean Astin for his brilliant performance as Sam in Return of the King.  My nominees are Robbins, Andy Serkis as Gollum (and even appearing as Smeagul) in Return of the King, Ken Watanabe for Last Samurai (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms) and Nighy.  My 6 through 10 are Del Toro, Billy Boyd and David Wenham (both for Return of the King), Albert Finney for Big Fish (BAFTA, Globe noms) and Sarsgaard.

“What made you pick Newfoundland?”  “I wanted to meet Joe.” A brilliant exchange between Peter Dinklage and Patricia Clarkson in The Station Agent.

Best Supporting Actress:  Patricia Clarkson easily wins the Consensus Award for her performances in Pieces of April and The Station Agent.  She wins four critics awards (NSFC, BSFC, CFC, NBR) – all but the last for both, gets nominated for both films at SAG (lead for Station), and for April at the Oscars, Globes and BFCA.  This means that Renee Zelwegger, who is the first supporting actress to win the five major awards (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA) comes in second.  They are followed by Shoreh Aghadoshelo for House of Sand and Fog (NYFC, LAFC wins, Oscar nom), Holly Hunter for Thirteen (the first to lose the five major awards) and Hope Davis for American Splendor (NYFC as lead, Globe nom).  My own list is unlike anybody else’s.  It begins with Sarah Bolger for In America, then my nominees are Davis, Mirando Otto for Return of the King, Oscar and BFCA nominee Marcia Gay Harden for Mystic River and then Clarkson (for Station Agent).  My 6 through 10 are Aghadoshelo, Caroline Eckertz for Nowhere in Africa, BATFA nominee Laura Linney for Mystic River, SAG and Globe nominee Maria Bello for The Cooler and BAFTA nominee Emma Thompson for Love Actually.  To actually get to Zelwegger, you would still have to go past the unmentioned Emma Bolger as the younger sister in In America, Hunter, Clarkson and Lea Kurka in Nowhere in Africa.  So that means, yes, I have Zelwegger, who won all five awards, ranked last among the Oscar nominees.

The hell with Rock Hudson and Doris Day. I’ll take this any day.

Under-appreciated Film of 2003:

Down with Love  (dir. Peyton Reed)

I have a great appreciation for film history.  Sit me down and show me a late 30’s Screwball Comedy and I will watch it.  Put in a Hammer Horror film and I won’t stop watching.  But that doesn’t mean I love all of film history.  My dislike for the Douglas Sirk melodramas was partially why I could never get into Far From Heaven.  But Down with Love does something different.  It takes a group of films that I never really liked – the Rock Hudson / Doris Day romantic battles of the sexes, and it makes it damn funny.

Now, the original Hudson / Day films were meant to be funny and sometimes they succeed.  They were meant to be a bit sexy (though, even for what was allowed at the time, they were quite tame – watch them in comparison to a Preston Sturges film to see how tame).  And they had nice supporting performances from Tony Randall, and especially from Thelma Ritter.  But they just weren’t all that good – partially because neither Hudson nor Day were particularly gifted actors, and partially because they just weren’t that funny and they date badly.

But Down with Love is a breath of fresh air.  Set in the early 60’s, in an early 60’s that only really existed in the movies, we have the same kind of battle of the sexes.  But, though we still get Tony Randall (in a nice touch), this time we get real humor, we get real sexiness (this film has one of the best split-screen scenes in any film, and the innuendo going on in that scene almost defies belief, making it incredibly sexy and damn hilarious at the same time), and we get real acting.  How ironic, that in a year when Renee Zelwegger finally wins an Oscar, after years of fantastic performances (Jerry Maguire, One True Thing, Nurse Betty, Bridget Jones, Chicago), this silly, but charming romantic comedy contains her best acting of the year.  And there, of course, is Ewan McGregor, long one of my favorite actors, if not my favorite living actor, being charming and a bit smug, as usual.

But, like with the old films, the supporting roles are perhaps the best.  Here we get David Hyde-Pierce and Sarah Paulson, and both are absolutely fantastic as the sidekicks who desperately want each other, but neither can bring themselves to quite say it.

But it’s the little things that really make the film.  There are brilliant sets, the kind of things you might see from a book on the sixties, but never have seen in real life.  There are magnificent costumes (for Zelwegger, especially, who never seems to be in the same thing twice).  Both of them deserved nominations and both were ignored.  There is also the closing credits, with an absolutely delightful song, perfectly sung by both stars (who we both knew could sing, of course – having starred in the two hits musicals of the previous years).  It brings a perfect ending to a movie that is fun to watch every time it is on.

And so what happened?  It was ignored by all the awards groups for lesser films – slighted by the Oscars and the guilds for Art Direction and Costumes in favor of Seabiscuit, which doesn’t have half the look this film does.  And at the box office?  Absolutely slaughtered by shit like the second Matrix and Daddy Day Care and out of the Top 10 after three weeks.  It didn’t even make the Top 100 for the year and finished behind Dickie Roberts and Dumb and Dumberer.  But if you haven’t seen it, then you need to.  Especially if you have a date coming up.  Watch it with your date and enjoy the feel of a fun romantic comedy that’s totally worth it.

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