For me, in terms of these awards, the year 2003 is a real pivot point. I was a teenager then, and in high school. Now, I likely cared more about Oscar films than a lot of high schoolers, but I was still also a child. I was not too far afield from the days of rehashing every moment in the most recent episode of Jackass or The Tom Green Show with my friends at school. This is the first year where basically all of my critical assessment of these films is me dipping back into these movies as an adult. I saw some of them then, sure, but the ones I saw were the ones for teenagers. The year 2003 is the first wherein I wasn’t really a “serious movie watcher.” Eventually, I will get to the point where I had no awareness at the time, and then to when I wasn’t even born. The times they are a-changin’. Here are my awards for 2003.
Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter, Big Fish
Carter was in the midst of her stretch of always being in Tim Burton’s films, given that they were a couple at the time. Also, Carter’s ability to come across as both “spooky Goth” and “serious British actress” really served her well. She has multiple roles in Big Fish, but it doesn’t come across as “Hey look! Helena Bonham Carter is doing two roles!”
Best Supporting Actor: David Hyde Pierce, Down with Love
I certainly did not watch this riff on Rock Hudson/Doris Day rom-coms when I was a teenager. In the interim, though, I have seen Down with Love. Also, I’ve seen Frasier and come to deeply appreciate the comedic chops of Pierce. He’s doing the Tony Randall role in this film, and in knowing that, it helps me appreciate his turn.
Best Actress: Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. 1
The first Kill Bill relies more on Thurman, and also on Quentin Tarantino’s showy directing, which makes it easier to give her this award. She has to do drama, but also be a total badass. Sure, the stylistic choices of the Crazy 88s fight carries a lot of the weight, but the rest of the weight is being carried by Thurman. It all has to work together.
Best Actor: George Clooney, Intolerable Cruelty
This is quite a light mix of movies to give my acting awards to. Not Kill Bill, granted, but the other three are all at least somewhat comedic, and in many ways actively comedies. Intolerable Cruelty is basically the Coen Brothers riff on rom-coms as well, which means it’s quite cynical and snarky, of course. No directors know how to use Clooney better than the Coens, though, and he knows how to riff on a role like this.
Best Picture: Big Fish
When I was younger, I thought both Big Fish and Kill Bill Vol. 1 were great. Now, with the benefit of hindsight and having seen more films, my opinions of both have dipped a bit. They are both very good movies! Which is better, though? Well, the stuff I have come to criticize about Big Fish are silly and heavy handed. The stuff I have come to criticize about Kill Bill I find fairly odious and unpleasant. Given that, I’m going with Big Fish. Which, again, is very good.