Oscar History

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Introducing... Five Nominees 2003

For the buildup to this  year's Oscar race we thought it would be fun to revive StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown and so far it's gone just beautifully. This month we're hitting the 2003 lineup for its 10th anniversary. Unfortunately I have to announce a small delay: The Smackdown will now air on Thursday, December 5th at Noon EST instead of, well, right now.

But in its place our new Smackdown tradition which we keep meaning to turn into a regular non-Smackdown series. "Introducing..." in which we remember our first glimpse of key movie characters. You've met this month's panel but these events now include an extra panelist: You (the collective you) so feel free to send in your ballots (by tomorrow at the latest) if you'd like your vote to be counted. Here's how you do that.

Without further ado...

INTRODUCING... (in the order of how soon they appear in their films)

[no dialogue]

Shohreh Aghdashloo as "Nadi" in House of Sand and Fog
Arrival: 1½ minutes into the 126 minute running time, preceded only by Fog (and Jennifer Connelly) and Sand: She's reflected in the water in the opening credits and then glimpsed frolicking with her children on the beach, before a terrible visual omen strikes: trees felled nearby. Subtle!

I'm ready.

Holly Hunter as "Melanie Freeland" in Thirteen
Arrival: 3 minutes into the 100 minute running time. She stamps out a cigarette. Note the smart girly girl styling -- kudos to the makeup and costume team on this movie -- you don't even know she's not a teenager until the camera pans up. 

[no dialogue]

Patricia Clarkson as "Joy Burns" in Pieces of April
Arrival: 4 minutes into the 80 minute running time. While her family frantically searches for her, she's found waiting in the care for their Thanksgiving road trip. 

Where have you been? It's 3 AM."

Marcia Gay Harden as "Celeste Boyle" in Mystic River
Arrival: 16 minutes into the 138 minute running time. She's looking in on her sleeping child when her husband returns home with (gasp) what is that? Blood! on his hands!!! With Marcia's arrival the plot arrives to mingle with the foreshadowing prologue and completed character survey. 

Those cows want milkin'. If that letter ain't urgent then cows is, is what I'm sayin'. 

Renée Zellweger as "Ruby" in Cold Mountain
Arrival: 50 minutes into the 154 minute running time. And boy is the director (and the Zeéeeee) marking it. She steps into the frame like it's a proscenium, her face hidden by a huge hat as she turns from side to side. Cows even moo to introduce her and she sighs loudly before barking out her first line at Ada (Nicole Kidman) who is lost in her papers on the porch.


Did you know you were in for something special when these actors came into frame?

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Reader Comments (18)

"returns home with (gasp) what is that? Blood! on his hands!!!"

Well now that you put it that way, I can't take that plot device seriously anymore for future movies.

"Cows even moo to introduce her"

So wonderfully appropriate.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSanty.C

Here to bat for Renee: I must say I really love her introduction to the film. After the superstition of the scene immediately preceding it with Nicole at the well she sort of jolts the film away from any semblance of romanticism (unsubtly, yes, but hey - sometimes heavy symbolism isn't all bad).

(I love how Minghella tends to introduce his pivotal characters, generally though, like Dickie in RIPLEY rising out of the water.)

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

One thing all the nominees have in common is that their films don't invite reevaluation. If they upset or disappointed you in 2003, they will continue to do so now.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Pieces of April is only 80 minutes long? I thought it was longer. I like it a lot. I don't know how I've missed the running time being so short.

Clarkson's first scene caught my eye, for sure. It really feels like if the film was more successful, Clarkson would have won the Oscar. It's just so tiny and underseen.

When I knew Clarkson couldn't win, I jumped to Shohreh Agdashloo. I'm big on House of Sand and Fog, ridiculous foreshadowing and all.

I basically was on team anyone but Zellweger. I have no problem with her being an Oscar-winning actress. I only have a problem with it being for that role. Why not for Down with Love or Bridget Jones or something I can watch without having to take an "I can't" intermission for a couple hours?

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

I do remember that Shoreh's intro had me expecting her to be pivotal, but I was still surprised with how good she was in the film, given that I had never seen her before (and not much since...is there a reason she is not working other than myopic casting directors?). Holly's intro had the same impact on me that it did with you...I was expecting the shot to pan out to one of the girls. I have a sister just like this - the challenge for me is to consider just the performance and not bring in my personal baggage. Though I would love to see a movie showing where the three central women are now.

Remind me, please...the votes are separate from this post, so where do they go and do we rate all five or just pick the winner? (Hmm...just saw "Frozen" and flashed on the closing credits you talked about - great take on the litigation-phobic suits and their impact [on occasion] on the creative process.).

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

I honestly thought Renée was going to burst into song and dance among the cows.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I still can't believe that's the only nomination Clarkson ever got. And the performance is not special, at all.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Samantha Morton / In América (Her character's daughters where the truth leading)
Patricia Clarkson / Dogville
Shroreh Agdashloo / House of Sand and Fog
Emma Thompson / Love Actually
Holly Hunter / Thirteen

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIvan

Ivan -- except for here in the States, Dogville was not released until 2004 so it wasn't eligible for the 2003 oscars. it took us so long to get it!

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

my five:

shohreh aghdashloo - house of sand and fog
emma bolger - in america
*catherine o'hara - a mighty wind*
sarah paulson – down with love
emma thompson - love actually

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

par3182: It's unreal how improved this lineup would be if Catherine O'Hara could have made it.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

french and saunders commentary on 'cold mountain' - skip to 3:55 for renee's entrance -


December 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

Some great supporting 2003 perfs not yet mentioned...

Ludivine Sagnier, "Swimming Pool"
Patricia Clarkson, "The Station Agent"
Melissa Leo, "21 Grams"

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterParanoid Android

You forgot to mention that Ruby shows up at the exact moment that Ada fears she is really and truly losing her mind, halfway hallucinating that a rooster is purposely tormenting her.

I love the idea that Ruby only exists as the projection of a mad woman. But then she goes and makes US think WE are losing our minds.

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

what about nicole kidman in human stain?

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterraji

Zellweger supporter here. I loved "Cold Mountain," novel and film, so I was fine with her win. Not to say that other wins wouldn't have pleased me too (Shohreh winning would have been fierce), but the utter hatred that Zellweger gets for this Oscar win saddens me. But whatever, what's done is done. Bring on the SMACKDOWN!

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterReynolds

To think 10 years later she can't get work,i wonder how many of today's nominees will disappear as quick,anne h any1.

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

Can we take a moment to reflect on how Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Nemo would have been so welcome in this weak field.

May 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterConMan

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