decade revisited: 2003, part 1

The Nominees: If 2007 was the best year for movies of the decade (which it was, of course), then 2003 can’t be far behind, in my opinion. Even though these five would likely not stand as my favorite of the stellar year, they still all count as good films in my book. Of course, the annual Lord of the Rings mainstay rounded out with the best of the trilogy, and Pixar’s megahit Finding Nemo was both heartwarming and an epic adventure. And as for the other three sort of unorthodox choices, I think Bend it Like Beckham is a perfect example of a well-made sports movie — combining the fun of a buddy comedy and the excitement of a soccer match, Cold Mountain wasn’t nearly as terrible as critics seemed to think it was — it was a fairly beautiful epic with a fantastic score and some amiable performances, and Something’s Gotta Give is flat-out hilarious and stars two greats in fine form.

Revisions: Nemo and Return of the King would easily come out safe (and Return would easily remain the victor), but they’d likely be joined by Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Whale Rider, and Kill Bill, Vol. 1, three thoroughly underrated and under-awarded flicks of the year.

The Nominees: Take a look at the actors’ names alone, and it seems like a decent list of fellows in this category. Now that the years have passed, it seems that the majority of these gents’ performances seem like lesser items on their career paths. Depp delivered one of the decade’s best performances period, and Law was a believable, if uneasy, romantic lead in Cold Mountain. Chalk up the love for Nicholson to my love of the actor himself and the nods to Crowe and Maguire to the Oscar love for their respective movies.

Revisions: These guys would have a tough time sticking out in hindsight. Depp and Law would probably squeak by (as it wasn’t the strongest year for Lead Actor candidates), with Depp likely stealing away the win from Law this time around (the Jack Sparrow role certainly ages well as it reaches iconic status). The other three spots would probably end up going to Sean Penn in Mystic River, Peter Dinklage in The Station Agent, and Paddy Considine in In America.

The Nominees: As with the Lead Actor category, this one boasts a great crop of names. The major difference, though, is that, for the most part, the performances back them up. Keaton is comic gold as Eric in Something’s Gotta Give and Curtis is an uber fun comeback kid in Freaky Friday. And then there’s personal favorite of mine, Parminder Nagra, who’s understated adorable/kick-ass soccer player breathes life into Bend it Like Beckham. With Blanchett, let me be the first to say that I thought The Missing was a highly underrated adventure thriller, and Cate’s turn was a great tough western woman. And as for Kidman, well, she’s seen better roles, but she did what she could.

Revisions: Keaton and Curtis would probably maintain their spots, but they’d be facing heavy competition from the likes of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, Vol. 1, Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider, and Samantha Morton in In America. In the end, Keaton would likely remain the victor, but I’d probably throw Castle-Hughes a paper-thin close second.

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