Oscars: 2003 Predictions

  • Best Picture
  • 01. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 02. Mystic River
  • 03. Seabiscuit
  • 04. Cold Mountain
  • 05. Lost in Translation
  • 06. Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 07. The Last Samurai
  • 08. In America
  • Longshot: Kill Bill: Volume 1
  • Best Director
  • 01. Peter Jackson - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 02. Clint Eastwood - Mystic River
  • 03. Sofia Coppolla - Lost in Translation
  • 04. Gary Ross - Seabiscuit
  • 05. Peter Weir - Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 06. Jim Sheridan - In America
  • 07. Anthony Minghella - Cold Mountain
  • 08. Ed Zwick - The Last Samurai
  • Longshot: Gus Van Sant - Elephant
  • Best Actor
  • 01. Sean Penn - Mystic River
  • 02. Ben Kinglsey - House of Sand and Fog
  • 03. Bill Murray - Lost in Translation
  • 04. Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • 05. Russell Crowe - Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 06. Peter Dinklage - The Station Agent
  • 07. Jude Law - Cold Mountain
  • 08. Tom Cruse - The Last Samurai
  • Longshot: Jack Black - School of Rock
  • Best Actress
  • 01. Diane Keaton - Something's Gotta Give
  • 02. Charlize Theron - Monster
  • 03. Naomi Watts - 21 Grams
  • 04. Uma Thurman - Kill Bill: Volume 1
  • 05. Nicole Kidman - Cold Mountain
  • 06. Evan Rachel Wood - Thirteen
  • 07. Scarlett Johansson - The Girl With a Pearl Earring
  • 08. Cate Blanchett - Veronica Guerin
  • Longshot: Gwyneth Paltrow - Sylvia
  • Best Supporting Actor
  • 01. Tim Robbins - Mystic River
  • 02. Ken Watanabe - The Last Samurai
  • 03. Alec Baldwin - The Cooler
  • 04. Benicio Del Torro - 21 Grams
  • 05. Albert Finney - Big Fish
  • 06. Paul Bettanny - Master & Commander: the Far Side of the World
  • 07. Sean Astin - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 08. Chris Cooper - Seabiscuit
  • Longshot: Bill Nighy - Love Actually
  • Best Supporting Actress
  • 01. Renee Zellweger - Cold Mountain
  • 02. Holly Hunter - Thirteen
  • 03. Maria Bello - The Cooler
  • 04. Marcia Gay Harden - Mystic River
  • 05. Keisha Castle-Hughes - Whale Rider
  • 06. Patricia Clarkson - Pieces of April
  • 07. Shoreh Aghdashloo - House of Sand and Fog
  • 08. Scarlett Johansson - Lost in Translation
  • Longshot: Melissa Leo - 21 Grams
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  • 01. Lost in Translation
  • 02. In America
  • 03. 21 Grams
  • 04. The Station Agent
  • 05. Bend it Like Beckham
  • 06. Finding Nemo
  • 07. Dirty Pretty Things
  • 08. Thirteen
  • Longshot: Calender Girls
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  • 01. Mystic River
  • 02. Seabiscuit
  • 03. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 04. American Splender
  • 05. Cold Mountain
  • 06. Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 07. Big Fish
  • 08. House of Sand and Fog
  • Longshot: Peter Pan
  • Best Animated Film
  • 01. Finding Nemo
  • 02. The Triplets of Belleville
  • 03. Brother Bear
  • 04. Looney Tunes: Back in Action
  • 05. Rugrats Go Wild
  • 06. Piglet's Big Movie
  • Longhot: Millenium Actress
  • Best Cinematography
  • 01. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 02. The Last Samurai
  • 03. The Girl With a Pearl Earring
  • 04. Seabiscuit
  • 05. Cold Mountain
  • 06. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 07. Mystic River
  • 08. House of Sand and Fog
  • Longshot: Gerry
  • Best Editing
  • 01. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 02. Seabiscuit
  • 03. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 04. Mystic River
  • 05. The Last Samurai
  • 06. Cold Mountain
  • 07. 21 Grams
  • 08. Lost in Translation
  • Longshot: Kill Bill: Volume 1
  • Best Costume Design
  • 01. The Last Samurai
  • 02. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 03. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • 04. Cold Mountain
  • 05. Girl With a Pearl Earring
  • 06. Seabiscuit
  • 07. Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 08. Peter Pan
  • Longshot: Down With Love
  • Best Art Direction
  • 01. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 02. The Last Samurai
  • 03. Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 04. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • 05. Seabiscuit
  • 06. The Girl With the Pearl Earring
  • 07. Cold Mountain
  • 08. Big Fish
  • Longshot: Mystic River
  • Best Original Score
  • 01. Cold Mountain
  • 02. Finding Nemo
  • 03. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 04. Seabiscuit
  • 05. The Girl With the Pearl Earring
  • 06. The Triplets of Bellville
  • 07. The Last Samurai
  • 08. Big Fish
  • Longshot: The Missing
  • Best Original Song:
  • 01. “The Heart of Every Girl" - Mona Lisa Smile
  • 02. "Time Enough for Tears" - In America
  • 03. "Into the West" - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 04. "Man of the Hour" - Big Fish
  • 05. "You Will Be My Ain True Love" - Cold Mountain
  • 06. "The Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" - A Mighty Wind
  • 07. "Great Spirits" - Brother Bear
  • 08. "Here's to Love" - Down With Love
  • Longshot: "School of Rock" - School of Rock
  • Best Sound
  • 01. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 02. The Last Samurai
  • 03. Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 04. Finding Nemo
  • 05. Seabiscuit
  • 06. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • 07. Cold Mountain
  • 08. Kill Bill: Volume 1
  • Longshot: Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines
  • Best Make-Up
  • (7 Finalists)
  • 01. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • 02. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 03. Monster
  • 04. Peter Pan
  • 05. Cold Mountain
  • 06. Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 07. The Last Samurai
  • Longshot: none
  • Best Sound Editing:
  • (7 Finalists)
  • 01. Finding Nemo
  • 02. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 03. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 04. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • 05. Seabiscuit
  • 06. The Last Samurai
  • 07. Kill Bill: Volume 1
  • Longshot: none
  • Best Visual Effects:
  • (7 Finalists)
  • 01. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 02. Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • 03. X2: X-Men United
  • 04. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • 05. Peter Pan
  • 06. Hulk
  • 07. Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines
  • Longshot: none
Author Comments: 

This year's race is actually quite a bit tighter than our usual Oscar race. Best Picture is really coming down to the last minute, and Best Actress has become completely muddled despite two locks.

The NBR began the season with a Best Picture win for Mystic River, and gave a major boost to The Last Samurai's campaign with a second place in Best Picture and a win in Best Director. They also lowered expectations for some films that were seen as confident probable nominees (Cold Mountain, Big Fish) and brought some light onto certain performers (Alex Baldwin, Patricia Clarkson, Charlize Theron). Also helped by top ten appearences wer Lost in Translation and In America.

Next came the New York Film Critics Circle, one of the two stuffiest organizations in the nation (the other one being the National Society of Film Critics). Almost all prognosticators were betting on Best Picture going to either Mystic River or Lost in Translation. But, the notoriously anti-mainstream critics embraced The Return of the King instead. They also awarded Bill Murray his first Best Actor win of the season. The critics' choices in other categories drew attention or confirmed suspicions about several other competitors. Hope Davis won Best Actress for two roles, bringing attention back to her supporting role in American Splendor. Sofia Coppola won Best Director, which seems to be a trend for the season. Shoreh Aghdashloo, who had been collecting very warm reviews, was given Best Supporting Actress for her role in The House of Sand and Fog. Eugene Levy picked up Best Supporting Actor for A Mighty Wind, but he is still a very unlikely Oscar nominee.

Now, today's Golden Globe nominations muddy the water more than the GG's have in years. Firstly, Cold Mountain's downward slide was reversed. In fact, CM led the pack with 8 nominations, three more than the closest competitor. Secondly, In American and The Last Samurai were dealt major blows by being shut out of the Best Picture and Best Director races. Thirdly, Big Fish, Master & Commander, and Seabiscuit's chances have been redoubled by their Best Picture nominations (M&C also recieved a Best Director nomination). The acting categories were shaken up considerably by the exclusion of Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Connelly, Marcia Gay Harden, Benicio DelToro, Naomi Watts, Shoreh Aghdashloo, Paul Bettany, Paddy Considine, and Samantha Morton. Some of these were considered to be comfortably in the lead. Instead of sticking to definite Oscar contenders, the Globes went with the unorthodox (Uma in Kill Bill) and the just plain puzzling (the unbuzzed Maria Bello for The Cooler). Perhaps this nominees will take their momentum and run with it, but more than likely, the Screen Actors Guild will set a few of these categories straight.


The Producers Guild Award nominations came out today, and they helped nobody, but hurt at least two. The PGAs tend to lean towards big, epic productions, and that's exactly what they did this year. The nominees?
Cold Mountain
The Last Samurai
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Mystic River
Now, the exclusion of Lost in Translation is not a huge surprise, but it doesn't help the film's chances. A nomination here would have solidfied its place. Also, In America suffers greatly from this snub, and has moved from "maybe" to "unlikely". These nominees also help the actors of the films they're in. Russel Crowe is helped by M&C's constant exposure, and William H. Macy is seriously boosted by Seabiscuit's success. Tomorrow the Directors Guild announces their nominees, which will, no matter what, clear things up somewhat.


Well, the DGA shoock things up slighty. Jackson and Eastwood, naturally, got their deserving nominations, and Sofia Coppolla managed to get her likely nomination. However, in the battle of the epics, the winners today were Peter Weir for Master & Commander and Gary Ross for Seabiscuit. Ross is a moderate surprise, because the film was never really regarded as a "director's film". This leaves out Tim Burton, Jim Sheridan, Edward Zwick, and most shockingly, Anthony Minghella. Minghella was considered to be a sure thing, and this miss confirms theories that Hollywood's feelings toward Cold Mountain are closer to luke-warm than they are to positive. What does this mean? Look for Seabiscuit to gain steam and for The Last Samurai and Cold Mountain to slowly decline.

Well, today's SAGs have thrown every acting category into wonderful disarray. By throwing votes toward The Station Agent, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Evan Rachel Wood, and In America, the SAGs have upset nearly every conclusion that Oscarwatchers have made. I'm going to expand by acting possibilities to ten in each category, which is a move I've never had to make this close to the nominations. In none indie news, Cold Mountain was seriously snubbed, Seabiscuit was boosted, Johnny Depp was helped, and the Supporting races were thrown into upheavel.

PS: I will be purposely misspelling Tom Cruse's name because a virus in my computer automatically turns certain words into links.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - 13 nods

Cold Mountain - 8 nods
Seabiscuit - 8 nods

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World - 7 nods
Mystic River - 7 nods

The Last Samurai - 5 nods

Lost in Translation - 4 nods
Pirates of the Caribbean - 4 nods

21 Grams - 3 nods
Finding Nemo - 3 nods

Big Fish - 2 nods
The Cooler - 2 nods
The Girl With the Pearl Earring - 2 nods
In America - 2 nods
Monster - 2 nods

American Splendor - 1 nod
Brother Bear - 1 nods
House of Sand and Fog - 1 nod
Kill Bill: Volume 1 - 1 nod
Mona Lisa Smile - 1 nod
Something's Gotta Give - 1 nod
The Station Agent - 1 nod
Thirteen - 1 nod
Triplets of Belleville - 1 nod
Whale Rider - 1 nod

Cloned From: 

Great list and analysis. Thanks!

I can't really argue with your selections, as they all strike me as very sound, probably even sounder than my own. Probably our biggest difference (and it really is a quite minor one) is Jude Law, who I suspect has a great shot at getting a nod.

Great job!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I would love to see Jude with a nomination; he's one of our best working actors. But, I understand that his character is supposed to be rather dour and internal, which isn't usually what Oscar picks up on. Truth be told, I'm not very sure who the Epic Star nominees are gonna be. You've got Cruise, Crowe, and Law all in epic films, and if only two of them get in at most, I don't know which two it will be. It will all depend on which of the films is more loved as a whole.

I have a feeling that I am predicting far too much love for Master & Commander and Cold Mountain, but I don't know what categories to remove them from.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Boy, I don't know, especially since Jude Law made my list of actors...

Although I still suspect PW might get the shaft in the director's category. I know he has a good shot at it, however.

So, you still don't think Lost in Translation has a leg-up in the picture category? :)

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Well, here's the thing...I know that one of the epics (SB, M&C, CM) will not make the final list, but the buzz hasn't indicated which one will fall. I suspect that before this is over, Seabiscuit and Lost in Translation will be switching places. BUT, director and picture NEVER match up 5 for 5, so which director is dropped, and which makes it?

I think that this year is either going to be stupefyingly easy to predict, or incredibly hard. I hope it's the latter, some fun would be nice.

I suspect this year will prove very tricky. I also agree with you concerning the picture and director match-up, but I sorta suspect a decade of respect, a healthy cult, and a less fantastical film might give Tim Burton a surprise nod. I think momentum might prove to be on his side.

You might very well be right about Seabiscuit. If I drop a film before the end of the month, that will probably be the one, but again, momentum is on Lost's side, and I suspect it is in like Flint.

It is always fun vainly trying to guess at these things, eh?

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

It's surprisingly addictive.

You know, most of the easy categories are quite hard this year. Best Actress is anyone's guess, Best Picture still has only three locks, Best Supporting Actress is a mess, and the technical categories are a toss-up. This is the most fun I've ever had predicting.

I think I'm going to do a general update soon. On Monday the Directors Guild announces their nominees, and the day after the Producers Guild announces.

Again, sweet predictions. I can't wait to see the real nominations tomorrow.

Though I'm certainly not as proficient an Oscar analyst as you are, I think most of your categories are dead-on, except Best Actress. While I *hope* that Uma is nominated, I just can't see it happening with such an independent, bloody, Academy-unfriendly action film. And I really can't see any wins for "Girl With a Pearl Earring." I hadn't even heard of it before I saw your list originally. Scarlett Johansson certainly deserves more than a Supporting Actress nomination for her lead actress performance in "Lost in Translation", but I doubt she'll get it. At the same time, I can't see the Academy snubbing past winners Connelly and Kidman.

So what it boils down to is, I hope you're right, but I don't think you will be.

Re: Uma

Uma is someone who I've felt could pull this off for a while. Firstly, her performance has gotten an amazing amount of press, and many people are saying that its the best work of the year. Keeping your name in the press helps a lot with nominations. Secondly, Kill Bill is not some little independent film, it's backed by Miramax, the Oscar Gods. They are pushing full force for Uma to get this nod. Thirdly, Uma's competition have strong chances of cancelling eah other out. I can certainly see both Connelly (who has gotten shockingly few awards or nominations) and Kidman (who already has a slight backlash...folks are saying that this is nowhere near her best work) being snubbed in favor of her. In the end, I think Uma is a risk to predict, but I'm gonna stick with her anyway. I'll be thrilled if she gets it, and dissapointed, but not surprised, if she doesn't.

Girl With a Pearl Earring got all around great reviews, and it opened just in time for Oscar attention. Many of the guilds have nominated it, and it recieved a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. I think that it will have at least a healthy showing in the tech categories.

I think that in the end, the safe predictions are always stupid. You can always guarantee that there will be upsets on nomination morning, so the safe predictions are never 100%.

You make some good points, and of course you are correct that the not-so-safe predictions are what make this fun.

So I'll continue to keep my fingers crossed for Uma, Scarlett, and Peter Dinklage. :-)


I just saw the nominations. Where did City of God come from?! Keisha in the lead category?! Samantha Morton coming out of nowhere again?! Cold Mountain got the cold shoulder?! Gary Ross ignored?!

It was ca-razy this morning!


All I can say is, WOW.

Actually, I can say more.

I could've sworn I heard stories last year about Academy members being so horrified by the violence in "City of God" that they walked out of the movie, which is why it didn't get a foreign film nomination. That's definitely the most astounding thing here.

I am also very surprised that "Cold Mountain" got shafted in many categories. I'm kinda glad I didn't see it now, since I only wanted to sit through that epic-length movie to become more familiar with top Oscar contenders.

Another huge shock was the Best Original Screenplay category. "Dirty Pretty Things" and "Barbarian Invasions"? Wow.

And the irony of it all - we were both wrong about Best Actress. Scarlett, Uma, Nicole, and Jennifer were all shafted.

I'm actually really pleased with the Academy with their unconventional choices this year. Even if "Station Agent" didn't get nominated for anything... (sigh)

Best Actress was always going to be the hardest category to predict this year. We were down to about 12 competitors last night, as opposed to six, which is the usual number.

I could see Dirty Pretty Things and Barbarian Invasions getting their nominations, but it's still surprising.

City of God is definitely the story of the day. Nobody had it predicted for anything, and it gets 4 major nominations. That's huge.

I felt that Cold Mountain was going to end up underperforming when I woke up this morning, but I never would have guessed the extent to which it would have happened.

A Mighty Wind getting a best song nom is fantastic. They even got the right song, "Kiss.." being the best in the film.

Johnny ended up getting his nom, Lost in Translation got its nom, Scarlett got shut out, Keisha got in (in the right category), and In America got two acting noms.

This was a wild nomination morning.

Oh...one more thing...Scarlett got shut out because Focus had her in the wrong category, I promise you. If Keisha's nomination doesn't say something about category placement, nothing does.

Something else occurred to me. "Big Fish" got screwed out of everything besides Best Score.

BTW, AAA, I haven't heard of any of the Best Foreign Film nominees besides "Barbarian Invasions", have you?

I'd only heard of them from the submissions list. The thing that surprises me, is that none of the films on the list with any buzz (other than Barbarian Invasions) got the nom. Osama, Goodbye Lenin, The Return...they all got snubbed. Osama won the Globe for chrissake.

Yeah, I basically assumed that Big Fish would get either Finney or the score...I put my money on the wrong horse in that race.

I have cooled a little on Big Fish, but I'm glad to see its score get in.

Yes, Focus blew it. They should have run Scarlett as an actress, not a support. Bad call.

I was a little surprised to see 21 Grams not get more. I thought some buzz was gathering for it, yet it didn't even get the screenplay nomination I felt sure of.

I always thought In America had some good shots, but I didn't realize how good.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

In America proved that it had stronger legs than we thought. What surprises me is that the surprise noms it got weren't even the noms we thought it might upset for. I always knew it was a darkhorse contender for Best Picture and Director but I thought it was long out of the acting races.

I think the academy has gotten signifigantly cooler over the past few years. It's obvious that in some cases their voting with their brains, not their FYC ads.

21 Grams' screenplay seemed like a good shot to me as well. I guess that I should have seen Barbarian Invasions coming, though. The academy seems to be opening up to world cinema.

You know, this is actually a very fun set of nominees.

Now let's get Depp that win.

Heh, I am a poor man, and I certainly won't be putting money on Depp winning. The nomination is the win for him, I do believe.

It is hard to see the future on nominee morning, but I still think the actor's race is Penn's and Murray's to lose.

I have moved Morton in and out throughout the season, and I had here on maybe this morning. I should've left her in. I knew Thurman was a long shot, but I really didn't see the Kidman shaft coming. That blindsided me.

Goodness knows Castle-Hughes as actress was a delicious shock.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I think Murray is out of this race. I'd love to see him up there (actually, the three top contenders are all really worthy) but I understand that he is not well-liked in Hollywood, and that could seriously hurt him.

I think that there is enough love and passion behind Depp's performance's fanbase that he could have a major upset when Murray and Penn split votes.

Sigh, isn't it nice to dream?

Wow, I strongly disagree with the dismissal of Murray. His Golden Globe speech sparkled, and he has been over-looked in the past (no nomination after Rushmore buzz, for example), and neglected folks tend to fare well in future Oscar opportunities. He is a legend of sorts, and Oscar seems to be liking comedians who prove they have dramatic chops lately.

I think Murray has a hell of a chance. The attention Lost in Translation will gather, especially with Coppola's 'first American woman as director' attention, can only help.

We'll see...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Penn is the likely choice, but I could definitely see Murray upsetting.

Also, in spite of the hype for LOTR: ROTK, I think there will be an upset for Best Picture too. I think Jackson will get his Director Oscar, though.

I don't even have a clue yet as to who the big winners will be. I can imagine all sorts of Picture / Director scenarios.

And as Pedro's performance last year proved, nobody should ever count out a left field artsy nominee who surprises with enough support to nab a nomination. Does City of God have a shot at Director? I'm not counting him out, even if many sites I've visited this morning already have.

The big question: Is Hollywood as excited over King as all the fans are? If Astin made the supporting cut, I would have been sure of it. I really have no idea now.

I think the Actor and Actress race will be very close this year. Only Charlize Theron come anywhere close to a front-runner, and even then, Keisha has to have a TON of fans to pull off that little number...

This is exciting, and I needed some juice this week!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I think I spoke a little too hastily. Murray is NOT out of the race...I just don't think that he is the frontrunner.

I do see what you're saying, and I agree that this is gonna be a tight race.

This message was supposed to be adressed to AJ.

I dunno, I think it would be reversed if anything. I can see RotK winning and Sofia getting the Oscar.

But, I suspect it's gonna be a 2/2 night in those categories for The Lord of the Rings.

I agree that Sofia has an excellent chance. Hollywood recently smashed the race barrier, and I won lots of contests for predicting that Halle would ride on that crest along with Washington. A female winning Best Director, particularly for a film as good as Lost in Translation, is going to be very tempting for many voters...

I think nearly every category is a rather open race at this point, which is incredibly cool.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I still can't see Rotk going home without Director and Picture. I know Sofia is deserving, but this is seen as the Lord of the Rings' year.

I can see that. At this point, I just don't know, which is rather refreshing.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I'm a little suprised to see Seabiscuit in the best pic nominees. I think American Spendor is a much better film.

I think that most people would agree with you, but American Splendor never stood much of a chance.