- Shohreh Aghdashloo in House of Sand and Fog
- Patricia Clarkson in Pieces Of April
- Marcia Gay Harden in Mystic River
- Holly Hunter in Thirteen
- Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain
5. Patricia Clarkson as Joy Burns in Pieces Of April
A total waste of a nomination. Joy Burns is mostly around to give quirky one-liners and try to ease up a road trip. It's amazing in this day and time (and considering how 'loud' the winner was) that such an unspectacular, forgettable performance could be in contention for an Oscar. There is simply nothing to note, write, or reward her for.
4. Shohreh Aghdashloo as Nadi in House of Sand and Fog
The performance is simply not moving, and the main cause for this for me is Aghdashloo herself. She brings no realistic humanity to the character of Nadi - simply letting her shriek and look depressed with the downplaying of her eyeballs. And since she isn't on-screen for a huge deal of time, she squanders it and wastes what could have been a deep, compelling performance.
3. Renee Zellweger as Ruby Thewes in Cold Mountain
It's not a particularly good performance, me as a viewer is always aware I'm watching Renee Zellweger act, but it is enjoyable for the most part. The loudness and over the top characterizations are what kill it, but also make it fairly watchable. I happen to like this film, no matter what the casting of the main actors, and Zellweger falls into that mix. She's not great, just watchable in a good movie.
2. Holly Hunter as Melanie Freeland in Thirteen
This movie drives me up the wall, and Holly Hunter's performance nearly falls right into that. She's such a good actress, she takes the awfulness around her and turns it into her favor. It's still a performance I'm mixed on, but her good moments overcome any reactions I had on it earlier in the film. It's mostly a testament to her true talent for acting.
In a very easy win, Marcia Gay Harden is perfection in Mystic River. Playing perhaps the most pivotal character, she changes the course of the film within moments she begins unravel the mysteries that have haunted her for a few days. Harden brilliantly handles the character, making her a bit naive but unknowingly in control of the situation. And her final scene kills me everytime, her running down the street is the heart of Mystic River.
Honorable Omissions: None.