Top Ten 2003

1. The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
2. Lost In Translation
3. Los Angeles Plays Itself
4. The Triplets Of Belleville
5. Spring Summer Fall Winter and Spring
6. Kill Bill: Vol. 1
7. The Story Of Marie And Julien
8. Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World
9. Tarnation
10. Shattered Glass


Sofia Coppola took an acting career that had been labelled a joke thirteen years earlier and turned it into a highly praised one as a filmmaker when her critically acclaimed Lost In Translation played to ecstatic reviews from critics and audiences alike. The film is a gorgeously shot, beautifully meditative look at the private experience of two very normal (and therefore extraordinary) people, one of them played most impressively by the amazing Bill Murray. He too caused a career reversal with his performance, going from 80s funnyman to millennial symbol of irony with his subtly funny, touching and winsome turn as a movie star whose better days are behind him, lost in the wilds of Tokyo where he has gone to film a whiskey advertisement.

Honour Roll: Ben Kingsley, House Of Sand And Fog; Sean Penn, 21 Grams; Billy Bob Thornton, Bad Santa; Bruno Todeschini, Son Frere


Following her split with husband and director Charles Shyer, filmmaker Nancy Meyers has gone on to create some of the most overlong, overly art-directed romantic comedies in the last ten years, but the best of them was the sharp and fun Something’s Gotta Give. Jack Nicholson trades on his persona to the point of boredom, but the insanely attractive quality of the film comes from a marvelous Diane Keaton as the woman he adores. She gets fed up with his inability to commit to a woman his own age, so when handsome young doctor Keanu Reeves comes knocking on her door, she happily answers it. And why not? Keaton has charm, beauty and energy in spades, looking supremely gorgeous for any age and spilling off the screen with all the charisma and style she’s ever had.

Honour Roll: Cate Blanchett, Veronica Guerin; Nicole Kidman, Dogville; Charlize Theron, Monster; Naomi Watts, 21 Grams


Another career change was the moment when Alec Baldwin went from being the hot young star to the scary character actor whose runaway mouth began to match his increasing bulk. The transition could not have been better for his talent, considering the success he has had with his blisteringly perfect performance on television’s 30 Rock, and in one of his best film roles ever, The Cooler. This mystically enjoyable tale of luck has its finest moments when Baldwin spills his venom all over hapless William H. Macy as his casino employee; he is equally funny, terrifying and charming, and the film owes much of its tension to his spot-on brilliance.

Honour Roll: Benicio Del Toro, 21 Grams; Tim Robbins, Mystic River; Peter Sarsgaard, Shattered Glass; Ken Watanabe, The Last Samurai


Vadim Perelman’s House Of Sand And Fog is a grim, depressing story about the immigrant experience in America that sometimes pushes the limits of contrivance with its relentlessly dark plot. What it has in its favor, however, is a set of performances so powerful that one cannot possibly shake the movie off easily. The best of them is the wonderful Shohreh Aghdashloo as the wife of an Iranian colonel who lives in America, is completely removed from the experience of the country and has to suffer the pain of intolerance when her husband’s scheme to have them make a little extra money gets them into a dispute over a house. Her eyes tell you everything when her language cannot, and her performance gives the film its heart.

Honour Roll: Maria Bello, The Cooler; Hope Davis, American Splendour; Emma Thompson, Love Actually; Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain


Sofia Coppola, Lost In Translation

Honour Roll: Peter Jackson, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King; Ki-duk Kim, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…And Spring; Jacques Rivette, Histoire De Marie Et Julien; Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill: Vol. 1