2003 may well have been a year of upheaval, but it was a cracking year for film!
The year 2003 offered a unique mix of turmoil, legend and madness. America and Britain went to war with Iraq, Johnny Cash passed away, England won the Rugby world cup and Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor of California. Thankfully the film industry offered up some of its greatest triumphs and gave us some much needed consistency during a year of upheaval!
In fact 2003 may well be remembered as the year of the sequels, r at least the largely successful continuation of some of our most loved franchises. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was brought to a monumental close with what was probably the most highly praised of Peter Jackson’s three forays into middle-earth. The 3-hour epic Return of the King became the highest grossing film of the year and only the second film of all time (now the 6th) to earn over 1 billion at the box office.
It was not just the fantasy nuts who were kept happy. Millions of kids (and adults) were thrilled by the release of Disney-Pixar’s Finding Nemo. It became the second most financially successful animated film of all time (behind Lion King and now eclipsed by Toy Story 3) and signalled the end of, what felt like, an eternal hiatus for Pixar following Monster Inc in 2001.
Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions came out in May and November respectively whilst becoming the 3rd and 8th largest grossing films of the year, bringing a close to one of the most epic sci-fi trilogies in what was largely a post-apocalyptic sci-fi market. Marvel not being the types to miss out on a good party, released X-men 2 and Tom Cruise starred in The Last Samurai. Will Smith aced a successful sequel to Bad Boys in Bad Boys 2 and Jim Carrey and Morgan Freeman fronted Bruce Almighty – probably one of the most successful comedies of the decade and making nearly half a billion in the process. If that was not enough, the girls and boys were kept sweet with Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley all giving some of their most memorable performances in the almost faultless Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
The Cannes film festival witnessed one of its more visceral films in the form of Elephant – a Gus Van Sant fictional story based on the Columbine school massacre in the states . And the year was brought to a satisfying conclusion when Peter Jackson (best director), Sean Penn (best actor) and Renée Zellweger (best supporting actress) all picked up much deserved Oscars. A year of uncertainty was made special by the timeless films it witnessed and will no doubt go down in cinematic history as a year that put a smile on everybody’s face.