The interesting thing about 2004 is that two things happened that year. The first, the Academy had changed the date for the Oscars to being one month earlier. Ten years later we see that no film can really win Best Picture as a late game entry. The last one to do this was Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, trouncing the two frontrunners – The Aviator and Sideways, which were dominating. But Clint took the DGA and Million Dollar Baby took Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor.

The early awards were divided that year. The PGA went to the Aviator, the SAG went to Sideways and of course, the DGA went to Eastwood. Sideways had almost unanimous support from the critics. But it wasn’t “important” enough and didn’t have admirable enough characters to beat the one that really did strum the heartbeats of SAG members, not to mention having Eastwood and Freeman together again. Million Dollar Baby was the kind of film that people reacted to emotionally. The Aviator was deemed too complex and problematic. To that end, this year is a precursor to Slumdog Millionaire vs. Benjamin Button. High ambition without easy emotional payoff is a tough sell for Oscar voters. They far prefer the easy payoff.

Back then, I had the luxury of complaining about Million Dollar Baby and Hilary Swank’s second Best Actress win. Little did I know that it would be the last time a film starring a central strong female character would win Best Picture, unless you count The Artist (which you could). So I won’t complain about Million Dollar Baby now. I will instead wish there were more movies like it.

For me personally, the only film I watch from the 2004 Oscar race repeatedly is Sideways. That is the one film that continues to age well, to grow and resonate with the changing times. The second choice would be Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, for its brilliant collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio, and its portrait of the life of Howard Hughes.

Other than that, 2004 wasn’t the best year for film overall, I wouldn’t say. But what do you think? We’ll be recording tonight.

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  • Joey

    The beginning of Natalie Portman’s Oscar story with Closer. Laura Dern should have gotten more traction for similarly themed We Don’t Live Here Anymore.

  • jamesintoronto

    I normally agree with you Sasha but I have to say that in 2004 the Academy just might have gotten it right. While The Aviator is a good film I found the performances rather weak, with both Leo and Cate stretching to mimic their real life characters. Sideways was really great but I think the Academy saw it as too small a film. I think you might have to go back to when Annie Hall won to see a film win Best Picture that was strictly a character-driven film. I really did like Million Dollar Baby and have always admired Clint Eastwood for making films that act as if the ’80s and ’90s never happened… by that I mean he seems to create films that aren’t done by committee, that haven’t been tested to death. To me Gran Torino is a perfect example of a filmmaker who doesn’t give a shit about demographics or exit polls… he just wants to tell stories and I think Million Dollar Baby was a great story.

  • Jake Bart

    Calling Million Dollar Baby’s ending easy emotional payoff really undersells that film. Swank and Eastwood are doing wonderful work there and the entire film has a simplicity that is usually taken for granted. In terms of Eastwood’s work, I think it’s near the top (both for acting and direction), in a league with Unforgiven and the shamefully underrated A Perfect World. And painting The Aviator as too complex also rings false to me. Darker, perhaps, but darkness of tone does not guarantee complexity or depth. All this goes to say that I prefer MDB to The Aviator, although both are quality films. Sideways is, of course, wonderful and would have been a wonderfully bold choice that AMPAS would never make.

    Although I was positive on it at the time and still think Depp gives a very good performance, most of Finding Neverland’s nod are just notches in Harvey’s belt (I’m fine with the Musical Score win, though). Ray, on the other hand, left me unmoved outside of the Foxx performance. Certainly not BP nod worthy.

    My dream BP lineup would be: Before Sunset, Eternal Sunshine, The Incredibles, Million Dollar Baby, and Sideways. Of those, the first two are closest to my heart. They’re two of the finest romances of the young century and Eternal Sunshine has become a film I return to at least once a year. The Incredibles aside (because these things work different for animated films) I think that’s the ’04 film that will wear best under the test of time.

    And I would have liked other great films like Kill Bill Vol. 2 (that Superman monolog is aces), The Life Aquatic (many hate it, but those who love it can’t do without it), and David Gordon Green’s criminally forgotten Southern Gothic thriller Undertow to get some recognition.

    My biggest memory of the Oscar telecast itself was the sinking feeling I got when Blanchett took home Supporting Actress. She was, of course, wonderful and worthy, but that award belonged to Virginia Madsen who really nails her role in Sideways. Everybody knew that Blanchett would be back at the Oscars in no time, but that’s career best work from Madsen. Ah, well. Such is AMPAS.

  • Brian

    I love Sideways, but personally my favorite film from this year (and one of my favorite films of all time) is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    I’ve made it a rule to never exceed fifty-odd number of titles on my lists, but this that was just not possible. I kept taking titles off the list, I was as ruthless as I’ve ever been my entire life and I just couldn’t get it any leaner than it currently stands. I haven’t been in the game as long as many of my fellow readers, but I truly feel this was an exceptional year. The number of masterpieces, perfect outcomes, game-changers (not the Travers definition), and essential cinema is just astonishing. Even my lowest ranked contains narrative and technical peculiarities I just couldn’t do without, add the supreme cast operating at top intensity…and I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it. Certainly a high point of the decade.

    The Essential Cinema of 2004

    1. BAD EDUCATION, Pedro Almodovar
    2. TROPICAL MALADY, Apichatpong Weerasethakul
    3. DOWNFALL, Oliver Hirschbiegel
    4. VERA DRAKE, Mike Leigh
    5. I ♥ HUCKABEES, David O. Russell
    6. SHAUN OF THE DEAD, Edgar Wright
    7. NOBODY KNOWS, Hirokazu Koreeda
    8. BIRTH, Jonathan Glazer
    9. KILL BILL: VOL. 2, Quentin Tarantino
    10. SON FRERE, Patrice Chereau
    11. THE AVIATOR, Martin Scorsese
    12. THE HOLY GIRL, Lucrecia Martel
    14. KINGS & QUEEN, Arnaud Desplechin
    15. HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, Hayao Miyasaki
    16. THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE, Gianni Amelio
    17. MOOLAADE, Ousmane Sembene
    18. SPIDER-MAN 2, Sam Raimi
    19. CRIMSON GOLD, Jafar Panahi
    22. DEAD MAN SHOE’S, Shane Meadows
    23. UNDERTOW, David Gordon Green
    25. THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, Walter Salles
    26. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, Peter Berg
    27. COLLATERAL, Michael Mann
    28. 3-IRON, Ki-duk Kim
    29. THE CONSEQUENCES OF LOVE, Paolo Sorrentino
    30. 2046, Kar Wai Wong
    31. BEFORE SUNSET, Richard Linklater
    32. TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE, Trey Parker, Matt Stone
    33. DAWN OF THE DEAD, Zack Snyder
    34. PRIMER, Shane Carruth
    35. LADIES IN LAVENDER, Charles Dance
    36. THE INCREDIBLES, Brad Bird
    37. THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, Luke Greenfield
    38. HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, Yimou Zhang
    39. MIRACLE, Gavin O’Connor
    40. GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE, Mamoru Oshii
    41. BREAKING NEWS, Johnnie To
    43. MEAN GIRLS, Mark Waters
    44. TROY, Wolfgang Petersen
    45. MILLION DOLLAR BABY, Clint Eastwood
    46. CELLULAR, David R. Ellis
    47. LAYER CAKE, Matthew Vaughn
    48. MACHUCA, Andres Wood
    49. CLOSER, Mike Nichols
    50. THE 24TH DAY, Tony Piccirillo
    51. HELLBOY, Guillermo del Toro
    52. THE NOTEBOOK, Nick Cassavetes
    53. DEAD LEAVES, Hiroyuki Imaishi
    54. SAVED!, Brian Dannelly
    55. MAN ON FIRE, Tony Scott
    56. THE EDUKATORS, Hans Weingartner
    57. HOTEL RWANDA, Terry George
    58. THE SEA INSIDE, Alejandro Amenabar
    59. SAW, James Wan
    61. THE VILLAGE, M. Night Shyamalan

  • Al Robinson

    Could you guys talk about how Million Dollar Baby came out of nowhere at the end of the year to take over the race. I remember for most of 2004, I was thinking it was The Aviator’s to lose, and then came along Million Dollar Baby and just went from there. Also, why do you think it was that Sideways didn’t win Best Picture. I feel it’s far the best movie of 2004.

    More questions for you guys:

    Should Jim Carey have been nominated for Eternal Sunshine? Same, should Eternal Sunshine have been nominated for Best Picture?

    Why do you think it was the Jaime Foxx won for Ray, when Don Cheadle was even better in Hotel Rwanda? (At least in my opinion he was).

  • Al Robinson

    Another great great year in movies, and the Oscars overall did just fine. I think Million Dollar Baby is terrific, Jamie (not Jaime) Foxx great, 2 best screenplays won (Sideways and Eternal Sunshine). Can’t complain.

    Another year though that Leo DiCaprio didn’t win.

    Albeit, some of my favorite movies were not nominated for Best Picture. Spider-Man 2, The Passion of the Christ, Miracle, Collateral, and Kill Bill Vol. 2

    My top 10 of 2004:
    1. Sideways – Alexander Payne
    2. Collateral – Michael Mann
    3. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 – Quentin Tarantino
    4. The Aviator – Martin Scorsese
    5. Spider-Man 2 – Sam Raimi
    6. Miracle – Gavin O’Connor
    7. Million Dollar Baby – Clint Eastwood
    8. The Passion of the Christ – Mel Gibson
    9. Hotel Rwanda – Terry George
    10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Michel Gondry

  • Al Robinson

    OMG, I also forgot, that even though it had nothing to do with the Oscars, arguably THE BEST comedy of the decade was released in 2004, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

    Veronica Corningstone: For the entire Channel 4 news team, I’m Veronica Corningstone.
    Ron Burgundy: And I’m Ron Burgundy. Go fuck yourself, San Diego.

    Ron Burgundy: Boy, that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast.
    Champ Kind: It jumped up a notch.
    Ron Burgundy: It did, didn’t it?
    Brick Tamland: Yeah, I stabbed a man in the heart.
    Ron Burgundy: I saw that. Brick killed a guy. Did you throw a trident?
    Brick Tamland: Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident.
    Ron Burgundy: Brick, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. You should find yourself a safehouse or a relative close by. Lay low for a while, because you’re probably wanted for murder.


  • Al Robinson

    Yeah, look at the parallels of who made some of the best movies 2004:2013

    Alfonso Cuaron – Harry Potter/Prizoner of Azkaban – Gravity
    Paul Greengrass – The Bourne Supremacy – Captain Phillips
    Martin Scorsese – The Aviator – The Wolf of Wall Street
    Alexander Payne – Sideways – Nebraska
    David O. Russell – I Heart Huckabees – American Hustle
    Edgar Wright – Shaun of the Dead – The World’s End

  • m1

    There is still a bit that I have left to see, but for now, my top 20 would be:

    1. Million Dollar Baby
    2. Sideways
    3. Before Sunset
    4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    5. Spider-Man 2
    6. Maria Full of Grace
    7. Vera Drake
    8. The Incredibles
    9. Hotel Rwanda
    10. Ray
    11. Kill Bill Vol. 2
    12. Shrek 2
    13. Shaun of the Dead
    14. The Motorcycle Diaries
    15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    16. Collateral
    17. The Bourne Supremacy
    18. Mean Girls
    19. Napoleon Dynamite
    20. The Polar Express

    The movies from this year that I haven’t seen are Kinsey, The Passion of the Christ, Layer Cake, The Sea Inside, and some other ones.

    My ranking of the Best Picture nominees:
    1. Million Dollar Baby
    2. Sideways
    3. Ray
    4. Finding Neverland
    5. The Aviator

    Million Dollar Baby and Sideways are simply amazing. I love both so much and they remain two of my favorites of the decade and of all time. Ray is a pretty good biopic even if it is pretty standard. Finding Neverland has some terrific performances but is mostly ordinary sap, and The Aviator is totally overblown just like most of Scorsese’s output this century. Overall a pretty terrific year for movies.

  • m1

    Million Dollar Baby contains “easy emotional payoff”? We must not have seen the same movie. This is a movie in which the main character’s dreams are cut short by an injury that paralyzes her for life and she then wants to be euthanized by the person in the world who loves her and cares for her the most. Yes, definitely an “easy emotional payoff” right there.

  • Brian S.

    Vera Drake was favorite of 2004. Masterpiece theater by Mike Leigh.

    Among the nods, The Aviator was my favorite, followed by Sideways and Ray. I never warmed to MDB, even though it was a good movie. Eastwood had an Oscar already, so why give it to him again, I don’t know. Eternal Sunshine….very strange. The Incredibles was a great animated feature, Finding Neverland was magical, and Closer was very intimate with us. Slightly better than 2004.

  • analog

    Kate Winslet was robbed. It’s her best performance so far.

  • Al Robinson

    My perfect Oscars:

    Picture – Sideways
    Director – Alexander Payne (Sideways)
    Actor – Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
    Actress – Uma Thurman (Kill Bill: Vol. 2)
    S. Actor – Thomas Haden Church (Sideways)
    S. Actress – Virginia Madsen (Sideways)
    O. Screenplay – Collateral
    A. Screenplay – Sideways

  • Al Robinson

    Another question for you guys, like I already asked about Jim Carey, why do you think Paul Giamatti was ignored for Best Actor for Sideways?

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Awards Preferences (nominees ranked in order of preference, #1’s are the winners)

    Best Director

    1. Pedro Almodovar – BAD EDUCATION (W)
    2. Apichatpong Weerasethakul – TROPICAL MALADY
    3. Mike Leigh – VERA DRAKE
    4. David O. Russell – I ♥ HUCKABEES
    5. Oliver Hirschbiegel – DOWNFALL

    Best Actor

    1. Bruno Ganz – DOWNFALL (W)
    2. Yuya Yajira – NOBODY KNOWS
    3. Bruno Todeschino – SON FRERE
    4. Leonardo DiCaprio – THE AVIATOR
    5. Hossain Himadeddin – CRIMSON GOLD

    Best Actress

    1. Imelda Staunton – VERA DRAKE (W)
    2. Nicole Kidman – BIRTH
    3. Fatoumata Coulibaly – MOOLAADE
    5. Emmanuelle Devos – KINGS & QUEEN

    Best Supporting Actor

    1. Gael Garcia Bernal – BAD EDUCATION (W)
    2. Mark Wahlberg – I ♥ HUCKABEES
    3. Jamie Foxx – COLLATERAL
    4. Toby Kebbell – DEAD MAN’S SHOES
    5. Cameron Bright – BIRTH

    Best Supporting Actress

    1. Julieta Zylberberg – THE HOLY GIRL (W)
    2. Ziyi Zhang – 2046
    3. Lily Tomlin – I ♥ HUCKABEES
    4. Corinna Harfouch – DOWNFALL
    5. Maria Alche – THE HOLY GIRL

    Best Original Screenplay

    1. Apichatpong Weerasethakul – TROPICAL MALADY (W)
    2. Pedro Almodovar – BAD EDUCATION
    3. Jeff Baena, David O. Russell – I ♥ HUCKABEES
    4. Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright – SHAUN OF THE DEAD
    5. Mike Leigh – VERA DRAKE

    Best Adapted Screenplay

    1. Bernd Eichinger – DOWNFALL (W)
    2. Patrice Chereau, Anne-Louise Trividic – SON FRERE
    3. John Logan – THE AVIATOR
    4. Hayao Miyasaki – HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE
    5. Gianni Amelio, Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli – THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE

    Best Film Editing

    1. Jose Salcedo – BAD EDUCATION (W)
    2. Chris Dickens – SHAUN OF THE DEAD
    3. Sally Mencke – KILL BILL: VOL. 2
    4. Sam Sneade, Claus Wehlisch – BIRTH
    5. Robert K. Lambert, I ♥ HUCKABEES

    Best Cinematography

    1. Jose Luis Alcaine – BAD EDUCATION (W)
    2. Harris Savides – BIRTH
    3. Robert Richardson – THE AVIATOR
    4. Dominique Gentil – MOOLAADE
    ———–but shouldn’t be left out———–
    7. Luca Bigazzi – THE CONSEQUENCES OF LOVE
    8. Dion Beebe, Paul Cameron – COLLATERAL
    9. Eric Gautier – THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
    10. Christopher Doyle – 2046 / Troy Dick – PRIMER [tie!]

    Best Original Score

    1. Alexander Desplat – BIRTH (W)
    2. Gustavo Santaolalla – THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
    3. Alberto Iglesias – BAD EDUCATION
    4. Shingeru Umebayashi – 2046
    5. John Debney – THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST

    Best Animated Feature

    1. Hayao Miyazaki – HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (W)
    3. Trey Parker, Matt Stone – TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE
    4. Brad Bird – THE INCREDIBLES
    5. Mamoru Oshii – GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE
    Honorable Mention: TERKEL IN TROUBLE

    Best Production Design

    1. DOWNFALL (W)
    4. 2046
    5. BIRTH

    Best Costume Design

    1. 2046 (W)
    3. TROY

    Best Visual Effects

    1. SPIDERMAN 2 (W)
    3. 2046
    4. HELLBOY

    Best Sound Mixing: THE AVIATOR
    Best Sound Editing: SPIDERMAN 2

    Best Documentary Feature

    1. Zak Penn – INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS (W)
    2. Ross McElwee – BIGHT LEAVES
    4. Jonathan Couette – TARNATION
    5. Joan Churchill, Nick Broomfield – AILEEN: LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER

  • Jeria

    Spider-man 2
    Kill Bill Vol. 2
    I Heart Huckabees
    Before Sunset
    The Bourne Supremacy
    House of Flying Daggers
    The Manchurian Candidate (Demme)
    Ocean’s Twelve
    The Terminal
    Wicker Park
    The Girl Next Door

  • Al Robinson

    Another couple questions

    Why is it that since The Aviator had 4 more nominations, and at the end of the (Oscar) night, it had won 1 more than Million Dollar Baby, why didn’t The Aviator win Best Picture? I had heard that Martin Scorsese refused to “play the game”. Is that true? Does that even matter??

    Also, this goes into why didn’t The Aviator win BP: It won Best Editing, and didn’t win BP?

  • Al Robinson

    This question goes out to anyone who wants to answer:

    That year, Morgan Spurlock had released Super Size Me, my question is, would anyone have been willing to try and eat McDonald’s for 3 meals a day, for 1 month straight??

    Me – HELL NO!!!

  • joe

    My top ten of that year
    1. Ray
    2. Million dollar baby
    3. The incredibles
    4. The aviator
    5. I robot
    6. Shrek 2
    7. Collateral
    8. Shaun of the dead
    9. Seed of chucky
    10. National treasure

  • Andrew

    Agree with Sasha. Sideways is THE movie of 2004 and one of the best of the 21st century. A total robbery that Giamatti wasn’t nominated for Best Actor.

  • Al Robinson

    I also want to add that 2004 was the year that (arguably) the most popular “chick flick” romantic movie of the decade was released: The Notebook. Every woman I’ve talked to says they LOVE that movie.

  • Al Robinson

    Also, Sasha, Ryan, Craig, Michael

    Would you guys also be willing to talk a little about Fahrenheit 9/11?
    I remember Michael Moore really wanted to try for Best Picture, so he skipped the race for Best Documentary. He got neither. Do you think had he just left it in the race for Best Documentary, it would have won?

  • Al Robinson

    I’ve been looking at the box office for the year 2004, and I just remembered what my favorite Documentary of the year was. It was Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. That should have been nominated for Best Documentary.

  • Al Robinson

    One last comment. I finished going through the entire list of box office of 2004, and these 11 would be the ones I would strongly consider for “Best Picture” at the Oscars.

    The Aviator
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    Finding Neverland
    Hotel Rwanda
    Kill Bill Vol. 2
    Million Dollar Baby
    The Passion of the Christ

  • Henrik

    When will the recent episodes be up on iTunes? The most recent one is episode 57 from Jan. 28…post DGA Oscar talk.

  • JPNS Viewer

    [Random yet related]

    Mo Chuisle (Macushla) . . . .

    I love Million Dollar Baby (my grade: strong A-) — the overall feels of this wonderful piece, Clint Eastwood’s good, old-fashioned, h-sensed directorial style, Hilary Swank’s quiet nuances beautifully conveyed in her wonderful performance, the writing, etc.

    I’m hoping more people will come to appreciate its beauty and […] less cyn . . . , well, less skeptical. . . .

    A: “First time in L.A.?”
    B: “No. But whenever I’m here I can’t wait to leave. Too sprawled out, disconnected . . . . That’s me . . . . You like it?”
    A: It’s ma home.
    B: [I read about this guy who gets on the MTA here – dies.] Six hours he’s riding the subway before anybody notices […] doing laps around L.A., people on and off sitting next to him. Nobody notices . . . . ”
    B: “[sneering and cynical in tone] Shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it . . . .”.

    I also find a crime thriller film Collateral solid and entertaining — definitely a good mainstream piece.

    I love the HD camera work and some quasi-candid shots, lightings and shadows, the cynical dark tones in it, Cruise’s Vincent being devilishly handsome, charismatic yet so cold and blue-blood cruel, Jamie Foxx, despite more or less having taken on the stereotypical role, ably providing for a good opposite attract.
    I’m glad, the film has finally garnered some sort of recognition through Foxx’s Supporting Actor Oscars nomination even though, speaking for myself, I #occasionally took it in a sense, as the kind of celebration made overall and broadly in honor of the film itself — no offense to Jamie Foxx.)

    It seemingly never pretended to be an award-‘baiting’ type. If you’re in for some solid quality joyride, then here’s the one.

    I usually got to watch films on Friday and weekends. Each year, excluding non-silver screen pieces, I managed to view approximately 75 up to perhaps 150 films regardless of their countries of origin. But as cheesy as it might sound to many, I usually prefer US-produced studios/indie films, as well as those from Japan, China (HK and independent Taiwan included), South Korea, UK and France (etc.).
    (That said, ask me to do my own Top 50 list, and you’ll almost literally be watching my head explode in red pieces of flesh and blood a la the villains in the Japanese classic Fist of the North Star [lol].)

  • Robin Write

    A few of my thoughts quickly, I will probably listen to this podcast later tonight:

    # Sideways was my movie of the year. I was devastated when, after it’s amazing awards season run, got taken over at the end. I don’t begrudge Million Dollar Baby so much now because a} it is a perfectly good movie, and b} this is the Oscars.

    # On a similar parallel, I was bitter that Paul Giamatti missed out on a Best Actor slot, and Clint Eastwood sneaked in. Again, Eastwood pushed the right buttons in a couple of scenes, but Giamatti was the heart and the soul of Sideways.

    # Still on Best Actor, had Jamie Foxx not been nailed on to win this, then Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator would have walked this – he was astonishing here.

    # On Best Actress, it was funny that Hilary Swank and Annette Bening went head to head again. I say funny, I thought Bening should have won for American Beauty. Kate Winslet or Imelda Staunton should have won here.

    # Like Ethan Hawke in Training Day, I find it extremely bizarre that Jamie Foxx
    is nominated in Support for what was clearly a Lead role.

    # I am not sure if I have been this delighted with Original and Adapted Screenplay wins for Eternal Sunshine and Sideways since Good Will Hunting and L.A. Confidential. The writing competition with the other nominated screenplays in 2004 was not great though.

    # Great timing for this podcast as this was the year of The Passion of the Christ. The movie is all kinds of trouble, but technically, as a movie, it has some amazing attributes. Caleb Deschanel and John Debney were deserving of their nominees and both could have won.

    # The best score of the year though was The Village by James Newton Howard with the incredible Hilary Hahn on violin. Many thought this was a surprise nominee for what was an average movie in the end, but it was fully deserved.

    # And finally, here are some that were, in my opinion, left out but could or should have made the cut:

    Picture – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    Director – Mel Gibson – The Passion Of The Christ
    Actor – Jim Carrey – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    Actress – Bryce Dallas Howard – The Village
    Supporting Actor – Tom Cruise – Collateral
    Supporting Actress – Meryl Streep – The Manchurian Candidate
    Original Screenplay – Garden State
    Adapted Screenplay – Mean Girls

  • JPNS Viewer

    ‘# And finally, here are some that were, in my opinion, left out but could or should have made the cut:

    Supporting Actor – Tom Cruise – Collateral’

    I reckon Cruise’s, in Collateral, is a lead role. And I believe, that was also how the Academy took into consideration as well.

    That said, supporting role or not, his performance in Collateral is rather remarkable. Cruise and Foxx certainly have helped to carry this film.

  • Jordan

    Please give some love to Vera Drake. I think if the Oscars were held a few weeks later, Staunton would’ve had enough traction to dethrone Swank. Love Mike Leigh and I think it’s one of this masterpieces.

  • Beau

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

  • murtaza

    imelda staunton for best actress definitely.
    Eastwood’s lame weepy million dollar baby was so forced upon emotions.
    Clive Owen for best supporting actor hands down.
    My favorite pic was MARIA FULL OF GRACE.

  • murtaza

    i also wish Laura Dern could’ve been nominated for We Don’t Live Here Anymore, i distinctly remember Sasha Stone added her on this site’s contender tracker.

  • Phil

    This was the second year of the date change. It was first implemented for the 2003 Oscars. (The LOTR: Return of the King year)

    I remember being so ridiculously happy when Charlie Kaufman FINALLY won a screenplay Oscar. Eternal Sunshine is a modern-day classic and deserved to be up for Picture, director, and actor. (What does Jim Carrey have to do to be nominated?!)

    The biggest snub for me was leaving Mean Girls out of best adapted screenplay. It’s funny, brilliant, clever, insightful. And Tina Fey adapted it from a self-help book for mothers with teen daughters. That scene where Cady learns the rules of the Plastics lunch table (“On Wednesdays, we wear pink”) is taken nearly verbatim from a teen testimonial in the book.

  • Eric P.

    Love me some “Sideways”, “The Aviator” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. But my hands down favorite film from 2004 was “Before Sunset”. It was everything I had wanted it to be and more and that ending leaves me breathless everytime.

  • Blakely

    Just as wine ages to perfection, so do movies…and Sideways remains the best of 2004 for me. I find it smart and funny. I normally do not laugh out loud when watching movies, but this film managed to do that, and that is a major feat. I still feel Paul Giamatti should have been nominated Best Actor that year, as well as for American Splendor the year before (it sickens me they just threw him a lousy nomination for a lesser movie, Cinderella Man). However, Hollywood loves Clint, and it showed in 2004. His best work was undeniably Unforgiven, and for some reason, directed fast films that are quite craply done, but he’s still Dirty Harry and ya gotta love ‘im. The Aviator was not all it was hyped up to be for me the first time I saw it, but I love and admire Scorsese, and after a few years, I bought it on DVD.

    My top picks of 2004 in alphabetical order:

    The Aviator (a Scorsese Hollywood epic; of course!)

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the one that got me into the series, all because of the cinematography, music, and direction of Alfonso Cuaron)

    Hotel Rwanda (very surprised this did not make the Best Picture cut; easily could’ve replaced Finding Neverland and Ray)

    Million Dollar Baby (yes, it’s sappy and all that, but Eastwood knows how to direct emotion)

    Sideways (the very best; smart screenplay, great funny performances, nice editing, and fantastic direction; will last a long time in my movie collection)

  • John

    Sideways is my clear #1 of the year. And funny enough, I havent liked other Payne films nearly as much.

    The Aviator is excellent. DiCaprio was probably a close 2nd. And yet, Don Cheadle prob deserved tomwinnthe whole thing.

    MDB is a very good film but not one I re-visit or would want to.

    Eternal winning screenplay was awesome.

    And Im sorry but, The Notebook deserved some nod(s) that year … James Garner or Gena Rowlands or conematpgraphy or score.

  • Jerry Grant

    “Calling Million Dollar Baby’s ending easy emotional payoff really undersells that film.”

    Exactly. Also, calling Danny Boyle’s wildly imaginative genre-bending _Slumdog_ simply “easily emotional,” contra the very stock and safe Eric Roth-penned _Benjamin Button_ is bizarre to me (regardless of whichever you liked more).

    Not an amazing year. _Sideways_ is my most re-watched as well.

    My tops:
    1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    2. Hotel Rwanda
    3. Sideways
    4. The Aviator
    5. Million Dollar Baby
    6. Collateral
    7. The Incredibles
    8. Kill Bill, Vol. 2
    9. Ray
    10. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban / Shaun of the Dead

  • PatrickR

    Not a fan of Hilary’s performance. It was good, but it was the second time that she beat out the other favorite – Annette Benning. Benning should have taken Best Actress that year. I agree that it was a ‘meh’ kind of year.

  • John

    Anyone like De-Lovely with Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd. I thought that was a lovely movie with good acting and beautiful period design.

  • Z


    Really, 2004 was a rather great year for movies.

  • Robin Write

    I cannot wait for the tension and anger and 4 hour running length of the Crash / Brokeback Mountain podcast. 😀

  • Simon Warrasch

    2002 and 2005 are two of the best years in cinema! Movies, Screenplays, Performances,… that gave me goosebumps everywhere! My Gosh!

    From the Nominees i would have picked…

    Motion Picture – “Million Dollar Baby”
    Director – Clint Eastwood “Million Dollar Baby”
    Actor in a Leading Role – Don Cheadle “Hotel Rwanda”
    Actress in a Leading Role – Kate Winslet “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
    Actor in a Supporting Role – Clive Owen “Closer”
    Actress in a Supporting Role – Natalie Portman “Closer”
    Original Screenplay – Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
    Adapted Screenplay – Paul Haggis “Million Dollar Baby”
    Foreign Language Film – Sweden “Sa som i himmelen”
    Animated Feature Film – Brad Bird “The Incredibles”

  • TOM

    Agreed with everything that ended up getting awarded, but I still would’ve selected Virginia Madsen (Sideways) over Cate Blanchett (The Aviator). Blanchett’s Hepburn never really jived with me. The portrayal seems way too chilling for some reason. I probably would’ve been more convinced with Tilda Swinton portraying Hepburn (but love scenes against Leo DiCaprio would’ve been ridiculous.) Blanchett was completely more fun, convincing & deserving for I’m Not There. Whatever Swinton did in Michael Clayton has already evaporated from my mind at this point. Still – Madsen in Sideways – for that couch scene alone would’ve been the Beatrice Straight convincer.

  • Blakely

    My personal pics and no one else’s:
    Picture: Sideways
    Actor: Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
    Actress: Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake)
    Supporting Actor: Thomas Haden Church (Sideways)
    Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
    Direction: Alexander Payne (Sideways)
    Screenplay: Sideways
    Original Screenplay: Hotel Rwanda
    Cinematography: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Production Design: The Aviator
    Costume Design: The Aviator
    Film Editing: The Aviator
    Hair and Makeup Effects: The Passion of the Christ
    Sound Effects: The Passion of the Christ
    Visual Effects: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Score Composition: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Isaac David Quesada

    I`m listening to this on my break time. Just had to say two things, in 1999 Anette Bening was nominated for American Beauty, not Bugsy. And Jim Carrey has never being nominated, not for Man on the Moon or for any other film, which is an unjustice even bigger than Leo not having an Oscar.

  • Bevo

    Sideways was robbed. It holds up well, even after ten years.

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