Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description
Big Fish (2003), 125 minutes, D: Tim Burton
Dogville (2003, Denm.), 177 minutes, D: Lars von Trier
The Dreamers (2003, Fr./It./UK), 116 minutes, D: Bernardo Bertolucci
Finding Nemo (2003), 100 minutes, D: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Good Bye Lenin! (2003, Germany), 121 minutes, D: Wolfgang Becker
Wolfgang Becker's off-beat, political, and metaphoric comedy/drama, somewhat preposterous in its premise, was set in East Berlin during the crucial years of 1989-1990. It was necessary for filmmakers to reconstruct a believable and authentic setting of the divided city with period cars, clothes, advertisements, furnishings, products and artifacts. This Rip Van Winkle satire told of the efforts of a devoted young East Berliner named Alex (Daniel Brühl) in 1989 to protect his comatose mother Christiane (Katrin Sass) from more suffering. When Alex was arrested during an anti-government protest, she was shocked and had a near-fatal heart attack. His elaborate ruse was to prevent his bed-ridden matriarch, a fervent, idealistic socialist-activist, from awakening and painfully learning that her beloved East Germany had been massively transformed. With the end of the Cold War and the fall of both the Berlin wall and the German Democratic Republic's (GDR) Socialist Party, Marxism-Leninism had been entirely abandoned. Caught between the extremes of free enterprise and the old Communist system, he strove to keep up illusory pretenses. His conspiracy included searching for old government-branded coffee and pickle jars to repackage products, keeping the drab apartment's furniture, and filming fake pre-unification news broadcasts. He cleverly recreated the fictional charade that the vanished German Democratic Republic (GDR) still existed. The influential film turned the Kerner family crisis into a dramatic allegory of Germany's own struggle to heal, adapt, and rebuild itself. Shot mostly in the former East Berlin, this acclaimed film focused on the day-to-day experiences of life in the city. Revelations in the film's third act set up new scenarios and realities - both Alex and his mother could no longer live in the past.
House of Sand and Fog (2003), 126 minutes, D: Vadim Perelman
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), 111 minutes, D: Quentin Tarantino
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003, US/NZ), 201 minutes, D: Peter Jackson
See The Lord of the Rings series.
Peter Jackson's monumental, big-budget action/adventure epic (all three films) was a dazzling synthesis of many fantastical elements from J.R.R. Tolkein's masterwork about Middle-Earth: an heroic quest, good vs. evil, war stories, sci-fi creatures (dwarves, elves, goblins, orcs, etc.) and ancient wonders. Multiple story lines and epic battles were interwoven together in a story of friendship, loyalty, honor and courage. The quest was specifically to destroy a powerful artifact known as the One Ring, created by the Dark Lord Sauron (the eponymous "Lord of the Rings"), in order to end Sauron's lordship over the Elves and Middle Earth. A series of awe-inspiring battles culminated with the defeat of Sauron, an end to corrupted Wizard Saruman the White (Christopher Lee), and the destruction of the Ring. Innovative motion capture created the unforgettable creature of Gollum (Andy Serkis) (once a good hobbit named Sméagol), who served as the wretched guide to young hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and friend Sam (Sean Astin) during their mission - to return the Ring to Mordor and destroy it in Mount Doom's molten lava.
Lost in Translation (2003, US/Jp.), 102 minutes, D: Sofia Coppola
Love, Actually (2003, UK), 135 minutes, D: Richard Curtis
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), 138 minutes, D: Peter Weir
A Mighty Wind (2003), 91 minutes, D: Christopher Guest
Monster (2003), 93 minutes, D: Patty Jenkins
Mystic River (2003), 137 minutes, D: Clint Eastwood
The centerpiece of this bleak Clint Eastwood film was the brutal murder of 19-year-old Katie Markum (Emmy Rossum), the beloved daughter of ex-con and grocery-store owner Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn). Massachusetts homicide detective Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), the boyhood friend of Jimmy, was assigned to the case while Jimmy conducted his own search for the killer. Markum suspected a third boyhood friend as the murderer - disturbed, violated, and haunted sexual-abuse victim Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), who claimed that on the same night he murdered a pedophile in the parking lot of McGill's bar after seeing him having sex in a car with a child prostitute. Markum forced Dave to falsely admit to Katie's murder, then executed him and dumped his body in the Mystic River - only a few hours before the real killers confessed. A break in the case finally came through a clue on a 911 tape and a gun trace, which led investigators to Silent Ray Harris and his skateboard pal John O'Shea. The two boys accidentally fired the gun during a prank, injuring Katie, and then pursued her when she fled and finished the job.
Oldboy (2003, S. Korea), 118 minutes, D: Park Chan-wook
An ultra-violent S. Korean horror film, about a man named Dae-su Oh (Choi Min-sik) seeking vengeance after being caged in a hotel room for 15 years.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), 143 minutes, D: Gore Verbinski
See Pirates of the Caribbean series.
Seabiscuit (2003), 141 minutes, D: Gary Ross
thirteen (2003), 100 minutes, D: Catherine Hardwicke
The Triplets of Belleville (2003, Fr.) (aka Les Triplettes de Belleville), 80 minutes, D: Sylvain Chomet
21 Grams (2003), 124 minutes, D: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritut
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003), 113 minutes, D: Audrey Wells
The pretext for this idyllic, spellbinding, postcard-pretty Tuscan travelogue and upscale romantic chick flick was that the marriage of Frances Mayes (Diane Lane), a San Francisco literary author/professor, had abruptly ended. To start a new life and pursue happiness, she accepted an invitation to a ten-day European tour. She ended up impulsively purchasing and restoring a small, 300 year-old fixer-upper farm house (named Bramasole or "yearn for the light") in the Italian hill town of Cortona in the eastern part of Tuscany. The inspiring escapist locale showed off stunning, panoramic, heavenly sun-soaked landscapes and sunflowers, including the Chianti region's tan-colored soil, deep-cut green countryside and turquoise sky, and the bleached cliff sides and blue seas of Positano.