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Months of Meryl: THE RIVER WILD

"Great post and comments. Yes, Streep had to navigate the rough waters of being in her 40's! I do think she smashed through the glass ceiling for women since she persevered and then became an even bigger star in her 50's." - Sister Rona

"One of my favourite movies from my teen years - I'm shocked at how long ago this was released. It was Meryl that sold this movie for me and is the reason I saw it. At the time, and I still feel this way, she is the reason to watch and believe this film." -Filmboymichael

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The Smackdown Cometh. Let's Meet Our Panelists

The 2003 Supporting Actress Smackdown is just 20 days away! If you're like "um... it's 2013" you should know that each month we look back at a particular Oscar race and debate it.

This month we're having a tenth anniversary party. For context before we get to the main event we're revisiting films. So far we've hit Finding Nemo, The Triplets of Belleville, The Fog of WarGirl with a Pearl Earring, Much Ado About Nothing, and Love Actually

Let's meet our panelists for the main Supporting Actress event. They'll be sounding off soon enough on Renée, Holly, Marcia, Shohreh and Patty. For now we're asking them "What does 2003 mean to you?"



Guy Lodge
Johannesburg-born and London-based, Guy Lodge is a film critic for In Contention, Variety, The Observer, Time Out and anyone else who will listen. His book Jennifer Aniston: Her Glory, Her Struggle, Her Genius is awaiting completion and a remotely interested publisher. [Follow him on Twitter]

what 2003 means to me

a bittersweet transitional year for me: I turned 20 that February, which put me in a post-teenage funk of sorts, lost a close relative, and began making preparations to leave South Africa for good. So the film that defines it is, auspiciously if accidentally, the one I saw on my birthday. I'd wrangled free tickets to an Oscar preview of Far From Heavenin Johannesburg, the chance to see a prestige release only three months after its US opening, as opposed to the usual nine, was quite a coup. It's a film about ending some things to begin others, which of course seemed way pertinent in my self-absorbed birthday melancholy. But the resonance, banal as it may or may not have been, sure lingered. It may be a 2002 film, but in my mind, that Connecticut russet is the colour of 2003.


Joe Reid
Joe is the entertainment editor at The Atlantic Wire, where he takes every opportunity to bring up the Oscars . He lives and loves and doesn't love in Brooklyn, New York, making him exactly the cliché you think he is. He thinks the trailer for The Hours is the second-greatest artistic achievement in history, behind only the film The Hours. [Follow him on Twitter]

what 2003 means to me

I got my first real post-collegiate job in 2003 and I was absolutely terrible at it, so the movies of the fall and winter of 2003 were a huge escape for me and stand out far more prominently in my mind than they should. I quit that job in January of '04 and promptly spent the next two weeks in a movie theater, watching all the Oscar-bait that had made it to Buffalo, in a series of double-features. In America and 21 Grams! Monster and The Station Agent! It was glorious.


Tim Robey
Tim has been reviewing films for the Daily Telegraph since 2000, alongside a few interviews and other bits and bobs. His writing is mostly here. His recommendations series is here. His twitter feed is here [Follow him on Twitter]

what 2003 means to me

2003 sticks out for me as the first year when I had lengthy online debates about the Oscar race. If you hunt around on the Telegraph site, these are actually archived, though I might hold off from supplying the link as it'll be a wee bit spoilery. To stay off anything we're going to be discussing, I was kind of only-just-OK with The Return of the King winning everything, even though I firmly believed (and still do) that it's the weakest of the trilogy. I just wished Master and Commander, way ahead of the pack, could have come out in a more propitious year: the only awards it ended up winning were the ones they somehow forgot to nominate RotK for (Cinematography and Sound Editing), which were the absolute least it deserved. I think I was wailing for weeks about Paul Bettany missing out on a Supporting Actor nomination, particularly when I couldn't see why any of the chosen five (Hounsou, Baldwin, Watanabe, Del Toro and, heaven help us, Robbins) were especially crying out for one. So it was a frustrating, near-miss kind of year: I couldn't totally get behind anything except the Charlize prize for Monster, and still wish Bill Murray had won.



Nick Davis
Nick is the author of the on-again, off-again, actress-obsessed website NicksFlickPicks, which he hopes is now on again. He is also a professor of film, English, and gender and sexuality studies at Northwestern University. [Follow him on Twitter]

what 2003 means to me

In cinematic terms, 2003 connotes for me a really wan roster of Hollywood releases, a really bad Cannes, and a really weird Oscars, featuring one super line-up in the acting races (the male leads) and three very puzzling ones.  Granted, there wasn’t a lot to work with, given the paucity of great movies that weren’t documentaries, ’02 holdovers, or foreign imports well outside AMPAS’s tastes. Monster, Master and Commander, Spellbound, and The Weather Underground were easily my favorite movies to get nominations.  Throw in Altman’s overlooked The Company, Campion’s unfairly maligned In the Cut, Linklater’s sweetly anarchic School of Rock, and Bob Dylan’s and Larry Charles’s deranged but appealing Masked and Anonymous, and I could basically chuck the rest of that year’s Oscar-eligible films.



Nathaniel R
Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a reknowned Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. Though he holds a BFA in illustration, he found his true calling when he started writing about the movies. [Follow him on Twitter but do not stalk him in New York City]

what 2003 means to me

Whenever I try to string my thoughts about this film year together it comes out nothing like the beautifully organic and rousing lighting of the beacons in Return of the King (best scene!) but closer to the shard-like grim incomprehensibility of 21 Grams, a film I quite loathe. I can't see this cinematic year clearly (I don't even remember The Barbarian Invasions which made my top ten list!) but I can hear it: Bill Murray's whisper, Daryl Hannah's whistling, Jude & Nicole's 'I will marry yeeeeew'ing, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" but mostly the entire Kill Bill Vol 1. catfight between Black Mamba and Copperhead which my best friend still quotes incessantly ten years later.  "your hair in a black stocking. And we have us a knife fight... When do you wanna die?!"


Brian Herrera (aka StinkyLulu)
Brian convened the first Supporting Actress Smackdown and hostessed more than thirty. He is a writer, teacher and scholar presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico. [Follow him on Twitter]  

what 2003 means to me

'StinkyLulu' was born in 2003. That was the year I started my first clumsy blog “StinkyLulu Sez” (appended to my earthlink email) to collect my haphazard thoughts on realitytv, movies and, well, pretty much whatever I could find to think about other than my own life. See, in 2003, I sorta skidded out of graduate school and into an existential panic. Thus finding myself at a serious personal and professional crossroads, what did I do? I went to the movies. All the time. Indeed, in 2003, I saw everything from 21 Grams to House of 1000 Corpses to Eddie Murphy's Haunted Mansion. Any movie flickering at any moviehouse within 50 miles? I saw it. And tallied it online. In a way, StinkyLulu’s 2003 debut kept me going (and not just to the movies). I often say, “StinkyLulu saved my life.” To which I might add, “And it all started in 2003.”


Your turn, readers...

What does 2003 Mean to You? And have you voted on this month's smackdown yet? Remember to send your ballots in... (here's how if you missed it)

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Reader Comments (43)

2003 was to me...

- Discovering (or rather, acknowledging) the genius of Patricia Clarkson
- Swimming Pool!
- Quentin Tarantino's comeback
- Great Docs (Bus 174, Spellbound) crushing supposed prestige pics
- With Renee Zellweger, for the first time understanding what a crappy "sorry you lost last year" Oscar was

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterParanoid Android

I fear for Zellweger.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

paranoid -- thanks for answering. I'm curious to tally the responses (i hope there are plenty) to see which films mean the most to TFE's readership.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Woohoo, I love this panel! Very excited for this.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

Tim, I love you for championing Master and Commander. It does not get any love ANYWHERE these days.

Also, that picture of those four Oscar winners makes me sad, since only one of them truly deserved it.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

Looking at that photo, I'm reminded that 2003 was the year I disagreed with every single winner in the Oscar acting categories. I also recall being somewhat obsessed with "Capturing the Friedmans."

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

It was CMG's teenage years and I was beginning to discover old Hollywood cinema such as Kazan's entire filmography that started with Streetcar and On the Waterfront and grew to East of Eden and Splendor in the Grass. Still one of my favorite directors despite my really mixed feelings on his actions during the Red Scare (Team Nolte during that Oscar ceremony where Kazan got the Lifetime Achievement Oscar).

My Dad is still a huge Russell Crowe fan but Master & Commander was so peak Crowe for him. That was a film the whole family agreed upon really liking. Still shocked it was not considered Return of the King's biggest competitor. Was it Crowe's whole persona?

I watched Reservoir Dogs for the first time early that year and therefore my first Tarantino. Kill Bill Vol. 1 followed, thanks Dad for taking me, and then watched Pulp Fiction on TV. Mother was still bothered by me seeing the rape scene. But School of Rock was probably my favorite film of that year. It was in the lead-up to the iTunes/iPod craze and a lot of classic rock nostalgia kicking in and the immediacy of needs for discovering new music were met via download so everything going on in that movie's soundtrack was among the first purchases by yours truly. I remember 28 Days Later being among the most talked about, the too cool for school horror people insisting those were not zombies or it was not scary. I remember seeing Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean double-feature at a Drive-In during the summer. I am still shocked the latter became such a success. I am certain nobody anticipated that.

Bend It Like Beckham ushered in Kiera Knightley in addition to Pirates and she has ever so rarely had that much fun on screen since (Domino somewhat remains the only one but it seems only I really liked that). A Mighty Wind may have not lived up to the Waiting for Guffman/Best in Show follow-up hype but that song by Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara is one of the sweetest things. I also remember seeing Elf in a packed theater. Still not sure if it deserves to be a new holiday classic but I am still upset we never got a recording duet of Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel (blond! in this movie) singing "Baby It's Cold Outside. Another holiday film was Tim Burton's Big Fish which probably had one of the most tepid responses I've experienced in such a packed house. At least at my screening of HULK, people viscerally seemed to respond to it in a negative way. I remember liking Big Fish but it is not among my favorite Burtons.

I would see Lost in Translation and Bad Santa in early 2004. I remember defending the former because Sofia was still dealing with the whole, 'She's Francis' daughter and therefore is a no-talent privileged hack' kind of scrutiny. Really the first time I can remember ever defending the merits of a movie to anybody. That film's soundtrack also was among my first downloads.

Even amid The Return of the King phenomenon there were some pretty bad sequels that came out. My teenage years were kind of hellish from a bullying perspective at school but oh so few moments matched the torture of being on a school bus trip and having no choice but watching 2 Fast 2 Furious, T3, and Charlie's Angels 2 all on the same trip. I even had to take my sister to see Jungle Book 2 with some wasted hand-drawn animation to an unnecessary sequel. It was the kind of year in sequels that made Bad Boys II look fine in retrospect.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Right, Jordan? And we all know which one that was.

2003 is definitely the year of Lost in Translation for me. There are very few films I love as much as that one.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

2003 to me was Lost in Translation and Kill Bill and Belleville. It was discovering the art-house cinema due to student rates. It was my most boring Oscars, since I wasn't into LOTR and hated Mystic River. It was still relying on Entertainment Weekly for my Oscar predictions.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

2003 was for me discovering in Lost in Translation a melancholy friend. I thought it captured at the time my loneliness as a teenage boy and how we appreciate those rare people we make connections with even if it's for a limited time only.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Tim: My choices for winners in each acting category in 2003:

Lead Actor: Daniel Bruhl, Goodbye Lenin! (Runner-up: Bill Murray, Lost in Translation)
Lead Actress: Ellen DeGeneres, Finding Nemo (Runner-up: ScarJo, Lost in Translation)
Supporting Actor: Nick Nolte, Hulk (He goes absolutely gonzo on this part, resuscitating a movie in dire need of exactly what he gives and making Ledger's Joker look...sane...in comparison.) (Runner-up: Yu Ji-Tae, Oldboy)
Supporting Actress: Hope Davis, American Splendor (Runner-up: Kang Hye-jeong, Oldboy)

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

This year lives in a bit of a fog for me too, mainly because the best thing I saw that year was Angels in America on tv (I still stand by that). My only interest in the Oscars were to see if Nicole could pull a 3 peat as a nominee, and once that didn't happen (even a huge fan couldn't have been too disappointed with that snub), I totally checked out. The year does have the distinction on my worst theater going experience. I was visiting a friend in my now home of Atlanta and we decided to hit the Tara (art-house heaven here), to take in some Oscarbait. We really wanted to see In America (so sweet), but showtimes guided us to 21 Grams.

I loved the trailer to that movie, so soulful, but dear GAWD in heaven, what an unrelenting slog. I've never been in a theater where you just feel the numbness fall over every person unfortunate enough to be there with you. My friend's phone rang about an hour in and I prayed she would walk out and answer it, so I could follow and say let's leave. She didn't. So we sat there for another 8 hours until the movie circled backed on itself and Naomi Watts nipples finally killed Sean Penn.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVal

I remember 2 things about cinema in 2003. The first was falling in love with every female member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and paying attention to every detail about them: Vernita's deceptive homespun charm, Elle's red cross eyepatch and her genuine respect towards her rival, O-Ren's unique way of conducting business at the dinner table, and most importantly, Beatrix's regretful, matter-of-fact acceptance that she has potentially created another O-Ren Ishii when she tells Vernita's daughter that she'll be waiting. Bonus points to Gogo Yubari's awesome switch from giggling schoolgirl to hardened killer in her epic fight with Beatrix.

The other was discovering the talents of a remarkable actress who doesn't get nearly enough credit for how good she is: Charlotte Rampling. 2003 was the year I discovered her in Swimming Pool, and my actressexual life has been immeasurably improved since.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFlickah

Looking back on it, 2003 was a critical year for me as a film lover. It all really kicked off during the summer, that was when my parents finally caved in to the demands of a soon-to-be high school freshman (me) who had been begging for a computer for years. I convinced them that I was going to need one for my school work and they must've either really believed me or got tired of my whining because they caved! And with that computer came my discovery of IMDB, a site who's popularity I was completely unaware of, so I felt like a member of some secret cinephile society. From then on there was no looking back, those forums and discussions provided links to other sites which took me to other sites etcetera, etcetera. It would still be a few years before I stumbled upon The Film Experience, but that really was the beginning of it all for me.

Cinematically speaking, it was the first year where I fully embraced thinking about films critically, though my knowledge was limited to mainstream/commercial titles for the most part. Cold Mountain, Kill Bill and Monster are the ones that stick out for me, but for different reasons:

- I was a budding Kidmaniac, so I obsessed over anything The Goddess was involved in. Blinded by adoration, I praised the film, now I realize that not liking a movie featuring your favorite actor is not a crime and I see its (many) faults while still enjoying it. I also remember seeing Dogville on tv sometime during freshman year, though that could've been the first half of 2004 (aka the year of BIRTH!!!).

- Kill Bill kicked started my love for Tarantino and it's still a favorite. I remember having school bus discussions about this film with a friend of mine for about a month straight.

- I still have not seen Monster (I know, I know). But Charlize Theron won Best Actress for it and that was (and still is) the category I cared the most about. I was an Actressexual years before knowing the term existed!

So, yeah, big year for me! lol I can't wait for the Smackdown!

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThefilmjunkie

I can still breathe the air of Tokyo 10 years later. seeing this movie is like feeling the perfume of Scarlett Johansson's neck. So damn beautiful.

Lost in Translation should have won best direction that year.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

The new face Renee bought herself is horrifying. She looks so generic now.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

volvagia -- nice to hear someone mention Bruhl. he was so good in that movie (underrated film, too)

sad man -- that film really does touch people in that way. It touched me in a different way but still very resonant. there was something about its mood and lighting and the performances that just had me in a daze and seeing the world fresh afterwards for days

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Back in '03, it was all about the conclusion of LOTR to me. I've since cooled on the movies a lot. I think a lot of what made me love the movies was the fact that I saw them in sold-out theaters in which the crowds were ecstatic and totally into it, and I really got caught up in the excitement. I felt like the blockbuster as a legitimate social phenomenon (as opposed to just a passive money-making endeavor) was back with those movies. In many ways, that's what they represented. However, I don't find them nearly as enjoyable when watching them at home. And I'm usually the type of person who prefers watching movies at home.

When I look back on 2003 now, it's the year of Lost in Translation and American Splendor, two fairly unassuming movies that I've always loved but have grown on me even more over the past 10 years. They're both among my very favorite films of the last decade. For those two movies alone, I have a fond opinion of 2003. To be a bit more of a party-pooper, though, if you take away those two movies, I'd be forced to say 2003 was a very weak year for cinema. In fact, the three-year stretch of 2002, 2003, and 2004 represented a lull in cinematic excitement, in my opinion. Great movies were definitely released during that period, but there are movies on the bottom half of my top 10 list in each of those years that wouldn't have made my top 10 in almost any other year in recent memory. Fortunately I thought the two surrounding years on either end of that period--2001 and 2005--were excellent (although I know a lot of people disagree with me on the latter).

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

I didn't see it until spring 2004, but Lost in Translation was pivotal for me. I was 14 years old and felt for the first time that a movie was speaking directly to my soul. It sounds corny, but I don't think I can describe that feeling any better.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I think my favourite film of that year was/is ELEPHANT.

(also, MUCH ADO is 1993!)

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

2003 was the beginning of my last year in college. I lived nowhere near a legit theatre playing anything other than blockbusters; so I drove a lot.

Anyways, my big thing was the final film in PJ's Lord of the Rings series. It came out right at the end of Finals, and I gorged on it as a perfect dessert treat. I saw it with a bunch of friends at midnight, followed by seeing it later that day with different people (and a few similar ones). I went on to see it six times on the big screen, double any amount for any movie before or since.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

In 2003 I turned 19, had come out the previous year, and had finally found a good group of friends who, like me, were gay. It was a very exciting year for me and looking back a lot of memories involve going to the movies:

- I saw Love Actually with a large group of my new friends, so happy to feel like I fit in for once.

- I sat through The Matrix Revolutions because a guy I had a crush on asked me to go with him, even though I hadn't seen the first two Matrix movies.

- Another guy asked me to go to Kill Bill with him and I spent the whole time wondering if we were on a date (I still don't know if we were..)

- Seeing Master & Commander, loving it, and being disappointed when my friends said they thought it was boring

- And, among many other movie memories that year, the day after the guy I had a huge crush on (and had secretly been seeing) left the US to go home to Ireland after studying abroad, I went to see LOTR:ROTK with the guy that he had actually been dating. We were both pretty depressed this guy we both liked had left so we went to the movies. When I think of LOTR now I don't remember the movie much, just how sad I felt that he was gone, how guilty I felt that I was the "other man", but also how happy I was that I felt like I was coming into my own, even though there were some obvious stumbles along the way.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrett

2003 was the first year I watched the Oscars to the end buoyed by the heavy fervour for THE LORD OF THE RINGS and by a teen magazine one of my sisters had that was predicting some unusual things (like Jude or Johnny for Best Actor). I remember the song performances foremost (still one of the strongest lineups of the last 2 decades, I think), the foreign language winner I think saying thank god LoTR wan't eligible and other random stuff.

Other than LORD OF THE RINGS, I didn't see many 2003 films until after the Oscars and for adult me 2003 is marked for me by appreciation for films from directions who fared better in the 90s but who did some of my favourite 2003 films that have been remembered poorly or were never loved: Minghella's COLD MOUNTAIN, the hatred for which leaves me nonplussed because it seemed generally liked then, Ivory's LE DIVORCE (which I think almost everyone hated) and and Burton's BIG FISH which never seemed to register.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

I don't remember 2003 marking any cinematic milestones. As Nick said, output was pedestrian at best. But there were some shining examples of cinematic bliss:

Lost in Translation--A paen to loneliness where mood becomes the main character, with Bill and ScarJo offering able support.

Monster--Charlize embodies a chilling amorality that still haunts us.

Something's Gotta Give--Diane Keaton's charm as Erica is more than merely effortless acting --it is a summation of a career that seamlessly melds comedy with drama to unique effect.

But on this year, more than just a little rain did fall:

I apologize to the fans, but LOTR is Kryptonite to me. The Oscar results spurred an ill-fated Howard Beale impression.

And Sean Penn's BA win was absurd. He looked constipated through the entire film. He was much better in 21 Grams.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

glenn -- lol. my bad. 1993 is much different than 2003. once i get linking. sheesh

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Not a good year, when Monster and Down With Love were the highlights for me.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

"Monster--Charlize embodies a chilling amorality that still haunts us." Typecasting.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

2003 is the year I graduated high school and I remember my friends and I celebrated days later by seeing Finding Nemo. What a great movie (for all ages clearly). That summer was dominated by Pirates of the Caribbean and the hilarious Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Later in the year, Kill Bill Vol 1, Mystic River, Lost in Translation, and Return of the King were what I most enjoyed. Something's Gotta Give is so enjoyable as a rom-com and Love Actually will likely continue to be a holiday classic for years to come. Not an awful year, but I wonder how kind another 10 years will be to this particular vintage.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick T

I was only ten at the time and only saw "Finding Nemo" in theatres, but it was my favourite film ever for a long time after that. In later years, I saw "Monster" and I still consider it the best performance by an actor, ever. Just wow.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I can't remember what I did with my life in 2003. I hope I was as naughty as possible. I know for sure I saw The Barbarian Invasions because I remember it clearly ;)

Two of my favorites movies that year, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and The Station Agent, were completely snubbed as well as Laura Linney in two very different roles.

I'm not a Rings fan so the awards show in 2004 was a complete torture with all those lovely kiwis winning everything.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Look at that line-up: Theron, Penn, Zellweger, Robbins. "Whoa, didn't know she had that in her!", "Really? We haven't rewarded him yet?", "Sorry for Chicago" and "Sorry for Shawshank".

Theron is a deserving winner, I reckon, but I preferred Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. KB remains my favorite Tarantino, because it is the one that made me discover him. I had seen Reservoir Dogs for a school project, and liked it enough, but KB is where I fell hard for him. I still say "silly rabbit! Tricks are for kids", which a diminishing number of people still get, which makes me feel like Gretchen Wiener trying to make Fetch happen.

Penn is prime example of Drama trumps Comedy and Genre, no matter how good the latter are, because his generic turns in Mystic River and 21 grams beat Bill Murray's Lost in Translation aloof perfection and Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow revelation. I was a teen when Pirates came out, but I am sure that kids will grow up to discover and love that nomination. It's gonna be like when I came about to learn that Beauty and the Beast and Babe had Best Pic noms under their belts! You can't help but love the Academy for that kind of awesomeness, even if they lose in end.

Zellweger is such a paradox in that movie. She's terrible in it and the best thing about it, simultaneously. She's such a HAM, completely out of touch tonally with the movie, that she sticks out in the worst way. Meanwhile, the tone of the movie is so dull and uninteresting that you can't help but feel grateful for the crazy fat lady popping up with her thick accent and frizzy hair just for preventing you from slipping into a coma! Grateful, that is, if you can allow for the awful line readings. "Ain't no man better than me". Really? Cause I've been to a couple of drag shows that actually managed to be more understated! She's not the worst nominee that year, though! She's still better than Marcia Gay Harden's overwrought caricature though. Of the nominees, for me, it's a toss-up between Aghdashloo (MVP in a movie I didn't really care for) and Clarkson (great fun in a movie I quite enjoyed). I still feel like Lucy Liu should have been a nominee and that the ultimate winner should have been Ellen DeGeneres for Finding Nemo, even if it's only voice-over. Also puzzling is how Laura Linney, the only performance I care for in Mystic River, turned out to be the only one not nominated!

Speaking of terrible things that stick out, I am puzzled by the level of hate Zellweger's win gets, because Robbins' performance is much worse. And Mystic River is a better, more engaging movie than Cold Mountain, so he does more damage to a better film, and yet she catches all the flack. I could run a list of terrible ways to portray an abused and mentally ill character, and he ticks all the boxes. He even has a confrontational scene w/ MGH, who's terrible in the movie, and she still comes off as better than him. What can be worse than terrible? Don't know, but he manages it and apparently you can get an Oscar for it!

2003 was also the year that LotR won every single thing it was eligible for, even the ones it did not deserve (such as best song over Belleville). Oscar should have gone all popcorn entertainment that year and had Thurman, Depp, DeGeneres and McKellen (making up for his two previous and atrocious losses). Heads would have exploded, which is always the most fun of awards season. So fetch!

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

My favorite film year of my life (even it wasn't the greatest overall). The Return of the King and Angels in America. Both changed my life. I wish I knew this post was happening. I would have loved to have hopped on the panel and elaborated. And Monster is amazing.

November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

For me, this was the first full year I followed the Oscars. I came in late for 2002's Oscars, so actually hearing thoughts ahead of time (and seeing movies I might otherwise have skipped because of it) helped me see movies as more than just entertainment. Of the 6 or 7 Oscar sties I followed, this was my main one (and the only one still running, I believe), and I was glad to have someone who shared in my... shall we say intense dislike? - of Zellweger's performance.

It was thanks to this year (and this site, I should note) that I rented my first foreign film and documentary. I'm not a cinephile by any means, but I started to take notice of character actors/actresses that I should follow, directors to explore, and just how much more there was to movies than what was at the multiplex I frequented. It was a mind-opening year for me.

November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPoliVamp

polivamp -- awwww. that's awesome to hear. thanks

November 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I graduated from high school and started college in 2002, so 2003 was my first full year at college - and thus the beginning of four years of hearing about a lot of films but not actually getting to see them until much later. I remember being most thrilled about Return of the King sweeping the Oscars, but hated then (and still kind of do, actually) the fact that the sweep made it clear that the Academy had been waiting until the conclusion of the trilogy to reward it.

The only other big film I remember actually seeing that year was Lost In Translation, and boy did that film ever strike a chord with me. It continues to strike that same chord, actually. It was maybe the first time that I ever felt a film speak directly to me with its themes, and its sense of humor was right in tune with mine, as well.

November 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Carmen Sandiego: That jolt of energy feeling is what I enjoy about Nick Nolte in that Hulk movie, but he actually coalesces it into something that still, oddly, fits tonally with what Ang Lee was trying to do.

November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

In 2003...

--I turned 17 so I was able to see "R" rated movies unchaperoned for the first time. My friends and I drove to the nearest big city to see Monster, with our 16yo friend buying a ticket for a PG film and sneaking into the theater with us, and all of us walked away horrified. We did, however, quote the line "F--- You, Leslie!" for months afterward.

--Seabiscuit was a big deal in my hometown because it was filmed in my region. My high school English teacher took a day off work to be an extra and a friend's father can be seen rolling a keg on the big race day.

--A friend and I went to see a midnight showing of Mystic River. I recall two things from that night: 1) the opening scene and 2) being woken up by my friend during the end credits. I had missed 99% of the movie. Whoops! I didn't end up viewing it until a couple of years ago.

--My whole crew also went together to see "Cold Mountain" and we uniformly loved it (yes, even the Zeeee). I think I went immediately to the town Wal-Mart afterwards to buy the soundtrack. It was probably my love for Cold Mountain that led me to watch the Oscars that year, which...

--The Oscars ceremony for 2003 was only the second one I'd ever seen (the first being Titanic's year, when I was *shocked* to learn that Leo had not been nominated). I recall that before awarding Best Art Direction, they showed some of the sketches that had been turned into sets and I was amazed to see the behind the scenes work on the films. It changed the way I watched movies. And though I hadn't seen ROTK at the time, its 11 wins inspired amazement in me and added some pomp and circumstance to the ceremony that made me forever an Oscar fan. The next year, I actively prepped for the Oscars and I haven't missed a ceremony since.

All in all, 2003 was a life-changing year for my movie-watching! Favorite 2003 movies: Cold Mountain, Finding Nemo, Big Fish and Love Actually.

November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

^And Lost in Translation-- how could I forget!?

November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

2003 was a year of eagerly-awaited cinematic events that mostly failed (Hulk, T3 -- oh, those Matrix sequels, in spite of their breathtaking promos), but on occasion more than delivered (Kill Bill, X2!).

It also was a solid year for comedies that still hold up: Bend It Like Beckham, Down With Love, Freaky Friday (Curtis & Lohan...sigh), Old School, School of Rock, Something's Gotta Give. And even though the fall prestige pics didn't pan out for the most part, we always will have the beauty of Lost in Translation (that ending!); the Triplets of Belleville; the original Japanese version of Dark Water; Ben Kingsley's and Shoreh Agdashloo's marvelous duet -- and James Horner's score -- in House of Sand and Fog; Kiss at the End of the Rainbow; a dynamite trailer for 21 Grams; and even and especially Seth Green's dance moves in Party Monster.

On a side note, Reno 911! (xoxo) and Britney, Christina, Madonna, and Missy at the VMAs!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

its the year where Hollywood decided that Nicole Kidman had become too big, so there was a need to bring her down and denied her a nomination for Cold Mountain and Dogville (??)

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMOntage

The first two movies that instantly shot to mind were Mystic River and Lost In Translation... also Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Monster are faves.

Also, X2 was pretty awesome.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

The year of my first job, my first year out of high school, and the year I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be completing any of my community college classes (still haven't gone back). Also the year I was thoroughly enjoying the film "Chicago" (almost everyone around me had the soundtrack) and thinking what a prestige film "Cold Mountain" was billing itself to be, but Renee looked far too annoying in the trailers for me to bother. Trying WAY too hard gurl.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoel V

My first job was in 2003, and it was at a one-screen movie theater. I remember "Bend it like Beckham" most fondly. My brother and best friend were really into Lord of the Rings, but I had never seen the first two, so I believe I saw ROTK in the best way possible: I watched Part One two days before and Part Two the day before, so I only had to wait 24 hours for resolution!

I throw an Oscars party every year, complete with prize winnings for predictions, and 2003 was my most widely attended party. My friend Eva Schwartz took home a lot of dough that night, in part because she was the only one who correctly predicted ROTK's clean sweep.

I completely forgot "Down with Love" came out that year! "Kill Bill" also stands out; I just bought it at Target and might have to re-visit it tonight.

What I love about revisiting 2003 is that I went to the theater a lot, and I can remember who I saw what movies with. I hardly ever go to the movies anymore, and when I do, it's by myself.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

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