Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. No contest. No other film took me where this one did.
Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa is destined to become a holiday classic.
Sofia Coppola's droll Lost In Translation.
Best Family Film
Finding Nemo was funny, smart and visually stimulating.
We Pulled This Sequel Out Of Our Ass
Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines.
Best Dramatic Performances
Naomi Watts takes first honors for 21 Grams, Bill Murray in Lost In Translation, Sean Astin in The Return of the King, Barry Pepper in The 25th Hour.
Best Comedic Performances
Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean, Billy Bob Thorton's drunken grotesque in Bad Santa
Obviously The Return of the King shows up here, but the work in 21 Grams was outstanding, and the cast of X2 was also phenomenal. Um... Alien, too...
Most Amount Of Fun Being Had By Actors
Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush in Pirates of the Carribean, Ian McKellan in X2 and Jason Isaacs in Peter Pan.
Best Action Setpieces
The battle of Pelennor Fields in The Return of the King, of course. Also cool was the final battle in Pirates of the Carribean, the tire-changing scene in 28 Days Later, the Mansion Attack in X2 and the jellyfish sequence in Finding Nemo. Any of the action scenes in Kill Bill Vol. I if Quentin Tarantino has included geysers of blood in them. Which accounts for them all.
Best Comedic Setpieces
Billy Bob Thorton coming to work three sheets to the wind and beating the living shit out of the paper-maché donkey in Bad Santa and the proposal scene in American Wedding.
Geoffrey Rush wins hands-down with Barbossa in Pirates of the Carribean ("You've sailed off the map. Here there be monsters!"), but Jason Isaacs in Peter Pan and Ian McKellan in X2 were nothing to be sneezed at. The most seriously chilling, however, was Brian Cox's determined Stryker in X2.
Christopher Walken's boring bad-guy in The Rundown.
Most Endearing Mess
Nicolas Cage in Matchstick Men.
Dude, Where Are My Lines?
Thomas Ian Nicholas in American Wedding.
Best CGI in a Live Action Film
Of course, the battle of the Pelennor Fields takes the big prize, although the rendering of Gollum also was more detailed than previously seen in The Return of the King.
Funniest CGI Character
The decrepit parrot from Peter Pan is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Also, the kung-fu crab in Finding Nemo.
Well, the team consisting of Olli Barbé, Michel Benjamin, Sylvie Carcedo-Dreujou, Laurent Charbonnier, Luc Drion, Laurent Fleutot, Philippe Garguil, Dominique Gentil, Bernard Lutic, Thierry Machado, Stéphane Martin, Fabrice Moindrot, Ernst Sasse, Michel Terrasse, Thierry Thomas win special honors for Winged Migration. Otherwise, John Toll's pictaresque The Last Samurai and Thomas Newton Sigel's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then Tony Pierce-Roberts is damned for his cool-for-about-ten-minutes near-monochrome Underworld.
Best Original Score
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by Howard Shore. Of course.
Most Refreshing Scores
John Ottman's Jerry Goldsmith-redux for X2 was a highlight of the year. Danny Elfman's strange but compelling Hulk proved that he can keep the genre he reinvented with Batman fresh. Finally, Thomas Newman's score for Pixar's Finding Nemo gave that film an identity distinct from the other, Randy Newman (his cousin) scores for Pixar features... with Tom's big soul. Interestingly, Elfman's score for Big Fish (easily the best element of that film) seems to reference Tom Newman.
Worst Score for a Good Movie
Klaus Badelt's boring same-old same-old Media Ventures bullshit for Pirates of the Carribean.
Best Score for a Shitty Movie
Patrick Doyle's rousing and emotional Secondhand Lions deserved better than Tim McCanlies dull film.
Best Song Soundtrack
Kill Bill (Vol. I).
Best Film Editing
Stephen Mirrione's kaleidescopic work on Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams and, for all its flaws, Tim Squyres did a great job with Ang Lee's Hulk.
Best Theatrical Re-Release
Alien. But you all knew I'd say that.
Biggest Fart Heard Around the World
What Matrix sequels?
Biggest Waste Of Some Great Concepts
Most Blah Adventure Film
Mark Steven Johnson's Daredevil was so generic, they might have sold it as a "No Frills" item at Grand Union.
Most Annoyingly Run-Of-the-Mill Feature From A Filmmaker Who Is Usually Pretty Interesting
Mike Figgis' Cold Creek Manor.
Worst Talent Line-Up
Ben Affleck in a John Woo film.
Most Contrived Idea For A Movie
Ben Affleck in a John Woo film.
When Suck Meets Blow
Ben Affleck in a John Woo film.
Best Madcap Finale
The insanity that one finds at the end of Spanish Pudding.
Best Revitalization Of A Moribund Genre
Danny Boyle's adrenaline-injected take on zombies in 28 Days Later.
Who Made This?
Ridley Scott directed Matchstick Men. Really.
Most Surprising Knot In An Otherwise By-the-Numbers Feature
The characters in Timeline are not hardened killers, and react to that fact.
Can This Scene Please End, I'll Be A Good Boy Mommy, I'll Eat All My Vegatables and Take A Bath and I Won't Complain On the Way To School Tomorrow, Please Make It Stop!!!
Trinity's overwrought death scene in The Matrix Revolutions.
Worst Work By An Actor* Whose Work Is Usually Engaging
Uma Thurman in Paycheck.
Most Disappointing Moment In A Trailer
The really cool science-fiction film with Judi Dench set in a crazy techneval landscape... but then it turns out that Vin Diesel is in the movie. The Chronicles of Riddick, huh? Someone stop him before he appears in another movie.
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Who Thought This Trailer Was Worth Showing
The Mask 2. Give me a break.
Best Pre-Movie Short
Annoying Cell Phone Man ("Mauled by a tiger!?!").
This Movie Isn't Turning Out the Way I'd Hoped It Would, So I'm Going To Have A Field Day With My Part So At Least When I'm On the Screen It'll Be Entertaining
Johnny Depp in Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Jason Isaacs in Peter Pan.
Skeeziest Aspect Of A Family Film
The frankly sexual attraction between Wendy and Peter in the clumsy Peter Pan. Director P.J. Hogan lays it on thick, strongly alluding to some squiggy Elektra issues in the process.
How Did This Cast End Up In This Piece Of Shit?
Michael Caine, Robert Duvall and Haley Joel Osment in Secondhand Lions.
Special Achievement In Nudity Award
Since nobody is showing any skin in any movies anymore (it was even muted in American Wedding when it should have been ribald), it was great to see a few mammary glands on display in Old School. Whose idea is this new prudery?
Best DVD of a New Film
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers extended edition improved upon the appearance of the film, added significant plots and character development, sounded fantastic and told you everything you never wanted to know about the film but had to ask.
Best DVD Picture Transfers of New Films
X2, Pirates of the Carribean, The Two Towers extended, Die Another Day.
Best DVD Picture Transfers of Older Films
The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Indiana Jones box set, Once Upon A Time In the West.
Best DVD Supplements
The aforementioned The Two Towers extended, Once Upon A Time In the West, Enigma special edition, the Alien Quadrilogy, The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Best DVD Sound
The Two Towers extended DTS-ES, Die Another Day DTS-ES, Finding Nemo Dolby Digital, Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines Dolby Digital.
Holy Shit, This Looks Totally Different In Widescreen!!!
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Paper Chase, Images.
Best Music DVD Releases
This was a great year for music DVDs, but the Led Zeppelin 2 disc set is one of the greatest contributions to mankind. Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii was no slouch, either.
I Never Thought I'd See It On DVD
Robert Altman's thoughtful and challenging Images was not only released by MGM, but the widescreen transfer and supplements are excellent.
Best Archival Soundtrack Album Releases
Lalo Schifrin's mysterious THX-1138, Alan Silvestri's Predator at last.
Strangest Intermovie Interaction That Would Rock
Merman Thurman kneeing Peter Pan in the balls.
* I am using this word in its gender-neutral mode.