2004 wasn't a good year for actresses. Imelda Staunton's turn as an abortionist in "Vera Drake" is a step above the competition, but after her everything equals out. My #2 - #9 choices are interchangable. It's not that actresses in 2004 didn't do outstanding jobs, it's simply that the material wasn't there to make any one actress - other than Staunton - stand out.
One of the most depressing movies of the year, nonetheless "Vera Drake" features a performance by Imelda Staunton that's unparalleled in 2004.
Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey are an unlikely onscreen pairing that worked surprisingly well. As Jim Carrey's love interest in "Eternal Sunshine," Winslet got to have a little fun sporting brightly colored hair, and letting loose in more of a bohemian fashion than her normal, reserved roles.
"A Love Song for Bobby Long" is taking the sneaky approach to being noticed. Released in limited theaters without any fanfare, "Bobby Long" - and Scarlett Johansson's performance - aren't getting the attention they deserve.
Kimberly Elise gives a powerful performance in this emotionally moving, and important, film.
"Million Dollar Baby" seemed to emerge out of nowhere at the end of 2004 to rake up all sorts of accolades. Hilary Swank stars as a determined boxer who pleads with Clint Eastwood to train her. In "Million Dollar Baby," which isn't simply a boxing movie, Swank delivers another award-worthy, multi-layered performance.
You'll ever love "Dogville" or absolutely detest it - there's no middle of the road with this film. Either way, Nicole Kidman's performance in this Lars von Trier film is one of her best.
Promising newcomer Catalina Sandino Moreno stars as a drug mule in Joshua Marston's probing indie film. Moreno has just the right mix of bravado and innocence as the young woman who dreams of a better life.
Quentin Tarantino put Uma Thurman through the wringer for the "Kill Bill" films, but he gets a performance from her that's compelling to watch. Thurman makes a kick-butt action star because she's got the acting chops to fill the screen between fight scenes.
"Being Julia" seems like a movie designed to earn its leading actress an award. Annette Bening is great and though I loved her performance, I can't help but feel I've been manipulated into recognizing it. But that's not to take anything away from Ms. Bening. She puts on a real show as a fading actress who's searching for love and respect.
"Young Adam" came and went without much impact, other than the bit of gossip surrounding Ewan McGregor's full frontal nudity. While McGregor was good, it was Swinton's performance that struck me as one of those special connections between an actor and a role.